There is no God, and the proof of this can be found in a .pdf file from Fatal Games.
If this is the first time that you've ever heard of FATAL, you're in for a fun ride. Well, let me rephrase: You're in for a "fun ride" if you consider a fun ride to be, say, hitting your nutsack with a tack hammer. For about four hours.
Sartin: The nutsack/tack hammer thing wouldn't be a fun ride, but it is preferable to actually playing FATAL.
. . .
Oh, hi. I'm Jason Sartin. You may remember me from such classic RPGnet moments as "the longest fucking SenZar review ever" and all those humanity-hating and "go kill yourself already" posts I leave on Tangency. I'll be helping Darren a lot with this review, because friends don't let friends review FATAL alone.
Also, this is obviously going to be one of those grandstanding "spectacle" reviews that tries to be crowd-pleasing. Those of you who hate that kind of review should do the honorable thing and whine your asses off in the forum below.
You think I'm joking. You think that I'm exaggerating for comic effect. But you will be nodding your head with agreement, and also holding your swollen, bruised nutsack if you ever happen to open the FATAL .pdf up and give it anything but the most cursory of readthroughs.
Sartin: He's not joking, people, and I wasn't, either. Those of you wondering what the most ass-tastic RPG of all time would look like - the one whose suck factor will forever demolish all challengers and tower over the ages with all the majesty of a homeless, mindless, drooling, shit-obsessed, impotent moron standing on a mountain of used Dragon Ball Z condoms - can finally die in peace.
The arguments are over. Anyone who says anything else is the worst RPG ever will...well, I'll inject kerosene into my bladder, piss on them, and then set them on fire. This game sucks THAT much.
Godfuckingdammit. We're hardly four words into the review, and already the game has dragged me down to its level.
So, why is it so bad?
'Cause it's the Necronomicon of role-playing games. Not in the cool way, where it's a source of occult knowledge with a terrible, terrible price. It's the Necronomicon in the sense that if you leave a printed copy on your shelf with other RPGs, then the other RPGs will be clustered around the dead, violated body of one of its own in the morning. FATAL will most likely be down at the station in the sex crimes interrogation room, trying its best to put on an innocent face and failing miserably.
Sartin: Another useful comparison is that FATAL is basically anti-thought. As you can already see, it reacts violently with real sentience.
See, Synnibarr was bad, but you have to like Synnibarr.
Yes, it's a terrible role-playing game in just about every respect, but it's got heart; it's like a punch-drunk, half-blind boxer who hasn't realized that his manager is now "arranging fights" by pushing him in front of a speeding Mack truck and ringing a bell. He's going to get a license plate number embossed into his skull, but he's still out there, still trying.
Raven c.s. McCracken, although he's made the occasional misstep, also seems like a decent guy; just a tad misguided when it comes to writing games. There's an innocence to Synnibarr, a lack of subterfuge that makes it fun to think about, if not to read. If nothing else, it's the only game that I've seen so far that has a Midnight Sunstone Bazooka in it.
Sartin: Yeah. I like how World of Synnibarr is uniquely deranged. The first time I read through it, I knew I would never see anything else quite like it, like only McCracken could have made a game that's fucked up the way Synnibarr is fucked up. It's the Plan 9 From Outer Space of RPGs...its execution was horrible, but its wrongness has this charming quality to it, and I can't help liking it nowadays. I've actually got more entertainment out of it than most of the "good" games I own, and I don't regret buying it, so in a bizarre way, McCracken actually succeeded.
But even compared to Synnibarr's few and faint good points, FATAL doesn't have anything going for it. It's the shitty game to end all shitty games, and it could have been written by any 14 year old with an obsession with rape and defecation, no design skill, a warez copy of Photoshop, and months and months of lifeless weekends to work on it. Seriously, if Byron Hall and McCracken got into a RPG design fight, McCracken would reduce Hall to sucking his wang so fast every streetwalker in Las Vegas would be taking notes.
FATAL - well, if Synnibarr is timecube.com, then FATAL is tubgirl.com. (That last link, incidentally, is EXTREMELY GROSS AND NOT WORK SAFE IN THE SLIGHTEST.) It's a product so twisted, so fundamentally broken in its attitude towards sexuality, so unbelievably stupid that you'd think that the authors are trying to make themselves look like they're prime candidates for institutionalization. They're not, which makes it even scarier.
Sartin: By the way, you'll notice lots and lots of these personal attacks on the creator and players of this game as this drags on.
While this is bad form in normal RPG reviews, it's hard to avoid here. For one, it's impossible for a game designer we shouldn't insult to create a game this goddamn stupid. For another, Hall and his personal drooling fanboys went out of their way to honor RPGnet's forums with their personal shot at the world record for "number of flame threads started before one's daily basement Necronomicon (Waldenbooks version) reading". And you know, I think they won it, too.
For those who weren't there, the flame wars weren't very interesting. It was all simply another chapter in the long-ass book of moron game designers who have created the "BEST GAEM EVAR!!!" Except that in this chapter, the obligatory AD&D clone featured vagina circumference stats and rape rolls, and the moron game designer's followers had all the class and brain activity of scrotum lint.
Oh, they want to be all evil and shocking and crap. God, how pathetically they tried. I mean, imagine opening a door to find your mother and sister raping each other with pink strap-ons. And you then realize that you've never seen their bare asses before, because you're pretty sure you would have remembered the swastikas tattooed there. And upon noticing you, they grin wickedly and give you the finger in unison.
It's shocking in a way that instantly blights out all rational thought, but later, you'll have to admit the finger and wicked grinning part was kinda cool.
That's the feeling the FATAL morons so wish they could provoke.
Instead, they're more like opening that door to find your weeks-unwashed Otaku brother in his soiled underwear, masturbating furiously to - of all the goddamn things in the world - an Archie comic. And on his bare ass is a tattoo of, inexplicably, someone else's ass, and he's disgustingly fat enough for it to be a good 14 inches across. And as he goes at it, he's quietly moaning to himself about how worthless women, fags, and niggers are and how they should all be raped or murdered.
It's still disturbing on all kinds of levels. But it's the kind of stupid disturbing that ends with you having to answer questions to the satisfaction of a prosecuting attorney.
Point is, the FATALites have repeatedly proven that treating them with any respect or dignity is pointless, so we're not going to waste your time or ours with the effort. Back in their raving lunatic days, I had thought that Raven c.s. McCracken and the SenZar guys had been full of it, but Byron Hall and his fellow lobotomy candidates made them look like Rebecca Borgstrom on a prozac bender.
But don't worry! None of this will be a problem, because even if you can ignore the misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and all-around idiotic mindset of its core supporters, FATAL blows goats with such panache that it's hard to imagine anyone looking at it and not concluding that Hall should've given up the needle.
By the way, you may notice that I write the "authors" of the game, rather than "author". There's a reason for this: While the game lists only a single author, there are many signs that lead me to believe that Ye Olde Abominatione has more than one author, although uncredited. You'll find an explanation later, but I just wanted to get that out of the way.
Sartin: Meanwhile, you'll notice I've simply gone with acting like there's one author. What can I say? It's easier when there's only one legendary-industry-boob-for-the-next-ten-years to blame, and the thought that another human being actually said to him "Hey, FATAL sounds really cool. Let me contribute to it!" is too depressing to contemplate.
Let's start with the title page.
Yeah, it's that bad.
Sartin: [a la Duff Man] Oh, yeah! [/Duff Man] "FANTASY ADVENTURE TO ADULT LECHERY" in crappy you-can-see-the-asses-of-the-little-engraved-figures font. Right inside a border made up entirely of random "garbage" characters.
While we're on it, if you can queue up "Optimistic", by Radiohead, you'll have a good idea of how the both of us feel right now.
FATAL claims to be "the most difficult, detailed, realistic and historically/mythically accurate role-playing game available."
This is the most damnable lie I have ever seen in my history as an RPG reviewer.
In no sense is that statement true; as a matter of fact, in every sense of the word, that statement is so false as to provide the golden mean for statements of falsehood. FATAL is difficult only in the sense that peeling your face off a strip at a time is difficult; detailed only in the respects that give the creators an erection; realistic - Jesus, I can't even go into it - historically/mythically accurate only in the sense that its creators occupy the same physical world that these myths originated upon, and about as accurate as banging your ass on the keyboard to write the Gettysburg Address.
Sartin: Darren is correct, but it should be noted that this is actually a good title page, as it neatly hints at much (though by no means all) of what sucks about this game.
ADULT LECHERY? Perhaps it's nitpicking to point out the redundancy (oooh, oooh! What's next? The fantasy game of "violent combat"? The sci-fi game of "starfaring space travel"? The White Wolf game of "ah fuck it, just gimme the cool powers already"?), but it's a good indicator of the level of thought that went into the whole game. And, of course, it reminds you that this won't be just another Tolkien-clone RPG, but a raping and shitting Tolkien-clone RPG!
DIFFICULT? Oh, yeah. Anyone with the force of will to endure reading all 900+ pages of this homesick abortion of a game (without going insane and making sacrifices to sweet Azathoth for a merciful annihilation of the universe) is no one to be fucked with. And anyone who could do that and actually play by its anal-retentive trip to hell of a rules system (without succumbing to Hall's probable compulsion to inhale Draino by the assloads) would have to be some kind of demigod.
And yes, it's saying difficult like it's a good thing.
But hey, ain't that ALWAYS the eternal struggle of gaming? "Play a difficult game and get massive headaches because it's needlessly complicated and PC-killing-because-I-accidentally-dropped-my-rusty-dagger-and-impaled-my-favorite-intestinal-tract" versus "Go with something that won't make me roll five times on the Random Shit Discoloration Table every time I cast Light My Finger and thus spend more time actually doing things"?
REALISTIC AND HISTORICALLY/MYTHICALLY ACCURATE? Oh, I bet.Player 1: R0XX0R! This is the best system for emulating the myths of Heracles I've ever seen! And it's fucking sweet how all the gods, monsters, and heroes can't do anything that wouldn't be possible in real life!So, yeah.
Player 2: Hell, yeah. When I was trying to get past Cerberus, he wasn't any tougher than a pit bull with two extra rubber heads! And later, when I was masturbating on the temple altar and I angered the gods, they didn't do anything but just Not Appear. Dude, you can't HANDLE the realism!
Player 1: W00T! If this were any more realistic, you'd be able to TASTE the penis length!
Player 2: Testify! Lots of people in history had penises, so it's ultra realistic and historically accurate to put in rules about that!
Player 1: Man, I could cream myself just thinking about this! I can't WAIT to see if it has rules for hut building, grass growing, nose picking, and the spread of Christianity, since people experienced those during history, too!
Okay, I gave the subtitle more attention than it deserved. Let's just say that if Hall set out to write ONE FUCKING LINE that instantly screams that the ensuing RPG will be very nearly as cool as getting diagnosed with cancer and Necrotizing Fasciitis bacteria on the same day, he succeeded brilliantly.
And for the fun part, the FATAL Games logo is "Where the dice never lie." I would suggest that the owners of FATAL Games must have dice that come up "THIS GAME SUCKS, BEAVIS" no matter how they are thrown, or we must chalk this up as yet another falsehood.
Sartin: Yeah, I really like that logo, too. It was nice of the FATALites to point out that when you play games from other companies, your dice may lie to you. Ha, I knew it! All those times I was playing D&D or SenZar, and that d20 would show a 3 or some shit when I knew I rolled a 20. Thanks, FATAL, for showing me the way!
No, wait. This game still proves once and for all that Darwin was an ass-grabbing fool.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that it's nine hundred pages long?
This is why I summoned help from Jason Sartin, people.
Sartin: Yeah, thanks. Now watch, by the end, I'll probably have to summon someone else to help me. We'll have Justin Bacon or Scott Lynch or Elissa Carey or some other poor bastard down here to write the closing paragraph and talk me out of climbing a tower and shooting random basement-dwelling losers.
Mmmmmm...killing potential FATALites...
But yeah. It's nine hundred pages long, and you can hardly turn one page without seeing something that's desperately stupid or sucking or screaming "Look how COOL and HISTORICALLY ACCURATE and HUGE DICKED I am, because I'm terrified you won't notice!". You can see the bind we're in.
This is from the second page:
"For instance, assume you are an adventuring knight who has just fought his way to the top of a dark tower where you find a comely young maiden chained to the wall. Some may choose to free the whimpering wench. Others may free her while hoping to win her heart. Instead of seeking affection, some may talk to her to see if they can collect a reward for her safe return. Then again, others may be more interested in negotiating freedom for fellatio. Some may think she has no room to bargain and take their fleshly pleasures by force. Others would rather kill her, dismember her young cadaver, and feast on her warm innards."
So, basically, FATAL is the date rape RPG.
Sartin: It's also the cock fruit, attacking turd, and (of course) gay buttfucking ogre RPG, but one thing at a time! [It's like an express train full of things designed to hurt your mind; just when you think that it's finished running you over, another car hits you, grinding yet another valuable part of your soul beneath its wheels.]
There's not really a whole lot of ways that I can get around this: FATAL, as a whole, is your chance to stop being the good guy and start being the soulless rapist that you and your tiny clique of brain-dead morons knew they could be. You can come home from a long day of being shunned by anybody with a soul, wipe the Mace from your eyes, scuttle down into the cold concrete of the basement and engage in what amounts to a verbal circle-jerk with a clique of people just as terribly broken as you are.
Sartin: I'll cut in here to say that while being a brain-dead rapist is an important part of the FATAL experience, there are two further aspects that make it the visible-from-space pile of festering associty that it is.
1) Juvenile ideas that even the SenZar guys would've been too embarrassed to touch. You know, like magical fumbles that cause clones to spawn from your cock, or make you shit constantly, or make you start anal-fisting your target while trying to bite your ear, or make you recite stupid lines that were probably ripped off from metal songs every time you cast a spell. Or magical ingredients like vaginal yeast or the "cunt-pipe" of an elderly virgin.
2) Rules so mind-bogglingly stupid and complicated that you'd beg for a no holds barred Rifts/Synnibarr crossover instead. Note that this can overlap with the juvenile ideas, like with how likely you are to critical hit someone's clitoris, or the magical fumble that makes your nutsack swell to 10d1000 (inches, we can only presume, it's not labeled) for the next 3d3 days.
But like I said, one thing at a time.
While we're still on the second page, by the way, check out that first sentence: "Welcome to a fantasy medieval role-playing game that focuses on realism and detail whenever possible without sacrificing fun." (Emphasis mine.)
Later, when you've seen Hall's idea of "realism and detail without sacrificing fun", you'll be invited to laugh bitterly with me.
You know, it occurs to me that most games of FATAL are probably played with only the one hand, since -
OW. OW. FUCK. MY FUCKING BRAIN. OW.
Remind me not to go down that path again.
Sartin: Not so fast! You forgot to picture them being the only gamers who have to wipe off their dice when they're done! I'd bet nothing but nothing will jinx your dice faster than leaving someone's semen on them. Hell, when it happens, the FATALites probably laugh and shout (a la Saruman) "You will taste MAN JUICE!" Ugh. [Stop putting IMAGES INTO MY GODDAMN MIND, DAMMIT. OW!]
See, here's the thing: Vampire is a game that can also be classified as a date-rape game. You're a vampire, a mythic creature who's been sexualized by about three hundred years worth of literature into a romantic creature; and yet, as a vampire, you're stealing a part of people's bodies without their permission, every single night. You're eventually going to kill one of them when you get a little too hungry one night.
And do you know why Vampire is the superior game by far? Because the game forces you to find out what you'll do to survive. If you have to drink somebody else's blood in order to live another night, will you do it? Will you drain some bum on the street, or stalk somebody for three hours and take only a taste? Or will you subsist on dogs and cats? Every time you stab somebody in the throat with your fangs, drink the blood - even if you're not thinking about it in the game - you're essentially risking somebody else's life for your own. You can say that you're a vampire, you have to do that, but nothing's stopping you from seeing the next sunrise except your own sense of self-preservation, even when you're already dead. Yes, you are playing a vampire in an RPG, but you can still kill yourself in the game and make it a valid, in-character choice.
Sartin: Hate to cut into Darren's pathos, but the thing I remember most from Vampire was how you can chainsaw whack someone with 8 successes and still barely hurt them. Fucking dice pools.[Oh, hush.]
But yes, sadly, even in this area, Vampire is way superior to FATAL.
It's in the background, but it's there. You have to make a decision. In Vampire, it's an adult decision: Do I kill to live? In FATAL, it's "Date rape and killing and cadavers are all cool! YEEEEEEAH! THANK YOU FOR SHOWING ME THE WAY, SPRAY PAINT HUFFING AND SOCIAL RETARDATION!"
Maybe there's some subculture that's into this; judging from the FATAL theme song, which sounds like the Cookie Monster chasing a drum kit being pushed down a flight of stairs, I'd guess thrash metal or speed metal or metal metal or whatever the fuck they call it nowadays.
Sartin: Incidentally, the FATAL theme sucked enough to make Darren beg me to kill him. If for some reason you aren't interested in suicide, I would recommend not listening to it. Hell, I would recommend not paying attention to FATAL at all, but here you still are. You've got problems, people.
See, even the most extreme of this stuff - say, Cannibal Corpse - is designed to take a stage persona, say "Screw you, world!" for a few hours, then being regular people again; it's born out of showmanship, like an extreme form of professional wrestling sans the body slams. FATAL isn't a piece of showmanship; it's one of the diaries from Se7en, a document pretending that it's perfectly normal and healthy and winds up painting its authors as terribly, terribly maladjusted.
Sartin: During the FATAL flame wars, Hall really did have that psychotically calm John Doe demeanor in his posts. It might actually have been impressive, but any chance for that went out the window when he never defended any of his bullshit arguments or claims when MacLennan, Patrick Chipman, and everyone else started questioning him. Well, and when I couldn't help picturing him in a lavender bunny suit as he typed. (Okay, no, that's not originally what I was picturing him doing, but it's a sanity-preserving substitute.)
And I am now on the second page.
If you want another good example of how the game's authors seem desperate to lie to themselves, and by extension the reader, you can check out their claims that they're not really sexually deviant; they're just including it for the purpose of completeness. For example:
The information in this game does not represent the world-views of Fatal Games, nor is extreme violence or extreme sex condoned by Fatal Games. Instead, the information is included for completeness.
And this weak bullshit might fly, if it weren't for the fact that they were openly drooling over the possibility of people extorting sexual favors and/or raping a helpless woman not one page before.
Sartin: That, and it's a trick statement anyway. Remember that FATALites lack the necessary balls to even approach women in real life. Their supposed non-endorsement of rape/violence stems from cowardice, not "Hey, it's just a game."
But hey. If you don't want to play dirty by personally attacking the FATALites, just consider this: "Okay, they don't condone rape, misogyny, and five hundred foot nutsacks...they're just really proud that the overwhelming focus FATAL puts on rape, misogyny, and five hundred foot nutsacks makes it SO much more 'realistic' and 'historically/mythically accurate' than every other RPG available!"
Doesn't really work, does it?
Or, even better:
For instance, the detail of violence may exceed that of other role-playing games, as crucial damage may explicitly explore the destruction of many body parts and internal organs.
Except that what the guys at FATAL know about medical science and/or the human body is so small as to actually suck away from the collected body of medical knowledge; as a matter of fact, there are entire anatomy texts that are now blank because the knowledge has been drained away to fill the terrible wound that FATAL made.
Sartin: Those of you who are upset that Hall took a giant piss on anatomical science can take heart in knowing that he also soaked everything that's ever been written about art, medieval history, and RPG design while he was at it.
Meanwhile, Testosticles forbid that just fucking describing an injury isn't any better than FATAL's lame ass "Crucial Damage" charts. I mean, really:02% Belly ButtonOpponents belly is hacked, though no critical organs behind it. The small intestine may (70%) spill forth. If it does, the sight of this causes the opponent to need to pass a Health check at TH 50 or be stunned for 2d4 rounds.
Yeah, having your small intestine spill forth sure can be distracting! (And yes, any "It's just a flesh wound!" jokes you want to make here are entirely appropriate. It's not a life-threatening critical.)
Further, role-playing situations that accurately represent mythology are likely at some point to include rape, molestation, encounters in brothels or possibly situations that deviate more from social norms.
Enjoy this first mention of "Well, because it's historical, we're not in trouble." As much in life, the authors of FATAL use history and mythology as they use any other source: Go through it for the dirty parts, ignore everything else, then claim that you're entirely accurate. (And while there are myths that deal with rape - most of them Greek - molestation, brothel visits, or giving birth to a clone through your cock didn't appear in any of them. Nice try, though.)
Sartin: This would be a good place to rag on the "one thousand hours of research" the FATALites are ever so quick to bleat that Hall did when he shat out FATAL. While many of you have been understandably skeptical of this figure, I can easily see it. In fact, going from FATAL's end product, Hall's research probably went something like:20 hours: Playing AD&D and thinking "I could so do better than this."
0.4 hours: Hitting head on a toilet and becoming absolutely sure of that.
2 hours: Being rejected by fuckable women. (If you're willing to expand the definition of "fuckable" to include the words "within four drinks", then the final research total can be considered well over 1,000 hours.)
25 hours: Huffing paint and listening to death metal.
0.2 hours: Composing the FATAL theme while still disoriented from the paint huffing.
20 hours: Thumbing through every medieval history book that has the word "prostitute".
5 hours: Accidentally flipping through Roman or Biblical history books and either a) mistaking them for medieval history books, or b) failing to realize that, as human society varied drastically over the course of history, writing FATAL in a way that portrays society being pretty much the same EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME and calling it "historically accurate" is a bad move.
0.4 hours: Mistaking a policewoman for a prostitute.
10 hours: Flipping through anatomy and medical texts while drunk. "Yeah, I think you could make a Health check to survive if your sternum was driven into your heart. Way cool."
2 hours: Repairing punctures in "Sexpot Annie".
5 hours: Flipping through kids' mythology books and watching Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, and realizing (with the help of a large, skull-shaped bong) that Zeus and Odin must have been total ass-bandits and they just left that part out, and "mythological" just means whatever the fuck you want to make up.
10 hours: Reading up on non-cognitivism, ether theory, and physiognomy without realizing that they're not exactly respected ideas anymore.
900 hours: Circle jerking with Torturon, Burnout, and Psychotic Messanger [sic] of Death.
I can't verify any of this, of course, but it's the combination of events that would most plausibly result in FATAL.
By the way, did I mention that this book is 900 pages long?
'Cause I'm going to be bringing it up as this review progresses.
Because you bastards owe me.
Sartin: Yeah, what he said. I never thought I'd see actually wanting to play Imagine or Palladium, but now that I've gone through FATAL, damned if I can even remember what sucked so much about them.
Ugh. Fuck "owing", gentle readers. I'm coming for your young.
What makes FATAL especially fun is the droning, obsessive tone of its rules sections - for example:
Finally, observe that when these sub-abilities and abilities are determined initially for a character, the abilities are determined for young adults. After the sub-abilities are described and the tables presented, aging effects are illustrated which must be referenced throughout the character's life. The last chapter details how two abilities, Physical Fitness and Strength, may be increased through persistent exercise, and also, an alternate rolling method is presented.
And there's that not-English again; where, when you rewrite it for a review, you find yourself restructuring the way that you speak English. Sure, you may have been able to write and/or speak it before; but then you read something like this, and you find yourself taking sentences out into the shed at midnight, butchering them, burying parts of them in the backyard and then redistributing what's left over the original document as a warning to any other proper use of the language in the book.
Sartin: On the "bright" side, FATAL is arguably not as mind-numbingly written as Aria or Multiverser. On the "you haven't been huffing butane" side, that's much like saying "Okay, so I slid naked down a giant greased razor blade, but at least I'm not the guy who was thrown into a vat of fire ants."
In both cases, either outcome is totally stupid and painful, and the party responsible should be gang-beaten with cattle prods until the God of Bitch-Slapping finally comes down and says "Alright, I think he's had enough..." Except that in the most obnoxious case of all these, the God would suddenly add "Oh, wait, this was for writing FATAL, wasn't it? Here, let me recharge those for you."
Yes, I'm actually saying that writing FATAL is more worthy of a cattle prod beating than throwing someone into a vat of fire ants.
See, try this:
These abilities only represent your character at the start of his life, so they will change as he ages; charts for this are elsewhere. Later on, we'll detail how you can increase your Strength and Physical Fitness, as well as an alternate method of rolling dice. Also, since you're reading FATAL, you should probably be aware that this game sucks.
See? English. No Grant Morrison-esque portals opened up into a not-world in which the English language was thrown down, danced upon and then sodomized. Not yet, at least.
Sartin: Needless to say, there aren't any editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, or non-retards in FATAL's credits. I'm not convinced there are any human beings, either, but we won't get into that.
Instead, I'd rather take this moment to rant that this is a great example of why editors are really damned important if you're writing a RPG. They're not just good for correcting typos, but making sure your writing technique does not end up sucking all that is ass. If you're not the best writer in the history of the universe, don't end up like FATAL! Get those editors!
So check this out: There's five primary stats, right? But, in a nod towards the residents of insane asylums who smear the walls with their own feces, each stat has four sub-stats which determine vital, important information like, say, enunciation, or kinetic beauty. So, you actually have a stat that determines how well you can speak, or how pretty it looks when you move.
Sartin: Would this be a bad place to mention that you have to randomly roll all 20 sub-abilities? And the roll is 4d100, halve it, and subtract 1? Then you go back and calculate each primary ability by averaging all four of its sub-abilities. Which is really cool when you consider that primary abilities are rarely if ever used by the rules.
So, basically, saying that this game should be burned is an insult to fire.
The worst part of reviewing this shit is that I actually have to think about it. I actually have to read this shit, then try to explain it to you, then I have to spend half an hour with a pencil up my nose trying to fish out the piece of brain that died the minute that I tried to use it to understand FATAL. And God almighty, that's not a fun job. I'm genuinely worried that this is going to start interfering with my life, so that I start wind up adding on pointless, redundant statistics to everything that I do, like the guy who writes Hybrid.
Also, for x=(c)(number of words in review)*ycc+kill me you fucks kill me.
Sartin: It's hard to believe, but even Hybrid is less of a waste of atoms than FATAL. You can catch my review of it here.
Just for example: Charisma includes Facial Charisma (how good you look), Vocal Charisma (how you sound,) Kinetic Charisma (how pretty you look when you move), and Rhetorical Charisma (how fast you CAN FUCKING SPEAK.) That's right, everybody: You can determine how fast your character can speak, in words per minute. What a statistic.
Sartin: Yeah, where to begin? I mean, I can't count the number of campaigns I've seen where it matters whether your face can be THAT much prettier than your body. But don't worry. Even if you blow that 4d100/2-1 roll for it, you can beat it by wearing a bag over your head, like most FATALites probably do in real life.
And while we're on the subject, it's cool that Kinetic Charisma is entirely separate from Hand-Eye Coordination and Agility. That's right! You can be the clumsiest, most spastic sack of shit who ever lived, and yet still inspire boners because the way you pick up that bottle of Jack Daniels to help you get through this game is just so Kinetically Charismatic. Meanwhile, you fans of the controversial pastime of hot, sweaty man-love will enjoy how, with Vocal Charisma, the lowest possible rating will get you a description of "gay".
And Rhetorical Charisma...yeah. I mean, this happens all the time in the dungeon:Player: Okay, the dark priest HAS to be down to his last few hit points. As I take my next strike, I'm gonna shout "This is for my brother! Eat testicle pubes and die, scrotum breath!"
Gamemaster: Now, hold on! I'm not sure you could get that entire sentence out before you hit. Oh, if only there was SOMETHING we could roll to see!
I spent some time trying to scream, but nothing came out but blood.
Sartin: Okay, people. Remember that Darren's a professional, and we're reviewing on a closed course. Don't projectile vomit blood at home!
I should also spend some time describing the artwork for this game. Most of it is obviously photographs run through the Graphic Pen filter in Adobe Photoshop; and most of the photographs depict two beer-swollen morons pretending to fight about as smoothly and realistically as any fight on Star Trek - which is to say that it's stiff and really, really staged. There's also startling depictions of the ARTWORK HERE monster, and crudely drawn pornographic sketches here and there. As a matter of fact, the ARTWORK HERE monster must be the most common wandering monster in FATAL, given its frequency of appearance.
Sartin: Wait, he was trying to be intimidating? I thought he was going for a "Hi! I'm a silhouette of a bearded jackass who couldn't pass muster in the SCA!" look. Really, take a white marker and scribble on some black construction paper, and you won't be too far off from what little artwork HAS been filled in here. If Hall used Photoshop to create these images, he sucks at it.
Here, check it out:
Really. It's from the combat section. Actually, that one isn't so bad...the guy on the right is obviously Hall, and no illustration that depicts Hall in a state of imminent fustigation can be all bad.
Oh, yeah. I'm either drunk or half-blind, or someone needs to try harder.
Or check this description of an ability check:
For example, a slovenly trollop offers herself to a strapping young adventurer if and only if he can expediently say a tongue-twister of her choice. Driven by hormones, the young male agrees, and asks what is the tongue twister. The courtesan challenges "Huge hung hero hunks hastily hump horny heaving hot whores. How 'bout it, huh?"
So: Not only do we have a splendid example of the level that FATAL operates at, we also have an example of the game's utter misogyny. You will never, ever find a female character in this game who isn't a prostitute and/or proclaimed slut, because that's the only kind of women that exist in these dipshits' imagination. There's also not-English ("what is the tongue twister" instead of "what the tongue twister is"), and, for the final kick in the balls to my leathery psyche, you have to check against your Enunciation stat in order to say it.
Sartin: Appropriately enough, that example ends with the adventurer blowing it and losing the girl. How unintentionally autobiographical!
But while we're on the subject of whores and sluts, there are also few occupations in this game that get more wordage from Hall than whoring and all things related to it (and even those only exceed the whoring volume through huge charts or long, boring ass skill lists).
And all the whore and whore-related profession descriptions, of course, instantly footnote you to "information on whores has been obtained from Medieval Prostitution, by Jacques Rossiaud". Which, as it turns out, is a book on prostitution...in southern France...in the time period spanning the 1400s. And yet Hall is basing an entire world on it. Yes, people, this is what passes for "research" and "historical accuracy" in FATAL.
Actually, I tell a lie. One aspect of whoring you won't see FATAL spend time on is sexually transmitted disease. Yep, with the loving attention Hall pays to sex, genitalia, whoremongering, and rape, there isn't one damn word in the entire book about STDs.
So Hall's either careless beyond imagination, or didn't feel "the most difficult, detailed, and realistic game available" needed to present anything that might be a possible consequence to raping and fucking your brains out. Your call!
Then there's the charts - pages and pages and pages of charts. I should mention that the Bodily Attractiveness stat affects your breast cup size, although, of course, only for women. Oh, and you can get "retard strength". Check the formula out for determining this:
(71 - retard Intelligence) x 3 = (% chance of Retard Strength).
I hate the author. I really fucking do.
Sartin: As bad as Darren's making this sound, he hasn't been telling you the tenth of it. These abilities - and the charts for them - could deep-throat a sperm whale.
Not counting the 4d100/2-1 roll (may it burn in hell), there are three central, massive idiocies at work here. In order:
Lame ass references and quotesI love how when every sub-ability mentions skills or bodily features or combat stats, we get a big "(SEE CHAPTER [insert lame ass chapter number here])", as though we're too stupid to catch the chapter references in any of the other 19 sub-abilities that are right next to it. But then again, FATAL was written for FATALites, not you or me or anyone else whose IQ doesn't begin with a decimal point, so I guess it's necessary.
And I have to love that "Brute force bereft of wisdom falls to ruin by its own weight" quote - yeah, it's utterly hypocritical, but it's also half-assedly ironic, given that nearly every FATALite to date has presented themselves as a total death- and rape-monger while having no clue how much their belovedly rape-enabling game sucks.
Like Intelligence: Spacial. With a way cool "Unfamiliar Object Assembly (# of pieces)" column. This would be the most complex machine a character can understand or some shit. Those with 100 Spacial can only understand machines with 200 parts, but with above-average Spacial, that will quickly grow to thousands of parts. Of course, where you're going to find something with that many parts in the most realistic fantasy setting available is a mystery to us both.
Or the Math sub-ability, with a "Highest math possible" column. Huh. I had no idea Geometry is the highest math any character can understand.
Or the Common Sense sub-ability, with a "likely to" column to explain what low Common Sense characters are likely to get caught doing. The lowest possible rating is "Get caught for greater scheme: attempt to kill a god", but "Appear at emergency room after getting dick caught in zipper" and "Write FATAL" are just as likely.
The Vocal sub-ability has that "gay" note, of course, but if you're around 88-114, your description is "ordinary". Now check out the descriptions above and below it:84-87: "Always says 'uh' or 'uhm'"
115-120: "Avoids 'uh' or 'uhm'"
So where does this leave "ordinary" speakers? Do they avoid "uh" and "uhm" half the time, and always use them the other half? It's a mystery for the ages, or for whoever's got Hall's bong.
And it's cool to know that Health will help out with that Urinating skill. And it helps with your hearing, too, for some reason. Also, did you know that only people with below-average Health can have allergies? So if you have even one allergy, congratulations: you're a FATAL weenie and will have a penalty on Urinating. Disgraced, you will be hopeless until you realize that all you have to do is fucking drink a two liter already and wait a day, which will give you a high enough mod to automatically score a "flood" on the chart and (if you're average height) get it as far as 16 feet with total accuracy (naturally, being "the most realistic game available", FATAL makes no distinction between power and accuracy. Or, for that matter, the ever-increasing difficulty in "holding it").
But speaking of realism and Urination, what's really cool is that you can't piss unless you roll over 5...and the roll is d100 + Urination Skill Points + (average of Health and Hand-Eye Coordination skill modifiers) +/- ("Time Since Last Urination vs. Ounces Drunk" modifier). Of course, you'll have to drink at least 16 ounces if you want to urinate without a penalty or having to wait more than half an hour, but that isn't very hard. FATAL characters can practically urinate at will! I have this stupid image in my mind of them beating down their opponents, chugging down those drinks, and standing around holding their dicks (and diddling every open hole in sight) for that half an hour just waiting for that Urination roll. Hell, they probably carry huge funnels so they can be extra quick with getting in the 256 ounces (and +80 mod) that will all but guarantee a "flood". Fucking shit, they probably have greasy T-shirts over their armor that say "PENIS! CUNT! ANAL CIRCUMFERENCE! Put a condom on my head, I'm a FATALITE!" God with a flying orgasm, SenZar has never looked so mature and deep as it does this fucking moment.
But hey. If you can get that Urination skill up to 100, that will cancel out the worst possible penalty for drinking 0 ounces. Spell your name with the realism!
Oh, and about that Retard Strength? It's only +2d10 for humans. And with abilities running from 1-199 (and occasionally beyond), that's not exactly worth bothering with. But that's what makes it so 100% FATALish - it reveals Hall's total wankerness, but adds more or less nothing to the game.
The fact that there are fucking *20* increasingly pointless and redundant stats, and the way they interconnect or fail to is stupidLet's go right to Bodily Attractiveness. Oh, look: "Males with high Bodily Attractiveness tend to have high Physical Fitness, Strength, and Height" - yeah, maybe if all four stats weren't totally random. Sure, high Bodily Attractiveness will boost those a little, but even if yours is the mind-blowingly maximum roll of 199, you'll only get a +18 bonus. You'll forgive me for going "Woooooo!" in the most intensely sarcastic voice I can muster. It's not enough of a "tendency" to matter much of a shit against the random element.
But fuck it. For FATAL guys, pretty = stronger. I'd add some crude speculation here about what team Hall is batting for, but I can't think of one homosexual on this forum who even remotely deserves the degradation of being lumped in with him. (It's just too damn bad my team doesn't want him, either.)
Meanwhile, the inverse is also presented - low manly Bodily Attractiveness penalizes your Physical Fitness, Strength, and Height. Guess there aren't historical or realistic "tendencies" towards ugly bruisers.
But guess what! All that shit's only for males. Like Darren already mentioned, female Bodily Attractiveness increases your Cup Size. It also decreases your Strength and Weight. Again, total bullshit. But what the hell. It's nice to know the ideal FATAL girl is a death camp survivor with a basketball under each nipple.
Somehow, I don't think that shit flew during history, either.
Naturally, most games just give you stats and let you picture how they fit together. (It's a fun process I call "getting to visualize the character you actually created".) But then, those games weren't designed by misogynistic human accidents who would lose a battle of wits with an plus-sized assplug dressed up as a crack pipe. FATAL, sadly lacking that distinction, insists on drunkenly interconnecting these stats in ways that have a flung piece of shit's chance in heaven of being "historically/mythically accurate" because, gee, it's not like standards of attractiveness have been TOTALLY DIFFERENT in different eras, places, and myths or anything.
But noooooo. In FATAL, sexiness has one standard, everywhere, all the time, all over the world, because Hall apparently forgot the exact meaning of the words "realistic" and "historically" after he hit his head on that toilet I mentioned when I deciphered his research. Oh, well.
Of course, FATAL hardly gets its head any farther out of its ass with the stats it doesn't stupidly try to interconnect. Can you predict what can happen when character facets like speech or beauty or intelligence are governed by three or four totally random stats each? Just keep reading.
Facial Charisma at 175+ gives you a description of "causes wetness". And with all the total randomness, it's so cute that you can blow that Bodily Attractiveness roll badly enough to get a head start on being the strongest, fattest woman alive, but still roll enough Facial Charisma to catch boners anyway. Fucking FATAL.
Wow, look! Enunciation! Naturally, this is a sub-ability of Dexterity. You'd think it would be under Charisma or Intelligence, but I guess you see something stupid every day. Anyfuck, I really like how Enunciation determines your "Maximum Speech Rate", but Rhetorical Charisma determines your "Average Speech Rate". Ugh. NO ONE FUCKING CARES.
Of course, since both sub-abilities are (say it with me) totally random, we don't really know what happens when your Maximum Speech Rate ends up being lower than your Average Speech Rate, but it's just on this side of "totally possible".
Tying into these two nicely, of course, is Language (an Intelligence sub-ability). Especially that "possible # of languages learned" column. Naturally, with FATAL being the "detailed" and "realistic" game that it is, it's possible to get a high Enunciation and Rhetorical Charisma without rolling high enough in Language to actually be able to speak a language.
Am I amazed that Hall came up with all those bullshit interconnections for Bodily Attractiveness, but didn't bother to imagine how any of his other attributes might fit together? If FATAL were a movie, it would make Battlefield Earth look like an utterly convincing, well-considered masterpiece.
Of course, we can't let all this shit go without looking at the age modifiers.
Infant modifiers are presented, in case you wanted to play Baby Geniuses against a backdrop of anus fisting and 16 foot urination. And it's not as crippling as you'd think, either. The total Strength modifier is -90, so if you were lucky enough to roll 180 Strength or so, your infant adventurer will be about as strong as an average adult human. Bodily Attractiveness is also -90, so again, an excellent roll will still leave you with average adult fuckability and little or no BA penalty to those Seduction and Sexual Adeptness rolls.
I've flushed RPGs that were better thought out this.
Language is also a blast when you toss it through the age modifier bullshit. With the Child-category penalty, you'll have to roll at least 95 for that, or you won't be capable of learning a language until you hit puberty. (Roll less than 65, and you'll have to wait until adulthood. Below 55, of course, is that magical threshold where you'll either jump off a cliff or face a lifetime of being unable to say "Look, shithead! I can't learn any languages!") Of course, if your race happens to be most varieties of Ogre (-50 to Language) or Troll (-90)...
I also like how Reflection (which determines your earliest memory) increases at Middle Age and Old Age. I had no idea getting older makes you remember more of your childhood.
After all this crap, though, I have to admit to one bright point. I liked how some of the sub-abilities provided real life-kinda examples or descriptions for each score. Like Strength listing how much you can lift, or the Vocal Charisma and Math columns I mentioned (okay, those ended up being dumb anyway, but the basic idea wasn't so bad). Examples like these can give solid ideas on how good a score really is, something many RPG systems have had trouble with. Of course, this hardly makes up for how the generation rolls are 4d100/2-1, or how my bitching troll berserker probably won't know any languages, or how there are 20 attributes for things a sane game could have covered with 8-10, but whatever.
Anyway, I hope this entire section was mind-numbing for you. Because you can barely imagine what it's like to read and dissect this shit-hauling train wreck.
And on that note, let's let Darren have the review back.
Or, check this shit out:
According to a prominent philosopher, males tend to be more spirited, savage, simple, and less cunning. Females, on the other hand, tend to be more compassionate than males, more easily moved to tears, at the same time are more jealous, more querulous, and are more apt to scold and strike. Females are, furthermore, more false of speech, and more deceptive. Females are also more wakeful, shrinking and difficult to rouse to action.
The philosopher's observations presented above are generalizations and do not hold true for all characters. Certainly, it is possible to find a surpassingly shameless male, or a female who is less susceptible to depression than males, but these instances are the exception to the rule, assuming that the above observations are correct.
This is what the authors are talking about when they say that the game is "historically accurate"; they've taken Aristotle's thoughts on gender, then used them to justify their own sexist stupidity. They make assertions, then try to weasel out of them later on in the same paragraph - "This is all true unless what the philosopher says isn't true, in which case it isn't true."
Aristotle may have been a brilliant philosopher, but when it came to women, his head was up his ass; ditto Plato, who thought that human women had fewer teeth because horses were the same way. On top of that, the statements that Aristotle make are internally self-contradictory; women are more wakeful, yet difficult to rouse to action?
Sartin: Of course philosophers are who you turn to when you're creating something with a basis in reality. (And yes, especially when your beliefs are so limp-dicked that you're only "assuming" the philosophers are correct.)
That's much better than basing your shit on the findings of, oh, researchers or historians or scientists or anyone else whose ponderings and conclusions actually have to be based in reality.
Then again, Hall also tries to wank "scholarly literature" by us to justify heavier female attribute penalties. Here's the official rationalization:
According to the adjustments above, it may seem as though males are superior, though it is important to understand that there are other instances, such as nurturing, that are not apparent in the adjustments and may become evident and valuable during role-playing. The function of altering gender according to the table above is to shift the averages of the sexes to more closely resemble reality. The shift in range represents masses of characters better than extreme instances. For instance, the highest measured Intelligence is that of a female, though by large numbers females tend to score slightly lower than males in Intelligence. In this case, shifting the range lower for females also prevents the possibility of a female possessing the highest Intelligence. This is an unfortunate limitation.
Fucking god, where to begin?
"For instance, the highest measured Intelligence is that of a female, though by large numbers females tend to score slightly lower than males in Intelligence"?
Yeah, I'm sure that when he wasn't attending to Sexpot Annie, Hall had a lot of fun rounding up women from medieval Europe and testing them. Of course it's perfectly valid and "historically accurate" to assume they would have the same Intelligence-reducing (and Bodily Attractiveness-raising) "nurturing" and "background" as modern day women, right?
And on that note, even if Hall were claiming this shit as modern gender modifiers, he only selected the parts of his "scholarly literature" that went along with his retarded views. Even the first work listed, "The Smarter Sex: A Critical Review of Sex Differences in Intelligence" (by D. Halpern and M. LaMay) claims that males more frequently have certain types of mental retardation, but you're sure as fuck not going to find that in these rules.
"In this case, shifting the range lower for females also prevents the possibility of a female possessing the highest Intelligence. This is an unfortunate limitation"?
Translation: "Yeah, this is an unfortunate limitation...which I just admitted creates a result that isn't true in reality (because I forgot I'm designing the most realistic RPG available)...but guess what? I haven't taken it out, because I would rather claim that the female masses are stupider than men than make my rules accept that at least one woman has scored a higher IQ than any man to date!"
It's an ugly game.
There's also the issue that the average human being will have had experience with women, as opposed to the Dunwich-dwelling inbred shack cavemen that wrote FATAL. They borrow stupid generalizations about women from ancient philosophers because they don't have the stones to say what _they_ want to say about women; namely, that they are good because they have penises and women are just there to be slaves to them. This is just pathetic on a Biblical scale.
The races: Don't particularly care about them; all of the mythology that they're shitting on has already been done, and done better, by D&D. Worse yet, the game has monstrous PCs - this in a game that claims historical accuracy, but can have monstrous PCs in the same game as human PCs. As a matter of fact, the game isn't so much historically accurate - y'see, that would actually require work - as it is historically related, in the same way that humans are distantly related to microbes.
Sartin: Yeah, the races also sucked a hot one. Oh, look, you can be an "anakim" half-demon-kinda-character. That was so cool when SenZar did it. SEVEN. YEARS. AGO.
Except that even SenZar Demonians were never this lame. "Most anakim are the result of an incubus or succubus mating with a human. These anakim are more commonly called cambion. Oftentimes, cambion children show no signs of life until they are seven years in age"? Right.Would-Be Mortal Mother: Oh, no, a stillborn! Oh, wait, I died during childbirth.
Lord Asmodean, Master of the Seven Phalluses: Huh. We should keep it around for seven years, just in case!
For some reason, anakim are also the only monstrous race to not have Bodily Attractiveness or Facial penalties. Despite that they also have to roll d10 weird physical traits on a d100 table. Hmmm...
09: The anakim has cat-like eyes. The character loses d8 Facial Charisma since the eyes are so large and round..
18: The anakim has the legs of a goat.
24: The anakim has the odor of rotting flesh extend one foot away from their body.
25: The anakim has eyes that are permanently bloodshot.
54: The anakim has gils on the side of their neck, allowing them to breathe underwater.
64: The anakim has a third eye in the middle of their forehead. Having three eyes improves Vision by 1d20 points. Since 50 Vision points is perfect Vision, these bonus points are applied in this direction.
66: The anakim is accompanied by an odor of feces which extends 1d6 feet from their body.
I wonder why those and many other disgusting or deforming results aren't worth an attractiveness penalty. "Historically/mythically accurate" standards of beauty sure are a bitch to figure out, aren't they?
More good ones:
40: The anakim causes humans within one foot to desire anal sex according to their sexuality.
As usual, in case you forgot someone was holding a gun to your head and making you read FATAL. Or that sexuality can be argued to include "Does not desire anal sex from either gender".
45: The anakim is cannibalistic. Eating vegetables will make this anakim nauseated.
Uh, I think "carnivorous" is the word you're looking for there.
95: The anakim has abnormal hatred for females. Whenever within 1d100 feet of one, the anakim must make a Drive check at TH 30 or attack with the intent to kill.
That's nice. Given the contempt FATAL in general already shows females, I'd hate to imagine what it would consider an "abnormal hatred" of them. And that 1d100 thing. What the fuck? Every time a female might get within 100 feet, does he have to roll to see just how many feet she can come before he has to make the Drive check? Or does he just roll once, when the character is created? But why make it so totally random?
Oh, right. "Historical/mythical accuracy". Cause, you know, there's lots of myths where one half-demon hacked apart women when they got within 90 feet, but another half-demon could stand them as close as 15 feet.
But whatever. There are races other than anakim, but Darren's right. None of it is worth caring about.
Still, it's cool to see that even in a "historically/mythically accurate" game, humans still have a lifespan of 73 years.
And that on the Racial Hatred table, "hatred" is by far the most common attitude between races, especially for humans (despite their status as the most "neutral" race). In fact, the only races FATAL humans have anything less than total hatred for are themselves and all three races of non-dark dwarves and elves. Oh, wait, they only dislike anakim, despite that race's legendary, mythically accurate, deadEarth-like abilities to smell like shit, have triple-size penises, or be walking anal sex aphrodisiacs.
Naturally, humans have not just a lack of hatred, but a preference for each other. I guess there's either just one human race in FATAL (white, of course), or that all the interracial tensions that sadly exist even today weren't historically accurate enough to bother mentioning.
In addition, there's huge areas of white space reserved for artwork, which I guarantee you will never be filled. You can find personality traits matched up with physical traits, in a bit of quackery that used to be called physiognomy. The guys who wrote FATAL never met a discredited science that they didn't immediately hump the leg of.
Oh, and here's the cream of the crop: You can actually roll to determine randomly determined sexual characteristics, including vaginal circumference - how much a particular vagina can accept. The fun part is, as these morons would know if they'd even been in contact with a vagina, is that a vagina can expand to any size - like, say, in childbirth, another facet of life which these chimpanzees in short pants forgot about.
Sartin: Their knowledge of nipples is sadly lacking, too: "A nipple that is not erect may have no length whatsoever." Come on. Even recluses who wank to porn know better than that. And it's nice to see that both "nymphomaniacs" and "sluts" have separate modifiers to the Vaginal Circumference roll. That might keep them from rolling too low a circumference for even an average infant to pass through.
And I love that Vaginal Depth Potential: "A females Vaginal Depth Potential equals her height in feet converted to inches (such as a female of 5 6 becoming equivalent to 5 1/2), and then (2d20)% is added."
It doesn't amaze me that Hall felt this was so important that such a detailed rule was needed for it. If he's ever fucked, it was missionary and in total darkness.
And there's your Anal Circumference roll, in case someone needs to figure out if they can fit their penis or blade or fist (yes, there's a Fist Circumference roll, too) in there. Try to get out of rolling it, though, because you don't wanna read sentences like "Should any anus be stretched beyond the limit as determined by the table below, which differs from anus to anus, the orifice will rip to accommodate the incoming object. First, consider all relevant modifiers, then roll percentile dice and proceed to the following table" without the assistance of alcohol.
Of course, no true discussion of FATAL would be complete without Hymen Resistance, too. This is a 5d20 roll for female virgins, the result of which is the percent chance per intercourse that the hymen will resist breaking. They must grow membranes pretty tough in FATALworld...the average roll for that is around 52%, and I'm pretty damn sure they break way more often than that. While we're on the subject, the length of the intercourse or the size of the man's manhood don't figure into the breakage roll at all. God fucking almighty. You can't even stick your dick in the realism here.
You can also roll your Facial Features, Hair Thickness, Most Attractive and Most Repulsive Features, and quadrillions of other things that a sane game would be content to just let you choose, in the unlikely event you even cared.
Meanwhile, the Skin Color roll runs the gamut from deathly pale to merely tan. No brown or dark or anything, though. Further evidence that FATAL is a white boy's club.
Oops, wait: That's covered a few pages later, with more nonsense gleaned from scanning a medical text. (A 15% chance of miscarriage? Uh-uh. Labor takes "up to" fourteen hours? Uh-uh.) And the real head kicker is that being pregnant reduces Bodily Attractiveness by 1d20: "Although in some sense a pregnant female is 'beautiful', her Bodily Attractiveness is negatively affected."
Sartin: Okay, rules analysis time again. Even a -20 (the worst roll for the pregnancy penalty) isn't that bad (granted, none of the female attribute penalties were that high, but it's the reasoning behind them that's the most ass-ramming). If you have an average 100 Bodily Attractiveness, pregnancy will reduce you to 80 at worst - not enough to seriously hurt your chances in the sack.
Sure, it'll reduce your Bodily Attractiveness skill modifier from 0 to -20. But a skill's final modifier is the average of the modifiers from all applying sub-abilities. Sexual Adeptness has three that apply, and Seduction has two, so your BA penalty for those would only be a respective -6 and -10 AT WORST. As skill rolls work on a d100 + modifiers roll, you can see that being knocked up definitely won't curtail your ability to seduce and sleep around.
Nice and realistic, like you'd expect.
See, I was quitting about this time in Synnibarr, because I made the mistake of actually trying to read through it straight. I quit feeling frustrated for wasted potential. Here, I'm tempted to quit because this is just so embarrassingly stupid as to make me wonder if I've been somehow tainted by reading it; as if somehow I'm going to wind up treating women as alien creatures made out of stats rather than, as, you know, people.
Sartin: It helps if you picture the people at FATAL Games becoming the squealing subject matter of Deliverance 2. It won't wipe the misogynistic taint from your mind, but it's just.
Extensive charts exist for getting drunk - you actually have to cross-reference your weight against how many drinks you've had and what kind of drinks they were in order to figure out whether you're buzzed, intoxicated or vomiting. Unknown Armies just gave you a 5% penalty every time you took a shot, because the people who wrote Unknown Armies descended from creatures who were vertebrate, and also apparently damned good at making role-playing games.
Sartin: The marijuana (and it's so hard not to believe they pronounce it "mara-jah-wanna") chart is a blast, too. Following the model for pissing, the total "inhalations per hour" versus the "time since last euphoria" are considered to give you a Euphoria Factor. And then, in a move only a sociopathic accountant could love, you have a long list of traits that get reduced by 1/4 or 1/2 or once or twice the EF. Blah.
But hey. Bet you didn't know that being high actually raises your Intuition.
Disease rules are found as well. Instead of actually using anything closely resembling a rational system for disease, FATAL simply creates a percentage chance of fatality, so that the bubonic plague has an equal chance of killing a starving beggar as much as it does of killing a bugbear. You know, historically accurate and everything.
There's a chapter on morality - what the book calls "disposition" - which attempts to distill morality and ethics down into nine separate categories, including a cross-referencing chart for what disposition hates what and what a primary and secondary disposition work like in conjunction. If you ever have a pressing need to hurt yourself - the kind of deep-down hurt that lasts for days - go ahead and read through the chapter, 'cause it'll give you that feeling. Most of it is philosophical wank that probably got recycled from one of the Greeks, or summarized; not being a fan of philosophy, I didn't recognize anything in specific.
Sartin: I would like to remark here that if you're going to make a "population count per alignment" pie chart, you should NOT:a) Use only black and gray for colors.
b) Use SHADES of those two colors for each section.
c) Have NINE possible alignments to shade in.
Hell, this chart looks so bad, I'll just show you now:
Meanwhile, it's cool that FATAL says "individuality" and "randomness" are "unethical", while "conformity" and "patterned" are "ethical". (Yeah, let's get those "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means" cracks out of the way, too.) Just the phrase "Neutral Moral" makes me giggle, too, while we're on the subject.
Darren's assessment of half-assed recycling from Greek philosophy isn't bad, but the Disposition/Morality chapter is basically about Hall spending 25 pages bending "ethical/unethical" to mean "lawful/chaotic" while babbling about the deficiencies and excesses that can turn "morality" into immorality or evil. Gee, how innovative.
I've figured out one thing in relation to FATAL and its claims to historical accuracy. When they say that they're historically accurate, they mean that they've gone through...maybe fifteen books at the absolute most, and that's being awfully generous. So, as a result, whenever you come to the conclusion that it's incredibly sexist, you can entertain yourself with a confusing, obscurantist bit of pseudoscholarship that basically suggests that it's your problem that there isn't a single spot in FATAL that refers to women as anything but whores. For a bit of fun, you could go through and counterpoint every single lame point he makes with about a hundred examples from FATAL that utterly disprove his point.
Not me, of course, but somebody. (Oops - spoke too soon. Later on in the review, I'll be dicing that up as well. Silly me. Fucking FATAL.)
So, we get to the chapter entitled "Mind", in which personalities are divided according to the four medieval humors - sanguine, choleric, melancholy and phlegmatic, and how to determine which one you character is. In other words, instead of coming up with a character and using the system to help define him, you get to roll dice in order to determine which humors are dominant; which in turn are based on medical concepts incredibly laughably outdated.
Sartin: Incidentally, the four humors also inspired the names of the four Z'bri houses in Tribe 8: Sangis, Koleris, Melanis, and Flemis. Oh, and Tribe 8 is much better and more mature "dark" game than FATAL. It's probably more historically accurate, too.
Herein lies a useful lesson for game designers: if you're making a really shitty game, don't put in things that will remind people of much better games. [Although you have to admit it does let us recommend much better games, ones that make FATAL look like the shitwork that it is, ones that will reward your money with hours and hours of reading fun, as opposed to hours and hours of vomiting and trying desperately to forget.]
I believe that what Shithead was thinking was something along the lines of "Okay, people in the Middle Ages tried to define people along these lines, so should I." But the problem with defining people's behavior according to their humors - I mean, avoiding the fact that it's blatant quackery - is that people don't fit into four categories. Neither do they fit into four categories with four subcategories each. Alchemy was essentially an intellectual dead end for science, and yet, in this day and age, we've got a man trying to use them with a completely straight face - not as a disguise for a better game mechanic, like the Nine Spheres from Mage, but as a method for defining people.
That creates a second disjunct in the game: There appear to be two different authors writing the game. One of them is somebody who's read a lot of medieval and Greek philosophy and mythology without a historical or cultural context to put them in, and appears to be sane, if not profoundly ignorant about history. The other is a drooling metalhead wannabe-rapist who's forced to get his jollies by masturbating over stat blocks involving sexual characteristics. I don't know who is who, or even if there are two people involved with this. Either way, it's scary, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Jerkoff.
Sartin: Personally, I want to believe FATAL was created by an AI that was instructed to "Create the crappiest possible work that can still technically be considered a RPG", and the AI not only succeeded brilliantly, but even went as far as to start massive flame wars on RPGnet, as it studied the examples set by World of Synnibarr, SenZar, and most especially Rifts and realized that no RPG can achieve ultimate crappiness without obnoxious creators and fanboys to piss everyone off.
Naturally, the truth - that FATAL was created by actual human beings who weren't joking - is all the more depressing.
The mental illness section basically transcribes the DSM-IV's section on various mental disorders, but offers no particular rules other than "occurs over the next 5 + 1d100 months"; and, of course, there's tons of sexual dysfunction listed alongside megalomania and kleptomania, just in case we forgot that we were reading FATAL.
The section on medieval life is about as deep as a skillet; if you check the references that they cite for the section, for example, you'll find Life in a Medieval Castle / City / Village and Reign of the Phallus - but Reign of the Phallus is about ancient Rome and Greece, rather than medieval Europe. None of them are scholarly texts, to boot, and Reign of the Phallus is sharply critiqued even in its Amazon review for its sloppy work.
Just in case you were in the mood for some more pain, there's a Debauchery chart, so you can roll dice - thank fucking God, 'cause I was worried that I wouldn't be able to suggest that FATAL's authors apparently use Rolemaster as wank material - to find out how far a particular character will go. To make things worse, it's a sliding scale, so that we find out that somebody who will entertain multiple partners won't engage in anal sex.
Don't ask why, it's on a chart. It must be true if it's on a chart.
Sartin: Naturally, you can also roll to see if characters are heterosexual or homosexual. Even better, being a male with low Strength or a female with high Strength (or low Cup Size) will bend your modifier towards the gay end of the scale. It's nice to see these lame stereotypes being paraded in such a realistic, historically accurate game.
Meanwhile, anakim get such a big Debauchery modifier that they'll always roll at least "Give oral sex". Nice to be a member of a race that's guaranteed to suck, huh?
You can also roll a d10,000,000 in order to find out how many babies a particular woman will have, even though there are only five potential outcomes. Fucking FATAL.
Sartin: You have to wonder if Hall, exploding syphilis canker that he is, has ever actually played his own game. You know when you roll d100, you have to say "Okay, the red one is the tens" or whatever.
What's up here? "Okay, red is the tens, green is the hundreds, translucent red is the thousands, blue is the ten thousands, green speckled is - ah fuck, which one did I make the red one again?"
And, of course, this is yet another of those situations that comes up ALL the time in fantasy. I mean, shit. Seeing if there's that one in ten million chance you'll bear quintuplets happens even more often than starting the campaign in a bar fight-laden tavern.
And even when you do read something that apparently came out of a more scholarly text, you know that what you're reading has been essentially pared down to the fundamentals - in other words, whatever will paint medieval society as a gigantic orgy and women as whores. For example, we're informed that even respectable inns will include whores among services offered; and that the doorman, bellboys, porters, waiters, barmaids and cleaning girls - and the cleaning girls also double as whores - will all be slaves.
But there were very few slaves in Medieval Europe; serfs, yes, but they had legal rights. If you go by FATAL, Medieval Europe's economy was entirely based on whores and whore-related activities. Especially funny is the section on justice, where we see punishments for slaves in a society in which slavery, by and large, didn't even exist. If you commit slander against a married woman or priestess - and there were pretty much no priestesses in Medieval Europe - you wind up getting branded with an SL. The nimrod who wrote the section gets Roman law - which I doubt was this harsh - confused with the law of Medieval Europe. Even worse, the punishments come from the History of Punishment and Torture, which is basically designed to showcase the most sensationalist punishments without the appropriate historical context.
For that matter, in a game that claims to be the most historically accurate game out there, where the fuck is the Catholic Church? Where's the Inquisition? Where's the Hundred Years War? Where's Italy? Where's the Muslims? Where's the Crusades? Where's the New World? Where's the Black Plague?
Sartin: While we're at it, where's the Flat Earth, the Four Elements, and the universe revolving around the Earth? Don't forget that Hall is also unquestioningly accepting the conclusions of ancient Greeks on women. Why isn't he taking the Greeks at face value on everything else, too? Poor genetic material, I would guess.
In FATAL? Nowhere.
Like I said, if the authors of this thing had even the minimal shame that you see in a dog dragging its ass along the carpet, they would remove any boasting about FATAL being accurate immediately. I'm not holding my breath.
The section on criminal punishments for rape: it's mostly enough to make you sick, especially since the motherfucker who wrote it describes rape as "taking his pleasure" - rather than as the act of vicious violence that it is.
Sartin: Hell, I'm still noxious from how the motherfucker refers to FATAL as a RPG, rather than the miles-long monument to human worthlessness that it is.
Well, here: look:
In an average community, an average of twenty rapes occur annually. In 80% of cases, rapes are committed by between two and fifteen characters.
Now, keep in mind: 80% of cases, two to fifteen rapes apiece - yeah, Byron's apparently let the glue sniffing burn out the part of his brain that's able to do mathematics.
Sartin: It's nice to know that FATALworld apparently has Rape Clubs ("The first rule is we don't talk about Rape Club..."). Really.
They force the female's door at night, do not disguise themselves, and either rape the victim in her home and in the presence of terrorized witnesses, or drag the victim through the streets into one of their houses, where they have their pleasure all night long. In 80% of cases, the neighbors do not intervene. Almost all rapes involve extreme brutality, though they never attempt to wound or kill her.
Sartin: It's also nice to know that the average communities in FATALworld apparently have no guards, night watchmen, or law enforcement. Really.
The rapists come from all levels of society, but the majority are artisans and laborers. Less than 10% of rapes occur by thugs. In 50% of cases, human rapists are between 18 and 24 years old. The group is composed, on average, of 6 characters. Only 20% of the rapes are committed by 10 or more characters. Half the male youth participate at least once in gang rape. Sexual violence is an everyday dimension of community life. There tends to be less in smaller communities such as hamlets and more in larger communities such as cities.
Sartin: It's yet nicer to know that half the males in FATALworld are rapists or former rapists. Really.
If identified, rapists are imprisoned for weeks, though no more than a month. If the victim withdraws the complaint, the rapist is freed immediately. Imprisonment for rape consists of flogging, unless the rapist is an outsider, in which case the rapist is banished. When freed from imprisonment, a rapist is not considered criminal nor considered to be bad.
Sartin: It's even more nice to know that rape apparently doesn't constitute a "serious" offense in FATALworld (given that the first paragraph of the Justice section suggests "hanging for serious offenses" for those who want to keep things simple, and the same section lists rape as the least severe of 45 crimes). Really.
The social reaction to rape is rarely favorable to the victim. The human victims of gang rape are between the ages of 15 and 33. Child rape is rare. The rape of a child under the age of 14 or 15 is considered a serious crime. The victim loses her good name in almost all cases, and encounters difficulty in regaining her place in society and family. If the victim of rape is single, then fewer males desire her as a wife. If she is married, her husband may abandon her. Priests comprise 20% of the clientele at private brothels and public baths. Some priests are even members of nightly gang rapes. The victim of gang rape almost never accuses them of committing sodomy.
Sartin: It's nicest of all that - ah, hell with it. FATALworld is a piece of shit with as much connection to reality (historical or otherwise) as urinal cakes have to real food. Really.
I soiled my review to put that in there. I thought that you should see the kind of people that you're dealing with.
Sartin: I share Darren's annoyance, and then some. I'd love to hear a reputable expert explain how all this could possibly be historically accurate. I wasn't kidding when I said rape is listed as the least severe of 45 crimes. Gambling, failing to pay your rent, vagrancy, and being a wife who keeps a fucking disorderly house are all listed as more severe.
It might be possible to be more of a waste of skin than Hall is, but it'd take more work than climbing a mountain. I mean, really. Hall and his idiot fanboys aren't even wannabe rapists.
They're rapists' cheerleaders.
Think about how pathetic that is.
Medieval enlightenment on the women's rights was pretty weak, but Jesus - it was never this bad, ever. I'm sick to my stomach from having to read this shit; it's transparently poor scholarship and an even shittier attitude. They express absolutely no qualms about the victim, or what the aftermath of rape is; no, instead there's more statistics, so that they can further dehumanize what they hate. As a matter of fact, it's fairly obvious that the author just grabbed the sentences that supported his warped little views and pasted them into his .pdf.
Oh, but you'll be glad to know the victim of a gang rape almost never accuses her attackers of sodomy. I don't know why it's useful information, but it's in there for some reason. You'd have to think hard, and also be under the influence of a great many drugs, to figure out why Hall chose to throw that in there. The motherfucker.
Sartin: It's his idea of subtlety. He can't exactly come out and say "Huh huh. Rape is cool!" in as many words, but he can present settings where the worst consequence for it is for pussies. (Forgive the horrible, horrible pun.)
And what's worse about this is that the author doesn't see his own bias; he'll go on and on about how well it's been researched, but all that he's done is read a few books and declared himself an expert. He confuses Rome and medieval Europe, he compresses some five hundred years worth of legal argument into a series of gory, cruel punishments, he ignores legal developments like the Star Chamber or the Magna Carta - and the result is a bitter stew of repressed misogyny and hatred. We're always kept up to date on the status of how women can be raped and degraded, but there's never mention of justice for women - and if the law didn't do anything to fix it, I can guarantee that the old justice of clan vengeance would have applied at some point. Shit, even in Biblical times the punishment for rape was death, no questions asked; why is medieval Europe so different?
This started out as a funny review, but FATAL's starting to make me wish that the entire human race would just spontaneously combust and die.
Sartin: And since I already started the review at that point, I'm pretty much to where you're looking for things that look like FATAL players and setting them on fire. I'll end up incinerating a lot of dildos and basement-dwelling greaseshits on accident, but it'll have to do.
In case you're sick of hating the author for his misogyny, you can start hating him for his obsession with crappy rules. If you want to create a druidic circle, then you have to use the following formula:
Result = (Ae) + Ae(N1/2-1)
That quiet chomping noise you're hearing is the noise that my backbrain makes while it's eating my forebrain.
What the formula there suggests is something like number of druids versus time of season or something or other; I don't really care. If you have to do binomial equations in order to figure out how large a circle is, rather than abstracting it, I'm not interested.
There's an exhaustive list of occupations, most of which I can't be bothered to go over; you can probably get the same list by getting a better system, like D&D 3rd Edition or Rolemaster or Age of Heroes - or WFRP, which does dark medieval fantasy a thousand yards better than FATAL - and checking the net for medieval occupations, rather than using FATAL's. (Like you have to be told.) You'll be pleased to know that whores gain experience for bringing their clients off, just in case you weren't feeling dirty already.
Sartin: The "occupations" are basically FATAL's character classes. So along with mages, warriors, and druids, you could be a 5th level dicemaker or delouser or whore or whatever. Interestingly (never let it be said that I absolutely refuse to give credit where it's due), characters actually have to do things related to their occupation to get Advancement Points towards their next level, rather than the generic XP for adventuring in most games.
It's not very compellingly done, though. I'm not sure what the point is of being, oh, a bailiff (10 AP for winning a case! 10 more each month your lord's manor is stocked!) or grocer (1/20 of 1 AP per unit of staple food sold!) when most of the combat professions get AP for inflicting damage (10 or 20 AP or more for hitting someone once with a big sword!). As such, all the mundane occupations did not need to be presented as 50,000 or so extra choices - D&D3's ubiquitous "expert" class was an elegant solution for such throwaway characters and jobs. And you fans of AD&D1's old "1 gold piece found = 1 XP" rule will love the Bandit, who gets far more AP for stealing/looting money than many occupations could ever score earning it (that bandits also get damage AP is just icing on an ass-shaped cake).
Plus, the AP total for each level doubles each time. Which gets really annoying after a while. Even warriors who hack and slash all day or bandits who steal millions of silver per victim will take a long ass time to get the 524,288,000 AP needed for 20th level (but hey. If you can only make it to 262,000,000, that's almost good enough for 19th level). The Maim Master (FATAL gamemaster, alcohol help us) can speed things up a lot by opting to award bonus points for things like accomplishing goals and "group cohesiveness", but if you're interested in playing this game, those probably aren't your high points. Then again, if you're running this game, giving a shit probably isn't your high point, either.
More problematic is that FATAL is very generous when you change occupations. All you have to do is get to at least 2nd level with the one you have, and you can start over at 1st level with another one. Which means that when the AP requirement gets too stupid with your combat occupation, you can just switch to another, similar one and gain 5-10 levels (and all the attendant benefits) with the same AP it would have taken you to gain 1 level before.
Also, you only gain more Skill Points when you go up a level. This was annoying enough in D&D3, Rolemaster, and countless other games, but at least those were usually sane in what you get (and how you can spend it).
FATAL, by contrast, gives most races like 75+1d100 Skill Points per level. That would allow you to probably get that Urination up to +100 right at 2nd level, but in another money shot for you sociopathic accountants, each skill can only have d10 points dumped into it per level (because "skills grow both at different rates for different characters"). And yes, you have to re-roll it each time. Worse, you can only spend points on skills you've been using or training...and let's face it: you probably haven't been working on the 8-175 or so different skills it might take to dump all your points. This is naturally another of those "Did he even PLAY this before he flung it our way?" moments. The entire thing is way too random to really be considered sane.
(On the upside, at least everyone of the same race gets the same treatment, SP-wise. In D&D3, it's always been annoying how, no matter how intelligent they are or how well-educated a background they might come from, a fighter or wizard can never have more skills than, say, a rogue. Yeah, I know, it's a game balance thing, but in-game, this has never made sense. I guess FATAL isn't much better - every human gets the same SP roll, regardless of background or education - but whatever.)
The skill list isn't too bad, although there's about twenty more skills for divination than there should be - the author decided that it'd be a good idea to split up each individual method of divination, from horse entrails to candle wax to whatever the hell they came up with. I'm reminded of Rolemaster for some reason, although I've never seen that product in full.
Sartin: The skills are too narrow for my tastes (did "Weapon, General Type", "Weapon, Specific", and "Weapon, Mastery" all have to be separate skills?), but by this point, the problems with this game run far beyond such a matter of preference. Naturally, since this is FATAL, Hall doesn't miss too many opportunities to explain how skills like Intimidation, Wrestling, and Logic can be applied to rape and sucking.
Detail-wise, skills work by rolling d100 + (skill's Skill Points) + (average of listed sub-ability modifiers), and hoping the result is high enough. It's not the worst way to do it (if you can forget that whole ugly process of how skills increase), but Darren is right to be reminded of Rolemaster.
As a matter of fact, the batshit craziness gets turned down a little for the section on weapons, which goes into encyclopedic detail on various weapons and items and so forth. And it's perfectly normal, although you can buy a chastity belt if you happen to want to remind yourself that you're reading FATAL. (I did find out that you can use aged urine to put out fires, which sounds just crazy enough to be historically accurate.)
Sartin: And I learned condoms can be made out of goat bladders and animal intestines, medieval dildos are made of stone, and the "rhythm method" can really work!
Combat. Ah, back to the bullshit craziness.
Okay, check this shit: This is your initiative roll:
(1d100) +/- (Reaction Speed Skill Modifier) - (Delivery Penalty).
In other words, you roll d100, then add on your speed modifier, then subtract your delivery penalty. Basically, the weapon that you're wielding determines when you move - so if you're carrying a broadsword, and all you want to do is run away, you're going to have to sit there while they peg on you until it's your turn to act. Doesn't matter that you're not using the broadsword; this is FATAL, not your nancy-pancy system that makes sense. The instant after we get a description of initiative, we immediately into rules for coma and death - including a lengthy discussion of the stages of putrefaction, invaluable for Call of Cthulhu but utterly irrelevant to the chapter at hand. If you want to role-play a decaying corpse, try All Flesh Must Be Eaten.
I want to go into detail about the combat system. I'd like to, but I keep finding myself idly gouging chunks of flesh out of my arm whenever I try to summarize it. It's not entirely bad; just overcomplicated and mechanical.
Sartin: Overcomplicated is bad. Even with Age of Heroes (a game that all but admits that most gamers in this age of "light systems" will hate it), Gleichman tried to keep the math and die rolls to a minimum. Hall would have done well to follow that example.
That said, FATAL combat didn't suck as absolutely as I was expecting. For the most part, it's a poor man's D&D3 stapled to that homebrew system everyone makes when they get drunk and realize Rolemaster doesn't go far enough. Sure, that's bad, even really bad, but it's not as sanity-wrackingly horrible as, say, Imagine combat. I guess that would be another one of those "on the bright side" vs. "you haven't been huffing butane" observations, though.
Anyway, everyone has a basic "Current Armor" number you have to roll over to hit them, and the number can be increased by agility and wearing armor. Current Armor is insanely low unless the target's armor's got serious nuts - two unarmored, evenly-matched 1st level humans will hit each other 90% of the time in this game (more, if they're using an actual Weapon Skill). So unless you just suck beyond all comprehension, you'll probably get to roll your weapon's damage.
But don't worry too much about getting hit all the time. Unlike the D&D3 approach so far that this very much should not resemble, you can learn the Parry skill, which gives you an opposed roll against any attack, all round long, without costing you any penalties or actions. Just the thing for when you don't have Ceremonial Plate Mail or are facing some bastard who kept rolling a 10 for his Weapon Skill every level up!
Meanwhile, every armor also has different percentages that it can add or deduct from incoming Pounding, Hacking, Stabbing, Wind, Burning, Cold, Brawling, or ah fuck it I stopped caring damage. Yeah, that shouldn't be too annoying after my calculator gets thrown out the window (eh, I'd just use Stabbing weapons. Almost every armor is all but worthless against them). And if you have multiple attacks, you have to roll separate initiatives for each one. And Darren already mentioned the delivery penalty thing (but don't worry about that, either. If your weapon has more reach than your foe's, you automatically win initiative if you can keep backing up). And the time listed for bandaging wounds is "not in active combat", but casting a 10th level spell is "one week". Christ with a shitstick! Can't Hall at least pretend to think these things out?
There are other things - "smiting" (or, as most English-speakers would say it, "knocking down") a target when you damage it enough, called shots (hey! I can target someone's needle if it's "non-living and immobile"!), morale checks, breathing, falling, charging - but I'm tired now, and it's nothing you haven't seen 10,000 times in other fantasy games. Oh, well, at least your Life Points don't go up each level. And they're not so high it would be impossible to cleave an average human in half with one swipe from a two-handed sword. That may be the first glimpse of realism we've seen all game, and it only took 400 pages to find.
Actually, the falling chart also reveals that Hall has at least peeked inside a physics book. The acceleration formula was done correctly (at least for meters; Hall used 3 instead of the more accurate 3.28 when converting to feet), and the figure given for human terminal velocity (114.95 feet per second) is perilously close to the most commonly accepted figure (120 feet per second). So, wow. Two blatant nods towards realism!
Enjoy it while it lasts. Pitch hitting for criticals in FATAL are natural attack rolls of 90+, which give you a percent chance of scoring a roll on the relevant Crucial Damage table. But we'll get to that in a minute. Let's just say that Hall is about to put on his +5 Cockring Of What-The-Fucking, and he's got a solid Sperm Count roll lined up. (Oh, I forgot to mention FATAL's Sperm Count roll earlier? Silly me. Well, just mentioning it is all that needs to be said about it anyway.)
Skip through, skip through: Ah HAH! Here we have the meat of the situation. The hit charts have been written by somebody who hasn't got the foggiest idea of how damage actually works. Each hit chart lists a specific location on the body and what happens when it gets hit - but the problem is that it's broken down by the individual bone, so that you can break, say, the middle bone in your ring toe, but not sustain soft tissue damage, bruising, shock or excess bleeding. In addition, if you get hit with a sword, you're not going to sever only the common plantar digital nerve, but everything that covers the common plantar digital nerve. It does make for some interesting writing, though:
As Jack rounded the corner, he came face to face with the high priest of the cult, blood from the sacrifice still frothing at his mouth. The two stared at each other, then struck simultaneously. Jack's sword cleaved through the cultist's chest, cleaving through the nipple, the xiphoid process - the lowest part of the sternum - and the shoulder blade. The cultist's blade only caused damage to Jack's appendix and his adrenal gland, somehow missing everything else in front of and in back of Jack's adrenal gland and appendix.
"Wait just a fucking minute - how the hell did our swords just do that?" said the cultist, idly scratching at his xiphoid process.
"Beats the shit out of me. FATAL, I guess," said Jack, and severed the cultist's uterus.
"I don't even have a uterus," protested the cultist.
"Again: FATAL," said Jack.
"Fucking FATAL," muttered the cultist.
While we're on the topic, I should point out that the wound tables are marked by the same painfully creepy obsession with sexual organs and defecation as the majority of FATAL. The individual parts of a woman's genitalia can be hit separately, including the clitoris, and of course the worst thing about it - as this piece of shit game suggests - is that she won't desire sex for 3d6 months. If you get hit in the ass, you actually roll to find out how many chunks of shit come out as a result.
Sartin: In all fairness, the Crucial Damage section does have a sentence that says nonsensical results (like women getting their penises chopped) should be rerolled. [Oh, yeah, spoil my fun.] But still, it's an easy sentence to miss, and besides that, how damn hard would it have been to have double entries for these things?
You know, like "03: If male, your penis is crushed, blah blah blah intense swelling. If female, clitoris is crushed, blah blah blah worst of all doesn't want sex".
That would've been much better than how it has both male and female parts on different lines of the same chart (like "03: Testicles. Blah blah blah. 04: Clitoris. Blah blah blah") and adding yet another reroll to a process that's already had four or five die rolls (Weapon Skill roll, possible Parry roll, damage roll, percent roll to see if you scored Crucial Damage, hit location roll to see which Crucial Damage chart, actual Crucial Damage chart roll, reroll because the target's a man with a hacked clit...). But what the hell. Maybe FATAL's Crucial Damage was originally geared towards hermaphrodites, and Hall forgot to change it before he threw it into the world of boolean gender.
And yes, you've got to love those "Worst of all, she won't desire sex for *another die roll up your ass* months" bits. Unless I've missed one, those are on every single female genitalia hit. Yeah, babe, never mind that you just got a rapier or battle axe stuck in your clit or ovaries or vulva or vagina or uterus or fallopian tubes (and yes, these are all separate results on the charts) and now have to make a Health check to not pass out or some shit. The worst thing about it is that you won't want sex! But hey, since you women will be in one of those historically accurate worlds where half of all males are rapists or former rapists anyway, I guess you won't have to make that choice yourself.
And having to roll chunks of shit when you get hit in the rectum is a blast, too. Oddly, that's only on the Hacking Torsos chart - you just can't cause that effect with Stabbing or Pounding weapons, for some reason, so that's definitely something to keep in mind when you're selecting weapons. Even more oddly, "anus" occupies another place on the chart, so your rectum can get hit entirely separately from that...in fact, it's impossible to hit both rectum and anus with one attack (most of the organs on these charts suffer from this "ARGH! Even when I'm using a frigging battle axe, why can I only hit one little organ or part completely separately from everything in front of, beside it, or connected to it?!" problem, but we're on rectums right now, so cool it). And yes, you can also trigger the other half of this equation by getting someone's bladder.
Interestingly, unlike the Urination skill, none of these results even half-assedly take into account how much you've consumed or how much time has passed since your last pissing or crapping. It's nice to see that FATAL weapons possess such detailed, realism-invoking powers. You could keep making called shots on someone's rectum and keep them expelling waste all day!
Being as nothing is entirely bad, there's an interesting chart of crucial fumbles; and since this is entirely too good to be a coincidence, I suspect it to be ripped wholesale from Rolemaster, although I can't prove anything for sure.
Sartin: My first RPG was Rolemaster, so I'll field this one. Actually, the Crucial Fumbles don't resemble it that much...in fact, they might be the most sane part of combat.
There's only one chart instead of the billion Crucial Damage charts, and unlike everything else, no hard and fast rules are given. Instead, you'll roll something like "Punished by the gods" or "Environmental cause", look it up, and examples are given of how you could be fucked over in that way. This is good, because not only are a lot of stupid rules and results NOT running rampant as usual, but there's actually room to be creative and have some fun.
Admittedly, it doesn't make up for the horrible image I have in my head of a FATALite adventurer tying someone down, pounding them in the bladder and watching them urinate repeatedly, and screaming "GODFUCKIT! How do you DO that! I have to wait HALF A FUCKING HOUR! Oooh, speaking of which...", but you know. Credit where it's due and all that.
And there's rules for rape. Actual dice rolling to see if you can rape a woman.
I want to say that something should happen to the authors of this piece of trash, but I can't think of anything worse than being who they are. I can't.
Sartin: Oh, I've suggested tons of things. Getting pissed on and set on fire, getting cancer and flesh-eating bacteria on the same day, being thrown into a vat full of fire ants, sliding down a greased razor blade, Deliverance 2 - damn, this is a violent review.
Ah, hell with it. He's right, people. None of those things would be worse.
Magic: Oh boy! This ought to be an eye-opening exploration of magic in Medieval Europe, including a sound magical theory and an impressive grasp of magic as it was conceived of by the people who lived at the time!
Oh, wait: Instead, it's a mishmash of unrelated information, discredited horsecrap and random stupidity. For example: On the first page of the chapter alone, there's a mention of ether as the binding force that holds everything together, the Void of the five elements. But ether was never a magical concept; it was designed, I believe, to account for the phenomenon of heat transference; it's been a while since I've taken History of Chemistry, but I'm pretty sure that's what it was about. You can say that you're just making something up and calling it ether, like Mage does - but oops, this is supposed to be the most historically accurate game out there. Odd.
Oh, but "few who are educated and familiar with ether can argue against its existence." Yeah, unless you happen to have gone to high school and actually paid attention in science class, rather than carving images of sexual mutilation into the desk with the sharp end of a compass.
Anyways. The section on magic spends a lot of time bullshitting about what magic is and is not, how complicated it all is, what mana is defined is - utterly inconsequential, totally useless. For example, with my recaps in a weird purple color:
Certain compounds or combinations thereof produce specific magical effects. Spells are good examples of magical effects, though exacting the specific effects may be difficult to impossible depending on the specific spell and the experience of the caster. For instance, the power or degree of the effect of many spells increases predictably with the experience of the caster. Conversely, some spells are favored for their unpredictable qualities, though usually these are never totally unpredictable, but limited by certain boundary conditions.
Spells are predetermined magical effects. Some of them increase in power as the mage gains experience. Others remain unpredictable.
The duration of magical effects varies considerably, from split-second to permanent. For example, magical items are items that have been imbued with mana. The duration of these effects is not fully understood, but it quickly becomes a complicated topic. Sometimes the experience of the caster has a significant effect upon duration, but more often it is relative to the spell and its specific application.
The duration of magical effects varies widely. For some reason, I've decided to talk about magical items and their imbuing with mana. Look, a pretty butterfly. Whee! Sometimes things are one way, and then they're another way. Am I flying? Why does one side of my head feel sticky?
As most spellcasters become more experienced with magic, their accuracy and performance tends to improve. Typically, experience of the spellcaster extends the range and duration, expandsthe area, and increases the potency of the magicaleffects.
More experience = better magick. Derpty derp dee derpity do.
I'm just going to close the door and walk away.
Sartin: I probably should, too, but the fact that there's still more of this review proves one of us just can't leave well enough alone. Like most parts of FATAL, the magic system could be used to torture captives.
First off, the copyediting for this shit is even worse than Darren's making it sound, as it doesn't restrain itself simply to the Magic chapter. If you flip back to the Occupations chapter to read up on the magic-using classes (druid, mage, sorcerer, hierophant), you'll see that the Hierophant's description was accidentally duplicated in the front of the Druid entry. Which means you'll be wondering why a section that's supposed to be about druids is talking so much about priests that have nothing to do with druid culture, but trust me, it's an error. Of course, when you get to that Druid Circle equation Darren mentioned, you'll wish it would have stayed on the priest shit.
So you have to be one of the four aforementioned occupations to do magic, as they're the only ones that get spells or magic points (like 18+d12 or 38+2d20 or whatever per level, and thank Testosticles, because I wasn't thinking there was enough totally random crap at level up already). Mages are the magic-users who learn spells through intense study, sorcerers have spells through some innate power - oh, you've already seen this before? I'm sorry. Hierophants are priest-flavored sorcerers, and druids are totally-random-flavored sorcerers.
Then there are 10 levels of spells, each costing more spell points to cast than the last. So, do you get access to higher spell levels automatically as you get to certain levels? No way, that wouldn't be random enough! There's only a certain percent chance each level that you'll graduate to the next level of spells. So you might be casting level 2 spells right at 1st level, or you might keep blowing it every level until the chance finally hits 100%.
If you don't like that, just be a druid. They don't have to put up with this "hey, maybe you'll get a new spell level this time!" shit. Instead, they just get d4-1 totally random spells. No, wait. If you can't trust your luck, that's even worse.
Of course, since we're still following AD&D/D&D3's lead pretty closely, there have to be schools/spheres for the spells to fit into. Ooops, I mean disciplines. Druids get access to five of them (but it doesn't really matter, since they have no control over what spells they get), mages get all ten, sorcerers get d8 of them (and each is rolled randomly on yet another table) - hooray! Yet another place where a die roll can make the difference between playability and total shit! - and hierophants, I think, get whatever the fuck the gods feel like giving them.
But wait! Here's something different! Magic is further divided into "ceremonial" and "chaos" magic. The text goes into confused explanations of the two, but all you really need to know is that ceremonial magic is for mages only, and isn't very involved with what you have to do. Chaos magic is for everyone else, and will drive players insane.
And I mean the actual players of the game, not the characters. See, when you cast a chaos spell, there's a 75% chance that you will need a chant comprised of 3d10 syllables (and yes, there's a long random syllable chart you roll on for each one). And then there's a d100% chance (yes, you first have to roll d100 to see what the percent chance is, then roll d100 again to see if you got under it) of random ingredients being necessary (and remember, kids, FATAL's random ingredient chart is only slightly less worthy of inane infamy than its cock-clone, forehead-vagina-summoning random magical fumbles). And then there's a 10% chance per spell level of a hours- or days-long ritual being necessary.
And then you smear bacon grease on your naked crotch and dangle it in front of rabid pit bulls, because that would obviously be less annoying in the end.
There's a bit more to FATAL magic, of course, but you'll forgive me for ending the discussion here. I'll need an entire bottle of Valium to overcome the fact that I can't find any rabid pit bulls.
Spells: Here's more fun for the entire family, provided that your family has been interbreeding for the last thousand years. It does derive a lot from historical spells, but they suffer from the fact that most medieval mages were about fifty cards short of a full deck, as well as flat-out stupid.
Sartin: Flat-out stupid, or obsessed with genitalia in many of their ingredients and rituals. Hmmmm...nah.
For example, there's a spell listed entitled Against every Wild Animal, Aquatic Creature and Robbers. In the event that you are simultaneously attacked by a wild bear, Aquaman and the Hamburglar, this spell will have your back.
Sartin: I know there's probably not an illustration here, but you'd be surprised.
Others are simply dull repetitions of the same theme, so you'll have page after page of "Bestow Age / Backache / Dislocation / Greater Harm / Ingrown Nail / Tooth Rot / Ulcer / Virus / Decade / Mad Impulse to Review FATAL" spells. You can also ejaculate a wide variety of substances, ranging from acid to blood to poison; and while I'm sure that White Wolf could make a remarkably interesting NPC out of that concept, here it's just an example for Beavis to use the word "ejaculate" in a role-playing product.
Sartin: Yeah, I'm also overjoyed to see the various ejaculation spells are still around for this iteration of FATAL.
There is a spell called "Force Fart", of course, but you probably already knew that.
As a matter of fact, most of the spells are pretty much useless - for example, compare the utility of a spell like spider climb against a spell like "Greater Vulnerability to Ethicality", another spell that tries to force stupid behavior through the game's half-assed alignment system. There's at least twenty spells each that are repeated ad naseum, but with a new descriptor, like "mass protection again" or "vulnerability to" or "symbol of"; and the effects are pretty much like the last time you saw the spell mentioned, but with a new hat. Snore.
Sartin: The title spell, "Fatal", is interestingly appropriate, though. See, it's a level 10 spell that will annihilate all life on a planet, and by the time you get done reading this game, you won't feel like the end of all Earthly life would be a great loss.
"Have Her Cadaver": You can rape a corpse, but it'll feel like a real woman. Why do I have the feeling that this spell was created out of a real-life need on the part of the author?
Sartin: Because it's probably true. Obviously, the dead can't toss a drink in your face or scream "Rape!", making them attractive to the average FATALite. [I don't know about that. If I were a corpse near a FATALite, I'd probably be making deals to return from the dead long enough to throw a drink and slap a face or two.]
There's a dozen love spells, all of which were most likely designed in real life, all of which do not say anything positive about the social attraction skills of the magi who created them; I mean, Jesus, these guys must have been the laughingstock of the medieval world. ("Looks like Barnaby's got another love potion. Okay, ladies, who wants to yank his pants down and make fun of him this time?")
Sartin: Yes, those of you who were already familiar with FATAL will be overjoyed to know that there are still far more spells for controlling/tormenting women than for men.
The magical items: Fuck you for making me read this. Just about every one of them is a minor masterpiece of juvenile sexual humor - and, for an extra kicker, the authors got the difference between a brazier and a brassiere confused, so that we have braziers of flattening, droopiness, staring and so forth. Idiots.
Sartin: And yes, ladies, wearing a "Brazier" of Droopiness will penalize your Bodily Attractiveness twice as much as being pregnant!
You know, I felt kinda bad about making fun of the authors up until this point. I thought, "Well, I am being awfully hard on them; maybe they're just not terrifically bright, and just maladjusted rather than openly evil."
Sartin: For me, the inner conflict was less complicated.Sartin's Brain (Right Hemisphere): The FATAL guys are the ultimate paradox. On the one hand, they suck, but on the other, they really, really suck. So you could say they aren't a paradox at all. Hmmmm...I think this shit may have killed a lot of my cells.
Sartin's Brain (Left Hemisphere): Hey, we're reading FATAL! Are you sure we don't need a crack pipe for this? [The hemispheres in my brain just tried to eat each other. Lucky bastard, that Sartin.]
Even if I somehow felt bad, magic items are where FATAL amazingly gets even more lame than it already was.
Now I want them fed to rats. For this:
35. Jewy Jewbacca, of: Whosoever dons this armor will acquire a nose twice the size and a manhood half the size. Further, the wearer will become extremely greedy and fight to the death for one silver piece. Finally, the wearer acquires 2 inches of hair all over their body, resulting in halving their Facial Charisma and Bodily Attractiveness. While hairy, the wearer must bathe every 1d6 hours or smell foul. The armor may be removed at any time and the wearer will return to normal.
Big fucking rats, while we're on the subject.
50. Nigrous Nincompoopery, of: Whosoever dons this armor experiences a loss of 1d100 points from each sub-ability of Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. The ass of the wearer will grow by 50% and be abnormally high. If the wearer is male, then those around him are 80% likely to believe that his manhood has increased, though it has not. The skin of the wearer becomes cursed and dark as night. Disposition turns to UI. Temperament becomes phlegmatic. The eyes of the wearer are visible 3 miles away at night. The wearer will have a body odor for 1d10 feet. On the bright side, the Physical Fitness of the wearer increases by 10%. The armor may be removed at will.
With the bubonic plague.
22. Gookums, of: Whosoever dons this armor experiences an increase of 1d20 points of Intelligence in each sub-ability and is reduced to 80% of natural Height. The eyelids of the wearer will swell as though hit with a maul, and Vision is reduced to 25%. Most importantly, the Manhood or Cup Size is reduced to 50%. Strangely, the ass of the wearer will shrink, drop, and droop.
And I want them fed feet-first.
23. Greasians, of: Whosoever wears this armor acquires hair that is greasy and dark, they lose half of their Drive subability, are reduced to 90% of natural Height, are 80% likely to beat their spouse if they have one, and will be magically unemployed for 1d100 days. However, if the wearer plays drums, the wearer gets a bonus of 1d100 to their skill check.
Then I want the rats fed to some other rats.
Sartin: See, told you it was racist. You have to wonder what would happen if someone who was already black put on - oh, wait, forgot! There are no dark-skinned humans in FATAL.
The most pathetic thing is that Hall probably isn't even actually racist. He's just doing this because he needs more attention.
Meanwhile, he should have added one more armor suffix.Extreme Suckocity, of: Whosoever wears this armor will suffer a decrease in their Common Sense to 1, believe their Intelligence (in all sub-abilities) is 100 points higher than it actually is, gain an extreme fascination with (though poor understanding of) rape, waste expulsion, and genitalia, and be preternaturally unable to use any social skill.
This entire chapter, incidentally, will make wonderful, wonderful evidence during the inevitable trial. Most of it is just a series of adjectives ripped off from AD&D, without a tenth of the use. Even a hundredth of the use. For example:
39. Immorality, of: Whosoever wields this weapon causes a loss of 1d20 points of morality regarding the disposition of the victim upon a successful attack.
Yeah. That's useful. A sword that makes you think the other person is immoral when you hit them. Good forward planning on the part of the authors, there.
Sartin: It's truly hard to decide, but my favorite are the "Household Items, Seeds".01-25 Demonseed: If a character swallows a demonseed, they will instantly become magically pregnant. An anakim will be born in 1d100 days. Upon birth, the bearer dies.Great additions to any household!
26-50 Rapeseed of Raping: If a character swallows this seed, they will attempt to rape the next member of the opposite sex in sight regardless of age.
51-75 Seed of Doubt: Whosoever plants a seed of doubt will grow a dark plant unknown to nature. The plant will grow regardless of the quality of the soil. The plant will grow to be 1d10 feet tall. The plant will grow to maturity in 1d100 days and will live for 1d1000 days, even without water. When the plant is mature, it will lower the PP of humans within 1d1000 feet by 10 PP for each foot of the plant. Somehow, those humans who lose all PP will believe they are slaves. A plant of doubt will produce a number of seeds of doubt equal to the number of feet of its height squared.
75-100 Seed of Hate: If this seed is planted in front of a home of a druid, the seed will grow into a tree of (100 + 1d100) feet in height and 5d20 feet in circumference. This tree will grow to full height in 3d6 days. This tree will grow regardless of moisture, climate, or light. This tree cannot be cut or burned down. The leaves will be black and the veins are red. This magical tree will cause all creatures, insects included, within 2d100 miles to hate the druid. The only way to kill a tree that resulted from this seed is for the druid to anally copulate with a specific type of living forest creature. The druid must ejaculate, thereby sowing a seed of love. The MM must roll percentile dice and consult the table below:
Oftentimes, the druid begins an anal frenzy attempting to thwart the tree. There is a 10% chance thereafter that the druid develops a bestiality fetish.
Actually, maybe my favorite is this charming item:1-50 Jar of Jacking Off: Whenever a male opens this jar, they must pass a Drive sub-ability check at TH 80 or be compelled to force their fuckstick into the jar. Once inside, the jar will inexplicably grip it firmly and jerk it to completion, even against the will of the opener. Upon completion, the cummer must roll percentile dice. If the results are 01-10, then the jar becomes pregnant. If the jar is pregnant, it will not allow itself to be opened, but will care for the fetus within, which will be heard screaming by others within 1d100 feet day and night. After 9 months of fetal torture, the child will be born and the jar will break.
If the jar is broken during its pregnancy, then the dying and twitching fetus will explode after 1d6 rounds of twitching. The explosion will cause 1d4 Life Points of sonic damage to all within 1d4 miles. Baby parts are inexplicably everywhere.
When born, the baby will be Unethical Immoral, will serve the father loyally, will obsessively collect jars, and seem to be male but have no penis, but oversized testicles, which can never ejaculate. Therefore, this child will be forever frustrated. Any child of a jar will insist that others call them Chucky.
Man! How could I possibly say no? (Just watch. When the ass-rammers at FATAL Games get their "FATAL comments" section back up, that's so going to be quoted out of context.)
But wait. We haven't had enough misogyny yet!
01-09 Chastity Belt of Cursed Impregnation: This cursed chastity belt will immediately and magically impregnate any woman who wears it. Worse, in a world where male children are desired, the child will be female.
Yeah, it sounds cold, but again, I remind you that half of all males in FATALworld are rapists, so you wouldn't want to bring a female into it, either.
There's also pages and pages of random treasure charts, while we're on this subject. You know, up to now, I've been forgetting to bash on how, if you strip away FATAL's fixation with genitalia and rape, all you're left with someone's painful AD&D clone. Really, these even have the deal where you first roll to see what row of the hoard chart you're on, and then the row has you roll percentages for each type of coin / gem / object / whatever to see if a random number of them appear. Except that the number of coins / gems / whatever that can appear goes up when you roll a "higher" row, but the chance of them appearing often goes down. Or sometimes it goes up for one row, then back down. There's not a lot of rhyme or reason to it.
Look, never mind. Just hope that you never roll 100 for the row of any hoard or dead body. That way, there will never be more than a 6% chance of any lame ass magic items appearing, and thus you won't end up fighting your fellow adventurers over a Cursed Dildo of Adhesion or a Condom of Continuity and then wondering where your goddamn life went so wrong.
(The weird thing about the Jar of Jacking Off is that it would make an interesting magic item for Unknown Armies, provided that you filed off all of the stupidity. Actually, you'd probably wind up with a little nub of a good idea after you took all of the stupidity off, but it'd at least be better than using it as listed.)
I also figured out why the book is so long even though the authors are so maladjusted as to make extended concentration impossible: It's largely because they're simply copying and pasting the same fifteen entries, then adjusting them just enough to apply to that section; and if they run out of inspiration, which they inevitably do, it's off to the DMG for more.
Sartin: Amazingly, the FATALites missed copying their most obvious piece of inspiration: Gygax's courtesan chart!
Conducting the game: It's often hilarious to look at FATAL and realize that the authors actually thought that they were making a historically accurate medieval RPG. The game suggests that anything that lends a medieval flavor to the game will lend flavor to the game as a whole - braziers, tapestries, mead, tankards. I would suggest that the best way to GM FATAL is to drag the players out into the middle of a swamp and have them dig as deep a grave as they can; meanwhile, the GM should string police flashers so that they can be visibly seen through the foliage, and should look around wildly and whimper underneath his breath.
Sartin: I would suggest the best way to run it is to play chicken on a highway. Sure, that's not playing it by the actual rules, but if you honestly want to play this game, it's probably for the best.
Whenever possible, the material and rules for this game have a firm historical or mythological basis. For instance, a quote from Homers Oddysey reveals the prevalence of Violence and sexual content in much classical mythology, I sacked the city, killed the men, but as for the wives and plunder, that rich haul we dragged away from the place -- we shared it round
What these morons know about The Odyssey could just about fit into the Grand Canyon and still have room left over to squeeze in the entire universe. What they know about historical accuracy could fit into the space left over from the last example ten times over. (Plenty of emphasis on the raping and killing - but no mention of Penelope's legendary faithfulness, or the Siren's enslavement of Ulysses, or the terms of hospitality offered to wandering bands of men. There's material for yards in the Odyssey, as long as you don't use it for a wank sock.)
Want to see what a stat block in FATAL looks like, incidentally?
Mordacicus Stats: Height = 62, Weight = 211 lbs., Age = 22, Sexuality = Hetero, Eyes = Brown, Hair Color = Brunette, Hair Thickness = Thick, Hair Length = middle of the back, Hair Type = wavy, Most Attractive Feature = chest, Most Repulsive Feature = hands, level 3 mercenary, Skin Color = tan, Physical Fitness = 111, Strength = 182, Bodily Attractiveness = 123, Health = 131, Facial = 98, Vocal = 148, Kinetic = 111, Rhetorical = 86, Hand-Eye = 152, Agility = 124, Reaction Speed = 136, Enunciation = 92, Language = 97, Math = 107, Analytic = 108, Spatial = 112, Drive = 103, Intuition = 109, Common Sense = 73, Reflection = 84, LP = 32, CA = 33, PP = 07, Disposition = NI, Temperament = CM, Languages = Sapian, Equipment = Goring Zweihander + 6, dagger, chainmaille hauberk, (4-in-1), and 544 s.p.
Sartin: Darren! Careful where you point that thing!
AAAAGGHCK! Fuck, that hurts the eyes. No game out there really has a lovely stat block - d20 really isn't that great - but Jesus, that does not look good.
The sample adventure actually looks like it's not going to suck, right up until it shows up with a maiden called - of course - Cuntrina. You can always count on the guys who wrote FATAL to fuck it up, whether it's writing an adventure or walking upright. For extra fun, the primary villain of the piece is stinking drunk and singing what I imagine to be either a parody of an existing song or an original piece by the authors; either way, you'd get better musical results by jabbing pencils into your eyes and headbutting a wall.
Sartin: I have no idea why almost everyone's Most Repulsive Feature in this adventure is either their feet or hands, but it sticks out. And it's neat that even a sodomizing, soul-stealing sorcerer can be considered "Neutral Moral" in this setting.
But yeah, the sample adventure was underwhelming. Given the way FATAL has been foaming at the mouth up to this point, I was expecting something even more blatant and stupid. You know, like the adventure is nuns parading through the players' village, and the players are honor-bound to rape them or force-feed them tons of Rapeseeds of Raping or something.
There's a list of natural substances, all of which were likely cribbed from online sources - as a matter of fact, they're directly taken from botanicals.com, as cited in the bibliography. Nothing worth seeing here.
The warfare section: If you want to see medieval warfare done right, then you want to look at the way that the original L5R did battles; it was only important to the characters in terms of how many wounds they took, and if they got to fight a duel or if they could do something interesting. (Justin Bacon's also writing his own supplement on mass combat for the d20 system, which promises to be very interesting indeed.)
In FATAL, you have to add up the number of people on both sides, multiply them by each of their life points, then divide each unit by the size of the entire army, then subtract that from one, then square that result then the razor goes across the wrists and the blood comes out and there's a figure beckoning me to a wonderful world where there is no FATAL.
Sartin: By the way, did you know that large cities have a higher Current Armor than individuals if you're using siege weapons? Cause they're harder to hit and everything.
The Warfare chapter also contains half-assed discussions of tactics, naval and arial combat, and military training, but by now we've covered 18 chapters and 770 pages of this crap. We've stopped caring, right?
You'll be happy to know that when the winning army plunders the local town, "Maybe more than anything, warriors look forward to raping the local women."
You'd have to actually take a step down from bacteria in order to meet these people's level.
Sartin: My favorite expression for this is "They'd have to look up to see a maggot in hell", but both work!
FATAL's character sheet is ten pages long.
Sartin: And, in perhaps the most subtle testament to this game's nature yet, the "Sexual Characteristics" section comes before the "Special Abilities" and "Advancement Points" blanks.
The spell miscast tables. Here's the real notoriety for FATAL, the point when the game ceases to be simply stupid and offensive and vicious and brutal and stupid and juvenile.
Here, in fact, is where stupid and vicious and offensive and juvenile and brutal and stupid join together like a multiple-robot Transformer and destroy anything in the universe that is even close to being good or nice or true or good.
You can pick any entry at random and feel your brain fry in its own juice, so I won't bother to reprint anything. I will point out that it cemented FATAL's reputation as the worst role-playing game ever made; I will point out that printing page after page of "Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Deity X" is not even close to actual work, though.
Sartin: Darren spares you, gentle reader, but I am not so merciful. Everyone already knows about the cock clones, gay ogres appearing to butt-fuck like there's no tomorrow, and vagina foreheads, so let's check out some of the other 1,996 results!0090 Next time caster defecates, their intestines fall out of their ass, though still loosely attached.Right.
0091 An illusory disembodied 3d10 long schlong appears, trying to fuck whoever has the most LP in 500.
0092 Illusion appears of a male human pulling his pants down, cutting off his scrotum, and offering some0119 Caster believes they are a housecat for 24 hours.Right.
0120 Caster does cartwheels for 4 rounds.
0121 Caster is unbelievably happy and does not know why.0152 Caster becomes a serial rapist.Right.
0153 Caster becomes narcissistic.
0154 Caster believes they must repair the nearest carriage.0195 Caster now orgasms in the presence of candles.Goddammit! Where did those rabid pit bulls go?
0196 Caster develops obsessive-compulsive washing behavior.
0197 Caster now wants to kill everything wearing the color blue.
0198 Caster now only wants to have sex with old characters.
0199 Caster now only wants to have sex with pre-teens.
0200 Caster tries to fist-fuck the next sleeping female they see, no matter when or where.
0201 Caster now prefers mating with farm animals, and is now a zoophiliac.
0202 Caster develops a fetish to drink their own sperm once at each meal.
0203 The next female with Charisma over 120 orgasms upon seeing the caster.
0204 Caster strokes or fingers themselves, as is appropriate to their gender, once in each direction in public.
0205 Caster only wants to have sex, especially oral, with women on their rag.
0206 Casters buttocks itch for the next entire day. Suffer - 10 initiative.0257 Nutsack of caster swells to 10d1000 in volume for 3d3 days.You know, I think we've finally, finally reached the point where nothing I can add could possibly make this game look more juvenile or stupid or pointless than it already is.
0258 Next time caster poops, the turd comes alive, attacks caster: +80 TH, for 1 LP B dmg, CA 20, & 3 LP.
0259 Target turns into a fat, dark, female. MM decides appropriate penalties.
Oh, wait:0225 Casters asshole dilates to 9 inches in circumference every time they smell rain.Hooray! Now he might finally be able to LITERALLY get his head up there. No, wait, that's circumference, not diameter. Well, okay, at least a few more fists, then.0251 Scratch n Sniff magical symbol of a smelly vagina appears on the forehead of each party member.FATALite: "Repeat that before the Cock-Eye of Truth, wretch! And hurry, I've got to take it off to make that Urination roll!"
0252 Casters attack TH increases by 2d10 permanently.
0253 Eyeball appears on the casters cockhead. It can determine truth/falsity of 1 statement once per day.
Then this shit comes on for several pages (and hundreds of entries):0332 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Abaddon
0333 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Abattur
0334 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Abigor
0335 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Abraxas
0336 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Abu
0337 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Abudantia
0338 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Adad
0339 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Adiririon
0340 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Adramalech
0341 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Aegir
0342 Caster worships and entire body is branded with the symbol of Aesculapius
You know, a lot of these results are a lot funnier when you remember that magic items can trigger these rolls, and "caster" refers to the item in those cases.0883 Every time a spell is cast, the caster burps at 125 decibels.I don't know what I did - probably coining the line "Don't worry, I brought enough balls for everyone!", or all those times I tried to set strangers on fire for asking me what time it was - but I'm really damn sorry.
0884 Every time a spell is cast, the caster bleeds from their ass.
0885 Every time a spell is cast, the caster punches themselves in the cock n balls/gash for 2 LP of damage.
0886 Every time a spell is cast, the casters eyes bug-out as if in severe constipation.
0887 Every time a spell is cast, the caster holds their right hand to their chest, attempts to bite their ear.
0888 Every time a spell is cast, the caster jumps for joy.
0889 Every time a spell is cast, the caster flips off the target.
0890 Every time a spell is cast, the caster flicks their nutsack/labia 3 times.
0891 Every time a spell is cast, the caster pukes bile.
As though it all isn't enough, we also have about a hundred results where Hall seems to rip off metal lyrics:0949 Every time a spell is cast, the caster says I must die while suffering!Yeah! Keep rocking, dudes!
0950 Every time a spell is cast, the caster says I want to be one with the dead!
0951 Every time a spell is cast, the caster says Blood shall flow because killing is all we know!0991 Every time a spell is cast, the caster says I must achieve my revenge through hatred!There's hope, though. Maybe someday, someone will roll this result:
0992 Every time a spell is cast, the caster says Suffer to survive, instinct I despise!
0993 Every time a spell is cast, must chant Youre as ugly as the poo I left in your mamas mouth!1351 Accidentally casts Fatal.
I've had enough, but of course, we just can't leave without seeing these:0995 Caster grows a piece of fruit from their dickhole/cuntpipe that ripens in 10 days. If eaten, +1 to Drive.
0996 Caster grows a piece of fruit from their dickhole/cuntpipe that ripens in 10 days. If eaten, -1 to Drive.
0997 Caster grows a piece of fruit from their dickhole/cuntpipe that ripens every 10 days. If eaten, +1 CA.
0998 Caster grows a piece of fruit from their dickhole/cuntpipe that ripens every 10 days. If eaten, -1 CA.
0999 Caster and target begin copulating instantly for 2d10 rounds. Target enjoys it thoroughly.
1000 Caster and target begin copulating instantly for 2d10 rounds. Target becomes a loyal henchman.
1001 Caster and target begin copulating instantly for 2d10 rounds. Target bites casters cock, 2d4 dmg.
1002 Caster and target begin copulating instantly for 2d10 rounds. Target laughs like madman and runs off.
After literally the 40th page of this shit, we get another appendix with 470 random phobias ("470-600 Reroll"!), although I doubt a phobia of rape is really called "virginitiphobia", and naturally, there are three different phobias for an erect penis (although, to be fair, only Ithyphallophobia adds having one to a general phobia of them). Fear of men appears three times, too. Fear of beautiful women appears twice. Fear of wind is in there a couple times. Fear of venereal disease only appears once, but rolling that would be a lucky break, for reasons I've already mentioned.
And then there's a thousand random magical ingredients - those of you who were wondering how Hall could've possibly fit in "frozen grass" or "urine from a castrated male" when there were only 1,999 entries on the random magical effect chart can die in peace.
The best part is that at the end, we finally see the one thing that could make this whole mind-numbing, idiotic, alcohol-churning, change-your-car's-battery-underwater-pleasant experience complete: BYRON HALL'S BIO AND PICTURE! Yes, not since World of Synnibarr has a RPG been so graced. Of course, while McCracken's bio was whimsically insane and over the top (and thus lovably classic), Hall's is short and just mentions how he likes to collect degrees when he's not enjoying shred guitar, ancient and medieval literature and history, philosophy, blah blah blah yeah right.
And yes, any of you furries in the audience can go ahead and look to see if he's really the sort who would enjoy a bunny suit.
So, we have a name for our pain: Byron Hall, who claims to have an M.A.
Mr. Hall, I can tell when somebody has an M.A, and believe me, you don't. There are certain hints, like, well, the entirety of FATAL
I finished this review at 3:33 in the morning. Maybe, in the morning, they'll find me ascended to the Invisible Clergy as the Martyr Critic. I hope so. Jason can be my Godwalker.
Sartin: Hey, great! Maybe my fourth avatar channel for that will be "Accidentally Unleash Horrendous Doom That Swallows The World"...uh, shit. Ah, well. Between Red Zone Cuba and FATAL, I think we have solid evidence that humanity wasn't going to amount to much anyway.
And a quick note: Just in case that you're thinking that you should download this game to find out just how bad it is: Why reward him with your precious eyeball time? Right now, at RPGnow.com, they've got Ars Magica and the Deadlands Players Guide for free. And if you want to see a magically impressive, mythically accurate, innovative, well-written, well-illustrated book that makes FATAL look like the pathetic wankjob that it is, go and download Ars Magica right this fucking second.
You still here? Go and download it, for Christ's sake.
Sartin: Yeah, Ars Magica digs up FATAL's mother's grave and does bad things to her corpse. It would be worth getting even if you'd have to pay for it, and having it available for free is just plain awesome.
While we're on the subject of RPGs that kick FATAL's ass at its own game, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play is also very good if you want gritty, medieval-flavored gaming. And if you want difficult, lethal, detail-heavy fantasy combat, Rolemaster and Age of Heroes are far more sane and realistic. (Hell, Age of Heroes is free, too, and Rolemaster was the game that put critical hit charts on the map.) And if, for some reason, you have to have an ultraviolent, low brow, testosterone-coated, phallic-imagery-laden RPG, then for the love of God please get SenZar instead - sure, a 1st level SenZar character could easily survive a fall off a 100 foot cliff, but that still doesn't make it less realistic than FATAL, and its rules are a motherfuck of a lot more fun.
So, we're finished with the main bulk of the game itself. Just for the sake of beating it further to death, let's check some of the bullshit excuses on the FATAL webpage that explains why it isn't sexist. I'll provide commentary.
Sartin: For once, we'll let Darren cover this shit without interruption. The demonic contract he made me sign only covers the game itself, after all.
Is FATAL Misogynist?
No. The focus of this game is not intended to foster hatred toward females. However, the game attempts to portray females as is accurate in history.
Except, as it's been pointed out, the game's basis in historical accuracy is about as firm and solid as a tubful of gelatin in an ultrasonic mixer. As a matter of fact, what's especially vexing is that the nimrod who wrote this has figured out that if you throw up a thick enough screen of bullshit, then people will get flummoxed and walk away.
Not this little black duck. I would say that FATAL's view of history is one-sided, but that suggests that they actually have enough information to present a side; in fact, all they have is a fragment, and nothing more. Their view of females in history is missing huge swathes of information, and there's not a single page that passes where a woman or the female sex appears and isn't referred to by a derogatory slur.
As such, it is possible that females encountered in the game will be subjected to many forms of inequality and abuse. Similarly, inequality may appear if a player creates a female character.
In other words, forget about playing Boadicea, Queen Elizabeth, Joan of Arc, any of the innumerable Christian female saints, females disguised as knights, clever female thieves - in this shithead's world, it's gang rape ahoy for anybody who dares shun the land of penis. Fucking moron.
It is the opinion of the author that mysogyny is a misapplication of over-generalizations that result from mindlessness or an absence of critical reasoning. Examples may be found in literature concerning at least two social phenomena: mindlessness and pluralistic ignorance.
"I'm throwing a lot of big words at you! Go away! Go away! May the power of bullshit repel thee!"
Instances abound of both male and female degradation. If you have stumbled across some information in the game and it seems mysogynistic, please review more of the game. A larger, more representative, and objective review of F.A.T.A.L. will reveal that it is not mysogynistic. Assuredly, here at Fatal Games, we love females and think constantly about them.
Dear Mr. Hall:
You are a god-damned liar of the blackest variety.
Or this chestnut:
Is FATAL sexist?
With the above definition in mind, F.A.T.A.L. is most certainly not sexist. First, it may be observed that gender-neutral pronouns are used throughout, unless specificity is necessary.
Cuntrina. Slut. Trollop. Slovenly slut. Bitch who refused to sleep with you. Whore. Prostitute. Cunt-pipe. Worthless woman. Harlot. And for every single-word epithet, there's a lengthier description of a woman who's smelly, or pregnant, or God only knows what else your sick mind can come up with.
If you were a smarter man, Mr. Hall, then you wouldn't have put all of those words into FATAL and then claimed, for everybody to see, that FATAL wasn't sexist. But you chose to do so.
All it takes to knock it over it is one read through the rules. So we can add stupidity to your list of sins as well.
Second, it is mentioned that the highest intelligence on record is that of a female, not a male.
So fuck what?
Third, while instances of material exist in the game which may be cited in which females are degraded, equally numerous instances also exist for the degradation of males.
Complete and total bullshit. If there's one, I'd be delighted if somebody could come up with it.
Maybe he believes it. Maybe, for him, if you say it, then it's so. I can trust that anybody reading this review will know the difference.
So, in summary: FATAL is the worst role-playing game ever made.
We owe apologies to both Raven c.s. McCracken and Todd King for suggesting that SenZar and Synnibarr were the worst RPGs ever, because they are not.
Sartin: Damn straight.
Seriously, people. If you learn only one thing from all we've written today, make sure it's that giving FATAL a 1/1 Style/Substance rating was an insult to almost every other product on RPGnet that ever got a 1/1. Even FATAL's most tolerable parts are just kinda there, and the rest of it is so astonishingly lame that it will reduce you to a homeless person who rants at the stars, so sniggeringly adolescent it makes me want to tearfully beg Todd King to forgive me for ever so much as implying that SenZar was in any way "bad", and so utterly pathetic in its attitudes towards women and sexuality that it makes me wonder if Hall's last contact with either women or bright light was when the doctor slapped his mother. Throw in the totally ridiculous seriousness FATAL takes for itself ("most historically/mythically accurate game available" my ass), and its half-assed I'm-just-doing-this-to-annoy-you-PLEASE-notice-me racism, and you've got the most concentrated form of Suck any human has ever created without the help of an evil supernatural being. Read it and laugh. It doesn't even deserve the effort it takes to hate it.
Thank you all. You've been a great audience. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow and see all the flame wars and bitching about how we should have done two separate reviews. And now I depart, to rest for when the forces of negative reviewing will need me again.
If anybody needs me, I'll be lying in the fetal position in someplace dark, bleeding.
One of us reviewers still has both his eyes. The other reviewer is to be envied.