Vault 13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure was an early working title for Fallout (later also called Fallout: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure before the GURPS license was finally dropped).


The game was initially intended to use Steve Jackson Games's GURPS system. GURPS is an acronym for Generic Universal Role Playing System and is a table-top role playing game system published by Steve Jackson Games. Originally released in 1986, it is currently in its fourth edition. GURPS is designed to be easily applicable to any role playing game setting, and is played with six-sided dice.

From the GURPS FAQ : GURPS is a 3d6 skill-based system. It uses a point-based character creation system, and represents characters using four basic stats (Strength, Dexterity, IQ, and Health) along with advantages, disadvantages, perks, quirks, and skills. GURPS is designed to allow role-playing in any genre using the same game mechanics for all of them.


Initially there was a lot of skepticism coming from Steve Jackson as Interplay approached him with an offer. According to Scott Campbell, Steve Jackson only responded once he was offered up-front license money.[1] Scott was appointed Lead Designer, as his previous project, SimEarth had been canceled.

The first draft for the game's story was written down on a "night of many beers".[2] This draft was never intended to be used, and bears little resemblance to the Fallout universe. At this point, Interplay had still not decided what their first GURPS game would be about.

After some time, the development team decided they wanted to do GURPS: Wasteland, based on the old post-apocalyptic game from Interplay. At the same time, Steve Jackson Games was working on GURPS: Survivor, which was a role-playing sourcebook with rules for post-apocalyptic adventuring.[3]

Early vault boy

Early Vault Boy

During the last meeting before Christmas break, it was revealed by Interplay's legal team that EA still had the rights to Wasteland, due to the fact that Interplay had recently released a 10th Anniversary pack containing the game through EA. Though this meant that they could no longer use the Wasteland name, they would carry on work on a post-apocalyptic game.

The one that first proposed the idea of using Vaults was Tim Cain, who claimed he had dreamed it.[3] Campbell claims that this one idea was what started the creative process for himself.

The team laid down some simple rules:

Rule #1: Multiple Decisions. We will always allow for multiple solutions to any obstacle.
Rule #2: No Useless Skills. The skills we allow you to take will have meaning in the game.
Rule #3: Dark humor was good. Slap-stick was not.
Rule #4: Let the player play how he wants to play.
Rule #5: Your actions have repercussions.[4]

The game was supposed to be no holds barred. Anything would be allowed, even the killing of children. This was early in 1995, and even saying the word "ass" was illegal from public broadcasting. Interplay wanted to push the limits on the game, and in order to give more depth to some of the characters of the harsh environment, the language was spiced up.

Termination and legal issuesEdit

Fallout GURPS

In early 1997 (around 11th February 1997), in the midst of Fallout’s development, Steve Jackson Games and Interplay terminated their deal. Apparently, Steve Jackson Games was satisfied with everything but the Vault Boy pictures in the character screen and the execution scene in the introduction[5]. As the split between Fallout and GURPS became imminent, Steve Jackson remarked “The GURPS implementation they've created is 'worth' saving.” When the contract was referenced over approval rights, Interplay discovered several flaws, which in turn developed into a legal squabble over the contract itself. Eventually, the companies ended with a mutual decision to part ways. Chris Taylor, while agreeing that the split was a blow to the project, said "instead of compromising and making an inferior product -- Fallout will be produced with conviction." The title was changed to the final version: Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game and the SPECIAL character system was designed. GURPS sometimes appears as a terminal password in Fallout 3 and Fallout 4.


In the game files' DATA directory, there is a file called VAULT13.GAM which stores the global variables for the game. This dates back to when Fallout was first called Vault 13.

See alsoEdit


As part of the 10th anniversery celebration for Fallout, here are 2 previously unreleased screenshots from the GURPS version of the game, courtesy of Chris Taylor. They were created when Scott Campbell was still in charge of the design.


Preview 1997 Fallout A Post Nuclear Role-Playing Computer Game By Interplay

Preview 1997 Fallout A Post Nuclear Role-Playing Computer Game By Interplay

External linksEdit


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