Burst of Insight—More Wastelands Rebooted, part four

Well this is it the final (for now) installment of my Wastelands rebooted series. As we concluded last time I promised we’d talk about converting quests into episodes (1 or 2 session adventures). But before we do that I want to talk about ensemble shows vs. shows with only one (or two) protagonist(s), because by necessity a truly faithful conversion of Fallout 4 would have only one Protagonist, The Sole Survivor; but, at most tables we have a larger cast of PCs.

So assuming your players are not comfortable spotlighting only one PC frequently you are going to be playing with an ensemble of player characters all of whom will need some time in the spotlight. If you are running your game in Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder and want a mechanical way to award and reinforce spotlight time Owen KC Stephens has some excellent rules for that over on his blog. Mechanical solutions aside, you will also want to carve out time for each character in your adventure narrative.

One way to do this is to run an “A” plot and a “B” plot during the same adventure. On TV these plots are either linked at the climax or just thematically. You don’t have to do this frequently but running a campaign with this in mind gives more of your players a chance to shine even if one of your plots focuses on only one or two characters. And yes for the record I’m recommending splitting the party from time to time.

Another important consideration at this point is continuity. What is going to be the through line plot of the season arc for your campaign? Mine will likely be a major threat to the settlement of Sanctuary Hills. Something seen, or whispered of, several times over the sessions always getting closer. I’d like the final episode culminate in the PCs acquiring all the parts they need to activate and use the suits of power armor they have procured throughout the season to full effect and but given the importance of the Institute in the overall story

Revisiting the Robin D. Laws article I referenced a couple of weeks back (TV Structure: Next Week on an all new Episode of . . .) I think my Fallout campaign season one looks something like a Netflix season with only 10 episodes. I have only a few listed below because while it’s a decent place to start, I’d definitely flesh out some B plots and specific adventures for the other PCs. The survivor’s plots are easy because they are hard wired into the campaign from the source material.

Now, one of our least favorite elements of the video game is how despite there being four factions you can join there are only three you can ally with for the finale. There is no actual storyline for the Minutemen at the game’s conclusion so that provides a lot of storytelling possibilities in the first season as well as later seasons.

Now since this is the first arc of the campaign we’ll want to focus on building up and fortifying Sanctuary hills and establishing the Minutemen as the protectors of the Commonwealth.

Episode 101: Preston Garvey (NPC) and PC Minutemen local to Sanctuary Hills reopen vault 111 in search of prewar supplies and are able to thaw the Sole Survivor (PC-1). Back in the settlement, they offer PC-1 a place to stay and a purpose in the Commonwealth as a member of the Minutemen. They also offer to help find the character’s son. (Focus on PC-1)

Episode 102: While exploring and patrolling the area around Sanctuary Hills the PCs stumble on a pack of feral ghouls living in a polluted cave behind the nearby Red Rocket. (Focus on the Ensemble)

Episode 103: Preston Garvey radios the camp from Concord he’s trapped with a group of refugees in the ruins of the freedom museum and will require backup. At the Conclusion of the episode Garvey promotes PC-2 to general and grants them Command of Sanctuary Hills. (Focus on PC-2)

Episode 104: During a supply run to Diamond City PCs may split up to accomplish personal tasks. A PCs dark secret catches up to them and PC-1 pursues clues to track down Shaun enlisting the aid of a mysterious stranger PI, Nick Valentine. (Focus on PC-1 and likely will use the Memory Den, that used to be in Good Neighbor to identify the NPC Kellogg who kidnapped Shaun) [[This is a good opportunity to showcase the other factions through the plotlines tied to the other PCs]]

Episode 105: Back home, an old flame/friend/rival of PC-3 arrives in Sanctuary Hills wounded and scared. Mutant raiders attacked their settlement and kidnapped their friends and family. They need the Minutemen’s help. (Focus PC-3)


Episode 109: PC’s use their Power Armor to help retake Fort Independence aka The Castle from a mirelurk queen and her brood.  Episode cliffhanger Nick arrives with information about Kellogg.

Episode 110: After just missing Kellogg where Nick led the PCs first. PC-1 and the rest of the PCs finally track down and can confront Kellogg in his base at Fort Hagen. If Kellogg is killed it is revealed he is a synth…which is a deliberate change.

Season one stingers for season two include Kellogg telling the PC Shaun is beyond their reach because the Institute has him. And the armed arrival of the Brotherhood of Steel.

Burst of Insight


Andrew Marlowe

placed in the Top 16 of RPG Superstar in 2012 and 2014, one of the few contestants to get that far in the competition twice. Since then, he has contributed to many Paizo and third party Pathfinder products, including one of the network’s favourite releases in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, the Dirty Tactics Toolbox. Every other Tuesday, he will be sharing his Burst of Insight, with design tips for would-be game designers from a decorated freelancer.