[Let’s Study] Fallout the Roleplaying Game, Part 2: Combat

Not everyday that you see an RPG where the Combat chapter takes place right after the introduction and even before Character Creation, but it’s not hard to believe that combat is a core component of the Fallout universe.

Fallout combat seems to be structured in a fashion that should be familiar to most rpg players with a few little tweaks.


At the start of combat, the player who initiated the fight gets to take a turn right away even before checking for initiative. Combatants are ranked in order of their initiative statistic from highest to lowest and the first round begins.


Actions are sorted into Minor and Major actions.

Minor actions tend to be quick or supplementary actions such as:

  • Aiming
  • Drawing a weapon
  • Picking up or putting an item away
  • Interacting with equipment or the environment in a simple way
  • Moving up to a zone away
  • Taking a Chem

Major actions are the core actions that you’d expect to take on a turn:

  • Assisting another character with their next skill test
  • Making a melee or ranged attack
  • Issuing a command to an NPC
  • Defending yourself
  • Administering first aid
  • Passing your turn
  • Rally your forces
  • Get ready to interrupt in a specified situation
  • Sprint up to two zones
  • Perform a skill test


Attacking in Fallout is a Skill Test using the appropriate statistic + skill pool for Melee, Ranged, Thrown or Unarmed attacks. Once you pass the test for the attack, you also roll for hit location and inflict damage.

Depending on the type of damage being inflicted, the target reduces the total damage taken by their Damage Resistance. This matters because weapons in Fallout can deal different types of damage: physical, energy, radiation and poison. Furthermore, you can spend Action Points (for melee and thrown attacks) or Ammunition (for ranged attacks) to deal even more damage

After making a ranged attack, the player also deducts the shots taken from their ammunition. If it was a thrown weapon attack, then the weapon is removed from their inventory.

Critical Hits

Whenever a character takes five or more damage in one hit after Damage Reduction, then the attack is considered to be a Critical Hit. This has the fun effect of adding further injury on the character depending on the location damaged.

The Environment

In addition to the Critical Hits, Fallout also goes to explain the Environment both as an explanation of zones in combat ranges, and the kind of environmental conditions from cover to difficult terrain and, of course, hazards like toxic chemical spills and irradiated air or fun dangerous objects like a shotgun trap or the infamous grenade bouquet.

Combat in Fallout looks to be a pretty involved tactical experience. Given that Modiphius also worked on the tabletop miniatures game, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. That said, the way that the combat on tabletop mimics the videogames is pretty interesting to me, with seeing how Action Points and Ammunition can be combined to simulate a VATS-like combat turn in game.

While Hit Locations and Ammo counting feels like it could slow things down, I think long-time fans of Fallout don’t mind slowing down to get that information as that’s been such a key thing in the Fallout franchise even way back in Fallout 1 & 2’s combat system. I’m curious to see what else they’ll do to simulate the game.

Make sure to check back as in the next post we’ll be looking at Character Creation!

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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