Fallout Friday: Don’t do Chems, Kids

Never mind. You should. At least in the Fallout tabletop RPG. Just a short rant about chems.

As it turns out, and as usual, the dangers of drugs are vastly underrepresented in gaming. And the benefits are – conversely – amazing.

Chems instantly change the complexion of a scene. The most basic chems in the world, like Jet or Mentats are nearly impossible to actually become addicted to in the normal course of a game. Psycho is insanely powerful.

Some of the more powerful chems are just absurd. And Ultra Jet is almost impossible to get addicted to for even a basic player. The oddity of “session-based” intervals for drug use is also weird. If a session is a slow one filled with lots of detailed play then you might take enough chems to require lots of rolls even though days have passed. Just doesn’t make narrative sense. And for most practical applications, sure, you can roll a complication, but you won’t actually have any chance of becoming addicted to a lot of very powerful chems until you are over 2 or 3 doses.

Avoiding addiction is a joke anyway. At level one, you can invest two points in Endurance, and take Rank 1 of Chem Resistant and you are able to use Psycho up to X times before you even have a chance of failing an addiction test. You can be completely immune to addiction by level 5. And with the Chemist perk (Int 7) somewhere in between those two levels, you can make your own that last twice as long.

From a pure statistical point of view, this is more return on investment than you’ll get from almost anything else in the game.

Basically, while I know that chems are meant to fit into that “magic potions” roll that exists in fantasy games, they are a little over the top. The effects are very powerful. Game-changing. And the consequences are… almost nil.

Even if you are unlucky enough to get addicted; Addictol is a rarity 3 item that only costs 125. Any game with at least one decent sized market (which most will) is likely a source of Addictol.

And again, as the crafting economy is a mess – you can easily make your own chems without much concern. A dose of Jet costs you 7 caps worth of materials and a Difficulty 2 Science roll. Toss a lab-coat into the mix and you are likely to succeed. Honestly, it’s the best money-making venture in the game. Why even adventure when you can be a Jet dealer?

I know, rant. And there are some ways you can get around it. Make addiction easier/more rational. Use the survival rules from Fallout 4 and have most chems hit your Thirst meter (my preferred solution), or something else. But, for now, as written, there is almost zero reason not to hit the chems constantly.

Better living through Chemistry – am I right?

As always, thanks for reading.

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