SPECIAL is the ruleset that powers all Fallout games. The name "SPECIAL" is an acronym standing for the primary statistics in the system: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck.
Characters in SPECIAL are defined through:
- In Fallout 3, if Broken Steel is installed and the Almost Perfect perk is taken prior to collecting any SPECIAL bobbleheads, they can then be collected to get 10 in all SPECIAL stats.
- As in Fallout 3, there is a copy of the You're SPECIAL! book in Fallout 4. It can be found in Shaun's room in the ruins of the Sole Survivor's home in Sanctuary Hills. Using it allows you to permanently boost one SPECIAL by one.
In Fallout 4, it is possible to permanently get 11 in all SPECIAL stats by having 10 in all SPECIAL stats through character creation or spending perk points, and then using the respective bobbleheads.
In Fallout 76, the player character gains a SPECIAL point to spend every level, until level 50, and it is possible to get up to 15 in each stat.
Behind the scenes
Initially, Fallout was meant to use the GURPS system by Steve Jackson Games. However, there were difficulties in the license that could not be overcome, and so the two companies mutually agreed to end the partnership. Fortunately for the Fallout team, the only element of GURPS in Fallout was the ruleset and the setting was entirely Interplay's, so they could continue development. Chris Taylor, Jesse Heinig and Tim Cain developed the SPECIAL system. Many elements from it are inspired by GURPS, but it is largely original. Tim Cain stated that he originally was going to call the system "ACELIPS" until Jason G. Suinn re-arranged the letters into "SPECIAL"