Reviews: FATAL

FATAL A Roleplaying Game of Medieval Gangrape

The game in itself is bad. It is either a sign of mental sickness, or a very good prank. That is beyond discussion.

But used properly, one can turn FATAL into the roleplaying experience of a lifetime. And that is what I did. I was storytelling a game of Mage the Awakening, and my players just refused to be horrified by anything. The Abyss, the Shadow, the urban intrigue was just not working. So I took them into the depths of Mister Hall's sick mind.

Their characters where taken into a place of non-reality, a place where the undescribability that is Byron Hall's masterpiece was reality. I read bits and pieces from the book to set the mood. It was a spirit realm populated by spirits of rape and depravity whose bans where made of mathematical insanity, and where logic is just an empty word.

In general, it worked. My players where horrified. Two decided their characters too sullied to ever be played again. Character sheets were burned. Dice were thrown into rivers. Young men questioned their ability to ever have sex again.

As you can see, even if he completely lacks any ability to create a coherent roleplaying system, as a horror writer Byron Hall is an undisputed genius. As a horror character he gets even better.

Pick up your thesaurus and turn to the entry for 'bad'

I've invented a new unit for measuring how bad things are. I call it Suck Factor, and it is measured in dysons. 1Dy-4Dy is for things that are So Bad Its Good. 5-10Dy denotes a case of So Bad Its Horrible. (For benchmarks: Manos The Hands Of Fate is 4Dy, while the collected works of Coleman Francis score 7Dy, except Red Zone Cuba which is 8Dy).

FATAL had exceeded 9 kilodysons by the end of character creation, and proceeded to expand into numbers so large that scientific notation is almost unable to handle them. It really is that bad.

As to why it managed such an abysmal score...where to begin? The creepy sexual undertones, verging on overtones, that suffuse almost everything that could conceivably possess creepy sexual undertones? The refusal to do the freaking research? The pages and pages of charts broken only by badly drawn porn? The ludicrously complex rules? The sexism? The racism? The militant stupidity? All of the above, at once, on fire?

This game is abysmal, abhorrent, appalling, and generally every other synonym for 'bad' you can think of. Do not read it, lest you find yourself cleaning out the inside of your skull with barbed wire and bleach.

All in all, **** (no, that doesn't mean "4 stars". It just means Sound Effect Bleep.)

Unplayable but salvageable.

Well, FATAL is the worst roleplaying system I've ever seen. It's unplayable and offensive as it is.

Emphasis on "as it is".

First of all, there are some concepts that sucked in D&D and went Up To Eleven. Then, a common target for bashing FATAL is ridiculous character creation. But it's nigh impossible to think that authors intended to roll 10d100 with actual dice. It's much better to use and a custom 'face for rolling routine. 10d100 provides a nice and curvy distribution. Using this idea can be useful to a GM if he wants to make a fully forged world instead of a single adventure. Some class ideas are also pretty nice, like gaining experience for routine actions or service at a more or less constant rate. Other nice ideas include speaking fast to determine whether you are able to chant fast enough or not, or different kinds of charisma, but they mustn't be made into atributes, they must be derivative instead. Generating the appearance is pure shit, as are those countless rules about sex and sex-related things, and I don't wanna discuss that.

And, last but not least, FATAL is worth existing for one things: to ba example of how you must NOT design a roleplaying system. If your project has low playability but a bunch of interesing ideas, it's worth nothing at all.