Fallout 2: Skill Upgrade and Book Reference

From PlayItHardcore

We all know skillpoints are usually plentiful, but we also know that every point matters. Besides, Not all playthroughs can afford (or will not elect) to have a high Intelligence.

This can be largely mitigated by finding and consuming skill books that will raise the matching skill by up to 7%. Such books are somewhat rare, and a non-exhaustive list is presented here.

Quick reference

Which books raise which skills ?

  • Guns and Bullets - Small Guns
  • Deans Electronics - Repair
  • Scout Handbook - Outdoorsman
  • Big Book of Science - Science (duh)
  • First Aid Book - First Aid (hurrrrr)

What will reading do ?

Books raise a skill by a number depending on your current skill level, ranging from 6-7 at low skill levels (20-30%) to 1-2 (70-90%). You get twice that amount if the skill is tagged. This stops at 91% (or 92% if you raise a tagged skill from 90%). Reading a book takes from 1 to 10 hours depending on your Intelligence (i.e. 11-IN).

There is no limit to how many books you can read, but you won't be able to read books after reaching the 91% ceiling. You also cannot force-feed books to your companions.

Infinite sources

Some merchants will restock books, often at a very slow rate. Grinding them out should serve no purpose, as the game can be trivially completed without any skill but Speech, at which point an easter egg will provide an opportunity to max every skill at once.

While most books can be found (restocking) across the world, Lao Chou in SF is by far the best source, restocking 1-4 of every skill book within 2-4 days, albeit with only 30-40% independant probability for each of them.

Static locations (old content)

The content below is historical, incomplete, unnecessary metagaming, and should probably be cleaned up entirely.


Big Book of Science: Acquire some science goodness from the bookshelves in the manager's office (Harold's house).

Deans Electronics: North part of Gecko, in western part of Skeet's repair shop. Loot ahoy!


Guns and Bullets: As you enter Klamath, follow the street past the Buckner house. You'll see a small field of corn, with a house immediately south of it. Head on in and check the bookcase. You'll find some minor valuables and a Guns & Ammo magazine.

Scout Handbook: One of the kids in Trapper Town (eastern part of Klamath) has a Scout Handbook. Steal it from him/her, nothing bad happens if you get cought trying.

Outdoorsman Upgrade: Talk to Smiley after you rescue him from the Caves.

Unarmed and Melee Upgrade: Talk to John Sullivan and play along with his joke, then say he's pulling your leg. This man gives you a 10% upgrade no matter your skill level (no more than 300%, of course). This makes him great for getting from 140 to 150 instead of spending lots of skill points.

Military Base

Deans Electronics: Outside of the base, southernmost tent. It's just lying around on the floor there. Beware wolves.

Deans Electronics: Another one, also on the outside of the base. North western tent.


First Aid Book: The bookcase behind Grisham.

Guns and Bullets: Go out east of Grisham's house, into the outhouse. There's a Small Guns book next to the toilet.

New Reno

Deans Electronics: Back room of New Reno Arms (in the western-most part of New Reno) can be entered if you have a bit of lockpicking skills. You can also blast it open with a bomb. There are major amounts of good loot here, as well as a wonderful blue book.

Guns and Bullets: The other back room in New Reno Arms, but you'll either have to kill the owner or sneak past the dogs. It's in one of the smaller bookcases that a dog stands in front of.

Deans Electronics: In Boss Salvatore's room, north side, in a bookcase.

Scout Handbook: Renesco has one, barter for it.

Prizefighter: Becoming a prize fighter will give you a slight bonus to unarmed, and each match will increase your resistance to normal damage by giving you 3 soak and 1% immunity per fight. The damage resistance is more than worth it. You can play five matches in all if you lose one of them (easily done by kicking the masticator when you meet him).


Scout Handbook: In an abandoned building on the easternmost map, south side, on a bookcase. This map is most easily recognizable as Frog Morton's hideout's map. There's lots of mutated rats around.

Scout Handbook: In the Kokoweef mine headquarters, in a bookshelf in the first room.

Scout Handbook: Mines area, western part of town. A bookshelf in a house to the south west. There'll be traps and enemies here if you have the Frog Morton quest, mutated animals unless you've killed them already.

Scout Handbook: Malamute Saloon, in a modern-looking bookcase in the back.

Guns and Bullets: Mayor Ascorti's office in the back of the casino (enter through the Wanamingo Mine).

San Fran

Vendor: The shop to the left as you pass the main archway sells many, many books. Careful of the "Chemistry Journals", however, which are totally useless (used only in Fallout 1) and look like Big Book of Science. "Power Armor Manual" is also useless.

Sierra Army Depot

Unarmed Upgrade: Use each punching bag for a total bonus of +10% in Unarmed, or +8% if you have that skill tagged. There is controversy over whether or not you actually get more if the skill is untagged. Confirmation is required. It's a free unarmed upgrade, at any rate.

2 First Aid Books: First floor, room as far South-East as you can get, in a desk.

Guns and Bullets: First floor, barracks locker.

2x Big Book of Science, 1x Deans Electronics, 1x First Aid Book: Third floor, room to the South-East

Deans Electronics: Third floor, room as far to the North-West as you can get.

The Den

Guns and Bullets: Get the Guns n Ammo book from the house in which Lara's gang is holed up in.

Vault City

Vendor: The main amenities office will sell you books to increase your repair and science skills. This man restocks ever 3-5 days, and will probably be your primary resource for books throughout the midgame.

Free: Go into the information center, talk to the guy there and tell him you like the solidity of a book in your hands. You will get books to increase your repair and science skills if your intelligence is high enough. If it isn't, using mentats is an option.

Scout Handbook: Get down into the vault, to the storage level. In one of these rooms you will find the yellow book we love so much. It's behind a locked door.

Big Book of Science: Same as the Scout Handbook above. This one's behind a door unlocked by default.

First Aid Book: This one is in the lowest level of the vault in the room with lots of lockers, the door to the room is locked.

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