Luck

Luck is an optional seventh ability score. If the GM chooses to use Luck in their game, it can sometimes be used in place of other abilities to affect the outcome of a roll. It is not, however, a “super-ability” that can always be substituted for other abilities. Luck should only be rolled when chance can realistically have a significant impact on the outcome of a roll, and when one of the following conditions are also true:

  • The GM can’t decide what ability (or abilities) make sense for what the character is attempting.
  • An ability check using one of the other six abilities was already rolled, but failed to establish a definitive outcome.

Luck can also be referred to rather than rolled as a method of breaking ties. For instance, say the Sole Survivor and a Super Mutant both roll 17 for Initiative, but the Sole Survivor has 14 Luck whereas the Super Mutant’s Luck score is 10. In this case, the GM could reasonably rule that the Sole Survivor acts first in the initiative order.

Unlike other ability scores, Luck is fluid. A character’s Luck bonus can be expended to gain one of several advantages. Conversely, a character with a Luck penalty grants similar advantages to their opponents.

A character can spend their Luck bonus on any of the following:

  • Roll an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw with advantage.
  • Cause an opposed creature’s attack roll or saving throw to be rolled with disadvantage.
  • After rolling an attack, spend one or more Luck to cause the attack to be a critical hit on a result 2 less than 20 per Luck spent. 1 luck = critical hit on 18+, 2 luck = critical hit on 16+, and so on.

If a character has a Luck penalty, the GM can spend points from their penalty in the same manner to give NPCs or even other PCs advantage against the character, force them to roll an attack or saving throw at disadvantage, or to turn an otherwise normal hit into a critical hit.

After a Luck point is spent and its effects occur, the character’s Luck ability bonus is temporarily reduced by 1 and their Luck ability score itself therefore temporarily reduced by 2, to a minimum bonus of +0 (and a minimum ability score of 10 or 11, depending on whether they started with an odd or even number).

After a GM spends a point of a character’s Luck penalty, their Luck penalty is decreased by 1 and their Luck ability score therefore increases by 2, to a maximum bonus of +0 (and a maximum ability score of 10 or 11, depending on whether they started with an odd or even number).

Once a character’s Luck bonus becomes +0 from either direction, no more Luck can be spent by either the player or the GM. The character’s Luck resets to its original score after a long rest.

Counters

Because a character’s Luck modifier can temporarily increase or decrease (taking their ability score along with it), one good, simple way to track these fluctuations is through the use of physical counters.

Counters for both Luck (your character has a Luck score bonus) and Bad Luck (your character has a Luck score penalty) are included in the Fifth Edition Fallout Counters Pack. You can download the pack from the Fifth Edition Fallout page on the Spilled Ale Studios blog.

Luck Counters

These counters can help track fluctuating Luck if this optional ability score is used in your game. Here’s how they work:

A player starts with as many Luck counters as their character’s Luck Score ability bonus. The number of counters they receive is known as their Luck Pool.

As a player spends their character’s Luck, they discard counters from their pool, setting the discarded counters aside in a central pool. However many counters are left in the pool after spending one Luck equals the character’s new ability bonus. The player can also calculate from this what their present Luck Score must be given that each Point spent reduces their ability by 2 (to a minimum of 10 or 11).

For instance, a character with 17 Luck has a bonus of +3, and therefore 3 Luck counters in their Luck Pool. The character’s player spends 1 Luck, and reduces their Luck pool to 2. Therefore, their current Luck bonus is +2. If they ever need to know their Luck ability score, they can figure it out: since they started with 17 Luck, their new Luck ability score must be 15.

The player’s spent Luck counters are returned to their pool after their character has a long rest, when their Luck ability score resets.

Bad Luck Counters

The player of a character with a negative Luck modifier doesn’t receive Luck counters. Instead, they are given Bad Luck counters equal to their Luck ability score penalty. The number of counters they receive is known as their Bad Luck Pool.

Bad Luck counters should be displayed prominently so the GM can keep track of how many the player still has. Alternatively, the GM may prefer to keep Bad Luck pools in their own possession, but should take care to be clear whose is whose if there are multiple, as well as to avoid them mingling.

As the GM spends a character’s Bad Luck, the player discards their counters to a central pool.

However many counters are left in the pool after one Bad Luck is spent by the GM equals the character’s new ability bonus. The player can also calculate from this what their present Luck Score must be given that each Point spent increases their ability by 2 (to a maximum of 10 or 11).

The player’s spent Bad Luck is returned to their pool after their character has a long rest.

Luck and Character Ability Scores

Introducing Luck to the game affects ability score generation as follows:

Ability Array

If using preset ability scores, the following are assigned between your seven abilities: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 8.

Point Buy

Ability scores are purchased using 30 points, rather than 27.

Fallout is the sole intellectual property of Bethesda Softworks. This is purely a fan work. Rules presented work with D&D 5e. Text and game mechanics presented in this wiki are not Open Game Content and should not be reproduced or repackaged in any way.