Thursday, 19 May 2016

Savaging Settings: Savage Fallout

While there are publications out there with specific rules to handle the theme and tropes of gaming in post-apocalyptic wastelands, personally I always ask myself "Do I really need new rules to do this? What's in the Core Rulebook and maybe the Companions that will solve what I intend to do for this specific setting?".

(Industrial Wasteland, by Coulter Sunderman)
Fallout, as per the video games, is a combat-heavy setting - at least that is how it's designed to and usually played. The core rules include everything needed for this, from combat rules to the sticks and stones and plasma guns and powered armour. It also includes a bestiary, which allows for easy creation of your own monsters. Take an Ogre or a Troll, modify accordingly and name it Super Mutant. The Giant Spider makes for a great Radscorpion. Zombies are a great template to create Feral Ghouls.

Fallout is about collecting stuff and bartering off what you don't need to get the items you want. Collecting items is easy, either take their possessions from your slain enemies, steal what isn't bolted down, or scavenge the ruins of a past long gone. Scavenging can easily be done as a trapping of the Survival skill. If you want to add a little more spice to it, handle a Scavenge Run as a Dramatic Task. A success rewards the character with loot appropriate to the ruins, a failure means they stumbled upon something nasty (a nest of Radscorpions, some Super Mutants, a Raider group, a dangerous sink of radiation, to give just a few examples). This also illustrates the point of safety in numbers, as a group is more likely to succeed in a dramatic task. Of course, there is the negotiation about shares of the loot.

While Barter isn't included in the core rules as written, use it as a trapping of Streetwise. Knowing how to even find somebody in the wastelands who will buy what you dug out of that mouldy old ruin is half the challenge, after all. A failure doesn't necessarily mean you are stuck with your loot, but selling it may get you fewer bottle caps than you hoped for, or the trader buys only a small amount of what you have to offer, or he only trades in other items you don't need at the moment - there are so many possibilities.

Crafting is a Repair roll, as soon as the character bartered/stole/looted/scavenged all the parts they needed. Of course they also need a shop where they can work in peace and tools don't come cheap in the dusty future.

If you want to include some of the more exotic items from the series, have a look at Weird Science. Stimpack? That's the Healing Power right there. Rad Away? Use the Healing Power, but with the trapping of removing levels of fatigue from Radiation. EMP grenades? The Blast Power with the trapping of only affecting those darn robots. Simply by using this approach it balances out the problem of the video game, where the player has an abundance of everything after 10 hours of gaming.

And that's really all you need to run Savage Fallout with the $9.99 Core Rulebook. Obviously this leaves a lot to do for the GM. It doesn't provide long lists of lootable resources, recipes for items and weapons, equipment, and such. I do not consider this a hindrance to a game. Instead, I see this as a creative exercise. Of course the GM needs to know about the fluff of the setting, but creating stats for creatures on the fly in my mind even adds to the setting. It illustrates the unpredictability of radiation effects.
Also, don't prepare lists of what is found where. Have the players tell you what they are looking for. If they know where to go, then that's where the session will take them. If not, then they better find somebody who knows. Simply wandering into the blue is incredibly dangerous in the wastelands, and while the rewards may be worth it, death (claws) may always be just around the next irradiated corner.


  1. Nice analysis. I like the aim to just use the core rules which are more battle-tested than any other settings/expansions. I'm not a fallout player but I appreciated it.

    1. Thank you. :) It really depends on the setting how far away from the Core book I like to collect ideas, as can be seen in Savage Shadowrun Second Edition. I will address that in another article.

  2. This is great. You have a knack for converting stuff.

    1. *bows* Thank you. :) It was a hard road to where I am now, and there's still a long way to go, but now I'm confident enough in my abilities to actually publish what I produce(d). :)