By Nathan Dowdell
The new Fallout tabletop roleplaying game is almost upon us, allowing you to explore the desolate wastelands of post-nuclear America on your tabletop with a few friends. The game is based on our 2d20 System, but with several “SPECIAL” changes designed to make it feel as much like Fallout as possible.
Some of you may be wondering “Hey, what’s this 2d20 System thing all about?”. Well, fortunately, I’m here to provide a bit of extra guidance on that front.
In the 2d20 System, when you attempt anything difficult, dangerous, or dramatic, you roll two or more twenty-sided dice, commonly referred to as d20s. What those dice roll will tell you if you succeeded, how well you succeeded, and if anything untoward happened in the process.
Those difficult, dangerous, or dramatic situations are called Skill Tests, and they all refer to one of your seven S.P.E.C.I.A.L attributes (Strength, Perception, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) and one of your skills. When you make a skill test, you take the scores for the appropriate attribute and skill and add them together to create your Target Number.
The GM will tell you the Difficulty of the skill test, and you roll two twenty-sided dice, commonly referred to as d20s. Each die that rolls equal to or under your Target Number is a success. Any die that rolls a 1 is a critical success, which counts as two successes. If the number of successes you score is equal to or more than the Difficulty, then you’ve succeeded at the skill test. Otherwise, you’ve failed.
If you manage to score more successes than the Difficulty, then each extra success becomes an Action Point, which you can use immediately to improve the result of your skill test further—such as dealing more damage when you swing that baseball bat at that Feral Ghoul or taking less time to do something complicated—or you can also save them to use later. Saved Action Points are shared by your entire group, and one thing they can do is let you buy extra d20s on Skill Tests, giving you the opportunity to succeed at more difficult tasks or survive when the odds are stacked against you.
But wait, there’s more! If the skill you were using is one of your Tag Skills, then any d20 that rolls equal to or under that skill’s score is a critical success (instead of only rolls of a 1), making it more likely you’ll score lots of successes. However, any die that rolls a 20 creates a complication: this means that a problem has come up, such as your pipe-gun jamming after an attack. Complications are always applied after figuring out success or failure, so a complication can never stop you succeeding… they’re always an extra problem.
Almost everything in the game is based on skill tests like these, so once you’ve learned this part of the game, you’re pretty much ready to play!