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Like it or not, in the Fallout universe, sometimes all the sneaking and dialogue break down. In these cases, conflicts are resolved by combat: who has the stronger fists, the bigger gun, and who can use them better. Combat is a series of 10-second Rounds where every participant gets a Turn (an opportunity to act) that resolves when all parties hostile to each other are either incapacitated, dead, or have run away.
Combat officially begins when one critter or Character decides that enough is enough and s/he/it attacks someone or something else (sometimes, attacks can be made on inanimate objects such as doors, and in this case the entire combat procedure is not necessary, unless combat is going on around the character attempting to break the door down). The critter or character that initiated combat gets the opportunity to use all of their Action Points (AP) before Sequence is determined.
Determine Combat Sequence
Because the Sequence statistic does not change, this step needs to be preformed only once in combat, at the beginning. Who (or what)ever has the highest sequence gets to move first, with the next highest sequence moving second, and so on until the round is over. Ties in sequence should be determined by the tie-ers rolling 1d10 against each other; the highest roll goes first. This roll only needs to be done at the beginning of each combat, not each round. Once sequence is determined, a character has several choices about what to do with their Turn.
Any action in combat requires the use of Action Points. The higher a character's agility, the more action points they get (see Character Creation: Secondary Statistics). A character's Turn is over when all AP are used, or they declare that they are going to defend, and they forfeit the rest of their AP (although not entirely, see Defending, below). The possibilities for action are:
This includes moving closer to a target, moving behind a tree or other cover, or bravely running away. It costs 1 movement point to move 1 square. A square is 5 ft by 5 ft(this becomes much more important later, when determining range). Characters cannot occupy the same hex as another living character or critter, or large inanimate objects. Any object larger than a medium-sized shrub gets a hex all to itself. Dead bodies (no matter how massive!) do not get their own personal space; they are dead, it won't matter if you walk all over them.
Terrain can have an effect on movement. This table can serve as a guide. The modifier is a number by which the character multiplies his normal movement rate; 2X would require that the character spend 2 times the normal AP amount to move. Characters who are prone or have broken limbs can take a long time to crawl over certain kinds of terrain. For more information on Swimming, see Swimming in Life in the Wastes, below.
|Open, Flat Ground||1x|
|Rough, Wet Ground||2x|
|Torn, Muddy Ground; Water (Swimming)||3x|
Changing Positions - Crouching & Prone
Crouching and Going Prone are great ways to improve your accuracy in combat, and to help you hide behind available cover, making less of your body visible and available to an attacking enemy. They are also great ways to make yourself a sitting duck, allowing people to hit you easier. Changing positions takes 2 AP, unless the character is going FROM Prone to Standing – that takes 4 AP, just like Getting Up (above). Note, however, that going from standing to crouching, standing to prone, crouching to prone, prone to crouching, or crouching to standing takes only 2 AP, and is NOT the same as getting up. When Crouching, the character gains +10% to Small Guns, Big Guns, and Energy Weapons skills for purposes of To Hit; it takes the character 2 AP to move 1 hex; and the character’s Armor Class from Agility (Base AC) is reduced to 3 (characters whose Agility are below 3 are not effected.) Prone characters gain +25% to Small Guns, Big Guns, and Energy Weapons skills for purposes of To Hit; it takes the character 4 AP to crawl one hex; and the character’s Armor Class from Agility (Base AC) is reduced to 1. Prone characters cannot make unarmed or melee attacks.
Note: Crouching and Going Prone have no effect on To-Hit rolls for mounted Big Guns. These include Howitzers, large artillery pieces, and guns attached to vehicles, like tank-mounted cannons and machineguns on Jeeps. The GM can ultimately use common sense to determine if it makes sense to give a crouching or prone bonus for a specific weapon.
If you have been knocked down the previous combat round, or for some reason are starting combat on the ground, it takes 4 Movement Action Points to clamber to your feet. Characters who are on the ground receive no Armor Class bonus either from unused AP or their Agility, making their AC without armor equal to zero. Note that Getting Up is not the same as Changing Positions, below.
Using an Item
If your Character is holding an item in her hand, she can use it in combat, provided it is an item that's use takes under 10 seconds (GM' discretion). Healing chems, Geiger counters, and a police whistle are all examples of items a player can use in combat. Note that an item MUST be in hand to use it. Using an item takes 3 AP.
If you run out of ammo for a gun and need to draw another, or if you want to grab that stimpak out of your pocket, you are Equipping an Item. Equipping Items takes 3 AP for each item equipped. Therefore, if you trade your hunting rifle in for a SMG and want to grab that healing chem in the same round, it will take 6 AP total. You can equip any item that is on your person (your pockets, backpack, and fanny pack count as "on your person").
Taking an Item Off the Ground
You can take an item on the ground, in a container, or off the bodies of your enemies. As with Equipping Items, this costs 3 AP per item, and your character must be standing in the same hex as the item (or on an adjacent hex if the item is in an immobile container). If you want to grab that Bozar and the ammo for it, it will take 6 AP.
Guns use up ammunition. When your gun is empty, partially empty, or jammed, you can reload it by spending 2 Action Points. If you have enough ammo, this will completely fill the clip. If not, you can place as many bullets as you have in the clip. It's generally a good idea to head into combat with fully loaded guns, so you aren't prancing around trying to get those rounds in while the baddies are shooting. Note that a gun can only be loaded with the kind of ammunition it is supposed to use, and that two different ammunition types - AP and JHP - cannot be combined in one clip. Note that mortars, artillery pieces, and vehicle weapons other than machine guns take one full round to reload, using all of a character’s Action Points for that turn.
Sometimes, it becomes necessary to use certain skills in combat. Although the battlefield isn’t always the best place to try to pick locks or repair a broken computer, there are times when using your talents are necessary, especially if it means you can escape those crazed cyborg commandos. Some skills, like performing a surgery, just take too long to use in combat. The GM should determine if the task that the character wants to perform can be done in combat (cracking a safe, for example, would be just a little too time consuming). Then the GM should calculate how many Action Points, and how many rounds (if necessary), the action will take. Characters using skills gain no Armor Class bonuses from Agility or unused AP, so their armor class is limited to what they are wearing when they are using their skills.
Healing a Fallen Comrade
A character can use his or her Medicine Skill in combat to heal a fallen comrade (or foe, if they are so inclined), but only if the target has been knocked unconscious. This action requires that the character be in an adjacent square to the target, and takes 10 AP. If the action cannot be performed in one round, they can give up all of their Armor Class benefits except for the armor they are wearing and complete it in the next round.
When the action is complete, the healer makes a Medicine skill roll. If the roll succeeds, then they have healed the target to 1 HP – enough for the target to regain consciousness. The target does not get any AP until the round after he/she/it was healed. Using the Medicine skill in this way counts towards the character’s total uses of that skill for the day (remember that Medicine can only be used 3 times in a 24-hour period).
If the fallen comrade is a robot, a player can use either the Mechanic skill to achieve the same results.
Laying a Mine
Devious parties can use mines to their advantage, having one or more members circle behind the enemy while the rest of the party engages them in combat. The minelayers then set up their cowardly weapons and clear out while the others drive the enemy into the explosives. It takes 6 AP and a successful Craftsmanship roll to lay a mine in Combat.
Setting up a Tripod
Some weapons gain bonuses if they are used with a tripod; some weapons can only be used with a tripod (and some come with a tripod built in). In order to use these weapons in combat, the character must spend time setting them up. When setting a weapon on a tripod, perform a Heavy Weapons skill. If the roll succeeds, the character set up the weapon on the tripod and can use it normally next round. If not, the character did not get the tripod set up. In order to set up the tripod, they must keep rolling until they succeed, or give up. Even if the roll fails, attempting to set up a tripod takes ALL action points for that round. Artillery pieces work the same way, except that they are much larger than small mortars.
Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. If a character has some (or all) AP left and doesn’t want to do anything else, they can defend. The leftover AP are then added to that character’s Armor Class.
The backbone of any combat is attack; doing to others before they do unto you. Attacks take varying amounts of AP depending on what kind of attack it is. Unarmed and melee attacks must be made on a target in an adjacent square (in some rare cases, a melee attack with a 2-square range may be made). Ranged attacks, such as thrown weapons and guns, may be made so long as the target is in range and there is a clear or semi-clear line of sight. You cannot attack someone behind a wall or other complete cover. The GM (and common sense) ultimately determine what "complete cover" is. Attacks may only be announced if the character has enough AP to cover the action. Those AP are deducted immediately.
There are three kinds of attacks, besides the normal HtH and Ranged: a Normal (Single) Attack, a Targeted Attack, and a Burst Attack. Some weapons, like Assault Rifles, SMGs, and others can do all three. Single-shot and melee weapons can only make a normal Single attack or a Targeted Attack. Some weapons such as Rocket Launchers and Flamethrowers cannot make Targeted attacks (they are just too bulky and unpredictable to snipe with). Some weapons, such as miniguns, can only fire in Burst mode. The options for attack will be listed on the weapon's description.
In the Fallout game, Burst Mode is interchangeable with the military or police definition of a three-round burst (3 shots) AND fully-automatic fire (holding the trigger down and spraying that deranged nuke pooch for all you’re worth).
Burst mode is assumed to be the number of shots a weapon can fire in fully automatic mode in one round of combat; the minimum number of shots in a burst is three (a quick squeeze of the trigger), and the maximum number of shots in a burst is given in the weapon descriptions. This number represents the maximum number of shots an automatic weapon can fire per round, depending on its ROF (rate of fire). Some weapons, like miniguns, can burn through a lot more ammo than older assault rifles; thus, they can fire more shots. Note that characters with lots of Action Points might be able to squeeze off just a little bit more (in other words, a second “burst”) than characters lacking that attribute. For information about rolling attacks in Burst Mode, see Burst Mode and Cone of Fire in Determining and Rolling Against To Hit, below.
Determining an Attack
To hit for attacks is determined based on a number of factors. A formula will be presented at the end to simplify the process.
First of all, the target must be open and in range. The attacker must be able to see their target, or at least know fairly specifically where their target it. In addition, each weapon has an individual range, and a character's range is based on his Perception. If a target is beyond the character's range, the penalties begin to add up. See below for range penalties based on perception. Thrown weapons, such as throwing knifes, spears, and grenades, are based on Strength as well as Perception: they can potentially suffer penalties from both stats!
First, the base chance To Hit is the attacker's skill in the particular weapon he is using - Unarmed for fists, feet, and “unarmed weapons” like brass knuckles; Melee Weapons for things like knives and sledgehammers; Small Guns for pistols, rifles, and SMGs; Big Guns for rocket launchers, flamethrowers, and the like; and Energy Weapons for lasers and other fun toys. Remember to deduct 10% from the base chance if the weapon has 8 or more condition boxes filled.
The first modifier to hit is Range. The table below lists effective range for perception (substitute Strength on this table for throwing weapons as well):
|Perception||Range in Squares|
And so on. . . The range based on Perception, on the table above, is added to the range of the weapon. For every square beyond the combined range between the attacker and the target, deduct 3 from the to-hit roll. On the inverse, if you're range in squares is greater than that of the range between you and the target, you gain 1 to your To Hit chance for each square. For example, if you have a perception of 10 and the range between you and the target is 2, you get 17% to the To Hit.
Also, when attempting a double-shot with a shotgun, the weapon’s effective range drops by 3 square.
The second modifier to to-hit is the light level. The table below lists various lighting conditions and their effects:
|0%||A sunny, cloudless day; a well-lit building|
|-20%||A medium-lit building|
|-30%||Light rain or dust|
|-40%||Medium rain or dust|
|-50%||Bad light indoors|
|-60%||Heavy rain or dust|
|Downpour, Dust Storm; In a cave with a torch|
|-150%||Blizzard, Huricane, Tornado|
|-200%||Total cave darkness|
Armor Class Modifier
The third modifier is for the target's Armor Class. Since Armor Class is a percentage, deduct that as well.
The fourth modifier is cover. Generally, this deduction is based on how much of the person's/critter's body is concealed by the cover. For instance, if there is a crate between Harry and the scav he is trying to take out, and that crate conceals the scav's legs up to the knees, about 15% of the scav's body is concealed, so the attack will suffer a -15% penalty. Notice that cover does not come into play in unarmed and melee attacks, because there can be nothing between the attacker and the target to make these attacks in the first place!
Weapon Status Modifier
The fifth modifier is open for any bonuses or penalties the character might receive for having a good weapon, or a modified weapon. If a character's spear is extra-sharp, or if they have a laser sight or scope, add those bonuses now. If the character's Strength is below the minimum required to fire that weapon, deduct that now.
The sixth modifier is only for targeted shots. Shots may be targeted in 8 different areas: The Head or a like area, the eyes or a like area, The Torso (main body), The Groin or like area, the arms, and the legs. A robot that doesn't have legs may be targeted in the hover apparatus, and a scorpion with no visible groin could be targeted in the tail. Targeted shots have an increased chance of dealing a critical hit to the area targeted, either crippling in the case of limbs, causing blindness in the case of an eye, or causing extra damage.
|Targeted Part||Range Modifier||Melee Modifier|
Once all the modifiers have been determined, follow the formula:
Base - Range - Light - Armor +/- Bonus/Penalty - Targeted Shot (if applicable)
Streamlined Burst Fire
Instead of rolling To-Hit for every single bullet fired, this is a revised Burst rule. Rolling To Hit in Burst Mode is a little different than normal To-Hit rolls. Instead of rolling To Hit for every bullet, the player rounds off the To-Hit number to the nearest 10 (73% would become 70, 45% would become 50) and then rolls as many 10-sided dice as are necessary for the burst. If the player is shooting a 5-roundburst or less, they have better control over the gun and can round up on the dice. If they are firing more than 5 rounds in one burst, round the number down. The exception to this rule is guns that only fire a specific burst, like miniguns and bozars. These weapons are designed to spew as many bullets as possible per round, and the player should round up instead of down, as the weapon itself can compensate for automatic fire (in fact, it was designed for it).
For ease of play, it is always helpful to have a few spare 10-sided dice lying around. All those dice rolling at once actually sounds sort of like an automatic weapon, anyway. See Examples of Determining and Rolling To-Hit, below. Any roll of “0” automatically means a failure of that shot, and player must roll To-Hit again to see if the shot hit the next-nearest object in the cone of fire. Other failed bullets must also roll to-hit against other critters, players, or NPCs in the cone of fire, until either there are no more targets or all bullets have hit something.
Some shotguns are double-shot weapons. This means that they have two barrels, with two shells, and two triggers that can be fired either simultaneously or independently. If a shotgun is discharged in a double-shot, only one to-hit roll needs to be made; both shots are going the same place. However, two damage rolls should be made. When attempting to unload both barrels of a shotgun, the sheer force exerted by the blast will cause the weapon to become much more unwieldy. Making a double-shot reduces the range of the shotgun by 3 squares.
After the Roll
Once the chance to hit is determined, the player makes a roll against that number. Rolling that dice is the same as pulling the trigger; if the character snuck up on an unsuspecting person, they had up until that point to stop and suffer no consequences. Once the roll is made, however, there is no turning back.
If a character makes an attack with a weapon and misses, that weapon loses one box on its condition bar. If the box is the last box, then the weapon has either jammed, busted, or fallen apart.
It is possible to screw up an attack so badly that something bad happens to the attacker. This is called a critical failure and can be slightly comedic, if not downright hilarious, in a weird sort of way. The chance for a critical failure is always 3%. If an attack fails by a roll of 97-100, it is a Critical Failure, and the GM rolls on the following table (1d10).
|1||Ammo Problems - The magazine was damaged or the ammo was bad. The gun does not fire and the rest of the magazine must be discarded.|
|2||Weapon Jammed - Should of cleaned your gun out! The weapon will take 1 turn to unjam and the magazine must be discarded.|
|3||Loss of AP - D'oh! The attacker loses all remaining AP for that round.|
|4||Dropped Weapon - Something slipped and the weapon falls out of your hands.|
|5||Weapon Explodes - Something nasty that happens only with Explosive or Energy Weapons. Deals 3d10 + 7 damage to anyone within 2 squares of that weapon. OUCH!|
Hit Something Else - You didn't hit who you were aiming for, but you nailed the next closest target. Let's hope it wasn't your buddy...
|7||Damage Self - You cut yourself with your knife or shoot yourself in the foot! Half of the weapon's normal damage is dealt to you instead.|
|8||You slip and fall - All remaining AP is loss this round and must get up. While down, you lose all Armor Class from Agility.|
|10||Wacky Wasteland, Anvil - An anvil falls out of the sky and strikes you on the head for 1d10 damage. No chance to dodge, and DT and DR are disregarded for this strange, magical attack.|
Knockdowns with Melee Weapons and Burst Weapons
Getting hit with melee weapons and a barrage of bullets from a machine gun not only hurts, but it also has the chance to knock the target flat on his/her/its rear end. In the case of melee weapons, the chance for a knockdown is three times (3X) the weapon’s weight. In the case of a burst attack, if more than half the bullets in the burst actually hit the target, then the target must roll against Endurance to remain on his/her/its feet. If a character or NPC is knocked down, they must spend the usual 4 AP to get up (see Getting Up, above). In addition, the character or NPC does not receive any Armor Class from Agility – their AC drops to what they are wearing.
The best part about combat is when your opponent actually takes some damage. Each weapon has a certain amount of damage that it does, usually expressed like 2d12 + 8. The exceptions are firearms, where the type of ammo does a certain amount of damage. The gun itself can add a bonus to that amount, but otherwise damage is calculated from the type of ammunition used. The damage done by energy weapons is not based on ammunition type, but the method in which the weapon concentrates the energy. Remember that some shotguns, when both barrels are fired, require that two damage rolls be made for one successful hit. Damage is the one part of Fallout where dice other than 10-sided dice come into play. However, just because something got hit doesn't mean that it will take the maximum amount of damage. Armor has two numbers that reduce damage: Damage Threshold and Damage Resistance. Damage Threshold is how much damage the armor actually absorbs from the attack, and Damage Resistance is the armor's (or the thick, scaly hide of some critters) ability to spread the damage out and reduce some of the nasty effects. DT is a flat number; DR is a % of the total attack. So when determining damage, the formula looks like this:
Damage = (Initial Damage - Threshold) - ((Initial Damage - Damage Threshold) * Damage Resistance, Round Down)
The player rolls the damage necessary (one roll per bullet in a burst attack) and then applies it to the formula above.
Damage in Burst Mode
To streamline play, the GM might consider multiplying the initial damage from the first bullet that hit by however many bullets actually hit the target. That way, only one damage roll actually needs to be made.
Damage from Non-Convention Weapons
There are several types of weapons in the Fallout universe that are not the simple melee weapon or gun. These weapons have slightly different rules for damage, mostly based upon their effects.
There are two different ways to lobe a grenade at your target: throw it or shoot it. Either way, the grenade does a certain amount of damage, depending on what type of explosive it is. Most grenades have concussion damage, and others have fragmentation damage. These effects will be noted with the grenade type in the Ammunition section, below.
Mortars are small, personal artillery pieces. They shoot a variety of different projectiles, and have a much longer ranger than grenade launchers. Like grenades, different mortars will have different damage effects, noted by with the mortar type in the Ammunition section, below.
Rockets are fired either from portable or semi-portable rocket launchers, or from tanks. Rockets act much like grenades and mortars, except that they are self-powered and have a longer effective range. There are a variety of rocket types, and their damage effects are noted in the Ammunition section.
Like grenades, mortars, and rockets, mines cause explosions that have concussion effects as well as blast damage. Sometimes, mines spew pieces of shrapnel as well. The amount of damage that each mine does is listed next to that mine in the Equipment section, below.
Gas weapons spread a damaging cloud of toxicity over a large area, subjecting every biological thing in the cloud to the potential for harm. Different gas weapons describe the size of the cloud and the effects of the gas, and whether or not the gas damages from inhalation or contact.
Shocking! Any character hit with an electrical shock must make a roll against Endurance (sometimes with modifiers, if the source was strong enough). Failure means the character is knocked unconscious for 1d10 rounds.
Although flamethrowers aren’t the most widely used weapons in the wastes, they can be one of the deadliest in the right hands. When someone uses a flamethrower, it acts much like a thrown knife or grenade – even if it doesn’t hit, it has to end up somewhere. The GM should decide, based on how close the to hit roll was, just how close to the target the flame burst hit. The GM should then draw a line between the user and the hex where the flames hit; everything in the connecting hexes suffers the full effects of the firestream. Note that flamethrowers, like other non-conventional weapons, can be adapted to shoot things other than fire. These things are generally very, very unpleasant.
Chance for Criticals
very successful attack means the attacker has a chance for a critical hit. If the roll to hit is equal to or less than the character’s or critter’s critical chance, then the attack becomes critical. Note that if a gun firing in burst mode hits a target more than once, only one of those bullets is allowed a critical hit (once per attack). Targeted shots get a bonus to critical chance based on the body part targeted as per this table, and have different effects for damage, discussed below.
|Target||Critical Chance Bonus|
If a hit becomes critical and is not a targeted shot, roll on this table for effects (1d10):
|6||Unconsciousness for 1d4 turns|
|8||Blindness (Perception lowered to 1)|
|9||Knockdown (Target must get back up)|
Targeted attacks that make a critical hit generally cripple the area hit. Shots to the eyes cause blindness, shots to the legs or arms cause those areas to become crippled. Targeted Shots to the torso that become critical instantly deal two times the damage, and Targeted Shots to the head that become critical deal three times the damage. Ouch. A Targeted Shot to the groin that results in a critical hit deals twice the damage and renders the target unconscious.
Vehicle combat occurs much the same way that regular combat occurs. Each individual character sequences as usual. Combat while on a vehicle can be a particularly exciting aspect of roleplaying, especially if combat occurs at the climax of a story – you are rescuing the mayor’s daughter from the clutches of evil bikers and they are chasing you down, for example.
Like everything else in the Fallout universe, vehicles take damage. Vehicles are divided into five separate “systems” or areas that all have a certain number of hit points and a damage resistance (vehicles do not have a damage threshold). In addition, each vehicle has an Armor Class to help them avoid taking damage, and any to hit roll against a vehicle suffers an automatic –10% penalty because the vehicle is in motion – it’s simply harder to hit a moving target.
The five “systems” on a vehicle are universal, although they may be named different things on different vehicles. Obviously, they will differ greatly in some cases and be indistinguishable in others. The vehicle sheet included at the back of the book has a rough diagram of a vehicle, broken down into the five systems with room to display the different hit points and damage resistance for each one. The descriptions in the Vehicles section of the book break each vehicle’s system down in the appropriate numbers.
The five vehicle systems are – generally - Structure, Engine, Control System, Drive System, and Treads/Tires. Again, these may differ for different kinds of vehicles, like aircraft and boats. The necessary changes will be noted in the vehicle’s description. Note that the Treads/Tires category is split up into two, three, or four separate “subsystems,” one for each tread or tire, that all take damage separately.
Targeting Vehicle Systems
Vehicles are large enough to allow combatants to target certain areas without a penalty (except for the usual –10% when a vehicle is in motion). Anti-tank weapons are designed to come down on top of a vehicle, and therefore almost always target the structure or engine. Alternately, mines are designed to take out a vehicle’s drive system and tires. When an attack against a vehicle is made that is not a pre-determined attack, like a TOW missile launcher, then the attacker must announce what vehicle system he or she is aiming for.
Regardless of the vehicle system aimed for, other systems can and do take damage normally – they are subject to blast, shrapnel, and concussion damage from explosives.
One of the most devastating attacks made against vehicles are EMP attacks, because many parts of a vehicle are electronically controlled. It should be noted, however, that EMP attacks have no effect on a vehicle system that is not electronic, like the treads or the structure. An EMP mine can, however, utterly destroy a vehicle’s drive, control, and engine systems in a split second. Such is the risk of driving in the wastes.
Damaging and Destroying Systems
When a vehicle system has lost more than 66% of its total hit points, the system becomes inoperative. When this happens, the system simply shuts down. The following table should be used as a guide to determine what happens when a system is rendered inoperative:
|Structural||Vehicle begins to fall apart|
|Engine||Vehicle coasts to a halt|
|Controls||The driver can no longer steer or control speed|
|Drive||Engine continues to go, but vehicle begins to coast (no acceleration)|
|Treads||Vehicle immediately stops (treat as a crash for everyone inside)|
|Tires||Driver must make an immediate pilot skill check to avoid crash, and top speed is reduced to 25% of the normal|
If a vehicle ever looses 100% of its hit points in any system, that system is totally destroyed and must be replaced entirely. This can be a major pain, as vehicles are incredibly rare in the wastes, and working parts are sometimes even more rare. REMINDER TO EDIT THIS SECTION FOR MORE INFORMATION