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I am trying to start my own Fallout RPG campaign and am new at this and at GMing in general. I can't figure out what starting gear and stuff the PCs should get. I've looked around for a GM guide or an equipment book that might tell me, but I can't find anything like that. How are starting items determined in Fallout RPG?

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I can see why you're confused! Having gone over the PDF, it completely lacks any discussion of how character get equipment at the beginning of a campaign. So, this answer comes from my experience with the Fallout video games the Fallout PnP rules are emulating, reading between the lines of the rules, and from other post-apocalyptic RPGs.

There are three ways to handle starting character equipment:

  1. They start with nothing and have to find, scavenge, steal, or build everything they need.

  2. They start with equipment according to their character concept. Give them just enough to make their character concept make sense. Vault-born sniper wandering the wastes after defecting from an immoral Vault City army? They probably have a sniper rifle, some decent clothes and boots, and a very dwindling supply of ammo. Maybe also a knife.

  3. Give them equipment according to the starting scenario. You have a beginning to the campaign in mind (I hope), so you know what situation the characters will begin with. What equpiment they have on them is integral to the situation they're in – are they low on food? Ammo? Wandering lost and destitute? Part of an organised militia? Give them minimal equipment to make the scenario be the scenario it's supposed to be. Really, this way is the generalised way of doing it, and the first two ways are just special applications of this method. If you're going survivalist, give them less than they need; if you're going for established characters, give them just as much as they need but nothing more.

The game rules are very open-ended, and are designed to make a wide variety of characters and starting situations. To that end, you have lots of latitude as the GM to set up your PCs with the gear they need or to keep it from them so that they have to go get it. That's the adventure, that's the game.

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They should generally start with clothes, at least. Fallout 2 even made a big deal about it. – GMJoe Jan 22 at 6:55

SevenSidedDie has the gist of it.

I started a Fallout campaign a while back, and I pretty much told them that they could pick 1 ranged weapon (with 2 full clips or equivalent), 1 melee weapon, 1 armor, and whatever odds and ends seemed appropriate. Plus 1d20 caps. Since I wanted to play with weapon condition, all weapons had also taken 1d6 boxes of damage.

Since I told them to pick, I didn't actually have to bother putting together a list or anything. I just vetted their gear after they had picked. Of course, any gear that wouldn't fit with their concepts would have been overruled. And concepts with expensive gear would have been overruled.

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+1 for experience and a good-looking rule of thumb procedure. – SevenSidedDie Aug 5 '12 at 23:56
Very close to what I do in most of my campaigns. Items are rated exquisite(castle), expensive(house), medium(sword, plate armor), cheap(knife, shield, leather armor), very cheep(food, ropes, clothes). Entry-level characters start with 1 medium item, 4 cheap and as many as they wish very cheap(they should be able to carry this). – Vorac Aug 23 '12 at 11:22

I gave my characters the weakest weapon I could find, but in their most powerful fighting category. For example, a player who had a high Small Guns skill got a bow and 5 arrows, a player who specialized in throwing got a sharp stick.

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