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?
Provisioners will path between the settlements you assign them to. I've seen them get attacked by raiders before (while they passed by Red Rocket), so if they have no weapons they may get in trouble if you don't save them. But I don't know if this happens when the player is out of sight.– Michael CampbellNov 13, 2015 at 9:48
From the title it sounds like you're asking about any settler, but are you only wondering about traveling settlers? As for "at home" settlers, they can definitely die. I had a small (2-person) settlement wiped out by raiders while I was present.– Feral ChimpNov 15, 2015 at 16:58
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.
1For provisioners: Online sources say they can only be killed by friendly fire from you. May want to test this. Also, could you flesh this out a bit more to cover how settlers can die? Will starvation/dehydration do it?– IsziDec 1, 2015 at 22:47
Nobody can die from starvation/dehydration. Not even settlers. The happiness rating only prevents new settlers from coming in, not kill existing ones. You can easily overload a settlement with 40+ guys by buffing CHA, then give them no water and no food.– NelsonAug 13, 2016 at 2:36
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.
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:
Ive had a provisioner from Sanctuary die while he was in Oberland Station and we were attacked. Sanctuary then went from 18 -> 17 settlers.
1Did the supply route disappear? Nov 24, 2015 at 15:55
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.
2Nukapedia says out-of-town Provisioners can only be killed by the PC. So, check your targets!– IsziDec 1, 2015 at 22:45