Fallout: Indianapolis – From SPECIAL to Atomic Highway

When I started converting the Fallout world to the Atomic Highway rules I encountered a few problems.

No Vehicles?
Chryslus Highwayman Aside from the Chryslus Motors Highwayman in Fallout 2 and the Enclave Vertibirds there are no working vehicles in the whole series (I am ignoring Fallout: Tactics here). But almost every Rearing and Pursuit grants the character one or more vehicle related skills. Shall I drop vehicle skill altogether or shall I introduce vehicles to the Fallout world?

When you think about it doesn’t make that much sense that a lot of high-tech from before the war survived (like power armor, energy weapons, computers, etc.) but there are not even a few primitive cars. If you ask me this has more to do with the limitations of the game engine used back in the day and less with any ingame reason. That’s why there will be some vehicles in Fallout: Indianapolis for the characters and NPCs to cruise around in. Problem solved!

Weapons and Armor
10mm Pistol Atomic Highway uses pretty broad categories for weapons. Instead of dozens of different models of pistols, rifles etc. you just get a light pistol or medium rifle. That makes it very easy to convert Fallout’s weapons to Atomic Highway stats. You just have to decide in which category any given weapon fits best. A 10mm pistol from Fallout is just a medium pistol. Done!

Energy weapons are a bit trickier. But since the player characters are not supposed to stumble upon high-tech equipment directly after leaving the vault, I still have some time to think about how to handle plasma and laser weapons.

Winterized T-51b Converting armor is as easy. Atomic Highway knows three categories of armor: light, medium and heavy which offer 2, 4 and 8 protection respectively. I added a fourth category which I called powered armor that grants 12 protection and adds 1 to Muscle while worn. I also decided which armor from Fallout fits into which category. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • No armor: Robes, Vault Suit, normal clothes
  • Light armor: Armored Vault suit, Leather jacket
  • Medium armor: Leather armor, Metal armor, Tesla armor
  • Heavy armor: Brotherhood armor, Combat armor
  • Powered armor: T-51b Power armor

Ghouls, Super Mutants and Brahmin!
Aside from the retro-futurism and the iconic weapons and armor, the unique creatures in Fallout are another important aspect of the world. If it doesn’t have any two-headed cows in it, it isn’t Fallout! Luckily you don’t need Brahmin stats that often and Atomic Highway has quite an extensive list of creatures in it’s Irridated Freaks supplement. In addition to that some of the regulars at the Radioactive Ape Forums have been converting iconic Fallout creatures to AH rules already.

Again, the player characters won’t fight Super Mutants in the first session, so I still have some time to come up with stats for the more powerful creatures later.

Character creation
It’s amazing that you don’t need that many tweaks to be able to run a game inspired by the Fallout series using the Atomic Highway rules. When everything works as planned, my players will create characters this Saturday.

That reminds me that I haven’t talked about character creation yet. To make things easier I decided that the player characters all hail from Vault 82, where their families survived the devastation of the Indianapolis area during the war. Instead of creating a new Vaulter rearing, they all get the Remnant rearing but may replace any vehicle skill for another skill of their choice. Pursuits will also be slightly restricted because of the character’s having lived underground all their lives.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

3 thoughts on “Fallout: Indianapolis – From SPECIAL to Atomic Highway”

  1. Vehicle skill around Indianapolis is a must – the racing track location (if survived) offers very interesting adventuring possibilities e.g. gladiatorial death race of sorts; track can be turned into a fortress by a some sort of a motor-head faction. I'm sure you thought of that.

    When I was considering Fallout inspired game I was never sure if all the characters should start as vault dwellers. I think that at least two should to keep it close to the canon but if I had the rest of the party consisting of the surface survivors that may give more plot flexibility to explore and also some wastland-lore savvy to take advantage of.

    If I remember your timeline placing correctly (shortly past the Master demise) – civilization is still in tatters and new organic communities such as NCR are unheard of. That gives a lot of mad-max style potential for resource struggle oriented campaign which means that the Vaults would probably remain isolated to keep them safe from raiders and scavengers. That's exactly what I had planned as well since it puts the Vault-dweller characters in a peculiar position – on one hand they need to keep their identity and origin secret and on the other they could use that as leverage in their mission whatever that may be. Ah, I sense lots of fun in this Stargazer. Best of luck.

  2. I actually forgot the Indy racing track. But I like the racing-track-as-a-fortress idea. These guys could even be a major threat in the area.

  3. I'm thinking it's a good idea to include vehicles. The idea of driving an old nuclear powered vehicle into a base of super mutants and then having it rigged to blow up sounds particularly awesome.

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