joshua graham guide

Joshua Graham Guide – Honest Hearts DLC

Joshua Graham is one of the central characters of the Honest Hearts DLC. Graham also goes by The Burned Man and is a founding member of Caesar’s Legion. He now serves as the Dead Horses tribe leader in the Grand Canyon. Let’s get on with our Joshua Graham Guide.

There are few characters in all of gaming that have as much depth and development as some of the Fallout New Vegas side characters, never mind the ones they want you to care about. This is one of the many reasons players cannot get enough of Obsidian’s first and only entry into the Fallout franchise to date. The ability to get lost in an RPG and lose hours upon hours traveling around the strange new world in which it places you is what every player wants, and New Vegas does just that. 

One of the main ways the writers of New Vegas got their hooks into players such as myself was the delicately crafted and deeply considered lore that flanked every important NPC in the game. Some of them have pages of information written about their life and backstories within the official game guides for the title.

For the most part, none of this information actually means anything to the casual player looking to complete the game and move on; however, it means everything to us, the real die-hard fans. 

One of the best examples of this devotion to rich character design and development is Joshua Graham, a central character in terms of the games main plot and how it developed to the point the Courier finds it at, and yet, in typical New Vegas fashion, the NPC was not actually in the base game as anything more than a campfire legend and cautionary tale until the DLCs started rolling out.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at one of the best characters New Vegas has to offer and one of my personal favorites, Joshua Graham. 

Before Caesar

There is not much known about Graham and his early years, especially his childhood. However, we know he was born in a settlement called New Canaan, in an area formerly known as Ogden in the great state of Utah.

This settlement, founded by a surviving Mormon community in 2235, would become not only a powerful force in the wasteland but also the epicenter for religious education and training in the Mormon faith throughout the entire continental United States. However, we do not know if Graham took to the religion out of his interest or familial and societal pressure.

 Either way, a combination of religious and linguistic training soon took hold of the young man. It claimed him so profoundly that he decided to leave his settlement and venture out into the wasteland as a missionary.

By 2246, he had mastered many tribal dialects. He had taken his religious education seriously enough that he would volunteer to leave the safety of New Canaan and venture into the unforgiving wasteland, a place he knew scarcely little about by this point.


On the Road Again

In this same year, Graham left his home and journeyed out into the unknown, solely guided by his settlement’s wish for him to both spread the word of God and put his linguistic abilities to work by helping the citizens of the wasteland; however, he could. After leaving his home rather swiftly, the missionary would begin his journey to the west, eventually making his way into Arizona. 

Within this great state, Graham would meet the Followers of the Apocalypse. This group, which strives to provide free healthcare and education to the citizens of the wasteland, would find in Graham someone who they desperately needed, a tool that could help them further access the tribes scattered across the western United States.

These tribes, which until this point, had so far removed themselves from the world before the bombs fell that communication in English or any other pre-war dialect would have been lost on. Therefore, it was not Graham’s holy mission that interested the Followers in him, but his linguistic understanding of these tribes and their communications with one another. 

It wasn’t soon after Graham met the Followers that he contacted Edward Sallow and Bill Calhoun. These three men would eventually make up the squad which would be sent to create a relationship with these so-called tribespeople.

Calhoun would be chosen for this mission due to his skills as a physician and Graham for his linguistic abilities. However, it is unclear why Edward Sallow was chosen other than his well-documented intelligence. In the grand scheme of things, however, the reason for Sallow’s inclusion is not greatly interesting. 

The group would soon receive their task and head out towards the Grand Canyon, journeying through a great deal of the state of Arizona, crossing the Long 15 as they did so. After many days and nights of hard travel, the three-man unit would eventually make it to the mouth of the Grand Canyon.

Spirits would surely have been high amongst the men with their objective insight. Therefore, when Sallow discovered a cache of old books just short of their mission objective, the men decided that laying camp for a couple of nights would not be a great problem. During these nights, Sallow would study books such as ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ and the Commentarii’ by Julius Caesar himself.

These planned couple of nights spent in this camp would soon turn into two weeks, and the young Sallow sat transfixed by his newly discovered texts, reading them cover to cover repeatedly. 

It Was Good While It Lasted

While there is doubt that the men needed this break after their long journey to the Grand Canyon, it was still probably not a great idea to bed down in one location so close to the tribes which they were endeavoring to study.

After all, the Followers or anyone from outside the Canyon was known to have contact with these tribes before the arrival of this Followers unit. Therefore, one could presume they would not be met kindly.

I know that in most cases, assuming only makes an ass out of you and me; however, this time, it would have been prudent to maybe do a little bit of assuming as the Blackfoot tribe captured the unit at the end of their two-week vacation. 

Now, there is some disagreement as to why the unit was captured and held at ransom in the first place. Some say that they were captured organically at the hands of the Blackfoot tribe simply for being seen nearby and deemed as a threat by the said tribe. However, some say that the group of Followers actually managed to meet with this tribe on a neutral footing, communications flowing through Graham and the tribe quite well.

It was not long, though, this version of the story goes, until the tribe began getting anxious and argumentative with the three men. The reason for this change of inclination between the two groups was unclear to Sallow and Calhoun, but Graham believed that he had translated something improperly or made some mistake. He, therefore, believed that it was his fault for their capture.

In Brief:

  • Graham reportedly mistranslated communication between Sallow and the tribe, thus landing the trio in trouble. 
  • New Canaan was built after Refugees of the Brotherhood War sacked New Jerusalem. Judah Black built this settlement.
  • The .45 auto pistol was the weapon of the New Canaan’s.

The Rise of Caesar

Regardless of why they were captured, Graham still found himself locked up against his will in the clutches of a tribe completely alien to him and his friends. Feeling guilty for his possibly mistake all the while. However, Sallow did not wallow during this time. Instead, he began to see opportunities all around him.

You see, the Blackfoot tribe was in the middle of a great battle between themselves and all the other tribes throughout the Canyon and were actually on the brink of defeat by the time Graham and his friends appeared. Sallow, therefore, used the military knowledge he gained from his cache of books and his time throughout the wasteland to teach this tribe how to overcome their enemies.

It was not long then until Sallow was formally anointed as leader of the tribe, and he began calling himself Caesar. Within months of this, with Graham at his side, Caesar has conquered all of the Canyon’s tribes, rolling them into one great tribe under the banner of Caesar’s Legion. Graham was subsequently given the position of Malpais Legate, Caesar’s second in command, named after the Spanish translation for geological formations such as the Grand Canyon.

Life as a Legate

Soon after Caesar’s rise to power, he sent Calhoun back to the Followers to inform them of his decision to remain on with what was now his tribe and warn them not to interfere. Therefore, Graham was the only close confidant Caesar had at his disposal. This, combined with Graham’s ability to actually form communication lines with the tribes under Caesar’s control, made him invaluable to Caesar during the Legion’s formative years. 

Graham would also help train the troops in Caesar’s battle strategies from his ancient texts. Graham soon made himself into a great military leader in his own right, possibly under the tutelage and guidance of his friend, formerly known as Sallow. 

During this time, the Mormon missionary would seemingly abandon his faith, the lessons he had learned out in the wasteland having seemingly overridden his religious upbringing and training. I say that he lost his faith merely due to his actions both on and away from the battlefield during this time of Legion’s growth.

He would soon become known for his ferocious attitude to war and enemy peoples, committing many massacres and what would be seen today as war crimes to the highest degree. This committal to full anarchy and brutality on the battlefield would make up for any natural lack of militaristic/strategic talent, with even his own soldiers becoming afraid of the man. 

Graham would continue on like this, lost from his religion but found on the battlefield for 30 long years. He was helping the Legion expand and push into territories that seemed like a mere fantasy all those years ago when they first exited the Canyon.

Tribes in places such as Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico all fell to the ever-encroaching banner of Caesar’s Legion. However, much like his namesake, no amount of land or power would ever be enough for Caesar. Therefore, he always knew that an eventual battle with the NCR would come. That both he and Graham would have to somehow overcome this great army.

This day came when Caesar ordered Graham and his Legion, Caesar’s 68, to march on Hoover Dam and to destroy the NCR soldiers who held it.

Hoover Dam

The Bigger They Are

Full of confidence and possibly arrogance, Joshua Graham would, of course, follow his friend and leader’s orders and march his men across the Dam. However, all was not as smooth sailing as initially hoped.

After a great number of munitions were exchanged between the NCR and Legion forces, Graham eventually saw his inevitable defeat staring him in the face should he stay engaged in such a fight. This was when he ordered his men to push through the NCR’s lines, not caring for the casualties it would cause.  

In a great shock to his men and possibly Graham himself, they managed to break through the NCR’s lines and force them to fall back to the city of Boulder, wherein the NCR took shelter. Knowing that victory was soon his, Graham saw red and ordered his troops into the city, looking to exterminate the remaining NCR soldiers inside. This decision would prove folly, for he had actually fallen right into a trap.

It turns out the NCR had planned this and therefore had decided to write off the remaining troops inside the city in order to wipe out Graham and his Legion threat all in one massive explosion, toppling the city and killing all who were inside, except Graham. 

The man famous for his ability to survive anything across the western wasteland did indeed manage to survive and make it back to his leader, without an army, the Dam, and injured. Caesar, as would be expected for a man who would casually set whole peoples on fire, did not take this failure well, and so, he decided that Graham was the perfect man to make an example out of.

Soon after, Caesar would have Graham covered in oil and set alight, thrown back into the Canyon from which he emerged with Caesar thirty years prior. In Caesar’s mind, the action of killing his second command would display to his forces that mistakes and failure were unacceptable even at the highest level of service. 

Survival and Redemption

After being set alight and thrown into a deep dark hole, one might presume Caesar had finally managed to kill the unkillable Graham. However, you would be wrong. A few days after the horrible punishment at the hands of his former friend, Graham stood up at the bottom of the Canyon, completely covered in third-degree burns.

Seeing no other option in front of him, he decided that he must return home, to New Canaan, with the hope that his actions as a member of the Legion and the dismissal of his once deeply held faith would not cause them to turn their backs on him.

It took Graham nearly three months to make this journey, all the while changing his bandages from head to toe daily to prevent infection, with no pain remedy in sight. How he survived this, nobody knows, I mean, I have a slight cold at the moment, and I feel like I’m about to drop at any moment.

During this time, rumors of a strange, burned man crossing the wasteland began to circulate, with many speculating on his origin and ability to keep on walking. These rumors would eventually become so widespread that they managed to get back to Caesar before Graham even made it home to New Canaan. Therefore, the legend of the burned man only grew after Caesar banned his men from mentioning Graham’s real name in relation to these rumors, sending out kill orders to his spies all the while.

Peace for a Moment 

By the time Graham had managed to make his way back home, his family did not care about his previous actions or abandonment of faith; they merely fretted about his current state and helped him recover.

During this time, Graham decided to rekindle his faith, the help of his family restarting his belief. He would also learn of Caesar’s moves to have him killed and knew it was just a matter of time before he had to move on again unless he put his family in danger.

However, it was sooner rather than later that Joshua’s past caught up with him. The Legion had found him. Probably because he was Caesar’s friend for 30 years, and he may have mentioned where his hometown was to the warlord, but let’s not sweat the details.

Anyway, the Legion, now knowing where Graham laid his head, decided that instead of sending a full Legion battalion to kill the former Legate, they would instead incite a local tribe to do their bidding for them.

In this way, Caesar could weaken New Canaan, thus bringing them into the Legion’s control and killing Graham all at once, perfect without risking any Legion blood. This plan may have worked should Graham have actually been at the settlement at the time.

Instead, the White Legs tribe attacked the settlement with Legion weapons, forcing the New Canaanites to flee and take shelter in Zion Canyon. Once Graham returned and found out what had happened, he ventured after his people into the Canyon. 

In Brief:

  • After the first battle of the Hoover Dam and the defeat of Graham, the Legion spent many years rebuilding their forces in order to fight for the Dam again.
  • Graham was tossed into the Grand Canyon on Caesar’s orders by his own men. 
  • Graham lived to forgive Caesar for this, preferring to “forgive the sinner but not the sin.”

Honest Hearts DLC

Once Graham and his people had managed to flee the White Legs attack, some joined up with existing Canyon tribes who had taken the place of those from 30 years prior. Some joined the Dead Horses tribe, whilst others joined the Sorrows. Graham decided to join and take leadership of the Dead Horses tribe, acting as their war chief for a time.

This is the situation wherein the player first actually meets the Burned Man they have heard so much about throughout the course of the main game. An exciting prospect for those of us who played the title as it first came out, only being able to meet this myth after waiting patiently for the extra content. 

Peace or War

By the time the player manages to make their way into Zion Canyon, the White Legs tribe have been waging war against everyone else in the area; in fact, it is this tribe that kills most of the caravan crew which the Courier traveled into the DLC area within the opening minutes of this DLC.

Because of their horrid actions and their Legion-like massacre of the New Canaanites back at his home, Graham has decided that nothing can quench both his and God’s wrath but the blood of this tribe. Therefore, when the player first meets Graham, he begins to place the Dead Horses tribe on a war footing. However, the other tribe in the area, the Sorrows, also headed up by a New Canaan missionary named Daniel, see the issue differently.

You see, Daniel’s faith is telling him that there should be no more violence when it can be helped, and therefore, he is in great disagreement with Graham over his warlike mentality. Instead, he wishes to leave the Canyon altogether and flee from this tribe and the Legion’s influence.

It is, therefore, down to the actions and decisions of the Courier whether the two tribes form together to take down the White Legs tribe or flee the Canyon altogether. Should The Courier side with Graham, the final quest in the DLC, Crush the White Legs, will begin. Alternatively, Flight from Zion will be activated.

The decision to help wipe out the White Legs tribe or to flee Zion Canyon is but one way the player can alter the fate of Graham. The player can also choose to kill Joshua Graham, activating the quest, Chaos in Zion.

Alternatively, the player can influence his decisions throughout the DLC to be more or less forgiving, both of which have consequences for how the Burned Man spends his days in Zion after the player returns to the Mojave.

In Brief:

  • The Honest Hearts DLC is the second additional piece of content released by Obsidian for Fallout New Vegas.
  • Caesar sent Ulysses to rile up the White Legs against the New Canaanites.
  • Daniel, Graham’s counterpart in the Sorrows tribe, is also a Canaanite Mormon missionary.

Graham’s Unique Features

As you might imagine, Joshua Graham cuts quite a unique figure within Fallout New Vegas. However, his head-to-toe bandages are but one unique aspect of his character design.

Joshua Graham’s Armor 

Graham’s armor is a unique set within the game and can only be acquired off of his corpse should the player decide to kill the man. However, should the player be considering killing Graham simply for his armor, I would say it’s not worth it.

Joshua Graham’s Headwrap 

I do not know why you would want a blood-covered bandage on your face, I do not know; however, it is a unique item in the game, so unique that the player cannot even acquire it from Graham’s corpse but only through the use of consoles commands.

A Light Shining in the Darkness (.45 Auto Pistol)

This auto pistol is unique to Graham and is one of my favorite pistols in the entire game. This pistol can be acquired from Graham’s corpse or a footlocker within the southern passage before exiting into the Mojave.

Joshua’s Whippin’ Pistol

Easily the funniest way a companion responds to being placed in melee mode during New Vegas, this weapon allows Graham to actually use the butt of his .45 auto pistol for melee combat.

As mentioned, the player cannot acquire this weapon with console commands or mods.

So, there you have it, a complete and dedicated guide to Joshua Graham. Personally, he is my favorite character in Fallout New Vegas. Not only due to his unique figure and interesting background lore but also because he was not actually included in the base game save for a rumor or myth.

Therefore, having played the game on release, I remember really enjoying getting to meet Graham for the first time after all the waiting. Hopefully, after getting some insight into the character, you too will find some love for Graham and his story arc. And if not, good luck fighting the .45 auto pistol-wielding NPC in your next playthrough!

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Where do I start the Honest Hearts DLC? 

Answer: The player can start the DLC by journeying to the Northern Passage location, located to the north of New Vegas Square.

Question: Can I join the White Legs?

Answer: There is no way to join the White Legs tribe during the Honest Hearts DLC. The player can only evacuate the Sorrows, help the Sorrows and the Dead Horses take on the White Legs tribe, or kill everyone in question.

Question: Is Ulysses in Honest Hearts?

Answer: Whilst Ulysses is mentioned in the Honest Hearts DLC. He is not actually visible until the Lonesome Road DLC. 

Question: Are the New Canaanites Mormon?

Answer: New Canaan was set up as a Mormon settlement in the ruins of Ogden, Utah. Therefore it is populated by mostly Mormons. 

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