Friday 9 April 2010

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could an teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Steve Jackson Fighting Fantasy gamebook Appointment With F.E.A.R..

Brad is the GM, and Rob plays his character, Trent Foster AKA The Silver Braggart.

Brad: The time of your birth was an anxious moment for your parents and their doctors. Your mother had consented to undergo an experimental form of genetic surgery. The doctors had warned her of the dangers of the radiation experiments; their research programme was nowhere near complete. What a great parent, right?
Rob: Could have been worse. Could have beaten me.
Brad: But this she already knew, for she herself was one of the researchers.

Mother: I'm aware of the risk, dammit! Irradiate my womb!

Brad: The work had reached the stage where progress was impossible without testing it on a human subject. Your father had not fully understood the implications when he gave his consent, and eight pairs of apprehensive eyes watched your arrival into the world. The first reaction was one of relief. You certainly seemed a normal , healthy baby. Post-natal tests showed no physical deformities whatsoever. Apart from the penis thing.
Rob: It's made of orange brick?
Brad: In fact, you appeared to be a fine specimen. Apart from the penis thing.
Rob: Oh, "penis thing"! I thought you said "Thing Penis".
Brad: In your younger years your development was carefully monitored with a seemingly endless series of physiological and psychological tests, all of which you passed with flying colours. The doctors and researchers congratulated themselves; their experiments were a success...The story doesn't really say what the experiments were trying to prove or solve, so I'm guessing it was along the lines of:

Mother: Hypothesis be damned! Irradiate my womb!

Brad: However, the experiments were conducted in a shroud of secrecy. Had the world known of the risks of the experiment, public outcry would have been overwhelming. It would certainly have put an end to further genetic research. And from your mother's radiation obsessed point of view, she had no wish to have the world regard you as an experimental freak. Only a few knew what had really happened. Over the years, the testing stopped as the doctors felt more and more certain that there was no need to monitor your progress.
Rob: I grew a monitor, eh?
Brad: As fate would have it, it was just when this testing stopped that it became clear that you were anything but a normal child. Your latent superhuman powers did not show themselves until after the doctors had lost interest. Your parents, who had become throughly fed up with the endless tests, decided that your extraordinary powers must remain a secret from the world. They had no wish to have you studied as some knd of freak for the rest of your life. Especially considering the penis thing. By day you, Trent Foster, have a regular job working in an office of a medium-sized company.
Rob: Mediocrity FTW.
Brad: But when duty calls, you become The Silver Braggart, upholder of justice; and you have taken an oath to serve in the fight against crime in Titan City. Apart from your own super abilities - an amazing, ultra-advanced ability to use and build machinery and technology - you have one other device to aid you - your Crimewatch.
Rob: Crimewatch? Really?
Brad: Yeah, really...This neat little device, worn around your wrist, receives and broadcasts transmissions to and from your two most important allies.
Rob: Awesome. Is my sidekick named "Watchdog", or "The Cook Report"?
Brad: You can be contacted by police headquarters through this Crimewatch and you can also summon the police to aid you. In addition, your friend and underworld contact, Clank the Grass, is able to warn you of impending crimes through the Crimewatch.
Clank the Grass has recently become aware of an important meeting about to take place within the next few days. Vladimir Utoshski, leader of F.E.A.R. (Federation of Euro-American Rebels), has been summoning his aides-in-crime to meet in Titan City.
Rob: Fucking typical, coming over here, rousing our super-villains...
Brad: Utoshski, also known as the Titanium Cyborg, is a supervillain whose field of expertise is the electronic enhancement of human abilities. He is part man, part machine - and very dangerous. Clank the Grass has not yet found out where or when the meeting is due, but one thing is certain. Its purpose is to finalise plans for a scheme which would mean disaster for the western world. The meeting must be stopped. You must find out when and where this meeting is due to take place and prevent it at all costs.
Rob: Allrighty.
Brad: As you walk the ten blocks to work that morning, you can't help but feel that something is not quite right.

Trent Foster: This is usually seven blocks.

Brad: You stop by a telephone booth to consider what it could be. The sounds of the city are the usual 8am cacophony.

Trent Foster: Ah, that's it. I don't start work 'til ten.

Brad: Cars and buses bounce past along Clark Street, their drivers too sleepy even to try to avoid the pits and bumps in the road. A newspaper-vendor bawls an incomprehensible headline - something about a robbery - at the crowds of men and women milling past him on their ways to work. Overhead in the sky the rhythmic beating of a traffic helicopters blades fades into the distance. An argument is taking place between an elderly businessman and an over-large woman with an untrained dog, whose sidewalk deposits have offended the businessman. There is nothing unusual...or is there?

Trent Foster: That dog is actually....a treefrog...

Brad: The difference is barely perceptible, but there is a distinct air of tension in the streets. There are nervous twitches in the eyes of the passers by; the cars are accelerating and braking in a jittery manner - little things like that. To your heightened senses, the atmosphere is pregnant. Today will not be just another day.

Trent Foster: I didn't knock up the atmosphere, just so we're clear.

Brad: Your thoughts are broken by the high-pitched wailing of a police siren. A yellow and black Cougar GS screeches round the corner and leaps ahead through the Clark Street traffic before swinging left into Audubon Park. Behind it, the traffic settles back into its regular flow. Your attention drifts back to the argument. A small crowd has built up around the man and woman. Raised voices are taking one side or the other and the situation is beginning to look nasty.
Rob: I go over and see if I can break up the argument.
Brad: Are you going over in street clothes, or nipping round a corner to change into the Silver Braggart?
Rob: Hmmmm....I believe I'll...change into The Silver Braggart.
Brad: With great power there must also come...
Rob: An awesome costume?
Brad: Cleaning up poop. In your shimmering costume, you step towards the crowd.

Crowd member: Fag!
Silver Braggart: I heard that!

Brad: From your Fabulous Accessory Belt, you draw out your Directional Sound Neutraliser. Focusing it on the noisy crowd, you send a charge into the centre. Its effect is immediate. By neutralising all the sound-waves within range of its effect, no one can hear what anyone else is saying! Baffled by their apparent deafness, the crowd turns towards you.

Silver Braggart: Hey, you people stop argu...wait, does it affect me?

Brad: You turn off the Sound Neutraliser.

Crowd Whispers: The Silver Braggart!...I told you he was a whoopsie...Did you hear about his penis thing?

Brad: In a booming voice you command them to cease their squabbling and disperse. They do as you say. Now you must change back into your street clothes and plan your next move.
Rob: I follow the police cars to Aubudon Park.
Brad: You arrive in the park to find a crowd dispersing and an ambulance pulling away. The police are getting back into their cars and driving off. A single car remains, with one police officer standing by a barrier which is marking out an area where the incident - whatever it was - must have taken place. A deep red stain marks the footpath behind the barrier. You talk to the officer. He is not interested in your enquiries, but you do manage to squeeze one word from his tight lips: "mugging".

Trent Foster: Mugging, eh?

Rob: I'm going to change into the Silver Crusader outfit. That might loosen him up a bit. The amount I'm wearing it, you'd think it was a rental.
Brad: Seemed to work last time, right? You change and return to question the officer who immediately snaps to attention when he recognises you.

Officer: The Silver Braggart! a park...with me. So this is how it ends.
Silver Braggart: I'm not gay.
Officer: Anything I can do to help?
Silver Braggart: What happened here?
Officer: A mugging. A wealthy businessman on his way to work had his throat slashed, Braggart. I don't know any more. Please don't bum me.
Silver Braggart: Whatever, you're totally not my type...I mean, because you're not a girl!

Brad: Whatever happened here, the police obviously have it in hand. There is nothing else you can do. You change back into your street clothes. The familiar beeping on your wrists alerts you.

Silver Braggart: My potatoes are burning!

Brad: Your Crimewatch is receiving a message. The electronic voice speaks two words:
Rob: "Spuds fried"?

Crimewatch: Parker Airport.

Brad: Hurriedly you change back into the Silver Braggart again, and speed towards the outskirts of the city. It never rains but it pours: halfway there; the Crimewatch bleeps again!

Crimewatch: Peter Laboratories.

Brad: You have no indication of which is more urgent. Which will you tackle?
Rob: Peter Laboratories.
Brad: Any particular reason?
Rob: Yeah, character histories dictate that there can be a supervillain on the rise.
Brad: Wow, it's not like you to think these decisions through. Usually it's like you're flipping a coin.
Rob: Well, this time I'm a superhero. Last time I was an idiot.
Brad: It's cute you think the two are mutually exclusive. You quickly change into the Silver Braggart and rush to the Peter Laboratories. As opposed to petering to the Rush Laboratories. It is near the centre of town, annexed to the nuclear physics department of the university. When you arrive, you are sent straight upstairs to the third floor, but told to be careful. They must get superheroes in and out of there all the time.

Physicist: Third door on the left. Try not to kill anyone.

Brad: A group of students and professors are huddled by the stairs. You are told what has happened. Four Alsatians which were being used in dangerous radiation experiments have escaped from their cages. They are locked in a room down the corridor and are barking wildly. Although they should not be radioactive to the touch, their bite could be lethal, should their saliva enter an open cut. From your belt you take a small rod, the size of a pencil.
Rob: Righto...
Brad: It extends teliscopically like a car aerieal. This is a Radiation Neutralisation Wand. In the battle that will follow...Ominous, no?
Rob: Indeed...
Brad: Each time you score a hit, you have touched the dog with the wand, and its radiation is neutralised. However, the dog still can and will fight, so you'll still need to defeat it. You step up to the door and wait for the frantic barking to die down. It does not. In fact the dogs are clawing and jumping at the door, which is beginning to weaken. Three dogs escape through the door and rush into the crowd, jaws wide open and frothing. The dogs, not the bystanders.
Rob: Well, you'd hope.
Brad: You slam the door shut. Your immediate duty is to prevent anyone from being bitten.
Rob: Sounds like a plan.


You kick the first dog in the knee.

Rob: Ha-ha!

You tell it it's adopted.
You pull it's face off.
The second dog approaches.
You go Rorscach on its arse.
The third dog approaches.
The dog fucks your leg.
You stab it to death, and revel in the blood bath.

Silver Braggart: Lucky this suit is teflon-coated!

The fourth dog surrenders.
You rapidly subdue the remaining dogs in the laboratory.

Brad: You are congratulated by the crowd for averting what could have been a disaster.

Physicist: Thank you for punching those mistreated animals to death.

Brad: As you leave the university a group of autograph hunters has gathered outside.
Rob: Awesome! I step out to face my fans! I'm in costume right?
Brad: I hope so. If not, you're a really shitty superhero and deserve everything you get. The crowd cheers as you walk down the steps of the building! You are surrounded by energetic hands thrusting pieces of paper at you.
Rob: So, that's what it's like being a waste paper basket.
Brad: You have signed a dozen or so autographs when your ears prick up. A cry is coming from a shop a few doors down:

Voice: Stop!!! Rape!!!

Rob: Rape? Seriously?

Voice: I mean...thief!!!

Rob: I was gonna say...
Brad: Yeah, these gamebooks..surprisingly high on death, surprisingly low on sexual assault. Well, there was Deathtrape Dungeon, but I suspect my copy had a typo.
Rob: You think?
Brad: Sounds like a a job for the Silver Braggart! You break through the crowd to investigate. Quick as a flash (Note: Not the Flash, or any other copyrighted DC characters) you spring into the shop ready for action. It is a small sweets, candies and tobacco shop. The proprietor, a Mr Kalvin Farquarson (actually in the book, I'm not making that name up), is standing behind the counter in a state of shock, his head buried in his hands. You shake his shoulders and tell him to pull himself together.
He composes himself and stutters:

Farquarson: Terror! The little terror...Pulled a gun...grabbed everything on the counter...and ran out through there!

Brad: He points through the shop to what is apparently the back door.
Rob: Armed, huh? Is there anything I can grab as cover?
Brad: Heroic. There is nothing around except a garbage can by the back door. You pick up the lid and hold it in front of you as you step up to the door. Man, you look pathetic in my mind's eye.
Rob: A bin lid was the best I could do?
Brad: You wanted to use the shopkeeper, didn't you? You fling open the back door and your eyes scan the dirty yard outside. In the far corner of the walled yard is a pile of boxes and you can make out a shoe protuding from behind them. Do you want to use a gadget from your utility belt?
Rob: What have I got again?
Brad: Plot devices, mostly.
Rob: Aahhh. I'll do that then.
Brad: You pull a small metal gadget from your Accessory Belt and aim it at the boxes. Your Forcefield Generator hums; the boxes sway, topple over and fall on the thief. There is a shrill scream. The protuding foot shakes and them falls still. I think you made him come...
Rob: I thought I'd killed him. Not often I have to distinguish that.
Brad: Cautiously, you walk over to investigate. Note how the book is making you investigate, rather than giving you the option to walk away nonchalantly. Whistling.
Rob: Yeah, I like the idea of whistling better.
Brad: You grab the unconcious thief and pull him out from behind the boxes. As he slides out into the daylight, you gulp. This little villain can be no more than nine years old! You may well have hurt him badly.
Rob: Pistol-whip him!
Brad: You know, I got this book when I was six, and nine seemed really old at the time. In his right hand he clutches his booty - a half-eaten candy bar. Desperately, you shake him, and eventually his eyes flick open. He is terrified to see you and you scowl at him sternly. Which probably doesn't come out that well through your mask. But secretly you are relieved that he is not seriously hurt. You pick him up and march him inside the shop. After giving the young boy an earful, you send him on his way.
Rob: Earful of what?
Brad: Semen. Then you turn to the shopkeeper. You are furious. You had thought this was a serious robbery, not merely a youngster's prank to steal a bar of candy. The cowardly shopkeeper has wasted your time. You better get moving quickly before anyone finds out you just knocked out a nine year old boy. Do you want to get moving or stay and bollock the shopkeeper some more?
Rob: Yeah, I should leave quickly. Incidentally, I hardly believe the book uses the word "bollock".
Brad: Well, no, it says "ballcock", but I read between the lines. You make your way home and spend the rest of the night relaxing in front of the TV after the day's excitement. Take your Stamina up to its maximum again.
Rob: Cool.
Brad: The next morning you leave for work early. Isn't being a superhero exciting?
Rob: Yeah, sounds wonderful.
Brad: Between cleaning up dog shit, leaving the cops to solve crimes on their own, killing abused animals and punching out children, you may be the best superhero ever. Right?
Rob: The kid-punching is a particular highlight.
Brad: You travel by bus. As the bus enters Radd Square, you notice a disturbed crowd in the centre of the square. Something is happening! At that very moment, your Crimewatch sounds! You hold it to your ear and hear its message:

Crimewatch: Cowfield Dairy. Fast.

Brad: Quickly you get off of the bus.
Rob: A dairy? What the fuck? Is it a cow riot? Oh, well. Best go there, I suppose. If it added a third word, it has to be vital.
Brad: You change in a convenient alley, and head to the Dairy. When you arrive at the gates, everything seems to be in order. Milk-floats are returning from their daily rounds and thousands of bottles are chinking...Sorry...Asian-personing their way along conveyors. There is no sign of danger. A short-tailed tabby cat - no doubt a stray - is trying to get in through the gates. You pick the hungry creature up and stroke it. As you wait, your eye catches a familiar looking figure turning the corner and walking towards you. It is "Chainsaw" Bronski, a well known murderer who you thought was well behind bars.
Rob: I apprehend Bronski. I can always tend to the cat later.
Brad: You hide behind the gate until Bronski is close. When you hear his footsteps approaching , you spring out to confront him. The startled killer reaches into his coat and pulls out a weapon: a battery powered electric knife! Didn't see that coming, did you?
Rob: No. No, I did not.


At last! It's the meeting of two mind-boggling comedy creations from Matt Groening!

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1 comment:

  1. Best Dickass DM EVER! It had everything I like about playing RPGs: Rob running away from plot-hooks, Rob killing things he probably shouldn't have killed, Rob being railroaded by the GM in order to maintain some kind of tangible plot... He's not in prison yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time! Just smashing, chums!