Based on the games Fallout I, II, and Tactics by Jason Mical (But written well before III came out) this is the definitive tome for role-playing in the Fallout Universe. In fact, the author had permission from the creators of the video-game themselves, uses much of the material right from the sources – weapon stats, perks, images, and the SPECIAL system.
WastelandersFor the most part, the game is quite easy to play and get into. Characters have seven attributes (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck – hence the acronym) rated from 1-10, which in turn are used to derive a host of secondary stats like carry weight, action points, and the initial skill values. Most rolls are simply percentile based (though counter-intuitively, the maximum skill goes well above 100 to allow for large penalties) or in rare cases, a d10 compared to a character's stats.
While there is a traditional XP per level system of advancement, there are no classes (Though the faster-advancing tag skills help define the character) and every few levels a Perk is gained. A great deal of effort has been put into making the game accessible to novice gamers. Examples abound, as well as a set of pre-made characters, discussion of how to write adventures, the first few acts of a sample campaign, a very through index, and a bibliography of resources used. A few additional supplements available from the forum where the document is archived detailing other areas of the fallout world.
CombatThe one caveat is the combat system. As with many of the other mechanics, this is take directly from the original video games, and as such was meant for the computer to resolve. Any shot you take needs to account for about five different modifiers, and damage resolution can be tricky due to the way armor works. Besides shooting, there is moving on a hex map, action points, cones of fire, crippling injuries, armor condition, and rules for fighting in vehicles. Using miniatures is all but required.
While this gets easier with practice (like any seemingly difficult RPG mechanic) the Fallout world is a violent one. The equipment section lists 90 firearms – from a one shot zip gun to Gauss rifles – for the small guns skill alone! And yet it goes on with stats for big guns, energy weapons, and melee equipment – all told the armory list run from page 74 to 105!. The presentation of Fallout PnP is on par with the production values of a game from the 80's. Its mostly dense blocks of “Courier” type font, broken by the occasional Vault Boy graphic or information box. However, the weapons sections are lavishly illustrated with images right from the game (and the classic humors descriptions taken from there as well.) Perhaps not the prettiest layout, but its very functional and its easy to find what you're looking for.