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The Hub is accurately named in this game. Its central location to (most) everything you'll be doing in the mid and late game, as well as its stores and gambling (if you're into that) make it the place you'll likely visit most in the game, whether it's to unload your booty and restock, or to travel with one of the several caravans looking for a bit of xp and more loot.
Your main goal here is to gain further xp, learn of a few new locations if they aren't already on your map, find or buy some nifty items, and basically prepare your character for the late-middle game. We're now squarely in the mid-game if you've been following the walkthrough. The Hub has several areas. The Entrance is to the north, and south of that is the main Downtown area with several merchants (including a librarian with an unlimited supply of skill books) and gambling. West of Downtown is the Heights (where a quest or two will take you but nothing more than that). East of Downtown is Old Town, with a great but expensive arms merchant named Jacob, drug dealer, quest location, entrance to the Thieves Circle, and more. South of Downtown is the Water Merchants and Children of the Cathedral. You'll go there if you want to extend the time limit for Vault 13's quest for finding the water chip.
When you first enter the area at the Entrance, talk to some of the named characters standing around, specifically Mat if you see him, ask about the carts, and he'll add a few areas to your World Map: The Brotherhood of Steel, The Glow, Junktown, Necropolis and Shady Sands (if they aren't already there).
- Entrance: the northernmost part of the Hub
- Downtown: south of the entrance and center of activity
- Lair: a separate place you'll be teleported to from Old Town during a quest
- Heights: Hightower's "estate," east of Downtown, related to a couple quests
- Old Town: west of Downtown, an expensive but friendly arms dealer among other things
- Thieves Circle: downstairs from a building in Old Town
- Merchants: more specifically, the water merchants, south of Downtown
Before starting on too many of the quests here, it may be a good idea to consider how powerful your weapons and armor are at this point, as some of them can be fatal if ill prepared. If you're still garbed in Leather armor and carry a hunting rifle or SMG, you'll probably want to upgrade before taking on further quests. Fortunately, this is the place to trade up your old items for new ones. If you're about level 7 or higher and/or have one or two companions, consider doing Irwin's quest before any other, found in south Downtown. It's the first one listed for the simple reason that you pick up one of the best small guns in the game, the .223 Pistol, and the Metal Armor.
Before even that, consider stopping first at the General Store in Downtown and trading in your extra weapons and armor for caps, and then paying a visit to Old Town and seeing Jacob the arms dealer (inside a north end warehouse). Depending on your character, his prices may seem excessive. My first time there, Combat Armor would run me 20k caps, and the Sniper Rifle, 11k.
First, the General Store Downtown. You'll probably find Lemmy wandering just outside the store saying, "psst... over here." He'll rip you off if you bother paying him for information, as nearly all of what he tells you is useless. The proprietor of the General Store, Mitch, is one of the few people in the game that perpetually recirculates his money supply. Every time you exit and re-enter conversation, he'll have a fresh supply of caps (usually around 1k) waiting to buy one or more of your items. You may or may not take advantage of this to build up a nice supply of caps, ready to purchase something of your own from Jacob the arms dealer. The reason you trade in for caps is that your character probably won't be able to carry all those heavy weapons at once to trade in for something that costs a lot of money, like the Sniper Rifle. Therefore, the best technique to counter that is to first trade your items in individually for caps, and then use them for one big purchase.
Ideally, after seeing Jacob, you'd have the Sniper Rifle and/or Combat Armor... but go for the Sniper Rifle first. Before you know it, you'll be swimming in good armor. In fact, if you feel up to it, there's a combat armor in Old Town if you can kill the three tough goons inside the first far west building. It relates to a Brotherhood quest to free a prisoner and counts even if you rescue the prisoner before you receive the quest. You can loot their bodies for a combat armor and a combat shotgun. Just be prepared before you walk through that door.
Finally, the librarian Mrs. Stapleton located Downtown (east of the General Store) has an unlimited supply of books. They'll cost you a lot of money of course, but you can essentially build up Science, Repair, Outdoorsman and Small Guns to 91% before they become of no further use. Consider building up your repair skill to 50% or better before leaving for the Necropolis.
After all the above, consider moving on to Necropolis and finding the water chip, then returning it to Vault 13 before finishing up the Hub quests. Necropolis is usually slightly easier than the Hub and is a good place for xp, especially after you return the Water Chip and finish the Vault 13 quests.
Here is a list of the significant quests in The Hub, each with a brief synopsis containing at least one way to solve it. The remaining ways, and possibly other minor quests I will leave up to you.
Located in the southwest section of Downtown, you'll find Irwin huddled in a corner of a dilapidated building. He'll ask that you help him clear the invading Raiders from his farm house. If you agree, he'll teleport your party directly to the entrance, where once you open the door, the fight will begin. They're no harder than the Raiders you've dealt with before, and when they're defeated, search their bodies and the house for Metal Armor and several other items. You can only visit the area once, so be thorough. When you leave via the exit grid, Irwin will reward you a very powerful custom made .223 Pistol, which should be your main firearm unless you use the Sniper Rifle or better. You'll also have received 500xp for the quest.
The Missing Caravans:
Inside the Far Go Traders, on the Downtown map, talk to Rutger and then Butch about the missing caravans. Accept the job from Butch and then seek out Beth in the gun shop (on the same Downtown map) about the caravans. She'll direct you to Slappy and Harold of Old Town. Go there, and on the southwest side, go inside the building and speak with the ghoul Harold. You can learn a lot from Harold and the conversation will be long... but at the end of it, speak with Slappy, who's walking around just outside the entrance to same building. Ask him to take you to the deathclaw for 800xp and an instant teleport to the mouth of the "Lair" area.
The deathclaw has well over 200hp and several powerful attacks, so be prepared to use a lot of stimpaks unless you're a great shot with the Sniper Rifle already and get some fortunate criticals. Apart from the 1500xp you get for defeating the deathclaw, you'll find a dying mutant, who you'll talk to to gain the Mutant Transmission holodisk and a radio. First use the holodisk when it's in your inventory for 100xp (which you get everytime you use a holodisk for the first time) and then take it to Butch at the Far Go outpost in Downtown. When you're through talking to Butch, once again talk with Rutger and tell him about the mutants. You'll give him the holodisk as evidence, and then receive 800 caps and 1000xp.
Knock off Hightower:
In the Maltese Falcon casino on the west side of Downtown, find the man in a leather jacket named Kane. If you don't yet know of Decker, or haven't yet killed Gizmo (or Killian) in Junktown, you can talk with Beth in the weapon shop in Downtown and ask her who to avoid. Ask Kane to see Decker, and he'll take you there immediately. Decker will offer you a job to kill Darren Hightower, who resides in the Heights area west of Downtown. Accept his job, talk to Kane again upstairs for 500 more caps, and exit the Maltese Falcon. This is a chance to kill two birds with one stone. Now join the Theives Circle (see below) in Old Town and accept their quest to steal Hightower's necklace.
When you've joined the Thieves Circle or are ready to kill the Hightowers, enter the Heights and kill everyone there, including Hightower and his wife. You might wish to start from the inside with Hightower himself, but it's your call. The chest inside Hightower's office is where the Necklace from the Thieves Circle quest is (see below), and is trapped. Return to Kane, who will again take you to Decker, 600xp and 2500 caps richer.
Steal Hightower's Necklace:
To get this quest, you must first join the Thieves Circle, located below a building in Old Town, just south of Jacob the arms dealer. Enter the building, and take the stairs in the room. You'll have to pick a couple of doors, and avoid a few traps before making it to the southern most room when in the Thieves Circle. Once you've entered the room with the people, go into the bottom room and talk with Loxley. Ask if you can join the Circle, and take his job. You'll receive 900xp. Talk with Jasmine on your way back up to receive another pair of lockpicks and some other items.
If you haven't already received Decker's quest to kill the Hightower's, you may want to do that now. If you have, you can simply take the necklace from the trapped chest in Hightower's office once their all dead. If you decide to take the stealthy approach, wait until night and enter the building when the guard walks away from the door. Disarm the trapped chest in his office if you can, or set it off. Take the necklace inside and return to Loxley and Jasmine for 500xp, 3000 caps and a very nice set of electronic lockpicks, which can come in handy later.
Dispose of Jain:
Decker's second quest from the Maltese Falcon (see "Knock off Hightower" above for the first) is to kill Jain, a member of the CoC, or Children of the Cathedral. Accept and head south of Downtown to the Merchants section. The first building on the west side is an outpost for the CoC. Inside (if you have the North American version) there will be a small kid peddling flowers. It would be a good idea to annoy her without buying her flower so that she leaves before the impending fight... or else risk having the town join in and being labeled a child killer. To do that, simply enter conversation, and exhaust the conversation topics except for the "sure, I'll buy a flower" one. Continue entering conversation with her using this same tactic (as needed) until she gets fed up and leaves on her own. Make sure her way is clear.
Next, open the southern door where you see two people, one in robes. That person is Jain. Talk to her, and use any conversation path you like to annoy her, since you'll be subsequently taking her life afterward (gruesome game isn't it). Now attack her, her guard, and the rest of the occupants of the building except the peasants. Afterward, head on over to the northwest door of the building, and use your lockpicks to pick it. Inside, be sure to grab the CoC purple robes off the shelf, along with any of the other decent gear, and keep the robes until the end of the game. Return to Kane and Decker for a total of 5000 caps and 700 more xp.
Stop Decker's Gang:
After either of Decker's quests, but preferably after the 2nd quest for the most xp, head over to the police dept. on the eastern part of the Downtown map, save your game and speak with Sheriff Justin Greene. Tell him you have a crime to report, and about either of Decker's quests: the Hightowers or Jain. Likely you won't have to persuade the Sheriff to help you, but if he doesn't believe you, reload and try again. Mr. Greene will then suggest a raid on Decker and his gang and give you 300 caps up front. Agree to help out, and you'll be teleported to the downstairs of the Maltese Falcon for a big fight. Be especially careful of Kane and attempt to take him out first. When it's over, Greene will give you 1000 more caps and 1400xp. Return to the Falcon, and head downstairs to loot the bodies.
Blackmail Iguana Bob:
On the Downtown Map, you'll find Bob's Iguana shack on the southern end. To complete this, you'll need to have been to Junktown to see Doc. Morbid's operation there inside his hospital on the Entrance map. There is a midget down the ladder of the hospital who will tell you about Morbid's fascination with human parts if you tell him the Boss sent you, and of his trading operation with Iguana Bob. Now you have the information to blackmail Iguana Bob. Confront him about the operation and you'll be able to initially extort 50 to 200 caps weekly, which will give you 500xp but will lower your Karma by a few points. Afterward, you can continue to increase the amount in increments, but he might refuse to pay at some point.
Extend Vault 13's Time Limit:
On the Merchant map, south of Downtown, head to the southern building, and speak with the master merchant. Ask to buy water for Vault 13 for 2000 caps (or less with barter), and it will extend your time limit another 100 days. However, in the unpatched version, the mutants will find Vault 13 quicker, which reduces the time limit for the overall game to 400 days from 500. In the patched version, these two upper limits are removed, and you have many years to solve the mutant threat. Extending the time limit will net you another 1000xp.
The Caravan Jobs:
- Crimson Caravan:
For 600 caps upon safe return, they are located on the northwest side of the Downtown map. Talk first to Demetre, and then to Keri when it's time to leave for the job. They leave on the 3rd and 17th of every month. Their route includes the Brotherhood, Boneyard, Junktown and Necropolis and is the most dangerous. It also is the best for xp, weapons and armor.
- Far Go Traders:
For 400 caps upon safe return, they are located in central Downtown. Talk with Rutger for the job, and then with the caravan driver in the same building when it's time to leave for the job. They leave on the 8th, 18th and 28th of every month. Slightly safer than the Crimson caravan, their route includes the Brotherhood, Boneyards and Junktown.
- Water Merchants:
For 200 caps upon safe return, they are located on the Merchant map, south of Downtown. Talk with the master merchant, then to the driver outside the building when it's time to leave for the job. They leave on the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th of every month. This is a particularly safe and uneventful tour through the Boneyards or Junktown.