12 February 2013

F.A.T.A.L. Characters: Race, Gender and Body.

F.A.T.A.L. it has a reputation for being the worst tabletop RPG of all time, but how bad could it really be? To find out I have procured a copy of the rules and will make a character, with commentary.

The first thing I find when I set out to make a character in F.A.T.A.L. is that there is no character creation section. No, the author instead says that a player should read through all 977 pages of the book so that they don't miss any steps. In the next breath he goes on to say that some chapters are completely irrelevant to character creation. It looks like I'm going to have to do this chapter by chapter, just as the author suggests. Not a great start.

This is such a large undertaking that I am going to have to split it up into multiple blog posts. This first part covers the Race, Gender and Body of character creation.

Race & Gender

The very first chapter of the book is Race & Gender. The game presents a list of 16 races and suggests that we select one for our character at random. I like random character generation so I'm going to do just that. I roll d100 and get a result of 36. That makes me a human, by far the most common option. I want to showcase F.A.T.A.L. in all its glory, so I'm going to roll again and hope for something a little less... pedestrian. My second roll is 62 and that means my character is going to be a Kobold.

I've always liked Kobolds in D&D. There's just something about their little lizard snouts and crude spears that speaks to me, so you can imagine I was pleased to get to play one in F.A.T.A.L. What a fool I am. Moving on to the Kobold section I get to learn a little bit more about Kobolds:

  • Kobolds are obsessed with silver. They like it because it is the same color as their skin and they compulsively mine and steal silver.
  • The only thing that Kobolds like as much as silver is slave trading.
  • Kobolds force other races to crawl on hand a knee so that they may be taller than them.
  • Kobolds are known for their ingenious and cruel traps.

Turns out that Kobolds in F.A.T.A.L. are nothing like what you find in D&D. They're just silver-mad little men with napoleon complexes and a penchant for slave trading.

In F.A.T.A.L. the races grant something called Sub-Ability Points. These haven't really been explained yet, but the Kobold gets:
  • -40 Strength
  • -15 Bodily Attractiveness
  • -15 Facial
  • -15 Vocal
  • +15 Kinetic
  • -10 Rhetorical
  • +15 Hand-Eye Coordination
  • +15 Agility
  • +15 Reaction Speed
  • +15 Enunciation
  • -10 Language
  • -10 Analytic
  • +15 Spatial
  • -15 Drive
Then there is a bunch of other stuff, also not yet explained:
  • Base Current Armor 10
  • Base Life Points 15
  • Morality -50
  • -25 Sanguine, +25 Choleric, +25 Phlegmatic
  • Direction Sense +3
  • Mining +3
  • Trickery +3
  • 1 Weapon Proficiency
Next we are supposed to randomly determine Gender. The rules don't actually say how to do this, so I just flipped a coin and ended up male. There are a list of modifiers that need to be applied to stats based on your character's gender, but the rules say that we aren't supposed to apply these modifiers until determining other factors later in the rules.

It's worth noting that the author attempts to justify this table by referencing a variety of papers and philosophers.
The gender section then carries on for another page or two discussing the worlds culture and society with gems like these:
Prior to marriage, maidens are expected to be chaste, though few fulfill this expectation. Once married, a wife is expected to be submissive to her husband, he owns her.
 ...belief regarding gender is that females are inferior to males physically, intellectually, morally, and emotionally. For example, menstruation may be understood as punishment by the gods.
It's interesting that the author regularly attempts to cite studies, philosophers and various historical sources. It is clear that they are aware of how sexist the writing is and they attempt to remove themselves as the arbitrator of these "facts" through citations and appeals to authority. It strikes me as a strange decision to focus so completely on the so-called reality of sexism for the purposes of historical accuracy and then throw in a dozen fictional races. With that note, let's head on to chapter 2.


In this section it looks like we will be determining our Kobold's various physical characteristics. The first of which will be Age.

To determine a Kobold's starting age I roll 4d100, divide that by 4 and then subtract 30 from the result. I rolled 345 so that works out to 56 years old. According to the lifespan table a Kobold doesn't live beyond 80, so that makes my Kobold quite the old man. I get to apply some modifiers due to the character's advanced age, but not until I determine some other things first.

Next up is Height. A male Kobold's height is determined by rolling 6d6 and adding 33. I rolled 27, so that makes my Kobold 5' tall before modifiers. Accounting for old age, my Kobold is actually 4'9". My Kobold is pretty tall and statuesque for his race so the rules say I get +7 lbs weight, +7 strength, and +3 Bodily Attractiveness for each inch above average. In my case that is 3" above average so the Kobold has +21 lbs., +21 strength and +3 Bodily Attractiveness.

Weight is next, a 3d6 roll that we add 70 to. I got 11 which means my Kobold is 81 lbs before we factor in its age. Elderly Kobolds are 10% heavier, so that brings us to 89 lbs. That extra weight also gives our Kobold +9 Strength.

F.A.T.A.L. now starts to veer off into madness. The next step is to determine the characters Body Mass Index (BMI). To do this, well, let me quote the book:
...simply divide [the character's] weight by the square of their height, and multiply the result by 705.
Yeah, real simple. I'm lazy so I used a BMI calculator. The result was 19.3. That puts us in the ideal category for Kobolds so, thankfully, I won't need to apply more modifiers to the character.

Here is another choice quote for you:
If a male character has a BMI of at least 30, then he will be unable to see his manhood while standing without using a mirror.
Thanks for the tip, F.A.T.A.L.. That's a piece of information that is both useful and relevant.

Next up is a section called Body Part Proportion. The idea behind this section is to determine how likely any part of the body is to be hit during combat. Lucky for us, we don't have to do this yet because it is yet another example of something that depends on some aspect of character creation we haven't done yet.

This next one is a fun one. We get to roll 2d100 to determine our Kobold's most and least attractive physical features. We rolled an 11 first which means my character's most attractive feature is his patchy gray hair. The Kobold gets +10 Facial Charisma. My next roll is a 30 which makes the least attractive feature a pair of Jagger-like lips. -10 Facial Charisma for a net of +/- 0.

Determining skin color would be next, but as a Kobold we must always have silvery white skin. (Remember, that's why they like silver so much.) We would also roll hair color, but because our Kobold is elderly it has to be gray. Don't worry, we do get to roll for our Hair Length. This is another d100 roll and I have the dubious luck of getting a 98. In the world of F.A.T.A.L. this means that my rich mane of glorious hair is between 31 and 38 inches long or, in the author's words, "ass-length". I'm not joking, that's really what is written in the book.

Ass-length hair.

Oh, I spoke too soon in describing the Kobold's hair. Silly me, assuming that we were finished after just three tables. I now need to determine the quality of the hair. Is it thick? Frizzy? Let's find out! This is yet another d100 roll and because I'm a Kobold I get +10.  Lower numbers on this table result in a penalty to Facial Charisma.  Apparently Kobolds are known for having better quality hair than most. It's also worth mentioning that the author gives the largest bonus to hair that is of "medium thickness and wavy". Good to know, I guess. Anyways, I rolled 32 which after the Kobold's racial modifier comes to 42; thick, curly and oily hair is my character's best feature. This results in -1d8 Facial Charisma. I rolled a 4, making my Kobold slightly uglier. Unless there are more tables on hair later on, I think we are finally finished.

Time to roll for eye color. 1d100 yields 89, blue-gray eyes. I'm surprised the author didn't assign any Facial Charisma modifiers to eye color. I guess something as trivial as eye color shouldn't factor into Facial Charisma, not like hair. We're also supposed to calculate Breadth or armspan at this point. This is just 50% of the characters height, so my character has a reach of 2'4".

Now I get to determine the quality of my character's vision. This is another d100 roll and I got 54. This means that my character has "Perfect natural vision". Interestingly the rules note that I will be determining the quality of my other 4 senses later on. I'm sure that will be... an experience.

Speaking of experiences, the next section has me rolling for facial features. The author seems to subscribe to Physiognomy, which is a pseudoscience that attempts to correlate personality traits to physical characteristics. It's certainly a weird choice since the author has been so scientifically rigorous so far.

Scientific Rigor.
The Facial Features table is a beastly table spread across two pages. The rules don't actually say how many times I'm supposed to roll on the thing, so I'm just going to do it once. I rolled a 62 and that means my character has a mole on his throat. According to the respectable and peer-reviewed science of Physiognomy it means that my poor Kobold is prone to intestinal problems.

This next one is a doozy, we get to roll 1d1000000 to find out if my kobold is a "Freak of Nature". Getting a result of 1 means the character is a freak. If the character is a freak then we get to randomly determine what kind of freak. Options range from having an extra finger to being a hermaphrodite. I rolled d1000000 and didn't get a 1, big surprise there.

If you thought Physiognomy and the Freak of Nature rolls were bad then I have bad news for you. The next section is Sexual Features. The rules actually label this section as optional, but I fear that if we are going to get an honest impression of this game we are going to have to go through this section. Okay, let's get this over with.

Step 1)
Determine areola diameter. d100 roll from which I got 97. That means my Kobold has 3" areolas and this obviously means he should have -1d6 Bodily Attractiveness (-5 in this case).

Step 2)
Determine areola hue. That's right, the color. I rolled a 98 (yes, really) which means they are dark and nets me -1d4 Bodily Attractiveness, or it would if my character was female. Apparently hue doesn't factor into male beauty.

Damn! Those are some sexy areolae.
Step 3)
Determine cup size. This is a weird one because it isn't labeled female only. You might think that makes sense because there is such a thing as a pair of man-boobs, moobs if you will. Let me ask you just one thing, though. Are moobs attractive? F.A.T.A.L.'s author seems to think so since a pair of D-sized moobs will get you +2d10 Bodily Attractiveness, regardless of sex. I rolled a 29 here which gets me a set of B-sized chest ornaments. Sadly that is not enough for a bonus nor a penalty to Bodily Attractiveness.

Step 4)
Nipple length. I know nipple length is the single most important feature I look for in a mate, so I appreciate that the author has included it here. I rolled 90 which means my kobold's nipples are .75" long when erect. Naturally, this being the optimum length, I get a +1d4 bonus to Bodily Attractiveness. (4, in this case.)

Step 5)
We would do vaginal circumference and depth next, but our character is male. Curiously, the rules don't actually say that these tables are for females only (as they do with areola hue), but I think it's clear that males don't normally have a vagina.

Step 6)
Tongue size. The author is careful to note that this is only the length of tongue that can be extended outside of the mouth. F.A.T.A.L. mercifully doesn't care about the rest of it. I rolled 81, which means my character's tongue is 2.5" long. The rules say that this is long enough to touch the tip of my nose.

Step 7)
And we have reached the infamous Anal Circumference section. Before we determine how much room we actually have back there, we need to figure out if there are any modifiers to the roll. Since my character is elderly we get +5 to the roll. You knew your sphincter loosened up with age, right? I get another +5 just for being male. We could get up to another +50 if the Kobold is "accustomed to anal sex" or a nymphomaniac. Since we haven't had to roll for sexual orientation I think I'm just going to assume the character is a boring old heterosexual.

Now I roll on the table. I'm blessed with a roll of 13 which we modify to 23. This tells us that my Kobold character has an anal circumference potential of 6", enough to accommodate "normal manhood" according to the table. I should mention that this is anal circumference potential, if something larger than that potential ends up in there the "orifice will rip to accommodate the incoming object". Does this mean there will be rules for this later on? I sure hope not.

Not gonna fit.
My fears come true on the very next page. Rules for "ripped orifices", "hymen resistance", pregnancy likelihood, menstruation and infant mortality rates are all found on page 53 of F.A.T.A.L.

Step 8)
Manhood What could that possibly mean?
The Manhood of a male character is his penis.
Thanks for clearing that up, F.A.T.A.L.. The author has obviously put a lot of thought into this section, so I decided to share the whole page.

Click to enlarge. Har har.
Quadratic equations. Sheesh. The author spent waaayyy too much time thinking about dicks. After some calculations I was able to determine that my Kobold's penis is 4.2" long and has a circumference of 7.5". Yes, my kobold is a girthy motherfucker.

With that the Sexual Features section is finished. Now we get to move on to the Rare Features section. This is another optional section, so of course we are going to do it. How bad could it be?

The first rare feature that needs determining is foot size. I rolled a 58 and this give my character feet that are 9" long. After feet size we move on to fist circumference. I suppose this would be useful if I needed to find out if there would be any "orifice tearing". Apparently this is whatever the foot size is, so 9" fists for my Kobold.

Now I get to roll to find out if my character is left or right handed. It's just a 10% chance for left-handedness and I rolled a 75. My character is not a southpaw.

Next up: head circumference. I rolled a 91 and this means my character has a head circumference of 23.12".

After head circumference there is a section on pregnancy, which seems a little out of place. Following that is a section called Allergies, Intoxication, and Disease. There is actually a table in the Intoxication section that determines what happens if a character has a bad trip while eating magic mushrooms. Sadly, the only  relevant section here is Allergies, but we can't do that until we have determined the characters Health sub-ability value. With that we get to move on to chapter 3. Take a deep breath, because things are only going to get weirder.

 That's It For Now

I cry uncle. Figuring out character creation AND writing commentary is a lot of work. This took me about 6 hours to write. (Admittedly, I was also surfing the web and procrastinating like the awful Kobold that I am.) Eventually I'll get to the next section, but I don't have the mental fortitude to carry on at the moment.


  1. Wow. I downloaded F.A.T.A.L. out of curiosity, but have barely glanced at it. The author is clearly out of his mind and has too much free time.

  2. HO. Lee. Fuck. I was just reading about this game over on Reddit the other day, and frankly I'm not sure if the system was created as some form of elaborate prank, it's that bad.

  3. How come you didn't use the random character generator .exe ? Although I am having trouble finding it.



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