F.A.T.A.L. Playtest Review by Mark Jones on 29/01/02
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
I dare to both name and review F.A.T.A.L. (the game that must not be named), because our group had fun exploring the mechanics of this sound gaming system.
Company/Publisher: Fatal Games
Page count: 700
Year published: 2002
Comp copy?: no
Playtest Review by Mark Jones on 29/01/02
Genre tags: Fantasy Historical
My name is Mark Jones and I love rpg.net. By casually surfing this site, I discovered the most controversial game appears to be F.A.T.A.L., nicknamed the Game That Must Not Be Named. Curious what the commotion was all about, I went straight to the source, www.fatalgames.com/ and downloaded it.
First, I browsed it out of curiosity, expecting to reach the same conclusion as the local crowd. While I did happen across sexual material, I was not offended but found it funny. Despite the juvenile nature of the sexual features and jokes throughout, I took it with good nature because of the dynamic testosterone levels of my collegiate gaming group and previous experiences as both a player and GM in a variety of systems. Otherwise, I was overwhelmed with detail. At first, the amount of detail turned me off to the game. Slowly, as I became more familiar with the prolific charts, I realized that they were well-conceived. Due to the details, it is apparent that it was designed for experienced, not novice, gamers. I wondered how many experienced players could absorb a system of this magnitude.
Just for kicks, I introduced the game to my group. Some were discouraged from the start, but two others plunged into it with wildfire. Before you know it, we were gathered for a usual session and couldn't stop jeering at the crazy listings of spells, random magical effects, and ingredients. We decided to read it and give it a try next time.
Our group didn't exercise the sexual material, but focused on the mechanics of skills and combat. Probably the favored aspect was that life points (aka hit points) do not increase with level, keeping players in a realistic power range, unless they get magic items I suppose. The combat system took a little getting used to, but in the end proved not only playable but enjoyable. In a few instances, ambiguities arose regarding initiative. The skills system was easy to adopt. The 'learning curve' for the skills could be advice for the game itself -- make F.A.T.A.L. easier to learn.
Overall, I'm impressed by the effort that went into the game, and think the game mechanics are sound and well-reasoned with a few easily corrected exceptions. I'm glad to see a system without the dorkiness of the others. The bottom line of a game is whether or not it is fun to play, and F.A.T.A.L. delivered. I'm sure I'll get flamed for eons for moderately supporting a game so widely shunned here, but I don't care. I can't wait to play again, and live to have a sorceror cast 'perpetual orgasm' on my enemies!