The Fallout Tabletop RPG allows players to do something they’ve wanted to do in Fallout video games for some time: play as a non-human character. Fans of the Fallout series will find the Fallout Tabletop RPG is similar to the games, with a few minor differences in gameplay mechanics for obvious reasons. However, as fun as the ability to modify weapons and armor is, players will really get a kick out of playing in the Fallout universe as something other than a regular human.
The Fallout TTRPG was released digitally in March 2021 and then physically in July and August in the UK and US. The Covid pandemic was claimed to be to blame for publisher Modiphius Entertainment releasing the physical copies of the rule book with errors, including missing rules and weapon summaries which were present in the digital version. However, Modiphius has since promised fans that Fallout will receive long-term support as it did with the previous Conan and Star Trek tabletop series.
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The Fallout TTRPG gives players six origins to choose from when creating a new character. Three are human-based: Brotherhood of Steel, Vault Dweller, or Survivor; however, the other three are much more interesting. Fans who previously wished to play as a non-human in Fallout games had to rely on the talented Fallout modding community, but with the tabletop version they can do so freely. So how do these non-human characters work in the game, and how would that translate to the video game medium?
The Most Requested Character Option From Fallout Players
Ever since the first Fallout game was released in 1997, players have wanted the option to play as a ghoul. The mutated humans seen around the wastelands of the Fallout universe are pretty cool, and it can be amusing for some players to get to explore the Wasteland as a walking corpse. Ghoul player characters in the Fallout tabletop version are not only immune to radiation damage but are also healed by it when resting in an irradiated location.
If choosing to play as a ghoul, there are a few different places the character could have come from, such as being a survivor of the Great War who, over time, turned into a ghoul. They could have been a resident in one of Vault-Tec’s darker experiments in Fallout, that of Vault 12 in Bakersfield, California, where Vault-Tec designed the doors not to close correctly. Or maybe the character lived in a ghoul settlement like Underworld in the Capital Wasteland and has ventured out for supplies or to explore.
Ghoul players receive an increase to their survival skill, and this can be logical due to their extended life span, as ghouls age much slower than regular humans. Another perk is that feral ghouls won’t attack ghoul players, as they see them as one of their own and, therefore, not a threat. The downside to playing as a ghoul is players would face extra difficulty in passing charisma-based checks due to discrimination from “smoothskins.”
Non-Biological Options Available In Fallout Tabletop RPG
Another option for player characters is that of playing as a Mister Handy automaton, a type of robot seen in Fallout often as NPCs in-game. Playing as a robot would introduce a whole new style of gameplay for players to enjoy. As with other roleplaying games, players can choose their characters’ backstories. Some suggestions are that their robot character could be from before the Great War; they could have been activated afterward, perhaps by scavengers, or maybe they escaped a vault to travel across America. The player can choose whether they want to be a domestic Mister Handy or one of the many variations RobCo produced, such as Mister Gutsy, Mister Orderly, or Miss Nanny.
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Playing as a Mister Handy would make players immune to radiation and poison, which would obviously come in handy in Fallout’s oddly beautiful nuclear wasteland. However, the downside to playing as a robot is that they are unable to repair themselves to regain hit points and would need to be repaired by other players. Another downside is that the character would not be able to use any chems or gain the benefits of eating or resting.
Mister Handys move by jet propulsion and hover above the ground as they move, meaning that any player’s Mister Handy character would be unaffected by obstacles or difficult terrain. As a Mister Handy, players would have 360-degree vision and improved sensory systems, enabling them to detect smells, chemicals, and radiation. Mister Handys start off with three arm attachments, with the options of a 10mm auto pistol, flamer, laser emitter, buzz-saw, and the classic pincer.
Players Can Choose Brawls Over Brains With Super Mutants
The final non-human option available to players of the tabletop Fallout is playing as a super mutant. Players choosing this as their player origin would see both their strength and endurance increased due to the size and backstory of these massive mutants. However, the flip side is that intelligence and charisma are reduced in keeping with Fallout lore, although players would be immune to radiation and poison damage.
Super mutants in Fallout lore are made, not born; however, there are a few ways the player could have been forced to become one. It’s also worth remembering that different strains of the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV) produce different groups of super mutants. East coast super mutants, as seen in the Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3 and the Commonwealth in Fallout 4, tend to be less intelligent than the west coast variety seen in Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout: New Vegas.
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Players could choose to have their super mutant come from original Fallout lore and have been a part of the Master’s army out of Mariposa. They would be an escaped experiment from Vault 87 in the Capital Wasteland, or even someone kidnapped by the Institute. A fun idea could be to have a super mutant character who doesn’t know how they became one, and part of the campaign could be discovering where in the US the character was made. Playing as a super mutant would have its downsides when interacting with other wastelanders. The gigantic genderless beings are often seen as monsters, but this could offer some unique roleplaying challenges for players.
How Would Non-Human Fallout Player Characters Work?
Throughout almost all of the Fallout video games, the player character has come from a Vault, with the exception being the Courier of New Vegas. The player character usually has an established backstory; however, this hallmark of Fallout’s storytelling style might be a mistake for future games, as it could make adapting a narrative for multiple races difficult, although not impossible. Good examples of how to do this can be seen in other game franchises, such as Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Inquisition, which both had multiple backgrounds that changed depending on the player’s chosen race. So how could Bethesda implement a non-human character for players if they were to introduce this in future games?
There are three approaches that are the most realistic for Bethesda to implement. The first would be to have the option to choose a non-human character at character creation. This would require multiple backstories or prologues to be created. The second would be to present the player with the opportunity to change later in the game via a mission. In Fallout games, super mutants are already made artificially, so this option would make the most sense for players wishing to play as a massive genetically engineered monster. Ghouls, however, are different as traditionally, in Fallout lore, ghouls were people who survived the initial bombs in 2077. As Typhon explains in Fallout 2: “There ain’t any ghouls but old ghouls. We’re all sterile, see, but we’re incredibly long-lived. We’re the first and last generation of ghouls.”
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On the other hand, Hancock in Fallout 4 changes this completely, as players can learn that he made himself into a ghoul by taking an experimental drug. Bethesda could use a similar idea for players wishing to have a non-human character. Either through a drug, an accident, or a nefarious experiment, writers could include a mission in future Fallout games to change the player character’s species.
The final option would be to have no set backstory for the player character and no connection to a Vault. Combining no backstory with multiple species options in character creation would allow players to truly create characters unique to them. With Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian created an immersive roleplaying character in the Courier by providing players with a blank slate.
By allowing players to create non-human characters, the Fallout tabletop game dips into an area that, so far, the video games have skirted around. Having the option to play as a non-human character without mods is something fans of Fallout have been asking for since the launch of the franchise. Fallout 5 is on the horizon, but a long way in the future as Bethesda has confirmed Fallout 5 will not go into development until after The Elder Scrolls 6. Fans will have a long wait to see if future Fallout games include the options to play as something other than a human.