Hands up all your table-top role players, for this writeup is addressed to you.

Have you ever been at your game and thought, hmm, there needs to be rules in (insert name of system you're playing) for awesomely detailed sex and violence, more dice rolling, twenty ability scores for all your characters generated on a bell curve, and spells that superglue peoples' orifices shut?

No? Well fuck off then.

Right, you, the one person who's left. Here's a game that you might be interested in. It's called FATAL, which is an acronym for "Fantasy Adventure To Adult Lechery," and it is the WORST role playing game in the entire world.

FATAL, written by a statistician called Byron Hall and his gitfaced mates Burnout, Torturon, and Psychotic Messanger of Doom from 2001-2004, is, according to the authors, "the most difficult, detailed, realistic and historically/mythically accurate role playing game ever released," but, according to everyone else, is a 977-page crock of a system which relies on rolling improbable numbers of dice, makes very little sense, and occasionally throws the reader a curveball by inserting a wacky death metal reference or incredibly detailed rules for raping people up the shitter.

And that's before we get onto the fact that one's character sheet is 11 pages long and features not only 20 ability scores, being five groups of four, but also the exact proportions of each part of your body, which are somehow derived from the above and involve the rolling of ludicrous things such as 1d1000000 or (2d10)d10 or suchlike.

Shall I skip directly to the bit where one rolls for characteristics like "Manhood Length," "Anal Circumference Potential," "Areola Hue," and "Hymen Resistance," the last of which has a -95 penalty if the character is a "slut" already? And before you ask me -95 what, I don't bloody know. Do I need to?

Then there's the WTF moment as you read down under "Intelligence" and note that if your character's is particularly low, he or she may have "Retard Strength." When I first read this I cackled so hard that I thought I was going into ventricular fibrillation. I know, I'm a bad person. Meh. I'm pretty sure that if you were actually to play FATAL you would need to roll for Retard Strength in real life as the last few marbles you had dribbled down your spinal column going "Wheeeee!" and gibbering, moofling, and whining.

Magic and special innate abilities seem to revolve around fairly standard fantasy RPG fare albeit with a healthy dose of low-quality toilet humour. One race, the anakim, who are kinda half-fallen angels with ginormous cocks (it makes sense in context) can have a special ability where they can make people puke at a touch, or fart explosively. Then there's a spell called Seal Orifice which superglues one's anus shut. Magical items mentioned in the manual tend to have strange similarities to the lyrics of thrash and death metal - there's an Axe of Slaying which causes "modulistic terror and a vast sadistic feast," has a chance of turning the owner into a "sadist of the noblest blood, an Angel of Death" who will "reign in blood" at the end of the world. Certain spell failure random effects can cause people to be "far beyond driven" to steal underwear, or scream Morbid Angel lyrics at inappropriate moments, or the ability to fart arpeggios at 240 beats per minute in 16th notes.

(There's also one random spell failure effect which makes "Two gay ogres appear within 30 feet who begin to butt-plug as if there is no tomorrow.")

Oh but it gets worse. Yano how earlier on I mentioned you rolled for the exact dimensions of your genitals during character creation? Well guess what. They matter. There's rules in FATAL for their use. And, of course, they are the most fantastically detailed of all the rules in the entire ginormous tome. Whereas other skills are polished off in a few paragraphs, "Sexual Adeptness" goes on for page after page. It has sub-abilities for fellatio, cunnilingus, ejaculatory control, and interesting positions and to work out the outcome of a sexual encounter one must consult a load of tables and derive a variable named "Scrotum Fullness" for the chap and "Base Tightness" for the chapess. Having applied a few other pointless modifiers, one is ready to roll. The roll is a parabolic formula as follows: "(BT - 80)^2 = -4y + 120. Solve for y."

(I wish I was making this up.)

One then rolls some more dice and the end result of this is referenced against a table which describes the outcome on a scale from "dysfunctional" to "I won't be able to walk for days." And yes, there is then a further roll to determine how voluminous the gentleman's load is, along with how far he spunks.

(Excuse me, I just need to go off and have a little cry.)

Most of the rest of the game seems lifted from 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons but with all the names changed round, so you're "unethical immoral" as opposed to "chaotic evil."

This brings us to the million dollar question - is FATAL real, or is it troll? On the one hand, it's got all the above squickiness and morbid detail and stupid fucking nonsense about being raped by a sword and giving birth to a spear, as well as a rule which can cause "cloaca time" and another for "an accumulation of gas in one's rectum." All of which is constantly played up by the authors as "realistic." This leans towards troll. But then it is 977 pages long, is the rulebook, the author does seem to have done some research into things, and clearly coming up with rules on these things at such a level of complexity took some time. Which mitigates towards real.

I think the actuality is somewhere between the two. Probably what happened is that in 2001 or so, Byron Hall and his gitfaced mates were sitting round playing D&D and listening to death metal and getting a bit drunk or stoned or both, when one of the players thought it'd be fun to, having saved the princess, rape her violently, tear out her intestines, strangle her to death with them, and gorge on her still living pancreas. As you do. Because the rest of the gang were all drunk and stoned and had just been listening to the entire works of Carcass, Byron Hall, who was GM (sorry, in FATAL this is called either "Maim Master" or "Aedile") came up with rules for this inauspicious course of action. The rest of the players then followed suit and then Byron thought it would be a good idea to make a whole game out of it, with each of his gittish mates coming up with increasingly brutal and daft things to put in which they thought were a good idea. Byron then used his background in statistics (I looked him up and he appears to at one point have been a lecturer in mathematics at Northwestern) to come up with vaguely plausible rules for re-enacting Cannibal Corpse lyrics. As for the rest of the game, they just didn't care. This explains why most of the game is basically 2E AD&D but with loads of sex and violence thrown in and daft headbanger in-jokes.

At least, I hope that's the truth.

If FATAL is real, then Mr Hall has just conclusively proven that there is no God.

There's a theme tune, which is low quality death metal, and a character generator program for PC, which helps shortcut the otherwise days it would take to put your characters together. It also screams abuse at, and rage quits on you if you deliberately enter invalid responses.

To be frank I do think a death metal RPG would be actually workable, with obviously cartoonish gorno and a world of general misanthropy, but FATAL is not it, and such a game should not have Byron Hall allowed anywhere near it, ever.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've things to do. I was out seeing Manowar live this evening and I picked up a tasty leather-clad girlie who's now imploring me that I solve her for y forthwith, and my d20s are going a bit blue. See ya later. Happy dicing and slicing. And remember...

FATAL is the worst role playing game that there can be!

(IRON NODER 2011, 8/30)