War, war never changes…
Anyone familiar with the 20-year-old Fallout universe who hears those words knows that they’re about to embark on an epic adventure in the blasted wasteland of a retro 50s-themed, atompunk Earth. It’s a setting filled with kitschy hallmarks from a previous age, layered in the grime and struggle of post-apocalyptic life. Be you human, mutant, ghoul, or even robot; survival in the Fallout setting never comes easy, and rarely without a cost.
In 2016 I debuted “Edge of the Wasteland” at GamernationCon 3. It was my Fallout hack for Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Role Playing Game, Edge of the Empire. The adventure featured two Vault-dwellers from Vault 66, two members of the Brotherhood of Steel, a Ghoul wastelander, and a Super Mutant who fancied himself as a knight. The group had a grand adventure helping settlers from a nearby village and investigating several radio transmissions from Vault 20. Many folks got a chance to play the module, including a certain RPG Manager for FFG. You might say he found the adventure “enlightening”. Six months later, I received an invite to a playtest group for the Genesys Role Playing Game.
For anyone who hasn’t been paying too much attention to FFG, Genesys is the Narrative Dice System used by their Star Wars RPG system with all of the Star Wars nomenclature and proprietary images filed off. It’s designed to be a toolkit to be able to run just about any genre or setting any gaming group could ask for. All of the familiar elements of the Narrative Dice System are there; species (also called archetypes), skills and skill ranks, careers, talents (although you can buy any talent, and build a pyramid instead of selecting specific talents from a specialization tree), motivations, and of course the narrative dice with their triple-axis of result resolution. Some of the rules have been refined from Star Wars; for example vehicle combat and ranges greatly mirror personal combat now; difficulty of attacks are now determined by range, and modified by relative sizes between the vehicles. Throw in themes for games (steampunk, fantasy, modern, sci-fi, etc.), and tones (comedy, horror, super-hero, romantic), and rules for making your own talents, gear, and species, and FFG has provided us with a rather concise tool box for making any game we could ever want.
With the announcement of Genesys, I began to convert the rules for Edge of the Wasteland over to Genesys’s Settings and Theme format. The Theme format is very concise and useful; first up are the various tropes the theme has, to get the GM and players insight into the moods and feel of the setting. The new species list increases the options of the various human Archetypes that are listed in the core rulebook’s Character Creation section. Next up are the new weapons and equipment available to those in the specific theme; in the Fallout theme many new weapons are added from the games but there is a notation that weapons from the core rulebook’s Modern theme are also available. Next up are the new armors available to those adventuring in – or threatening – the wasteland, and several new pieces of gear including the iconic Pipboy. My theme has a couple new rules that govern Radiation and its effect on the game, and special rules for Power Armor. Finally, where the themes in the core rulebook give you three, I have provided seventeen new adversaries that the PCs will encounter in the Fallout wasteland.
Not everything from Fallout has made it into this document, I wanted to provide a solid list of equipment and adversaries from the games, but I couldn’t include everything. As an example, I haven’t included any of the drugs found in the game in this document, nor any of the mutated insects that always seem to harass you at the worst times (except for radscorpions, because radscorpions). In the tradition of Fallout 3 and 4, look for these additions and others over the next few months as downloadable content; the difference is my DLCs will be free.
So players; strap on your Pipboy, suit up in your T-51b power armor suit, and power up that gatling laser cannon; you’ve got a wasteland to adventure in. GMs, grab some threats, some encounters where there are no good choices (only “less horrible” choices), and the occasional Vault to raid and send your PCs on an adventure.
But remember to start your adventure right, because war…war never changes.