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While i was playing Fallout 3, all of a sudden "Picking up the Trail" completed itself when i was no where near Lamplight Cavern.

Looking on the the wiki this seems to be an existing bug for PC

It's possible that this quest will be considered "completed" and begin the next quest before ever entering Vault 87. This can be a problem if this occurs before asking MacCready to open the gate to Murder Pass and/or Joseph to restore power to the computer console, as the dialogue options that prompt them to perform these tasks are no longer available after the quest is completed. Thus there is no way into Vault 87 at this point. In the PC version, however, one can use the console command tcl to switch off collisions, which will allow simply walking through the gate blocking the way to Murder Pass. Once on the other side of the gate, use the tcl command again to re-engage collisions and then proceed on into Murder Pass. [verified]

while it gives a solution on how to continue the game by skipping parts, i want to actually restore my progress of "Picking up the Trail". how can i do this?

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this can be done by using a couple of console commands opened with ~

  1. sqs 00014e8c

    sqs is the console command for checking the quest stages while 00014e8c is the quest ID for "Picking up the Trail".

    each quest stage that is listed is one of the objectives of the quest which you can see on the wikia. each stage (objective) completed is set to 1. when the Bug occurred to me stage 200 was set to 1 which, while not listed i assume is the state set for ending a quest

    use this command and remember which stages are set to 1

  2. resetquest 00014e8c

    resetquest sets all stages to 0 and again 00014e8c is our quest id

    doing this will reset all quest stages to 0 and also remove the quest from the Pipboy as quest stage 0 needs to be 1 for a quest to be enabled

  3. setstage 00014e8c [STAGE]

    setstage will set [STAGE] to 1 for our quest

    using the list we got at the start (it should still be onscreen) repeatedly use this command on each of the stages that were set to 1 EXCEPT for stage 200

for me the bug occurred on stage 40

Search Lamplight Caverns for a way into Vault 87.

so the complete list of commands i had to use was

sqs 00014e8c
resetquest 00014e8c
setstage 00014e8c 0
setstage 00014e8c 5
setstage 00014e8c 10
setstage 00014e8c 20
setstage 00014e8c 30
setstage 00014e8c 40

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