Friday 7 May 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.

Previously on Dickass DM: Trent Foster AKA The Silver Braggart must find the location and time of the secret meeting of F.E.A.R (Federation of Euro-Americal Rebels). So far he has no real clues, but has picked up some dog poop, kicked some abused animals to death, tasered a nine year-old boy into unconciousness, been suspended from work, made a nuisance of himself at Wisneyland, watched someone get kidnapped, and theorised that museum exhibits were killing people. With the Museum a dead end, he turns his attention to the local zoo...

Attendant: Er, yes. I did hear something about an escape. But I don't know any more about it. You'll have to ask the director. I'll take you to him if you like.

Brad: You tell him to lead the way. But as you turn to follow him, a beep - beep - beep comes from your wrist.
Rob: Why do I get the feeling he's going to turn out to be the director, a la Yoda?
Brad: You hold the Crimewatch up to your ear.

Crimewatch: Museum of Egyption Heritage

Rob: Head for the museum. I reckon this time I'll head them off at the pass.

*Silver Braggart's Head Spins to and away from the camera*

Brad: The Museum of Egyptian Heritage is in the mid-town area. Everything seems perfectly normal when you enter and you make for the Head Curator's office. Dr Kablah is an elderly professor-type with white hair and a thick white moustache that hangs over his mouth. He is surprised to see you but assures you that, as far as he knows, everything is in order.

Silver Braggart: Are you sure everything's in order? Are you sure it's not...chaotic?

Brad: He offers to double check all his treasures to make sure nothing has disappeared.

Silver Braggart: Give me two minutes to have a look around and then check.

Brad: He studies the closed-circuit security screens which are focused on the main treasures of his collection. Everything seems to be in order. But he does study one screen rather closely. It is a figurehead of the god Amon-Ra, festooned with golden jewellery. He is not sure whether there is supposed to be a pair of golden ear-rings on the idol. Didn't they sing "Radar Love"?
Rob: I think at the very least they contributed.
Brad: Do you go and check it, or take a look at the main exhibit, the sarcophagus of Princess Ankalis. That's pronounced "Sar-co-fay-gus". And "An-na-far-is".
Rob: Go and check the God thing.
Brad: You rush to the idol and check for the ear-rings. There are none there! The professor thumbs through the catalogue to double-check the idol.

Professor: Er, ahem! Ah, my mistake, Crusader. This idol does not have ear-rings at all. My, my. I am getting very forgetful in my old age...

Brad: A false alarm.

Silver Braggart: You fucking nob! I could have been out solving real crimes!

Brad: Looks like all is well, after all. You decide not to waste any further time here, and you leave. You know, I've been thinking, and you may actually be the worst superhero ever.
Rob: On what grounds?
Brad: We've been playing this for god knows how long, and the most heroic thing you've managed to do is taser a nine year-old boy.
Rob: A small one at that.
Brad: And get suspended from work.
Rob: A crap job, too.
Brad: Where to now?
Rob: Erm....
Brad: You may want to visit the Titan Central Library to do some research in their criminology section, or you could go to visit your informant, Clank the Grass?
Rob: Let's go see The Grass.
Brad: You visit Clank as The Silver Braggart. He lives in a run-down part of town, in a dirty one-bedroomed apartment. A bit like you.
Rob: Mine's a three-bed.
Brad: He is horrified to see you, as your appearance will surely blow his cover. You inconsiderate prick. But, as always, he has some interesting information. Apparently, The Mantrapper has control of the mind of Sidney Knox, a research assistant at the Murdoch Nuclear Laboratories. Normally a passive type - he spends all his spare time in an observation tower at the Lab watching migratory birds - Knox has been implanted with a post-hypnotic suggestion. Can you watch migratory birds all the time? Surely you can only watch them half the year?
Rob: Maybe he goes with them?
Brad: No one knows exactly what the post-hypnotic suggestion is, but Clank's information will help you. If you ever find yourself looking for Sidney Knox, this information may help you.
Rob: Some small consolation to The Grass, I'm sure.
Brad: The rest of the evening is uneventful.

Silver Braggart: Well that was a good day's heroing. I went to the zoo, two museums, and blew my contact's cover. Good times.

Rob: All right, I suck as a superhero.
Brad: In the morning, you set off for a stroll. A heroic stroll, right?
Rob: Of course. Chest puffed out, content in the knowledge that nobody knows why I'm so arrogant.
Brad: Knowing you, you're probably in costume. It's getting you to take it off that's the trick. As you turn the corner at the end of the block, the beeping from your wrist signifies the start of your busiest day yet.

Crimewatch: Murdock Nuclear Laboratories.

Silver Braggart: Convenient...

Brad: You gulp - atomic weapons experiments are conducted at the Murdock Laboratories. Whatever is happening could be very serious indeed. You must get to the Murdock Labs without delay!
Rob: I'll head to the Murdock labs, with only minor delays!

*Silver Braggart's Head Spins to and away from the camera*

Brad: An atmosphere of panic is in the air when you arrive.

Silver Braggart: He who smelt it dealt it.

Brad: A series of controlled radiation experiments were being conducted on animals to help determine the effects of a nuclear explosion. Ah, sci-fi in the eighties. For every cyberpunk dystopia, there was someone going "Pfft. Why not?".
Rob: How is studying anything useful in a nuclear explosion?
Brad: There have been some effective discoveries. Under certain conditions, distinct signs of increased mental powers were being shown by several of the experimental animals. Some of these were quite spectacular. They had, for example, produced a dog able to talk and a chimpanzee able to play computer games.
Rob: Fuck off is that in the book.
Brad: It totally is. See, even a chimp can play Wii, dude.
Rob: Is the dog reading Twilight?
Brad: Good against Wii remotes is one thing. Good against a living? That's another. They had no doubt that similar experiments on humans would have produced much more dramatic results. This theory has now been proved true. Sidney Knox, one of the research assistants, had crept into the radiation chamber that morning and subjected himself to the rays.

Silver Braggart: Bollocks.

Brad: His brain is now twice its normal size, and he has the ability to manipulate objects by will-power alone! But there is an unforeseen side-effect. Sidney Knox, normally a peaceful individual, has developed a destructive streak.
Rob: Hardly surprising, really.
Brad: His powers enable him to will the radiation emitter to implode and destroy itself. The danger is if he gets anywhere near the nuclear reactor: destruction of the reactor would mean disaster on a grand scale for Titan City. No-one knows where he is now, but the reactor must be protected at all costs. You remember your clue. You ask someone about such a room and you are directed to the observation tower. Hoping that this may lead you to the mutant, you Marillion up to the room at the very top. "Rush", sorry.
Rob: I had to think about that one.
Brad: There, staring out of the window at the huge reactor structure, is a man in a white coat with a bloated head the size of a pumpkin. "Pumpkin" being a standardised measurement in those days.

Silver Braggart: Nice head...big head!

Brad: You creep up behind him, deliver a blow to the back of his neck to knock him out and carry him downstairs to the waiting scientists. You can only hope that they can find a way either of curing him or of taming his destructive urges. I guess we can add "donkey punching into submission" to your list of heroic achievements.
Rob: I donkey punched him? Awesome.
Brad: Though you do not realise it, you have saved perhaps the whole of Titan City from a deadly threat by capturing Sydney Knox. In appreciation of your saving the Laboratory, the scientists bring you a small pen-like device.

Silver Braggart: Is it a pen?
Institute Director: Crusader, take this as a gift from us. One of our men made this in his spare time.He calls it a "Circuit Jammer". We've been using it to jam circuits. It is still to be fully tested, but seems to work okay.
Silver Braggart: So I can't write with this?
Institute Director: Not really, but you can gouge some surfaces with reasonable clarity.
Silver Braggart: Hunh. I suppose that's all right.
Institute Director: I know you often face mechanical villains and their contraptions. With this, you will be able to disable their circuits. And gouge them a bit.
Silver Braggart: And write my logo on them!
Institute Director: You are looking for Vladimir Utoshski and he is a powerful adversary.
Silver Braggart: Now, to come up with a logo.
Institute Director: With this you will stand a better chance.

Brad: You thank the director for his pretentious, yet gougey, gift. It may well come in handy.
Rob: Probably. Bearing in mind how quickly the clue came in handy. Like, the next morning.
Brad: You leave the Murdock Laboratories and head back into town. Walking along Danvers Street, you see a crowd huddled round a shop window and you step up to see what is going on. It is an electrical shop and the people are staring at a television in the centre of the window. A newsfalsh message is being reported by the announcer.
Rob: Is it a nice model?
Brad: Not bad. You cannot hear what is being said, but you recognise the face on the photograph which appears briefly on the screen. It is Giorgio Schultz, better known as the Poisoner. What, you wonder, is he up to?
Rob: Besides poisoning.
Brad: Perhaps you'd better go down to police headquarters and find out. You turn to leave, and groan as a BEEP-BEEP-BEEP sounds on your wrist. Just what you needed! You lift it to your ear and listen to its message.

Crimewatch: Stanley Swimming Pool!

Rob: Am I the only crimefighter in this town? It seems like I have to break up stupid stuff as well. People's dog's shitting, earrings not going missing..
Brad: Yeah, for the sake of argument, you're the only superhero. Ever.
Rob: Goddamn. Swimming pool.
Brad: Frankly, with your track record, I can't help but wonder if it might have been better for the city if you'd used your powers for evil.
Rob: Fewer boys would have been tazed.
Brad: You arrive at Stanley Pool and the doorman dreamtheaters you into the main hall where the pool is. Your jaw drops as you see the problem. The pool has frozen! Shivering swimmers are staring incredulously at the block of ice that, moments before, they were swimming in.
Rob: Shouldn't they be...frozen in it?
Brad: Two girls, however, were not able to swim to swim to the side in time and they are held fast in the ice, in danger of freezing to death.
Rob: Ah.
Brad: Their cries are getting weaker.
Rob: "If you're not too"
Brad: You had better use your powers to help them quickly.
Rob: Oh wait, you mean physically weaker, not "more crap".
Brad: You take out a vial of Concentrated Antifreeze and emersonlakeandpalmer out into the centre of the ice. Removing the stopper, you pour it onto the ice around the two girls. A puddle of water spreads around them and their struggles allow them to move more freely. Moments later they are free and you help them to the side of the pool, where friends are waiting with warm blankets.
Rob: I check the heating plant. I'm trying not to suck. Doing the whole detective thing might help.
Brad: The heating engineer shows you round the plant. You spend a lot of the day in the company of menial workers, don't you?
Rob: Yeah...
Brad: He is mystified as to what happened; there is nothing wrong with the heating-equipment. You double-check the controls and scratch your head. Nothing wrong there.
Rob: Aside from the head itch.
Brad: Perhaps no-one will ever know what caused the incident, but at least the danger is now over. Where will you go next? Perhaps you deserve a little entertainment. The Titan Tigers, a local football team, are playing the Metro Mohawks. You could go and watch the game. Or, if you are concerned about finding information regarding the activities of F.E.A.R., you could visit Colonel Saunders at his army base to see if he knows anything. Which do you fancy?
Rob: Army base. It'll give Colonel Sanders time off from running his chicken franchise.
Brad: Saunders.
Rob: Oh. That's less fun.
Brad: You arrive at the army base and are escorted to see Col. Saunders, who greets you with a warm chicken bucket. I mean, handshake.

Saunders: Crusader! Well, this is an honour. What can we do for you?
Silver Braggart: Don't you mean Silver Braggart? Or have you got me confused with the Mincing Crusader? I've heard we wear the same belt.

Brad: You explain you have come to compare notes on the activities of F.E.A.R.

Saunders: So far, we have come up with nothing. Like you, we have heard that a top-level meeting is imminent and if we are to prevent their villainous escapades, we must capture their leader, Vladimir Utoshski, before the meeting can take place. They are powerful, Crusader, and ruthless. You can count on all the help we can give you.
Silver Braggart: Look, am I mincing?
Brad: Suddenly, an aide bursts into the room.

Aide: Sir! Helicopters! Identity unknown! Coming towards the base at four o'clock!
Silver Braggart: What time is it now?

Brad: The Colonel leaps into finger-lickin' action.

Saunders: Contact them on the radio. If they will not identify themselves, we will open fire.

Brad: You alanparsonsproject out into the drill square with the Colonel. He is barking orders at people around him and , through it all, a picture of what is happening emerges.
Rob: That's impressive, I'd love to be able to do that.
Brad: Twenty F.E.A.R. choppers are heading towards the base, heavily armed. The soldiers are taking their positions. When the helicopters come into view you can see that this is a well-organised raid and you can make a guess as to who has organised it. Amid heavy army fire, several of the choppers land within the perimeter fence. When a stocky man with a tall forehead in a black costume steps from the leading helicopter, your guess is confirmed. The Macro Brain!

Silver Braggart: Son of a bitch.

Brad: A product of genetic experimentation, like yourself, the Macro Brain has developed a tremendous intelligence. But (debatably) unlike yourself, he has decided to use it to further the causes of evil. A formidable combination, you think.
Rob: Does he tase nine year old boys?
Brad: Does anyone, any more?
Rob: Just the Silver Mincing Braggart Crusader.
Brad: On your own, there is little you could do against his well-disciplined private army. But if the Colonel's men could keep them at bay and you had the opportunity to face the Macro Brain on his own...
Rob: Like fuck!
Brad: As you consider this, a warning comes from your Crimewatch.

Crimewatch: Council Buildings. Fast.

Brad: You consider your options.
Rob: Hmmmm. For all I know, they won't be able to get me on my own with Macro Brain. I leave and head for the Council Buildings. This seems like an all-out assault.
Brad: "Good luck guys! Douchey-douchey!"

Silver Braggart: Hey Macro, next time I'll record an ass-whoopin'!

Brad: Ignoring the screams of your wounded and dying fellows, you speed off back to Titan City and arrive at the Council Buildings. Everyone seems surprised at your visit.

Silver Braggart: Hello.

Brad: The day has been a peaceful one. Being a holiday, there are few people about. There certainly seems to be no danger.
Rob: Wait a minute...

Crimewatch: Sorry. False alarm.

Brad: Just what you needed.
Rob: You are kidding me.
Brad: All it cost you was a division of the US army. You set off home to take some well-deserved rest.
Rob: And begin the search for a human assistant.
Brad: The prospect of the F.E.A.R. meeting is weighing heavily on your mind, but for the moment you are well advised to relax for the evening. Next morning, you are woken, not by the alarm clock, but by the +1 Crimewatch of Fail. This time the message is longer than normal and it repeats itself.

Crimewatch: URGENT! FEAR meeting today! Location unknown!

Brad: Today! Do you have any clues as to where the meeting is?
Rob: Hmmmm...Let's go to...
Brad: You don't know, do you?
Rob: Nope, not a clue. Let's try the waterfront.
Brad: It is hopeless. You do not know where F.E.A.R. is holding its meeting and you have no chance of finding it in such a short time. You find a convenient spot, change into your street clothes and hail a cab. The driver has his radio on.
As he chats away, the radio sputters and fizzles. The music dies and an unscheduled annoucement interrupts the programme. A steely voice with a sinister tone speaks slowly and clearly:

Voice: Citizens of the world, do not attempt to retune your receivers.
Silver Braggart: Fuck.
Voice: This message is being broadcast on all frequencies simultaneously in all languages to all areas of the globe. The admin was a fucking nightmare. My name is Vladimir Utoshski. I am known as the Titanium Cyborg.
Silver Braggart: Bet he's got a tiny nob, eh?
Utoshski: My organisation is known to you as the Federation of Euro-American Rebels. My message is this. We have taken control of the "Star Wars"satellite which orbits the Earth. We demand the unconditional surrender of all your governments and military establishments and the submission of all citizens to our leadership. Any resistance will be dealt with harshly. Our city will obliterate, one by one, the major cities of the Earth. As proof of our power, Titan City will be exterminated in exactly thirty seconds.

Brad: Your heart sinks.
Rob: As well it should.
Brad: You have failed to stop the meeting of F.E.A.R. The whole world must now pay the penalty.

Game Over
Brad: Rob Wade: 2 - Dickass DM: 2

No one ever wants to serve in Hell...

The Seven Deadlies, a demon club in Philsdelphia, has always catered to the most attractive and desirable hosts. Recently, though, more and moreof the lower dregs of society have been showing up with demons of their own - in alarming numbers. Exorcist Morgan Kingsley is sure that Dougal, the demon king's brother, is behind this, but isn't sure why. Is DOugal building an army to snatch the throne of the demons from his brother Lugh?

If there's one person who can get to the bottom of this, it's Morgan, but caught between her mortal lover Brian and the demon she lusts for, it's going to take everything she has to keep her head - and her heart - in the game.

Thanks to our friends at Piatkus Books, we've got five copies of The Devil's Playground to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail with your name and postal address to The first five names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

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