Part One: Introduction
Before we get started please be aware that what you read here is really more a critique than a review, though of necessity reviewing is a necessary part of it. I’m also doing this critique chapter by chapter because I feel that that is necessary if I’m to pay this work full credit.
The first thing to note is that the author, Byron Hall, has a voice. I like voices in my writing. Unfortunately, Mr. Hall’s voice is most often that of a pissy brat. He also over writes and insists much too much when dialing back on the verbiage would serve his cause much better.
The introduction itself can be divided into the following parts, starting with an introduction to RPGs
The Introduction to RPGs
First, actually, is Byron insisting that FATAL is historically accurate and quite realistic. I’d expect that in his mind it is indeed historically accurate and realistic, but for us who have a firmer grasp on historical accuracy and realism FATAL is not quite there. Later in his work Mr. Hall claims that he did actual research, but I suspect he preferred to use those result that agreed with his a priori assumptions and ignore what contradicted him.
Beyond that his description of what an RPG is actually makes sense. You get right down to it an RPG is an exercise in playing a role, most often in a make-believe world based on he make-believe worlds of myths, legends, fables and story. He’s also right when he says that events in an RPG are not completely up to the players and GM, but more a matter of what blind fate has to say.
Next is a look at the tools you’ll need to play FATAL, which are pretty much the sort of thing you’d need in most any RPG. This could be better explained, for I find the wording stilted and confused. I suspect that Byron Hall wanted to be clear but has no real understanding of how to write clearly.
Next up is a look in general at the roles one plays in FATAL and the process of character creation. Mr. Hall does insist that character creation is fun, but that’s his opinion.
The last two items deal with the mechanics―known here as the Mean System, and a warning concerning the supposed maturity of the RPG. As to the latter, like so many other people I rather doubt Byron Hall has any real idea of what mature subject matter actually means. In all honesty mature subject matters deals not with what is dealt with, but with how it is dealt with. As we get further into the RPG I think you will find that FATAL does not actually handle mature matters in a mature way.
That’s it for this post in the series on FATAL. Next up we’ll have a look at chapter one: Gender and Race.