Fallout 3 Tabletop Game 4: NPCs and Foes

Fallout 3 - a Supermutant, as seen through V.A.T.S.
A screenshot from Fallout 3, from Bethesda

This is the fourth post in my series on running a tabletop game based on Fallout 3’s setting and mechanics. If this is the first post you’re seeing, you ought to check out how to create a character, the details of the skills system, and the post on equipment.

It’s hard enough just to scrape by in the wasteland. Food is scarce, and radiation is plentiful. You’re lucky if you’re able to scavenge a drink of clean free water once in a month. And to top it all off, everybody else seems to want to kill you. Whether it’s Enclave soldiers trying to kill you because you’re not a true American; Raiders trying to kill you for your food; or Supermutants trying to kill you because “PUNY HUMAN, HAHA.” It all means the same thing: bullets are as precious as water out here in the wastes.

It is important to remember that non player characters only exist for one purpose: to interact with the player characters. NPCs don’t need each of their 13 skills to be calculated out the same way PCs do. Their skills can simply be as good or as bad as they need to be fore that NPC to serve their function within the game. NPCs don’t even need all 13 of their skills to be defined at all. Why waste your time writing down the town doctor’s Energy Weapons score? He need a Medicine score, maybe a science score. And there are some skills which no NPC should ever need. Barter and Speech are the exclusive purview of player characters. For the most part, NPCs don’t even need SPECIAL attributes at all.

The only thing you should ever write down for an NPC are the following:

  1. Hit points. All characters should have hit points, but you don’t necessarily need to roll Endurance for this. Just roll 2d20, and keep the better result. Multiply the result by whatever level you wish for the character to be.
  2. If this is a character the players are likely to fight, then any damage resistance should be noted.
  3. Characters should have any skills relevant to their function in the game. Generally speaking, most NPCs should only have 1-5 skills. These can be assigned manually by the GM or calculated using the following formula: [(2d20, discard lower roll) + 15 + (5 per level)]
  4. If it is likely that the NPC will perform melee or unarmed attacks against the PC, then they should have a Strength score in addition to their Melee or Unarmed skill.
  5. If the NPC has any equipment the player would find useful, it should be noted.
  6. Sometimes creatures will have special abilities or attacks. These should be noted.

Below are a number of example NPCs, mostly foes.

Dr. Malkov (Doctor, Rivet City)(lvl 5)
HP 65
Medicine: 53
Science: 28

Jimmy The Wrench (Repairman, Traveling Tradesperson)(lvl 2)
HP: 18
Repair: 41
Small Guns: 35
Equipment: 10mm Pistol [Durability: 22], 2x 10mm Ammo

Supermutant (lvl 3)
HP: 90; DR: 15
Small Guns: 35
Big Guns: 50
Melee: 46[STR: 27]
Equipment [Roll]: 20%: Minigun[Dur: 33], 3x 5mm Ammo; 50% Hunting Rifle[Dur: 26], 2x .32 Ammo; 30% Sledgehammer[Dur: 74]

Feral Ghoul (lvl 1)
HP: 20
Unarmed: 44 [STR: 8]

Feral Ghoul (lvl 6)
HP: 150
Unarmed: 85 [STR: 14]
Special: Radiation blast. Anything at close range is hit with an intense burst of radiation, dealing 40 damage, and causing radiation exposure of 50 for one round.

Yao Guai (lvl 4)
HP: 116; DR: 8
Unarmed: 70 [STR: 25]
Special: Claws and teeth allow Yao Guai’s melee attacks to deal an additional 10 damage.
Special: Yao Guai can make 3 attacks on a single turn. (Right Claw, Left Claw, Bite)

Raider (lvl 2)
HP: 30; DR: 5
Small Guns: 40
Big Guns: 29
Melee: 19 [STR: 14]
Stealth: 17
Equipment[ROLL]: 50%: 10mm Pistol[Dur: 60], 3x 10mm Ammo; 35% Chinese Officer’s Sword[Dur: 10]; 15% Flamer[Dur: 46]

Enclave Soldier (lvl 10)
HP: 180; DR: 44
Energy Weapons: 100
Equipment: 50% Plasma Rifle [Dur: 80], 5x Microfusion Cell, Enclave Power Armor, Enclave Helmet

With this fourth post, I’m confident that the game is ready for the kind of slapdash campaign I want to run with it. A number of elements have been glossed over, or entirely omitted, but I was never aiming for comprehensive. Plus I’m anxious to get back to writing about more thoroughly developed games. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to test out these rules in the coming weeks, and may post revisions and new rules as appropriate.

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3 thoughts on “Fallout 3 Tabletop Game 4: NPCs and Foes”

  1. This is pretty awesome stuff altogether LS. I think I’ll grab it, run it through my printer and see if I can talk my ladyfriend, her twin and my pal Mike into a game of Wasteland Survival Guide or something next time we have a spare afternoon.

    When I do, I’ll let you know how it goes of course. :)

    1. Glad someone found some use in these posts!

      Obviously there’s a lot of work which will need to be done when an adventure is being prepared to flesh out minor systems. Equipment lists, for example, and the effects of radiation.

      Balance between damage, damage reduction, and HP is also completely off. So you’ll want to keep an eye on that.

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