Introduction

War. War never changes. The Romans waged war to gather slaves and wealth.Spain built an empire from its lust for gold and territory. Hitler shaped a battered Germany into an economic superpower. But war never changes. In the 21st century, war was still waged over the resources that could be acquired. Only this time, the spoils of war were also its weapons. Petroleum and uranium. For these resources, China would invade Alaska, the US would annex Canada, and the European Commonwealth would dissolve into quarreling, bickering nation-states, bent on controlling the last remaining resources on Earth. In 2077, the storm of world war had come again.In two brief hours, most of the planet was reduced to cinders. And from the ashes of nuclear devastation, a new civilization would struggle to arise.

We know what happened, over the years we have been able to piece together a cobbled history of what our forefathers did. The wasteland that we live in is starting to recover, never to the former glory, but recover to the point where we can live again. We know there was a war; we know there were vaults that saved some, but not all. We know that there are horrors in the wasteland that no man or woman should ever have to face.


Imagine for a moment a world without politics. Imagine a world without religions, where people's views no longer mattered, where there was no longer any distinction between old and young, rich and poor, Atheist or Believer, liberal or conservative. Imagine a world where every person was equal regardless of skin color or ethnic background.

The United States and Russia have over 30,000 nuclear devices in their arsenals as of February 2001. It would take 800 such devices to end most human life on this planet. In the half-hour between the launch of the missiles and the detonation of the last bomb, it would not be difficult to imagine a world where racial, religious, class, and national distinctions no longer mattered. In the days and weeks after the bombs, the remaining people would struggle to survive in a vastly different environment. The Earth as well as humankind would bear the scars of that wound for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Fallout is a post-nuclear RPG set sometime after a great nuclear conflict in the year 2077. 99% of humanity and a good deal of other life perished in the nuclear war. Of course, millions still survived, although some were altered beyond imagination. One can play Fallout either as a campaign-oriented RPG, with a series of smaller adventures in a larger story, or as a single-story game with a minimum of involvement in the larger workings of the world. It can be played on a single Saturday night with two or three friends or in a group of 7 or 8 two or three times a week for months on end. The only limits are scheduling and the boundaries of imagination.


Fallout D20, like the Fallout computer game series, takes place in an “alternate universe.” This means that, sometime after World War II, “real” history and Fallout history diverged, although where this happened is not exactly clear. The alternate reality, usually referred to in Fallout D20 as the “Fallout Universe,” is awfully close to the real world, but with some major differences. The Soviet Union survived well into the 21st Century before it finally splintered in the Resource Wars. The microchip was never invented, and fashions, weapons, vehicles, and computers keep a very “retro” feel, almost as if the 1950s never truly died. This did not hinder the advances in technology, as supercomputers, advanced robotics, and fusion power all flourished before the War.

It should also be noted that the nuclear weapons used in the Fallout universe are not as strong as the nukes in modern arsenals; they are much closer in yield to warheads developed and tested in the late 1940s and 1950s, which means that the level of devastation is slightly different (and potentially far less severe) than it would be in the “real” world. In addition, the dust cloud necessary for nuclear winter never formed, so that phase of nuclear war is unheard of in Fallout.

In 2052, the Resource Wars erupted, threatening to tear the world apart. Famines in Africa and the Indian subcontinent, massive pollution in Southeast Asia, religious extremists in the Middle East and the Pacific Northwest, coupled with an ever-growing need for irreplaceable fossil fuels, led the planet to a breaking point. American corporations, desperate for now-nonexistent cheaper labor and new markets so they could continue to make profits, became more and more brazen about their ties to the American government, which in turn became more and more brazen about its imperialistic tendencies.

China, along with the European Commonwealth, began its own form of imperialism, raiding resources in the American sphere of influence. While the world had not experienced a massive war in over 100 years, the house of cards created by ailing superpowers and limping business interests could not withstand the strong breeze. As the EC and the Middle East squabbled over oil, China turned its attentions towards North America.

There was no one incident that decisively led to the declaration of war on China by America (or on America by China), but the Chinese invasion of Alaska and its still-flowing oilfields in 2066 was all the excuse either side needed. After brutal but indecisive trench-and-plane warfare dragged on for months and then years, it became obvious that both sides had too much to lose to back out – and the corporations running both countries would never allow such a profitable war to quit. America eventually took back most of the Alaskan frontier, but more than a decade of intense warfare left a good deal of the formerly-pristine land a scorched, useless wreck.

In the early morning hours of October 23, 2077, the war became the War, and reached its inevitable conclusion. Spears of fire rained from the sky, destroying the planet’s major cities, polluting the oceans, and creating nightmares no scientist could imagine. Tens of thousands of soldiers, scientists, artists, and wealthy people reserved spaced in enormous underground shelters called Vaults, but because of the constant false alarms, only a fraction made it inside on that day. High-ranking US officials took refuge on an oil platform off the coast of San Francisco, evidence at last of the corporate control over the government and its army.

As the radioactive dust coated the planet and the last matchsticks of civilization snapped, the surface survivors died by the billions, leaving those that were left to try to fend for whatever scraps they could find. The Government, safe on Poseidon Oil’s provided offshore platform, took to calling itself the Enclave and secretly began plotting the return of their “pure” version of humanity to the mainland. Their sense of genetic and mental superiority allowed them to justify their actions, just as regular survivors stronger than the others justified atrocities by the same twisted logic. Fortunately, the Enclave’s influence was limited to the extreme American West by its location on the platform, and the rest of the world limped toward civilization – or descended into darkness – at its own pace.

Eventually, though, the Vaults opened, some at pre-appointed times, others by apparent mechanical or planning errors, releasing the inhabitants to mix with surface survivors in a much-changed United States, on a much-changed planet Earth: the setting for Fallout D20.


Few people made it into a Vault on that cool October day in 2077. Air raid sirens blew, but few people believed that their deaths would be imminent. just mere feet below the streets of major metropolitan areas, these people were unaware of the extensive damage to the outside world. Entire populations were wiped out, leaving only the ashes of the once great civilization of Man. In seconds, the world became a much different place.

A combination of lethal doses of radiation and F.E.V., which had somehow escaped its confines at a non-descriptive military base, created entire new species overnight. Those locked away in the Vaults lived for entire generations underneath the earth. As far as anyone in the wastes knows, some Vaults opened up as early as 20 or so years after the Great War. Some opened much later, and even more sit silently under ground, housing an entire population of people waiting to return the surface and reclaim the land of their ancestors.

Those who survived in Vaults or other prewar shelters that opened found the world a harsh new place. What once was a land of spiraling cities and arid land is now almost entirely sun-scorched desert. Survivors banded together, created towns, started trading routes, and generally began the long process of rebuilding civilization. Along the way these people encountered a vast variety of new species and old human habits. Survival was not only a struggle against the elements; it was a battle against mutated beasts and murderous raiders.

For now, much of the fate of the rest of the world is unknown. All most people are concerned with is staying alive…

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