Walkthrough for the quest Human Error in Fallout 4. How to complete the quest non-violently, and how to successfully side with either Honest Dan or Dr. Chambers.
The ways by which you can start this quest are surprisingly limited - without sneaking or fighting through a dungeon full of hostiles or hacking a [Master] difficulty terminal, you’re pretty much relegate to visiting [Covenant] and talking to Honest Dan. If you find the missing caravan (one of the first objectives for this quest) before actually starting said quest, it won’t have the evidence you need. If you stumble upon the entrance to the [Compound] before starting the quest you’ll find yourself confronted by Manny and some of his goons. You can talk your way out of trouble by passing a hard dialog check, but this just allows you to leave.
That being the case, talk to Swanson sitting outside of [Covenant], take the SAFE test and respond however you wish, then enter [Covenant]. Inside, seek out a man named Honest Dan, who will be interrogating a settler about some missing Caravan. After this fruitless endeavor, he’ll turn his attention to you, expressing his frustration at the locals. He’ll ask for your help in finding out what you can about this caravan, offering to cut you in on the deal if you assist. Haggle for some caps up front (a moderate difficulty check) then accept to start the quest Human Error.
There are a lot of clues you can find, but you might as well deal with this caravan before doing anything else, that way you can limit the rest of your investigation to the confines of [Covenant]. Before you go, talk to Honest Dan again and ask him “What’s a synth?” to scratch off an optional quest objective and learn about the hidden terror that has Covenant on edge.
Next, find a Mr. Handy robot named Deezer loitering about and talk to it. It has one purpose - to offer you some lemonade. You can try to interrogate it, or question the contents of its “lemonade”, but you’re really just limited to accepting some of Deezer’s Lemonade, or declining. Whatever your opinion of Covenant, the lemonade is legit, restoring 50 HP with no negative side effects. You can only collect one bottle of lemonade a day from Deezer. More importantly, as innocuous as this beverage is, it’s a clue that’ll help you out shortly.
Leave Covenant and follow the road north, turning east when you reach a fork. The caravan - consisting of two dead Brahmin and a dead Gunner - will be on the road ahead of you. Loot what you please, but for the purposes of this quest, search a blue Cooler, inside of which you’ll find Deezer’s Lemonade. A sure sign that this caravan was, in fact, in Covenant. You can also search some blood on the road [Perception 6+] to determine that the blood trail leads towards Covenant.
Search Covenant for Evidence
Once you’ve searched the sacked caravan, it’s time to return to Covenant and start hunting for clues. Surprisingly nothing you’ve done thus far has achieved anything besides confirming that there is, in fact, a reason to go sleuthing around Covenant. Here are a few of the things you can do to further your investigation:
Talk to a woman named Talia McGovern, pick the option “Covenant investigation”, then follow up with “Problem with synths” and “Lie about test” to get an easy dialog check, “Lie about Dan”. This will cause her to freak out and mention some “Compound”.
Penny Fitzgerald - proprietress of the general store - is only too willing to gossip. Pick the dialog options “Covenant investigation”, “Missing caravan”, then “Gossip about Dan”. This will get you to a moderate dialog check, “Butter her up”, which, if you succeed, will cause her to blurt out details about some “Compound”.
In the easternmost house - the “office” - you can find a Bookshelf to investigate, a Safe Report note on a desk, and a Broken Radio you can examine. While the first two are merely interesting, if you’ve got [Luck 9+] you can interact with the radio and pick the option [Luck 9+] Fiddle with radio] to gain some intel on this “Compound”.
If you learn about this “Compound” by one of the ways mentioned above, you can talk to Honest Dan and he’ll suggest getting more information from Jacob Orden. Unfortunately he’s smarter than a goldfish and doesn’t just blurt out information, but Honest Dan’s suggestion contained a bit of a hint - Jacob “forgets his password”.
In the “office” building to the east there’s an Office Terminal [Master]. If you can hack this terminal, you don’t need to bother with anything else and can get the intel you need without further fuss. Just wait until the building is empty, close the door, and sneak while you’re snooping. Note that the door to the office will be locked [Master] at night, but you can steal a Covenant Office Key from the desk in the northwestern corner of the room, if you wish.
If your hacking skills aren’t up to snuff, you’ve still got options, but you need to get into the blue house along the northwestern edge of Covenant. The door [Advanced] isn’t too hard to pick, but if even that’s beyond your abilities, you can always steal a Covenant House Key from pretty much any Covenant settlers, named or not. However you manage it, get inside the house via whichever one of its three doors is most convenient, and search a bedside table to find Jacob’s Password and another Covenant House Key, which is rather redundant at this point.
Once you get the password, return to the office and when the coast is clear, investigate the terminal to get the dirt on Covenant.
With this information you can now return to Honest Dan and inform him of the Compound’s location, which will cause him to head there and wait for you. This actually limits your options with this quest, as Honest Dan will then accompany you throughout the Compound, and he will, naturally, insist on completing his objectives, opposing any deviations violently. Fortunately you don’t have to tell Honest Dan to continue the quest, nor to resolve it in a manner he finds satisfactory.
There’s another complication in the form of Jacob Orden who, despite your best attempts at stealth, somehow has caught on to the fact that your investigation will now lead you unerringly to the Compound. He’ll wait for you at the door to Covenant, and while you’re not obliged to hear him out, he’ll attempt to bargain with you; drop the whole caravan issue and he’ll give you 100 Caps. Accepting the bribe won’t end the quest, nor will Jacob Orden attempt to inhibit you in any way, and since this quest will either end with Jacob being friendly or hostile, there’s no harm in taking the bribe and continuing the quest however you wish.
Alternatively, you can pass a moderate difficulty dialog check and pick the option “Look for compromise”, which will make a speech check later in the quest easier. This will make achieving a peaceful ending easier, but it’s not something you can’t manage just by save/loading.
To sum up, if you want to avoid violence, don’t tell Honest Dan about the Compound. If you want extra caps, take Jacob’s bribe - it won’t affect the outcome in any way. If you want to side with Covenant and complete the quest peacefully, passing a moderate speech check and telling Jacob “Look for compromise” will make it easier, but isn’t strictly necessary.
Make your way west across Mystic Lake until you’re along the shore just east of Mystic Pines, where you should spot three large half-submerged sewer pipes. Jump on in and swim up the middle pipe to find a door leading to the Compound. You’ll catch some Rads, but you should be able to zone-out quickly enough to avoid significant damage.
Inside you’ll find Honest Dan, provided you told him the location of the Compound. If not, not. Head forward until you find Manny, two Compound Guards and a Heavy Machinegun Turret, the former of which will confront you when you approach. If you haven’t found evidence of the Covenant-Compound connection, you can attempt a hard speech check to avoid combat, but this only allows you to retreat, not explore the Compound. If you didn’t convince Jacob to help out, you’ll have to pass a hard difficulty check “Want answers not violence” to get in peacefully. Finally, if you talked Jacob into compromising you’ll have speech checks: “Negotiate” (easy), “Just the job” (moderate) and “Threaten them” (hard). Passing any of these checks will cause Manny to relent and allow you to meet with one “Dr. Chambers”.
If you’re given an escort by Manny, you’ll be able to just follow him through the Compound to meet with Dr. Chambers. If not, the way there is a bit more perilous due to the Compound Guards and odd Machinegun Turret you’ll encounter along the way. As a rule the Compound Guards you’ll have to fight aren’t very dangerous, mostly being armed with pipe weapons and the odd shotgun and wearing Security Armor of dubious value. Their levels do vary significantly, and while most are Level 1 - 9, there is the odd Level 14 and 21 specimen.
Grab a Compound Key from your first victims, as there are some locked [Master] doors that otherwise bar the way. Despite being a rather labyrinthine dungeon, there’s not a whole lot of interest in here and the path is - up until a room with a retractable bridge - fairly linear. Dispatch any opposition you come across and when you reach the bridge room, grab a Fusion Core from a reactor along the southern end of the room. If you’re being escorted by Manny, the bridge will be extended for you by another guard, but if not, you’ll have to find your own way across. You can simply jump the bridge if you get a running start, but failing that you’ll have to work your way up north and west, through a barred door.
Once on the far side of the bridge, make your way south until you reach a fork. If you go left (east) you’ll find a chained door which serves a shortcut back to the entrance, while if you go right (west) you’ll reach Dr. Chamber’s… chamber.
Confront Dr. Chambers
Whether you were escorted by Manny or let your gun lead the way, when you find Dr. Chambers the rest of the quest will play out more or less the same. She’ll engage you in conversation and will be quite direct and honest with how this will play out - leave the Stockton girl to her fate, or else there will be violence. No matter what you say she’ll angle her way into telling you some details of her past, revealing why she and the residents of Covenant are so on-edge about synths and opposed to the Institute.
You can try moralizing if you wish, but this encounter ultimately boils down to two choices:
Save Amelia Stockton
If you turn down Dr. Chamber’s offer, it’ll turn her and every surviving Compound Guard hostile. If you followed Manny here, you may have to fight through quite a few enemies to escape. Should you have fought your way in here - thus depriving Dr. Chambers of any armed support - she’ll be more subdued in her defiance, threatening instead to execute Amelia and daring you to stop her.
Defeat any enemies threatening you, then head upstairs to the southeast to find Amelia Stockton in a cell. Talking to her isn’t strictly necessary, she’ll just plead and promise a reward from one “Old Man Stockton” provided Honest Dan isn’t with you. If Honest Dan is with you, talk to him to claim your base reward, 300 Caps. You can succeed at an easy, moderate, then hard dialog check to score 60 Caps, 60 Caps and finally 120 Caps in succession for a grand total of 520 Caps. If you didn’t bring Honest Dan with you, you’ll have to claim your reward (locked at 300 Caps) from Old Man Stockton in [Bunker Hill]. Considering that Honest Dan is simpler to collect your reward from and you can get more money from him, if you’re going to oppose Dr. Chambers, you should probably just bring Honest Dan with you.
Opposing Dr. Chambers will turn the settlers at Covenant hostile; you’ll have to kill them all to be able to claim the settlement as your own.
Support Dr. Chambers
If you accept Dr. Chamber’s deal, she’ll make good on her promise to execute Amelia Stockton. If you search Amelia’s body you’ll find a Synth Component, confirming she was, in fact, a synth. Dr. Chambers will give you the reward Honest Dan promised you, 300 Caps, although you can’t haggle for more money with her like you could with Honest Dan. Speaking of Honest Dan, if he’s with you he’ll warn you against accepting Dr. Chambers offer, threatening violence if you do. It’s a threat he lives up to, and you’ll have to put him down if you accept Dr. Chamber’s deal. If you left him behind at Covenant without telling him about the Compound, he’ll just vanish.
Probably best not to dwell on that too much.
The Compound and its inhabitants will remain neutral to you after Amelia is dead, and although they have nothing new to say or do for the rest of the game, you can at least explore the Compound in relative safety and loot what you want. If you didn’t get a Compound Key, you may have to pick some locked doors ([Expert] and [Master]) to get in every room, but aside from the aforementioned Fusion Core and some holotapes, there’s not much of interest down here.
Return to Covenant afterwards and talk to Jacob to get Covenant to join your alliance, opening it up for [development as a settlement].
If you’re worried about long-term implications from this quest, don’t be. Despite being an early analog for the Institute vs. Railroad conflict later in the game, Human Error will not affect either of those questlines however you choose to resolve it. As for the morally “correct” choice, it really depends on your view of synths, but Stockton at [Bunker Hill] will reveal some details about Amelia that indicate her status as a synth isn’t quite as sinister as the settlers at Covenant suspect. While synth infiltration is a threat, and the Institute is indeed a morally bankrupt organization, Dr. Chamber’s “4 to 5 false positives per success” is outright insane - any “science” that yields results worse than a coin flip is certainly lacking merit and rigor, especially if it requires torture to achieve those “results”.