Appalachia is full of wandering creatures. Otherworldly monstrosities were bred for only movies and comic books. Not for the faint of heart, West Virginia is a hostile wasteland with terrors around every corner. Vault Dwellers may be hesitant to emerge from their underground hole as they are taught about the dangers above-ground. Irradiated monsters and giant bats are one thing, but the possible run-in with new age religions is not present on many minds. Something lurks beneath the soil of Appalachia. It flies unknown above the heads of the land’s inhabitants. This is about the mysterious Interloper and the cultists that rage across the wasteland of Appalachia.
The Cult of Appalachia
There are many things that one does not expect when emerging from an underground haven after 20 years. Vault Dwellers have prepared for irradiated bugs, cows, people, even giant bats were not out of the question. A few select recluses believed in things that would otherwise be unbelievable. Creatures that would only exist in frightening stories told, not even to the bravest of spirits. The Mothman made itself known to the people of West Virginia before the Great War; it now is revered as a supernatural entity.
The Mothman Cult’s following has survived through the end of the world, one of the few things Vault Dwellers can be greeted with once they exit the vault. There were remnants of the cult scattered around Appalachia when Vault 76 first opened, shrines and skeletons belonging to possible sacrifices. With no one in sight, the images alone are enough to feed the imagination of what this cult was about. Many probably chucked it up to them being like the raiders of the land, who were also known to gouge and maim their victims. But there were a few who were afraid. Afraid of the cultists, afraid the cultists may have been right about whatever they were worshipping.
Before people moved from the North, the town of Point Pleasant was empty save for a few scorched wanderings around. Point Pleasant may seem familiar to some, as it is also known to be the epicenter of our own Mothman folklores. Point Pleasant in Fallout 76 does not stray far from that basis, with the Mothman Museum and random paraphernalia lying around in barren apartments. One of the most prominent evidence of the cult’s existence and number one Mothman fan was Jeff Lane. Upon entering Point Pleasant, across from one of the Responders’ bases, an apartment belongs to a man named Jeff Lane.
Jeff Lane was a peculiar yet avid member of the Mothman Cult before the bombs dropped. He could be seen around Point Pleasant handing out posters and other Mothman-oriented items to spread the word about the cult. In his minimally decorated apartment, you can come across one of his holotapes called “Interloper”:
“There are other things in this world now that cannot be explained. The end of the world has awoken… something. We all know the Mothman is out there, stalking and watching us, but what of the unseen. There are things we can only glimpse in our minds, great entities beyond our comprehension. The Mothman is a creature, more like us than the unknowable horrors in the peripheral vision of our subconscious minds. No longer just a false memory now… I have heard a tale… of this entity made real, deep in the earth. The storyteller was mad by any reckoning, but his story no less true. My name is Jeff Lane, and I will lay bare this…watcher. No matter how deep I must go, I will come to know the true nature of the interloper.”Fallout 76. 2018.
Jeff introduces us to something even deeper, scarier than the Mothman. This entity that he’s describing sounds ancient and foreboding. Somewhere deep in the earth lies a creature that has gained the attention of Jeff and the other cultists around Appalachia. It has some connection to Mothman and, perhaps, other things.
Shrines to the Ancient Ones
Throughout Appalachia, there are numerous shrines dedicated to the Interloper or Mothman. Many of these shrines are in churches or other places of worship. The first one you come across is one located in Point Pleasant. There is a body of water in Point Pleasant and near the edge of it, in what looks like a small plaza, is a shrine dedicated to Mothman. Surrounding the shrine are small Mothman eggs. This is one of the first instances the Vault Dweller can be introduced to the Mothman’s speculative existence.
As you continue to explore Point Pleasant, you can find the Mothman Museum, dedicated to everything Mothman-related. There is a bathroom door that appears to be locked, and you can either picklock it or find the bathroom key. Inside the bathroom, you will find a blown-out wall with a set of candles leading you down to a basement.
Low-and-behold is a place of worship presumed to be for the Mothman cult, with interesting totems lining the pews and the back wall. Mangled up roots and branches that appear to be erupting from below, decorated with animal skulls and other various bones.
Kanawha County Cemetery
Upon entering the Kanawha County Cemetery, you find a small nook just before the gravestones. Inside the nook are a few candles and small shrines, similar to those found in the Mothman museum basement.
There is a church that sits on top of a hill in the cemetery. Inside the church lies a few gruesome scenes. Once entering the church, you are introduced to a giant shrine, but you also noticed that the entire hall is littered with skeletons. There are cups next to the corpses and some besides a punch bowl on a table. It appears that a mass suicide had at the church may be right after the bombs dropped.
Before people returned to Appalachia, the church had a very ominous shrine dedicated to large and menacing. It also resembled the small shrines in the nook outside the cemetery but was larger in size. The stains on the walls gave the sacred idol a horrific look, almost making one think it may be blood. You begin to second guess those claims as you venture upstairs only to be introduced to a violent sacrifice.
After people came back to Appalachia, the cultist took back Kanawha Cemetery and rededicated their idol to Mothman in hopes of appeasing him. It would seem as if the previous idol may have been to the Interloper. We can only wonder why the sudden change of tutelary.
Lucky Hole Mine
A pre-war mine owned by the Lucky Hole Mining Company, the Mothman Cult eventually settled within the mine after the Great War. Lucky Hole Mine is the center of cultist activity. You will see the mine decorated with eerie lanterns and shrines dedicated to not the Mothman but something else while venturing inside. There are signs of people who were alive before the war that believed something in the mine. When you first walk through the mine entrance, there is a terminal to your right in an area that looks like a reception. Previous mine operators dealt with people coming into Lucky Hole Mine asking for tours and getting angry when denied.
This “Interloper” seems to have been calling out to people for years because as you continue through the mine, you find a holotape that was recorded by none other than Jeff Lane. Confirming that Jeff Lane went out in search of the Interloper, he also believes himself to be “The Chosen.” A prophet? A vessel? A sacrifice? Jeff Lane is determined to meet the Interloper, believing that the encounter will reveal all truth and reality.
He is not the only one to make this trek through the mine, though, as there seems to be some sort of worship site with a podium in the center. This probably answers some of what happened to those people who eventually took over the mine. Deeper in the mine, rumbles can be felt under your feet. You want to leave, but you are also curious. It can be weird going through Lucky Hole Mine as some paths lead back to the worship site, but once you find your way to exit, you must take one more path.
The path is narrow and hard to traverse. It is dark and only lit by one single candle, but as you keep going, you see it. At the end of the final tunnel, a small glow is all that welcomes you. As you walk through the hole that leads to a large cavern, you are startled by a giant creature. It is shaped like a man almost, with its legs and feet buried into the soil. Its head sprouting out these tendrils that occasionally move, and arms growing out of its back. This is the Interloper. The First Born of the Woods, as many cultists call it.
If you attack it, it will bleed but will not attack you. In fact, you cannot interact with the Interloper at all, but why would you want to as you walk over numerous skeletons in what appears to be mass suicide. Was the Interloper calling people here so they would kill themselves and feed on their decomposing bodies? The creature is dormant and seems like it cannot move from where it is embedded into the earth. Seeing as there isn’t anything left to discover, you can then take your leave.
Thoughts on the Cults
At first, the Mothman cult and the Interloper cult seem to be two different cults, but their totems connect them. The way Jeff Lane speaks of the Mothman as being that is like us, and perhaps it is more of an introduction to venturing into the beliefs of the Interloper. These cults cannot be up for debate as both creatures are real; their followings have survived a nuclear apocalypse. The Mothman cult suffered a schism, as the Mothman was more physical in nature. The Interloper called to people, which would give it supernatural abilities. The Mothman can be explained by moths absorbing the Great War’s radiation and growing, but the Interloper is something else. The Mothman sect became more violent after the war, whereas those following the Interloper seem to make their end in Lucky Hole Mine.
Seeing as it is the post-apocalypse, having cults seems like the only way to cope with the way things have turned out. Appalachia is a hostile land full of threats, and those threats could be those who believe their purpose is to be sacrificed for the creatures that we do not understand.