Mini-Rant: FATAL’s Occupation System And Why It’s Broken

While I dunked on FATAL so hard, I would recommend anything else to play, there’s one aspect of the game I did find interesting.

Rather than generic fantasy classes like Fighter, Wizard, and Rogue, we have Occupations. I found these interesting because they allow for roleplaying in different ways. While some of them do have direct parallels to a D&D class, most are simple, every day jobs that people take. Instead of doing a simple “save the world” plot as a brave, buff warrior, you could instead be a humble basket weaver.

And that’s what I love about that concept. It allows for different stories to be woven. However, there’s a bit of a problem.

Advancement points.

You’ve might have heard me complain about that when I riffed on FATAL’s rules, but to recap, Advancement Points are the EXP of FATAL and how you gain them depends entirely on your Occupation. The combat-heavy Occupations mostly have their AP based off how much damage you do should a certain condition be met. For instance, a Gladiator only gains AP if he’s fighting in the arena or fighting for money, freedom, or public amusement.

On paper, this is a very good idea and it encourages players to play their role… But then you have the duds and that’s what this post is going to be all about. I’m going to go through each and every Occupation and see which ones hold up that idea the best and which ones have a flawed execution.

The major flaw for most of these Occupations is that the AP gains are rather miniscule while the overall threshold to gain the levels are titanic in comparison. Allow me to give you an example with the first Occupation we get: The Acrobat.

The Acrobat only gains AP if they’re preforming a skill check during a life-threatening situation. This makes sense, because when your life is on the line, you learn a lot faster than if you were to do it casually. However, the downside comes in how much AP you earn. You gain AP equal to the skill result. Remember how the skill modifiers, if left unchecked, results in -99 as the worst modifier?

Yeah, if your Aedile (the game’s term for GM) is a big enough dick, you’ll be losing them. But hey, don’t sweat it, you’re only losing 10% of the points needed to level up past 1. Yes… The AP threshold from Level 1 to 2 is 1,000 AP and the highest you’ll ever get are double digits…

Do you see the problem here?

And, here’s the easy thing: You could subtract a 0 from the totals and make it not only easier to level up, but also faster for some. Every three in-game months, Animal Conditioners get an AP for each intelligent point they knock from an animal (starting from 100), 3 for subdued domesticated animals and 10 for subdued wild animals. The Appraiser gets 1 AP for each thing he… well… appraises. So, they need to domesticate/appraise at least 1,000 animals/items in order to level up. That is insane.

An Armorer gets 5 AP for chainmail shirts made and 20 AP for platemail. He’s gotta make 50 of those platemail armors to get a Level up. An Artist can level up if he spends five hundred hours creating one work of art or split those hours across different works.

Assassins, however, are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They can level up pretty quickly. Their AP is their kill’s LP multiplied by the amount of silver pieces the person paid for the hit. So, let’s say the assassin were to kill Mauger from the game I played, whose LP was at 32, and the assassin was paid 100 SP to take him out, that’s enough to take him past Levels 1 & 2 and into Level 3. So, really, there’s no way to balance this out and make a fun experience for anyone involved. If you get the job that takes literal years to get enough points to level up in while your friend gets the one job that earns numerous level ups for each tough kill he secure, you’d feel gipped.

The Bailiff gets 10 AP per case won, but the Baker? A tenth of 1 AP. You can’t be making this up. You know how it took the Armorer 50 platemails to get a level? Well, the baker has to make TEN THOUSAND LOAFS OF BREAD to get to that same result.

But hey, at least it’s not the nobility Occupations, who need to wait seven years or six months to have their economy evaluated in order to see if it increased by 5%. If they do, they get a level up automatically.

I said I’d be going through every Occupation, but I gotta be honest with you all, the Occupation APs just repeat themselves and I think you got the point.

Like with most things in FATAL, the Occupation system is a concept that is very solid on paper, but because it’s FATAL, the system used to run it gets so unbalanced and broken that it’s practically unsalvageable.

And that’s my mini-rant.

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