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A First Look at 2d20 Fallout from Modiphius

Fallout 2d20.jpg


Fallout has had an interesting journey to its place in geek culture. It started out as a GURPS computer game, turned into a series of RPGs from a beloved team, expanded its hold on gamers with a shift to first person gaming and currently exists as a slowly but surely improving MMORPG. It seemed inevitable that the setting would return to the tabletop. Modiphius has taken on several licenses using its 2d20 system and sent a review copy of the PDF for its latest to me. Does it fit like a smart looking fedora? Or is it as useful as completely drained power armor?

For those unfamiliar with 2d20, it is a roll-under system where players roll 2d20 under an attribute plus a skill to gain successes. Tasks have a difficulty from 1-5 successes. Players can gain extra successes through critical rolls of 1 or by gaining additional dice by purchasing them with momentum. If a player rolls more successes than needed, they can use them to purchase additional effects like more damage or information, or they can bank those successes to use later. The designers are second only to Free League in adapting the basic engine to fit different genres and licensees. Sometimes the games are very grainy. Sometimes they are not.

In this case, lead designers Nathan Dowdell and Sam Webb along with Alison Cybe, Donathin Frye and Virgina Page hit the middle of the pack. Making a character is rather simple; pick a species, assign attribute points to once that match the game, pick a perk modeled after ones across the franchise and the character is ready. The team seemed to go out of their way to adjust 2d20 in a way that would be immediately recognizable to players of the later Fallout games. That includes adjusting game terms and mechanics like momentum and determination to things like Action Points and Luck.

There are six broad character types: Brotherhood of Steel, Ghoul, Super Mutant, Mister Handy, Survivor and Vault Dweller. These aren’t classes in a strict sense; they mostly give you a starting perk and a chart to determine your starting equipment. Some of the character choices have some fun subtypes, like several Mister Handy builds that can be mixed and matched, like a Miss Nanny personality stuck in a Mister Gutsy body. There are a few character types I would have liked to see as playable that show up in the enemies section, like Protectrons or Synths. I hope that as more books are released for the line these types get added to the game.

The complexity comes in with character gear. Gear customization is a major part of the video games and that focus continues in Fallout. Most of a character’s abilities come out of the weapons and armor they carry and the game expects players to fiddle around with their loadouts as they scavenge the wasteland. Games where gear really matters have gone out of vogue in modern designs, but Fallout shows a way forward where players can modify basic gear without flipping through dozens of gear books. If anything, the company should consider gear decks so players can assemble their cool guns in a tableau while they play.

Combat is a mixture of abstract elements and gritter detail. Hit locations matter, but only on a critical success. Ranges are defined by zones but they have an ideal zone where they function. Ammo is counted but the system offers a risk/system where more shots fired mean more damage dice and therefore a better chance at a critical hit. This models different play styles of Fallout well, with some players taking a measured approach to battles and others changing forth and blasting with both hands.

Seekers of lore might be disappointed by the fact that the game concentrates on Fallout 4. Don’t pick up the book expecting a timeline and backstory of all the games. The information is useful for playing in the Boston setting, but I saw a missed opportunity here. Rather than a specific setting I would have preferred advice on how to turn your own city into a Fallout setting. Part of the joy of these games is walking past a location that you recognize and see how the setting has changed it. The first thing I would do at my table is sit down and discuss what local landmarks we’d want in the game and how we could satirize issues in the city through the various factions within the game.

Fallout is a strong translation of the electronic RPG to a tabletop format. If you enjoy those elements of the game and want a tabletop RPG that plays to them, this is an excellent pickup. It’s also a good choice for GMs wanting to hook friends who love video games but have been shy about getting into tabletop. For fans of the video game looking for material they want to convert into their favorite system, they will head back out into the wasteland, unsatisfied.
 
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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

I’m a fan of 2D20 - Trek converted me, and the Achtung Cthulhu starter is bangin’.
I can’t get behind Fallout 4, though. I know people do love it and that’s fine, but the lack of RPG and dialog hurt it for me. Fallout 1, 2, New Vegas forever. I do like 3, but 4 was more of a shooter with loads of crafting on top.
 

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MGibster

Legend
I’m a fan of 2D20 - Trek converted me, and the Achtung Cthulhu starter is bangin’.
I can’t get behind Fallout 4, though. I know people do love it and that’s fine, but the lack of RPG and dialog hurt it for me. Fallout 1, 2, New Vegas forever. I do like 3, but 4 was more of a shooter with loads of crafting on top.
Fallout 4 also taught us the importance of helping Preston out with the militia.

To be fair to the TTRPG, no GM is beholden to run the game in the same way Fallout 4 played. You won't run into the same problems at the table that you ran into in a video game. You'll just be using the same setting elements.
 

Reynard

Legend
Fallout 4 also taught us the importance of helping Preston out with the militia.

To be fair to the TTRPG, no GM is beholden to run the game in the same way Fallout 4 played. You won't run into the same problems at the table that you ran into in a video game. You'll just be using the same setting elements.
The thing is it really hard coded a bunch of FO4isms into the rules. Luckily that didn't include the settlement system. As I think I stated upthread I am pro-FO4 (I just started a fresh playthrough to prepare myself for running the Modiphius game) but I still wish the game had been more broadly Fallout.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
If you don't mine me asking, why does roll under bother you?
Exactly as abstruse said. It's conditioning. A 1 on a d20 (or bloodbowl on the dreaded go for it touchdown - if you know, you know) feels like the worst thing you can roll.

But as Morrus said, after a few weeks I'd adapt.
 

xboxtravis7992

Villager
The thing is it really hard coded a bunch of FO4isms into the rules. Luckily that didn't include the settlement system. As I think I stated upthread I am pro-FO4 (I just started a fresh playthrough to prepare myself for running the Modiphius game) but I still wish the game had been more broadly Fallout.
Looking through the PDF, the mechanics are hardcoded in Fallout 4 yes, but the rest of the Fallout 4-ness can easily be homebrewed away by a creative GM. Not surprising since that was the same approach Modiphius seemed to take to Wasteland Warfare, a Fallout 4 themed launch with later releases for F3 and New Vegas (they just announced minis for Securitrons, Caesar's Legion, Joshua Graham, NCR Troopers, etc. for Wasteland Warfare only a few days before the 2d20 PDF was released)

A few things of note, while the book is set in Fallout 4 as the default setting; it reads very similar to the PHB in 5E being default set in The Forgotten Realms with little "sprinkles" of other setting teases. While discussing post war currency the game mentions the NCR Dollars as being accepted in that region. A blurb on the history of RobCo has a short but detailed segment on Robert House and the rumors "he is alive in the Mojave." The Hub and Vault 12 also get name drops. I even saw a few references to The Capitol Wasteland and Appalachia there. Every canon Fallout game (except Fallout: Shelter) has some tease somewhere in the book, again very similar to what 5E did in its own PHB.

Really my only complaints reading through is that Snyths and Securitrons aren't offered as playable races (sure Securitrons are New Vegas centric, but Synths are very key to F4 and only appear as NPC characters in the book).

Also, the segment on Mr. Handy's and hats is brilliant:

167087964_2419436614847182_8045237121526563018_n.png
 
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Abstruse

Hero
Really my only complaints reading through is that Snyths and Securitrons aren't offered as playable races (sure Securitrons are New Vegas centric, but Synths are very key to F4 and only appear as NPC characters in the book).
Securitrons I can see them holding back for a sourcebook. Hopefully an entire robot sourcebook where you can completely build and customize your own (either for PCs or NPC companions).

As far as synths go...wouldn't that just be a cosmetic choice? For the Type III synths, they're indistinguishable from humans (well, unless you kill them and dig around in their brain to see if there's a synth component in there). They may not "need" to eat or sleep, but they can duplicate those actions, either voluntarily to maintain their cover as humans or involuntarily for those who don't know they're synths (either due to reprogramming following liberation or their initial programming via the Institute as sleeper agents). So as far as game mechanics go, there's no reason to have them as a starting character type.
 

robowieland

Explorer
Securitrons I can see them holding back for a sourcebook. Hopefully an entire robot sourcebook where you can completely build and customize your own (either for PCs or NPC companions).

As far as synths go...wouldn't that just be a cosmetic choice? For the Type III synths, they're indistinguishable from humans (well, unless you kill them and dig around in their brain to see if there's a synth component in there). They may not "need" to eat or sleep, but they can duplicate those actions, either voluntarily to maintain their cover as humans or involuntarily for those who don't know they're synths (either due to reprogramming following liberation or their initial programming via the Institute as sleeper agents). So as far as game mechanics go, there's no reason to have them as a starting character type.

You could probably hack together something decent from the Mister Handy rules and gear tables. The mechanics part of character types are a pre-selected perk and random equipment tables and that's it.

I still felt like I shouldn't have to hack that myself since they are a character type that exists in the Commonwealth setting and one it seems like people would want to play.
 

Abstruse

Hero
You could probably hack together something decent from the Mister Handy rules and gear tables. The mechanics part of character types are a pre-selected perk and random equipment tables and that's it.

I still felt like I shouldn't have to hack that myself since they are a character type that exists in the Commonwealth setting and one it seems like people would want to play.
Automatron was DLC for the video game, makes sense to make it a sourcebook for the RPG.
 

Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
I’m a fan of 2D20 - Trek converted me, and the Achtung Cthulhu starter is bangin’.
I can’t get behind Fallout 4, though. I know people do love it and that’s fine, but the lack of RPG and dialog hurt it for me. Fallout 1, 2, New Vegas forever. I do like 3, but 4 was more of a shooter with loads of crafting on top.
And the crafting in Fallout 4 didn't matter. It really didn't matter. Neither did any of the settlement building. It all detracted from what little story there was.

Had the game not have the forced story of you being a parent who is searching for your son and instead presented a core plot later in the game after waking up and you ventured into the world for a while, like a sandbox, then the game would have been better.

Fallout New Vegas is my favorite Fallout game, it had the most cohesive world.
 

I've played enough CoC that if i converted it to percentiles i could probably get over the hump. Of course I would be playing the 4d10 system at that point.

That would really, really not work well without a computer to do your math.

If it works like Conan 2d20, then normally you roll 2 dice. But it's also a bit like a dice pool game. The PCs build the dice pool and can then roll up to a cap of 5d20. This is how in combat and out of combat tests work.

Your target number is based on two things: 1) your ability, which ranges from I think 7-8 up to 14-15. In Conan, attributes higher than I think 12 you as more powerful than everyone else... like NPCs specifically notice that you're more powerful and act accordingly. You actually didn't want that at all until quite late in the game. Then there's your skill in whatever you're attempting, which usually varies from 0 to +3, with either 4 or 5 being the cap.

So if your skill is +3 and your attribute is 12, your target number is 15. That means a 15 or under is a success, and a 16-20 is not a success. You need a certain number of successes to succeed. The difficulty is the number of successes you need. 1 success is low, 2 is average, 3 is difficult, and it goes up to 5 successes needed for near-impossible, and 6 being an impossible task. Extra successes go into the collective pool as dice others can pull from, but disappear in a round or so. However, because your skill is a +3, if you roll a 1-3 you get a crit, which means you get an extra success. Further, if you roll a natural 20, you suffer a complication. A complication is not a failure; it's just something unexpected happening. They can be minor or major, but they're almost never good.

For example, you have 12 attribute and 3 skill to open a lock. First, another character searches for traps. They roll well and get 3 successes out of 2, so they add 1 die to the pool. The GM says there are no traps found. You say you want to open the lock. The GM says it's a difficult lock and you need 3 successes to open it. You pull the die from the pool and burn one of three session benefit tokens to get a fourth die. Your target number is 12 + 3 = 15. You roll 16, 8, 2, 20. Fail, success, critical success, and complication. Your three successes manage to open the lock, but the GM determines you break your lockpicks while doing so. You won't be able to open any more locks until you get your tools repaired or replaced. The complication could have been anything from making noise to alert nearby guards, a missed trap springing, part of the treasure being damaged, etc. Whatever the GM wanted.

It's actually a bit more complex than that (skill bonus is technically two different values, but that doesn't matter until quite far into the game), but that's the jist. Oh, and feats -- which are very cheap initially so the early/mid game you'll spend all your XP on feats and nothing on skills and attributes -- feats often give you die rerolls.

Bottom line, I would absolutely not want to convert those odds to d% at the table on the fly. I wouldn't even want to write a program to calculate those odds.

It's very fast and flows very well while you're playing it, but there's a lot of decisions and planning in the game system.
 

I highly enjoyed Fallout 4. I enjoyed the settlement building; I wish the rumored similar system would have been part of Skyrim. Yeah, the interface was clunky, but it could be a fun management sim. Also, having an established settlement with a working economy (and adequate defenses) was a good way to get money and resources.

I'll likely check out the 2d20 rpg sometime in the future.

For the time being, GURPS After the End does a good job of providing my Fallout fix.
 

swiftbombay-gm

Villager
Looks like a great game. Not sure why fans of the first Fallout computer game are hating this RPG on some community sites calling it a Fallout 4 type faill.I liked all the Fallout computer games.
The Fallout fandom can be ridiculously toxic at times (I haven't seen that here on ENW yet, the criticisms that I read seem rational to me). Those who hate Bethesda are very vocal about it and I advise avoiding r/fallout if you want help with lore and sticking to either r/fo4 or r/falloutlore.
That said, my perfect campaign for this would be the main story of FO4 with people who have never played it. Then I could let them do as they would without the railroading (puns are fun) into specific outcomes that are... problematic (this from a guy who loves the crap out of FO4 and has logged more hours on it than any other single-player game).
The Commonwealth is a great setting with huge potential. I love the area and the way they structured the factions. To address the criticism of it still being too dirty for so long after the bombs, I'd just compress the timeline a bit and set it in 2200ish. Long enough for all of the events to happen and all prewar humans to die off and necessary events to occur.
This is where taking Fallout to your tabletop shines. You can tweak and mold the meta to your liking and not be trapped by design decisions made by Bethesda (or Interplay or Obsidian for that matter) that you don't like.
 

Reynard

Legend
I don't worry too much about the timeline. Fallout is so goofy that it's like complaining about castles and full plate in D&D when dragons exist. It's just not worth the trouble, and so many other setting elements are unrealistic that it just doesn't make sense to focus on a trash world. Hell, Gamma World is thousands of years after the End and mutants are still walking around with street signs as armor, so Fallout is hardly the worst offender.

As I am doing another playthrough of FO4 in anticipation of running the TTRPG, the thing that I am more worried about is how combat/shooter focused it is. I haven't played FO3 in a while because it's unstable on Win10, but New Vegas for sure is more RP focused. Tone wise, FO4 takes a "kill em all" attitude that is less adaptable to tabletop play, especially given that you can't just reload a save point when you've gotten in over your head.

Although it would have been fun to see a Save Scumming feature in the RPG just for giggles.
 




swiftbombay-gm

Villager
I wonder if there will be a "bloody mess" perk, where the GM is required to describe your opponents exploding in horrible ways.
Bloody Mess is there, but it just makes critical hits nastier, no narrative requirements. That said, I'll be very disappointed in any GM who runs this and DOESN'T narrate the explosive gore.
 

wicked cool

Explorer
I love the lore of the series , creatures etc-There really inst anything else out there like it in other mediums (books, tv etc). the vats system is great but its a very shallow game compared even to skyrim.

I do however hope we get a fallout 5 in the next 10 years (Bethesda delays in games are maddening as their games aren't that complicated fun but not complicated)

2d20 doenst bother me but I want good combat and good adventures
 

MGibster

Legend
The Fallout fandom can be ridiculously toxic at times (I haven't seen that here on ENW yet, the criticisms that I read seem rational to me). Those who hate Bethesda are very vocal about it and I advise avoiding r/fallout if you want help with lore and sticking to either r/fo4 or r/falloutlore.
I've been a pretty big fan of Bethesda for a number of years but they pretty much squandered all the goodwill I had for them with the ongoing debacle that was the release of Fallout 76. They didn't just release a bad game but they were willing to engage in false advertisement, sell shoddy merchandise, failed to protect the personal identification information of their customers, and just treated their customers like dirt. It soured me on Bethesda and I didn't even buy Fallout 76, miss out on a canvas bag promised to me, or get a really crappy bottle of rum for $80. I've become so soured on Bethesda that it's a factor in whether or not I'll purchase this game from Modiphius. If it wasn't for the fact that I like Modiphius I probably wouldn't even consider purchasing this game but I am thinking about it.
 

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