Sep 01, 2022
Machine Frequency is the adventure included with the Fallout RPG Quickstart Rules. It’s a conversion of an homonymous adventure for the Fallout Wasteland Warfare miniatures war game, and honestly it could be better, so today we are Fixing Fallout Machine Frequency.
The quickstart adventure has some conversion problems, for example, it mentions Activations several times, term from the miniatures game it was originally written. This war gaming conception makes the adventure seem like a series of combat encounters to be passed, which could be fun on the tactical grid side, but it’s not in a narrative RPG. However I think the story is a nice jumping off point, and a good showcase of what the game can do, in other words, the adventure has “good bones” they just need to be rearranged, but me in this post.
I won’t go beat by beat of the adventure, neither will I rewrite it as a whole, because I most likely legally can’t, but having run it twice I feel like I have a good enough idea of how to run it in an effective way.
Through this I’ll be using the Act-Scene terminology from the adventure to make it easier to reference the original text.
For starters let’s being right before
Act I Scene Three, the hook is very clear:
A couple hours ago your group
caravan?saw a vertibird fall from the sky just to the other side of those hills. There was no smoke, neither did you saw the aircraft be attacked it “just fell” in a spiral. Whatever could be salvaged from an intact vertibird, well besides the damage from the fall, would go for a fair amount of caps. There’s no time to lose.
The characters approach the site of the crash just behind a hill and hear the laser fire being exchanged. They haven’t been seen but they hear the familiar buzz of an eyebot coming their way.
I think this instantly sets a count down on the adventure, instead of the characters being randomly asked to go check the site they are a) on a race to the crash site, even if you skip it, and b) pressed to do something, they are about to be seen.
Whether Knight Layton makes it or not is less important because Scribe Portano will be safe and sound at Listen Point Echo. The characters hear the vertibird radio go off and no one answering but Layton is firing back at the protectrons, she’s trapped by the debris.
The encounter follows whatever beats should fall but by the end the characters pick up the radio and get all the information from
Act I Scene One from Scribe Portano.
Both times I ran the adventure the characters tried to deactivate the protectrons by removing their onboard speakers. I managed it as they deactivating for a round and then reactivating in “safe mode” and instantly walking towards Joint Base Lewiston at a very slow pace. This didn’t result in skipping Bleakford, but it might and if it does then the straight line way from the crash site to Lweiston is where I would place Kullen Bridge.
Bleakford. Bleakford follows the book. It’s filled with random encounters and it’s mostly exploration; I think it might come off as a weird change of pece, but this is an introductory adventure that should showcase the different aspects of the game, so I’ll excuse it. Besides is a nice place to split the party, a trademark of mine and then have a couple of tests for everyone to get together in time when things inevitably go wrong. For example, in one of the runs I made a character got in trouble at the water tower being swarmed by feral ghouls and the rest of them rushed back to help them.
A change I made was that the knights that are found at Lewiston are right behind the characters. They lost contact with the first vertibird but couldn’t contact Listen Point Echo because of the interference, so they personally go and look at the crash site in a second vertibird. So that, just as the characters disable the booster they see a vertibird fly over their heads going in the same direction as Scribe Portano just told them.
I think this change is necessary because otherwise the Knights arrive out of nowhere, sure Portano mentions the hotheads from bunker 441 are on their way, but it feels like they arrive way too fast. Also Portano at this point mentions he recognizes the new local signal as an Enclave signal and that this kind of hacking is consistent with the research of one Dr. Trestridge. The Brotherhood, of course, has been after her for a while, she has a knack to bring old facilities online to do whatever she’s been doing.
Lewiston. If the characters disabled and let the protectrons walk, they pass the robots just as they enter the base, they could serve as reinforcements for either side! Instead of the Knights being at the gates of the base I think they should be inside with some of them dead and many destroyed protectrons, maybe even a destroyed sentry bot. The characters arrive to see Dr. Testridge plugging into the machine and the Knights still engaged in combat. So there’s a decision: either help the Knights and risk whatever Testridge is doing go on, or stop Testridge and run into the crossfire, which should be crossfire and thus risky IMO, let it play out.
At this point you have skipped either Kullen Bridge or Bleakford, and the very dry introduction, and ran:
- Combat or a creative solution to get rid of the protectrons
- Either exploration (Bleakford) or travel (Kullen), depending on what you skipped
- A high stakes encounter
I think this is a good sampler of what the game has to offer that puts the characters in the center instead of The Brotherhood of Steel. It’s not too many changes but more of a rearrangement of the adventure that cuts the dull parts. You also have a major location with Lewiston, have a reason to go check on the settlements that went offline, you have presented two of the major factions of the game and now have “a voice” on Scripe Portano, who can be reached at Listen Point Echo.
Thank you for reading! If you liked this post and want to support me check out Arcane Moon, a D&D adventure inspired by 90s Magical Girl anime, published at DMs Guild. Or download for free my Fiasco Classic playset Busca Un Problema at Itch.io!
You can also read The Dwendalian War Inciting Incident the encounter that started the war in my Wildemount campaign or you can read about how I run a Zelda style dungeon here. Or if you find this perspective of the adventure interesting maybe read about the way I’ve ran D&D for over two years
Finally you can follow me @darkade! Thanks for reading!
– Anya Reyes