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Basic Info

1. Weapons: Each of your NPC's will prefer certain weapons to others. Talk to your NPC's to find out what sort of weapons they prefer, and tell them to use their best weapon to get them to change. A good way to control your NPC weapon choices is to keep extra weapons in containers such as bags and backpacks; an NPC will not remove an item from a backpack. Also keep in mind if you give an NPC a burst weapon you do it at the risk of your own health.

2. Armor: NPC's cannot change armor, period, don't even try.

3. Items: Your NPC's (with the exception of Dogmeat) will use stimpacks and the occasional super stimpack if they have any in their inventory, they will never use drugs, flares, or any other consumables except ammo. I highly suggest leaving each NPC with a couple stimpacks at all times, they are more conservative with them than you might expect and generally show good judgment.

4. Control: Be careful of your NPC's blocking your way in tight spaces; you have no way to move them directly. I suggest talking to them and ordering them to move out to a far or medium distance. To move items around between your inventories use the steal command, you will never be caught and attacked when stealing from an NPC, it has a 100% success rate.

5. Take care of your NPC's: If one of your NPC's is badly wounded use a stimpack, first aid, or doctor on him instead of resting. It is not worth the time spent to heal unless several party members are injured. Pay special attention to Dogmeat, as he is incapable of healing himself.

Hit Points: 50
Top Weapons: Desert Eagle and SMG
Location: Shady Sands
Appearance: Long hair, leather jacket, blue jeans.
Notes: Chances are Ian will be your first NPC. He costs 100 caps to hire or if you have fairly good charisma you can offer him a piece of the action to convince him to join for free. Ian behaves as if he has the fast shot perk, as he is the only NPC to consistently fire more than once a round, this will be very useful early in the game when Ian is a superior fighter than your player character. Ian, more than any other NPC, will shoot you, so think carefully before giving him a SMG. Ian will tear up your enemies with this weapon, but he will also shoot you a lot. If Ian is in your party he will occasionally give you hints or comments about the area you are in.

Hit Points: 50
Top Weapons: None
Location: Junktown, across from Gizmo's
Appearance: A dog
Notes: To get Dogmeat to join you either approach him wearing a leather jacket, or feed him an iguana on a stick. Dogmeat gets a ridiculous number of attacks per round and frequently knocks down his opponents. Keep an eye on Dogmeat's hit points more than any other NPC, he cannot heal himself so you will need to stimpack him whenever he's badly injured. Dogmeat's peaks early on as he cannot upgrade his weapons like other NPC's, but he will still be highly useful for the entire game.

Hit Points: 60
Top Weapons: Combat Shotgun and Sniper Rifle
Location: Junktown in the bar
Appearance: A bald man wearing leather armor
Notes: Tycho can be found in the Skum Pit at night. He will raise your outdoorsman skill if you talk to him. To get him to join you must have taken the quest from Killian to bust Gizmo. (Easter Egg: Tycho is the grandson of one of the characters in the old CRPG Wasteland, if you ask him about his history he will mention this, and if you question him about Gizmo, he will reference Fat Freddy from Wasteland)

Hit Points: 39
Top Weapons: 14mm Pistol and .223 Pistol
Location: The Boneyard among the followers of the apocalypse
Appearance: A girl dressed in leather sporting a green mohawk
Notes: Katja is not a spectacular NPC, but she is still worth your time. I highly suggest equipping Katja with the 14mm Pistol, as she gets critical hits quite often. If you talk to Katja you can ask her to pick locks.

Hit Points: 35
Top Weapons: .223 Pistol and Ripper
Location: Shady Sands, joins party in Raider Camp
Appearance: Blonde girl wearing tan clothes
Notes: Tandi is intended to be a temporary NPC for a quest, but if you do not return to Shady Sands after rescuing her she will stay with you. If you ever return to Shady Sands she will immediately leave and cannot rejoin your party. Tandi is the most difficult NPC to control, as she does not have a dialog tree while in your party. It is exceedingly difficult to get Tandi to switch weapons so I suggest stealing her knife away as soon as she joins you or she may equip it and never switch back. Do not give Tandi any weapons at all until you find a .223 pistol, and then give it to her and she should equip it upon entering combat. After this I would not suggest giving her any weapons at all (except possibly a ripper) unless they are inside a container.

Temporary NPC's

You occasionally get temporary NPC's that will assist you for one or two battles, you have no control over them, but they will attack your enemies.

When you fight Gizmo Killian and one of his guards will assist you.

When you fight Decker the sheriff and his deputy will help you.

If you can convince the followers of the apocalypse to assist you, there will be several followers waiting to help you in the cathedral, they are actually pretty good fighters, but they are armed with pathetic weapons and only metal armor so they won't last long.

If you can convince the Brotherhood of Steel to assist you with the military base three paladins will be waiting outside the military base, they will help you get inside, but will not follow you in.

If you can acquire assistance for the blades via the Gunrunners, then a force of blades troops will help you kill the regulators in Adytum.

If you work as a caravan guard you will usually be working with other caravan guards who will assist you in fighting off raiders and wild animals.