Fallout Shelter RPG: Play test and feedback

Coming into it...

I definitely didn't feel quite prepared with a few of the props, background music, and some of the possible storylines, but I knew I had enough that it should run as a game that shouldn't totally suck. So with that, yesterday I ran a playtest.

The scenario is called Fallout Shelter: Finding the Descenders, and is a one-shot convention game built on top of parts of various systems including some PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse engine) as well as some weird cobbled together mechanics that are a hack of things that happen in Fallout Shelter the phone app. Some of the "moves" include Punch, Shoot, Heal, and Rush. There aren't too many proper moves because I want to emulate the game in may ways and have it provide a lot of the flavor.

However because this is an RPG, there is also a move called "3-D", which is a catch all for anything you want to do that isn't a two dimensional app mechanic; you know, like convince that super mutant over there that you're an ally.

Players included Howie, Sasha, Jenny, and Tyler. Three of them consist of my regular crew, but I haven't played with Tyler before. He has a background of D&D including the newer 5E.

The verdict

The game went well enough. Everyone had a pretty good time, but there were definitely some things that need to be tweaked. Feedback and fixes include:

  • The game took just over 5 hours. I want this to fit nicely into a 4 hour con game, so some cutting will have to occur.
  • The original version borrowed from Dread and had a questionnaire for each player. Although at least one player said this helped with initial game immersion, the questions and answers got lost in the game. It didn't seem to serve a story purpose, and to be honest, I'm just not GM enough to manage the questionnaire with all the other moving pieces. 
  • I created little Objective cards (with the intention that each player have 3 objectives, similar to the game), and completely forgot to pass them out. Again, there was so much going on that adding that to the game felt overwhelming. However, in discussions with one player, it was suggested to replace the questionnaire, and instead have Objective cards, where the cards are specific to archetypes. For instance, an Objective card labelled "Bloodthirsty" where all the objectives are combat related. Removing the questionnaires should buy about 15 minutes.
  • The initial Wasteland part took too long. Instead of having 4 separate scenes, I'll probably take it down to 2, however I'll incorporate random encounter roles from each of the 4 players to still provide the "wealth" of goods and encounters. Also, I needn't spend as much time as I did in the wasteland section, but it did provide some tone and mood. Probably shave about 20 minutes from this part.
  • Everyone liked the RPG elements, so although I found it took a bit away from the mechanical component of the game, that wasn't a loss.
  • Everyone liked the pacing of Caps collection in the game. Felt like you could do and buy things with it, but it wasn't too fast or too slow. I initially felt like I was handing out caps too easily, but as a player I think they enjoyed that pace.