Thursday, November 22, 2012

Science Fantasy Racial Character Class - Vault People

When as glowing ashes of the cities fell in a silent blanket they quaked in fear beneath the earth. The lucky ones.  As the frost and storm raged across the land for a century, they ate and slumbered in plenty beneath the earth. The lucky ones.  As the surface bloomed again, the tentative shapes of grasses, plants and fauna, forever warped by the hand of the final war, they husbanded carefully their stores and overworked greenhouses beneath the earth. The lucky ones.  As civilizations of man and beast grew in bronze, bone and cyclopean obsidian above, they  watched their machines wind down and screamed in the dark for release, thin and cannibal. The lucky ones.  As man stumbling, learned sorcery, the practical arts and war again under the weak sun, the ancient seals creaked open and strange survivors of the ancient science men poured blinking into a world that had forgotten them. The lucky ones.
A Free Hunter Vault Man (Type -Beta)
When the ancient wizards warred and the world was destroyed, some of the wizard's followers fled beneath the earth, and a few have endured since, in warrens and bunkers slowly crumbling to dust. These vaults open from time to time as their seals fail or mad computer overlords decide that the surface is again safe for life.  It has been so long though, much longer than the first vault people could ever imagine.

Having been re-reading ASE II I was thinking about poor post-apocalyptic souls trapped underground and growing strange - also about my preference for reskinning monsters and the silliness of orcs in a post-apocalyptic science fantasy world. While the painted men of ASE's Second Level (insane cave Jugglos to be sure precise) are clearly degenerate beyond hope, some vaults and bomb shelters must have fared better - and these lost sojourners to the surface make both excellent replacements for humanoids and excellent barbarian characters.

Vault People as Monster.

Type Alpha - Completely degenerate cannibals, often without human speech or tool use.  Use the stats of some disgusting underground creature: ghouls, morlocks, ogres or something like that.  Not much can be done for these sub-human beasts, except to offer them the peace of the grave.

Type Beta - Still recognizably human, but simple and regressed, these Vault People (also the basis of the character class) retain bit of civilization but still tend to be cannibals and savages.  Use the stat-line for your favorite humanoid - say orcs if they've just gotten used to living in the dark or gnolls if the Vault People have gotten big as well.

Type Gamma - Placid pale things with giant eyes - the vault remained mostly intact, but generations of easy living and coddling by AI servants have left these poor souls unable to survive in the surface world.  Much sought after by slavers as they tend to be predisposed to following orders and their good health, willowy physiques, exotic pallor and giant guileless eyes make them much desired among the wealthier elites of the new empires.  Many are still cannibals - only in a polite and placid way involving much shame and guilt over "protein debts", "necessary sacrifice" and similar science man nonsense.  Sometimes a small pack of these Vault People  do mange to adapt and survive without being massacred or enslaved.  When they do they tend to turn very very nasty - a sense of betrayal fueling nihilistic rage at the universe.  Gammas' placid and patient nature also makes them excellent Clerics should they discover the orbital gods (or worse if they've had a god's eye in the vault this whole time).

Type Delta - They've gone strange down there in their dark.  These Vault People have actually managed to retain their technology and level of civilization - usually in some twisted and malign form.  They're powerful in the ways of super science, often aggressive and well armed - either with ancient pre-fall technology or with horrible sorcery perfected while lurking in the depth making deals with monsters from beyond time and space.  Basically these creeps are drow, mindflayers or something equally nasty - possibly with plasma spewing hovertanks.

Vault People As Player Characters

Types Gamma and Delta might just be normal humans with some statline penalties/bonuses and strange starting equipment: Say a -2 to Str, -1 Wis, +2 Chr +1 Int for the Gammas and -2 Str, -2 Con, +2 Int, +2 Wis for the Deltas.

Type Betas though require a bit of a racial class - these are mutants adapted to tribal life underground.  Think 1/2 Orcs.

STR - 3D6+2 (Max 18)
INT - 3D6 -2 (Min 3)
WIS - 3D6 -2 (Min 3)
CON 3D6 +2 (Max 18)
CHR 2D6 +1

HD 1D10 per level

Level as Dwarves, Infravision 60', Detect Slopping Passages and Secret Door 2 in 6, May use any armor or weapon*, Attacks as Fighter**

Saving Throws as Fighter, but -1 to all rolls against magical effects and +1 to all rolls against technological effects.  Additionally Vault People have weak immune systems and a -2 to all saves vs. disease.

* Technological Fetishists - Vault People don't trust this odd stuff made by people - the machines are supposed to care for the vault.  If given a choice between ancient equipment and new equipment, a Vault Person will always pick the ancient, so strong is their distrust of the surface.  Additionally vault people won't use visible magical items, but will gladly use ancient technology (and get a +2 bonus to any rolls required to figure out pre-fall items).

**Tunnel Skulkers - Vault People Warriors are excellent fighters in the dark, and long practiced at ambush and counter ambush.  Vault People have the thief backstab abilities (+4 Hit, X2 Damage) if they can ambush a foe from behind. 

Sample Tribe - The Vault 45 Free Hunters When the lights went off the people of Vault 45 had already been reduced in numbers by plague, and had been supplementing their diet with rodent, mushroom and roach farming in the empty habitation units, giving them some time to adapt.  Never the Less the results were predictable, war in the vault, fought with security batons and a few homemade pistols at first when the leaders and scientists tried to institute draconian population controls.  Equilibrium was never really restored and the 1,000 or so survivors fought for generations in the dark, eventually becoming canny warriors and adapting to their conditions.

Physically the Free Hunters are still msotly human in appearance (and can interbreed with normal humans), palid skin with a greenish tint (the remnant of an ancient semi-successful experiment to add plant cells to their skin and allow photosynthesis), pigmentless hair and some elongation of their arms (they often proceed ape like through low tunnels.  A whip cord build due to generations of undernourishment and giant double pupiled eyes are the extent of their visible mutations.  They dress minimally, or in their utility suit patterned armor as the vault does not suffer from temperature extremes.  Vault People often affect ancient styles, and the Free Hunters are no exceptions, all style their hair in elaborate pompadours and beehives using grease rendered from human fat.  Hair style is very important to the Free Hunters and the more elaborate style that a warrior and her concubines may affect is directly related to her status.  They will react more positively to surface dwellers with elaborate hair, and those who compliment their hairdos.  Of course they will also target the PC with the best hairstyle first in any combat.

The culture of the Free Hunters is militaristic in extreme, and they practice the ritual cannibalism of enemy warriors.  Non-combatants are either sacrificed to ancestor spirits or taken into the victorious tribe as low status members and lower ranking spouses for the warriors.  Free Hunter Warriors generally wear Armor made of padded human and giant rat skin leather in the form of overalls.  The most successful warriors are able to stud this armor or even cover it with scales of scavenged metal (AC 8 -6).  The Weaponry of the vault Warriors is crude, laboriously ground down from ancient structural items, jury rigged, but made of ancient advanced materials (some suitable for reforging into +1 weaponry).  Each clan of warriors has a limited number of prestige weapons - almost all huge, crude swords and maces, that are guarded, stolen and coveted (some may even be slightly magical due to their long use in strange blood rites and shamanistic rituals), but most warriors will wield spears or clubs made of bone, flaked stone and brittle ancient plastics.

When their vault opened, it did so almost beneath the feet of a small caravan of slavers, and the Free Hunters first encounter with the outside world was one of hostility, which came as no surprise to the Vault People.  The Vault Warriors set aside their feuds to fight the strange invaders and manged to quickly slaughter the slavers.  Fascinated and afraid of the outside world's abundance the Vault People generally keep to themselves, though their internal disputes have declined to a low hostility and occasional duel as the entire vault undertakes raids on surface travelers and caravans for meat, thralls, and surface items. The Free Hunters have yet to encounter magic and will run the first time a flashy spell is used. They will be back thought o capture these items and people of power, bending thier considerable cunning to the task.

A few of the younger Free Hunters have fled the vault or been chased from it due to the new outlet for social pressures offered by the outside world.  They wander confused and ready to join up with the first band of louts and cutthroats that offers them a place by their fire and a swig of mushroom beer.


  1. Replies
    1. cool - more ideas for vault failure
      i did a d100 whats wrong with my vault table here

  2. Wicked cool! I like this a lot!

  3. What a weird coincidence... I'm playing through the old Fallout 2 right now, and I was thinking about a Mutant Future "Vault Dwellers" type game.

    1. Cool - well if you do drop a line and let me know how it goes. I was mostly thinking of these guys as replacement wilderness orcs for ASE, also of course as potential characters for ASE - but a whole campaign where your party was vault people suddenly released would be pretty good.

  4. i find myself now looking for fallout maps to play with this idea.

    i think it would be easy to drop in more variants even so you could have shamanistic and specialist vault dwellers

    1. That way lies AD&D ... resist the pull. If Vault. Dwellers have normal classes they are normal men!