Once again, here is the story of the survivalist. It’s the best thing about the DLC. If you’re wondering if you should get Honest Hearts or Old World Blues, I’d say read the survivalist diaries and buy Old World Blues. (Haven’t picked up OWB myself. Plan to, time permitting.) However, there is a lot to be said to finding the entries yourself in Honest Hearts. The entries are left in the caves where they were written, and so there’s a good bit of environmental storytelling going on. You can see the various caves he used and follow his adventures.
The Survivalist was 24 when the bombs fell. He lived on for another 47 years after that. The diaries chronicle a few of his adventures, and hint that we’re only seeing a tiny part of his whole story.
I think his efforts also explain how the superstitions arose. The Survivalist was fond of making traps. He employed bear traps, shotgun traps, and landmines as a kind of home defense system. He was good at hiding his traps (they’re better hidden than any other traps in Fallout 3 or New Vegas) and the Sorrows, who lacked technical knowledge, would have been unprepared to deal with those kinds of threats. Once enough of the Sorrows strayed into them and died inexplicably and violently, they would naturally see it as an mysterious danger. It’s easy to see how this became a more generalized taboo over the generations.