Archive for the ‘ Roleplaying Games ’ Category

Putting ponies on the same page as any mention of FATAL is really a horrible thing to do, but this pretty much encapsulates my initial reaction to the game.

Putting ponies on the same page as any mention of FATAL is really a horrible thing to do, but this pretty much encapsulates my initial reaction to the game.

Years ago I remember reading an article about a pair of avant garde artists whose painting had been slashed by a vandal. Far from being horrified, the artists were elated. The reaction of audiences, they said, was an integral part of the artistic experience. If the vandal was to come forward and identify himself, the artists went on, they would give him full credit as one of the work’s co-creators.

Mind you, not every artist would be as understanding as those guys, but the story illustrates an important fact — that an audience’s response helps define a work of art. Without viewers, the Mona Lisa is just another painting. Without listeners, the Beatles are just another band. And, most importantly to the matter at hand, without readers, FATAL would have been just another shitty self-published rpg by just another self-important douche.

The very act of self-promotion requires a fair amount of hubris. At the very least it requires a thick skin, self-confidence and the ability to withstand rejection. While Byron Hall and his cartoon pals may have lacked a couple of these, they more than made up for it in the hubris category — almost psychotically so.

As we’ve seen in the previous entries, FATAL (aka Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery or From Another Time, Another Land depending on what mood you caught Byron in) was a mess whatever you called it. Byron’s attempts to placate his critics resulted primarily in lowering his level of offense from 11 to about 10.75, and the vileness of his underlying attitudes remained on painful display in both “editions” of his game.

Let’s Make a Character!

Byron Hall and Burnout -- the early years.

Byron Hall and Burnout — the early years.

Let none say that Byron Hall wasn’t generous with his game. In addition to .pdfs of both editions, he also made available a variety of other works in progress, including his monster and setting books. Other than the fact that they are all written in Byron Hall’s usual inimical style, there’s nothing really remarkable about them, so I’m not really going to bother with any descriptions.

Other items (such as the rockin’ FATAL Theme Song for which see the previous entry) were released as well, but the most utilitarian of these items was the DOS-based FATAL character generator!

A quick perusal of FATAL’s proposed cover (the one with the Anakim and the kobolds fighting over the naked porn starlet) reveals (in addition to the “Parental Advisory” warning) the declaration that there is a “FREE CD ROM Inside!” as if FATAL is some kind of nightmarish breakfast cereal with a horrific prize in every box. Presumably the character generator would have been one of the many useful FATAL-based utilities included on the free CD ROM, but as it doesn’t run for shit on Windows, this would probably have been just another sad example of how pathetic FATAL truly was.

In any event, I’ve managed to get ahold of the character generator, but I have to run it with DOS Box to get anything like coherent output. Given the extreme detail, tediousness and the utterly random nature of FATAL’s character generation rules, this utility is something of a godsend. Unfortunately, like the game it supports, it’s a piece of crap.

So let’s generate a character, shall we? My first attempt yields a female dark elf with the following statistics:

Character Name: Aedeldreda

Gender: F

Race: Dark Elf

Age Category: Young Adult

Height: 8 inches

Weight: 2 pounds

Siblings: 0

Social Class: Serf

Age: 0

Max Age: 750

Eyes: Black

Skin Color: Black

Marital Status: Unhappily Married

Birth Rank: Only child

Birth Status: Legitimate

Hair Color: Light Brown

Hair Type: Thin, wavy

Hair Length: 1 inch

Vision: Far-sightedness, 15 feet

Facial Feature: Big nose

Perceived as weak and curious

Birthplace: Capital City

Birthday: 6/4/5100

Most Attactive Feature: Face

Most Repulsive Feature: Buttocks

Sub-ability Score Mods

PHYSIQUE: 62 (-21)
Physical Fitness: 89 (-6) Sprint: 19
Strength: 28 (-50) Damage: (-50%) C&J: 14 Bench: 29 DL: 43
Bodily Attractiveness: 23 (-56)
Health: 111 (6) Int/Vom: -6% All: 0 Ill. Imm.: 60%

CHARISMA: 102 (0)
Facial: 141 (20) Description: Enticing
Vocal: 73 (-13) Description: Normal
Kinetic: 102 (0) Description: Ordinary
Rhetoric: 93 (-3) Avg. Speech: 145 or 195 (50%)

DEXTERITY: 101 (0)
Hand-Eye Coordination: 112 (6) Finger Prec: 1/32 inch
Agility: 120 (9) CA Bonus: 3 Brawl: 2 Stand: 3
Reaction Speed: 78 (-13) Deep Sleep Recov: 2
Enunciation: 96 (-3) Max Speech: 190 Casting: +10%

INTELLIGENCE: 104 3
Language: 87 (-6) #: 2 Vocab: Experimental
Math: 109 (6) Highest Math: Geometry
Analytical: 106 (3)
Spatial: 117 (9) Unfamiliar Object Assembly: 500

WISDOM: 119 (9)
Drive: 95 (-3) Hours Resting: 17
Intuition: 121 (12)
Common Sense: 136 (17) Likely to: Probably has the trust of close friends
Reflection: 124 (12) Earliest memory at: Age 2

Life Points: (11) Unconscious: 2 CA: 13

Piety Points: (36) Magic Points:

Breadth: 4 BMI: 22.0313 BMI Status: Overweight

Disposition
Ethicality: 91 Morality: 1
You are: Ethical w/Neutral tendencies Immoral

Temperament
Sanguine: 8 Choleric: 98 Melancholic: 100 Phlegmatic: 55
Primary Temperament: Melancholic Secondary Temperament: Choleric

Starting Funds
Silver Pieces: 109

Handedness: Right-handed

Foot Size: 1

Head Cicumference: 12.3345

Sexual Features
Vaginal Circumference Potential: 5

Vaginal Depth Potential: 0.873333

Anal Circumference Potential: 7

Nipple Length: 0.25

Cup Size: A

Hymen Resistance: 58

Areola Diameter: 0.5

Areola Hue: Light

Tongue Size: 2

Sexuality: Heterosexual

Debauchery: 1

So there you have it — the unfortunate Aedeldreda is a young adult, despite being unhappily married at 0 years of age, and is all of eight inches tall. Her nipples are .25 inches in length, which for a normal-sized woman would be proportionately about two inches each. Her tongue, on the other hand, extends for a full 25% of her total body height, which makes her very popular at social gatherings. She has a gorgeous face, but hideous buttocks. While she is a dainty eight inches tall, her head is 12.3 inches in circumference, which translates into a diameter of three inches. I’ll save you the trouble of doing the math — this means that if Aedeldreda were six feet tall, her head would be 27 inches in diameter. Also, a Size 1 shoe is 4.5 inches in length. You can do the math on that one.

And to top it all off, she is a serf, so it’s highly unlikely she’s going to go out adventuring anywhere. Especially with such a huge head.

So, besides generating some decent laughs, the FATAL character generator appears to be about as broken as the rest of the game.

Edition Wars

Another decent illustration. Hopefully the artist was able to get work elsewhere after his involvement with FATAL came to light...

Another decent illustration. Hopefully the artist was able to get work elsewhere after his involvement with FATAL came to light…

The differences between the two editions of Byron’s life’s work are enlightening, especially considering his attitude about imperfections in his awesome game. On the more mundane side, the original Adult Lechery version (henceforth FATAL 1.0) had shitty photoshopped photos of Byron and his friends screwing around with weapons and looking like dorks instead of the professional illustrations that graced Another Land (henceforth FATAL 2.0), and the Aedile was called the MM or “Maim Master.” The races are the more familiar types — humans, dwarves, seven flavors of elves, half-orcs and halflings (Fallowhide, Harfoot and Stoor). Byron even provides us with a handy-dandy table of derogatory racial slurs for each PC race (Anakim are, of course called “Stovepipers” “due to their thick manhood” which in addition to spotlighting Byron’s endless obsession with the dimensions of sex organs, also implies that the entire Anakim race shares a single penis).

The key difference between the editions actually appears to be Byron’s increasing sensitivity to criticism, and his desperate attempts to explain away his obsession with deviant sex, body functions and gruesome violence. Whereas FATAL 2.0 includes repeated (cut and pasted) assertions that sex and violence are “serious issues,” all version 1.0 says on the topic is “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 comprehensiveness.”

Mind you, both sets of rules contain the following rules, which I forgot to mention in the previous installment, but which bear repeating in case anyone starts to feel sorry for Byron Hall or forgets what a woman-hating piece of shit he is:

If a human male successfully overbears a female, it is possible that rape may occur. If a male seeks to have his way with a woman at her expense and whether she likes it or not, he may attempt to Intimidate her to allow him to rape her without resistance. On the other hand, he may be enraged or prefer to continue without asking. If an Intimidation skill check is successful, then double the effective weight difference used in Overbearing above. In any case, he will have to overcome her clothing or armor. If naked, there is no modifier to the Rape roll. If either of them is wearing clothes, then the Rape roll suffers a + 5 penalty, + 10 for both. If either wears light armor, then the Rape roll suffers a + 10 penalty, + 20 for both. If either wears medium armor, then the Rape roll suffers a + 20 penalty, + 30 for both. If either wears heavy armor, then the Rape roll suffers a + 30 penalty, + 60 for both.

The Rape roll consists of rolling percentile dice, and the rapist wants to roll lower than the weight difference as used in Overbearing, doubled by Intimidation if used, and the roll is modified by clothing or armor. If the roll fails, then the woman manages to escape from the clutches of the rapist, and 80% of the time manages to land a Brawling blow with Crucial Damage to either the Penis (01-50%) or Testes (51-100%) of the would-be rapist. Further, if the roll fails then she either escapes prior to penetration (01-60%) or during the violation (61-100%). If the roll is successful, then the man does with her as he likes.

As an alternative to these cumbersome rules, I offer the following modifications:

How Byron Hall recruits playtesters.

How Byron Hall recruits playtesters.

If a well-hung male troll successfully overbears Byron Hall, it is possible that rape may occur. If the troll seeks to have his way with Byron Hall at his expense and whether he likes it or not, the troll may attempt to Intimidate Byron to allow him to rape Byron without resistance. On the other hand, the troll may be enraged or prefer to continue without asking. In any case, he will have to overcome Byron Hall’s clothing or armor. If Byron is naked, there is no modifier to the Rape roll. 

And so on. If Byron’s email address were still active I’d definitely offer the above as an optional rule.

Also, as previously noted, FATAL 1.0 had a lot more offensive racist stuff, much more gruesome and blatantly unrealistic critical hit charts and really, really long lists of random magical effects and random magical components, many (most?) of which were really, really juvenile, sexist, racist or offensive (and some that were several of those at once). When called on this, Byron of course played the humor card, as the whole “historical accuracy” argument seems to have collapsed, since I can’t think of a single solitary historical citation that includes such things as:

0089 Caster grows a hole in their forehead, though somewhat similar to a lubricated vagina.
0090 Next time caster defecates, their intestines fall out of their ass, though still loosely attached.
0091 The illusion of a 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 some…

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 [sic] rag.

0366 A tooth kicked out from the last bitch that refused to fuck you – reusable until the next time
0367 A sliced piece of skin from a slovenly slut that was suplexed onto a stone – expended
0368 A gemstone that has been worn in the concave chest of a loser for one month – reusable
0369 The defecation remaining on an arm after full insertion into the ass of an ass – reusable for 1 day

0540 A fingernail torn from the middle finger of a woman who fingers herself – reusable for 1 month
0541 The tongue of a woman who fantasizes about small cocks – reusable for 1 week
0542 The shaved pussy-hair of a smelly little trollop that has an unkempt pussy – expended
0543 A ring that has been lost in a fuck-hole for 3 months or more – reusable (although it reeks)
0544 Parchment that has been lifted so gracefully by the suction of a schoolgirl’s twat – reusable
0545 A marble shot from the vaginal depths of a pregnant prostitute – reusable
0546 The juice on someone’s face who has just eaten a hairy snatch – expended

Among the random weapon magical abilities is this gem (only one of many):

Ravishing, of: Whosoever possesses this weapon will be compelled to ravish members of the opposite sex. More specifically, the possessor will attempt to repeatedly force this weapon into a random orifice of any character with a Bodily Attractiveness exceeding 100 and who fails to correctly answer the following questions. All questions must be asked:

1. What is my favorite color?

2. What number am I thinking from 1 to 10?

3. If my weapon liked you, would you like it back?

The victim must answer each question. If one of the questions is answered incorrectly, then the possessor will gain 1d20 LP until the weapon ejaculates within this victim. If two of the questions are answered incorrectly, then the possessor gains 2d20 LP until the weapon ejaculates within this victim. If all three questions are answered incorrectly, then the possessor gains 3d20 LP until the weapon ejaculates within this victim.

If the weapon does not ejaculate within this victim within the next day, then the possessor must repeatedly force this weapon in a random orifice of themselves until it ejaculates. Either way, this weapon ALWAYS ejaculates. After 1d20 rounds of penetration, this weapon ejaculates gray splooge. If the victim is female and the weapon ejaculates in her vagina, it WILL impregnate her. She will give birth in 1d6 days to a randomly determined type of weapon, though it will also be a weapon of ravishing. The mother will die upon weaponbirth. The Ravishing property only functions every five days, when its weapon-testicles become overflowingly full. 

…And so on. I’m actually sorry that I’m posting most of this, but as I’ve said it really has to be seen to be believed, and believe me, this is only the tip of a very large, very vile, very very crazy iceberg.

Meanwhile, in an entirely different (and not shitty) rpg...

Meanwhile, in an entirely different (and not shitty) rpg…

Honestly after reading the first 100 or so such entries you stop feeling ill and start feeling both jaded and slightly sorry for Byron Hall and his friends, since generating that much repulsive crap must have taken them months… or years.

So enough of my illustrations of Byron Hall’s attempts at humor. Suffice to say, the two editions are both deeply stupid and offensive in their own way, but in the end I will say that FATAL 1.0 is repellent, infantile and sociopathic, but while FATAL 2.0 jettisons at least a portion of its juvenile sexual attitudes, it nevertheless comes across as even more sociopathic, since Byron Hall is clearly an adult who knows very well what he’s doing.

With such a wretched, diseased pile of filth hiding amid the gaming community, and with Byron Hall convinced that FATAL Games was destined to be the next White Wolf Publications, the fuse was lit and the explosion was inevitable. And when it went off, it shook the entire rpg world to its foundations.

The Review

Those who have followed the sad history of FATAL refer to “The Review” in the same hushed, reverent tones as Roman enthusiasts use when speaking of Caesar crossing the Rubicon. The date of April 10, 2003 will live forever in the hearts of gamers everywhere, for it was the day that someone finally called bullshit on Byron Hall.

Earlier in the year, Byron had posted a .pdf version of Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery on the website of FATAL Games (www.fatalgames.com, which the observant will note is now a page devoted to on-line browser games) and was waiting for the accolades to roll in. Surely the game that described it self as The most difficult, detailed, realistic and historically/mythically accurate role-playing game available would soon take the moribund and doctrinaire RPG industry by storm, sweeping its creator and his tight coterie of loyal companions to the heights of fame and fortune. Soon, Byron Hall thought, everyone will be talking about F.A.T.A.L.

In this, he proved entirely correct.

I cannot do justice to the masterpiece that is Darren MacLennan and Jason Sartin’s review. It is a work that will live forever in the hearts and minds of honorable gamers and designers. It is a towering example of good triumphing over evil  and justice overtaking wrongdoers.

Well, maybe I’m overstating a little bit. Whatever — you can read it here.

Messers MacLennan and Sartin didn’t really start out with the intention of setting the gaming world aflame. They just saw a repulsive and ugly roleplaying game and decided to respond with a massive, detailed and very funny review. The case could be made that their review shed far more light on FATAL and its creator than they deserved. Likewise, the case could also be made that in trying to spotlight how offensive the game was, they crossed a few lines of good taste themselves (linking to “Tubgirl” for example… euchhh). And finally it could be argued that the whole controversy was a tempest in a teapot, since MacLennan and Sartin were, by their own admission, simply having fun and trying to be amusing. Whether they succeeded or not is anyone’s guess — at least they were a hell of a lot funnier than Byron Hall. At least until he read their review and decided to respond (see below).

As you can see for yourself, the review is highly quotable, witty, long-winded and snarky as all hell. In the end, it can be encapsulated in the single, brilliant quote “So, basically, saying that this game should be burned is an insult to fire.”

Well, the review stayed up only a couple of days (though it has since been archived in several locations and is available to anyone who wants to read it). Byron Hall’s game proved so toxic that even posting a bad review of it was offensive. However, this was not good enough for Byron Hall himself. He wasn’t about to see his most important contribution to the advancement of the roleplaying hobby trashed in this fashion… No! He would respond to MacLennan and Sartin’s attack with his own savage editorial riposte, cutting their childish arguments to ribbons, and proving himself their superior in every regard — intellectually, logically and, of course, sexually.

The war had begun. And only one combatant would emerge.

Where is Dating Included?

Yes, this illustration is from the PC races section. You too can play a cannibalistic child-killing monster.

Yes, this illustration is from the PC races section. You too can play a cannibalistic child-killing monster.

The only creatures that I would consider more sad and pitiable than Byron Hall himself were his fans. To them, he was an idol, a paragon, a role model. He was the man who would take on the gaming establishment and show them, whether they wanted to or not, what good gaming was all about (perhaps he would accomplish this by making a successful Rape roll). One copy of Byron’s rebuttal to the MacLennan/Sartin review is drawn from a fan’s web page (which fan I’m not sure — my guess is that it was the still-mysterious “Burnout” who also participated actively in Byron’s defense), and is prefaced with the following paragraph:

Below is a true gem.  It is a review by two idiots, and the author of F.A.T.A.L., Byron Hall, replied to it.  He’s the coolest… If Fatal Games wants me to take it down, I will, but as long as they don’t mind, I want to show this to the world so that all can see the stupidity of conservatives.  Ok, here’s the review and counter-review all rolled into one.

Just the notion that anyone would call Byron Hall “The Coolest” kind of beggars comprehension. And that he’s calling the reviewers “conservatives” is even stranger. But that’s as may be — Byron’s response was posted to his now-defunct website, and the rest was history.

The mere title Childish Review and Author’s Defense of F.A.T.A.L. speaks volumes. Surely, Byron thought, those blackguards who attacked his game were nothing but childish scribblers, and his calm, mature response to their blather would send them scurrying, terrified of the vast intellect that they had dared to disturb. The mere suggestion that FATAL, with its rules for anal circumference, its obsession with rape, racism, misogyny and scatology, was anything but a fine and welcome addition to the world of roleplaying was sheer madness. Byron Hall would swat those insignificant gnats with calm, logical argumentation and sheer, icy resolution. Watch out, Darren and Jason! Retribution is at hand.

Byron begins his defense with yet another piece of self-delusion, claiming that the rpg.net review was “Perhaps the most negative review ever written.”

Although it is technically not a review, but mostly an attack against me, Byron Hall, he continues, blissfully unaware of his own douchebaggery, I will demonstrate the fallacies of the authors, Darren MacLennan and Jason Sartin. Obviously, they hate F.A.T.A.L. and anyone involved with the game. Their hatred can be only the result of fear. They are fearful because they know it will be published. They are fearful because the material in the game is supported, and is dissimilar to anything that attracts them. People fear what is different to them, mostly out of cognitive laziness; it takes effort to explore what is different. Nonetheless, I appreciate the attention to the game, and inefficient effort.

This reminds me a little bit of George W. Bush’s assertions that the terrorists hate us “for our freedom,” as if Osama bin Laden got up every morning saying, “Oooooooh, ah just HATES them AMURICANS and their DANGED FREEDOM!” Byron is puffing himself up into a far more significant individual than he is by claiming that the reviewers “hate” him and are “fearful” because “the material in the game is supported…” and because it’s different.

Contempt and hatred are two very different things, Byron. No, we don’t hate you. We despise you, and feel contempt for you, but hatred would take way more energy than you’re worth. Yeah, I definitely hate your game, but not because it’s different or because it’s going to be published (because it’s not), but because it’s a vile, offensive piece of shit.

As a preface, I understand that their fear caused them to react emotionally. Their attempted review is only an emotional outburst and lacks substance.  I do not need to rely on emotional appeals (no matter how funny and persuasive they can be), and will show the stupidity of their arguments, point by point, with reason. Although rhetoric is effective, it is the lowest form of debate. 

And so it is that Byron Hall, the guy who suggested that spells can be powered by “a tooth kicked out from the last bitch that refused to fuck you” and based his entire social system and historical overview on a single book about medieval prostitution, attempts to portray himself as the calm, mature, logical one, who doesn’t need to appeal to emotions like those sloppy-thinking reviewers at rpg.net.

Byron’s main man, Burnout (whose name is apparently John, though he lacked the cojones to actually tell us his surname) jumps in here to tell us that he’s going to be participating in the rebuttal, and helping his favorite game designer defend himself against the Neanderthals. Go get ‘em, Burnout! Your name will live alongside that of your idol, Byron Hall, in the minds of gamers forever.

Byron’s attitude for the entire rebuttal can best be described as “smug.” He comes across as a smarmy, disdainful pseudo-intellectual, tossing off what he thinks to be witty quips while sipping tea, pinky carefully extended. The contrast with the shit-obsessed author of FATAL couldn’t be more pronounced.

For example, in response to Sartin’s statement that “We’re hardly four words into the review, and already the game has dragged me down to its level,” Byron disdainfully replies:

Another one of Byron Hall's worst nightmares... A woman with a sword and the willingness to use it on him.

Another one of Byron Hall’s worst nightmares… A woman with a sword and the willingness to use it on him.

Any child can rant.  What matters is the quality of the argument.  Jason is not being dragged anywhere, but responds like this because it is who he is, and would do better to own up to it.  I intend to show that the substance of my argument is superior, and that Jason should be dragged up to it.

Take that, stupid reviewer! Byron Hall is in the house, and now logic and rational argument will prevail. In response to the suggestion that Hall and his buddies started a flamewar on rpg.net (which I have looked for but been unable to find, which is probably a good thing), he replies:

Give credit where credit is due. I did introduce my game, but I always posted professionally and addressed actual points.   All flames were by RPGnetters, except for when two players in my group posted aggressively in my defense.

So in other words, all the flames were from members of rpg.net, except those that weren’t, and they were from my friends. Burnout now picks up the torch:

As RPGnetters know, I am one of those two. I reacted emotionally in that flamewar, which is very unusual for me. I found it funny how during the days in question only one legitimate argument came up…the question of why there wasn’t [sic] any homosexuals in the game. Due to some good points brought up by one person (I can’t remember the name) this has since been changed.

My guess is that significantly more than one argument was advanced against FATAL, but I wasn’t there, so what do I know?

Now Byron starts to respond to one of those non-legitimate arguments — what the fuck is it with the fucking rape rules, asshole?

…I don’t consider women, homosexuals, and blacks to be worthless, nor deserving of rape and murder.  If you’re suggesting that because rape is covered in the game (on 2 pages out of 900), that I support it (it’s only detailed under Overbearing in Wrestling, and Sociality…where a footnote supports the historical accuracy), then anyone who plays nearly any role-playing game supports murder (or killing, which may be a better definition), because murder (killing) is usually the focus of nearly all games. I guarantee that a comparison of the percentage of a work devoted to murder or killing is higher in other RPG’s than rape is in FATAL.

In fact, I’ve included numerous things with which I diagree [sic] in FATAL, such as gods, an ethical-moral system, etc. Jason probably knows that his conclusions are faulty, but is apparently willing to be at fault. I am not.

For a guy who champions logical argument, Byron sure engages in a lot of logical fallacies. While actual rules for rape do indeed occupy only two pages (which I think is two pages too many), the term and descriptions of rape are sprinkled throughout the entire vile thing from beginning to end, especially in the Adult Lechery version. He scaled it back a little in Another Land, but it was still there, just as nauseating and disturbing as ever.

And of course, there’s the argument (which he expanded upon in his rewritten introduction to FATAL 2.0) that since other rpgs have killing, it’s perfectly reasonable for FATAL to include rape. False comparison, oh master of rhetoric and logic…

Burnout then grabs his shovel and starts digging:

I personally think that rape and murder come up, whether behind closed doors or out in the open, in at least 90% of gaming groups. FATAL just makes it so you see exactly how bad it actually is by trying not to hide it or pretend it didn’t happen. Instead on those pages you’ll find information supported by references on how often it happened and what happened to the criminal. Now does this mean anybody who plays FATAL supports it? No, it simply shows that most people try to sweep it under the rug. We know it is, unfortunately, a day-to-day occurence [sic].

Clearly, if something is a day-to-day “occurence” then it obligates us to include it in our roleplaying game, if for no other reason than accuracy and faithfulness to history. I mean, people play roleplaying games to face and participate in the horrors of real-life crime and violence, don’t they? After all, in Burnout’s snug little fantasy world, murder and rape “come up” in 90% of gaming groups.

Byron then refuses to take blame for the whole mess:

Several pages will credit a multitude of people for everything from design to play-testing. All ideas were submitted to me, and written or re-written by me. The credits section of FATAL will not only list people, but describe who is responsible for what. Many have asked in e-mails why it is not part of the free version. This, I refuse to answer until after it is printed.

And, as FATAL will never be printed (except maybe on someone’s home printer as some kind of sick, sick joke), we will never know for certain who came up with the Rape rules or the guidelines for anal circumference. However, I am looking at you, Byron Hall.

Byron admits to a few mistakes while at the same time insulting his betters:

This game is for adults only, and involves lechery. Likewise, it is possible to have a game for adults only, and that has no sexual content at all. Just the same, I was never comfortable with the title, and see it as the opposite of G.U.R.P.S. in one respect. I consider what GURPS stands for to be well-conceived: Generic Universal Role-Playing System. Unfortunately, the title itself (GURPS) is unattractive, nonsensical when alone, and a failure in marketing and branding. Conversely, FATAL seems an excellent name for the game for many reasons. Compared to other RPG’s, the game system is definitely more fatal for a character. The beginning of the other part of the name, Fantasy Adventure, is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I dislike ‘To Adult Lechery’, mainly because it places a disproportionate degree of attention on sex. However, this is one element that separates it from other games, so I guess it’s not so horrible. Still, a better name could be spun. I just wanted to point out that Jason was wrong, ‘Adult Lechery’ is not redundant.

And, presto, we have From Another Time, Another Land, the same game with a different title, with Rape rules still included…

Another feature of Byron’s rebuttal is that he argues with each and every point that the original authors make. When they suggest trying to simulate the Labors of Hercules using the FATAL system, he says that “FATAL does not specialize in ancient Greek mythology… Faulty criticism is worthless when exposed, and discreidts [sic] only the critic thereafter, not FATAL or myself.”  When the company motto “Where the Dice Never Lie” is criticized, he replies, “The subtitle… does not necessarily imply that dice from other companies lie.” When Sartin says (not seriously) “This game still proves once and for all that Darwin was an ass-grabbing fool,” Byron retorts “Darwin was a great man” and so on and so on.

The original reviewers listed more of those vile random magical effects than I did, and were pretty horrified. Byron and Burnout, however had no problem with them. Burnout also does us the favor of claiming credit so now we know who to blame.

Byron: We generated this list by passing it to many people for input, and as you can see, the ideas were downright humorous.

Byron Hall actually hired a professional editor to work on FATAL. After redlining only a single page the editor was found wandering near the waterfront, a broken shell of a man. He only recovered after six months of intensive therapy, and still has flashbacks.

Byron Hall actually hired a professional editor to work on FATAL. After redlining only a single page the editor was found wandering near the waterfront, a broken shell of a man. He eventually recovered after six months of intensive therapy, and still has flashbacks.

Burnout: Again I was laughing way too hard to respond up until now. (Wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes.) But I can only say almost all of the 2000 were meant to be funny. Until the point we got tired of being funny and just handed it over to Byron to fill in the rest. And as he stated, he set it online for people. By the way, the dickhole/cuntpipe fruit was my idea. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I’m not surprised that Byron and company found the random effects table to be “downright humorous.” Not surprised in the slightest.

Byron and Burnout continue to dig themselves deeper as their spirited defense goes on. In response to the assertion in the review that “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!’”, Byron hastens to remind us that “I never once mentioned the size of my personal manhood, regardless of how proud of it I am,” thus proving that he completely missed the point of the original statement and secretly wants to tell us how big his penis is.

Byron hits bottom very early and never manages to climb out. Less than a quarter of the way into the rebuttal, he quotes MacLennan as saying “So, basically, FATAL is the date rape RPG.” I include Byron’s response in its entirety:

Another faulty conclusion drawn by Darren. Where is dating included? More to the point, multiple ways of role-playing are mentioned, ranging from ‘good’ to ‘evil’ (though in real life I hesitate to use those terms). Why he focuses on rape is for him to answer. As mentioned elsewhere, FATAL is intended to be comprehensive, and if examined, the reader will find balance between ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

Sigh. Game, set and match, and the contest has only just begun. Everything else that spews out of Byron and Burnout’s filthy pie-holes is just crap icing on a crap sundae. Oh well, there’s more, but I won’t quote it all. You can see the entire messy thing for yourself here.

Byron goes on to swim in a sea of his own sticky smarm for a seemingly endless period, attempting to tear down MacLennan and Sartin’s review with cold, calculating logic and rock-solid maturity, but in the process only shows what a stupid, self-involved, immature git he really is. And Burnout — whoever he may be — fares even worse, coming off as a sad little fanboy riding on the coat-tails of a would-be designer destined only for obscurity and infamy.

Byron tells us how proud he is of his “manhood.” He tells us that his wife used to be a model and is both brilliant and beautiful. He tells us that his “historical accuracy” basis for the rules on “retard strength” was the experience of “some females” he knew in college who were “stunned by the surprising strength of retards.” “I have,” he continues, “neither searched nor found any material supporting Retard Strength.”

Oh, how does the bullshit flow… It’s quite amazing and well beyond my capacity to document fully. Everything that the reviewers say is wrong, misguided, illogical or childish. The only real adult in the room is Byron Hall and maybe Burnout.

Proposed cover for the never-released third edition of FATAL.

Proposed cover for the never-released third edition of FATAL.

Misogynistic? Byron says that there’s just as much Misanthropy in his game. Condoning rape? Hell, no! Byron replies — I just did it because it’s realistic. Calling women bitches, whores, cunts and sluts? Creating magical items that turn people on to black, Asian, Latino and Jewish stereotypes? Magical effects that make characters defecate uncontrollably or go out raping pre-teens? Why that’s just for humor! Suggest that FATAL is tasteless and juvenile? Why, just the act of calling me tasteless and juvenile is itself tasteless and juvenile!

Byron concludes his defense with one last load of smarm:

Let it be known that I do not hate Darren and Jason for their emotional approach and poor reasoning.  Instead, I feel sorry for them. Just the same, I am grateful for the 8 mistakes they identified, even if it did take them 24,993 words (according to MS Word), and hundreds to thousands of mistakes. To recap, their valid points were: Aging Effects should be percentages, anakim traits should include Bod. Att. modifiers, Hymen Resistance should be affected by Manhood, Bandaging Wounds in combat on the table, 1m = 3.28′ for Falling Damage, the extraction of Christianity and foreign influence should be explained more clearly, brassiere (not brazier), and to avoid the potential of racism.

I am fair. Since Darren and Jason did affect the game’s development by pointing out 8 mistakes, they can be listed in the credits, if desired.

FATAL is the best role-playing game that there could be!

And with that, Byron Hall firmly believed, FATAL’s place in gaming history was permanently sealed. His critics were shamed, his fans encouraged, and his game’s future assured.

Yeah, it was.

Despite his ferocious defense and his apparent refusal to change anything besides the mere eight mistakes that he claims MacLennan and Sartin found, FATAL underwent a bit of a transformation over the next couple of years, eventually emerging as From Another Time, Another Land. I’ve already discussed the changes, so I won’t go into them again, but miraculously many of them appeared to be items that the original review had criticized. The critical (excuse me… “crucial”) damage rules were amended and though still stupid were a little less nonsensical. Many (but nowhere near all) of the offensive magical effects and spell materials were removed. The Armor of Nigrous Nincompoopery was nowhere to be found, and neither were the other racist magical items. It seems that Byron took the rpg.net review a little more seriously than he let on.

Byron had also spent real money to hire real artists, some of whose work I’ve displayed here. While it improved the overall look of the product (and got rid of those stupid photoshopped pictures of Burnout and Byron having sex), the game was still Byron Hall’s FATAL, and doom was drawing near.

The game was never published. It was never sold. It was never in stores. The illustrations were never completed, the supplements remained available as unfinished pdfs. A couple of other programs were produced, but no free CD ever appeared. Updates grew fewer and fewer. Soon the website was sitting forlornly, untouched and unloved. Eventually it was sold to a flash game company.

What happened to Byron Hall? No one seems to know. An intense search for any sign of him on-line has come up empty. According to a now-removed Wikipedia article, Byron stopped responding to emails to his website in February of 2006, soon after one of his “editors” criticized the formatting of the game’s skills system and referred to FATAL as Byron’s “midlife crisis.”

From this day onward, this shall be my motto... Unless I meet Byron Hall in which case all bets are off.

From this day onward, this shall be my motto… Unless I meet Byron Hall in which case all bets are off.

After claiming to have worked on FATAL for over 20 years, Byron Hall vanished as thoroughly and completely as Jimmy Hoffa. While it is unlikely he was murdered for his crimes against gaming, it’s more than likely that he remains in hiding, forever afraid to show his face and admit to his connection to the worst roleplaying game ever conceived. For more insight into Byron Hall’s thought processes, go here.

But, for better or worse, FATAL lives on. People still talk about it on forums. PDFs are still available everywhere. The FATAL theme song exists in mp3 format. Gamers discuss FATAL in hushed tones, and when a system truly, truly sucks, a common response is, “Well, at least it’s not FATAL.”

And so it goes. A mighty epic of arrogance, sadness and failure has been written, and while we will probably have to put up with the existence of FATAL for the foreseeable future, we can at least say goodbye to Byron Hall — a horrid little man who designed a horrid little game for horrid little people, and paid the price for his hubris.

Good night, and God bless.

The Sad, Silly Saga of F.A.T.A.L., Part 2

151

How 4Chan reacted to FATAL.

Having spent some quality time with my “serious” writing, gotten some encouragement from my would-be agent and hung out with my girlfriend and other very real, very pleasant people of the female persuasion I think I’ve reached the point where I can once more lower myself into the open sewer that is (was?) Byron Hall’s masterpiece, F.A.T.A.L. (From Another Time, Another Land — NOT Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lecherey! How many times do I have to tell you?)

FATAL Metal Mayhem!

Once more I’m reminded just how utterly disingenuous Byron’s big name change was. Initially, the man was not only proud that he had come up with such a stupid acronym, he actually celebrated it by recording his idea of a musical theme song for the game.

Esteemed thrash-metal god that he was (see his bio in the previous posting) Byron apparently felt that his off-key growling “FANTASY ADVENTURES TO ADULT… LECHE… REEEEEEEEE” accompanied by some fat-fingered fretwork while a drum machine pounds incessantly like an broken jackhammer in the background wasn’t a good fit for the game’s new title, and removed the song from on-line. Fortunately, a number of people actually downloaded this little slice of heavy metal history, and one even posted it on youtube, and I’m embedding it here for your ongoing enjoyment. Be advised that there are disturbing images in the video, but none are anywhere near as disturbing as the game itself.

Knowing me, I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t posted the lyrics and it’s because I’ll be damned if I can figure out exactly what they are. There’s the expected stuff about chopping of your head and similar, as well as the aforementioned gargling of the game’s name, but as to the rest of it, I agree with the original rpg.net review that said it sounded like the Cookie Monster chasing a drum machine down a flight of stairs.

Hymen Resistance and Retard Strength

Does it come as any surprise that this guy plays FATAL?

Does it come as any surprise that this guy plays FATAL?

Character generation continues for another 100 pages or so, and for the most part it’s a dreary slog through endless tables, mathematical formulae and entries like “Height and Weight of various fantasy races have been computed by consulting biology, physiology, and zoology textbooks that refer to the Cube-Square Law, and the proportions to larger and smaller creatures. For example, as a creature increases proportionately in size, its surface area increases by a ratio of difference in Height squared, but the Weight increases by the ratio of the difference cubed. When a muscle is increased twofold in all 3 dimensions, its volume and weight are cubed, but the muscular power is only multiplied by 4, since cross-sectional distance determines muscular strength, not volume and Weight. The fact that the percentage of bone weight to body weight increases with creature size has been considered, as well as the fact that more muscle is necessary at larger creature sizes in order to do less when compared to body weight. The interesting implications of the Cube-Square Law on larger and smaller creatures is that smaller creatures will be strong for their size (such as an ant being able to put 40 times its body weight over its head), and larger creatures will be weak for their size. For more information, see the References section at the back of the book.”

Now I don’t know about you, but when I read an rpg book the first question that pops into my head is whether the designers strictly followed the Cube-Square Law when determining racial height and weight rules. Since Byron has conveniently included a list of references to assure us of his scrupulous and unbending demand for historical and scientific accuracy, we can all now see his genius for ourselves.

And so the body generation rules drag on for page after page after endless page, with detailed rules for determining such vital statistics as Body Mass Index, Body Part Proportion (i.e. the length of your hill troll PC’s left foot), Most Attractive/Repulsive Feature (possible features include “crotch” and “buttocks”), Breadth (or armspan), Eyesight, Head Circumference, Hand Size, Facial Features and so on. Note that I found such rules to be one of the Arduin Grimoire’s greatest charms, but as with most things FATAL, Byron Hall takes the concept, drives it into the ground, stomps on it, piles on dirt, stamps it down and seals it all in concrete.

It is two specific sections of the body generation chapter that gamers and reviewers found noteworthy. The first is the “Freak of Nature” table. I quote the rules for generating a “Freak of Nature” here verbatim: “Roll 1d1000000 (6 dice that are 10-sided) to see if something about a character is a freak of nature. If the results equal 000001, then the character is a freak of nature who has survived; most freaks of nature are killed when their deformity is discovered at birth. The player of a freak must roll 1d100, and consult the table below:”

A sweet, beautifully rendered illustration from the section describing aging. A frightening contrast to the nightmares that fill the rest of the book.

A sweet, beautifully rendered illustration from the section describing aging. A frightening contrast to the nightmares that fill the rest of the book.

After the ludicrousness of actually rolling a million-sided die to determine a character’s “freak” status (Byron’s use of the English language is stunning, believe me), there are a grand total of five (yes five) actual results on the table — funnel chest, hermaphrodite, pigeon chest, polydacytly and a supernumerary nipple. Yes, an extra nipple. All of these result in minor penalties such as -1d10 Bodily Attractiveness or -1d10% strength. Not only do you have to be spectacularly lucky to be what Byron so sensitively calls a “freak of nature” he can’t even think up anything interesting for the table, preferring instead to give the character another minor penalty to a stat.

So after all those pages of tables we get to the section that raised eyebrows, blood pressure and gamer’s ire — the infamous “Sexual Features” rules.

The rules are, we are assured, “optional.” Of course, the “optional” nature of the rules was added later, after the rpg community’s initial wave of outrage, disdain and hysterical laughter. Prior to Bryon’s come-to-Jesus moment, he was convinced that rules for nipple length, areola hue and penis circumference were indispensable elements of any modern (and of course historically accurate) roleplaying game. I think we can also see Byron’s personal views showing through, as “medium” hued areolae add +1d4 to a female’s (and only a female’s) Bodily Attractiveness Modifier, while “dark” ones subtract 1d4.

(As a sidebar, it’s interesting to note that Anakim and ogres can have eight-inch wide areolae, and ogres can have nipples up to five inches in length. Picture that in your nightmares…)

Byron strays into creepy territory once more with the “Cup Size” table which ranges from of course AA (-2d10 to Bodily Attractiveness) to “>D” (which doesn’t affect BA at all). His justification is (naturally) “A scholarly study on female human bust size indicates that both males and females prefer a female with a medium bust size…” I’m sorry, Byron, but speak for yourself, dude…

An anakim carefully checking his victim's cup size for historical accuracy.

An anakim carefully checking his victim’s cup size for historical accuracy.

And it’s probably petty for me to mention this, but — HEY, BYRON! “CUP SIZE” IS A MODERN MEASUREMENT BASED UPON MODERN BRASSIERE DESIGN! IT WASN’T USED AT ALL IN THE PERIOD THAT YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT! WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO “HISTORICAL ACCURACY”, ASSHOLE? I GUESS IT ONLY COUNTS WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO JUSTIFY YOUR MISOGYNISTIC, SEXIST SHITHOLE OF A GAME, NOT WHEN YOU’RE COMING UP WITH RULES FOR DESIGNING YOUR FAVORITE REALDOLL, HUH?

The creep-factor enters with the “Cup Size Modifiers” table, which is indexed for age and relative body type. You will be happy to know that an infant has a -75 Cup Size Modifier. And if you once more feel like taking a hot shower to wash the stains from your soul, just wait until we get to the next table, the “Vaginal Circumference Potential.”

Once more we have modifiers based on age, including “infant,” “child” and “puberty.” Tell me, oh God, please tell me what kind of fucking pervert would have the slightest interest in such a statistic? I’m not even going there. Byron Hall is one of the most vile human beings ever to stain the rpg community with his presence, including this motherfucker.

So with that piece of unutterable horror still in our minds, we scan down the “VCP” table and discover modifiers for “Age, Venerable” (+5), “Mother” (+1d20+5), “Nymphomaniac” (+1d20+10) and (wait for it…) “Slut” (+1d20 “if unsure”).

In the name of all that is holy and good, I feel utterly horrible after writing the previous couple of paragraphs. Rules for “Vaginal Depth Potential” follow (“No object may be fully inserted into a vagina if it is longer than the female’s Vaginal Depth Potential. In such extreme cases, internal damage may occur, though this is best left to the Aedile…”), as do Tongue Size and the crowning horror, “Anal Circumference Potential” and everything that goes with it.

We then have rules for a Ripped Orifice (“A vagina or anus that is stretched to twice its limit results in the necessity of a Health Check at TH20. If this check fails, then death occurs.”), Hymen Resistance (“Each player of a female character may, at their option, determine Hymen Resistance of the character by rolling 5d20… Every time a male inserts his Manhood into a female with an intact hymen, he must roll 1d100 to see if it breaks… He must divide Manhood Circumference by Vaginal Circumference Potential and multiply the quotient by 100. Apply this modifier to the roll…”) and Menstruation (“A common belief regarding menstruation is that it is punishment from the gods for being female.”).

Byron Hall and a friend discussing the size of each other's manhood.

Byron Hall and a friend discussing the size of each other’s manhood.

Next come rules for “Manhood,” and I don’t mean learning how to paddle a canoe and skin a deer. We’re talking penile dimensions here folks, and here Byron is in his element. “A manhood that is short but extremely thick is known as a chode. Most females prefer a Manhood that is thick so she feels it, but not thick enough to hurt, and long, but not long enough to hit tehe end of her vagina. Some females prefer veins, others do not want to see them. Some females prefer that the head, or glans, is large and puffy, while others do not care… Other details are left to the Aedile.”

As always, we roll “Manhood Size” on a table that is so scientifically accurate that it hurts. “The Manhood Size Modifier,” gushes Byron, “was solved with a polynomial using quadratic regression based on what Fatal Games believes is the smallest to largest possible Manhood relative to height. In the following equation, ‘x’ represents the category of roll (1-6=1, 7-12=2, etc. and ‘y’ = Size Modifier. Here is the equation: y = 0.205078125x2 + 0.683597375x – 70.888671875.”

Leave it to a perfectionist like Byron to work out penis size to the ninth decimal place. Clearly he feels that every tiny fraction of an inch counts…

And now at last we are reaching the end of the body section, and include a number of other useless statistics and tables. When we get to rules for pregnancy, we are informed that “Pregnancy occurs when a sperm of a male fertilizes an egg of a female.” Clearly, Byron knows the level of his intended reader’s experience. Rules for allergies and intoxication follow, with suspiciously detailed rules for intoxication from marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.

We conclude with rules for a bunch of diseases, including Tourette’s Syndrome, which is not a phyical disease, but which Byron apparently finds hilarious, as it is accompanied by an illustration of a hot blonde with an unlaced bodice screaming “Cunnus! Perite! Canis! Nothus! Futue te ipsuni! Mentula!” (Roughly “Slut/cunt! Die! Dog! Bastard! Go fuck yourself! Penis!”) Nothing like a little random Latin to spice up an otherwise dull roleplaying session, eh?

Huge Hung Hero Hunks

Next comes the long chapter on Abilities, and it’s more of what we’ve come to expect from FATAL — long, drearily overexplained rules, thousands of words of unnecessary detail and the occasional moment of brain-numbing stupidity (“The standards for female Bodily Attractiveness have been referenced from Life in a Medieval Castle by Joseph and Frances Gies… Gies claims that “Nicolette… physically exemplified the medieval feminine ideal…” and quotes the source who describes the following female: ‘Her breasts so firm that they showed beneath her vesture like two rounded nuts; so frail was she about the girdle that your hands could have spanned her…’ A thin waist and large, round breasts are physical standards of female attractiveness, and are historically accurate.”).

The expected statistics — Physique, Charisma, Dexterity, Intelligence and  Wisdom are further subdivided into related abilities. Charisma, for example, consists of Facial, Vocal, Kinetic (“the beauty of [the character's] bodily movements, gestures, stride, etc.”) and Rhetorical (“the potential to seem credible, to make one’s ideas or suggestions seem appealing by soliciting emotions.”).

Abilities are determined through the convenient formula (10d100/5)-1, which generates a number between 1 and 199. How Byron decided that this oh-so-convenient number would be the cornerstone of his masterpiece is beyond me, and God knows I have not played this turkey, but some reviews assure me that the system itself sort of works.

An example of how Byron thought Ability checks should work follows, once more in its absurd entirety:

Okay, what the fuck is supposed to be happening in this picture?

Okay, what the fuck is supposed to be happening in this picture?

For instance, a slovenly chambermaid offers herself to a strapping young character if and only if he can expediently repeat a tongue-twister of her choice. Driven by hormones, the young male agrees, and asks “What is the tonguetwister?” The chambermaid challenges “Huge hung hero hunks hastily hump horny heaving hot whores. How ‘bout it, huh?” To make an ability check, roll 3d10 and apply the Skill Modifier to the result. A 6 or less always represents failure or a fumble. This number may be compared with a difficulty threshold (TH) determined by the Aedile or the roll of another player. In the example provided above regarding tongue-twisting, the Aedile may have secretly decided the TH to be 20. The player of the strapping young character tests his character’s Enunciation sub-ability at the moment by rolling 3d10 and applying the Skill Modifier from Enunciation to the roll. He rolls 11 and the Aedile tells him that he tried to say it faster than he was capable at the moment. To the dismay of the character, the chuckling chambermaid abandons him for a lad with a more nimble tongue.

Evidently, making ability checks is not only simplicity itself, but it invariably involves sleazy sex of some kind.

Secondary (tertiary?) abilities derived from the primaries follow, in endless, endless tables. Under the Facial Charisma table and an entry for the term “butterface”, Byron once more shows what a charmer he is: “Although most who are unfamiliar with this term think it is ‘butterface’ when heard the first time, ‘but-her-face’ describes when every physical aspect of a female character looks good, but her face. This term should not be taken literally, since the character described by this term may not be female, or may have low Bodily Attractiveness as well.”

(Also on the table are ratings for facial beauty with descriptions such as “causes wetness” and “orgasm from viewing.” Still keeping it classy, I see…)

Why waste any more time with this horror, anyway? The chapter continues like this, but it includes one more footnote that really must be read to be believed. I’m not even going to bother coding the superscript numbers — it’s simply pointless:

Although the relationships between many variables in the tables for sub-abilities are linear, such as Strength and Damage, many are also curvilinear, such as sub-ability scores and Skill Modifiers. Most curvilinear relationships are calculated as parabolas. The parabolic formula that opens to the right is: (y - yc)2 = 4a(x – xd). The variable ‘c’ is the vertical distance from the vertex to y=0, and ‘d’ is the horizontal distance from the vertex to x=0. Finally, ‘a’ is the distance from the vertex to the focus of the parabola. For example, Skill Modifiers are considered to range from -99 to +250 over 200 categories (such as 1-6, 7-12, etc.) of sub-ability scores. Only Strength has 200 categories; other sub-abilities have 50. Therefore, the vertex is (1, -99), so consider the vertex in the equation: (y + 99)2 = 4a(x – 1). Now, solve for ‘a’ by inputting any other known point, such as the apex (17, 0), and: (0 + 99)2 = 4a(17 - 1). Hence: 992 = 4a(16). Therefore: 9801 = 64a. Finally, a=153.14. Consequently, 4a=612.56. Now, any point may be plotted along the curve: (y + 99)2 = 612.56(x – 1). For example, the highest Strength category (1,195-1,200, the 200th category) is: (y + 99)2 = 612.56(200 – 1). Next: (y + 99)2 =12.56(199). Next: (y + 99)2 = 121899.44, and is equivalent to: y + 99 = 121899.440.5. And: y + 99 = 349. Finally: y=250. All curvilinear relationships were calculated in Microsoft Excel.

Well, I’m certainly glad to see that playing FATAL doesn’t require any math skills. Yet another of Byron’s vile lies, but hey who’s counting by now?

Okay, after all the disgusting misogyny I figured we were due for a picture of a truly beautiful woman in armor. She can come riding to my rescue anytime...

Okay, after all the disgusting misogyny I figured we were due for a picture of a truly beautiful woman in armor. She can come riding to my rescue anytime…

The last horror I’ll visit upon the patient reader is yet another example of Byron’s sensitivity and intelligence: Retard Strength. Humans with Intelligence of less than 70, he tells us, are “retarded.” But don’t despair — roll 1d00 using the following handy formula — (lowest Slow score – retard Intelligence) x 3 = % chance of Retard Strength. If you succeed, presto! You get +2d10% Strength! Voila! Scientific and historical accuracy triumph once again!

Chapter 4 is a long, long discussion of FATAL’s equivalent of Alignment — Disposition. An individual can be Ethical, Neutral or Unethical, cross-indexed with Moral, Neutral or Immoral (yielding such alignments as Ethical Moral, Neutral Immoral, Unethical Immoral and so on). Byron’s example for Ethics predictably involves whether a married man will go to bed with a woman he meets on the street, an example I’m sure that Byron’s supermodel wife found amusing.

The whole thing reads extremely dryly, just like the rest of the book, and it’s followed by pie charts that list the relative proportion of each alignment per race, some with pie slices so tiny that it’s all but impossible to determine what the actual percentage might be.

Honestly, I skipped most of this chapter. Games like D&D may try to fit their characters into artificial alignment systems, but at least it provides guidelines for behavior and can be summed up in a couple of pages. Good ol’ logorrheic Byron takes dozens and dozens of pages to do the same thing, to the point where you just want to reach into the fucking PDF and shake him ’til his teeth rattle.

Chapter 5: Mind follows, with yet more alignment/temperament crap. Byron uses the medieval temperaments of sanguine, bilious, melancholic and phlegmatic to describe personalities, along with still more long tables with tiny print. He follows this with rules for various mental illness, from Avoidant Personality Disorder (one of my personal favorites) to bipolarism, OCD, dependent personality disorder, intermittent explosive disorder and the like. Needless to say, sexual disorders such as coprophilia, erotomania, erotophonophilia (obsession with sexual murder), pedophilia, raptophilia (obsession with rape, of course!), frotteurism, satyromania, sadism, masochism, urophilia, zoophilia and nymphomania are prominently displayed, and pretty much outnumber the non-sexual ones by a significant margin.

Once more, Byron’s obsession with “historical accuracy” falls bleeding by the wayside, as most or all of the disorders he includes were first described only in the last century or two. Though he insists that his description of women as sluts, whores and kitchen-lurking inferiors is absolutely required by his obsessive drive for accuracy, he nevertheless dispatches with any kind of contemporary treatment of mental illness, opting instead for a laundry list of modern afflictions, most of them involving sex and/or filth.

More mind-numbingly pointless detail follows in the next chapter, “Sociability.” On the very first page, we get the following:

To determine a character’s birthday in a format of (month/day/year) for Neveria (a fantasy world), simply apply the following formula:

{1d20* / [(1d12 + 1d20) - 1] / [5100 - age]**}

* Note: Reroll results of 14 or higher. In Neveria, the year consists of 13 months because months are based on lunar cycles.
** Note: In Neveria, different cultures count their years differently. The formula used above represents kobold years (KY). If another fantasy world is used, consult the Aedile to determine a character’s birthday.

First off, I’m really glad that birthdays are measured in Kobold Years. Second, given Byron’s penchant for offensive perversity up to this point, I wonder whether the abbreviation “KY” was entirely coincidental…

Just like every other fucking thing in FATAL, social status, education, birthplace, marital status, family and even sexual orientation are all generated randomly. Mind you, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, as I enjoyed the early manifestations of such a system in Arduin and in the old Central Casting books from Task Force Games, but I’m growing suspicious now, as if FATAL uses a rule system, there must be something evil about it…

Doin’ It Dark Elven Style

Speaking of dark elves... Believe me, if the rest of FATAL lived up to some of its art, this would have been a happier world indeed.

Speaking of dark elves… Believe me, if the rest of FATAL lived up to some of its art, this would have been a happier world indeed.

Byron then touches on the marriage customs of various cultures (and since FATAL is historically accurate, they pretty much all treat women as property), then moves on to the various races’ languages.

Again, more bog-standard fantasy blather here, with the following delightful entry regarding the “buggeric” language (the language of bugbears, natch):

Examples abound of new Buggeric words that have entered common usage. The kobold word for sodomy has been abandoned in favor of buggery, from which the name of the dialect is derived. Seeming to other races as though male bugbears are obsessed with sex, they refer to their flaccid Manhood as their little human, roughly translated. Male bugbears refer to their erect Manhood as their poop-poof, which is often shortened to pupoof, and said quickly. The variant poop-oops, now quickly pupoops, developed in response to finding feces on a Manhood upon removal from a rectum.

(Given Byron’s own description of male bugbears, it makes me wonder whether he himself counts one or two among his illustrious ancestors.)

And then follows another spate of tables (which I’m sure were among Byron and Burnout’s favorites) for determining “Debauchery.” And by “Debauchery” we mean just exactly how far a character is willing to go in pursuit of pleasure. Once more random rolls are the rule of the day, modified by various factors such as the character’s race (Anakim get a whopping +30, while dwarves and elves a miserly -10).

Byron is apparently a student of human (and I guess non-human) sexuality as well, for he ranks debauchery based upon what act the character will perform or allow to be performed. Lowest of course is “Refuse all sex,” but after that we start with handjobs, then proceed to receive oral, vaginal, digital, give oral (much more debauched than receiving it apparently), entertain multiple partners, give anal, give pain, urinate on partner, be bound, receive pain, be urinated on, defecate on part…

Okay, okay… Once more the staggering level of complexity and historical accuracy is making me sick. I also find it very instructive that Byron feels that willingness to be tied up is more debauched and kinky than giving golden showers, which strikes me as a bit odd, but then again I’m not a speed metal god with six college degrees who’s married to a supermodel, so what do I know?

Rules for Chivalry (no, really… fucking chivalry…) follow, along with guidelines for Courtly Love (no, really… fucking courtly love), types of communities and government. In a footnote Byron, in his never-ending quest to impress you with how literate he is, quotes Bertrand Russel, as well as Plato’s Republic as the basis for his commentary.

Byron then gives us several pages of information on racial cultures, with the usual emphasis on slavery, violence and sex (Dark-elven-style [sex] consists of the male entering the female from behind, who is on her knees with vagina exposed and head on the ground. This entry may simply be a result of Byron Hall never encountering a woman who wanted to see his face during sex, but that’s only speculation on my part).

For a dark elven female to become a citizen, she must masturbate a male and make him ejaculate a horizontal distance at least half his height. For a male to become a citizen, he must masturbate on a female and ejaculate at least 8 streams.

Holy shit — what the hell does that even mean? No, no… Don’t answer that. I don’t fucking want to know.

Rules for diverse things like roads, inns, schools, public baths, and the like follow, and wouldn’t you know it, but Byron seems really interested in telling us all about prostitutes:

Even respectable inns include whores among services offered. The staff of inns are usually slaves, including the doorman (doorwoman), bellboys and porters, waiters, wenches, and chambermaids (who double as whores, at the request of a guest).

Crime and punishment comes next, painstakingly detailed and divided up by race. Then comes a loooong list of crimes and how each race punishes it. The entry on rape in human cultures spends most of its time justifying and lovingly describing the crime, then telling us that it wasn’t all that big a deal, rather than simply describing how it’s punished. I include Byron’s comments in their entirety, lest someone accuse me of selective quotation. And it must be right, because he backs it up with the one book he read on the subject (the by-now familiar Medieval Prostitution):

Little latin phrases like this are sprinkled throughout the book. Just for historical accuracy, of course.

Little latin phrases like this are sprinkled throughout the book. Just for historical accuracy, of course.

In an average community, an average of 20 rapes occur annually. In 80% of cases, rapes are committed by between 2-15 characters. 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 her through the streets into 1 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. The rapists come from all levels of society, but the majority are artisans and laborers. Less than 10% of rapes occur by ruffians. In 50% of cases, human rapists are between 18-24 years old. The group is composed, on average, of 6 characters. Only 20% of rapes are committed by a group of more than 9 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.

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 or bad.

The social reaction to rape is rarely favorable to the victim. The human victims of gang rape are age 15-33. Child rape is rare. The rape of a child under the age of 14 or 15 is considered a serious crime, even though the female could marry at age 12. 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, then 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.

Now just what that last paragraph has to do with the price of tea in China is anyone’s guess, but it really seems to me that Byron is spending waaaay too much time and effort excusing rape and essentially telling us that if we want to roleplay it in his game, well that’s just dandy.

Jesus, boys and girls… If anything would make me want to give up on D&D and Savage Worlds, it’s that paragraph…

For some strange reason known only to himself, Byron chooses to follow this section with a collection of delicious recipes, including Makke, Porridge, Dulcia Domestica, Gingerbrede and, of course (wait for it…) Rapes in Potage. Of course “rapes” is just another word for “turnips,” but Byron never misses a chance to use the term “rape” in a sentence…

How to Become a 21st Level Baker

Next comes occupations and skills, and they take up a vast majority of the rest of the book. Occupations more or less take the place of character classes, though what the fuck a Papermaker is doing out slaying ogres and participating in gang rapes is beyond me.

Experience is figured in Advancement Points (or AP). It takes 1,000 to reach Level 2, 256,000 to reach level 10, and 524,288,000 to exceed level 20. But how does one earn AP, you ask?

Well, by practicing your occupation, of course! Each Occupation has a number of tasks listed, along with how many AP the activity earns. If the character is a Baker, for example, he (and it’s most assuredly going to be a “he” given Byron’s obsession with women’s subordinate role) earns .1 AP for every loaf of bread baked. In order to reach level 21 therefore, the baker must produce 5,242,880,000 loaves of bread. If he bakes an average of, say ten loaves a day, he will reach level 21 in a mere 1,436,405 years. And after all that labor — slaving away for over 1,436 millennia — what have you got for your time? A fucking 21st level baker.

There are similar examples, to be sure. A Beadle (who apparently assists a Reeve in his duties) gets 100 AP for every month of service. That means that achieving the much more modest 10th level will take the aspiring Beadle a far more reasonable 213 years. A cook gets 1/5 AP for every meal he cooks successfully, meaning that a cook who prepares a hearty three meals a day earns a whopping 3/5 of an AP, taking only 73 years to reach the dizzying height of Level 5.

Oh, the joy of picking apart a broken game system… In stark contrast to the unfortunate Bakers and Beadless, an Assassin receives AP equal to his victim’s Life Points (aka “Hit Points”) x the assassination’s pay in silver pieces. Assuming that the assassin is being paid a mere 100 sp to kill a low-level victim with 40 LP, he earns an instant 4000 APs, an amount that it would take the unfortunate cook in the previous example over 18 years to accumulate. And so on.

Notably (and surprisingly) missing from the seemingly endless list of occupations is “Pimp,” but never fear — “Brotheler,” “Wench,” “Courtesan” and of course “Whore” are there in all their glory. The Brotheler is I guess the closest thing to a pimp we’ve got, and Byron lavishes several hundred words describing his duties.

This could be an illustration of what I'm going to look like in 10 years or so. Unfortunately, it's an illustration from FATAL...

This could be an illustration of what I’m going to look like in 10 years or so (the figure on the bottom, that is). Unfortunately, it’s an illustration from FATAL…

Courtesans, we are told, “are essentially expensive, intelligent, and skillful Whores (see Whore).” They earn 10 AP for each satisfied customer, so a Courtesan who entertains three clients a day, every day, will take 11 years to reach Level 8.

A Wench, may of course “perform as a whore to collect money for her master or mistress” and gets 1/10 AP for each satisfied patron. If she successfully serves food to 100 people per day, every day, our overworked Wench will reach Level 15 in only 2,244 years. But hey, hopefully she has a good retirement plan.

And finally, the Whore. She gets a full page and almost a thousand words where the lowly tinker gets only 250 or so. Needless to say, “For each successfully assisted ejaculation or orgasm, a whore acquires a number of AP equal to the adjusted number of her Sexual Adeptness skill check.” To reach Level 10, a Whore who rolls an average of 30 per skill check need only successfully have sex with 8,533 customers. Now this is clearly much more skilled work than that poor Baker, for at a rate of 10 customers per day, the enterprising Whore will make it to level 10 in only 853 days.

Leave it to Byron to be simultaneously misogynistic, sexist, offensive and boring in the same entry.

Consult the Urination Table

Next come Skills. Lots of Skills. Tons of Skills. Craploads of Skills. About 250 skills, in fact, ranging from simple shit like Climb and Hide to ludicrously detailed and/or obscure shit like Delousing, Sheathmaking, Tilemaking, Basketweaving and 33 (count ‘em… 33) different types of Divination, from Alectromancy to Xenomancy.

Surprisingly there is only one skill for “Sexual Adeptness,” but that’s offset by the fact that there is actually a skill called “Urination.” Yes, there is a skill for how well your character takes a leak. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?…

While every character is capable of Urinating, it requires skill to urinate accurately or to maximize the distance of a stream of urine. Generally, this skill is for males, though under certain circumstances females may exercise their Urinating skill. This is best left to the discretion of the Aedile.

Whenever a character attempts to urinate on a target, and urination requires accuracy or distance, a Urinating skill check is made. 

Check: Roll 3d10 and apply the average of the modifiers from the Health and Hand-Eye Coordination sub-abilities. If aiming at a target, then the TH also represents CA.

2 factors determine most variation in urination: time elapsed since last urination and the weight of the drink considered as a percent of body weight. Consult the first table to determine a Urination Modifier:

For the record, there is also a skill called “Spitting” with similar rules. You don’t really need to see them, do you?

And of course there’s a skill entry for “Logic.” Let’s see what Byron has to say about Logic:

Logic
This is a science that deals with canons and criteria of validity in thought and principles of reasoning. Logic is divided into deductive and inductive. Things demonstrated deductively must be true, provided the logic is not flawed. Things demonstrated inductively are probably true. For example, if all chambermaids exercise fellatio, and fellatio always feels good, then it follows deductively that the fellatio administered by a chambermaid will always feel good. Of course, each of the 2 premises are logically flawed, since there may very well be chambermaids who refuse fellatio, and it is possible for fellatio not to feel good, such as by including fierce biting. Inductive or probabilistic logic may be characterized by the following basic example. If chambermaids typically give fellatio, and fellatio typically feels good, then I probably want to meet a chambermaid. Any time the validity of logic needs to be assessed, a Logic skill check must be made.

God. Byron must have been a really fun hotel guest. I’d say that the last sentence applies doubly to games like FATAL…

Also as expected are the lovingly detailed rules under Sexual Adeptness, possibly the most detailed and painstakingly microscopic rules for sex in rpg history. And that is not a compliment. In typical fashion, Byron manages to turn one of the most beautiful and fulfilling of human experiences into the dullest and most-soul destroying mathematics lecture by the dustiest and most decrepit tenured professor imaginable. I include the entire thing below simply to illustrate the utter horror that these rules have now become…

ParabolaCheck: Concluding the act of sexual intercourse or each sexual position, a character must make a Sexual Adeptness check concerning the quality of their performance, as does the partner(s). The higher the roll, the more the character has satisfied their sexual partner.

Roll 3d10 and apply the average of all relevant modifiers:

• Bodily Attractiveness (except in darkness)

• Facial Charisma (except in darkness, or with a sack over the head) [Keeping it classy as ever, Byron.]

• Kinetic Charisma (except in darkness)

• Contortion SP invested (depending on the position, and only if Debauchery exceeds 50)

• SP invested in Sexual Adeptness

• SP invested in the most appropriate Specialty (such as cunnilingus, fellatio, etc.)

• Tightness

 Tightness: For vaginal or anal sex, tightness ratio is a major factor of pleasure. To determine the modifier for tightness, divide Manhood Circumference by Anal or Vaginal Circumference Potential. Multiply the result by 100, consider it to be Base Tightness (BT), and use the following parabolic formula:

(BT – 80)2 = -4y + 120

Solve for y.

For example, if BT is 70, then:

(70 – 80)2 = -4y + 120

(-10)2 = -4y + 120

100 = -4y + 120

0 = -4y + (120 – 100)

0 = -4y + 20

4y = 20

y = 5

Therefore, the most sexual pleasure is experienced from a fit that is neither too tight nor too loose. The result from tightness is averaged with other modifiers and included in the skill check. Consult the table below to observe the performance of your character and the typical impression made on the sexual partner. Finally, in the case of multiple partners, a character’s satisfaction may be considered either partner to partner, or averaged for the entire experience.

Ejaculation: Many factors affect ejaculation, including Physical Fitness, Age, Scrotum Fullness (SF), and points invested in ejaculation control. The scrotum may accumulate sperm for 2-5 days before becoming full. The rate of filling varies with age. From being totally drained, the scrotum fills with sperm in 5 days while in puberty, 2 days for young adults, 3 days for middle age, 4 days for old age, and 5 days for venerable characters. Consider the accumulation of sperm as a percent, from 0-100. This is Scrotum Fullness (SF).

Each ejaculation drains a percentage of accumulated sperm based on age. Pubescent ejaculation drains 80%, young adults drain 50%, middle age characters drain 60%, characters in old age drain 70%, and venerable characters drain 80%. It is uncomfortable for a scrotum to contain 10% or less of its potential sperm. For example, if the scrotum of a young adult is full, then he will be reduced to 50% fullness with the 1st ejaculation, 25% fullness after the 2nd, 12% fullness after the 3rd, and 6% after the 4th. After 4 consecutive ejaculations, the scrotum of the young adult will feel uncomfortable, and SF is 6.

The number of ejaculatory contractions is (4 + 1d6). The distance that sperm is launched in the 1st contraction is affected by Age, SF, Physical Fitness, Facial Charisma or Bodily Attractiveness, and novelty. To determine Ejaculatory Distance (ED), progress through the following: Consider Base ED to equal the Breadth of the character. Age penalties include – 25% for pubescent and middle age characters, – 50% for old age, and – 75% for venerable characters. Next, divide Physical Fitness by 100, and multiply ED by the result.

When a male ejaculates, the attractiveness of the object he is watching affects his ejaculation. Now consider whether the male is looking at or imagining a face or body, and divide either Bodily Attractiveness or Facial Charisma by 100. Multiply ED by the result. The novelty of the stimulus for the male affects his ejaculation. For example, if a loyal husband only has sex with his wife repeatedly, then while she was exciting in the beginning of their relationship because she was new, she becomes boring in time and decreases his ejaculation [I'm sure this comes as welcome news to Byron's supermodel wife]. A new partner or position may affect his ejaculation. If this is not the first time the male has ejaculated for this partner, then decrease ED by (1d10)%. If the position is not new, then decrease ED by (1d10)%. Finally, ED is affected by SF. Divide SF by 100, and multiply ED by the result. Each contraction launches sperm only (1d100)% as far as the last contraction. 

Vaginal Soreness: Sometimes vaginal penetration can cause the vagina to be sore after sex. Factors include Base Tightness (BT) and the duration of vaginal penetration. To determine BT, see Tightness above. Then, multiply BT by the duration of sexual penetration in minutes. Finally, multiply the result by 0.003. This is the number of hours that the female’s vagina is sore.

When speaking at Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln captured the greatness of a nation and the nobility of a selfless cause in a mere 278 words. Byron Hall, on the other hand, devotes 448 words to determining how far a man can ejaculate. I’m sure that President Lincoln would be proud of the great nation that his words helped preserve.

Next comes equipment, and it’s the usual list, though of course it includes prices for and a loving description of the dildo:

This is how Byron Hall imagines beautiful elven women. Right before he and his friends rape  them.

This is how Byron Hall imagines beautiful elven women. Right before he and his friends rape them.

Dildo: Often called an olisbos, this tool is sold to single females by merchants. A dildo is made of stone and represents a Manhood in size and shape. A horny female may masturbate by feverishly inserting the dildo into her vagina. Prior to insertion, olive oil is applied to the dildo as a lubricant. BCT is 1 day for a mason.

Yes, there they are… Construction rules for dildos…

Now Byron writes about combat and I’ll be damned if I even bother reading the fucking thing. I guess the rules probably work after a fashion, and I guess some people actually tried to play them, but I sure as hell wasn’t one.

Prominent among the combat rules however are the “Graphic Gore” (aka Critical Hit) tables. Here, we get such anatomically detailed (and largely impossible) wounds as:

The calf muscle is mostly removed, but still dangles by a thread and flops around. The rest of the lower leg is unharmed. Bodily Attractiveness – 30%, Agility – 50%.

The pubic bone is split from the front, and the hacking weapon opens the uterus. If pregnant, then she experiences a bloody and instantaneous miscarriage, and if the fetus is older than 3 months, then the baby is (1d100)% likely to emerge, at least partially, with the weapon. Within 1d10 minutes, the aborted fetus is covered by ants or appropriate flying insects such as horse flies. Bodily Attractiveness – 50%.

If the foe is female, then her breast has been hacked off. If pregnant, then milk squirts upon impact. Roll  1d10 to determine whether the (1-5) left or (6-10) right breast was hacked. Strength – 40% and Bodily Attractiveness – 50%. If the foe is male, then reroll.

Roll 1d10. The upper head has been either (1-5) partially or (6-10) fully dismembered from the lower head. The hacking attack entered the head through the face. If the upper head is only partially dismembered, then the hacking weapon exited the rear of the head, but either the foe’s (1-5) left or (6-10) right side of their skull remains intact. In either case, the foe dies instantly, and brains splatter forth.

The gluteus maximus, known more commonly as the ass, is pounded. If the foe is civilized, then for a split-second, they will be reminded of being a naughty child who was spanked. Roll 1d100. If the result 01-10, then the tailbone was broken and it will be painful for the foe to sit for 1d10 months. If the result was 11-20, then their rectum, known more commonly as their asshole or poop-chute, was pounded.

I would note, in poor Byron’s defense, that this crit system is markedly better than that presented in Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery, (which he defended most eloquently on-line, then radically changed in the following edition) in which various internal organs were damaged without any affect on surrounding or intervenikng locations, and the following can happen under hit location, Rectum:

The hacking weapon enters the rectum mid-stroke, and the opponent feels pain during the following 1d4 weeks involving defecating and, if female, during alternative sexual practices [since, in Byron Hall's fantasy world, only women engage in such "alternative" practices]. There is a 25% chance that the hacking releases (roll 1d6: on a 1-5 this is the number of chunks released, on a 6 it is runny instead) chunks of defecation from the confines of the body.

Though it seems impossible, the later edition of the game is actually in slightly better taste than the previous one. Not much, though, as we shall see.

Okay, I’m really starting to burn out on this one again. The very thought that someone actually took a significant portion of their precious years on earth to design this is staggering and, in some ways, makes me feel slightly better about myself.

Whosoever Attempts to Play F.A.T.A.L. Shall Bleed from Every Orifice

Slaves! You will play FATAL, and LIKE it, or you will taste my whip again!

Slaves! You will play FATAL, and LIKE it, or you will taste my whip again!

Then there follows another endless list, this one of spells, all of which are either familiar, useless or offensive (for example, Perpetual Orgasm and Seal Orifice, which are both exactly what you’d expect). Many are all three at once, as hard as that may be to believe. Each one has its own little set of sub-rules and I’m pretty much not going to say anything else about them, since everything about this fucking game is just stupid.

Next (and we’re really getting toward the end, I promise) come magical items, along with (surprise, surprise!) random tables for generating objects and their powers. The table once more goes on for page after page, and most of the entries begin with “Whosoever touches this item.” Not “Whoever,” mind you — “Whosoever.” Byron’s mastery of the English language is truly impressive…

Okay, I’m sure you know what comes next. Here are a few of the more choice powers that an item can have:

Ejaculate Acid: Any male who touches this item will cum acid the next time they  ejaculate, as per the spell.

For an Erection: Any male who touches this item will acquire and maintain an erect Manhood even after ejaculation while in contact.

Wet Dream: Whosoever touches this item to a sleeping creature will cause that creature to have a sexual dream while in contact. For more information, see the spell description.

Actually, the number of offensive and/or sexual item powers is surprisingly reserved, considering how the rest of the book has gone (and what lies ahead). As I observed in my previous entry, there were originally a number of offensive and racist items which Byron claimed were included for “humor,” which clearly says a lot about him and his friends. They are notably absent from this particular version of the game, and no one misses them one bit.

In the specific magic item section, we have a few more delightful devices:

Cane of Unchastity: Whenever touched, this cane inspires the toucher to desire to repeatedly insert the cane in 1 of their own orifices, selected randomly, for sexual pleasure…

Rapeseed of Raping: If a character swallows this seed, then they will attempt to rape the next member of the opposite sex in sight regardless of age.

Stone of Spermicide: This black stone may be rubbed across the Manhood [Do you find it interesting that Byron always capitalizes the term "Manhood"?] of a male prior to copulation. If so rubbed, then the female will not become pregnant no matter how much sperm the male releases. This stone is (4 + 1d6) inches in circumference. If this stone is forced deep inside the vagina, then the female will not become pregnant, but it is very difficult to remove and may prevent the entire Manhood from being able to enjoy this moist cavity.

Women. Just how Byron likes 'em...

Women. Just how Byron likes ‘em…

I’d go into more detail and pull down more examples, but I think you get the idea by now. We end up with some general guidelines for running campaigns and once more it’s bog-standard stuff. A sample adventure is included, which involves the characters rescuing a maiden from a troll in a cave. The maiden’s name is Sanuuicula (try saying that three times fast), but in the original version of the game she was named “Cuntrina.” Byron changed her name in yet another desperate effort to prove that he wasn’t a misogynistic motherfucker. Fail.

There’s a bit more, but do you really give a fuck? There’s stuff on natural substances, some stupid-ass mass combat rules, and FATAL’s handy-dandy eleven page long character sheet.

And at last we approach the end of our long, long 900 page journey…. Random Magical Effects. There are… wait for it… 2,000 random magical effects, taking up page after page after page, and few if any are likely to ever be encountered by players.

The Random Magical Effects (which Byron once more insisted were intended for “humorous” purposes) neatly encapsulate everything that is ugly, vicious, sexist, misanthropic and stupid about this game. Below I include only a tiny, tiny fraction of them:

0011. A scratch n’ sniff magical symbol of a festering vagina appears on the forehead of the target.

0013. All adult females in the world masturbate tonight while thinking about the caster (aka Byron Hall’s favorite jack-off fantasy).

0211. All characters within 3d10 feet acquire a bonus of 1d10 with the Urinating skill.

0393. All characters within 3d10 feet acquire dissociative identity disorder.

0585. All characters within 3d10 feet become unable to defecate, except while sprinting.

0656. All characters within 3d10 feet fart and diarrhea squirts out.

0813. All characters within 3d10 feet now shit 1 bar of silver bullion on their birthday.

When I get depressed about FATAL, I look at this picture and imagine that the little guy is Byron Hall. Then I feel better.

When I get depressed about FATAL, I look at this picture and imagine that the little guy is Byron Hall. Then I feel better.

1021. All males within 3d10 feet now believe that rape is wrong. (What the hell did they believe before?)

1062. Fruit ripens in the cunt-pipe of the nearest female in 3d10 days. If eaten, Drive decreases by 1. (Once more, Byron shows what a skilled wordsmith he is…)

1077. The anal hair of the caster grows 1d10 feet long, and obeys the thoughts of the caster.

1370. The nearest female is now famous for servicing 3d100 males in 1 night.

1371. The nearest female is now naked, except for a leather collar naming her new owner.

1372. The nearest female must jack-off 1d10 ogres before she can sleep again.

1373. The nearest female must mention her breasts in each conversation.

1374. The nearest female must now speak through her vagina.

1375. The nearest female must perform fellatio for any male who batters her.

1988. Whenever the caster becomes invisible, their genitals remain visible.

A long list of phobias follow which, once more, no GM (excuse me… Aedile) will be likely to use more than once or twice in an entire campaign.

And at last we conclude our trip to hell with another long, long, long table — this one of random ingredients. It’s more of the same, including delightful items such as:

0041. Anally-inserted mast of a ship – reusable

0267. Breast-milk of a character in old age – expended

0282. Breast-milk of breasts larger than D-cups – expended

1799. Stew made of 1d10 puppies – expended

1906. Urine of a father who values the life of his child more than his own – expended

1988. Woman willing to do anything for the caster, and licking the caster’s foot at the moment – reusable

2000. Yeast of a vagina – expended

And truth be told, this is the revised version of the list, for the Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery version contained a couple of other items such as the dismembered sex organs of an old woman (though Byron of course used much more sophisticated terms for the item) and of course Byron’s favorite:

A sacrificial human or elven maiden with large breasts, long hair, and a thin waist, and with fresh semen implanted and seeping from three of her orifices must be tied or chained to a stone altar. She will die upon casting the spell.

Sexist? Us? Condoning rape and violence against women? Never! Racist? Fie upon thee! Byron Hall, Burnout and their motley crew of on-line apologists are simply striving for historical accuracy! The presence of a brutalized, multiply raped Playboy playmate as a chained sacrificial victim merely reflects the vast number of times such an individual has appeared in myth, legend and folklore! And if you dare suggest otherwise, well by God sir, we demand satisfaction on the field of honor!

Despite his insistence that his work was perfect and he wouldn’t change a damned thing (see the next entry for more details on FATAL’s reception and Byron’s colorful acts of self-destruction), he clearly pulled out some of the more blatantly offensive portions of his book, while of course leaving all the references to his favorite sex act and how all women are bitches and whores.

FATAL ends once and for all with a whimper — some tables for generating NPCs and sample names for different races.

More women in armor. For some reason I find this kind of picture very encouraging.

More women in armor. For some reason I find this kind of picture very encouraging.

And that, my friends, is FATAL. If Byron’s misogyny, his obsession with explicit violence and scatology, and his hastily but incompletely disguised racism were absent, it would still be one of the most insane pieces of detritus ever conceived. Without the offensive material, FATAL is a massive, unwieldy, broken and largely unplayable mess that seems to have been playtested only by Byron Hall and his sycophants, all of whom believe the hype that FATAL is the most realistic and historically accurate rpg in history, other entries like Ars Magica, HARN and Chivalry and Sorcery be damned. The sex, violence and borderline psychosis all combine to make for a pile of nauseating icing on an already disgusting cake.

Mind you, the story of FATAL doesn’t end there. It seems that Byron and his simpering catamites did not anticipate the disgust and outrage that their little turd blossom of a game would generate in the rpg community. Faced with anger, disdain and outright contempt, they did what any self-respecting artists would do when they see their creation — their beloved child, if you will — unfairly attacked by the unwashed masses. They counterattacked in the most forceful manner possible, and in the process conclusively proved what a bunch of sociopaths they truly were.

More on that in the next (and, thank God, final) installment. See you soon.

The sad, silly saga of FATAL, Part One

FATAL -- the game of leather jockstraps and little blue guys.

FATAL — the game of leather jockstraps and little blue guys.

One day — hell, it must have been ten years ago or more — I was surfing the Intrawebs and came across a game review on rpg.net. It was for a game called “F.A.T.A.L.” and it went on for pages and pages. Fascinated, I sat down to read the review, and as I made my way through it I found myself thinking, “This has to be a joke. It must be a fake review for a fake game, intended to amuse and possibly gross out the game-review reading community.” After all, it was written by Darren MacLennan and Jason Sartin, two well-known and well-respected reviewers for rpg.net, and they were well known for using humor in their many articles.

Alas, further investigation revealed that the game described in the review was all too real, and today, the game whose acronymous name stood for “Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery” remains a legend, still discussed, criticized and insulted from one corner of the gaming Internet to the other. And as I started this particular feature a few months ago with an exhaustive review of the classic Arduin trilogy, how can I resist including at least a cursory mention of Byron Hall’s repellent life’s work? (Actually, given how much horror the game contains, I could resist it pretty easily, but hell — I’m a Pryor and Pryors NEVER take the “easy” alternative, no matter how much sense it makes…)

As the game has been exhaustively reviewed and painfully dissected elsewhere (and I am really, really reluctant to dive into the mechanics of a game that has a “Urinating” skill and rules for determining penile dimensions), I’m not going to do a real in-depth analysis of the system, but focus instead on a general overview, along with the tale of F.A.T.A.L.’s conception, development and savage reception, followed as it was by its esteemed author’s complete disappearance from the gaming community (hopefully because he was sucked into one of the lower pits of hell). Also, the very notion of actually delving into the needlessly complex, microscopically detailed and unbelievably trivial character generation system (proudly described by its designer as “the most difficult, detailed, realistic and historically/mythically accurate role-playing game available.”) fills me with cold dread and horrified apprehension. And we’re off to the races…

I don’t know of any other rpg which uses its relative difficulty as a selling point. Were I to read this without knowing anything else about the game, I seriously doubt that my first reaction would be “The most difficult role-playing game available? Holy shit! Sign me up!” And hell, I was involved in the creation of Metascape, a long-forgotten vanity project that was once reviewed as “not for the mathematically-challenged.” So with that in mind, shall we go for a dip in the cesspit? Welcome to the world of FATAL, where the dice never lie. And if you have a weak constitution, I strongly suggest you stop reading now.

From Another Time, Another Land

Behold... The only way Byron Hall can score...

Behold… The only way Byron Hall can score…

This discussion (I hesitate to call it a review) of FATAL is based upon the most recent “edition” available — a PDF that is archived in several places around the ‘net. An earlier edition included offensive (not to mention outright stupid) elements such as armors of Nigrous Nincompoopery, Jewy Jewbacca and Gookems, which transform their wearers into the listed racial stereotype. (For the record, though Hall attempted to expunge the sins of previous incarnations by deleting the more egregiously racist items, the descriptions remain in the original review… Here is an example, entirely unedited. Guess which magic item it refers to — 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… 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%.  Har-dee-fuckin’-har, Byron. You truly bring the gift of laughter to the unenlightened… The only thing missing is something about how the wearer’s teeth glow in the dark when he smiles. More on the racism and Hall’s defense of it later.)

Yes, apparently Bryon actually paid real, professional artists to illustrate this thing. I hope they made him pay through the nose.

Yes, apparently Bryon actually paid real, professional artists to illustrate this thing. I hope they made him pay through the nose.

Very little else from the original version is missing, however, save the most obvious change of all. Though FATAL was originally an acronym for the charming title Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery, Byron apparently realized that this was possibly not the best name for his game and changed it to the less offensive, but equally ungrammatical From Another Time, Another Land. Along with the removal of the racist material, that represents the only real change in the book between revisions. FATAL’s other endearing elements — rape, gore, violence, sexism and a near-sociopathic attitude toward women remain, as swollen and grotesque as the day Byron Hall committed them to paper.

Hall also paid for some very professional and, in places, quite effective black and white illustrations. Though there is little or no portrayal of the rapiness that FATAL is infamous for (thank goodness), the pictures stray into the creepy and disturbing, usually in the areas of anthropohagy and violence. Nonetheless, both the illustrations and typography of FATAL range from acceptable to very good, belying the horrific nature of the game they support. FATAL weighs in at a bloated 977 pages. It is, we are told, “The largest game-book ever printed” which is actually somewhat disingenuous, as FATAL was fated never to be physically “printed” anywhere, and the back cover assures us that it is “a role-playing game like no other.” In that, Byron Hall is being entirely accurate, and given that there never has been a game like FATAL, either before or after, we can all be grateful for it.

The cover portrays a male Anakim in a leather jockstrap bashing in the heads of a bunch of blue-skinned kobolds who are busy trying to drag a long-haired, big-breasted naked woman away by means of leash and collar. Knowing what lies inside FATAL’s richly-colored covers I’m sure we’re all aware exactly what the kobolds intend to do with their busty captive. Then again, once the Anakim kills them all with his big fucking hammer, he’s probably going to do the same thing to her, so I guess it’s six of one, half-dozen of the other. FATAL’s title page is enough to warm the heart of an old typographer like me. The book, Byron breathlessly informs us, is set in Garamond and Tiepolo Book fonts. Garamond, he says, “was selected as the main font due to its historical accuracy. Claude Garamond (1480-1561) was the first independent typefounder and first used his typeface in 1530.”

Get ready — Byron’s clarion declaration of “historical accuracy” is repeated many times and used as an excuse (along with “for humorous effect”) to explain away FATAL’s more excessive aspects. Further, though Garamond is indeed a very old font, its use in the 16th century really doesn’t make it appropriate for use in this game, especially under the dubious “historical accuracy” umbrella. Times-style fonts have existed since the Roman era, and a font that came into widespread use in 1530 is well past the supposed historical period that FATAL covers.

An Introduction to Idiocy

I'm not saying the pictures are bad. In fact I kind of like this one, though I'm not sure what the dwarf is supposed to be up to.

I’m not saying the pictures are bad. In fact I kind of like this one, though I’m not sure what the dwarf is supposed to be up to.

Anyway, enough with the nit-picking. The hilarity and horror are about to begin. We start off with Byron’s introduction, and the standard “What is Role-Playing” boilerplate, but from the start he gives it his own personal spin and makes the entire endeavor seem somehow dirty. He starts off with his favorite subject — how historically accurate his game is. FATAL, he says, is intended to reflect a Europe of about 1335 AD, isolated from the rest of the world. There is no contact with Africa, Asia or the Middle-East, monsters such as zombies are excluded, and PCs are (much to Byron’s relief I’m sure) exclusively Caucasian. “The application of historical accuracy to the fantasy of this game,” Byron proclaims, “is a neverending goal. Scholarly sources are preferred above all others. For consideration, please suggest references to fatalgames@excite.com.” (Of course if you want to send any suggestions, the email will probably bounce, as Fatal Games is currently as dead as disco. You’re welcome to try, however. I’m sure Byron will appreciate your efforts.)

Now we get to the meat and throbbing gristle of the game — Byron Hall’s view on what role-playing is. It is, he says, “a game in which the players make decisions as though they were a certain character. The decisions a player may make are diverse compared to other games. Table-top role-playing games allow more decisions to a player than any other type of game.” So far, so good. He seems to have a pretty decent grasp of the basic tenets, and as far as he goes, is pretty accurate. Just you wait.

Now, having given us a relatively sane and sensible definition of role-playing, Byron lurches right off the rails into sheer batshit insanity. “For instance,” he continues, “assume you are an adventuring knight who just fought his way to the top of a dark tower where you find a comely young maiden chained to the wall. What would you do? Some players may choose to simply free the maiden out of respect for humanity. 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… No other game allows so much individual choice, and consequently, so much fun.”

Okay, I admit that I just had to go wash my hands after typing this (and will probably do so several times before I’m done), and I did selectively edit a few words out for dramatic effect. But the fact remains that Byron uses “feast on her warm innards” and “so much fun” in practically the same breath. And this is only page one, folks.

Fatal Games Considers [insert topic here] to Be a Serious Issue

The next page or two discusses terminology and pronouns (as avoiding gender bias is one of Byron Hall’s most important goals in creating this game, he chooses to use “they” in place of “he” and “she”, thus irrefutably proving his total rejection of sexism and the objectification of women), math (“Players will not need math that is more complicated than basic algebra, and even that is relatively rare”, or so he claims), character creation and roles. In this last section Byron does away with namby-pamby terms like “game master”, telling us that instead FATAL games will be administered by an Aedile (“a Roman official in charge of the games”). Once more, FATAL literally reeks of historical accuracy.

The Introduction continues with a brief paragraph about Hall’s proud creation — the Mean System, i.e. “the set of mechanics behind F.A.T.A.L. — the gaming engine, if you will.” While it’s based on math and statistics, you really don’t have to understand math at all to play. The Mean system, he tells us “is realistic, but also simple to use.” Of course, behind every simple system is a genius game designer, who is not only a talented musician but also irresistible to women. “The most common aspects of the Mean System are the normal curve, mean, and standard deviation, though parabolic curve-fitting and trigonometric functions have been incorporated as well.” Whoa! I’m starting to feel out of my league as a game designer here.

According to the bio at the back of the book, Byron Hall "adores gaming and writing," "has been a role-playing gamer since 1980,,, taught at Northern Illinois University where he earned his MA in Quantitative Research Methods and did pre-doctoral work with Structural Equation Modeling... enjoys dissonant shred guitar, ancient and medieval literature and history, neuroscience, philosophy, research and statistics." He is also a member of Seal Team Six, helped rescue POWs left behind after the Vietnam War, killed Osama bin Laden, is married to a gorgeous supermodel, traveled back in time to kill Adolph Hitler and invented ketchup.

According to the bio at the back of the book, Byron Hall “adores gaming and writing… has been a role-playing gamer since 1980… taught at Northern Illinois University where he earned his MA in Quantitative Research Methods and did pre-doctoral work with Structural Equation Modeling… enjoys dissonant shred guitar, ancient and medieval literature and history, neuroscience, philosophy, research and statistics.” This bio neglects to mention that Byron Hall was also a member of Seal Team Six, killed Osama bin Laden, is a millionaire rock-star brain surgeon, is married to a gorgeous supermodel, traveled back in time to kill Adolph Hitler and invented ketchup. It also doesn’t mention his hairstyle, but the less said about that the better.

“A mean game needs a mean system,” he continues. “Enjoy the most simple and sophisticated mechanics in the industry. Enjoy F.A.T.A.L.” And with that not-at-all-egotistical-or-slightly-demented introduction we conclude with the Intro’s centerpiece, the bizarre and slightly disturbing “Warning.” “F.A.TA.L. is for adults only. This roleplaying game is not intended for children due to content that is obscene, lecherous, and violent.”

With that understatement of understatements, Byron launches into a slightly desperate defense of his indefensible game. “Fatal Games considers obscenity to be a sensitive issue, and only includes it because of its prominence in the past as a significant part of human history. Most of the rules of the game avoid obscenity. For example, it is possible to determine a character’s manhood, not cock, or vaginal depth, not cunt depth. However, the greatest concentration of obscenity is in Appendix 3: Random Magical Effects, and is intended for humorous effect.”

Well that certainly reassures me. Us? Obscene? No way! We don’t babble on about “cock length” or “cunt depth”! We use normal, sophisticated terms such as “manhood” and “vagina.” Not obscene at all. No sirree. Our rules for determining the length and girth of a man’s penis and a character’s ability to perform anal sex are utterly proper and necessary due to our emphasis on historical accuracy! And if we do happen to offend you a wee bit, well it was all in a good cause since our real goal was to make you laugh, and who could possibly fault us for that?

“This game includes sex and sexual situations,” Byron continues, digging himself in even deeper. “Fatal Games considers sex to be a sensitive issue, and only includes it because of its prominence in the past as a significant part of human history.” Observant readers will note that this paragraph is almost identical to the previous one. Almost as if he’d just cut-and-pasted it… Hmmm… Next we’re told that the game’s level of violence is pretty graphic, but hey — “Killing is a core element of most role-playing games” so that makes it okay. “Fatal Games,” Byron continues, “considers the act of killing to be a sensitive issue, and only includes it because of its prominence in the past as a significant part of…” Okay, wait a damn minute. Is the whole book going to be like this? I guess I’ll skip this paragraph since it’s identical to the previous two and get to the discussion of Byron Hall’s favoritest subject.

A rather odd photoshopped picture from the FATAL PDF. This is either the real-life Beavis and Butthead or it's Byron Hall (right) and his faithful champion Burnout (left).

A rather odd photoshopped picture from the FATAL PDF. This is either the real-life Beavis and Butthead or it’s Byron Hall (right) and his faithful champion Burnout (left).

“Rape is not intended to be a core element of F.A.T.A.L. as killing is a core element of most role-playing games. Fatal Games considers rape to be a sensitive issue, and only includes it because of its prominence in the past.” Yeah, yeah. I get it. No one can accuse Byron Hall of not being sensitive to such matters. After all, he’s repeated it word-for-word four times now. Of all the copied-and-pasted warnings in this section, the defense of rape is easily the longest and wordiest. Methinks that the game-designer wannabe protests too much. To wit: “For example, Europe was named after Europa, who was raped by Zeus… Jacques Rossiaud’s Medieval Prostitution [I'm sure that Byron wore the fucking covers off of that particular volume while researching FATAL]… estimates that half the male youth participate in at least one gang rape, and that sexual violence is an everyday dimension of community life.”

Hot damn! Rape and sexual violence happened all the time in medieval Europe? Holy shit — then we can include all the rape we want and justify it as being historically accurate! My hat’s off to you, Jacques Rossiaud, and your book which is the only source that we cite before coming to our highly dubious conclusions! Likewise, Byron now tells us, brothels were very common in medieval and ancient Europe, and so must be included in his game, simply for the sake of (wait for it) historical accuracy! To do otherwise would be dishonest, and do a serious disservice to the roleplaying community, who have for years been clamoring for a game that accurately depicts rape, anal sex and prostitution.

And here's a picture of Fatal Games' playtest group, getting ready for a  Saturday evening of roleplaying gang rape.

And here’s a picture of Fatal Games’ playtest group, getting ready for a Saturday evening of roleplaying gang rape.

Hell, he tells us, you don’t even have to include sex in your game at all! And besides, kids shouldn’t be playing FATAL in the first place. “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 comprehensiveness. F.A.T.A.L. (From Another Time, Another Land [Not, repeat NOT, "Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery", an inaccurate title which suggests that the whole game might actually be about sex, rape and perversity, things which Fatal Games most assuredly DOES NOT ADVOCATE!] may be adapted to any gaming group.” And with that convenient warning effectively disclaiming his own game, Byron Hall closes his introduction and we move on into the travesty that is FATAL (From Another Time, Another Land. NOT Fantasy Adventures to Adult Lechery).

Off to the Races

Like all great rpgs, FATAL kicks off with character generation. The player’s (and I’m surprised that Byron didn’t come up with a special Latin word that meant gamer to go along with Aedile) first choice is race, and we’re now treated to a long list of the races available in the game. For the most part there’s nothing especially noteworthy here, save for the occasional grammatical howler (Anakim, we are told may “worship any religion” by which I’m sure Byron meant “practice any religion” or “worship any god” but who am I to judge?) and delightful facts about the various races such as the fact that bugbears usually rape human women before devouring their children and that “50% of human women who are ravished by a bugbear die due to a ripped uteral lining.”

Most of FATAL’s races are bog-standard fantasy tropes — dwarves, elves, bugbears, kobolds, various varieties of ogres (including kinder-fressers, who enjoy devouring “prepubescent, virginal” human children, a feature which should normally make for a shitty PC-race, but of course this is FATAL, so bring on the child murder!) and trolls. Most of the racial descriptions skimp on cultural details but treat the way that these races kill others with loving care — hill trolls, for example, love to eat brains and “savor the taste of the limbic system, most specifically the amygdala, basal ganglia, and hippocampus. Oddly, they always reject the thalamus, but devour the hypothalamus. While tasting the limbic system, hill trolls will become erect or wet with sexual excitement as well.”

A fairly decent illustration of the various dwarven races. Pity this art wasn't produced to support an actual roleplaying game...

A fairly decent illustration of the various dwarven races. Pity this art wasn’t produced to support an actual roleplaying game…

That’s our Byron… Always keeping it classy. The most interesting — if that’s the right word for it — race are the winged half-demons called Anakim. When generating an Anakim, the player must roll on a table (the first of many, many, many such tables) to generate a random feature. These range from rather normal effects such as the reduction or increase of various statistics, to the pointless (“The anakim has 2 horns, 1d8 inches in length, protruding from their head. Any headgear worn by the anakim must be custom-made to fit the horns” or “the anakim is able to cry at will, with tears”) to, of course the graphically violent, scatalogical and repellently sexual. “The anakim is addicted to vaginal or penile carrion. Once per week the anakim has the urge to kill the first member of the opposite sex in sight and feed on the previously stated remains.” “The anakim has blood for sexual fluid… If male, the anakim ejaculates blood. If female, then blood is the lubricating vaginal fluid all month long.” “The anakim is accompanied by the odor of sex, which extends 1d6 feet.” And so on. I’ll give Byron credit here — he certainly has the ability to fill up a random table with the most random shit imaginable. More on that later.

The Racial Hatred table follows. Not “racial attitudes” mind you — Racial Hatred. Each race is cross-indexed with all the others, with a rating of 1 (prefers the race) to 5 (utter and absolute hate). Of all the ratings on the table, almost all of them are “5″ — there are some “4′s”, a handful of “3′s” and almost no “2′s”. “1′s” are reserved for one’s own race. The world of FATAL is full to the brim with hate, kind of like the way most gamers feel about Byron Hall.

Next comes gender, and along with it some more delectable tastes of Byron’s attitude toward women. We are told that “According to a prominent philosopher, males tend to be more spirited, savage, simple and less cunning. Females… tend to be more compassionate… more easily moved to tears, at the same time are more jealous, more querulous, and are more apt to scold and to strike… more prone to despondency and less hopeful… more void of shame and self-respect, more false of speech… more deceptive… also more wakeful, shrinking, and difficult to rouse to action… males are more courageous, sympathetic, and stand by to help… Even in the case of mollusks, when the cuttle-fish is struck with a trident, the male stands by to help the female; but when the male is struck, the female runs away.”

Well, I’m glad we got that particular issue straightened out, aren’t you? Byron’s “prominent philsopher” is Aristotle, and Byron justifies this particular load of horse-shit by saying “His comments are deemed relevant to the setting of F.A.T.A.L. due to the prevalence of his opinion throughtout the Middle Ages.” Yes, Byron’s heroic dedication to historical accuracy above all other things has struck again.

After all of Byron's sexist crap I thought we could close with a picture of a real woman.

After all of Byron’s sexist crap I thought we could close with a picture of a real woman.

Now we get a quick history lesson. “Most cultures are patriarchal and the prevalent belief regarding gender is that females are inferior to males physically, intellectually, morally, and emotionally… [women] are deemed better suited to stay at home, cook, clean, and care for their husband and children. Prior to marriage, maidens are expected to be chaste, though few fulfill this expectation.”

You tell ‘em, Bro! They’re all just a bunch of sluts and whores, anyway… Why even waste our time letting anyone play female characters. I mean, any guy who would actually want to play a chick is probably a fag anyway…

Oops, sorry. I was channeling Byron for a second. It’s okay, I’m better now, but I think it’s probably time to wrap this up before something terrible happens. We’ll delve deeper into the slime next installment, kids. In the meantime, stay cool and do not ever, ever play FATAL.