Fallout - Radiation System

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Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:12 am

What Is Your Radiation Level?
Dealing with radiation is a staple of the Fallout setting. The more radiation you've absorbed, the more radiation damage you've suffered, the worse your health gets. The fallout games have listed the results of radiation levels on tables, detailing everything from nauesa to skin loss. One thing's for certain, absorbing radiation can be hazardous to your health.

Building the Mechanic
Keep It Simple
Simplicity and elegance of design are key components in the Pony Tales system. Heck, in any system where the players need to track variables by hand rather than have a computer do it for them, simple design is key. The fewer variables there are, the better - all other things being equal of course.

We definitely want to represent radiation level in the simplest possible way.

Radiation is Bad
It’s tempting to have lots of Gamma-World style mutations pop up with increased radiation – but the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout definitely portrays radiation as hazardous to your health. While fun additional supplements to track crazy mutations can be made, the core of the radiation system should trumpet this element. Radiation is bad.

Due to afore-mentioned behavioral psychology, people hate losing something they value. A great way to make players cringe when something bad happens to them is to have the bad thing take away something they need to survive.

Higher Radiation is Bad
Players are used to seeing an increased Radiation count as a bad thing. This is definitely worth noting.

Mmmm…. Flavor
The flavor of radiation poisoning is that it is hazardous to your health. It breaks the character down and weakens them until they die.

The Past
Fallout has always had radiation poisoning cause debilitation in one way or another. Examples have been such things as the reduction of special stats or maximum health (through endurance penalties). Fallout has also used thresholds of radiation damage, with increasing penalties as your radiation level climbs higher and higher.

Putting It Together
It seems clear that an elegant way to solve the Radiation system is to apply the fallout thresholds. As your radiation goes up, other things go down. This both triggers the players’ natural familiarity with the fallout system and triggers loss-aversion, even more keenly felt by players when they’re writing penalties onto their sheets themselves than when a game system does it for them.

The question though remains: what penalties should the players suffer?

There are several ways to handle this.

The Simplest
Reaching certain thresholds reduces the player’s maximum health directly. This is both in line with the game’s own mechanics and is a clear way to show the player that radiation damage can be hazardous to their health. Every time a new Radiation Level was reached, the players would lose another chunk of their Max Health… Until they have a Max Health of 0. They will suffer and die unless their radiation level is reduced, so they can be healed.

Radiation Roulette
Radiation Levels could come with a variety of other debuffs, such as increasing player vulnerability, adding penalties to saving throws or reducing player damage. Whenever a radiation threshold is reached, a player would have to roll on the Radiation Table to determine what negative effect they suffer. This makes radiation a little scarier in how unpredictable the results can be, though it could be a bit difficult to balance. Could also slip a few, very few, interesting positive mutations into here.

Other Ways
Any combination of the above two options are definitely possible. Perhaps there could be a series of severe, but different, penalties as you go through the radiation levels. Perhaps you start by suffering vulnerability 1 at the first threshold, then suffer -5 to saving throws at the second threshold, then are weakened at the third threshold and eventually suffer -30 max health at the final threshold. This is more complicated to keep track of, naturally. Another option might be to just have one of those penalties get more and more severe – like Max HP in the simplest option. For example, higher tiers could just keep increasing vulnerability. However, the reduction of Max HP has precedent in the Fallout series (done through endurance penalties there) and feels like a direct and painful representation of Radiation Poisoning. On the other hand, the variability of the Radiation Roulette is simple in execution and unsettling for players… As they do not yet know what doom will befall them. They only know it’s going to be bad. Both are options I like a lot.


The Scale Itself
I’m partial to the 1000 scale at present. It has precedence in the Fallout system and the numbers (gaining 100 radiation) sound very big. However, I could easily be talked into the 100 scale. It doesn’t seem there’s much to choose between them, so I lean toward that which has precedence in the Fallout franchise.

Either way, there would be five major thresholds of radiation poisoning – with the final being reached at the top of the scale (100 or 1000) and resulting in death.


Conclusions
It seems the radiation scale can be easily done in a way that is very close to that in the Fallout franchise, is simple in execution, triggers loss-aversion in players to make the radiation feel painful and suits the flavor perfectly. With that structure, it seems like just a matter of working out the details.


Note: Radiation should probably cause out-of-combat penalties too. Just penalties to skill checks of some variation should work fine.


Last edited by Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Ramsus on Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:20 am

*sigh* I don't think it should cause in-combat penalties at all. It's a mostly out of combat mechanic. In fact, with the exception of Glowing Ones, it's virtually entirely out of combat. The only other thing I can think of that's combat related that adds rads is the mini-nuke. Why are you willing to violate your own concept that out of combat stuff shouldn't effect in-combat stuff and vice-versa?

There was seriously nothing wrong with the system for dealing with rads that I presented that anyone has actually stated so far. You guys have come up with other things you want it to do but, have yet to present any clear picture as to why you want it to do those things instead.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:22 am

Ramsus wrote:*sigh* I don't think it should cause in-combat penalties at all.

That's kind of a problem for a few reasons.

1) It's not in line with the Fallout games.

2) It doesn't make sense flavor-wise that your skin coming off and wretching vomit wouldn't cause your performance to dip in combat.

3) If something is supposed to feel like it's killing the players, damaging them in combat is a great way to make it feel dangerous.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Newbiespud on Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:03 pm

Ding ding ding ding ding!

I loved all of that discussion in the main thread about rads and mutations, but this pretty much hits the nail on the head, and is pretty in-line with what I generally had in mind.

The long and short of the matter is: In Fallout 3, radiation poisoning reduces the player's Endurance attribute. Lower Endurance means lower HP. (At more severe doses, rads also reduce Agility and Strength, but the Endurance penalty stacks with each rad-poisoning level.) In Pony Tales terms, the primary effect of radiation poisoning definitely means losing maximum HP.


As for implementing this, obviously Fallout 3's method of tracking "rads per second" is out. But the principle might be preserved. "Rads per hour" is more trackable, but chances are players won't be spending whole hours in radiation if they can avoid it. So how about this: Irradiated areas have a rating of "rads per minute," which is the measurement of how many rads your character will have accumulated per minute spent in that area.

And then that adds onto a scale from 0-1000, where a dose of 1000 rads likely leads to death.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:12 pm

Sounds like a plan Newbiespud. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it. Max HP reductions are so simple, so flavorful, it’s really pretty beautiful.

I’d also be interested to hear if anyone tries the ‘random negative effect’ style at each threshold. The uncertainty of that could, if designed well, be interesting. Russian Roulette is exciting after all, Radiation Roulette could work in compelling manners. I’ve heard similar gameplay elements, like the Gloomwrought 4e curse cards, can add a lot to making an area feel dangerous. Like a more sinister rod of wonder pointed at your head.

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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Prof. Charles Hoofington on Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:56 pm

I realy like the idea of "radiation roulette". Have some, some stat changes, a few neg mutations, a few positive mutations, it sounds like a plan. And i had tons of fun coming up with the (totaly unintentional pun approaching. I swear, it just happened) 'tons of fun' table.

Also, whilst i understand the idea around a decreasing meter for rads, i feel that it is too counter-intititive. I mean, people gain rads and radiation sickness, not lose [lifeforce] (couldnt think of a decent word to use). However, i do see the reasoning behind it. In a recent WH 40k game, i activly went out of my way to accumulate insanity points, taking pride in how many i had, and that i was one of the most insane characters. For simplicity's sake, i say we gain rads, and consider those that take pride in it a bunch of freaks. Mutated freaks to be percise (see what i did there? Its so funny i should do stand up.).
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:29 pm

Glad to hear you like the concepts. We definitely put work into them. sunny

As for the 'decreasing meter', that's been mis-communicated by me. I only wanted to make sure that the radiation meter triggered loss-aversion. By tying the radiation meter directly to clear, tangible forms of loss - we get the best of both worlds.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Prof. Charles Hoofington on Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:34 pm

Okay, so i have been think up of a framework we can use for a "radiation roulette" table. Its a d20 system, so it makes sense to use a d20. Now i am thinking that we need 10 mutations, 5 negative and five semi-positive, which will act as utility talants that provide a negative/semi-positive effect for your character, followed by 10 flat penalties. Make 5 of those affect health and the other 5 skillsor something similar and we have something like this:

1- neg mut. 1
2- neg mut. 2
3- neg mut. 3
4- neg mut. 4
5- neg mut. 5
6- skill pen. 1
7- skill pen. 2
8- skill pen. 3
9- skill pen. 4
10- skill pen. 5
11- health pen. 1
12- health pen. 2
13- health pen. 3
14- health pen. 4
15- health pen. 5
16- pos mut. 1
17- pos mut. 2
18- pos mut. 3
19- pos mut. 4
20- pos mut. 5

Does this sound like the sort of thing your thinking of? Or has my train of thought taken a wrong turn somewhere, as it is wont to do.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:46 pm

Prof. Charles Hoofington wrote:Okay, so i have been think up of a framework we can use for a "radiation roulette" table. Its a d20 system, so it makes sense to use a d20. Now i am thinking that we need 10 mutations, 5 negative and five semi-positive, which will act as utility talants that provide a negative/semi-positive effect for your character, followed by 10 flat penalties. Make 5 of those affect health and the other 5 skillsor something similar and we have something like this:

1- neg mut. 1
2- neg mut. 2
3- neg mut. 3
4- neg mut. 4
5- neg mut. 5
6- skill pen. 1
7- skill pen. 2
8- skill pen. 3
9- skill pen. 4
10- skill pen. 5
11- health pen. 1
12- health pen. 2
13- health pen. 3
14- health pen. 4
15- health pen. 5
16- pos mut. 1
17- pos mut. 2
18- pos mut. 3
19- pos mut. 4
20- pos mut. 5

Does this sound like the sort of thing your thinking of? Or has my train of thought taken a wrong turn somewhere, as it is wont to do.

If we do something like that, I'd reccomend making positive mutations much rarer. Radiation should feel very dangerous. Perhaps only on a natural 20 or, maybe, a 19.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Philadelphus on Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:24 am

If you want more than one positive mutation but still have them be very rare, you could create a Positive Mutation Table that you roll on when you get a 20.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:26 am

Philadelphus wrote:If you want more than one positive mutation but still have them be very rare, you could create a Positive Mutation Table that you roll on when you get a 20.

Makes sense to me. 5-10 simple positive mutations. Good thinking.

Could put the whole thing on a d100 scale too. That way you only need one table to refer to. Though it loses the cool feel of a natural 20.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  MirrorImage on Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:13 am

Alright, so 1000 Rads it is. Going back to the games real quick, the bare minimum level of radiation they had was "1 Rad/second," which as I established earlier is equivalent to 1 Rad/minute once you scale out the passage of time. That implies a life span of 16.66 (repeating, of course) hours from 0 Rads. Does that seem like a fair assessment? If so, we can start charting out "levels" of radiation as a DM guideline, or at the very least a quick reference table of what Rads/Minute equates to in hours and "life span" - the kind of thing that would be printed on the DM screen.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:15 am

Hmm... How can we make this as easy as possible for DMs to track?
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Lapis-Lazily on Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:31 am

The way I see it, mutation should not be an effect on a table for reaching radiation thresholds. To me, negative effects should be a constant at radiation levels. In Fallout 3, you could get a perk where your limbs regenerated if you had 400 or more RADs, but you still suffered the negative effects of being that irradiated. I can see random debuffs on a table in addition to regular effects, but mutation shouldn't be on it. I also, do not see mutation occurring at lower levels of radiation, especially not on a every 100 RADs system. In the games, you don't even have minor RAD poisoning until 200 RADs, with thresholds of worsening at 400, 600, 800, and death at 1000. I think Mutations should not occur until at least 400-500 RADs, and then maybe you could acquire additional the first time you reach any threshold above that in counts of 100. In other words, you mutate the first time you reach 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900 RADs. The mutations could be good or bad, but the majority should be bad to ensure that Radiation is never seen as a good thing.

As for making RAD counts easier to track, I think the solution to that may have to be up to the DMs who handle it. We could devise a few guidelines, but, in the end, people track numbers differently. So I can see a guideline system, but not a definitive ruling for tracking RADs.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Prof. Charles Hoofington on Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:19 am

just been reading FO:E Project Horizons, and i just realised that most mutations are a result of taint, not rads (although rads can also cause mutations), however, taint is usualy more lethal. just wondering if anyone has an ideas to impliment taint, if we are going to have it that is. i suppose it depends on whether we want to be closer to the fanfic or the game.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  MirrorImage on Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:28 am

Prof. Charles Hoofington wrote:just been reading FO:E Project Horizons, and i just realised that most mutations are a result of taint, not rads (although rads can also cause mutations), however, taint is usualy more lethal. just wondering if anyone has an ideas to impliment taint, if we are going to have it that is. i suppose it depends on whether we want to be closer to the fanfic or the game.




Consider that in the Fallout games, the more direct reason why most prepared food is irradiated is because they started using radiation as a flavoring right around the 2000s, I think, not because of mere exposure. The fics, however, have never directly acknowledged this that I know of and tends to treat it only as exposure. I see no reason why we shouldn't liberally draw inspiration from both.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Prof. Charles Hoofington on Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:01 am

well, my brain is a bit muddled from reading project horizons in one sitting (not including sleeps), but i gathered that taint is (minor spoilers ahead)
Spoiler:
from a magical materal called flux and used in everything, from fuel to manufacturing to sparkle-cola (not affiliated with the M.A.S), and was a vital ingrediant to many of the inventions that the M.A.S produced, including the alicorn potion, but has a nasty side effect of mutation on account of it being
(bigish spoiler)
Spoiler:
liquid Discord.


radiation however is simply (magical) fallout from the balefire bombs.

appoligies for the excessive spoiler tags, but i didnt want to spoil parts of FO:E:PH for those who havent read that far yet.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Pokonic on Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:33 pm


I would think that while the Radiation table would mostly be sickness and eventual death (yay!) with about 20% of the options being of the transformitive kind, Tainted-infected creatures get a chart with a options that are easly more extreme (Rather then get cancer and die, you might get super-cancer OR grow a tentical. Or both). Hence, while radiation is generaly bad, Tainting is even worse because it takes just a little bit to, say, make your hooves the consistancy of jelly, because it's not naturaly passed through your body like Rad's. Every bit of exposure is something to take into account.

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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Fallow Field on Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:15 pm

Just a suggestion: Maybe instead of actively decreasing maximum HP, radiation exposure deals a sort of Radiation Damage in therms of HP that can't be cured with normal health potions but with special mixes like RadAway or other medicines.

Basically, you enter a mildly radioactive area that deals 1 Radiation Damage per minute. So long as you stay in that area, you take 1 HP worth of damage that cannot be cured by normal means.

Say everyone enters that area, does their thing, and leave after five minutes. They all take 5 Radiation Damage which will stick with them until they get proper radiation healing. Their Max HP sort of stays the same, its just they've got a bunch of damage they can't heal by normal means.

There are also monsters, weapons and hazards that deal Radiation Damage, like say a Glowing One who lets out a burst of radiation. This deals damage like any other attack, except some of it is in the hard-to-heal Radiation damage subtype. You might also find grenades full of toxic waste or energy weapons that deal Radiation damage.

On the other hand, you might get radiation suits that are designed to protect against radiation damage. Such a suit might have say... 5 points of resistance against radiation damage and basically let you ignore the 1 Rad per minute area effects and tank through radiation attacks like the ghoul or Rad Grenades... but higher concentrations of radiation (namely, those that deal more than 5 radiation damage) can still seep through.

Treating radiation like a damage type could help design defenses and balance it against other types of attacks or damage.


On the flip side, if radiation is treated like a damage type it would be easier to deal with ghouls and mutants who are healed by radiation. Just say that for every point of damage a normal pony would take from Radiation Damage equals a point of healing for ghouls.


As for mutations, I'm pretty sure that in Fallout: Equestria its stated the majority of mutations are a result of taint and ghouls are a result of the necromantic energies of the Balefire Bombs. If you want to turn into a ghoul then you'd have to work with the various Balefire flames left behind from the bomb, just soaking yourself in radiation will most likely get you killed.

So... Mutations come from Balefire and Taint. Maybe exposure to one of these results in some kind of status decrease for a day or so and if you get healed in time then no problem. But if you don't get healed in time then you get a random mutation. Its specifically stated in Fallout: Equestria that Taint cannot be cured (although the ponies at Tenpony Tower do have a cure for it) while RadAway is relatively common in the wasteland. I think that's good enough reason to keep Radiation damage and Mutations separate. Radiation damage can be cured relatively easily (though not as easily as normal health damage) but Taint is far more difficult to cure and results in mutations.

Heck, if Blackjack is any indication then Taint exposure won't even kill you... it'll just mutate you horribly. Eh, kinda like the shambling "centaurs".

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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Appkes on Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:37 pm

I personally like the 1000 scale, with mutations beginning at 200, and only 1 or 2 good onesoL
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Hayatecooper on Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:01 am

Posting on old threads like a boss.

Been reading over this (fairly quickly I must admit) and wondering setting up a system like this would work.

Radiation Table. Every time a player gets to a certain radiation threshold they roll a d10 and gain that effect. Players may only roll on that threshold once. If a player gets to a 1000 rads twice, they die(Or something horrible happens.)(This is mainly to stop people downing rad-away and then running into the radiation again to try and get every effect on that list)

rads example table:

Level 100
1. You take -1 to endurace
2. You feel kinda sick and dizzy -1 to perception
3. You feel your teeth rotting, -1 to persuasion
4. - 1 athletics
5. - 1 acrobatics
6. - 1 Survival(Streetwise)
7. - 1 Mechanics
8. - 1 Arcana
9. - your overall health drops outside of combat to 29
10. you feel more resistant to rads. If an area would give you rads/minute. You don't collect rads for the first 3.


The quick version is every 100 rad levels you gain you roll a d10. 9 of those effects are negative, 1 is positive. The higher the roll the more punishing the effect is, on a 10 however they gain a bonus. This penalties and bonus's of course rise the higher the radiation level is, the greater the risks but the rewards will be higher too. For example on 1000 rolling a 1 could mean instant death while rolling a 10 would result in you coming back as a ghoul and getting cool radials akin to Mechanical but based more around an undead theme obviously.

My 2 cents on it anyway, and probably fairly close to what everyone else has been saying. Hopefully this becomes a thing soon, cause I'd love to see someone set up a FOE Skype game; would join without hesitation.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Appkes on Tue Mar 05, 2013 5:06 pm

Yay, glad to see someone has noticed FOE again. It just sort of fell through the cracks, so I assume newbiespud is either too busy to work on it or forgot it after focusing on something else
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Hayatecooper on Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:20 pm

Probably the latter. Must admit, tempted to try and write something up properly for PT:FOE. I mean hell if I don't do it I'm never going to get to shut Ghouls in the head with a levitating shotgun.
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  thematthew on Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:28 pm

As a side note: being someone who actually works with radioactivity I would like to point out that you would be getting REM (or more likely mREM since 1 REM is on the whole pretty dangerous if you're getting exposed to it in a short period), not Rads (which are a convenient measurement for radioactivity in an area, and have little at all to do with measuring the damaging capabilities of the radiation you're dealing with.)
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Re: Fallout - Radiation System

Post  Hayatecooper on Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:58 pm

True.

But we go with rads cause that's what the game itself and thus the fic measures them in. I don't know why they do, it just happens.
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