Fallout 3 Tabletop Game 2: Skills

Fallout 3 Goat Exam Art
Art used in Fallout 3, from Bethesda

This post details the 13 skills used in the Fallout 3 tabletop game which I began outlining yesterday.

Skill Check: For nearly all of the skills, there will be times when a “skill check” is called for. When performing a skill check, the player rolls a d%, and compares the result to the relevant skill. If their roll is higher than the skill’s value, then the check is failed. If they roll equal to, or less than, the skill’s value, then the check is a success.

Barter (C) When buying items from a vendor, the character will be charged an amount equal to the item’s cost, plus 1% for every point that the character’s barter skill is beneath 100. This can be rounded to the nearest 10% for simplicity’s sake.

For example, Kestrel has a Barter of 21, and wants to buy a gun worth 50 caps. Kestrel’s barter skill is 79 points below 100, so rounding to the nearest 10%, that means the vendor should charge Kestrel 80% above the list price for the gun she wants to buy. 10% of 50 is 5, so the vendor should charge Kestrel 90 caps for the gun.

When selling items, vendors will pay an amount equal to [Barter Value]% of the item’s cost. For example, Kestrel would now like to sell the gun she purchased. The gun’s base price is 50 caps, and Kestrel’s Barter Score is 21. Rounding to the nearest 10%, that means Kestrel will be able to get 20% of the gun’s value at sale. The vendor will buy the gun for 10 caps.

NOTE: The Barter skill is by far the most complicated to convert to a tabletop game. This is the simplest rule I could come up with. If you deem it too complicated, simply remove Barter from the game entirely, and allow characters to buy and sell items at their base value.

Big Guns (E), Energy Weapons (P), Melee Weapon(S), Small Guns (A), Unarmed (E) All five of these skills function the same way. When wielding a weapon of the associated type, the character has [Skill]% chance to hit what they are aiming at. When firing a weapon, the character should roll a d%. If their roll is equal to, or less than, their relevant [Skill]%, then they’ve successfully hit their target.

For example, Kestrel has an Energy Weapons skill of 31, and a Small Guns skill of 17.

She takes aim at a Super Mutant, and fires at it with her Laser Pistol. She rolls a D%, and it is a 74. Since this is above 31, she has missed! The Super Mutant fires back at Kestrel, but also misses. It is Kestrel’s turn again, and she fires another blast with her Laser Pistol. This time her D% roll is 22, which is a successful hit! The Super Mutant takes damage, but is still alive. It fires at Kestrel again, and once again misses. Kestrel’s laser pistol is out of ammunition, so she switches to her 10mm pistol. She rolls her D%, and it comes up as an 18. Because the 10mm pistol is a Small Gun, not an Energy Weapon, an 18 is a miss!

Characters can aim at different parts of a creature to improve their chances of hitting, or to improve the damage they deal. These numbers may be modified based on the environment, but generally speaking:

Head: -10% chance to hit. +25% damage.
Arms/Legs: +10% chance to hit. -25% damage.
Torso: Normal chance to hit. Normal damage.
Weapon: -25% chance to hit. Knocks weapon from hand.

Some weapons may also have a better, or worse chance to hit at various ranges from the shooter (Melee, Close Range, Mid Range, Long Range, Distant). These bonuses or penalties are unique to the weapon being used.

Kestrel’s chance to hit with her 10mm pistol is very small. She aims for the creatures exposed arms to try and improve her chances. She rolls her d% die, and it comes up as a 20. Normally this would be a miss, because her Small Guns skill is only 17. However, because she aimed for the creature’s arms, her chance to hit was raised to 27%, and this shot hits! Unfortunately, instead of dealing the normal 4 damage that a 10mm bullet would, this shot only deals 3 damage because it is in the creature’s arm.

The Super Mutant is mad now, and pulls out a sledgehammer. It charges for Kestrel, and before she can get another shot off it has moved to Close Range. She’s not very good at melee combat, so she needs to stop that creature before it gets any closer! She pulls out her sawed off shotgun. It’s a small gun, but it has +50% chance to hit at close range. She aims for the Supermutant’s head for extra damage.

With the 17% chance she has from small guns, plus the 50% chance from being at close range with a sawed off shotgun, minus the 10% penalty she gets for aiming for the head, Kestrel has a 57% chance to hit.

Kestrel pulls the trigger, and rolls a 44! It’s a hit! Sawed off shotguns normally deal 18 damage, but for a headshot that gets a 25% boost! Rounded up, that’s an extra 5 damage, for a total of 23 damage right to the Supermutant’s face!

Melee and Unarmed weapons are unique. Like other weapons, they have a chance to hit equal to the relevant [Skill%]. However, since they can only be used at short range, they receive no increased chance to hit based on range. They do still receive bonuses or penalties based on which part of the target is being attacked, however.

The other unique thing about Melee Weapons and Unarmed combat is that while they both deal an amount of base damage equal to the weapon being used, they also deal an additional amount of damage equal to the character’s strength.

Shit, shit, shit! The super mutant is still up, and on its last turn it closed to melee range and walloped her good! This close, it’s difficult to use a gun, so even though she’s bad at it, Kestrel opts to use a melee weapon. She pulls out a knife, and stabs at the Super Mutant! Kestrel has a Melee Weapon skill of 10, so she does everything she can to increase her chances by aiming for the super mutant’s arm, increasing her chances by 10%. Miraculously, Kestrel rolls a 20 on her d%! Any higher than that, and she would have missed!

The knife’s damage is 6, but Kestrel gets to add her strength to the damage. Unfortunately Kestrel’s strength is only 2, and she deals a measly 8 damage. The Supermutant is still up.

On its turn, the supermutant attacks Kestrel’s knife, and knocks it from her hand. She’s in trouble now! Its her turn, and all she has to attack with is her fists. So she does the only thing she can do: she punches the super mutant in its leg.

Kestrel’s unarmed skill is only 6, but with the +10% she gets from attacking the Supermutant’s leg, it’s just high enough for her to hit when she rolls a 15. Since she’s not wielding any weapons right now, the only damage she deals is from strength. 2 Damage.

Apparently the Super Mutant was only just barely hanging on, though, because that 2 damage is enough to knock the creature to the ground, dead. Kestrel gains 3 experience points for defeating a difficult monster!

Explosives (P) Explosives is primarily used for throwing grenades or disarming mines. But may be used for other tasks, such as safely building an incendiary device, or disarming an undetonated nuclear bomb.

In all cases, the character must simply roll under their [Explosives]% using a d% die. If their explosives skill is 50, then in order to succeed, they must roll a 50 or less on a d%. GMs may offer bonuses, or penalties, to an explosives roll, based on circumstances. (Throwing at a target you can’t see, for example, would be a penalty to success of 25%)

Lockpick (P), Science (I) Lockpicking and Science function the same way, with different devices. Lockpick helps the player pick locks, while Science helps the player hack computers. Players must roll under their [Skill]% in order to succeed at breaking into whatever they’re attempting to breech. If the roll is failed by more than 20%, then the lock becomes jammed, or the computer locks down. Another attempt cannot be made unless a key or password is found.

Super Easy – +50% to Success Chance
Very Easy – +25% to Success Chance
Easy – +10% to Success Chance
Average – Normal Skill Roll
Hard – -10% from Success Chance
Very Hard – -25% from Success Chance
Super Hard – -50% from Success Chance

Medicine(I) For the most part, this is used when the character is using scavenged medical equipment (such as stimpacks) to restore their HP. Each such healing item has a value of how much HP it can restore. The character can effectively restore [Medicine Skill]% of that value. For example, Kestrel has a Medicine score of 30. 30% of 50 is 15, therefore Kestrel’s medical skills allow her to restore 15 HP using the Stimpack.

The Medicine skill may also be used to perform various medical procedures. Gauge what procedures the character can perform using this guideline:

Medicine 1-10: Untrained.
Medicine 11-30: Wasteland Nurse
Medicine 31-60: Wasteland Field Medic
Medicine 61-90: Wasteland Doctor
Medicine 91-100: Pre-War Doctor

Repair (I) Items will slowly degrade as you use them, which will reduce their effectiveness. To fix an item, you must have two examples of the same item from which you can extract spare parts. (For example, if you wish to repair your 10mm pistol, you will need a second 10mm pistol.) This second item is destroyed by the repairing process, and cannot be repaired, or used for future repairs.

When repairing an item, add the current durability score of the item being stripped for parts, to the item being repaired. Players are capable of repairing items up to a durability score equal to their repair skill.

Kestrel has been using her Hunting Rifle a lot, and it’s down to 30 durability. This significantly impacts the damage her weapon does, so when she finds a new hunting rifle, she quickly strips it for spare parts. The new hunting rifle she finds has a durability of 24. Combining the durability of the two items can bring her hunting rifle’s durability up to 54.

Unfortunately, Kestrel’s current repair skill is 51, so that’s the maximum she can repair the item to. The remaining 3 points are discarded.

Sneak (A) Sneak is a very simple skill. If a character wishes to be undetected, and there is a reasonable chance that they may fail in that endeavor, then they must roll a skill check. If they roll equal to or under their sneak skill, then they have successfully gone unnoticed. Note that a sneak check shouldn’t be required if there is not a reasonable chance that the player will be detected.

A new check is required any time the player risks detection. Some examples of times the player might risk detection are:

Attempting to pickpocket a target.
When a new target enters the area.
When an NPC looks in the direction of a character who is not fully hidden.
When an NPC moves close to their hiding place.
If a hiding place requires that the character remain still, then after long periods checks should be required to see if the character accidentally makes noise.

Speech (C) Social interaction should be handled through role playing. The GM should consider an NPC’s interests, and craft the NPC’s reactions based on them. If the player suggests something the NPC would strongly agree with, then the NPC should agree. If the player suggests something the NPC would strongly disagree with, then the NPC should disagree. If the player suggests something which falls into the gray area, then a Speech check should be made. If the player succeeds on this check, then they’ve convinced the NPC. If the player fails the check, then they succeed in convincing the NPC.

Note that neither success nor failure is ever absolute. If the NPC offers the player 200 caps to kill a local Supermutant, and the player demands 400 caps, then success might mean that the NPC offers 300 caps. And if the character fails, then they might be able to earn another check by offering some good reasons why they deserve more caps.

In the coming week I’ll wrap up this exploration of Fallout 3 as a tabletop game with a few miscellaneous rules.

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One thought on “Fallout 3 Tabletop Game 2: Skills”

  1. For relavent Science bonuses to hacking computer terminals, there are little lines in the code that take out dud words or refresh your guessing allowance. You might factor in a little bit of a bonus if the player actively says they’re looking for those lines first. Like.. +5% or something?

    As for Sneak, you could sort of -reverse- pickpocket people, putting live grenades in their pockets and then booting it out of there ’cause they didn’t notice you and they’re about to explode. Would that just be a simple pickpocketing roll or would you modify it with Explosives somehow?

    Also, as I mentioned about New Vegas before, one of the skills there is Survival, which lets you create food and equipment from various plants and animal parts and the like around the Wasteland. Guns and Energy Weapon ammo can be made via workbenches found here and there, so there might be something worth looking into for that too.

    In case you can’t tell, I love Fallout as well. :D

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