The Hell…?! (XXV) – RPG Scrapings Off Lowest Point of the Cavern Beneath the Bottom of a Barrel

R. K. Milholland draws the web comic Something Positive, a quasi-fantasy dealing with geeks, gamers, and gelatinous cats. Through the course of his comic’s history he has come up with images (written and otherwise) that quite frankly I wish hadn’t entered my thoughts.  That these images lead to hilarity helps soften these regrets.

It also helps that I’m an evil inhuman monster unsuitable for the pits of Hell.  But this is not the place to get into that right now.

Milholland occasionally puts up other comics (Super Stupor! being an example) and I was scrolling through his Twitter feed checking for such updates when I found out something that would lead to one of the oddest moments in my odd little life.

If I might pause a moment, though, let me make the following observation: Going through a stranger’s Twitter feed makes me feel like a stalker creep.  That Milholland has a link up on his page doesn’t make the feeling go away.  There’s just something… wrong about shifting through people’s conversations as if they were mine.

Fortunately I have my own Twitter feed so that any of countless people can know exactly what I’m thinking at any given moment.

No, strike that, it doesn’t help at all.

Anyways, in one of Millholland’s Tweets, he proclaims that he will write the worst Role Playing Game (RPG)  ever made.  Then there’s this Tweet:


Even worse than FATAL…. okay, maybe not that bad.


Another brief digression, this time annoyingly autobiographical.  When we were kids Brother Eric and I made our own RPGs.  We made at least one rule system and God alone knows how many solo adventures based on Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, and madness of our own concoction.  I remember one of the games “books” I made was based on Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Good times.  Unless you actually read the things.  Then I’m sorry.  I’m so very sorry.

While I occasionally feel the bug to create games (more Video RPGs these days than anything else), Eric is actually working at being an honest-to-God Tabletop RPG designer.  With that in mind I will send him examples of some of the worst ideas out there as a way of boosting his confidence.  Or because I think what I’m sending is funny in some way.  Whichever.

Hearing about a bad RPG, I thought “Hey! Here’s something to send Eric.”

Then in a later Tweet Millholand mentions that FATAL was “racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and has rape rules (where rape isn’t presented as a bad thing).”  And I thought, “Hey!  Here’s a The Hell…?! article in the making!”  So I decided to look it up.

Thus went I, unaware that I was on the trail of what has been described as being worse than the RPG equivalent of the Necronomicon.

My first problem (if that, on reflection, was the right word for it) was that I didn’t know what the title actually was.  FATAL was, of course, and acronym for a longer title.  That, and Google kept coming up with the actual “fatal” for me.  As if it was trying to desperately warn me against some future calamity that I was blissfully running towards.

Being a somewhat clever person, I entered the acronym in with a space between the letters.  After scrolling past a few actual “fatal” entries (Oh God, he’s not listening to me, is he?) I found what I was looking for at RPGnet.  And, in the summary, the name of the game was…

Currently it’s From Another Time; Another Land.  But originally it was called Fantasy Adventure To Adult Lechery. I read that and man, the jokes wrote themselves.  Even better, this was a 900 page monstrosityThe Wheel of Time RPG is little better than a third that size and the series it’s based on had libraries dedicated to holding it.

Now were I a true and proper Lovecraftian narrator, I would have downloaded the free copy of FATAL and experienced its effects first hands.  What might well have stopped me was the simple fact that RPGnet provides two official reviews and I, being a clever clever man, decided to read them instead.

The first one I read praised the mechanics and not the sex aspects, which the reviewer didn’t quite cover.  It was a short review and came across almost like a plant.

The second one I didn’t finish, mainly because I got tired of the abusive writing of the two reviewers.  Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote about the dangers of looking into the Abyss, and to me these two proved that while you might not fall complete into darkness, you can walk away slightly smudged.

To their credit, the reviewers cop to this.  They also discussed certain flame wars on the site’s forums.  It’s here where it happened, the odd experience I had never had happen to me before.

Let me quote the review, so you can have a small taste of where my thoughts were when the incident happened:


By the way, you’ll notice lots and lots of these personal attacks on the creator and players of this game as this drags on.

While this is bad form in normal reviews, it’s hard to avoid here. For one, it’s impossible for a game designer we shouldn’t insult to create a game this goddamn stupid. For another, [FATAL‘s designer] and his drooling fanboys went out of their way to honor RPGnet’s forums with their personal shot at the world record for “number of flame threads started before one’s daily basement Necronomicon (Waldenbooks version) reading”. And you know, I think they won it, too.

For those who weren’t there, the flame wars weren’t very interesting. It was all simply another chapter in the long-ass book of moron game designers who have created the “BEST GAEM EVAR!!!” Except that in this chapter, the obligatory AD&D clone featured vagina circumference stats and rape rolls, and the moron game designer’s followers had all the class and brain activity of scrotum lint.


It was on the last sentence that it happened.  I read “vagina circumference stats”, a combination of words I never expected to see in my life, and I felt a pressure at the back of my skull.  Light, like something was pushing against it.

I suddenly realized that my brain had just tried to escape my skull.

That’s not me being funny.

That’s the literal truth

My brain tried to do a runner.

After nearly thirty-five years of abuse (shut up, I’m still near 35), of watching movies like Slugs, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave and The Black Cat,  it had enough and was willing to look elsewhere.

I stopped reading after that.  I don’t care how accurate the review was on the point.  I just don’t want to know.

As experiences go, I rate looking up information on FATAL on par with discovering g***** for the first time.  And no, I’m not telling you what g***** is.  Either you recognize it from that single letter or you’re a nice, pure, whole individual and I do not want to be the one to spoil it for you.

The whole thing makes me want to start a whole new variation of the The Hell…?! category.  Call it The F…?!.  Problem with that is that would mean seeing more things on par with that, and I just can’t do that.

I don’t have that much brains to risk like that.

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4 Replies to “The Hell…?! (XXV) – RPG Scrapings Off Lowest Point of the Cavern Beneath the Bottom of a Barrel”

  1. Did you get far enough into the reviews to find out about the roll you’re supposed to make to urinate? You can, in FATAL, fail at urination. True story. Also, in addition to vaginal circumference, you get to stat out penis length and girth. You probably guessed that, though, didn’t you?

    You like FATAL, try this one on for size:
    http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/14/14347.phtml
    Wraethuthu. Seriously. That’s what it’s really called.

    1. THE NIGHTMARE REALLY NEVER ENDS! IT NEVER ENDS! IT NEVER ENDS!

      No, I didn’t get that far. And I’m afraid to look at Wraethuthu. I will concede you know more about RPGs than I do and leave the fields. Quickly.

      1. I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dave.

        You see, Mr. Wong, you made the mistake of bringing up FATAL. Now you’ve seen too much. I’m sorry, I really am, but it’s true. Unfortunately, your eyes have been opened to the darker corners of the tabletop gaming hobby. When you stare into the abyss, my friend, one must take care lest it stare back into you.

        Now you must read of Wraethuthu – and then your journey to the dork side will be complete.

        (seriously, I crammed kind of a lot of references in there. My favorite was the way I seamlessly blended 2001 and John Dies… together.)

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