I recently found one of my supply units (provisioner) at another settlement that means they apparently travel the wastes. Does this mean that they can actually die if they run into some enemies while I'm hanging around? Should I be equipping them with better gear?
Your settlers at home can die. Note that once a 'settler' has been assigned to a supply route, they will be a 'provisioner' the next time they are loaded.
Provisioners who are away from a settlement can't die. The can get knocked down for a few seconds like other essential NPCs, but they get right back up. Currently, the closest I've observed this is at the Rotten Landfill (east and slightly north of the drive in).
It may be that:
a) Provisioners are just essential always
b) Provisioners who are outside a certain range of a settlement are essential, but can be killed when close to it.
or c) Provisioners who are outside a certain range of their home settlement and/or destination are essential, but can be killed when close to them.
Clearly, more testing is required, but given what I know about how the essential flag works, it's a pretty safe bet that provisioners are just essential all the time, and therefore can't be killed.
No, settlers can't be killed by raiders or by anyone apart from you. Apart from the case if you failed to defending quest. They only knee like companions. But you can kill them, and it can happen accidentally during fighting so don't ever use grenades if your settlers are near, they have very low health and also better always to use vats in settlements.
Ive had a provisioner from Sanctuary die while he was in Oberland Station and we were attacked. Sanctuary then went from 18 -> 17 settlers.
I just had a settlement attached by a Deathclaw and my settlers had no armor and only pistols. 4 people fell to the ground including one provisioner, but after I killed the Deathclaw they all got back up. So, I'm not sure if settlers and provisioners only die when you have the game at a certain setting.
Up untill recently any provisioner (settler that takes care of the supply line) that was attacked and went down got up again a bit later (same as followers). But a while ago I threw a molotov in a group of ferals and it made some cars explode. Just when trowing the molotov I heard someone speaking. It seems a provisioner was just passing by, and yep, he died from the explosion. So they can die, maybe only from really high damage? Did not check if supply line disappeared. I had a savefile, reloaded, and killed ferals with weapon. Provisioner survived and moved on.
I fast-travelled to one of my settlements and within a minute of me arriving it was attacked by a massive Legendary death claw, it was really chaotic and I was pumping myself full of jet to defeat it, by the time the carnage was over two of my settlers were meat-piles and a provisioner lost her legs and I had to make a new supply line. So it appears they can only die if you're present.
Some of the answers here are FALSE. Your settlers can die while your away. Settlements get attacked by raiders, deathclaws, mutants, and synth's. ALL of which can have devistating effects on your settlement. This is why defense is EXTREMELY important. Although when the deathclaws come, there is not much that will stop them unless your there. I have seen groups of deathclaws wipe out settlements. Me personally, I have funneled all possible traffic to my settlements into one location. Ex: The bridge in Sanctuary Hills is the ONLY point of entry to this settlement. And to cross this bridge you face a line of different style turrets, traps, and well armed security. I assigned Codsworth to security and let me assure you that this was a wise choice. He ALWAYS hangs by the bridge, sometimes on the bridge. And aside from all my defenses in place, Codsworth is very lethal and as where my defenses can't be placed over the "workshop" line, this does not apply to Cods. He engages any hostile and will immediately pursue them as far as is necessary. Running does no good. He will chase them and kill them all while offering me tea and a warm bath.
In short, DEFENSE DEFENSE and a shit load of offense. I am in the process of surrounding all my settlements with concrete walls and I have also made my entire housing to the settlements as floating houses. One staircase allows access to the city and even behind the massive city entrance defenses, you still have to make it thru another set of turrets and traps to get my settlers. ACCEPT the ones who tend your farm. Those I cannot get off the ground. Best I have found is to surround the farm in concrete and make an additional "Ninja Warrior" obstacle course of defenses. HOWEVER, this may not be as important to some of you. Myself, I am attached to my settlers. Even the ghouls. They are my peeps and I will fight til the bitter end for every last one. Some of you may feel differently, but what's the point of playing the game if not to "play the part". Hope this helps.
I've yet to have any settler die because I always give them my extra gear, I got a guy with a legendary shotgun a courser uniform, and a upgraded metal helmet. Most of my peeps have sturdy raider gear or bos armor that I stripped of mods, I even left around like 3 power armor suits for settler use.
Settlers are flagged as protected and can not be killed by NPC's. Period. It doesn't matter if they're in a settlement or travelling as a provisioner. They can technically "die" if you fail to protect a settlement but this isn't because an NPC killed them it's because when you lost the battle, the game despawned one or more of your settlers. The people claiming their settlers were killed by raiders or deathclaw are either flat out lying or accidentally killed their own settlers and didn't notice.
See this video for proof:
playing on ps4, i did connect a supply line from Outpost Zomonja to Red Rocket station. He result dead, and the supply line is still visible like a bug. And yes, i have seen many of the settlers result dead on a battle against super mutans or others.