Friday 21 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 Ian Livingstone Fighting Fantasy gamebook Armies of Death.

Brad is the GM, and Rob plays his character, General Braggart.

Brad: Fame and fortune are two things which most adventurers crave and, having survived Baron Sukumvit's infamous Deathtrap Dungeon, you now have both. It was thought impossible for anybody to battle their way successfully through the deadly dungeon in Fang, which was protected by the baron's cunning Trialmasters. Yet, somehow you survived and claimed the purse of 20,000 Gold Pieces in the Trial of Champions. Now, wherever you walk in Fang, you are cheered, and in the taverns where you drink, people ask you about your perilous journey through the dungeon.

General Braggart: It was a piece of piss, I don't even remember doing it!
Adoring Fan #1: Was there a Bone Devil in the dungeon?
Adoring Fan #2: Did you see the beautiful Siren?
Adoring Fan #3: How did you overcome the Liche Queen?
General Braggart: Slow down, are any of you planning to buy me a pint?
Adoring Fan #4: What does a Coldclaw look like?
General Braggart: Thirst!
Adoring Fan #5: What is the colour of Mutant Orc's blood?
Adoring Fan #6: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
General Braggart: African or European?
Adoring Fan #6: What? I don't know that! Aaaaaaggghhh!
Adoring Fan #5: What did you stab him for?

Brad: Everybody is in awe of you and wants to know all about the evil dungeon.
Rob: Seems it.
Brad: But the constant attention soon becomes tiring and you resolve to set off on another quest as soon as possible.

General Braggart: Bye. Hate you all. I'd rather risk death and injury than continue listening to your mouths flap. Fuck off. The lot of you. I hope I die.

Brad: Besides, there is a new threat to Allansia which is gathering strength in the East.
Rob: Allansia sounds like a building society
Brad: It was originally called "Notmiddleearth". Before you set off, you decide to spend some of your hard-earned prize money. You commission a small castle to be built for you on the south bank of the River Kok while you are away; with the remaining 6,000 Gold Pieces you decide to hire soldiers to make an army!
Rob: Result!
Brad: Yeah, they finally did it, huh? A gamebook for PowerGamers.
"What do I start with?"
"A castle and an army."
Recently there have been sightings of a large number of Orcs and Goblins in the Forest of Fiends.
Rob: And alliteration fans!
Brad: True. Let’s alliterate wherever possible. There is a rumour that their leader is Agglax the Shadow Demon.
Rob: Hunh.
Brad: Yeah, that's a bit of a let-down. Does Shagglax the Shadow Demon work better for you?
Rob: Shagglax the Shadow SDemon
Brad: Sounds likes something from a JRPG. I'm game. A Shadow SDemon, as everybody knows, is a servant of the Demon Princes and a commander of the Legions of the Ldamned. Since their banishment to the Void after the First Battle of Titan, however, the Demon Princes were thought to have been defeated forever.
Rob: Ha, bitches.
Brad: And yet one of their servants is now reported to have been seen. This tale comes from an old scavenger calling himself Drek who discovered a ruined temple near Zengis.
Rob: How many of these names am I supposed to be memorising?
Brad: I dunno. You're taking notes right?
Rob: Dude, it's me. Rob.
Brad: Ugh.
Rob: I'll go back and take a few notes... Right, so... Forest of Friends...that sounds nice... River Kok...hehehe... Demon Prince... Purple Rain! Pu--urple Rain!
Brad: Scratching around in the dirt in search of anything he might be able to sell, Drek found a black clay pot, corked and sealed with black wax. His curiosity proved too much for him and he broke the pot on a stone, hoping that it might contain gold or jewels.
Rob: Tit.
Brad: But his excitement soon turned to terror at the sight of what happened next. As soon as the black pot broke apart, Drek was deafened by the most hideous and evil cry that he had ever heard in his life. Slowly a mist started to form, growing ever larger and darker, until it coaelesced in the shape of a black robe wrapped around a body that was invisible save only for two pulsating, blood-red eyes. Drek screamed in total fear, but the Shadow SDemon he had released simply turned and disappeared. The chaos-spawn was to grow again on Titan.
Rob: Ahhh, so it was him was it?
Brad: The emo band?
Rob: Yeah, that's the one.
Brad: On the strength of Drek's story, you post recruitment notices all over Fang. The honour of fighting alongside someone of your renown - with the added bonus of payment in Gold - draws a long line of hopeful warriors outside the tavern where you intend to hire your soldiers.
I think it's probably more the gold, though.
Rob: How much am I paying per person?
Brad: What am I? Your accountant?
Rob: I'm just making sure I'm displaying good business sense.
Brad: Many are alone, other come in groups, but all are eager to sign up.
Rob: I never come in groups. It's just awkward.
Brad: You haven't lived...
Some tell of old adventures, others of monsters slain. But you recognise the qualities you seek and before nightfall your troops are chosen. Not knowing what dangers you will face, you decide not to hire all the warriors who have come, so as to have some gold left for the journey.
This is a bit like The X Factor, really, isn't it?
Rob: Yeah... or The F Factor, in accordance with our alliteration guidelines.
Brad: Ah, yeah. You count the commission sheets and find that you have hired a hundred warriors, fifty Dwarfs, fifty Elven Archers and twenty knights. Nice, convient round numbers.
Rob: That is handy...
Brad: In the morning you buy food, provisions and baggage mules. Starting an army ain't cheap, bro. Hidden costs...
Rob: This is how they get you.
Brad: When everything is paid for, you are left with 700 Gold Pieces which you put in a wooden chest and strap to one of the mules. What shall we name the mule?
Rob: Clank.
Brad: You make your way to the town square where your small army is assembled. Each unit leader is handed a yellow banner with the symbol of a blazing sword emblazoned across it.

General Braggart: That's how I want to be remembered: on fire.

Rob: That's preferable compared to House of Hell.
Brad: You say that, but I know you're so up for giving that another bash this Hallowe'en. To the cheers of the citizens of Fang, you lead your army out through the East Gate towards an unknown and deadly foe. You have marched no more than two hundred yards when a fat, bearded man, huffing and puffing, runs up alongside you. He is dressed as a sea captain, although his uniform is dirty and crumpled, and his grubby hat is dented.

General Braggart: Ahoy, matey.
Captain: Begging your pardon, but would you listen to my offer? I have just docked my ship in Fang and found everybody full of excitement. It seems that you are the cause of it. They tell me that you are travelling East to fight some SDemon or something.
General Braggart: Slow down beardy, I never actually said I'd listen...
Captain: Well, I don't know about any Sdemons, but I'm willing to take you and your men on my ship as far as Zengis - for a small consideration, of course. Just think of all those miles you won't have to walk. Sail up the River Kok in Captain Barnock's good ship Flying Toucan!

Rob: Hehe...River kok...

Captain Barnock: And only fifty gold pieces am I asking for this luxury passage.

Brad: passage.

Captain Barnock: Now, that's a bargain is it not?

Rob: I’ll sail on the Flying Toucan. Although that's possibly the lamest name for a boat I've ever heard.
Brad: I'd never really noticed before, but you're right. The Flying Toucan is like calling something The Swimming Fish, or The Walking Person. Still, she'll do point eight past light speed. Following Captain Barnock, your lead your men down to the docks where the Flying Toucan is moored. It is an old ship and, like the captain, is in very poor condition.

Captain Barnock: Well, that was unnecessary.

Brad: But this hardly comes as a surprise to you, as nothing much of worth ever comes out of Port Blacksand.
Rob: That's why they call it "The Crap Port.". Among other reasons.
Brad: You tell your men to go aboard and pay Captain Barnock his fifty gold pieces. The captain shouts the order to set sail, and you watch the motley crew from the bridge as they haul on the ropes, climb the rigging and unfurl the sails. Within twenty minutes, Fang has faded from view as your river journey gets under way. Everybody is in high spirits and even the Dwarfs and Elves forget their differences and chat together, united in their desire to rid Allansia of the Shadow SDemon. At the bow you see a group of warriors leaning over the side of the ship, staring at the river. Suddenly, one of them points upriver and shouts:

Warrior: Look!
General Braggart: Okay!
Warrior: A barrel, floating towards us.
General Braggart: That's fucking anticlimactic!

Brad: Could have been worse. “Look! Water!”. You look over the side and see the large, sealed barrel bobbing in the waves.

General Braggart: Look! A seal...on the barrel. Let's get into a habit of mooching stuff, grab that barrel! Donkey Kong is close...

Brad: A bare-chested warrior dives ino the river and swims to the barrel. A rope is thrown to him, and he ties this round the barrel before being hauled up by the deckhands.

Warrior: Ow! My deckhands!
General Braggart: You've got two more! Stop whining!

Brad: With a buzz of excitement, the lid is prised off the barrel. But the contents are disappointing - the barrel is half filled with apples.
Rob: Only half?! Damn! Toss them overboard, they're probably poisoned or something.

Sir McSpindle: It's a good decision, sire. No good ever came of Vitamic C on a boat, anyway.

Brad: The barrel lands in the water with a splash and soon floats away and out of sight.

General Braggart: Hopefully that'll mean it'll be out of mind before too long as well.

Brad: As she rounds a bend in the river, the Flying Toucan suddenly comes under attack. A large fireball flies through the air towards you, hurled from a wooden catapult that is stationed on the south bank.
Brad: Under the covering fire, twenty River Raiders jump into their log canoes and paddle quickly over to the Flying Toucan. The fireball whistles by between the masts, and lands harmlessly in the river. Before the River Raiders close with your ship, another fireball is flung from the catapult.
Rob: Jesus, this game book reads more like my life than any of the others.
“You are attacked by unemployment.”
“Okay, I look for a job.”
“Kidney Infection! Fuck you!”
Brad: The fireball lands with a splash in the river, well short of the Flying Toucan.
Sir McSpindle: It's a good thing you're such a brave and intelligent leader.
General Braggart: Shut up, you're just a brain in a jar in my bag!
Sir McSpindle: Sire? I'm right here.
General Braggart: Not for long.
Brad: The River Raiders (Not to be confused with the Oakland Raiders) are obviously unaware of the number of soldiers on board your ship, otherwise they would not have attacked with only twenty men.
Rob: I wouldn't have any fear if it was the Oakland Raiders.
Brad: As they draw closer, no more fireballs are released by the catapult and you must decide what to do.
Rob: Let them come aboard...
Sir McSpindle: You have a plan?
General Braggart: These decks need a good swab with Raider blood! Let's show them how we, the New Allansian Patriots, do it!
Brad: McSpindle daubs an epic "12" on his breastplate.
General Braggart: Right, so you're the Quarterback. Let me slice off 75% of your spinal column.
Sir McSpindle: Did I offend you in some past, or future life?
General Braggart: What? It'll work. Madden says so.

Brad: You order your men to stand back from the sides of the boat so as not to scare off the River Raiders. There's that alliteration again. Grappling-hooks are thrown up from the canoes, and the Raiders begin to climb up the ropes, yelling and screaming. As they climb on deck, they are greeted by twenty Elvish archers with their arrows trained on them.
Sir McSpindle: Do those work as melee weapons?
General Braggart: Greetings, simpletons!

Brad: Ten are captured without a fight before the others realise what is happening and dive into the water to scramble back aboard their canoes. You offer the ten cut-throats the chance to serve in your army or face slavery under Captain Barnock. They have little choice and accept your offer immediately.
General Braggart: Thought you might.
Brad: You relieve their leader of a particularly fine shield and place it on your arm.
Rob: +1 Shield of Win!
**General Braggart has acquired +1 Shield of Win**
Brad: So, with some unexpected additions to your army, you instruct Captain Barnock to sail on. You sail on without incident for another hour when somebody spots a log floating downriver with a man lying across it, face down and motionless, his limbs trailing in the water.
Elf Chief Wheezy: Look, sir! Gollum!
General Braggart: Poor Mario...
Brad: Do you want to rescue the man, or sail on, blanking the log, and never speaking of it ever again?
Rob: Rescue the man!
Brad: A Warrior dives into the water and swims over to the log.
Cripps The Barbarian: He's dead. And there's an Orc knife sticking out of his stomach.
Sir McSpindle: Any sign of what killed him?
Cripps The Barbarian: There's also a gold key hanging from his neck on a piece of string. Shall I take it?
General Braggart: Yes. Take the key.
Brad: Cripps the Barbarian takes the key from around the dead man's neck before letting him drift on downriver to the sea and a watery grave.
Sir McSpindle: Nice.
Brad: Cripps the Barbarian them swims back to the ship and hands you the key.
Rob: Good man. Moochy Moochy.
Brad: Inscribed on the barrel you see the number "222". Making a mental note of the number, you slip the key inside your pocket and order Captain Barnock to sail on.
General Braggart: Airport locker. Gotta be.
Brad: A few miles further upriver, you come across a bearded man with ragged hair, standing on the north bank. He is dressed in animal furs and is waving his arms at you, gesturing for you to stop. Doesn't he review our wrestling DVDs?
Rob: I think he does. Hang on, I'll check.
General Braggart: Omer? Is that you?

Rob: Let’s sail over to him.
Brad: You sail to the north bank to find out what the ragged man wants. As you draw close, nine other men emerge from the bushes but do not raise their weapon.
Sir McSpindle: Clever girl...
General Braggar: Clever girl? You gay or something?
Brad: The one who waved to you drops his arms and shouts...
Rob: "Don't panic, I'm Islamic?"
Omer: Greetings, stranger. I and my fellow Northmen have heard of your noble quest and wish to join your army.
General Braggart: Will you accept payment in Heavyweight Title compilation DVDs?
Omer: For ten gold pieces a man, we will fight by your side to the death if duty calls.
Rob: How many of them are there?
Brad: Ten. That's a hundred gold coins, if you can't do the math.
Rob: Cheers. Let’s Hire them.
Brad: You pay Omer 100 gold pieces and give the order for him and his men to climb on board ship.
General Braggart: Wooo!
Brad: As you set sail once more, Omer walks over to you.
Omer: Would you allow me to bestow a gift upon you?"
Sir McSpindle: Oooooh! I'll get the thumbtacks.
General Braggart: Yeah, go on then.
Brad: Omer reaches inside his furs and pulls out a long, curved tooth, attached to a leather thong.
Omer: This is the tooth of a Yeti.
General Braggart: And...the thong?
Omer: If you wear it, you will never be attacked by Werewolves or any other Lycanthropes.
General Braggart: Fuck, are there nasty things in this place we're going?
Omer: It is my wish that you should have it, as you are prepared to die to save Allansia.
Brad: You let Omer place the tooth round your neck and them tell him as much as you know about the Shadow SDemon as you sail on Upriver.
**General Braggart acquired Sex Toy of Were-Warding**
Brad: Some time later, Captain Barnock walks over to you and says:
Captain Barnock: We'll soon be dropping anchor for the night.
Cripps the Barbarian: You mean this has been one day?
Captain Barnock: Would you and your men like to sleep here on the deck of my ship or would you prefer to find somewhere more comfortable on land?
General Braggart: Deck is fine.

Brad: Not long after midnight, something disturbs your sleep and you wake to see a bright moonlit sky. Barely moving your head, you look left and right and see a shadow moving near some barrels tied amidships. On the bridge there is no sign of the lookout and you immediately sense danger. Grabbing your sword, you tip-toe towards the barrels, crouched down. Something that glints in the moonlight is suddenly hurled at you without warning. A silver trident flies over your head and thuds into a mast behind you. A nimble figure then runs out from behind the barrels and dives over the side of the ship into the water, making the quietest of splashes. You look over the side, but see no head rise to the surface. Whoever or whatever attacked you must be an excellent underwater swimmer. You walk over to the barrels and see watery webbed prints on the deck. Perhaps those made by a fish man.
Rob: Fish fman.
Brad: By now many of your men are awake; none of them appears to have come to any harm, apart from the lookout who is nursing a sore head, having been attacked from behind by the midnight raider.
Sir McSpindle: I've never heard it called that before.
Brad: An extra man is put on watch whilst everybody else settles down to sleep again. Not long after dawn, Captain Barnock gives the order to set sail upriver. Two hours later, the tranquility of the river trip is suddenly disturbed by a shout from the crow's nest.
General Braggart: Crow!
Sailor: River Pirates! River Pirates!
General Braggart: Sharpen your shishkebabs boys!
Rob: Sorry, we're nautical aren't we?
General Braggart: Sharpen your shishkebabs, buoys!
Brad: Captain Barnock reaches for his telescopy and fumes and curses as he focuses on the ship coming downriver at full speed.
Rob: Telescopy? is that his nickname for it? Because if it is, it's a shit one.
Brad: It was a typo, but it was such an awesome one, I'm making it canon.
Rob: Good call.
Brad: He hands you the telescopy and you see the reason for his concern.
General Braggart: The lens cap is on, simpleton!
Brad: The pirate ship is of the type built by Northmen, exceptionally sturdy and with a huge iron ramming-spike protuding from the bow.

Omer: Yeah, you want to watch out for that.
General Braggart: Bollocks.
Brad: Double rows of oars extend from each side of the ship, giving added speed; the Flying Toucan is obviously no match for the pirate ship, which steers a ramming course. Captain Barnock starts to fluster, not knowing what to do.
Captain Barnock: G’yar. I be incompetent.
General Braggart: Oh good. Turn towards the northern bank! Let's hope they've not gone bust.
Sir McSpindle: What?
General Braggart: Never mind.
Brad: Captain Barnock has the Flying Toucan moored to the riverbank long before the pirate ship is upon it, and you order your men to jump ashore. Quickly you line up the Elven Archers along the bank and order them to be ready to fire on the command. When the pirate ship is close enough, you shout across to its captain, telling him not to ram the Flying Toucan as there is no treasure on board. If he wants treasure, he will have to come ashore and fight for it.
Sir McSpindle: I'm a hundred per cent positive I did not agree to this plan.


The A-Team follows the exciting and daring exploits of Hannibal Smith and his colorful team of former Special Forces soldiers who were set up for a crime they did not commit. Going ‘rogue,’ they utilize their unique talents – and eccentricities – to try and clear their names and find the true culprit.


Konami Digital Entertainment has announced details of the UK leg of Hideo Kojima & Yoji Shinkawa’s promotional tour for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker title for PSP.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker picks up where Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater for the PS2 leaves off, as players take control of the famed Naked Snake. Taking place in 1974, it features original game design, story and scenario by Kojima. Scheduled to launch June 18th 2010 in the UK, the game takes the series in an exciting new direction with its incredible visuals and its unique new game system designed specifically with the PSP system in mind.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is on both UMD and download formats, and Hideo Kojima & art director Mr. Shinkawa will be attending two very special signing events to celebrate its launch. On launch day itself, they will be signing exclusive inlays at HMV’s flagship store 360 Oxford Street, London W1 in. They will be signing from 4pm to 6pm.

On June 19th, Mr. Kojima & Yoji Shinkawa will be hosting a second signing at the UNIQLO store at 331 Oxford Street, London W1 from 11am to 1pm. He will joined by his long-term Art Director Yoji Shinkawa, and they will be signing copies of the game or a limited edition postcard, in honour of UNIQLO’s brand new, exclusive range of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker inspired T-shirts. UNIQLO will have the shirts on sale at the event, and each shirt comes with a code that, when entered into the new game, will unlock the item within Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.


  1. It is SO good to have McSpindle back... however briefly.

  2. I, too, have missed McSpindle. He lets me interact with the plot in ways that I can't when Rob's a solo adventurer.