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From 120 reviews

Fallout: The Roleplaying Game

First Edition

Contents

Publisher Description

In 2077, the storm of nuclear war reduced most of the planet to cinders. From the ashes of nuclear devastation, a new civilization will struggle to arise. A civilization you will shape.



How will you re-shape the world? Will you join with a plucky band of survivors to fight off all-comers and carve out your own settlement? Will you team up with pre-existing factions like the Brotherhood of Steel or Super Mutants to enforce your own ideals on the Wasteland? Ghoul or robot, paladin or raider, it’s your choice - and the consequences are yours. Welcome to the Wasteland. Welcome to the world of Fallout.

 

When Modiphius Entertainment released Fallout: Wasteland Warfare in 2018, and then released a separate role-playing game expansion for it, many fans of the franchise were a little ... underwhelmed.  As far as combat was concerned the game was great, but it lacked many traditional role-playing elements.

In 2021 Modiphius remedied this by releasing a new Fallout RPG, based on their "2d20" system (simply titled "Fallout"). offers a much richer post-apocalyptic experience.  Combat is certainly a healthy part of this game, but so too are things like skills and crafting.

Anyone who has played the Fallout video games (in particular Fallout 4, as the tabletop RPG focuses exclusively on it) will find that the Fallout TTRPG very much resembles its predecessor.  It has the same "S.P.E.C.I.A.L." attributes system, all of the skills, nearly all of the inventory items, and many other mechanics as well (eg. action points).

Fallout: The Roleplaying Game, First Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse

Character Creation [ edit ]

Origins

To create a Fallout character you begin by picking their "origin" (ie. race).  There are six options, all of which will be familiar to existing Fallout fans, as all were also origins for companions in that game.  There are three human origins (Brotherhood of Steel, Survivor and Vault Dweller) and three non-human (Ghoul, Super Mutant, Mister Handy).

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Attributes

Next, you choose the character's stats, which of course use Fallout's traditional "S.P.E.C.I.A.L." seven attributes (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck).  Each attribute has a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 10, and players can either spend points to customize their attributes or use a predefined array.

Skills

Next you select your characters skills, including their three tag skills.  Each tag skill gets two ranks, and then the player can choose 9 + their Intelligence attribute's worth of ranks in other skills.  There are seventeen skills to choose from, and again they're almost all taken from the video game, but with a few new skills such as Athletics and Pilot.

Perks

Next you get to select a single Perk (to start; more can be gained with levels).  Perks are essentially the same as Feats or Advantages in other systems, provide a unique benefit such as having an Adamantium Skeleton or being a Master Thief.  Just as in the video game many perks require a certain attribute score or level before they can be selected.

Equipment

Finally, you get to pick your starting equipment.  Each origin has a set of equipment packs you can select, which provide basics like weapons and armor.  Characters also get a few pieces of additional equipment, based on their tag skills.   For instance, a character who picked lockpicking as a tag skill would start with four bobby pins.

Core Mechanics [ edit ]

To perform actions in Fallout players make Skill Tests. 

Skill Tests

To make a test you first determine which skill/attribute combination is applicable for the action, for instance Agility + Small Guns to shoot someone with a pistol.

The number of points in the attribute is added to the number of ranks in the skill to set the Target Number (eg. someone with Agility 6 and Small Guns 2 would have a TN of 8).  The GM then decides how many successes are needed, based on the action's difficulty.

To achieve successes the player rolls 2d20, and each die that rolls equal to or below the target number counts as a success.

Critical Successes and Complications

If a die rolls a 1, or if the character is using their tag skill and the die rolls equal to or under that skill's rank, that roll becomes a "critical success" and counts as two successes.

However, if the die rolls a 20, the character instead faces a Complication, such as having their gun jam.

Action Points

If a player gets extra successes that they don't need to succeed at a roll, those successes convert into Action Points.  Action Points are a group resource, and the group can have up to six at a time (the GM also has their own pool, earned when NPCs get extra successes).

Players can "buy" extra dice for rolls by spending action points: 1 AP to add a single die, 2 AP more to add a second, and 3 AP more to add a third (three is the max).  If a player doesn't have enough action points they can buy extra dice at a cost: for each action point they are missing, the GM gains an AP to their pool.

Combat [ edit ]

Combat in Fallout is abstracted, so instead of using a grid with squares for each mini, the combat area is organized into zones.

Zones

Zones are small areas, typically the size of a single room.  For instance, the inside of a gas station might be one zone, it's upstairs area a second zone, and the area by the pumps a third.

Both movement and weapon ranges are based on zones, with each movement action taking your from one zone to the next, and to attack someone with a melee weapon you need to be in the same zone as them.

Initiative

Combat order in Fallout is predetermined, not random.  To determine who goes first, each combatant adds their Perception and Agility attributes together, and uses that as their "initiative score".

Actions

Each round of combat a character can take only a single action, which means they can either move or shoot (or take any other action, eg. command an NPC).  However, action points can also be spent to give characters an additional action (or even multiple actions, with multiple AP) for a single round.

Attacking

To attack a player makes a Skill Test with the appropriate skill, needing a number of successes equal to the target's defense.  Attacks can target a specific body part, but this increases the difficulty of the attack by 1.

Hit Locations and Damage

If the attacker didn't choose a specific body part, the attack hits a randomly-determined body part, and then damage is rolled (determined by the weapon used in the attack).  If the defender had armor on the affected body part, the amount of damage done is reduced by the armor's Damage Resistance.

Any remaining damage is deducted from the defender's hit points.

Hit Points

Each character has hit points equal to their Endurance + Luck attributes, plus one per level.  The only other way to increase hit points is with a single Perk, so armor is very important (just as in the video game).

Cover

Although the game uses abstracted zones, the GM still needs to keep track of PC/NPC positions, because if the defender has cover (on the affected body part) that cover can also provide Damage Resistance.

(Now) A Great Fallout RPG [ edit ]

Aggregated Review Scores

SourceAverage Score# of ReviewsAs Of
Amazon4.7/5891/24/2022
Drive Thru RPG4.6/5241/24/2022
Good Reads4.5/561/24/2022
RPG Geek4/1011/24/2022

When the Fallout RPG first launched, it had some initial quality issues (something which, ironically, will be very familiar to fans of the video game).  This might explain why, despite being from such a popular franchise, the system itself has only a single review on RPG Geek, and only six reviews on Good Reads.

However, when it comes to storefronts we have a lot more feedback available, and it's all largely positive. Both Drive Thru RPG (with 24 ratings) and Amazon.com (with 89) give the game very strong "A" ratings on average (either 4.6 or 4.7 out of five stars).

Critical Feedback

Looking at the negative reviews, the only negative feedback came from a single customer whose book was missing pages (and who then returned it for a fixed copy).  On Drive Thru RPG it was similarly hard to find criticism, but one comment that was repeated several times it that this book is not ideal new Game Masters.

Also, a few felt that while so many of the video game's interesting elements were translated well, that sometimes those disparate parts didn't fit together as well in a tabletop rpg.  But again, the vast majority of reviewers were very pleased with the game and had no negative feedback.

Conclusion

In short, while the game has a few rough edges (especially in production quality), if you're a fan of of Fallout 4 you're almost certain to love the Fallout RPG.  And even if you don't know the video games franchise, or only know previous Fallout games, the RPG offers the very popular 2d20  rules system coupled with a rich post-apocalyptic world ... and with over 100 pages spent just detailing that world, it's easy for anyone (fan or not) to enjoy exploring it.

Optional Game Master Toolkit [ edit ]

One final note: while this wasn't true when the game was first released, Modiphius now offers a separate Game Master Toolkit, which is a combination of handouts, tokens, maps, and a small booklet.

That booklet doesn't offer a ton for new GMs (instead focusing on things like optional rules, random encounters, and repeating tables from the core rulebook), but still it might help both new and experienced game masters looking to start a Fallout campaign.