Special skills a character can learn

Characters in Wasteland possess various skills that allow them to survive in the harsh world. Below is a list of all the skills in Wasteland, the attribute they depend on, and a short description of what they are used for…

Acrobatics (Agi): Acrobatics is used to perform tumbles, flips, and other impressive stunts. It can be used to escape a grab or negate fall damage.
Athletics (Str): Athletics is used while running, jumping, and climbing. Most exploring requires a degree of athleticism.
Barter (Cha): Barter is used to trade with others. Characters with a high barter skill find it easier to acquire the things they need.
Bluff (Cha): Bluff is used to deceive others. When a character lies or feints in combat, he’s using bluff.
Diplomacy (Cha): Diplomacy is used in civil conversations. When negotiating or haggling, diplomacy is used.
Endurance (Tou): Endurance is used to push oneself beyond one’s limits. Surviving for extended periods without food or water or staving off the effects of a disease are acts of endurance.
Insight (Awa): Insight is used to expose lies, read others, and get a feeling about a situation. Insight is a character’s gut feeling.
Intimidate (Cha or Str): Intimidate is used to frighten others or force them to do what you want. Intimidation is common in the wasteland.
Knowledge (IQ): Knowledge skills are used to recall specific information about a certain topic. Knowledge skills are taken individually.

  • Engineering: Vehicles, buildings and complex mechanical devices
  • Geography: Terrain, climate, and dangers
  • History: Past events, famous places or people, old world myths
  • Nature: Plants, animals, and weather
  • Warfare: Tactics, weapons and armor, and military organizations
  • Wasteland: Mutations, hazards, and the apocalypse

Perception (Awa): Perception is used to see and hear everything around oneself. A good perception allows a character to perceive hidden threats and small details.
Repair (IQ): Repair is used to fix items. A character that can repair items is a valuable asset.
Stealth (Agi): Stealth is used to move silently and hide from others. Bandits and thieves make use of stealth to ambush others.
Streetwise (Cha): Streetwise is used to gather rumors, find out the local gossip, and learn who’s important in a given settlement. A character with streetwise finds it easy to navigate new settlements.
Survival (Awa): Survival is used to search for supplies, find edible plants and drinkable water, and identify tracks and signs of living creatures.

A character that is trained in a skill gains a +5 bonus to all skill checks related to that skill. Any skill can be used untrained, although the chance of succeeding is less likely. There are only two exceptions to this rule…

  1. A character cannot make Knowledge checks untrained. They represent familiarity with subjects that a person can only gain through study or life experience.
  2. A character that is not trained in Repair can only make Repair checks to fix Primitive and Simple items. Complex, Advanced, and Highly Advanced items are simply too difficult for a character to repair without proper training.

When a character is made, that character gains training in a handful of skills based on the class they chose. As characters level up, they may take the Skill Training feat in order to gain more trained skills.

Another option open to the DM is experience training. This allows a character to slowly gain training in skills over time through extraordinary actions. Barring any excessive failures, a character can slowly improve his skill set until he is considered trained in it.

  • If a player rolls a natural 20 on any untrained check, all subsequent skill checks of the same type gain a +1 bonus. Each additional natural 20 rolled while making one of these checks increases the bonus by 1, up to a maximum bonus of +5. If a character raises a skill’s bonus to +5, he is then considered trained in it.
  • If a player rolls a natural 1 on an untrained skill check, any bonus granted to him through experience training decreases by 1 (to a minimum of 0). A player who rolls a natural 1 on a skill check he has become fully trained in (i.e. has achieved a +5 bonus with) does not lose anything, he merely fails as we all do occasionally.

Instead of experience training, another fun option is the “He’s on a Roll!” mechanic. Whenever a player rolls a natural 20 on skill check, he gains a +1 bonus to that skill for the remainder of the encounter. Each additional natural 20 rolled while making one of these checks increases this bonus by 1. There are three key differences between “He’s on a Roll!” and experience training…

  1. The bonus has no limit. A character on a roll just gets better and better. As the adrenaline flows his skills just keep getting sharper.
  2. Rolling a natural 1 on any attack roll or skill check resets all “He’s on a Roll!” bonuses to 0. A character on a roll can lose his mojo just as easily as he gained it.
  3. The bonus lasts until the end of the encounter. Unlike experience training, when the character gets a chance to catch his breath, the adrenaline stops and so does the benefit of being on a roll.

Previous:Durability System

Because everything breaks

The weapons and armor in Wasteland have survived the end of the world… some in better condition than others. To represent the damage items accrue over time, a durability system has been implemented. Weapons can jam and become broken over time, and armor can become torn and offer less protection. The tables below describe the effects of critical failures and critical hits on weapons and armor…

Wasteland weapons are prone to jam and break. If a player rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll, their weapon suffers the effect appropriate to its type

  • Melee: The weapon cracks along its length. It moves one step down the durability track.
  • Ranged: The weapon jams. It requires a standard action to un-jam. The weapon also moves one step down the durability track.

As weapons lose durability, they become less and less effective. A skilled character can repair his weapons and armor with a successful Repair check. The durability track for weapons is explained below…


  • Working Condition: The weapon is in full working order. It suffers no penalties in combat.
  • Slightly Worn: The weapon has suffered a crack or jam. It’s still functional, but attack rolls and damage rolls with it suffer a –1 penalty.
  • Lightly Damaged: The weapon has seen its share of wear and tear. An attack roll of 1-5 with a Lightly Damaged weapon is considered a natural 1. It’s functional, but attack rolls and damage rolls with it suffer a –2 penalty.
  • Heavily Damaged: The weapon is on its last legs. An attack roll of 1-5 with a Heavily Damaged weapon is considered a natural 1. Attack and damage rolls with a Heavily Damaged weapon take a –5 penalty.
  • Destroyed: A destroyed weapon is useless. It’s suffered so much damage it can no longer be used in combat. A character can use a destroyed weapon as an improvised melee weapon, but a natural 1 on an attack roll sunders it to pieces and it cannot be repaired.

In Wasteland, danger lurks around every corner. To protect themselves, characters clad themselves in homemade armor. Unfortunately, the materials left over after the fall of civilization were less than ideal. As armor takes critical damage, plates are cracked, leather tears, and the protection granted becomes less and less effective. Whenever a character is subject to a critical hit, his armor moves one step down the durability track. The table below shows the durability track for armor…


  • Working Condition: The armor fits well and provides full protection. Its wearer suffers no penalties.
  • Slightly Worn: The armor has suffered a few tears and scratches. It takes a –1 penalty to its armor bonus.
  • Lightly Damaged: The armor sits awkwardly on its wearer, damage warping its form. It takes a –1 penalty to its armor bonus and its armor check penalty increases by 1.
  • Heavily Damaged: The armor has seen better days. Damage has twisted its form and exposed critical spots. It takes a –2 penalty to its armor bonus, its armor check penalty increases by 2, and a critical hit can be scored upon the wearer on a roll of 19-20.
  • Destroyed: The armor is nothing but scraps now. Destroyed armor offers no armor bonus, its armor check penalty increases by 5, and a critical hit can be scored on the wearer on a roll of 18-20. Destroyed armor that suffers a critical hit is sundered to pieces and cannot be repaired.

As weapons and armor take damage over time, they need to be repaired. A character trained (or untrained) in the Repair skill can attempt to fix his damaged equipment by making a Repair check. The DC for this check is determined by the item’s state of disrepair and its complexity. The items that survived the apocalypse vary greatly from a lowly bat or club to powered exoskeleton armor. This varying degree of complexity has a direct impact on how easy an item is to repair. Below is a table that shows the different levels of item complexity and the modifiers associated with them…


  • Primitive: Primitive weapons and armor are the simplest to make and repair. A primitive item reduces its Repair DC by 5.
  • Simple: Simple weapons and armor are slightly more complicated than their primitive counterparts. A simple item grants no bonus or penalty to its Repair DC.
  • Complex: Complex weapons and armor have moving parts and/or particularly hard to come by materials. A complex item gains a +5 bonus to its Repair DC.
  • Advanced: Advanced weapons and armor contain parts or materials that were rare even before the apocalypse. An advanced item gains a +10 bonus to its Repair DC.
  • Highly Advanced: Highly Advanced weapons and armor are virtually impossible to repair. A highly advanced item gains a +15 bonus to its Repair DC. In addition, if a character fails his Repair check by 5 or more, the item moves an additional step down the durability track.

The degree of damage an item has taken also affects how difficult it is to repair. A Slightly Worn item has a Repair DC of 10. For each additional step down the durability track the item has gone, increase its Repair DC by 5. Repairing an item takes 1 hour. At the end of the hour, the character makes a Repair check. If the character succeeds, the item moves one step higher on the durability track. If he fails by 5 or more, the item moves down the durability track instead. A player can take 10 or 20 on this check, but doing so takes more time. Taking a 10 on a Repair check takes 4 hours, while taking a 20 requires a full 8 hours.

An item that has reached Destroyed on the durability track cannot be repaired by normal means. In order to repair a destroyed item, a character must take a full day to slowly reassemble the item. A character can take more than one day to try and repair a destroyed item. If he does, he gains a +5 bonus to his Repair check for each additional day spent working on it.

Previous:The Barter System

Everything has its price

Modern day currency means nothing in the post-apocalyptic world of Wasteland. With no set system to go by, people have resorted to the barter system. When a character wishes to acquire an item that an NPC has, he must make a Barter check against a DC set by the attitude of the NPC, the modifier of the item the character wants, and the regional modifiers.

Example: Jonas has been having trouble fending off bandits. While passing through Deadwood, he meets a local trader who has a Junk Rifle for trade. The trader is neutral towards Jonas (DC 15) and the Junk Rifle is a valuable item (+ 10 modifier), so the Barter check DC is 25. So, in order for Jonas to acquire the rifle, he has to offer up something in trade and beat the DC of 25. Well, Jonas has a First Aid Kit (+ 5 modifier) and two cans of food (+ 2 modifier each). This gives him a total modifier to his Barter check of + 9. Luckily for him, food has been scarce in this region so the value of his cans of food goes up (+ 2 to each) bringing his modifier up to a + 13. He adds in his Charisma bonus (+ 2) and his final modifier is a + 15. Now, all he has to do is roll a 10 or better on a d20 roll and the rifle is his.

If a character fails their Barter check, then they don’t acquire the item and they have to renegotiate. If a character fails their Barter check by 5 or more, the NPC is insulted and moves one step closer to Hostile on the standing track. If a character rolls a natural 1 on their Barter check, the NPC is gravely insulted. He moves one step closer to Hostile on the standing track and refuses to deal with the character for 24 hours. The standing track and its associated modifiers and effects is broken down below…


  • Trusted: The NPC trusts the character like he would his own family. The base DC for trading with a trusted NPC is DC 10. In addition, if the character fails his Barter check by 5 or more, he can choose to re-roll, but he must take the second result even if it’s lower.
  • Friendly: The NPC is cordial with the character. The base DC for trading with a friendly NPC is DC 10.
  • Neutral: The NPC has no opinion of the character whatsoever. The base DC for trading with a neutral NPC is DC 15.
  • Unfriendly: The NPC dislikes the character for some reason and won’t trade with him unless the deal is a good one. The base DC for trading with an unfriendly NPC is DC 20.
  • Hostile: The NPC despises the character and will not trade with him.

A character can improve his standing with an NPC while interacting. Every NPC has an Attitude Improvement DC. If a character makes a Barter or Diplomacy check that equals or exceeds that DC, then the NPC moves one step higher on the NPC Standing Track.

When the world moved on, many places found themselves with an abundance of one particular resource, but lacking in others. Communities that sprung up near hospitals, for example, found themselves with first aid kits to spare, while people who found shelter on military bases found themselves the impromptu guardians of weapon caches. Depending on what a character has to trade and where they are, the value of items fluctuates. Below is a chart containing the regional modifiers that can be applied to items at the GM’s discretion along with the chances that a random NPC may have it on hand…


  • Plentiful: The value of this item has gone down due to an overwhelming supply. The item’s modifier is reduced by 50% (minimum value of 1). Virtually all but the worst of supplied traders will have this item on hand.
  • Common: The item is easy to come by just about anywhere. The item’s modifier is unchanged. Traders have a 90% chance of carrying this item.
  • Uncommon: Items like this one are becoming a bit harder to find. The item’s modifier is increased by 1. Traders have a 70% chance of carrying this item.
  • Scarce: Supplies of this item have dwindled significantly. The item’s modifier is increased by 2. Traders have a 50% chance of carrying this item.
  • Rare: Items like these are extremely valuable due to the almost complete lack of supply. The item’s modifier is increased by 5. Traders have a 30% chance of carrying this item.
  • Very Rare: Some people go their entire lives without seeing an item of this rarity. The item’s modifier is increased by 10. Traders have a 10% chance of carrying this item.

Next:Durability System

Where a character comes from

Characters in Wasteland come from numerous backgrounds. Whether they were cryogenically frozen through the apocalypse or raised in a military stronghold, each character’s upbringing determines their attribute modifiers and what skills they excel in.

Time Traveler: The character is from the time before the collapse. Whether he was frozen in cryogenic stasis or hurled forward in time through a temporal anomaly, a time traveler possesses knowledge and skills long lost to the survivors.

  • Attribute Modifiers: +2 Awareness, +2 IQ, -2 Toughness. Time Travelers are smarter and more attentive than most survivors, but they’re not nearly as hardy
  • Skill Bonuses: +2 to all Knowledge checks. Time Travelers come from an age where knowledge was readily available.

Base-Born: The character was born on one of the few military bases to survive the apocalypse. Trained from birth to drill and fight, Base-Born are warriors by nature and nurture.

  • Attribute Modifiers: +2 Strength, +2 Toughness, -2 Charisma. Base-Born are strong and hardy but lack proper social skills.
  • Skill Bonuses: +2 to Endurance and Athletics checks. Base-Born are trained to push their bodies beyond their normal limits.

Wastelander: The character was born and raised in the wasteland. Always on the move, the wastelander has learned to travel light and keep his head down. At home in the ruins of civilization, a Wastelander is better equipped than most to survive the harsh conditions of the new world.

  • Attribute Modifiers: +2 Agility, +2 Awareness, -2 Strength. Wastelanders are nimble and quick on their feet, but they lack the physical strength that other survivors possess.
  • Skill Bonuses: +2 to Perception and Survival checks. Wastelanders are good at staying alive and keeping an eye out for trouble.

Next:The Barter System

The role a character plays

Characters in Wasteland have learned to survive in their post-apocalyptic world by leaning toward a particular role. Each possesses its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Below, the three main classes are explained…

  • Soldier: Soldiers are combat experts. They are most effective with a gun or club in hand. They tend to focus on dealing damage or soaking it up.
  • Scavenger: Scavengers are vultures, searching the ruins of civilization for scraps. They excel at ranged combat and have a knack for building and repairing mechanical devices.
  • Trader: Traders tend to take a leadership role. They have excellent social skills and possess a wide variety of knowledge.


No elves or orcs in these parts

Characters in Wasteland are all human. Although they may come across mutants and new species as they travel, the heroes in this half-dead world are the humans who are struggling to survive in it.


The scores that define a character

In Wasteland, characters are defined by six attributes: Strength, Agility, Toughness, IQ, Awareness, and Charisma. Using a standard point buy system, characters are generated using 22 points. Below is a breakdown of the attributes that make up every character in Wasteland…

  • Strength: Strength determines how strong a character is. It directly affects carrying capacity and melee damage.
  • Agility: Agility is a measure of a character’s nimbleness. It directly affects how hard it is to hit a character in combat, ranged combat ability, and speed.
  • Toughness: Toughness reflects how hearty a character is. It directly affects hit points, how well a character can stave off disease, and a character’s ability to push himself beyond his limits.
  • IQ: IQ determines how smart a character is. It directly affects how much knowledge a character possesses and how well they operate technical or mechanical devices.
  • Awareness: Awareness represents how well a character can perceive his surroundings. It directly affects a character’s ability to read others, sense things around him, and notice small details.
  • Charisma: Charisma determines how well a character can interact with others. It directly affects social skills.


An overview of Wasteland

Wasteland is a post-apocalyptic pen and paper role-playing game designed around a d20 system. Characters are created using a point buy system, with 22 points to spend across all starting attributes. Gameplay in Wasteland focuses around survival. Characters will travel the wasteland, scavenging for supplies and interacting with a variety of individuals. Characters will begin their journey with the most basic of equipment and, over time, acquire new items and weapons that have either miraculously survived the apocalypse, or been repurposed from scavenged materials. In the world of Wasteland, old world relics lie dormant, waiting for brave explorers to plumb their depths. Whether they’re looming skyscrapers in deathly quiet cities, freighters drifting in long abandoned shipyards, or thoughtfully prepared military bunkers, the remnants of the old world hold secrets that could save humanity…or destroy what remains of it.



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