I lifted the book up to my face and blew a layer of dust off its surface. I felt like some kind of fictionalized archeologist. It occurred to me, briefly, that I should have replaced the book with something of equal weight, but I quickly dismissed the thought. I found a secluded place and began to pore over its content.
I knew that the only way I was going to be able to give a fair assessment was to actually build and run a campaign. Part of the reason why so much dust was allowed to pile on top of the Exodus Survivor’s Guide in the first place was because of my campaign writer’s block. Every idea or story that came to me just seemed better suited to Dungeons and Dragons, or something else less post-apocalyptic. Just lately, I had begun to piece together something that I could tolerate, and finally got myself motivated again. It should be mentioned that I never had any interest in the Exodus campaign setting. What I was looking for was a Fallout RPG, and considering that this was just that (prior to a legal objection from Bethesda), I wasn’t about to settle for anything less. That all being said, I haven’t bothered to learn the Exodus setting apart from trying to figure out what everything was when it was still Fallout RPG. So while I try to create something memorable for my players, let’s look a little more closely at what makes Exodus, Exodus.
First things first, Exodus is made as a supplement to either Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 or D20 Modern/Future/etc. So if you’re going to run/play this, you should at least have a player’s handbook, monster manual, and dungeon master’s guide (D&D 3.5) or the appropriate D20 manual. This was one of the biggest reasons I decided to try Exodus in the first place, not having to learn a new rule set.
Character creation. In general, it’s the first step in just about every role playing game out there. It spans everything from your character’s attributes, appearance, morals, and anything else that makes them unique and exciting. The rules for this process are rarely the same from game to game, and Exodus is really not much of an exception. Borrowing mostly from the D20 system, Exodus’ character creation chapter is a full 37 pages, which is actually rather impressive considering that there are no real classes in this section (or the game at all!). Here’s basically what you’re looking at:
· Character Classes
· Talent Trees
· Vital Statistics
Races stay very true to the Fallout world, with “Humans”, “Ghüls”, and “Trans-Genetic Mutants”. Each race has its own interesting features, such as limitless versatility, radiation resistance, or great strength, among other things. Backgrounds covers what your character was doing before they got in the whole “main character of post-apocalyptic story” thing. These go from tribal to “shelter dweller” and affect what kind of things you know and can even give special abilities. Character Classes is most similar to the D20 system. Instead of “Fast Hero” or “Strong Hero”, however, you have only two options: “Offensive” or “Defensive”. This part didn’t really grab me too much, as I equally disliked the D20 modern classes as well. There is a saving grace for advanced players though. In the appendix, they have several charts that allow you to fully customize each level of progression. This includes Hit Points, Saving Throws, Base Attack Bonuses, and Skills. While it still lacks some of the best things about leveling, in my opinion, such as class specific abilities, it still seems serviceable. Traits are another list of things that make your character different from everyone else’s. These also stay incredibly accurate for the Fallout setting with such entries as “Kamikaze”, “Finesse”, and yes, even “Bloody Mess”. Traits can do anything from give your character special abilities (and often accompanying faults) to adjusting your stats or skills. Occupations are just what they seem: what it is you’re doing at the time you begin adventuring. These range from “Scientist” to “Slaver” and can get you new class skills as well as determine your initial wealth. Talent Trees are groups of abilities that your character gets at every odd level of progression. Again, very reminiscent of D20 modern, these replace class specific abilities in games such as D&D. Talents are what really set you apart from your compatriots when you begin to play the game. Do you take the Stealth tree, opting to pick locks and pockets instead of fights? Do you take Fast-Talk to avoid most conflicts? Or Hand-to-Hand to get right into them? Finally, Vital Statistics are your character’s appearance as well as reputation.
Now that we’ve made a character, we still have to dole out skills, feats, and equipment. These are all independent of everything we’ve already done for character creation. Skills follow closely, though not exactly, to either D&D 3.5 or D20 modern. In true Fallout fashion, you select a few skills as your TAG skills, which allow you to exceed the skill point cap. Feats might be my favorite section so far. The chart alone of available feats is 5 pages long, and comes off like a head-on collision between Dungeons and Dragons and Fallout… in a good way. The Equipment section is lovely in its expansive detail. Any Fallout aficionado will appreciate the attention to detail with the weapons as well as the various ammo types that can be loaded into them. The same holds true for armor, vehicles (if you can find them), drugs, and everything in between. While it’s not necessary, I plan on renaming everything back to its Fallout counterpart. I mean, “Toxi-Cola” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The rest of the book is Advanced Classes (Prestige Classes to our D&D players) and some notable locations you can use in your campaign. The one thing that I have already noticed to be lacking is things to shoot, namely “monsters”. I am aware that Glutton Creeper is currently in the process of making a monster manual, so this isn’t really too big of a beef; it just makes me work harder converting baddies from either D&D or D20 Modern.
As I have already established, I personally have no use for the mythos they have created, but I am not discounting it or discouraging gamers from trying it out. Speaking of trying it out, I guess that’s all that’s left. Stay tuned. I promise this next one will be soon.
Oh, here’s Part I if you missed it.