Chapter Introduction: I
Imagine for a moment a world without politics. Imagine a world without BigMacs. Imagine a world without worlds. Imagine a world without religions, where people's views no longer mattered, where there was no longer any distinction between old and young, rich and poor, Atheist or Believer, liberal or conservative. Imagine a world where every person was equal regardless of skin color or ethnic background.
The United States, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Israel, Japan, Germany, Poland, Brazil, and Luxembourg(!!!) have over 2 Nuclear Devices in their arsenals as of February 2001. It would take 800 such devices to end most human life on this planet. In the half-hour between the launch of the missiles and the detonation of the last bomb, it would not be difficult to imagine a world where racial, religious, class, and national distinctions no longer mattered. In the days and weeks after the bombs, the remaining people would struggle to survive in a vastly different environment. The Earth as well as humankind would bear the scars of that wound for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Fallout is a post-nuclear RPG set sometime after a great nuclear conflict in the year 2077. 99% of humanity and a good deal of other life perished in the nuclear war. Of course, millions still survived, although some were altered beyond imagination. One can play Fallout either as a campaign-oriented RPG, with a series of smaller adventures in a larger story, or as a single-story game with a minimum of involvement in the larger workings of the world. It can be played on a single Saturday night with two or three friends or in a group of 7 or 8 two or three times a week for months on end. The only limits are scheduling and the boundaries of imagination.
Equipment for Gameplay
Each player needs a set of percentile-dice (two ten-sided dice, with one die representing the "ones" column and the other representing the "tens" column of a two-digit number). The Gamemaster needs a set of normal RPG dice as well (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20). The group might want to have a pool of extra 10-sided dice for ease of play and rolling burst attacks all at once, as well. Each player also needs a character sheet (provided in a separate file), a pencil, and a bit of imagination. The Gamemaster needs this book and a little more imagination. A single hex-sheet is helpful, although not absolutely necessary. Every character can provide their own miniature figure to use on the hex sheet, and the Gamemaster may want to think about getting a few generic critter figures and some scenery (trees and ruined buildings, walls, etc), although these are not necessary either.
You can pick up dice at any gaming store or comic book shop, and hex-sheets are also usually available at these kinds of stores. Other games like Warhammer 40K and Battletech use hex-sheets, and you can sometimes order them from these companies’ catalogues. Miniatures are a little more difficult; for the budget-minded gamer, green plastic grocery-store army men/cowboys and indians work very well, and fit perfectly on a hex sheet (you can also use the vehicles and obstacles some sacks of these toys come with). For the aesthetically-minded gamer, you can spend literally hundreds of dollars on detailed miniatures from model railroad stores for that immersive gaming experience.
If you are looking for detailed miniatures, it's best to look for mainly 'sci-fi' and 'western' type miniatures, with a little searching, you should be able to find a wide array of robots and armored soldiers, along with some equipped with energy weaponry (For BOS and other well equiped enemies) from sci-fi miniature sets, and the general pieces to represent wastelanders, bramhin, tribals and rugged character pieces in western miniature sets. It’s sometimes helpful to have a calculator for the mathematically-challenged, especially when firing guns in burst mode.
Glossary of Terms in the Fallout Universe
Combat: A sequence of events that takes place on a hex-grid in rounds of approximately 10 seconds each. Ends when all but one party has either been killed or ran away.
Critter: A critter generally refers to a non-human NPC.
Death: Death occurs when a character's hit points drop below 0 and no medical treatment is readily available. Death is final in the Fallout universe. Once death happens, the character must start anew.
Experience (XP): A numerical measure of the character's collective experiences in the Fallout universe. When a character has enough Experience points, he or she goes up a Level.
Fallout: A series of games from Interplay Productions (and later Bethesda Game Studios and Obsidian Entertainment), spiritual successors to their popular Wasteland RPG, set in a post-nuclear universe; the same universe in which this open-ended RPG is set. Also, the radioactive dust particles scattered after a nuclear device detonates.
Gamemaster (GM): The Gamemaster is sort of a storyteller and judge rolled into one. The GM relates the story to the players, telling them what their characters are experiencing, and they have a chance to control their character's responses. The GM does the majority of the dice rolls and controls all Non-Player Characters. The GM's word in any situation is final, and overrides even this rulebook. After all, it is the Gamemaster's world. Being Gamemaster requires a little imagination and a normal set of dice (1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 2d10, 1d12, 1d20).
Karma: A measure of whether a character has done more good than evil, more evil than good, or a healthy balance of the two.
Level: A measure of the Character's "rank" in the Fallout universe. When a Character gains a Level, it represents that they have gained enough Experience from their actions that they have a better grasp of the world around them.
Non-Player Character (NPC): A Character in the Fallout universe that is not controlled by a Player; these Characters are controlled by the GM.
Perk: A Perk is a special reward a character gains every few levels.
Player: The Player is one of the human participants in the game, more specifically a human in control of a character, called the Player Character.
Player Character (PC): A Character in the game universe controlled by a Player. The Player's "Alter Ego" in the Fallout universe.
Primary Statistics (Statistics, Stats): Primary statistics measure a Character's basic abilities, and include Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck.
Rank: Not a position, but rather a measure of the "level" of some Perks.
Rolls Against __: When you see this, an action requires a dice roll against a specific Stat or Skill. Rolls against Primary Statistics use 1d10 and must make equal to or less than that particular Stat to succeed. If a character’s Stat is higher than 10, it doesn’t effect the roll against that number – the action will still succeed no matter what. Some rolls against Stats have penalties – this is where racial maximums will take effect. Rolls against Secondary Statistics and Skills use percentile dice (2d10) to do the same thing. A roll of 2 when rolling against Endurance, when your EN is 4, means your character managed to fight off the deadly plague. A roll of 75 when rolling against a 40% Outdoorsman skill means your character did not find the mutated cactus with the water that would have saved her life. Some rolls are made by the GM, without the characters – or players - knowing the result.
Round: A round of combat is generally about 10 seconds long and lasts until all critters in combat have their turn.
Secondary Statistics (Derived Statistics): These statistics are derived from mathematical formulae using numbers from various sources, such as Primary Statistics, Equipment, and so forth.
Skills: A numerical measure of how good your Character is at different skills in the Fallout universe. If you have the right skill, you can do anything. The higher you are, the better you are, and then you can do somethings that are very hard.
To Hit: After all the modifiers, To Hit is the number you need to roll against in combat to have your weapon connect with a critter and do harm to it.
Trait: Traits are bred-in abilities that make characters more unique. Most are often double-edged swords, and cannot change throughout the game. This is optional, but make's the player a LOT more interesting.
Turn: A turn in combat consists of one critter or character performing their actions. A turn lasts for 10 seconds of game time; however, all turns happen "simultaneously" within the 10-second combat round.
A Record of Things to Come
It’s all over and I’m standing pretty, in the dust that was a city.
- Nena, 99 Luftballoons
Fallout Unlimited, like the Fallout computer game series, takes place in an “alternate universe.” This means that, sometime after World War II, “real” history and Fallout history diverged, although where this happened is not exactly clear. The alternate reality, usually referred to in Fallout Unlimited as the “Fallout Universe,” is awfully close to the real world, but with some major differences. The Soviet Union survived well into the 21st Century, with a Soviet embassy in California. The microchip was never invented, and fashions, weapons, vehicles, and computers keep a very “retro” feel, almost as if the 1950s never truly died. This did not hinder the advances in technology, as supercomputers, advanced robotics, and fusion power all flourished before the War.
It should also be noted that the nuclear weapons used in the Fallout universe are not as strong as the nukes in modern arsenals; they are much closer in yield to warheads developed and tested in the late 1940s and 1950s, which means that the level of devastation is slightly different (and potentially far less severe) than it would be in the “real” world. In addition, the dust cloud necessary for nuclear winter never formed, so that phase of nuclear war is unheard of in Fallout.
In 2052, the Resource Wars erupted, threatening to tear the world apart. Famines in Africa and the Indian subcontinent, massive pollution in Southeast Asia, religious extremists in the Middle East and the Pacific Northwest, coupled with an ever-growing need for irreplaceable fossil fuels, led the planet to a breaking point. American corporations, desperate for now-nonexistent cheaper labor and new markets so they could continue to make profits, became more and more brazen about their ties to the American government, which in turn became more and more brazen about its imperialistic tendencies.
China, along with the European Commonwealth, began its own form of imperialism, raiding resources in the American sphere of influence. While the world had not experienced a massive war in over 100 years, the house of cards created by ailing superpowers and limping business interests could not withstand the strong breeze. As the EC and the Middle East squabbled over oil, China turned its attentions towards North America.
There was no one incident that decisively led to the declaration of war on China by America (or on America by China), but the Chinese invasion of Alaska and its still-flowing oilfields in 2066 was all the excuse either side needed. After brutal but indecisive trench-and-plane warfare dragged on for months and then years, it became obvious that both sides had too much to lose to back out – and the corporations running both countries would never allow such a profitable war to quit. America eventually took back most of the Alaskan frontier, but more than a decade of intense warfare left a good deal of the formerly-pristine land a scorched, useless wreck.
In the early morning hours of October 23, 2077, the war became the War, and reached its inevitable conclusion. Spears of fire rained from the sky, destroying the planet’s major cities, polluting the oceans, and creating nightmares no scientist could imagine. Tens of thousands of soldiers, scientists, artists, and wealthy people reserved space in enormous underground shelters called Vaults, but because of the constant false alarms, only a fraction made it inside on that day. High-ranking US officials took refuge on an oil platform off the coast of San Francisco, evidence at last of the corporate control over the government and its army.
As the radioactive dust coated the planet and the last matchsticks of civilization snapped, the surface survivors died by the billions, leaving those that were left to try to fend for whatever scraps they could find. The Government, safe on Poseidon Oil’s provided offshore platform, took to calling itself the Enclave and secretly began plotting the return of their “pure” version of humanity to the mainland. Their sense of genetic and mental superiority allowed them to justify their actions, just as regular survivors stronger than the others justified atrocities by the same twisted logic. Fortunately, the Enclave’s influence was limited to the extreme American West by its location on the platform, and the rest of the world limped toward civilization – or descended into darkness – at its own pace.
Eventually, though, the Vaults opened, some at pre-appointed times, others by apparent mechanical or planning errors, releasing the inhabitants to mix with surface survivors in a much-changed United States, on a much-changed planet Earth: the setting for Fallout Unlimited.