I need to thank some very supportive people, without whom this project never would have happened. Thanks to Elizabeth for being you; thanks to Miroslav for running such a wonderful website; thanks to my playtesters: Roman, Mike, Karen, Pete, and Arch; thanks for all the supportive emails, and suggestions, from people too numerous to name; thanks to Brian Fargo, Interplay, and Black Isle for making such great role-playing games; thanks to Michael Owen and Itsatrap, the Scorpion Hunter, for ideas and rules regarding condition modifiers to armor; mega-thanks to Ausir for compiling the most comprehensive list of missing items and errors, and to Roman for compiling another useful list; thanks to Chris Taylor of Interplay for making the publication of this game a possibility; thanks to Ausir (again!) for pointing our more errors and inconsistencies; thanks to Zillameth for setting me straight on the conditions of towns in the Fallout universe; thanks to the entire Fallout PnP Yahoogroup for the inspirational discussions, especially about weapons and weapons modifications – without you, this ignorant progressive still wouldn’t know the difference between a chamber and a magazine. Thanks also to No Mutants Allowed and Freelancer, who provided me with pictures of weapons so I didn’t have to make hundreds of screenshots.
I’d also like to note that Fallout Unlimited would never have come to fruition without the help of Chris Avellone and the Fallout Bible, Ausir for his amazing research and editing, especially the errata from the last version, and the entire discussion group for providing insight and feedback. You all rock. Big time. Oh, and none of this would have been possible without the musical support of Guns ‘N Roses, the Blue Oyster Cult, and The Refreshments, just to name a few.
Some names and images in this book are copyright Interplay Productions, Inc., and are used with permission. Some images are copyright Paragon Software, and are used with permission.
This is officially version 3.0 (“Unlimited”) of the Fallout: PNP RPG rules. I’ve kept all the rules from the game’s SPECIAL system intact, except for gun damage, which I modified – without any change to the resulting numbers – for ease of play on a tabletop. Heavy weapons, artillery pieces, and vehicles I had to completely make up on my own; for my sources, please see the bibliography at the end. I made some tweaks here and there to make the rules a little more “realistic,” like allowing both barrels of a double-barrel shotgun to be fired at once. I included some other weapons for the sake of realism and variety, and some rules have been added to expand the role-playing experience. When no other option was possible, some creative license was borrowed to make things “complete.” If you feel there is a glaring error or omission, please feel free to log into the wiki and share.
A Word About Role Playing and the Fallout Universe
Creating a role-playing game is much like a high-wire act in the circus: one walks a very fine line attempting to please as many people as possible. Fallout Unlimited was created for two groups of gamers – those who enjoyed the Fallout computer games and wanted to have a tabletop version for their Saturday night role-playing sessions, and those people who had not played the computer game but were interested or curious in the post-Nuclear role-playing environment. It is my sincere hope that this game provides the best experience for both kinds of RPG groups.
Fallout Unlimited was designed to be flexible in its rule structure. The system of character creation and combat was drawn directly from Fallout’s SPECIAL system, because it is one of the more intuitive RPG systems I've encountered. However, because a computer can do many calculations in a short amount of time, and keep track of millions of variables, the combat system can get a little complex at times. I've tried to provide a character sheet that places all the necessary numbers in one place for ease of use, but some players may find that tedious. The system has been altered slightly: a couple of skills were added, and the means by which initial skill levels are calculated is also different, creating a more balanced game. These rules adjustments stem directly from the SPECIAL updates in Lionheart (and, presumably, any future Fallout C-RPG games), and from discussion with Black Isle developers. Which brings me to my next (and last) point.
This book is designed as a guide. The reason we role-play is to allow our imaginations to take us to another world for a brief time. It is not to sit there and roll dice and punch numbers into a calculator all night. I've role-played with both kinds of groups, and when I've GMed, I've leaned towards the first kind – more story, less dice and numbers. I would skip looking up tables and such and make things up on the fly. For rules junkies, there are plenty of tables and things to keep you going. I even encourage you to make your own tables for things like critical hits, perhaps using mine as a guide. For those more prone to loose, formless role-playing, feel free to discard tables, rolls, or whatever else suits your fancy. The idea behind this game is to have fun, so if you find something doesn't work for your group, please feel free to get rid of it.
I’ve omitted some of the Tactics rules, or changed others slightly, because they are rules that belong more in a tactical combat simulator than a roleplaying game and would probably unbalance a PnP RPG. For example, I kept the original Fallout 2 idea that ghouls could wear the same armor that humans could, and I changed the way that First Aid and Doctor skills were used in combat (healing people completely in 1 round would have seriously unbalanced the game). I’m sure diligent players will note other changes as well; please keep in mind that I’ve carefully considered those rules and the spirit of a tabletop RPG, and adapted them accordingly.
I get a lot of emails imploring me to add things to the game; since this is as exact an adaptation of the SPECIAL system as I can make, I usually only add things that are “canon” or are obviously missing from the game. However, there are some things in the games that are fairly redundant. You may not see every weapon in Tactics in this manual, because one much like it already exists. It actually appears that some of the weapons in Tactics are factually incorrect as well; when I’ve noticed a factual error in a weapon description or a kind of ammo a gun uses, I’ve tried to fix it and maintain the spirit of the game.
I also get a lot of emails about “this would make the game more realistic!” or “such-and-such a gun could never happen!” Fallout was intended as a homage to the 1950s and 1960s American B-movies, with gigantic irradiated mutants and gutsy heroes. It’s not supposed to be an ultra-realistic simulation of the effects of a modern nuclear war. It’s set in an alternate universe, and doesn’t necessarily obey the “normal” laws of physics, genetics, and what-makes-the-best-gun. So don’t approach Fallout Unlimited expecting an exact replica of real life (if this wasn’t obvious from the setting in the first place, you might need a reality check before you start playing RPGS anyway).
One more thing: I realize this is very confusing, but the Fallout world uses the Metric system to measure everything except weight, which is measured in standard-system pounds. I prefer metric because of the easy conversions, but since the game was originally programmed and created by Americans, weight probably slipped through the cracks. Sorry about that. I’m not going to change it, either.