Fallout fans can return to the Commonwealth in the Winter of Atom campaign book

Fallout fans have a chance to return to the Commonwealth in Winter of Atom, a new campaign book for Modiphius Entertainment’s Fallout: The Roleplaying Game. Winter of Atom builds on the foundation of the tabletop system, providing tons of lore and encounters in the post-apocalyptic society built around Boston. There’s a war brewing in the Commonwealth, and it’s up to your plucky gang of heroes to save the day — or seize power for themselves.

As discerning lore fans may have guessed from the title, the Children of Atom — who show up in both Fallout 3 and 4 — play a prominent role in the campaign book.

“I went to the Children of Atom immediately because they’ve always been one of my favorite groups,” said Donathin Frye, lead narrative designer at Mophidius, in an interview with Polygon. “I wanted to approach it in a way where you can see there are different sects to the Children of Atom, and how they might interact, their different perspectives, how they might disagree with each other’s doctrine — which is something you see in religious history in the real world too.”

Image: Mophidius Entertainment

The Children of Atom use a lot of Christian imagery and feel the most like a current-day religion in the world of Fallout, but they worship nuclear energy and radiation, seeing the explosion of a nuclear bomb as the catalyst for new worlds and possibilities. Some sects are peaceful and benevolent, while others — like the antagonistic Last Son of Atom — are aggressively seeking to convert those to their cause via doses of radiation.

“[He’s] a megalomaniac, narcissistic, possibly slightly out-of-his-mind villain, who’s still very charismatic,” said Frye. “The players fight for the heart and soul of the settlements in the Commonwealth. That’s where I started, and it built itself from there.”

It’s a tricky balancing act to make a campaign book feel like Fallout but not interfere with the main canon. “As licensees, we have to be very careful about what we portray in the books we put out for Fallout,” said Samantha Webb, head of product at Mophidius. “So whether it’s the classic games, Fallout 3, New Vegas, or Fallout 4 in particular, we never want to paint Bethesda into a corner. And we never want to dictate to people that the Sole Survivor will make this choice, they’ll side with the Brotherhood of Steel and screw over the Minutemen or something.”

Winter of Atom is structured like a Fallout video game — there are quest hubs, key battles, and a main antagonist. The Last Son of Atom is wreaking havoc across the Commonwealth, and players will need to build their party up and pursue him in a multi-stage campaign. Along the way, they’ll aid new survivors — like the ghouls who run the Big Top circus, or the Sisters of the Forge at Mechminster Abbey.

There are three big set-piece battles that test a player’s strategy without feeling like a wargame with miniatures. Instead, player choice factors in. If the party has made allies in their adventure across the Commonwealth, they can call their new friends in to kick some Atomite ass. It all culminates in a confrontation with the Son himself, although the conclusion in a Fallout game is rarely clean and simple.

A series of ghouls runs a circus out of the Big Top, one of the locations players can encounter in the Winter of Atom campaign book.

Image: Mophidius Entertainment

“It feels very Fallout as well, that it’s not a simple black-and-white, These are the good guys and these are the bad guys,” Webb said. “But we still have a big bad villain to fight and go after — the structure of the book heads towards this boss fight at the end.”

Even though the antagonist is set up from the beginning, it will take players time to gather their strength and stop his plans. “This is a big campaign. It would take most groups, if you play the entire campaign as written, a pretty long time to go through it all,” Frye said. “I wanted it to feel just as big as a Fallout video game, without contradicting anything that comes after.”

It’s a familiar format: main quests, side quests, and big boss fights. Players can retrofit and rework the campaign to suit their needs, by either removing bits that don’t appeal to them, reframing the factions in a new location, or introducing new antagonists and threats. And once the plots resolve, a section of the book deals with the fallout of your choices. Dealing with the consequences, after all, is half the fun of making the choices.

Diamond City, Goodneighbor, the Brotherhood of Steel, and other Fallout 4 settlements and factions are featured — but players will mostly be concerning themselves with new and original threats. And if players aren’t interested in the Commonwealth, that’s OK too. “There are tools in the book for you to reset it somewhere else,” said Frye. “Take it apart, put it back together the way you want to.”

Winter of Atom will be available to pre-order in May, at which point the PDF will be available. Physical copies of the book are set to ship in July 2023.

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