For certain generations of players, the Fallout series holds a high place of esteem. A post-apocalyptic RPG set in the aftermath of nuclear devastation. It immediately stood out from similar stories thanks to its mix of 1950s pulp sci-fi kitsch, absurd sense of humor, and sharp dark satire regarding the dangers of American Exceptionalism and seemingly endless cycles of war and human greed.
And with the announcement of Modiphius Entertainment's Winter of Atom campaign book, fans of the franchise might be interested in checking out the studio's officially licensed Fallout RPG. Thankfully, you can get a taste for yourself what you are in for with the Fallout RPG Starter Set.
What Is Included In the Fallout RPG Starter Set?
The Fallout RPG Starter Set contains everything that a gaming table needs to start playing the game. The set contains a rulebook, a prewritten adventure, six pregenerated character sheets, a set of Fallout-themed dice, and a set of Nuka-Cola bottlecap tokens.
Miraculously, the rulebook actually contains a bit more than the basics. In addition to key mechanics like how adjudicating skill rolls and how to read a character sheet, it contains sections on leveling up characters as well as various forms of equipment. This is helpful since the character sheets can be drawn on by dry erase markers. This means that characters can naturally grow and change throughout the starting adventure, leading to greater investment. In addition, the character sheets don't just include relevant stats, but quick references for how certain stats are used for skill rolls. This is immeasurably helpful for brand new players that don't want to do too much math.
How Does The Adventure in the Fallout RPG Starter Set Feel To Play?
Overall, Modiphius Entertainment's 2D20 system shines in the Fallout RPG Starter Set. How a skill test works is you combine the numbers of two relevant stats then roll 2d20s. If the dice results are equal to or lower than that sum, you rolled a success. If you roll a number of successes (determined by the GM) then you passed the skill test.The book is also packed with small touches from the franchise. This includes PC stats being based on Fallout's SPECIAL system, as well as providing bonuses to hitting certain body parts if you have a Pip-Boy attached. You can even play as a human wastelander, a supermutant, a ghoul, or even a Mr. Handy robot.
If you are planning to GM with the Fallout RPG Starter Set, you'll have plenty to work with as well. The prewritten adventure, Once Upon A Time In The Wasteland, is extremely beginner friendly. Every single chapter of the book reiterates core rules as well as provide information about key turns in the story. By the time you finish running this adventure, you will have a firm grasp of the system as well as learn some basic tabletop storytelling fundamentals. There are even some tips for setting the right atmosphere like playing 1950s pop music.
As for the adventure itself, it takes place in the setting of Fallout 4. While traveling through the Commonwealth, the PCs become wrapped up in a power struggle between some scientists, and the mysterious Institute. While investigating, the PCs discover the presence of a powerful artifact, one that can spell disaster if the Institute got their hands on it.
My only real complaints about the adventure mostly comes down to pacing. First impressions were mixed when the characters were tasked to find someone who escaped into a Vault. While the party expected a dungeon crawl of sorts, it amounted to finding the character two rooms away; every other route locked off by security turret fire. Then the adventure as written has the character die with no way to stabilize or save her. But the PCs still need to speak with her to get plot relevant information. Furthermore, this character's death is integral to the story since it leads to third act complications. With brand new players, this kind of linearity and contrivance can be forgiven, but for veteran players the loss of agency is a real lurch.
I bring up these issues because otherwise the prewritten adventure is solid. There's a healthy mix of both exploration, roleplaying, character interaction, combat, and intrigue. Better still, it concludes in an open ended fashion, making it a great springboard for future stories. For a 58-page adventure in a starter set, that is really impressive. I just wish it had a better opening act.
Fallout RPG Starter Set | Final Thoughts
If you just happen to be in the market for a new TTRPG system and are a Fallout fan, I do recommend the Fallout RPG Starter Set. It gets a lot of things right when it comes to getting new players involved and is stellar at teaching TTRPG fundamentals.
The copy of the Fallout RPG Starter Set used in this preview was provided by Modiphius Entertainment