The Body Concerned

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series FATAL Failings

The Corpus

In this chapter we are given a look at the physical side of matters. The naughty bits are just a part of it, but they do loom large in the eyes of many.

In short, Hall goes into physical details to a great extent. In American culture we do tend to see certain matters regarding our anatomy as beyond the pale, though other cultures don’t always see it that way. Still, it does matter more than some would like to admit and at times it does need to be dealt with. Byron Hall’s problem lies in how he handles the matter, and that handling is clumsy.


First is the character’s age, and according to the chart presented it is possible for him to start play at birth. Now originally I thought you could have starting age go back to a negative number, but as it turns out you’re supposed to keep to positive numbers, and for this system that includes 0. Once division and subtraction is done, the average starting age of a human character is 21, though higher or lower ages are possible.

Age does affect the abilities and sub-abilities, with infants having a body length some 20% of an adult and a weight 5%. But, apparently age has no effect on matters such as intelligence or wisdom. Which is odd, because in real life age does make a difference

Body Proportion

Here are charts presented for determining such matters as height and weight. At one end a female dwarf could be 2’11” while a male ogre could be 10’9”. Where weight is concerned a female elf could be just 52 pounds with a male ogre or hill troll 799 pounds. But keep in mind that height also affects weight. So a 129” tall male ogre with a weight of 799 pounds would get another 420 pounds to add to his weight. And that weight of 1219 pounds would mean he gets a +12 to Strength. This is in addition to his bonus for race, sex, and height. You get right down to it, gruagach ogres are strong.

Reach is another matter, with humans having a reach equal to half their height. Span is another matter, being equal to height, plus the width of the shoulders. Were I an average human being my span would be about 8 feet, but since my arms are unusually long and my shoulders some 3 feet wide my span is close to 10’. Bantu and Northern European men have unusually wide shoulders.

Next we get into matters such as body-mass-index―BMI, body part proportions; distinguishing features; hair and eye color; skin color; hair length, thickness and type; facial feature; and what you could call a freak of nature.

The Naughty Bits

Now we get to the impolite features. And to be honest with you we do vary a lot where those are concerned. Elves tend to be small in that department, while Ogres and Trolls can be intimidating. In fact, an Ogre could have an anal circumference at full extension of 30”, while the largest human head has a circumference of some 26 inches. What that means is left as an exercise for your unseemly imaginations.

Now FATAL is not the only RPG that goes into such matters, though it is rather rude with how it goes about it. There is the Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which does handle matters better, and, The Complete Guide to Unlawful Carnal Knowledge―author unknown, which handle the matter much better than FATAL does.

You get right down to it, FATAL is a fantasy heartbreaker, something written because the author thought he could do better than DND, but failed miserably. All the stuff about sex and naughty bits got added and mishandled because Mr. Hall really didn’t know how to handle them appropriately

And Next

Then comes matters such as foot size, fist size, handedness, and head size. Then there’s the matter of pregnancy, which involves matters such as the length of gestation―for Kobolds it’s some 30 weeks, while for Elves it could be as long as 90 weeks, complications. There’s also a chart for premature birth, though nothing for unusually long pregnancies.

You get right down to it, FATAL goes into detail, detail you may not want to get into. You’re free to call it a bother, I’m going to look at it as inspiration.

When a PC Ails

Last up are allergies, intoxication and disease. In FATAL you get descriptions of allergies and disease, with Diabetes Type2―here called here Diabetes Insipidus―given a truly inaccurate description―ask James M. Ward about his experience with Type2 Diabetes some time, losing a foot is no fun.

Intoxication is what takes up the bulk of this part of the chapter, with alcohol, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms being covered.

My Assessment

Including these things is up to you as far as I’m concerned. Including them to the detail FATAL does should be given special consideration. They can add to a setting, but only if handled with care, consideration, and more than a bit of maturity. From what I can see, how the author handled them really can’t be called mature and tells me he was young when he first wrote the guide, and just too stubborn to correct his work when he revised for the new edition.

You get right down to it, he understood his audience and how they would react. But he also made the mistake of assuming that how he handled things would get an audience. We can be a finicky people and when you dare to insult us―even if you really didn’t mean to―we can have quite a negative reaction.

I’ll be honest with you, after getting this far with FATAL I’m coming to the conclusion that it is not the worst RPG ever published. I haven’t read it yet―I have a copy of the file―but from what I’ve heard Rahowa―Racial Holy War―is even worse in just about every way than FATAL. At least with FATAL there are parts you can use if you feel like it. It’s not something you want to use as written, but still there is potential here.


In chapter 3 we’ll be looking at how FATAL handles abilities, which cover such matters as Physique, Charisma, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom. There are also sub-abilities, but we’ll get into that in the next post in the series.