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Vault 13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure was an early working title for Fallout, later changed to Fallout: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure, that utilized the Generic Universal Role Playing System (GURPS) by Steve Jackson Games. Legal disagreements between Interplay Entertainment and Steve Jackson Games eventually led to Interplay dropping the license and replacing it with its own system, developed in-house: SPECIAL.


Vault 13 GURPS promo

A promotional still.

Steve Jackson initially responded with skepticism when Interplay first approached him with an offer in 1994. According to Scott Campbell, 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." 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.[2]

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 continued work on a post-apocalyptic game.[4]

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

The team laid down some simple rules:[4]

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.

The game was supposed to be no holds barred. Anything would be allowed, even the killing of children. This was early in 1995, when something as innocuous as the word "ass" was considered unfit for 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.[4]

Termination and legal issues[]

Fallout GURPS

On June 11, 1996, Bob Apthorpe reported that SJG received more screenshots of GURPS Fallout, noting that the game will be as true to the real GURPS "as a computer version can be. Interplay is paying close attention to the rules and plans on fully supporting the reaction rules (in case anyone takes a Charismatic, Very Beautiful character with Voice and Sex Appeal."[5] On January 13, 1997, Steve Jackson reported on the SJG website that Fallout is rolling along, scheduled for an April release and mentioning that SJ Games received an alpha version for in-house evaluation. He was not aware that a month later, Interplay would release a statement that the license would fall through.[6]

To this day, the precise reasons behind Interplay and Steve Jackson parting ways remain unclear. In a response to PC Gamer, Feargus Urquhart claimed the reason the license was dropped was to avoid red tape and legal wrangling over the game's content, including Vault Boy, the violent introduction, and a small character scale.[7] Similarly, Scott Campbell claimed in the Origins of Fallout blog that Steve Jackson Games was satisfied with everything but the Vault Boy pictures in the character screen and the execution scene in the introduction - but also stated that the game would likely have to be remade in order to retain the license.[8]

However, Sean Punch, GURPS Line Editor at Steve Jackson Games, remarked in an interview with RPG Codex that he is "skeptical of claims that a single cut scene, loading screen, dialog line, etc. caused the parting of ways." He has also stated that the issue cited as the reason for abandoning the license was "that the license didn't word the approval process in a way that was good for either party" and that it was ultimately easier to remake the RPG elements than rewrite the licensing agreement with all the legal wrangling involved.[9] Urquhart did mention the vague approval process, which was a simple statement that Steve Jackson Games "had control over the environment in which the license would be used," in the aforementioned PC Gamer interview, supporting this notion.[7]

Regardless of the reason, Interplay claimed in an official statement that this was a mutually agreed decision. Steve Jackson, in a February 12, 1997, statement released through The Daily Illuminator on the Steve Jackson Games website, stated that he wished he knew why Interplay decided to drop the license, and that no official correspondence to that effect was received by that date. It was a surprise to the Fallout development team as well.[10] In a subsequent meeting with Tim Cain, he made many concessions to save the project and the implementation of GURPS created by the development team. However, the decision was handled by the executives of Interplay and Cain or the Fallout developers had no vote in the matter.[11] On March 14, 1997, Steve Jackson received a phone call confirming that GURPS was being dropped, as the development team was told to remove all licensed content and was too far along creating a replacement (SPECIAL) and redoing art assets for them to return to GURPS. Jackson stated that the caller laughed when he asked to receive a written confirmation, saying that he would "see" if he could send a formal letter confirming this. The unilateral dropping of GURPS after three years of cooperation soured Jackson's relations with Interplay.[12]

While agreeing that the split was a blow to the project, Chris Taylor said that "instead of compromising and making an inferior product -- Fallout will be produced with conviction." The title was changed to its final version, Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game, and the SPECIAL character system was designed. However, the previous name was retained in one instance: in the game files' DATA directory, there is a file called VAULT13.GAM which stores the global variables for the game and retains the game's initial title name.

The word GURPS also sometimes appears as a terminal password in Fallout games since Fallout 3 onward.

GURPS implementation[]


The GURPS character editor screen.

As Fallout is identical to the GURPS game in all but the character system, this section focuses on the implementation of the 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 three six-sided dice. 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.[13]

The game was built using the GURPS Basic Set, 3rd Edition Revised, and further used elements from the GURPS Space, GURPS High Tech, GURPS Ultra Tech, and GURPS Robots sourcebooks.[14] While there is no publicly available playable build of GURPS Fallout, the Fallout demo contains a large number of GURPS assets in its primary DAT archive: Graphics used by the GURPS user interface, illustrations for skills, advantages, and disadvantages, and SKILLDEX.LST, a plain text file that contains a listing of all character screen assets, separated into its distinct categories. When cross-referenced with the above-mentioned books and other materials, like third edition GURPS Lite free source book, Roleplayer #8, Roleplayer #4, Roleplayer #1, it allows for approximating how GURPS would have worked in Fallout.

The most important difference is that all social standing, appearance, and other variables usually listed in GURPS source books separately are instead divided into Advantages or Disadvantages.


  • Strength (ST), a measure of “brawn” or physical muscle.
  • Dexterity (DX), a measure of agility and coordination.
  • Intelligence (IQ), a measure of brainpower, alertness, adaptability and general background experience.
  • Health (HT), a measure of energy and vitality. HT also stands for “hits” – the amount of physical damage a character can take.

An attribute of 1 is the lowest score, with no upper limit. 10 is the average ability and is the default setting. 8 to 12 is considered normal. 16 and above are unusual. Ratings of 20 and more are equal to superhuman ability.


Unlike SPECIAL, GURPS has a lot of skills the player can acquire. Based on the number of assets, the player would have been able to select a total of 56 skills. This was cut down to just 19, a little over a third of what the GURPS version featured.

Indirectly, this also explains why the game seems slanted so heavily towards a particular playstyle, namely, a character with Speech tagged. Conversations which would normally require one of eight separate skills (estimation according to the purposes of various social skills in the game) just require one: Speech. There is no other skill that has such utility and versatility in the game.

Image Name GURPS sourcebook description SPECIAL changes
FOD ACROBAT Acrobatics This is the ability to perform acrobatic and gymnastic stunts, roll, take falls and so on. A separate skill roll is required for each trick you attempt. Recycled into Agility.
FOD ACTING Acting The ability to counterfeit moods, emotions and voices, and to lie convincingly over a period of time. Roll a Quick Contest versus the IQ of each person you wish to fool. Removed from the game.
FOD ADMINST Administration A mental skill. Removed from the game.
FOD AREAKNOW Area Knowledge The skill of familiarity with the people, politics and geography of a given area. Roll for each piece of knowledge required. Removed from the game.
FOD ARMOURY Armory The ability to build and repair weapons and armor at the appropriate tech level. Roll to make, repair or find a problem with a weapon. Recycled into Repair, weapon maintenance folded into respective weapon categories.
FOD BARD Bard The ability to tell stories and to speak extemporaneously. Also called Public Speaking. Roll once per speech or story. Merged into Speech.
FOD BRAWLING Brawling The skill of unscientific, unarmed combat. When you punch or kick, roll vs. Brawling to hit, and add !/10 of your skill (round down) to damage. You may parry bare-handed attacks at @/3 skill. Merged into Unarmed.
FOD CAROUSNG Carousing A skill allowing the player to pick-up rumors in taverns and similar. Merged into Speech.
FOD CHEMSTRY Chemistry Basic chemistry skill. Merged into Science.
FOD CLIMBING Climbing The ability to climb mountains, trees, buildings, and so on. Roll once to start a climb; long climbs may require more rolls. See p. 23. Removed from the game.
FOD COMPOPS Computer Operations The ability to operate a computer. Roll whenever you need to call up data, run a program, or perform any similar task. Merged into Science.
FOD DEMOLIS Demolition The ability to blow things up with explosives. A Demolition roll is necessary whenever you use explosives. Merged into Traps.
FOD DETCTLIE Detect Lies The ability to detect when someone is lying. Merged into Speech.
FOD DIAGNOSE Diagnosis The ability to tell what is wrong with a sick or injured person, or what killed a dead person. Roll once per diagnosis. Merged into Doctor and First Aid.
FOD ELECTRNC Electronics The ability to design and build electronic apparatus. A successful roll will let you identify the purpose of a strange device, diagnose a glitch, perform a repair or design a new system. Merged into Science and Repair.
FOD ELECTROP Electronics Operation The ability to use electronics gear. For normal, everyday use of equipment, no skill roll is required. Rolls should only be required in emergency situations. Merged into Science.
FOD FASTDRAW Fast Drawing The ability to draw items fast. Removed from the game.
FOD FIRSTAID First Aid The ability to patch up an injury in the field. Recycled into First Aid.
FOD FORGERY Forgery The ability to produce a fake passport, banknote or similar document. Roll once per forgery. Removed from the game
FOD GAMBLING Gambling The skill of playing games of chance. A successful Gambling roll can tell you if a game is rigged, identify a fellow gambler in a group of strangers or “estimate the odds” in a tricky situation. Recycled into Gambling.
FOD AXEMACE1 Hand Weapon: Axe/Mace Each class of hand weapons requires a separate physical skill; roll against this when attacking. Most hand weapons may also parry Axe/Mace (P/A): Any short or middle-sized, unbalanced, onehanded

weapon, such as an axe, mace or pick.

Merged into Melee Weapons.
FOD AXEMACE2 Hand Weapon: Axe/Mace 2 The ability to use large melee weapons, like sledgehammers. Merged into Melee Weapons.
FOD KNIFE Hand Weapon: Knife Each class of hand weapons requires a separate physical skill; roll

against this when attacking. Most hand weapons may also parry. Knife (P/E): Any knife, dagger or stiletto.

Merged into Melee Weapons.
FOD KNIFETHR Hand Weapon: Knife Throwing Each class of hand weapons requires a separate physical skill; roll

against this when attacking. Most hand weapons may also parry. Knife Throwing (P/E): Throwing any throwable knife.

Merged into Melee Weapons.
FOD SPEAR Hand Weapon: Spear Each class of hand weapons requires a separate physical skill; roll against this when attacking. Most hand weapons may also parry. Spear (P/A): Any sort of spear, javelin, fixed bayonet, pike or similar long, light, pointed weapon. Merged into Melee Weapons.
FOD SPEARTHR Hand Weapon: Spear Throwing Each class of hand weapons requires a separate physical skill; roll against this when attacking. Most hand weapons may also parry. Spear Throwing (P/A): Turning any sort of spear, javelin, fixed bayonet, pike or similar long, light, pointed weapon into a projectile. Merged into Melee Weapons.
FOD HOLDOUT Holdout The skill of concealing items on your person or the persons of others, or finding such hidden items. Roll once per item. Removed from the game.
FOD DIPLMCY Influence Skills: Diplomacy Negotiation and compromise. Part of Influence skills. Merged into Speech.
FOD FASTALK Influence Skills: Fast-Talk Lying and deceit. Part of Influence skills. Merged into Speech, image recycled for Smooth Talker perk.
FOD INTIMID Influence Skills: Intimidation Threats and violence. Part of Influence skills. Merged into Speech.
FOD SAVOIRFR Influence Skills: Savoir-Faire Manners and etiquette. Mainly useful in high society situations. Part of Influence skills. Merged into Speech.
FOD SEXAPPL Influence Skills: Sex Appeal Vamping and seduction, usually of the opposite sex. Merged into Speech.
FOD JUMP Jumping This is the trained ability to use your strength to its best advantage when you jump. Removed from the game.
FOD KARATE Karate The skill of trained punching and kicking. When you punch or kick, use Karate skill rather than DX to determine the odds of hitting, and add !/5 of your skill level (round down) to damage. You may

also parry attacks (even weapons) at @/3 skill. Your encumbrance must be Light or less to use Karate.

Merged into Unarmed.
FOD LEADRSP Leadership The ability to coordinate a group in a dangerous or stressful situation. Roll to lead NPCs into a dangerous situation. Removed from the game
FOD LOCKPICK Lockpicking This is the ability to open locks without the key or combination. Each attempt to open a lock requires one minute and a skill roll; cracking a safe may take considerably longer! Recycled into Lockpick.
FOD MECHANIC Mechanic The ability to diagnose and fix ordinary mechanical problems in machines of your TL. Roll once per diagnosis or repair. Merged into Repair.
FOD MERCHANT Merchant The ability to act as a “trader,” buying and selling merchandise. A successful skill roll lets you judge the value of common goods, locate markets and so on. Recycled into Barter.
FOD BEAMPIST Missile Weapon: Beam Weapons The ability to use one handed energy weapons. Four subtypes were included in the game. Recycled into Energy Weapons.
FOD GUNNER Missile Weapon: Gunner The ability to use large conventional weapons. Three subtypes according to the number of calls to the Vault Boy image. Recycled into Big Guns and Small Guns.
FOD GUNPISTL Missile Weapon: Guns The ability to use pistols and SMGs. Four subtypes according to the number of calls to the Vault Boy image. Recycled into Small Guns.
FOD NATURAL Naturalist A general knowledge of animals and plants, and of nature in its various forms. Roll to identify plants, animals and so on. Merged into Outdoorsman.
FOD PHYSICIN Physician The general professional ability to aid the sick, prescribe drugs and care, etc. This is the skill to use if the GM requires a single roll to test general medical competence or knowledge. Merged into Doctor.
FOD PIKPOCKT Pickpocket The ability to steal a small object (purse, knife, etc.) from someone’s person. Roll once per theft; if the target is alert, treat this as a Quick Contest vs. the target’s IQ. Recycled into Steal.
FOD POISONS Poisons The ability to make poisons. Removed from the game
FOD PROSPECT Prospector The ability to uncover natural deposits of valuable minerals. Merged into Outdoorsman.
FOD RESEARCH Research General skill at library or electronic research. A successful Research roll in an appropriate place of research will let you find a useful piece of data, if that information is to be found. Merged into Science.
FOD RUNNING Running This skill is based on HT, not DX. It represents training in sprints and long-distance running. If you have studied this skill, divide your skill level by 8 (don’t round down) and add the result to your Speed for the purpose of calculating your Move score (this affects land movement only). Removed from the game
FOD SLYTHAND Sleight of Hand The ability to perform sleight of hand tricks. Removed from the game
FOD SPEDLOAD Speed-Load Enables rapid reloading of the currently carried weapon. Recycled into a perk
FOD STEALTH Stealth The ability to hide and to move silently. Roll a Quick Contest of Skills between your Stealth and the Hearing roll of anyone you’re trying to hide from. Recycled into Sneak.
FOD SURVIVAL Survival Ability to “live off the land,” find food and water, avoid hazards, build shelter, etc. A different Survival skill is required for each type of terrain. Roll once per day in a wilderness situation. There were three subtypes of this skill. Merged into Outdoorsman.
FOD TACTICS Tactics The ability to outguess the enemy when the fight is man-to-man or in small groups. A successful Tactics roll during a battle will sometimes (GM’s discretion) allow you information about immediate enemy plans. Removed from the game
FOD THROWING Throwing The ability to throw whatever you can pick up. It helps both accuracy (roll against Throwing skill to throw anything you can lift) and distance. Recycled into Throwing.
FOD TRACKING Tracking The ability to follow a man or animal by its tracks. Make one Tracking roll to pick up the trail, and one further roll for every 5 minutes of travel. Merged into Outdoorsman.
FOD TRAPS Traps The skill of building and avoiding traps and detection devices. Roll to build, detect, disarm or reset a trap. Recycled into Traps.

Advantages and Disadvantages[]

These act like traits, in that they help define the character. Advantages are explicitly positive, while disadvantages quite the opposite. Most were merged into traits or recycled into perks, if not verbatim, then the underlying principles.


Image Name GURPS sourcebook description SPECIAL changes
FOD HEARING Acute Hearing You have better-than-average senses. Acute Hearing gives you a bonus to your IQ whenever you must roll to hear something, or when the GM rolls for you. Each acute sense is a separate advantage, and costs 2 points for every +1 bonus to your roll. E.g., Acute Hearing +6 costs 12 points. Removed from the game
FOD TASTESML Acute Taste/Smell You have better-than-average senses. Acute Taste/Smell gives you a bonus when rolling to notice a taste or smell. Acute Vision gives you a bonus when rolling to see something. Removed from the game
FOD VISION Acute Vision You have better-than-average senses. Acute Vision gives you a bonus when rolling to see something. Each acute sense is a separate advantage. Image used for Awareness.
FOD ALERTNES Alertness A general bonus you get on any sense roll (p. 24), or when the GM rolls against your IQ to see if you notice something. This advantage can be combined with any or all of the acute senses. Image used for Perception, general principle used for Awareness.
FOD AMDIDEXT Ambidexterity You can use both hands with equal skill. You do not suffer the -4 DX penalty for using an “off hand” like most people do, and can fight (or act) with either hand (though not necessarily both at once). Should some accident befall one of your arms or hands, assume it is the left one. Removed, image recycled for Fast Shot.
FOD CHARISMA Charisma This is the natural ability to impress and lead others. Anyone can acquire a semblance of charisma by good looks, good manners and intelligence – but real charisma works independently of these things, and you either have it or you don’t. It affects any reaction roll made by any intelligent creature. Cost: 5 points for each +1 reaction bonus Remade into Charisma.
FOD CMBTRFLX Combat Reflexes You have extraordinary reactions and are very rarely surprised for more than a moment. You get a +1 to any Active Defense in combat. You never “freeze up” in a surprise situation, and you a +6 on any IQ roll to wake up or to recover from surprise or a mental “stun”. Recycled into generic combat perks.
FOD COMNSENS Common Sense Any time you start to do something that the GM feels is STUPID, he rolls against your IQ. A successful roll means he must warn you, “Hadn’t you better think about that?” This advantage allows an impulsive player to take the part of a thoughtful character. Removed from the game
FOD DANGRSNS Danger Sense You can’t depend on it, but sometimes you get this prickly feeling right at the back of your neck, and you know something’s wrong . . . If you have Danger Sense, the GM rolls once against your IQ,

secretly, in any situation involving an ambush, impending disaster, or similar hazard. A successful roll means you get a warning that something’s wrong. A roll of 3 or 4 means you get a little detail as to the nature of the danger.

Recycled into generic combat perks.
FOD EIDETIC Eideric Memory The character is blessed with a perfect memory and recall ability. Removed from the game
FOD EMPATHY Empathy You have a “feeling” for people. When you first meet someone, or when you are reunited after an absence, you may request the GM to roll against your IQ. He will then tell you what you “feel” about that person. (A failed roll means the GM may lie to you.) This talent, when it works, is excellent for spotting imposters, ghostly possession, and the like, and determining the true loyalties of NPCs. You can also use it to determine whether someone is lying . . . not what the truth really is, but just whether they are being honest with you. Recycled as the Empathy perk, image reused for Animal Friend.
FOD HANDSOME Handsome You could enter beauty contests! +2 on reaction rolls made by the same sex; +4 on reaction rolls made by the opposite sex – as long as the races are the same or similar. Removed from the game
FOD HIGHPAIN High Pain Threshold You are as susceptible to injury as anyone else, but you don’t feel it as much. If you are hurt in combat, you are not stunned and do not have a “shock” penalty on your next turn. (Exception: a head blow can still stun you.) If you are tortured physically, you are at a +3 to resist. The GM may let you roll at +3 to ignore pain in other situations. Image recycled for damage resistance.
FOD INTUITIN Intuition A good sense of intuition. Removed from the game
FOD LITERACY Literacy The GM decides upon the norm for literacy in his campaign: Are most people literate, semi-literate or illiterate? Literacy is the norm in most high-tech settings, semi-literacy is usual in Renaissance and post-holocaust settings, and illiteracy is generally the default in lowtech and fantasy settings. Skip this section entirely in settings where there are no written languages! Image used for Intelligence.
FOD LUCK Lucky Some people are just born lucky. Once per hour of play, you may reroll a single bad die roll twice (this must be the last roll you made) and take the best of the three rolls! If the GM is rolling (e.g., to see whether a certain NPC arrives, or to see if you notice something), you may tell him you are using your luck, and he must roll three times and give you the best result. Folded into Luck as an attribute. Image unused.
FOD NIGHTVIZ Night Vision Your eyes adapt rapidly to the darkness. You cannot see in total dark – but if you have any light at all, you can see fairly well. Whenever the GM exacts a penalty because of darkness, except for total darkness, this penalty does not apply to you. Recycled into the Night Vision perk.
FOD PVISION Peripheral Vision The character has excellent peripheral vision. Removed from the game
FOD RAPDHEAL Rapid Healing This advantage is only available if your basic HT is 10 or above. You recover rapidly from all kinds of wounds. Whenever you roll to recover lost HT, or when you roll to see if you can get over a crippling injury, add 5 to your effective HT. This ability does not help you get over stunning or similar incapacities. Image recycled for Healing Rate.
FOD STRGWILL Strong Will You have much more “willpower” than the average person. Your level of Will is added to your IQ when you make a Will roll (p. 24) for any reason, including any attempt to resist distraction, intimidation, seduction, torture, hypnosis or mystical attempts to take over your mind. However, this advantage does not help against combat shock and the like. In questionable cases, the GM’s ruling is law. Removed from the game.
FOD TUFNESS Toughness Your skin and flesh are tougher than the average human’s. Your body itself has a “Damage Resistance” (DR) score. This DR is treated just like the DR from armor: you subtract it from the damage done by any blow before you multiply the damage done by a cutting or impaling weapon. Recycled into the Toughness perk.
FOD VOICE Voice You have a naturally clear, resonant and attractive voice. You get a permanent +2 bonus on all the following skills: Bard, Diplomacy, Politician, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal and Singing. You also get a +2 on any reaction roll made by someone who can hear your voice Image recycled for the Speaker perk.


Image Name GURPS sourcebook description SPECIAL changes
FOD BADBRETH Bad Breath You behave, some or all of the time, in a fashion repugnant to others. Negatively affects reaction rolls. Removed from the game
FOD BADTEMPR Bad Temper You are not in full control of your emotions. In any stressful situation, you must make a Will roll. A failed roll means you lose your temper, and must insult, attack or otherwise act against the cause of the stress. Removed from the game
FOD BERSERK Berserker You tend to lose control of yourself under stress, making frenzied attacks against whoever or whatever you see as the cause of the trouble. Any time you take more than 3 hits in one turn, you must roll vs. IQ. A failed roll means you go berserk. Other conditions of extreme stress (GM's option) may also require an IQ roll to avoid berserking. A berserker may deliberately go berserk by taking the Concentrate maneuver and making a successful IQ roll.

While berserk, you must make All-Out Attacks each turn a foe is in range, and Move as close as possible each turn no foe is in range. While berserk, you cannot be stunned, and injuries cause no penalty to your Move score or attack rolls. When your HT falls below zero, make a HT roll each turn; you do not fall until your body is totally destroyed (-10 × HT) or a roll is failed. You then fall unconscious – or, if your HT is fully negative (-1 × HT), dead! If you snap out of the berserk state, all your wounds immediately affect you, but no further HT rolls are necessary; if your HT is below 0, you simply collapse.

Removed, image reused for the kill counter.
FOD BLODLUST Bloodlust A character with this disadvantage suffers from a strong desire to see his foes dead. He must go for killing blows in a fight, put in an extra shot to make sure of a downed foe, choose violent and messy options when stealth might be better, etc. An IQ roll is necessary to accept a surrender, or even take a prisoner under orders. And a player who always tries to make this IQ roll may be judged guilty of bad roleplaying! Image recycled for the Berserker reputation.
FOD CODEHONR Code of Honor You take pride in a set of principles which you follow at all times. Codes of honor differ, but all require (by their own standards) “brave” and “honorable” behavior. A Code of Honor may also be called “pride,” “machismo” or “face.” Under any name, it is the willingness to risk death rather than be thought dishonorable . . . whatever that means. Only one who truly follows the code may get points for it as a disadvantage. A Code of Honor is a disadvantage because it will often require dangerous (if not reckless) behavior. Furthermore, an honorable person can often be forced into unfair situations, because his foes know he is honorable Removed from the game
FOD COLORBLD Colorblindness The player character is unable to see any colors, making any color-related tasks difficult. Removed from the game
FOD CMBTPAR Combat Paralysis This is the opposite of Combat Reflexes; you tend to freeze up in a combat situation. It's not worth more as a disadvantage, simply because most people who have it find out at an early age . . . and then steer away from careers in which they might face danger. This is not the same as cowardice; you don't have to roleplay fear. Your mind may be brave, but your body betrays you. In any situation in which personal harm seems imminent, roll against your HT. You do not roll until the instant in which you first need to fight, run, pull the trigger, etc. A successful roll means you can act normally. A failed roll means you are frozen, as though you'd been taken by surprise (see p. B106). You must roll every turn, at +1 to your effective HT each turn, to break the freeze. A quick slap from a friend will also give +1 to your cumulative chance of coming out of it. Once you unfreeze, you will not freeze again until the fight is over or you reach safety. Then you will again be susceptible to freezing, the next time danger threatens. Removed from the game
FOD LYING Compulsive Lying The opposite of Truthfulness, the Compulsive Lying disadvantage forces the character to lie constantly, for no reason other than the joy of telling the tale. A compulsive liar delights in inventing stories about his deeds, lineage, wealth – whatever seems as though it might impress his audience. Even when exposed as a liar, the character will cling tenaciously to his stories, calling his accuser a liar and a scoundrel. In order to tell the pure, unvarnished truth, a compulsive liar must roll against IQ-4. A charitable GM might allow a liar to tell a slightly-fractured version of the truth if he only narrowly failed this roll. When a PC liar makes a roll to tell the truth to his fellow party members, he should roll out of sight of the other players. Thus, they can never be sure that they are getting accurate information from their comrade. Removed from the game
FOD DLUSION Delusions Unknown effect, but likely modified how the character would act. Removed from the game
FOD NONOSE Dulled Nose The player character cannot effectively smell anything. Removed from the game
FOD GULLIBLE Gullibility There's one born every minute, and you're it. A gullible person naturally believes everything he hears; he'll swallow even the most ridiculous fish-story, if it's told with any conviction. In order to not believe a lie – or an improbable truth, for that matter – a gullible character must make a roll against IQ, modified by the plausibility of the story. A lie well-told, or involving something the character has no familiarity with – My father is the chief of police in this town, and he won't stand for this! – calls for a -6 penalty to the IQ roll. A lie concerning a topic the gullible character is familiar with – Didn't you know they bred ducks in your village, Torg? – calls for a -3 to the roll; and even a totally outlandish tale – Of course the Eskimos are descended from Spanish conquistadors; everyone knows that – will be believed if the character fails a roll against unmodified IQ. Furthermore, a gullible character suffers a -3 penalty on any Merchant skill roll, or in any situation in which his credulity might be exploited. A gullible person can never learn the Detect Lies skill. Removed from the game
FOD HARDHEAR Hard of Hearing You are not deaf, but you have some hearing loss. You are at -4 to IQ on any Hearing roll (so your roll is IQ-4, rather than IQ). You are at -4 to your language skill roll for any situation where you must understand someone (if you are the one talking, this disadvantage doesn’t affect you) Removed from the game
FOD HONESTY Honesty You MUST obey the law, and do your best to get others to do so as well. You are compulsive about it; this is essentially another type of Code of Honor. This is a disadvantage, because it will often limit your options! Faced with unreasonable laws, you must roll against IQ to see the “need” to break them, and against Will to avoid turning yourself in afterward! If you ever behave dishonestly, the GM may penalize you for bad roleplaying. You are allowed to lie if it does not involve breaking the law. Truthfulness is a separate disadvantage. Removed from the game
FOD LECHRUS Lecherousness The player has lecherous tendencies, impacting the Reaction of others. Removed from the game
FOD LOWPAIN Low Pain Threshold You are extremely susceptible to pain of all kinds. Double the shock effect of any injury – e.g., if you take 3 points of damage, DX is at -6 on your next turn. You always roll at -4 to resist physical torture. Whenever you take a wound that does more than 1 hit of damage, you must roll vs. IQ to avoid crying out (possibly giving away your presence). Barbarians, soldiers, thugs, etc., will react to you at -1 if they know you have this disadvantage. Image recycled for Hit Points
FOD PIKNOSE Nose Picking You behave, some or all of the time, in a fashion repugnant to others. Negatively affects reaction rolls. Removed from the game
FOD ONEEYE One Eye You have only one good eye; you may wear a glass eye, or cover the missing eye with a patch. You suffer a -1 DX penalty on combat and anything involving hand-eye coordination, and a -3 to use missile weapons, throw objects or drive any vehicle faster than a horse and buggy. You will also suffer a -1 on any reaction roll except with utterly alien creatures. Exception: If you have Charisma, or are Handsome or Very Handsome, the patch just looks romantic, and does not affect reaction rolls. Image recycled for crippled eyes.
FOD OVERWEIT Overweight You are unusually obese for your race. Overweight: Determine weight normally for ST, and then increase it by 30%. Being overweight carries a reaction penalty of -1 among health-conscious societies and in areas where food is in especially short supply Removed from the game
FOD PACIFICM Pacifism You are opposed to violence. There are two different forms:

Self-defense only: You will only fight to defend yourself or those in your care, using only as much force as may be necessary (no preemptive strikes allowed!). You must do your best to discourage others from starting fights.

Cannot kill: You may fight freely, and even start a fight, but you may never do anything that seems likely to kill another. This includes abandoning a wounded foe to die. You must do your best to keep your companions from killing, too. If you kill someone (or feel responsible for a death), you immediately suffer a nervous breakdown. Roll 3 dice and be totally morose and useless (roleplay it!) for that many days. During this time, you must make a Will roll to offer any sort of violence toward anyone, for any reason

Recycled into the Good Natured trait.
FOD PHOBIA Phobias A “phobia” is a fear of a specific item, creature, or circumstance. Many fears are reasonable, but a phobia is an unreasonable, unreasoning, morbid fear. The more common an object or situation, the

greater the point value of a fear of it. If you have a phobia, you may temporarily master it by making a successful Will roll . . . but the fear persists. Even if you master a phobia, you will be at -2 IQ and -2 DX while the cause of your fear is present, and you must roll again every ten minutes to see if the fear overcomes you. If you fail a Will roll to overcome a phobia, you will cringe, flee, panic or otherwise react in a manner that precludes sensible action.

Removed from the game. Owing to the number of calls to it, there were three specific phobias in the game.
FOD SENSDUTY Sense of Duty You suffer from a self-imposed feeling of duty. If you feel a sense of duty toward someone, you will never betray them, abandon them when they’re in trouble, or even let them suffer or go hungry if you can help. If you are known to have a sense of duty, others will react to you at a +2 to trust you in a dangerous situation. If you have a sense of duty, and go against it by acting against the interests of those you are supposed to feel duty toward, the GM will penalize you for bad roleplaying. Removed from the game
FOD SKINNY Skinny You are notably underweight. After figuring your height, take “average” weight for that height and cut it by !/3. You may not take Handsome or Very Handsome appearance, and your HT may not be more than 14. Normal clothes and armor will not fit you, and you will be at -2 to Disguise, or to Shadowing if you are trying to follow someone in a crowd. Removed from the game
FOD STUDDER Stuttering The character stutters, impacting the reaction of others. Removed from the game
FOD TRUTHFUL Truthfulness You hate to tell a lie – or you are just very bad at it. To keep silent about an uncomfortable truth (lying by omission), you must make your Will roll. To actually tell a falsehood, you must make your Will roll at a -5 penalty! A failed roll means you blurt out the truth, or stumble so much that your lie is obvious Removed from the game
FOD UGLY Ugly Not so bad - maybe only stringy hair and snaggle teeth. -2 on reaction rolls, except by totally alien creatures or by people who cannot see him or her. Removed from the game
FOD BADLUCK Unluckiness The character has naturally bad luck. Folded into Luck.
FOD WEAKWILL Weak Will You are easily persuaded, frightened, bullied, coerced, tempted and so on. For every level taken, your IQ is effectively reduced by 1 whenever you make a Will roll, including attempts to resist distraction, seduction, torture, mind control and so on. Weak Will also affects all attempts to master phobias and avoid giving in to mental problems. Removed from the game



Quirks are additional elements that define a character in GURPS. While the game files contain an image referring to them explicitly, it is unknown if they would be implemented, given that certain quirks, like Delusions, have been folded into disadvantages.

Gameplay differences[]

Fo1 Barterman

Talking with Barterman. Note the triangle menu, different SkillDex and action buttons, plus a single item field.

While the general gameplay between the games remains identical, there are some differences. For starters, the game still used the triangle menu for deciding on the type of interaction the player wanted to have with the target object or character.

Another difference is that there was a single item field divided into two halves, representing the player's hands. This indicates that it was, at one time, possible to fire two single handed weapons (hence the Ambidexterity advantage). Unlike the final product, where the player has two active item slots to use and allowed to freely switch between them, in the GURPS version the player would have to switch weapons by entering the inventory.

The SkillDex was completely different and allowed the player to view all of the skills, advantages, and disadvantages in a separate window, apparently assign them to six different quick use slots, and access the character sheet (it was not accessible from the main interface bar).

Interestingly, the screens also indicate that the player would be able to directly select the skill to use in a given setting, as well as allow the game to choose it for them (the Auto setting).


Fo1PP Brahmin

Shooting brahmin. Note the single item field representing the right and the left hands.

Combat was majorly different, due to the use of Fatigue Points (FT) on top of Hit Points, as well as including disadvantages that can severely cripple the character in combat - including Combat Paralysis.

There were also more options for calling shots, including aiming for feet and hands, the neck, and even the brain. The groin was referred to as vitals. Another interesting feature is that the game included many of the combat maneuvers that make GURPS famous (and slow to play), including Step & Attack, Step & Ready, Aim, Move, and so on and so forth. These were accessible through a button now used to access the SkillDex.

Damage and armor[]


The inventory screen, showing the Passive Defense (PD), Damage Resistance (DR), and damage dice on the Desert Eagle.

Damage and armor were also worked differently than in the SPECIAL version that was ultimately released:

  • Attackers made an attack roll against the target's Passive Defense roll (and/or any All Out Defense actions taken in prior round, likely tied to the Dodge rating), subtracting the modifier from the result to determine success.
  • If successful, the attack deals damage to the target. The damage is determined by the number of d6 dice used by the weapon (eg. the Magnum dealt 3d6 damage, while the Colt Rifle dealt 7d6 damage; this value would mean it was on par with the 7.62x51mm FN FAL or G3 from GURPS High Tech, rather than the 5.56x45mm M16A1).
  • The raw damage amount is reduced by the Damage Resistance rating of the armor worn (and conferred by any quirks or skills).

Unarmored characters had a PD and DR of 0, which meant that armor played a very important role. The leather armor granted a PD of 2 and DR of 7. As a result:

  • A character wearing nothing could receive from 3 to 18 points of damage if attacked with a Magnum and from 7 to 42 damage if attacked with a Colt Rifle.
  • The situation is different if they are wearing leather armor. Its DR of 7 means seven points of damage are removed from the raw damage dealt. As such, a Magnum can only deal from 1 to 11 damage and the Colt Rifle from 1 to 35 (which is still significant, but more survivable.
    • The Magnum also has a significant dead zone, as damage from 3 to 7 is fully stopped by the armor (bullets are considered to deal crushing damage, which can be completely nullified) - which means there's a 31.25% chance to deal zero damage after hitting.
    • The dead zone is smaller for the Colt Rifle, representing just a 3% chance for no damage, only on the lowest possible roll.

The same screenshot also displays the two different .44 Magnum ammunition types, for JHP and FMJ. Assuming that the modifiers were simply copied from GURPS to SPECIAL without change:

  • The FMJ ammo type deals the base 3d6 damage, but target DR is reduced by -20%. If rounded up, as per the GURPS High-Tech rules, the effective DR of the leather armor is 6, so the FMJ ammunition type deals marginally different damage, 2 to 12, with a 25% chance to deal zero damage. Against an unarmored target, no modifiers are applied.
  • The JHP ammo type deals double damage with a +20% modifier, rounded up, giving 9 DR. As such, the Magnum can theoretically now only deal 1 to 9 damage, with a 37.5% chance to deal zero damage. However, the damage modifier is now applied to this value - called penetrating damage in GURPS - giving a much stronger performance: 2 to 18 damage. Without any armor, the damage is a respectable 6 to 36.

With the Colt Rifle (7d6 damage), the damage changes more:

  • The JHP type increases target DR by 35%, giving an effective DR of 10. As such, the Colt Rifle can deal from 1 to 32 damage. However, the penetrating damage is then doubled, giving 2 to 64 damage.
  • The AP type reduces target DR by 35%, giving an effective DR of 5. The Colt Rifle can then deal between 2 and 37 damage. However, this is then halved by the damage modifier, giving a damage range from 1 to 18.

The crucial difference is the application of damage modifiers after DR is applied, but not before. While it might seem that non-armor piercing damage types are still superior, this is only true in this example (leather armor with a DR 7 would make it comparable to a midrange kevlar armor; in 3e, light kevlar is DR 4, while heavy DR 12). While no DR ratings are available for other armor types, the 3e sourcebook and supplements mentioned by Interplay include comparable armor:

  • Metal armor could be considered an equivalent of TL7 Heavy Plate (GURPS High Tech), with a DR 12.
    • Magnum would deal 3-8 damage with FMJ ammo and a 50% chance to deal zero damage - or 1-7 damage with JHP ammo with a 75% chance to deal zero damage.
    • Colt Rifle would deal 1-52 damage with JHP ammo and a 25% chance to deal zero damage - or 1-17 damage with AP ammo, with a 7% chance for zero damage.
  • Combat armor, if equivalent to Medium Body Armor (GURPS Ultra-Tech) could have 30 DR.
    • The Magnum is ineffective unless a critical hit is rolled.
    • The Colt Rifle has a 95% chance to deal zero damage if loaded with JHP ammo, otherwise dealing 1-3 damage. With AP ammo, it has a much lower 40% chance to deal zero damage, and then can deal from 1 to 11 damage.

In summary, the different ammunition types were likely implemented to make their selection a strategic choice depending on the weapon's raw damage output and the armor worn by foes, with hollow points excelling against unarmored or poorly armored foes and armor piercing rounds necessary to deal with high level enemies.

When SPECIAL supplanted GURPS, the original arithmetic was replaced with a new calculation that appears to have been intended to emulate the original functionality. However, in the first game the modifiers didn't function at all due to a bug in the executable.

In the second, where they were implemented properly, the ammo modifiers carried over from Fallout have rendered AP ammo obsolete and JHP/FMJ types strictly superior: The calculation applied the damage modifier first and Damage Resistance second. Furthermore, Damage Threshold was introduced - likely to simulate the DR calculation from GURPS - but applied between the damage modifier and damage resistance. As a result, all armor piercing ammo was rendered largely ineffective against armor.

See also[]


Early design[]

These two previously unreleased screenshots from the GURPS version of the game were provided in 2007 courtesy of Chris Taylor, as part of the 10th anniversary celebration for Fallout. They were created when Scott Campbell was still in charge of the design.


User interface[]

The following screenshots come from the official press pack and demonstrate the GURPS interface.


Miscellaneous images[]


External links[]


  1. No Mutants Allowed, The Origins of Fallout by R. Scott Campbell, Part 1, page 2
  2. No Mutants Allowed, The Origins of Fallout by R. Scott Campbell, Part 1, page 3
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Origins of Fallout
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 No Mutants Allowed, The Origins of Fallout by R. Scott Campbell, Part 1, page 5
  5. The Daily Illuminator: "June 11, 1996
    GURPS Fallout Update!
    We've got some good news - we've just received more screen shots of GURPS Fallout, the first GURPS computer role-playing game from Interplay Productions.
    Fallout is planned for Windows 95 release, with a DOS version very likely. A Macintosh version is expected from Macplay.
    "How true to the real GURPS will Fallout be?" you might ask. Very close. As close as a computer version can be. Interplay is paying close attention to the rules and plans on fully supporting the reaction rules (in case anyone takes a Charismatic, Very Beautiful character with Voice and Sex Appeal.)
    For more info, check out the GURPS Fallout FAQ."
  6. The Daily Illuminator: "January 13, 1997
    GURPS Fallout Progress Report
    Interplay's GURPS Fallout computer game is rolling along - it's scheduled for an April release. Here's an article about it, and an interview with Tim Cain, the producer.
    SJ Games has an alpha version in house for evaluation - we'll tell you more soon."
  7. 7.0 7.1 PC Gamer issue 04/1998
  8. No Mutants Allowed, The Origins of Fallout by R. Scott Campbell, Part 1, page 6: "So, Leonard and Jason had just completed the opening movie for the game. It was a slow pan-out from an old 50's style black and white television showing quick documentary style scenes that silently gave the player an idea of the dystopian future they were about to step into. In one of these quick scenes, two soldiers in power-armor shoot a kneeling and unarmed man in the back of the head, and then gleefully wave to the camera. It was a tiny scene, but one that let you know that you were about to play a violent game. We all liked the movie and, just to keep Steve Jackson Games in the loop, a copy was sent to them.
    And then it happened. The response came back "Unapproved". The reason? They stated that "The movie was too violent".
    Whaaaaa? Too Violent!? Haven't they been looking at the game we'd been making!? There was blood and violence all over the place! We had Head Of Gore TechnologyTM! You could split people in two with a chainsaw for chrissake!
    Apparently they hadn't been looking at the game we'd been making. All of that "The more violence the better" stuff was long forgotten. With that rejection it became apparent the game would need dramatic changes to get approval from our IP holder.
    A decision had to be made: Keep GURPS, abandoning our creative freedom and yielding to the mercurial whims of the licensor - or throw out all of the mechanics and interface we made functional in the game and start over.
    And thus, the SPECIAL System was born, and both problems, IP rights and overly complex game system, were removed in one stroke.
    The SPECIAL system was almost identical to the "GURPS-Lite" system that we had been implementing, so in the end, what could have been a big setback was in actuality an enormous boon."
  9. RPGcodex, Sean Punch interview: "Fallout 1 was initially supposed to utilize GURPS for its rule system, but in the end it did not. The only information we have been able to find on the subject is that SJ Games were concerned about the amount of blood and gore in the game. Can you tell us more about why a GURPS Fallout failed to happen?
    SP: Ultimately, the issue was that the license didn't word the approval process in a way that was good for either party, and it was simply easier to design a new RPG engine than to redo the licensing agreement and all of the approvals. That might sound extreme, but the RPG elements of a CRPG are minor next to the storyboards, level designs, visuals, audio, and all that other good stuff. Whether the specific concern that led to the discovery of the approval issue was somebody at SJ Games disliking blood and gore, I cannot say -- I did not then and do not now handle licensing, and I never saw so much as a screenshot at the time. I can say that geeky guys at my own pay grade on both sides regretted seeing the plug pulled, but apparently my bosses and their bosses viewed that as the right move for financial reasons. To this day, I remain skeptical of claims that a single cut scene, loading screen, dialog line, etc. caused the parting of ways."
  10. The Daily Illuminator: "February 12, 1997
    Rumor Control about Interplay
    Executive Summary: We wish we knew.
    I had problems with a couple of features of the otherwise very impressive alpha version of GURPS Fallout. As I corresponded with Interplay staff about this, I got handed up the ladder but their responses remained puzzling -- and that is the most detail I'm going to give for now.
    Just before leaving for Europe last week, I got a call from a reporter asking me to comment on the Interplay decision to drop GURPS. I told him this was the first I'd heard of it. Calling Interplay, and talking with the last man I'd corresponded with, I got first "We haven't decided that, where'd you hear it?," then "Well, we have been talking about it and somebody must have gotten the idea it was decided," and finally "Yes, we have decided to drop it, so sorry."
    The statement on the Interplay web site, to the effect that this was a mutual decision of SJ Games and Interplay, is not true. Scott Haring tells me that no written correspondence from Interplay has YET been received at our office. We are not clear what their proposal to finish and release the game without the license entails, for us or for the game, and have absolutely not agreed to it.
    I can't imagine how Interplay could take three years working on a GURPS. computer game, and then be able to create and install a completely dissimilar game engine in a few months. Nor have I read (or heard) any explanation of how they might plan to do that. So "no comment" on that for now, too.
    I've been invited to meet with Brian Fargo, who I understand owns Interplay, when I'm in LA in a few days. I'll be very interested to see what he has to say. I hope we will be able to announce that this was a tempest in a teacup."
  11. The Daily Illuminator: "Yes, I visited Interplay while I was on the West Coast. Marathon six-hour negotiating session with the programmer who is now in charge of the FALLOUT project. Clearly all the original problems could be resolved; I made a lot of concessions because I want to save the project. The GURPS implementation they've created is *worth* saving. But their decision won't be made by the programmers. All I can say is "wait and see."
  12. The Daily Illuminator: "March 14, 1997
    Interplay Update
    I just got a phone call from my contact at Interplay, telling me that they were indeed dropping the GURPS system from the project which has been going forward as GURPS Fallout since 1994. Sigh.
    The stated reason was that they were "too far along" with the process of deGURPSizing the game. I asked if I could get any of this in writing. He laughed. But he said he'd talk with others there and "see" if he could send me a letter.
    He also stated that Interplay was still interested in starting a new game using the GURPS system, and I replied that I would look at a proposal. But the saying "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" comes to mind.
    I'll be at the Computer Game Developers Conference this April, and it looks like I'll have a lot to talk about with the companies represented there."
  14. Interplay GURPS FAQ: "What editions and sourcebooks is Interplay using for Fallout?
    The core rules are using the GURPS Basic Set, 3rd Edition Revised. Useful sourcebooks have been: GURPS Space, High Tech, Ultra Tech and Robots."