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A Little Intro
The quest "Big Trouble in Big Town" isn't too hard by itself, but it needs a little setup. I beat this using an old save with my character at level 16 with the Broken Steel add-on. The only weapons I used were common ones. This should keep the guide relevant for everyone.
As a side note, there are 2 other unmarked quests tied to this one. "A Sticky Situation" is a simple escort mission that you can get by agreeing to escort Sticky out of Little Lamplight. If you can't find Big Town, then this isn't too bad of a way to do it.
There's also a very important side quest that makes the whole affair in Big Town worthwhile. Inside Red's Clinic, there's an unconscious man called Timebomb. If you have at least 40 points in Medicine, then you can heal him. Once the whole ordeal is over, you can talk to him and receive the Lucky 8 Ball. This gives a +1 boost to Luck whenever it's in your inventory. You might want to wait until after the end to heal him though. If he dies in the attack, then you won't get it.
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A Rocky Start
It isn't too hard to find Big Town. You can follow the river north of Springvale School and find it. I've included a picture to give you a better idea. It's easy to spot once you get close, since it's a large town with a lot of ruined houses. There's only one entrance across a bridge. Just move around the perimeter until you find it. It doesn't matter what you tell Dusty, since he'll let you in anyway.
Feel free to explore the town if you want. There isn't much to see though. You need to look for either Pappy or Kimba. They can both advance the quest by telling you where Red is being held. Naturally she's at a supermutant base to the north. It can never be easy. You need to get to Germantown Police HQ for your little rescue mission. It would seem like heading north would be the logical course, but it's not. You will have to walk right past Hallowed Moors Cemetery. This is a bigger super mutant hideout and there's usually at least one super mutant overlord if you have Broken Steel. If you don't mind a fight or haven't been there before, then go ahead and go as the crow flies. There's a piece of the Keller Family Transcript and some loot, but you'll need to fight hard to get it.
If you have a waypoint further up, like Minefield or Paradise Falls, then I suggest you start there and move in from the side. It's a lot easier. You should be able to see the large police building from far away. It's well marked and full of leftover tents from the refugee camp that the Red Cross set up after the bombs fell.
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Germantown Police HQ
I'll note that I seemed to have had an oddly easy time for this mission. There just weren't many super mutants around, but I thought there were when I played through it awhile ago. So...stay alert. You'll face some array of leveled super mutants. Super mutant overlords can spawn here, so bring some serious weaponry if you're above 20. I saw one at level 16 though.
You need to go over some part of the broken fence or head into the camp area. There's some medical supplies left, but you can feel free to ignore it. There are 2 possible points of entry into the police headquarters. There's a door on the ground floor that you can lockpick if you have 100 points in it. If you have enough points, then feel free to do it. You'll get to skip a few battles on the top floor but also miss a little loot. It's your call. The other door is a broken wall with an exposed stairwell. Climb up the stairs and go along the ledge to find the door to the top floor.
This is just an office area. There should only be 2 super mutants here, and they're actually having a conversation. You can swing around the door way and take out both of them. The hunting rifle is still effective, but the shotgun is naturally a bit better in these close quarters. Either way, use the office walls as cover and take them out. You should then be free to explore the area. Just be careful, since there are a lot of mines. They are a little hard to spot in the ruins, so look for the red light. They are also placed in strategic areas, so don't just run up to the first aid kits or the safes.
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You need to look for the steps down to the ground floor. There should be another 2 super mutants. It's just a matter of popping into VATS and taking them out, unless you spot the overlord. If that happens, then just keep firing. The rest of the red spots should just be radroaches, so take them out as you go.
You should be able to spot the cell block area. One of the super mutants should have the jailer key. Otherwise you can lockpick the door or hack the computer to do the emergy cell release. Talk to Red to realize that there's another prisoner.
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If you want some good karma and a more complete rescue, then you need to go down to the kitchen area to save Shorty. You can follow the blood trail to reach the stairs. There will be one more super mutant. He seemed to be abnormally strong. He was just listed as a super mutant, but he had the health of an overlord for me. He also has a lot of grenades, so be careful.
All you have to do is kill this one tough super mutant and then talk to Shorty. He'll follow you out. Go back upstairs and fetch Red from her cell. You should then look at the map for the waypoint. That locked door on the ground floor isn't locked if you're just leaving. The upstairs level is a little dangerous for AIs if you didn't clear the traps and mines, so we'll just take a shortcut. Kill any super mutants still wandering around and just fast travel back to Big Town. You can give them weapons and walk back, but that's just a little pointless.
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The Defense of Big Town
This is the unmarked conclusion. Talk to Red once you get back. If you ask for a reward, she'll give you 300 caps. You can also pass a speech check to get another 200 caps from the medicine fund. This is obviously bad karma. She should also ment ion that they'll counterattack the village soon. You can offer to just defend them, but doing this will mean that they are killed off while you're gone. You need to teach them to defend themselves.
If you have 50 Sneak, Science, Small Guns, or Explosives, then you can help.
You just have to sneak for a moment in front of them to teach them. Dusty will run over in a minute and warn of the attack. Just follow someone to the back of the village and crouch in a hiding place. A few super mutants will wander around for about 2 minutes and then leave. Just stay in a corner and watch TV for a few minutes. This is a pretty pain free option for survival.
Science is still broken. It used to be that the robots wouldn't spawn. There was a console trick, but it was a pain. Now they spawn, but the second robot launches into the air and crashes somewhere in the wasteland apparently. If you fix the first, then someone will run out to repair it. Just ignore it.
Just throw a mine on the bridge to demonstrate the technique. Then kill the mutants. A boring and fairly dangerous option.
This option is the most fun, if a bit dangerous. You might want to save and do it once just because it's cool. Go over to their makeshift firing range and shoot the cans, bottles, and teddy bars they lined up. They'll help out too. Just fire away. Dusty should run over and raise the alarm. The entire village will then sprint over to the bridge and form a V around it. They'll then absolutely tear into the super mutants. I saw 2 waves of 2 super mutants with super sledges. Just fire wildly into them and try to keep everyone alive. You can reverse pickpocket good armor onto them, but that's your call. Once they're dead, the village will cheer and you'll get more karma.
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After it's all done, the town should be fairly safe. Talk to Red and heal Timebomb if you haven't already. Then talk to Timebomb to get the Lucky 8 ball. Red will also offer free healing for life if you save Timebomb. You're pretty much free to go. If you befriend Buttercup, she can give you gifts occasionally. You can also enslave Red in her clinic without many consequences, if you want. Other than that, you're done.
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