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SS Starter's Guide

Welcome to Sim Settlements! SS overhauls Fallout 4's settlements, marrying Maxis mechanics with Bethesda's environmental storytelling. As I've introduced friends and family to the mod, I've noticed a few stumbling blocks. The answers are spread all over, so I wanted to put the important bits in one place. I also want to indulge my inner Prima Guide writer, so here we are ;)


Who is this guide for?


Complete beginners, and players easing back in, will get the most out of my guide. I'll be walking through things as we meet them - starting at Sanctuary, with a fresh new game.

Only SS is required. However I strongly recommend [IR] Industrial Revolution. It helps solve power, water, and other resource bottlenecks. It improves your settlement gameplay. It's included in the three-in-one pack.

SS doesn't come with martial plots. You'll need [IR] or an addon.

[Mod] Brae's Defences adds powerful late-game martial plots.​

This guide assumes you're playing Conqueror [CQ] peacefully, if you have it. I will also assume you are playing at maximum SS difficulty - you chose the hardest option when activating the mod.

I will not cover details. To learn more, I recommend kinggath's youtube channel. For Rise of the Commonwealth [RC] and aggressive [CQ] try his quick starts. Other SS builders, contributors, and youtubers have created guides and LPs. Find tips and tricks, how-to's, and other playstyles in the forum. Finally, if you have any questions, ask away! The SS community is one of the most constructive and helpful online groups I've had the pleasure of joining.

Anyway, on with the guide!


Recommended Mods


None of these [Mod] mods are required. However, they all improve the SS experience (and are great mods):

  • HUDFramework - with SS, adds bars so you see settlement needs at a glance. Almost a necessity, but you can make do with city planner reports.

Also, some personal recommendations:

  • Addon Packs - as many as your drive can store! So many admirable plots, secrets, mechanics, city plans and more to discover. Nearly all can be installed mid-game.
  • Better Settlers - adds some immersive variety to your SSims ;) Grab the no lollygagging addon for snappier town meetings.
  • BS Defence - settlements win offscreen raids if defence is high enough.
  • FO4 Hotkeys - hotkeying SS tools beats Pip-boy diving.
 
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Lystraeus

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Character Creation - War. War never changes.


Before you can knock 'em out at the Veteran's Hall, you've some SS wizards to jog through. Go with the defaults for now. Many settings can be freely toggled with MCM or holotape later, so don't worry if you change your mind.

[CQ] players get a pre-built city wizard. Give yourself room to grow. Remove every settlement from the list of pre-built City Plans, except for inhabited areas in danger zones: County Crossing, Finch Farm, Greentop Nursery, Oberland Station, Somerville Place, Tenpines Bluff, The Slog, and Warwick Homestead. Set cities to level one. Turn off auto-upgrade and population growth.​

[CQ] You'll have a progress bar as SS places the pre-built cities. It should complete by the time you exit Vault 111. If not, leave the game running while you make some tea.​


Sanctuary - Welcome Home!


So you've fallen out the freezer, caught up with Codsworth, bopped the bloatflies and won the workshop. All you're missing are settlers - so go save 'em!

...

Pickup every ASAM sensor. Run the holotape to activate SS. At difficulty, select Hardcore.

[Mod] You will need some martial plots. [IR] adds one. Brae's Defences adds powerful late-game martial plots.​

...

You return to Sanctuary, now at population 5. Time to place your first SS plot. Find a spot, and place a 2x2 exterior agricultural plot. After a short delay, foundations appear. Find the ASAM sensor (it's yellow, on the wooden post). ASAM -> Choose plan, and change to one of kinggath's mud farms.

You've now decided what plan gets built. But nothing will happen without a worker. Assign a Long, or Sturges, to the farm. After a delay, they'll start building (well, a normal settler would, but a game quirk makes the Longs/Sturges hammer walls or go hiking. Ignore that). Go to MCM -> SS -> Immersion (or Holotape -> Immersion), and turn off realistic build times. After a few minutes the farm will complete. Go up to the post and view plaque. Their brand new farm provides... 2 food.

That's a lot less than the 6 food a regular farmer could earn. So why bother? The answer is core to Sim Settlements: plots are investments. It's 2 food now, but with the right conditions, it'll upgrade. One day it'll dwarf regular crops. But right now, you've 5 mouths to feed and only 2 food grown. So plant some crops and assign someone to them. This is the second lesson: SS plots and base game items work best together.

So food is sorted. Water is next. Build some hand pumps.

[IR] has advanced industrial water plots, but we can't afford them right now.​

Next up is defence.

[Mod] BS Defence will guarantee your settlements win offscreen attacks if defence is higher than food plus water.​

Fallout 4 has two defence games: your defence score, and how well your settlement actually kills bad guys. Preston, and arming your settlers, helps with the second. Turrets do both, except for one thing - maintenance. Every point of turret defence - and generator power - costs maintenance. This is offset by tax. Check the farm plot again. It gives a small amount of tax. It'll increase with upgrades. If total maintenance is greater than total tax, your settlement can go into debt. So don't build turrets for now. Instead place an exterior Martial plot, and assign someone the job.

You'll notice something about the Martial plot - the red power sign. That's another quirk. Your Martial will build to Level 1 just fine without power. None of the SS plots require power at level 1 (except Advanced Industry). However they will need power - and more - to upgrade. But we can't afford the generator maintenance just yet. Talking of which, it's time to build the city planner's desk.


City Planner's Desk


The desk has many tools depending on what you hover over. Check Supplies (the safe). It'll show maintenance, tax, and stored supplies. If defence is still too low, donate weapons and armor. You will lose these. Settlers won't equip them, but it will increase defence score for about a week. You can also donate food, water, caps, beer and more - so loot that Cram!

We need more tax so we can run a small generator for a beacon. Clear some houses, and build six interior residential plots. Like Martial, they don't need power for level 1. Assign the Longs and Sturges to them. Mama Murphy and Preston might not use them, so place a couple of bedrolls.

Assigning settlers gets a little fiddly. To help, craft the Gavel at the city planner's desk. Hotkey it, you'll use it a lot.

[Mod] IDEK's Logistics comes with summon homeless, jobless, and provisioner gavels.​

Check the city planner's desk. You should have enough tax for a small generator and a beacon. Don't wire the generator to any plots for now. Your first recruited settlers should work agricultural and martial plots. If settlers arrive while you're there, stash the generator to save on maintenance.

If you're still struggling to get defence cover for food and water, fine-tune the number of hand-placed crops worked. Build traps. Traps are maintenance-free (as is the Wind Generator).

Checklist for Sanctuary:

  • The Longs and Sturges are assigned to one agricultural plot, one martial plot, and some crops
  • Food score greater than or equal to number of settlers (full food bar)
  • Full water bar
  • Defence equal to food plus half water. Better: food plus water (full defence bar)
  • At least three residential plots at level 1
  • Enough tax for a small generator and beacon
Sanctuary is ready to go. Time to head into the Wastes!


Contents
 
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Lystraeus

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Red Rocket - Rocket 69


Starting empty settlements is similar to Sanctuary. However the beacon's small generator will need maintenance. Build a city planner's desk and donate 100 caps to cover it. You could also send settlers ahead, before building the generator. The Wind Generator does not require maintenance.

The Gavel can order settlers to clear up the settlement, if you don't want to.

[Mod] Workshop Framework can change the beacon so the first settler arrives immediately.​

[RC] Settlers can build settlements themselves! Choose a leader and a city plan at the City Planner's desk.​


A settler upgraded their farm - Hallelujah!


After a few in-game days, you'll get a notification. Or perhaps you've returned to Santuary and noticed that food is up, water down. Check out the new farm ;)

The investment is paying off. You can now reassign the loose crop worker; probably to Martial or a new Agricultural. As your plots upgrade, you free up settlers for better things. Upgraded plots use up more resources, however. If your food is very high, reassign the farmer to reduce the defence and water cost. Fix Sanctuary's water and defence bars, and head back out!

Eventually, you'll have spare settlers. It's time to shift from food to the next bottlenecks: power and water.


Contents
 
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Lystraeus

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Power, Martial & Advanced Industry - Electric Mayhem


With more worked plots and upgraded plots, you have enough tax for a better generator.

[IR] adds some powerful options to electrify your settlement. Without it, you'll need to keep adding generators.​

Build two exterior Advanced Industrial plots. Unlike every other plot, it requires power straightaway. Choose building plan, and select the Lumber Mill, and Community Well. Assign the Lumber Mill first. The Mill can upgrade into a Charcoal Pit, then into a Charcoal Power Plant. The Plant will produce lots of power, maintenance free.

Now power the Martial plots. With two operating industries - basic or advanced - they become eligible for upgrades. Higher Martial levels require even more industrial plots.

When the Lumber Mill is built, go to ASAM -> Stockpile. Here the Mill puts half it's output. The rest goes to the workshop. To upgrade, advanced industry also needs a high stockpile. Move the wood from the bench to the stockpile. You can also add any scrap with wood in. Leftover components are eventually returned to the workshop. Go loot some clipboards!

Advanced Industry takes a lot longer to upgrade, even with plenty of stockpiled goods. They also have upgrade choices. Check MCM -> Upgrades has Advanced Plots set to manual. When the Mill is finally ready, go ASAM -> Upgrade -> Coal Pit. There's a Tracking Quest under settings which helps find plots ready to upgrade. There's also a craftable ASAM Vision tool.

Not every stockpiled item can be found as scrap. You may need several settlements with permanent Coal Pits to supply the Commonwealth.


Contents
 
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Lystraeus

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Water & The Technolotree


Upgrade the Community Well to a Pumphouse. When the Pumphouse is ready to upgrade, you might have only one option. That's because the best Water building requires a Coal Pit in the settlement (the idea being that settlers need charcoal to properly filter water).

There's lots of buildings to discover. Upgrade -> Tech Tree shows plots you've found. Keep a note of what you've paired together. Some Advanced Industry requires many buildings present. There's also secrets! Some with multiple steps - including quests, shiny rocks, or drinking dirty bathwater. There's newspapers, lasers, even the Power of Atom. You'll have to figure out the secrets on your own :)


Contents
 
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Lystraeus

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Commercial, Residential, & Happiness


Commercial plots offer services. Surgeries, shops, bars, and more (note to self - no dentists...). To upgrade, build enough residential plots. The housing bar doesn't have to be full - some bedridden settlers are ok - only mostly full.

Wire up the residential and commercial plots. Interior plots are powered radially - wire a nearby pylon or conduit. If it's close, the plot's red bolt turns green.

Happier settlements attract settlers faster, and unhappy settlements won't upgrade very far. When you can support it, build a Recreational or a Commercial plot that provides happiness. Remember the base game stuff works, too - a free settler working a Doctor's Stand might be just what's needed.

Settlers won't invest in their homes without secure jobs. Keep the job bar at least mostly full. Better homes means better commerce.


Contents
 
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Lystraeus

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A better future...


Once your settlement has healthy resource creation, you can switch out plots. Perhaps de-assigning an Agricultural. Or replacing Martial with turrets, now their maintenance is covered. Don't forget base game or modded objects, such as Minutemen artillery or Salvage Beacon stations.

[Mod] IDEK's Logistics adds a provisioner plot, with a Salvage Beacon option.​

For cramped settlements, build upwards. Place multiple floors with staircases, with plots on top of plots. This is easier with interior plots.


Thank you for reading! I hope I helped. If I did, or you have suggestions, let me know in the forums. Show us your settlements! And if you've got ideas for plots, secrets, or city plans, try the Builder's Toolkit, or the City Plan Contest...

As always, have fun... and enjoy the mod =)
 
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