[Let’s Study] Fallout the Roleplaying Game, Part 1: Introduction and Core Rules

War. War never changes.

Let me preface this series by saying that I’m a big fan of the Fallout series of videogames and their 1950’s Atomic Culture Black Comedy. It’s dystopian, absurd and gruesome, but it is always funny.

And so it was little surprise that when Modiphius announced that they were making an RPG for Fallout, I was immediately interested. And thanks to the generosity of Modiphius, I was able to receive a review copy of the PDF.

So we start on another Let’s Study Series, where we take an in-depth look at the sections of the Fallout RPG!

Introduction

The Fallout RPG starts off with a surprisingly short introduction. There’s a brief synopsis of the setting in broad strokes, and what to expect from the book. There’s also a note that for the purpose of the Fallout corebook, the default setting is The Commonwealth of Fallout 4 but it quickly assures the reader that you can change the setting to any of the other Wastelands of the Fallout universe with minor tweaks.

Of interest here is that rather than use the term “Adventure”, Fallout calls games as “Quests” a bit of a surprise in terms of naming convention but one that sort of makes sense if you’re talking to someone who is coming in to tabletop rpgs without prior exposure to the usual language.

The chapter wraps up with a very quick rundown of the things you’ll need to get started and quickly ushers you along to the next section.

THE CORE RULES

This chapter opens up with a short description of how Roleplaying Games work, and what the Gamemaster’s role is in facilitating the game. It’s a quick and punchy intro, and wastes no time before jumping straight into the mechanics.

Skill Tests

The Fallout version of the 2d20 system is discussed in detail here, with the following steps:

  • Choose relevant Attribute + Skill – The Gamemaster determines which Attribute + Skill combination applies to a given task, and adding the two values together will produce the Target Number for the roll.
  • Set Difficulty – The Gamemaster then assigns a Difficulty for the test, which is the number of successes that a roll needs to have to pass.
  • Assemble and Roll the Dice Pool – The base dice pool is 2d20, but players may add more dice by spending Action Points (We’ll get to those later).
  • Check for Successes – Every d20 that rolls equal to or lower than the Target Number is a success, hurrah! If enough successes are rolled to meet or exceed the Difficulty, then the character passes the test.

Of course, there are a few more things to add to this mechanic. Rolling a 1 counts as a Critical Success and generates 2 successes. Likewise if the skill being used by the character is a Tag Skill, then rolling equal to or less than that skill’s rating is also a Critical Success. Rolling a 20 on the other hand counts as a Complication, which invites the GM to describe a way by which the situation has gotten worse, such as a gun jamming or breaking a lock pick.

Action Points and Luck Points

Fallout also has two metagame resources: Action Points and Luck Points. Action Points are used by both players and gamemasters, and are used for a variety of things:

  • Buying dice – Players may spend Action Points to buy d20’s to add to their rolls when making a Skill Test. If they don’t have enough Action Points on their own, they can opt to generate Action Points for the gamemaster instead.
  • Obtain Information – Players can spend to ask the gamemaster a single question to be answered truthfully about the current situation
  • Reduce Time – Action Points generated from a successful test can be spent to reduce the time taken by the task

In Combat, you can also spend Action Points to either Perform Additional Actions or Add Extra Damage on a successful attack!

Luck Points are derived from your character’s Luck Attribute, and can be spent to shift the odds in your character’s favor in various ways:

  • Luck of the Draw – This lets you add a helpful fact or detail about the situation
  • Stacked Deck – This lets you swap your Luck Attribute for another for a Skill Test
  • Lucky Timing – Lets you jump into the initiative order
  • Miss Fortune – Reroll a d20 or 3 Combat Dice per Luck Spent

Thoughts

Fallout is looking to be an interesting twist on the 2d20 formula. Simplified terminology to make it easier to understand if you’re used to the videogame is a nice touch from a user experience standpoint, and I’m already seeing nice ways they’ve tweaked Attributes and the metagame resources in 2d20 to fit Fallout.

Luck in particular has my interest since you start with a number of Luck Points equal to your Luck score, and it refreshes to full every time you hit a milestone or complete your Quest. This means you’ve got a lot more of these than your usual game, and keeps things moving forward at a faster pace than some other 2d20 variants would do.

Next up we’ll be taking at the Combat rules!

If you’re looking to grab the Fallout RPG, you can pre-order some really snazzy physical versions right now at the Modiphius Website!

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