Petrified Corpses are the bodies of people who have been completely consumed by The Scorched Plague.
Petrified corpses were once Scorched. At some point, they were infested by the hazardous fungus that causes The Scorched Plague, which eventually killed them and converted their bodies into a radioactive, petrified mass. Many were consumed so quickly that their corpses remain standing in the same stance and place they died in. Some Scorched may be found mid-petrification, such as in the church of Helvetia, stuck in the same state as the petrified statues. These Scorched do not crumble when shot, hoever.
When interacted with petrified corpses will crumble into pieces, releasing a small cloud of Radiation (up to +8rads/s), and rarely drop loot such as nuclear waste, bottlecaps, and glass bottles.
Once you do begin wandering off the beaten path, extracting the narrative of Fallout 76 can be a bit of a challenge. That’s because everyone in and around West Virginia, save for the other player characters wandering around alongside you, is dead. In fact, much of the game’s environmental storytelling requires that you become fluent in sorting through layers of different kinds of corpses.
The first set of bodies you’ll want to become familiar with are the so-called “petrified corpses.” These are the forms of civilians and other bystanders who were trapped outside of Vault 76 when the bombs fell on Oct. 23, 2077. So far, I’ve not seen a lot of variety in them. They’re just sort of hanging around on street corners and rooftops, looking to the sky. Many of these clusters look like a cut-and-paste job, truth be told, and don’t contribute much at all in my opinion.
When you touch them, they crumble into dust. As a side effect, they can also give you a tiny dose of radiation. I would recommend avoiding them entirely for a good long while.
The second set of bodies are more recently deceased. They’re still wearing clothes, so far as I’ve found, and have gray, ashen features while not actually being composed of ash.
These are the citizens of West Virginia and the surrounding areas who managed to survive the apocalypse on their own, and their bodies are only around a decade old. One group of these recently-made corpses that you’ll meet early on are called the Responders. They were a faction composed of police, firefighters and other first-responders, who made it through the worst of Armageddon and tried to rebuild society on their own.
These bodies will usually contain loot. They’ll also be posed in ways that can inform you about how they met their demise. To help you read the scene, look for notes, computer terminals and identifying signage. Usually there’s a related cache of loot nearby and, sometimes, a more elaborate sidequest will open up.