I first played the game Fallout when it was released, and I spent a lot of time with the various iterations of that franchise, missing only New Vegas. I love the nods given to the earlier media, such as the leather armor (the “road leathers” in FO4) referencing the costume Mel Gibson wore in the Mad Max movies, particularly The Road Warrior. I like the various factions and the description of the world after the disastrous war of 2077.
But these were not my gateway into the world after civilization.
In 1980 or so, I got the box set for Gamma World. I had been playing D&D for just long enough to be eager to devour each issue of Dragon when it got to my local library, and this new game was advertised, and something inside me needed the game. Some of my most memorable scenes were from that game. It still strongly influences me in my gaming choices. Unconsciously, I weigh every game I mean to get into against it. Every setting is measured against the world as imagined by its authors (as then interpreted by my 12 year old understanding of it).
So then what else gets there for me. Well, I missed out on the hype train around the recent edition of Gamma World as seen through the D&D4 lens, so I didn’t get it and really haven’t looked at it more. Shadowrun was also a post-apoc I could and did enjoy. The recent slou of games in the OSR tradition based to some degree or another on GW are really cool, and I have enjoyed as many as I have looked at. The upcoming nod from the guys behind Dungeon Crawl Classic looks really nifty. Also the background behind Wil Wheaton’s “Ashes of Volcana” setting for the Fantasy AGE game is pretty cool, though for me it misses some essentials.
The elements that make a post-toasty (term from THuD) cool for me include
- It happened here- to some degree or another it is this world that has passed away.
- Psionics or magic is a thing
- Mutations can be both good and bad, but the chaos of the apocalypse leaves no two beings too similar.
- The original critter needn’t be a human. Best if it is possible to be any sort of animal, robot or maybe even a plant.
- The world has been destroyed, but there is hope still in our protagonists’ hearts. -I like a tale of rebuilding, not one of further drift into death.
I do not think there is any way the current iterations of the Fallout franchise can be anything like a real role playing experience as created by folks around a table. I do not see how it could be possible for the computer based games to allow for the amazing variety of possible characters a real tabletop game can provide, nor can it provide for the level of choice in the actions of the player characters.