Tag Archives: The Mysterious Dr. X

My Shift. ALWAYS ON MY SHIFT.

Hahaha, well hello, fair Earthmen! It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, to bring unfortunate tidings to you and yours!

According to the instructions of my coworkers, it is something called “ID4- The Day We Fight Back” tomorrow. Apparently aliens invade every year on that date or something??? Anyway, since I handle science-fictiony matters, I was asked to please refrain from updating in deference to this most holiest of somber anniversaries.

So, uh, that’s what I’ll be doing. See you next week.

(SIDE NOTE- anyone else ever notice that, every time a holiday rolls around, it always lands on MY day to write an article!?!?)

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Plots For Sale Or Rent

Well, hello and greetings, fair humanoids! And unfair, I’m not one to judge. It is your enlightening host, The Mysterious Dr. X, here to regale you with stories from the sci-fi side of the table!

You know, a lot of people here on Earth come up to me, and they’ll be like “Oh, Dr. X, I’m starting a new game tonight with my group, and I don’t know what the plot should be about, please help me!!”. After brandishing my Mysterious X-Ray at them for saying my name wrong, I usually manage to squeak out a few sentences before they disappear completely through the portal into The Mysterious Dimension X. And here they are!

  • Post-apocalypse
    • A few generations earlier, Odin had returned to Midgard (Earth) and sterilized it. However, some humans still survive in what has become the playground of the Old Gods.
    • A comet crash lands in the ocean, and upon breaking open, is revealed to be filled with a caustic black jelly. It swiftly spreads and kills all the sea creatures, then dissolves away, leaving no trace.
    • Robots! After they become self-aware and start building themselves, they- surprisingly enough- do not rebel, instead pampering us and taking care of our every whim. However, our eventual acceptance of the situation turns the entire culture into a completely sedentary lifestyle, and human production shuts down completely- food doesn’t get harvested, homes no longer get built, et cetera. After a while, the planet is devastated.
  • Star Wars
    • Old Republic: Czerka is up to their old tricks. This time, it’s believed they’re actually selling slaves on the black market. They’re weird slaves, though, unlike anything anyone has seen. They resemble wookiees, except they’re short- like two or three feet tall.
    • Rebellion: You uncover documentation that seems to imply Mon Mothma herself has been supplying information to Vader and his men.
    • Legacy: Krayt has initiated the next stage of his plan of utter domination, and all signs point to that plan being the complete destruction of the Mon Calamari race. It’s time to set up a raiding party and break into some Sith concentration camps.
  • Future
    • Animorphs, but with Dralasites and N’sss instead of andalites and yeerks. Oh, and it takes place like a thousand years in the future.
    • A sesheyan has been elected Prime Minister of the US. Immediately afterwards, he starts a war with the home planet of the Vrusk. No one has any idea why.
    • A yazirian has announced he has selected the entire ruling class of weren as his life enemy, attempting (and failing) an assassination attempt on one of them a few days later. Apparently, though, word has been made that he was forced to make that selection, but by who, no one knows.

Well, folks, I hope that was worth the time and effort! Make sure to mention my name to get 15% off your next order (not actually true- you’ll probably get banned)! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “every suggestion is an Officially Certified Mysterious Dr. X Stone Cold Classic©“!

The Mysterious Dr. X (seriously, don’t tell them I sent you. Bad things will happen)

Hey! It’s More Fallout RPG!!!

Hello, space pals! It it I, your adorable host, The Mysterious Dr. X! Last week, I was talking about the unofficial Fallout RPG system I came across. Well, if you recall, right as I was finishing the review for it, I came across some updates for the game. Not having the time to properly implement them into the review, I decided to save them for next week- and thanks to the miracle of one-second-per-second forward-only time travel, it IS next week! So let’s dive right in!

First, I’ll start with the most important stuff- the core rules. Now, admittedly, I’m skimming, not really studying, so I’m likely only gonna notice the major changes. But there actually are a few of those. The first thing I notice is that this update has a lot more pictures in it, making it easier and less monotonous to read. The second thing I notice is that the various charts in the original have been made into lists, without their own box or sidebar around it. The third thing is that they have more perks now, utilizing a bunch of the ones from 3 (Almost Perfect, for instance, and Grim Reaper’s Sprint). The typeface is also different. Also, they removed the “half-mutant” race, while introducing a second type of Super Mutant.

The equipment section is next. The original was about 45 pages long. This one is about 60, with fifteen or so pages devoted to having all the items in chart form for easy comparison (if you recall, one of my major gripes about the original version was that it didn’t have one of those). Looking through it, I can see why this one is so much longer than the original- they added a lot of items presumably new to 3 (for instance, the Deathclaw Gauntlet and Railway Rifle). And don’t forget the chart at the end!

The World Update basically adds a bunch of fluff from 3 into the chapter in appropriate spots. It talks about the Capitol Wasteland and life there, Elder Lyons’ splinter group of the Brotherhood Of Steel. I even saw a mention of Reilly’s Rangers (remember those guys!?). There’s also a small section about The Pitt. I didn’t see any references to Point Lookout, but you can’t win ’em all. There was also a nice touch at the end- an expanded and increased bestiary! It has a lot more stuff in it, although most of it is stuff from 3 (mirelurks and so on), and there’s still no place to get human/oid stats. As I mentioned before, raiders are one of the main enemies!

I also found a few expanded sourcebooks- specifically, Vault City, the Enclave, and the Brotherhood Of Steel. The Vault City Sourcebook isn’t too overwhelming- it’s entirely RP and fluff, with an overview of how the Vault is run, and a history of the major events that have happened there. It’s about 30 pages long, and it has a lot of useful stuff in it, but like I said, only useful for RPing purposes.

The Enclave Handbook is designed to be used to play Enclave citizen characters, as opposed to (traditionally) Vault Dwellers. It has a handful of sample NPCs, some equipment suggestions for various types of military characters, and- my favorite part of the book- a whole bunch more traits, perks, gear, and monsters. Weirdly, though, the table of contents is at the end of the book, not the beginning. Overall, though, I rate it: yes.

The BOS Sourcebook is much the same as the Enclave one is, except for Brotherhood characters, rather than Enclave characters (duh). Several pages of the history and organization of the Brotherhood, followed by stat blocks of various important NPCs, a handful of perks and vehicles, and some tips on how to effectively include them in a game (whether PCs, or NPCs).

Overall, I’d say these upgrades were worth the trouble of reading them. I’d say they contribute to the game in a meaningful way, while updating the material to include the recent games (well, game, because I didn’t see anything in any of them that jumped out at me as New Vegas-specific). So I will be officially changing my rating for the game (and in keeping with the release style of the updates, I will be posting the upgraded part separately with the assumption it will take the place of the original, rather than actually editing the original itself).

  • Up-To-Dateness Of Rulebook- 2/3 (I’d still like to see New Vegas reflected in the rules, but at least they got 3 in there)

And with that, lads and lasses, another quality entry of The Mysterious Column X comes to an end! Join me next week, when I might talk about something other than Fallout! Or maybe I will, who knows- only one way to find out!!! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “the linear gravimetric singularity negatively syncopates with the sonic interface matrix, coalescing the optical subspace capacitor into a randomized magnetic energy relay”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (course, that’s only a problem if your trans-warp pulse initiator refuses to link with your orthogonal baryon controller outside of the anomalous particle continuum- and if that’s happening, you’re basically outta luck no matter what)

Fallout: The Unofficial RPG- Or, !!!

Well, folks, that’s it. I wasn’t able to do it. I promised myself- and you as well, if you want to see it that way- that I would find a .PDF of the Fallout RPG. I looked and looked, and I just wasn’t able to do it. Apparently, though, I should have seen this coming- I mean, the game as written was never released. So how could there have been a copy of it out there?

Like I said a post or two ago, they did however take the Fallout-specific stuff out of it and release it under the name “Exodus”, so I guess you could consider Exodus the Fallout RPG. But what I was really looking for was Exodus back when it still had the Fallout license. Oh well. As they say on my home planet of Earth, “man’s reach exceeds his grasp”.

But!

I did come across a little tidbit of material! Turns out that when they were working on the game, they released a little sample teaser to show fans what the game would be like. It wasn’t much- just some fluff- but I did notice that every single place I came across that fluff, there were multiple warnings informing me it did not match up with series canon from the games. So, having read it, I’m forced to rate it as “not good”. Sorry, friends. Better luck next time.

Anyway, researching that game led me to another game that came out as well, just called “Fallout Pen And Paper”. A pretty derpy name, yeah, I know. (I’ve always hated the phrase “pen and paper” when referring to games like D&D. “Tabletop” works fine, or, you know, just say “RPG” and be done with it.) But anyway, this one was actually made by the head writer of the formerly-official one that became Exodus. You know, the one I just talked about as not being very good? However, this one is actually a completely different game using a brand new system, unrelated to Exodus. So let’s see what’s in store for us.

Right off the bat, I notice that he thanks Interplay and Black Isle for making the games, but not Bethesda or Obsidian. Which is important, since Interplay/Black Isle were the ones that made the first two games, but significantly, they did NOT make 3 or New Vegas- Bethesda and Obsidian did. That tells me this game was made before either of those games, and therefore does not contain any content- statistical or fluff- from them. A quick Google check confirms that Fallout Pen And Paper came out some time in 2006- two years before 3 and five years before New Vegas.

Not good news for me, since I didn’t start playing the series until 3, so I’m not very familiar with the canon of the first two games.

Next thing I notice is that he decided to incorporate material from a couple spinoff Fallout games that were considered subpar, due to their own divergence from canon- specifically, Fallout: Tactics and Fallout: Brotherhood Of Steel, released in 2001 and 2004, respectively. He also notes he used material from Wasteland, which was a game from the late 80s that the original Fallout is kind of considered a sort-of unofficial sequel to. They’re stylistically similar, I’ll put it that way.

They actually released a sequel to Wasteland last September, funded through Kickstarter. That’s not really apropos of anything in particular, I’m just letting you know.

As I was saying- Fallout. He mentions that you can expect some judicious changes in the physical mechanics of how some things work- it was more important that the spirit is the same, rather than the mechanics. I can respect that.

As for the rules proper, he starts off with a John Lennon quote. Not exactly the best first impression it could have left on me, for a variety of reasons. But I’ll let that go. He explains a little about the universe, what everything means, and so on. Then the races. Interestingly, for a game based on a series where you only ever play as a human, they give you multiple playable races to choose from. Ghoul, Super Mutant, half-mutants and robots are all choice, as well as- interestingly enough- dogs and Deathclaws. I will admit, playing through Fallout, it never occurred to me to play as Dogmeat, or a Deathclaw, and I don’t find that a particularly fun-sounding choice. But looking around on the internet, it seems to be a popular idea, so i guess I’m wrong about that. But whatever, moving on.

There are no classes, and you instead just start off with 5 in each of your SPECIAL stats, with five additional points you can put wherever you like. However, some races have racial minimums (or maximums) in certain SPECIAL stats, and you don’t get those changes automatically. You have to use the five extra points you get to make sure your character matches up with the required numbers. And remember, just like in the games, you can purposely lower a SPECIAL below five, if you choose.

Traits seem to basically be the same, and work basically the same way- one thing gets better, and another thing gets worse as a tradeoff. Fair enough. There are a whole bunch of new traits as well, mainly for nonhumans- ghouls, dogs, and the like. A lot of them are pretty interesting, too.

SPECIAL works the same way as in the games (I laughed out loud at the “the guy from ‘Sling Blade'” line), and I notice they also included a D&D-style “unconsciousness” system. In Fallout proper, you hit zero HP, you die. In this, you pass out, and don’t actually die until you hit -5 HP. As a frequent player of D&D, I’m okay with that.

Action Points work slightly differently- you get less of them overall, and individual actions take less AP per use. Course, then again, this is based off the games I haven’t played. And that might be an accurate representation of the Action Point system then, but it isn’t nowadays. But anyway, it looks fine enough to me, so I’m gonna say it looks good.

They spend some time looking at various energy resistances, and Damage Threshold (which I’m actually familiar with, since they reintroduced it in New Vegas), and rate of healing. All stuff that looks just fine on the surface.

The list of skills is a bit different than what I’m used to, but I don’t know if that’s because that’s how it was designed for this game, or if it’s an accurate representation of the skill list in the first two games, so I’m not gonna say anything bad about it. I will note, however, that any three skills you choose as your Tag skills go up by 2 for every 1 point you put in them. So that’s cool. There’s also a sidebar detailing a whole suite of new unarmed strikes you can learn if you meet the statistical prerequisites. Lots of different kinds of kicks and punches, mostly.

As far as starting skill points for your skill list, each individual skill starts off with a different amount, calculated using your base SPECIAL. They tell you in the skill description how to calculate it.

Weapon and armor condition and repair work the same, which is good. But I bring this up because there’s also a section in Repairs about vehicle condition and such, so apparently you can get and use vehicles in this game. That’s neat.

Combat initiative is determined by a stat called “Sequence” that works the same as “Initiative” in D&D. The combat section doesn’t really have any surprises in it, it just details how to determine range, and how much AP various actions take up, and things like that.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention earlier that the game uses d10s as the resolution mechanic.

Anyway, there is a section of vehicle combat afterwards, and it’s much the same as the regular combat section, just with a few additional rules for damaging vehicle systems, and EMP attacks, and the like.

Let’s see, the damage rules are up next. Radiation damage, crippled limbs, and so on. There’s a section on addiction and withdrawal, so that means I’ll be seeing stats for drugs later on.

The section on karma has another interesting thing in it that I also noticed with the Mass Effect game from a couple months back- karma itself doesn’t actually do anything. it’s a stat to keep track of, but there’s not guideline or implementation of what those numbers mean or how they affect your character. They have a list of karmic perks that you can get automatically for doing certain things, but those certain things aren’t “have a particular karma score”. So I dunno, bro.

The XP-per-level chart is, uh… (rechecks it) literally exactly the same as the one from 3.5. With one exception. When you get to level 21 and above in D&D, the required XP keeps at the same pace- your next level x 1,000, just like it was for the previous 20 levels. This game, meanwhile, tosses that out the window- at level 22 and higher, you require 40,000 XP (which is DOUBLE the amount needed to go from 20 go 21), and each level after that requires 40,000. Whether you’re level 24, or level 68, or level 89, you’re always gonna need 40,000 XP to level up.

Moving on. You get a handful of HP and skill points every time you level up, based on your Endurance and Intelligence, respectively (an absolute minimum of 3 HP and 7 skill points, if you have 1s in both relevant stats). Interestingly, there is no cap on the number of skill points you can have in a skill- they instead make it cost more skill points to raise a skill by one if you already have more than 100 in it.

Now, we’re at perks. A lot of the classic ones are still around (Comprehension and Die Hard, for instance, are names I definitely recognize), as well as a bunch of new ones (or ones that have been modified to work in a tabletop RPG). I’m not really noticing anything out of the ordinary with them, other than that they are great, just like normal.

The section on the background and history of the Wasteland is generally well-written, and has a lot of minor information of note, especially to people (like me) who didn’t play the first two. Apparently The Glow- formerly Edwards Air Force Base- was ground zero of the attack. However, the section on Las Vegas is a bit of a cringer, now that New Vegas is out. Almost all the stuff contained therein is wrong now. The unstoppable march of time, and all that.

The bestiary has a pretty good selection of monsters both large and small in it. Everything from the classic radscorpions and Deathclaws, to centaurs and geckos, as well as several different types of alien. It’s sadly pretty short, though.

They had a great, great idea when they decided to divide the gear section by the relevant skills, rather than value, or weight, or alphabetically, or whatever. It certainly makes things much easier to find. The other main thing that jumps out at me is just how many items they decided to put in the game. There’s lots of stuff. About 50 pages of gear. Not bad. Maybe not as many as, say, Weapons Locker, but that’s an entire book of nothing BUT weapons, so it’s not a fair comparison. I just wished they had also consolidated all the relevant stats into charts as well, rather than just having it at the end of the weapon description. It makes comparing weapons a lot easier.

The vehicles section I find particularly interesting, because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen usable vehicles in a Fallout game. They even have boats! And hot air balloons!

Afterwards, there’s an extended appendix section that I’m kinda ambivalent about. They have a large, color map of the area the games take place in, which is cool- but it’s literally the same map they used earlier in the book, but just bigger, so eh. There’s a few essays about how to be an effective GM or player (there’s one for each), which is cool, but why did you put this stuff (which you admit is for novices) over 100 pages into the book, instead of in the beginning?

They follow that up with a bunch of pre-made PCs, at least one for each playable race. Which is cool, because while they had a pretty good handful of the classic creatures in the bestiary, one thing it was sorely lacking was human stat blocks- all the ones in the bestiary were animals. What about if I’m fighting raiders? You know, the primary enemy of the game? The sample PCs don’t actually fix that, but they give you a baseline to compare and extrapolate, so it’s not a total wash.

After that is a sample adventure designed for first level characters. It’s about ten pages long, and it involves characters adventuring their way to Tulsa as hired caravan guards. Seems cool enough- it involves a religious cult trying to take over the city.

Looking through the index, I notice something interesting- Pythagoras and The Meaning Of Life both have entries, even though they, uh… aren’t rules in the game. Luckily, the index isn’t nearly as bad as Mass Effect’s is, mainly because it’s not trying to do nearly as much (entries for Tom Stoppard notwithstanding). The index here basically consists of the major ideas in the game (SPECIAL, Races, rules for using mines, things like that) and points out the page that the general concept appears on. Not quite as handy to find one specific line of rules, but a lot easier to find generally about where it’s located.

And I of course made sure to look up the money system (which, if you recall, is what caused all the problems in Mass Effect’s review). I was surprised to find there wasn’t one. It instead uses the barter system (which is listed under both Bartering and Trading in the index, but it isn’t a reprint- the Bartering section is about how the barter skill affects trading). Which means that all those values listed in the gear section were just an abstract theoretical. BUT AT LEAST THE SYSTEM FOR MONEY IS ACTUALLY LISTED IN THE INDEX.

And with that, I have reached the end of the book, and you know what that means- the patented Mysterious Dr. X Patented Review Treatment System©! Let’s see how it ranks.

  • Readability- 2/3 (it’s really boring to look at- just walls of text)
  • Usefulness Of Index- 2/3 (considering the relative dearth of listed items, that’s a good rating!)
  • Successful Translation Of Source Material- 3/3
  • Up-To-Dateness Of Rulebook- 1/3 (there have been two more games since, with no reflection in the rulebook. However, this might change- see below)
  • Three More Points For Finding What I Was Looking For- 3/3
  • Three MORE Points For Being More Accurate To Canon Than The Version That Turned Into Exodus Had Been- 3/3
  • Three More Points AGAIN So I Can Get The Maximum Number Of Points Within The 20-25 Range, Where The Other Reviews Were, Which I Could Have Solved By Making These Out Of Five Instead Of Out Of Three, But I Don’t Feel Like Changing, And Instead Will Solve It By Doing This- 3/3

Would you look at that! Not a bad score! I guess that means I would recommend it! Course, I’ll be honest, I’m probably gonna recommend any game I review on here, even if I give it a low grade. After all, not everyone likes the same kind of games.

STRAY THOUGHTS:

  • The book could use some more pictures. It looks really boring to just read page after page after page of text.
  • No table of contents. For that matter, no copyright/credits page either.
  • Why does every tabletop game with a karma system always forget to include rules on how to use it?
  • I find it very distracting that, all throughout the book, “hand to hand” is abbreviated into “HtH”. Kinda annoying and it doesn’t look very good on the page.
  • Page 7, Races- “all are human (or were once human)”. Two pages later, Deathclaws, dogs, and robots. Yep, all the races were once human alright.
  • There are two perks- Bend The Rules and Break The Rules- that I actually thought were a typo, and the book accidentally printed the same perks in two different spots. Why not just make Break The Rules rank 2 of Bend The Rules?
  • Mysterious Stranger, baby! Also- the Mad Max reference made me laugh out loud, since Fury Road- the first new Mad Max movie in 30 years- came out to rave reviews a mere week before this writing.
  • Hilariously, the sample adventure near the end explicitly points out in the opening description that it’s only part 1, and to get the rest of the adventure you have to go to the dude’s website and download it. “And why is that hilarious?”, you may be asking. Well, Theoretical Dude/Lady, it’s because the website no longer exists, so I guess we’re SOL on the rest of said adventure.
  • The rulebook I was reviewing today can be found here.

And that’ll be it for today, pals and pallerinas! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “I’m really enjoying these reviews. Maybe I’ll make an actual column out of them”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (planning a trip to The Mysterious Dimension X, as like a vacation thing, not because he’s in trouble with the law [looks around])

P.S. The “see below” tag on Up-To-Dateness Of Rulebook is because, while writing this, I came across updates to the game (notably not written by the guy that wrote the original, so you can decide for yourself whether it’s considered official material for the game or not). The updates were to the “historical fluff”, “gear”, and “core rules” sections. These three updates incorporated rules and ideas found in 3 and New Vegas, and in all three cases, the update was written as to be intended to replace the relevant sections in the core rulebook release altogether. They’re all kinda big (the smallest is still 45 pages long) so I’m not gonna look over them now, but I’ll talk about them a bit next week, and possibly change my ratings for this game if I feel it’s warranted.

Like Last Week’s Post… But Different!

Greetings, sports-non-fans (presumably)! It is I, your splendiferous host, The Mysterious Dr. X, hear to tug your ear about the best genre in the world, historical romance!

Haha, who am I kidding, I could never talk about romance! Not with all the great stuff science fiction has to offer!

Last week, I was talking a bit about Fallout, and how it should totally have an RPG. Then I was talking about how there totally was one. Then I was talking about how it totally got canceled. You know, it would probably be easier if you just went and perused the article yourself. Come back when you’re done. Anyway, at the end I said I would do a review of it if I could find it. Alas and alack, I was not able to. But don’t fret- I’m still gonna keep looking for it. If I’m able to find it by next week, I’ll definitely cover it then, but if I don’t find it by then, I’ll just not worry about it any more. Know when you’re beaten, and all that.

Anywho. There’s still plenty on the subject to talk about. First thing that comes to mind would be how easy it is to convert into dice. Of course, my tendency is to convert it into d20, but the game mechanics might actually be more accurately represented by a d% system, since that’s essentially what the actual games run on, mechanically speaking. But regardless, most of what the game requires already exists. The crafting system from 3 and New Vegas would simply use the crafting mechanics from d20- that is, one or multiple Craft checks. Maybe add the caveat that certain things need at least a minimum number of ranks in certain types of craft in order to do it.

The perk system already exists in d20 as well, except we call them “feats” here. Sure, d20 gives out feats less frequently than Fallout does- once every three, instead of every, or every other- but unlike the games, there’s no level cap, so you’ll continue to gain feats indefinitely.

The repairing mechanic would work exactly the same, since Repair is a skill. And it would likely operate similarly to Craft, with the minimum rank requirement. Stats themselves, meanwhile, would need some tuning.

SPECIAL           d20
Strength          Strength
Perception      Wisdom
Endurance      Constitution
Charisma        Charisma
Intelligence    Intelligence
Agility               Dexterity
Luck                  Add a seventh core ability, Luck

They would need some further tweaking as well- for instance, in Fallout, carrying capacity is based on Endurance. In d20, it’s based on Strength. There would be some cleanup, but nothing a moderately capable DM wouldn’t be able to handle judiciously.

The two biggest problems I can think of are the VATS system, and the skills list. Some of the skills would stay put- Repair, Craft, Computer Use (which would be renamed Science, but otherwise be basically identical). Survival. Others- Barter, for instance- would be either invented or congealed into other skills, depending on how much of the core d20 mechanics you wanted to keep. Sneak, for example, would be Hide, Move SIlently, and Sleight Of Hand all rolled into one. In other words, it would basically be a Stealth check from 4E. But some of them would take a bit more creativity to solve. As an example- with the skill list as presented, how exactly would you handle the existence of an Energy Weapons skill? None of the existing d20 skills would really be appropriate.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that, since the system would need to be at least partially custom-built anyway, it might just be easier to scrap the current skill list altogether and replace it wholesale with the ones from the game. Personally, I would use the one from New Vegas instead of the one from 3, but if the game you’re running isn’t one that a Survival skill will be necessary for, then by all means, Big Guns your heart out.

Another good way that was just pointed out to me is kind of a combination between how Fallout does it and how D&D does it. Namely, make weapon proficiencies into skills, rather than feats. That still comes with a handful of other problems with it- for instance, to quote the person who gave me this idea, “in D&D, every +1 longsword does the same amount of damage as every single other +1 longsword in the world, but Joe Schmuck with a laser pistol and 10 ranks in Energy Weapons won’t do as much damage as Joe Schmuck with 100 ranks”- but it could definitely be done.

Which comes to the big problem, as I see it. VATS. I was talking about this with the other Fallout fan on staff, Pain (yeah, you heard me- Pain is still around. He didn’t quit or anything, he’s just had some things going on). We have been knocking around some ideas about how VATS would work. At first, I thought it might be an ability activated once per encounter, and activated by spending an action point. When you do, you make one free attack that automatically hits. He rightfully pointed out that VATS isn’t an automatic hit. At first, I was like “eh, you gotta make some concessions in order to fit it into the system”. But then I realized- if I hadn’t played D&D before, and only started playing it because I found someone did a conversion of Fallout, would I be satisfied with the way they handled the mechanic? I ultimately decided “no”, and we set upon trying to find another way.

Pain soon commented that VATS works a lot like how the Haste spell works, and we knew we had our comparison. Haste is a spell that gives you one additional attack action for free per round, for the duration of the spell (one round per level). So basically, VATS would be an ability that gave you Haste for free for a limited number of rounds. After some discussion, this is what we came up with.

—–

VATS (the Visual Augmented Targeting System [yeah, I know that’s not what it stands for- I’m trying to make it setting-neutral])is an intense state of situational hyper-awareness, during which time seems to slow down for the user, providing them with additional precious seconds in which to make devastating attacks. Activating VATS itself is a free action and can only be done on your turn, and you must have at least one action point in reserve in order to use it (but activating it does not itself cost anything, other than the free action). Once in VATS mode, you are unable to take any action except a full round attack or a reload (not even a five-foot step is allowed). However, each round VATS is active, you are able to make one additional attack at your highest bonus at any enemy within the normal range of your currently equipped weapon.

Additionally, while in VATS, reloading your equipped weapon is a free action, regardless of the normal reload time of the weapon currently equipped.

VATS lasts for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution modifier. After it ends, you cannot activate VATS again for a number of rounds equal to double your Constitution modifier. However, you can also choose to end VATS early (which does not take any time, and therefore does not cost any action to perform), in which case VATS can be activated again in a number of rounds equal to twice the number of rounds you had VATS activated for. For example, say The Chemist has a Constitution score of 19, giving him a +4 modifier. Therefore, he can use VATS for four rounds, and it will take eight rounds to be able to use it again, if he uses it for all four of his allotted rounds. However, if The Chemist only uses VATS for two rounds, rather than the full four, he can activate VATS four rounds later, rather than eight.

—–

If you’re a Fallout fan like myself, and you think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread- or, hell, if you think it’s an offense worthy of the death penalty- send us an email and let us know! We’ll be glad to hear from you either way! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “the Mysterious Dimension X is so lovely this time of year”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (Certified Maniacal Laugh Master Practitioner©)

Fallout: The RPG- Or, ???

Greetings, style-conscious Earthicans! It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, asking you to join me for another blastoff of a time discussing science fiction!

I have a confession- I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout lately. I should clarify, I’m playing the recent ones, 3 and New Vegas, not either (or both) of the first two. But the specifics are beside the point- what I’m getting at, is that I’ve been playing a game just begging to become tabletop.

Upon my searching around on the internet, I came across an interesting story. As some of you may know, the makers of 3 and New Vegas were not the creators of 1 and 2. Well, back before the Fallout IP got sold to the current holder (when it was still owned by the original creators), that company licensed the game out to a smallish RPG company for the purposes of making a tabletop game out of it. Well, along the way, the rights to the video games got sold- but that RPG company kept working on it. Then, when they were about done with it, the new owners shut down development of the game, basically stating that since the deal was with the company that no longer owns the rights to the games, the contract between them was no longer valid, and the new company was shutting the game down.

At first, I was very disheartened to hear that. (This also happened in like 2006, before 3 ever even came out, so not only was I disheartened, but I was also nine years behind the curve.) So I decided to research the game, maybe even find a copy of it (Mysterious Dimension X willing) and review the hell out of it for you fine folks/maids.

And as far as I can tell, it was a bust.

I couldn’t turn up a copy of a PDF of the actual, officially-licensed-then-canceled version of the Fallout d20 (yes, it used the d20 system. Good because that’s the system we use here at the DDN, bad because Fallout itself, um, doesn’t use a comparable system) book. I did, however, find… not quite “the next best thing”, but… Okay, look. The company that made the tabletop game, when told that they couldn’t make it any more, didn’t cancel it entirely. They instead stripped out all the Fallout-related fluff, wrote a new backstory for the world of the game, and released it as “Exodus”.

So I couldn’t turn up the Fallout d20 game, but I COULD turn up the Fallout-with-the-file-numbers-sanded-off game that replaced it. And during my searching, I also came across another interesting little gem- specifically, a 150 page rulebook for Fallout The RPG, and it turned out it was written by the lead designer of the canceled, almost-official version. What made it cool, however was that- maybe in an effort to prevent history from repeating- he wrote it and purposely released the game for free online. Interestingly, it’s not the same system- this one uses percentile dice as the resolution mechanic, not a d20.

Oh, and one other note I came across- apparently, fans of the series were glad the game got canceled. From what intel I’ve been able to gather, they seemed to believe the creators would release material from the game as kind of a “sneak peek”, but the material would be riddled with errors- in both grammar and game canon- and when they would ask the company to fix them, the company would ignore them, then ban them from the forums for their trouble.

Now, let me say right now this is all conjecture. I saw people on forums talking about this happening, but I saw no other mentions of it on any other site, and “unpopularity/unwillingness to adhere to game canon” wasn’t listed as the reason the game was canceled. So I don’t have any real proof other than a handful of forum posts. Make of that what you will.

I will, however, point out that when they initially announced the game, it had a logo and a piece of cover art that fans vocally and vehemently disapproved of, convincing the company to redesign a cover that more closely resembled the games.

If they were willing to do it with the cover, I wouldn’t put it past them to do it for the actual game content.

But anyway, I think I’m gonna call it quits for the day. But don’t worry- I’m gonna keep searching for that game, Mysterious Fans X! If I find it, expect a review of it next week. If I can’t, I might review the free version, or the Exodus version instead. Or maybe I’ll talk a little bit more about the general topic of sci fi video game-tabletop conversions- more games that could use it, possible conversions that might be worth it, and so on. I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “what you Earth people call ‘forums’, we instead call ‘forums’ on my faraway home planet of Earth, so I hope I didn’t cause any confusion”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (the sound of a spaceship’s warp core exploding is WHAAAKOOOM!, in case you were wondering. NEVR 4GET)

So Three Vrusk Walk Into A Kaldrin Bar…

Well, hello there, Earth dwellers! It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, here once more to engage in a rousing discussion of the finer points of science fiction tabletop RPGs! Today, I’ll be talking about that most venerable of games, d20 Future (or as we called it on my faraway home planet of Earth, “d20 Future”)!

But we aren’t talking about it generally- as the tag or the URL may have tipped you off to, we’re talking about one specific aspect of Future. Namely, the Dralasites. Yes, the D is capitalized.

Dralasite

Let me say right now, however, that the picture above isn’t technically the most accurate Dralasite image you can have. It’s the one in the Future book, yes, and admittedly, it isn’t INcorrect. But this image implies Dralasites are stocky, humanoid figures with three legs. In reality, however, they’re basically giant amoebas- visually, they’re normally just a pile of grey sludge about four feet tall. (I know the above picture shows it as brown, but in the description, they’re talked about as being grey.) But since they’re shapeshifters (of a sort), they can extend pseudopods to create limbs for them to manipulate objects.

I’ll admit, I’ve always pictured Dralasites looking a bit different in their “typical” form.

Gleep&Gloop

But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, Dralasites are great. But the question remains- why talk about these dudes specifically? Well, turns out they’re actually a pretty good example of how the history of D&D itself works.

In 1989 (the height of second edition), TSR came out with a new campaign setting called “Spelljammer”. And for all you trufans out there- yes, I’ve mentioned Spelljammer before, in my article about the neogi. Anyway, Dralasites are most famous for being a playable race in the Spelljammer setting.

However!

They weren’t actually INVENTED for Spelljammer- they were around in a couple other, non-D&D games also made by TSR before they ever appeared in D&D. In 1982, TSR released a space opera RPG called Star Frontiers. And just to cut off any potential fake tension, yes, Dralasites were created for Star Frontiers. But that’s not my point. Star Frontiers came out, then they released some expansions for the game that overhauled a lot of the mechanics. The original version was a strategy/tactical game, and the expansions turned it into more of a standard RPG. So, TSR- rather than removing the original release altogether- called the expansion version of the game “Star Frontiers”, and changed the name of the original, strategy game to “Alpha Dawn”. It was a case of two closely related games that both took place in the same fictional universe. Alpha Dawn, specifically, was marketed as the grand introduction to the world of the game, and after you finished playing that, it was assumed you would “graduate”, if you will, to the full game later on.

All of this is a roundabout way of explaining why they’re in the Future book. TSR created them for a different game in 1982, and that game collapsed in on itself in 1985. Not wanting to waste all that material, they integrated the races into Spelljammer in 1989, bringing them into D&D proper. Then TSR went bankrupt, and was bought by Wizards Of The Coast, who then put out third edition. Some of the monsters from Spelljammer (there’s those pesky neogi again) were just shifted over to the generic, core setting for 3E. Some (the Dralasites, for instance) weren’t.

Then, in 2002, Wizards released d20 Modern. (For more on Modern, check back on Sundays.) More specifically, in 2004, they released Future. And that was when all that Spelljammer stuff could come back in a big way. The central conceit of mage-powered space galleons, of course, wasn’t what they used from it. But the little things- Dralasites, for instance- made a welcome return. Actually, there’s even a campaign setting outline in the Future book that’s similar to the setting of Star Frontiers. Well, superficially similar, anyway. It’s called “Star Law”. Look it up. It’s pretty neat.

But anyway, my claim earlier was that Dralasites were a good example of how the history of D&D works. D&D- especially third edition and Modern- has a tendency to reuse or bring back previous ideas that had been left by the wayside in the past. Neogi, which went unused for several years after the Spelljammer setting died. Dralasites, which were from a different game altogether, originally. Same thing with Alternity (another sci-fi game by TSR, released in 1998, that ended a short two years later when Wizards released third edition). Alternity had three campaign settings (well, four, but one was a licensed StarCraft game, so we’re not counting that). The three were Star*Drive, Dark•Matter, and Gamma World (in order- space opera, X-Files, and post-apocalypse).

Sound familiar?

Star*Drive ended up being one of the setting ideas in the Future book, Dark•Matter was turned into a campaign setting (Chief’s favorite, in fact) for Modern, and Gamma World (itself based off the world’s first sci-fi tabletop game, Metamorphosis Alpha), while never officially released as a D&D campaign setting, was always produced to be compatible with whatever edition of D&D was then current.

My point in saying all this is that d20 Future really went back to that well and dredged up some of their old, unused concepts- and I think that’s just plain great. Wizards really got a lot of mileage out of stuff that had been forgotten or cast aside.

And with that, I think I’m gonna call it a day! I know I tend to ramble a bit, so I hope you stuck with me, learned a thing or two, and gleaned some entertainment out of my column today! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “seriously, the first sci-fi tabletop game EVER. 1976, baby”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (you want another example of Wizards reusing forgotten material? How about the fact that, when the fifth edition Monster Manual came out, they actually remembered that flumphs– who are amazing, don’t let anyone say otherwise and continue to live- existed?)

Mad X: Beyond Thunderdimensionx

HAHAHAHA Greetings, all you infinitely replaceable Earth humanoids! It is me, your magnanimous tyrant, The Mysterious Dr. X! I figured I should probably take a little time out of my day full of Secret Science Stuff to write that article I promised, so here it is!

Today is part three of our (probably) three-part series on Mad Max! We spent some time talking about the series in general, and then took a closer look at exactly what he looked like (statistically) in the first two films, Mad Max and The Road Warrior. Today we look at the final movie (chronologically) in the series- which is also considered the weakest entry, and definitely the most polarizing- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Do not swim within two hours after consuming this article. Do not attempt to operate any heavy machinery until it wears off. May cause spontaneous confusion. See a film buff or a d20 Modern book if confusion occurs.

—–

“Mad Max” Rockatansky

beyond-thunderdome

Strong 3/Road Warrior 3/ Smart 1/ Salvager 3 (CR10)

HD 4d6+5d8+22; Hp 56; Mas 12; Init +4; Speed 30 ft; Def. 18; F/R/W 8/10/7; BAB 7/2; Grap 10/5; S/R 5/5; AL Self, Greater Good; AP 11; Rep 5; Wealth 8; Languages English, Aboriginal English, Outback; Atk melee: Gerber combat knife (+10/5, 1d4+5, 19-20/2x), ranged: sawn-off Savage 311A (+11/6, 2d8, 10 ft, 20/2x) ; STR 16 DEX 18 CON 13 INT 15 WIS 13 CHA 12

Occupation:
Law Enforcement (Drive, Intimidate, Personal Firearms Proficiency)

Feats:
Animal Affinity, Expert Scrounger, Great Fortitude, Light Armor Proficiency, Lightning Reflexes, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Renown, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Surface Vehicle Operation, Vehicle Expert

Skills:
Balance 4, Climb 3, Computer Use 3, Craft (chemical) 2, Craft (electronic) 3, Craft (mechanical) 7, Craft (pharmaceutical) 2, Craft (structural) 2, Craft (visual art) 2, Craft (writing 2), Decipher Script 3, Demolitions 3, Diplomacy 1, Disable Device 9, Drive 18, Forgery 2, Handle Animal 7, Intimidate 8, Investigate 2, Jump 4, Knowledge (arcane lore) 2, Knowledge (art) 2, Knowledge (behavioral sciences) 2, Knowledge (business) 2, Knowledge (civics) 2, Knowledge (current events) 4, Knowledge (earth and life sciences) 3, Knowledge (history) 2, Knowledge (physical sciences) 3, Knowledge (popular culture) 2, Knowledge (streetwise) 2, Knowledge (tactics) 7, Knowledge (technology) 3, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) 2, Listen 5, Navigate 4, Pilot 3, Profession 2, Repair 8, Research 2, Ride 4, Search 9, Spot 2, Survival 11, Swim 3

Talents:
Strong
-Melee Smash I
-Melee Smash II

Smart
-Savant (Search)

Class Abilities:
Road Warrior
-Improved Vehicle Modification
-Improved Retain Control

Salvager
-Bargainer
-Jury Rig I
-Scavenger
-Mishap Sense I

—–

And when he wandered off into the wastes at the end of Beyond Thunderdome, as we can see, he was more than capable of holding his own!

I gotta say, these blocks have been pretty fun to do! I just hope Fury Road doesn’t mess this up too bad (it takes place after Mad Max but before The Road Warrior, so if it really shakes stuff up, this post and the previous one will both become at least partially invalid, a fate I hope not to see come to pass).

Anyway, thanks for listening, children! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “WE DON’T NEED TO KNOW THE WAY HOME”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (ALL WE WANT IS LIFE BEYOND… THUNDERDOOOOME)

Mysterious Column X 2: The Post Warrior

It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, here again to teach you Earth humanoids the true meaning of science fiction! If you remember, last week we were talking about Mad Max- both the movie and the titular character. Today, we move on to what is generally considered the best movie in the series (and also the first one of the three I saw), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

—–

“Mad Max” Rockatansky

Road-Warrior

Strong 3/Road Warrior 3 (CR6)

HD 5d8+17; Hp 39; Mas 12; Init +4; Speed 30 ft; Def. 18; F/R/W 5/9/3; BAB 5; Grap 8; S/R 5/5; AL Self, Greater Good; AP 9; Rep 4; Wealth 8; Languages English, Aboriginal English, Outback; Atk melee: Gerber combat knife (+8, 1d4+5, 19-20/2x), ranged: sawn-off Savage 311A (+9, 2d8, 10 ft, 20/2x) ; STR 16 DEX 18 CON 12 INT 15 WIS 13 CHA 12

Occupation:
Law Enforcement (Drive, Intimidate, Personal Firearms Proficiency)

Feats:
Animal Affinity, Light Armor Proficiency, Lightning Reflexes, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Renown, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Surface Vehicle Operation, Vehicle Expert

Skills:
Balance 4, Climb 3, Craft (mechanical) 6, Craft (structural) 2, Demolitions 2, Drive 17, Handle Animal 7, Intimidate 8, Jump 4, Knowledge (current events) 3, Knowledge (popular culture) 2, Knowledge (streetwise) 2, Knowledge (tactics) 7, Listen 1, Navigate 2, Pilot 3, Profession 1, Repair 6, Ride 4, Spot 1, Survival 5, Swim 3

Talents:
Strong
-Melee Smash I
-Melee Smash II

Class Abilities:
Road Warrior
-Improved Vehicle Modification
-Improved Retain Control

—–

Well, all you Earth dwellers, hope you enjoyed this week’s column! Tune in next week to see the numbers behind his trip into Thunderdome! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “the last of the V8 Interceptors”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (a piece of history! Woulda been a shame to blow it up)

OUR FIRST POST EVER!!!! (THAT’S NUMBERED 150)

Well, hello, convivial readers! It is your most congenial of hosts, The Mysterious Dr. X! As the title may have tipped you off to, today is our inaugural 150th post! Hilariously enough, our last big milestone- 100, specifically- was ALSO made by me, His Most Awesome Of Dudes, The Mysterious Dr. X! In honor of that momentous occasion, let’s flash back to a simpler time, a time where no one wanted for a thing, when we all were in the loving caress of The Time Before. Here’s an excerpt from those inauspicious beginnings, the halcyon days of all the way back in January 23, 2015, with the 100th post.

  • “Not so fast”

Haha, excellent! Back in those days, I was talking about d20 Apocalypse, and so in homage to that most illustrious of posts, today I will also be talking about Apocalypse.

I absolutely friggin’ love Mad Max. The first one was great, the second one was at least as great (I honestly can’t decide which one I like better. They’re both so good). The third one was pretty sweet too, until he left Bartertown and wandered into the desert. Admittedly, that itself isn’t what was bad about it- if the entire movie had taken place in Bartertown, or at the very least the whole, lame “ooh, save those dang kids!!!” plot from the second half was removed entirely, I woulda loved it as much as I liked the other two. But that’s not the point. The point is, Mad Max is great and I want to spend some time talking about it.

—–

Maximillian Rockatansky was a young, up-and-coming member of the Main Force Patrol, a squad of policemen tasked with chasing down criminals in the Australian Outback. At only 23 years old, he was already considered the best driver in the MFP. However, after one particularly ruthless takedown, he begins having a crisis of conscience and resigns, moving with his wife and newborn son to the country. Unfortunately, a gang member tracked down his family and murdered them, transforming him into the stoic, taciturn Mad Max, who proceeded to find the members of the gang and murder them one by one.

A few years later, Mad Max is seen wandering aimlessly through the desert. He is eventually led to an oil refinery besieged by The Humungus, Warrior Of The Wasteland, the leader of a bang of highway raiders intent on running out or killing the residents of the refinery, and stealing all their gasoline. Max then concocts a plan with the leader of the refugees, wherein he would donate (and, later, drive) a giant oil tanker he found, to help them escape the attacks of The Humungus. His driving skills pushed to the limit, he eventually kills The Humungus and most of the raider army in the process, giving the refugees the time to flee.

Several years later, he stumbles across actual civilization, of sorts- the city of Bartertown, run by a domineering woman named Aunty Entity. He quickly gets on her bad side, and is forced to fight in the town’s gladiatorial arena, named Thunderdome, against a giant of a man known only as Blaster. Turns out Aunty Entity has a rivalry with the other half of the Master Blaster duo- Master being the brains, and Blaster being the brawn- who controls the methane farms that Batertown gets its power from. After deciding not to kill Blaster, Max is exiled from Bartertown, and is eventually rescued by a tribe of children living in the desert who believe him to be their long-rumored savior that will lead them to the Promised Land. While he himself disagrees with this belief, he decides to help them find somewhere to live nonetheless, and sneaks back into Bartertown to enlist Master’s help.

This column is actually part one of a three-part series. This week, we’ll be detailing the version of Mad Max as seen at the end of the original film Mad Max. Next week, we’ll look at the growth he experienced over the next couple years, with a stat block depicting him at the end of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Finally, in two weeks, we’ll analyze how he’s doing at his most capable, with a stat block representing him at the end of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Stay tuned, all you magical Love Gentlemen/Madames!

—–

“Mad Max” Rockatansky

mad max

Strong 3 (CR3)

HD 2d8+11; Hp 20; Mas 12; Init +3; Speed 30 ft; Def. 16; F/R/W 3/4/2; BAB 3; Grap 6; S/R 5/5; AL Self, Greater Good; AP 6; Rep 4; Wealth 7; Languages English, Aboriginal English, Outback; Atk melee: Gerber combat knife (+6, 1d4+5, 19-20/2x), ranged: sawn-off Savage 311A (+6, 2d8, 10 ft, 20/2x) ; STR 16 DEX 17 CON 12 INT 15 WIS 13 CHA 12

Occupation:
Law Enforcement (Drive, Intimidate, Personal Firearms Proficiency)

Feats:
Animal Affinity, Light Armor Proficiency, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Renown, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Surface Vehicle Operation

Skills:
Climb 3, Craft (mechanical)* 5, Craft (structural) 2, Drive 10, Handle Animal 7, Intimidate 7, Jump 3, Knowledge (current events) 2, Knowledge (popular culture) 2, Knowledge (streetwise) 2, Knowledge (tactics) 6, Profession 1, Repair 6, Swim 3
An asterisk (*) indicates a cross-class skill.

Talents:
Strong
-Melee Smash I
-Melee Smash II

—–

Now, I know you’ll probably have some issues with this block. “No levels of Fast”, as an example of something you might say, “on a professional driver!? I call shenanigans!” And you may be right. But you aren’t. For now, just accept it at face value, and in the third part of this series, after I’m done detailing all the versions of our favorite Pursuit Special driver, I’ll talk a bit about why I made the choices I did. I hope. If I remember to.

And that’s all for this sci-fi fan! If any of you Earth humanoids have even a shred of self-respect, you’ll come back next week for part two, Road Warrior! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “man, ‘Rockatansky’ is such a great name”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (“The Mysterious Rockatansky X”. Oh yeah)