The Vault - Fallout Wiki

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The Vault - Fallout Wiki
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SPECIAL is the ruleset that powers all Fallout games.

The name "SPECIAL" is an acronym standing for the primary statistics in the system: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck.

Development and use

Initially, Fallout was meant to use the GURPS system by Steve Jackson Games. However, there were difficulties in the license that could not be overcome, and so the two companies mutually agreed to end the partnership. Fortunately for the Fallout team, the only element of GURPS in Fallout was the ruleset and the setting was entirely Interplay's, so they could continue development. Chris Taylor, Jesse Heinig and Tim Cain developed the SPECIAL system in 2 weeks. Many elements from it are inspired by GURPS, but it is largely original. Initially, SPECIAL was going to be called ACELIPS, which Tim Cain came up with personally, but was changed within a day when another designer, Jason Swin, pointed out that the letters could be rearranged to spell "SPECIAL".[1]

Aside from Fallout games, SPECIAL was also used in Lionheart and Ultimate RPG plus two cancelled projects – TORN and Reflexive Entertainment's Deadlands game.


Characters in SPECIAL are defined through:


Official Fallout games

Implementation Perks Skills Traits Races
Fallout SPECIAL Yes Yes Yes No
Fallout 2 SPECIAL Yes Yes Yes No
Fallout 3 SPECIAL Yes Yes No No
Fallout 4 SPECIAL Yes No No No
Fallout 76 SPECIAL Yes No No No
Fallout Tactics SPECIAL Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel SPECIAL Yes No No Yes
Fallout: New Vegas SPECIAL Yes Yes Yes No
Van Buren SPECIAL Yes Yes Yes No

Other games

Implementation Perks Skills Traits Races
Lionheart SPECIAL Yes Yes Yes Yes
Simple Yes Yes Yes No

See also

  • GURPS by Steve Jackson Games


  1. Tim Cain GDC talk, @27:23–28:00: We wanted to name the system as well 'cause at the time, people were not only naming their games, but they were also naming the system you used in the game, and when we lost GURPS, everybody felt like we needed to have a name for the system. And since the system we developed had these seven stats – Agility, Charisma, Endurance, Luck, Intelligence, Perception, and Strength – so I said, 'Well, just put them in that order and it spells ACELIPS; that'll be the name of our system!' That lasted a day until Jason Swin, one of the other designers came in and said, 'Y'know, you can rearrange those letters to make the word "SPECIAL", and everyone liked that a little better. I've never forgiven him for that..."