Sunday 10 October 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 a 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 Clive & Ian Bailey gamebook Where the Shadows Stalk. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones.

Brad: You gaze in disbelief at the warrior's wand and at the sharp iron spike which your knobkerrie now sports at its top.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: It always points up in the morning, I'd ignore that.

Brad: Charles listens carefully as you describe your strange dream experience.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Well, it all started with being asleep, and then I wasn't asleep. I was under this tree...
Charles: Right.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: And this bloke, who looked like he could be a gladiator, told me 'stay under the tree', so I did, and the cunt almost got me trampled by a group of blokes on horses! To say I was displeased would be an understatement!
Charles: Indeed it would.
Lucy: Oh, my!
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Sorry, not a good time to reach in there, I'll wait.
Charles: I suppose you are certain that this spike did not grace your knobkerrie before?

Brad: Charles puts down your knobkerrie and studies the wand.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Fairly.
Charles: This artifact is made from ash and hazel wood and, as you can see, it has been inscribed with ancient runes. Translated, they declare:
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I saw those, but I don't speak Dutch.
Charles: "Cast Me Over Thine Enemies", or words to that effect.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: That's what Skeletor told me to do!
Charles: I should say that your dream was prophetic - and most helpful, for like Omer, no doubt the Merlin of legend, I too believe this valley is threatened by some dark terror.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Hey, you're pathe...oh, sorry, I misheard.
Charles: Let me show you the diary of George Cripps, who was engineer to the Bryn Coedwig Mining Company in the nineteenth century. He disappeared without a trace one day in the 1880s.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: George Cripps? I....uh...knew him?
Charles: So now you know as much as I.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I do indeed know as much as I. Didn't take long either.
Charles: Until tonight I had only this one tantalising clue to our recent experience.
Redshirt: "Tantalising" seems a surprisingly sexual word to use, given the context.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I like the word tantalising, for some reason I think of spiders.
Charles: Now, it seems, you have been chosen in an extraordinary way to be our champion.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I'd take that over a ladder match.
Charles: Omer urges you to stand against the "terror" which has been released by the "delvings of men".
Chemise-Rouge: You fear to go into those mines, don't you? The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in, the darkness of Khazad-dum. Shadow and flame.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Flamers eh? Probably goes along with my fabulous task.
Charles: Given this command and Cripps' account, I would suggest you begin your investigation in the abandoned mine in Quarry Valley.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Works for me.
Charles: It is connected to a series of natural caverns. Your first task must be to discover the nature of the terror that we face. But first, we must all get a good night's rest!

Brad: With these words, your old friend bids you goodnight and leads Lucy from the Study.

Redshirt: Why were you sleeping in the study anyway?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I wish I knew. Those books are uncomfortable as fuck.

Brad: You awake in the morning and find yourself refreshed. Charles and Lucy bring you your breakfast, instructions for reaching the mine and an arse
Rob: Superb.
Brad: nal of weapons. Charles hands you a shoulder-bag which contains a selection of Cripps' weapons.

**Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones acquired the Bag of Salt**
**Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones acquired the Bottle of Acid**
**Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones acquired three sticks of dynamite**

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: A bag of salt? And a bottle of acid? And he's dead you say? Unbelievable...

Brad: Charles also offers you his old service revolver saying:

Charles: Here is the twentieth century's answer to magic and mumbo jumbo!

**Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones acquired the Revolver**
**Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones acquired six revolver bullets**

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: That's more like it. Boom. Headshot.

Brad: Finally, as you are getting ready to leave, Lucy presses a small round object, wrapped in paper, into your hands.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: This had better be a phone number.

Brad: The road from the manor descends to the entrance of Quarry Valley. You pick your way over a tangle of railway lines, climb a flight of stone steps set into a bank and stepout upon a cinder track. The mine lies up the valley side to the north-east. As you hurry towards your destination, you examine the strange object which Lucy gave you.

Redshirt: I bet it's a foetus. In my experience, when that happens, it's usually an aborted foetus.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I dread to think...

Brad: The paper wrapper turns out to be instructions for the use of a Magical Talisman - a small clay tablet inscribed with a pentacle.
Rob: Which is inside right?
Brad: The book doesn't actually say that, but yes, it then makes reference to the Talisman that's now in your possession. Editing fail.
Rob: I was gonna say, otherwise those instructions are useless.
Brad: From the paper you gather that the tablet is useful against "all manner of magick, sorcery and devilment" when used in conjunction with a simple chant of "Mandala".

Redshirt: You're so lucky. I only get foeti.

Brad: With a sceptical shrug, you stow the object in your pocked.

** Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones acquires Magical Talisman**

Rob: I have to chant "Mandela"? Can I not just let out a breathy sigh in a South African accent?
Brad: Chant. Out loud.
The track leads to a great hole in the hillside, which swallows a railway line.
Rob: In front of me?! That must be awesome to watch!
Brad: The place seems deserted, but there is some evidence that the railway line has recently been used, for in places the rust of ages has been scored to reveal gleaming metal. You check your equipment and then advance to the tunnel's entrance. A chill wind plays upon your face.

Chemise-Rouge: Sorry.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Dude, see a doctor.

Brad: The tunnel descends into the ground at an alarming angle.

Redshirt: AAAAGH!
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Are you alarmed?
Redshirt: No. I just smelt Chemise-Rouge.

Brad: You are obliged to use the railway sleepers as steps.
Rob: What? Tramps?
Brad: A gloomy half-light envelops you and your breath begins to appear as a wraith of pale mist. After a while, the tunnel bottoms out and you find yourself standing in a low passageway. Here and there, the grey half-light is pricked by the glimmer of lamps hanging from the walls. You pause and listen. In the distance you can just detect a vague rumbling noise.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Is that you, Chemise-Rouge?

Brad: You hurry down the tunnel beside the railway line to the edge of a cavern. As you enter the cavern, the railway lines begin to vibrate.

Redshirt: Chemise-Rouge?

Brad: Something is coming along the tracks toward you. Extinguishing your electric torch, you dodge behind one of the massive slate-stacks that support the cavern's roof. Here you crouch to observe the black maw of the tunnel to the east. There is a rumbling commotion and a truck, loaded with pit-props, bursts into the cavern. It is pushed by two mendressed in dusty overalls.
Presumably, they are from the Bryn Coedwig Quarry.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Hmmmmm....overalls...

Brad: For a moment they pause and sniff the chill air.

Redshirt: Chemise-Rouge has doomed us all!

Brad: By the light of their lantern, you glimpse their eyes: frightful, inhuman, yellow orbs!

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: He must be eating a high-sulphur diet.
Chemise-Rouge: Sorry.

Rob: Let's leave them to their business...They may lead us somewhere interesting.
Brad: Puffing and wheezing, the man-things push their burden across the cavern and disappear along the tunnel to the west.
Rob: West...Interesting.
Brad: You remain crouched behind the tavern until their noise recedes, then dodge into the tunnel heading east.
Rob: East...More interesting.
Brad: The tunnel slopes downwardthrough a tangled mass of fresh pit-props. Ahead, you detect a glowing radiance and presently find yourself standing on the edge of an eerily lit cavern. The cavern is lit by a greenish glow, given off by a carpet of fungi.
Rob: They've arranged it into a carpet? That takes more dedication than I'd expect from the yellow-eyed. I explore the cavern. I know better than to trust bridges.
Brad: Where your footfall crush the fungi, pulses of sickly green light are released. The stuff crumbles beneath you and you feel yourself sinking. Another step and your foot disappears beneath the surface.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Bollocks.

Brad: Thick green slime wells up round your ankle. You try to pull your foot free but the stuff resists. A choking stench begins to rise from the slime.

Chemise-Rouge: ...
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Ok. Stay calm. Just think of quicksand, that's quite calming...Oh bloody hell dude, I'm going to cork you if we get out of here.

Brad: You manage to break free of the slime.
Rob: Did you just free me so you could DM that?
Brad: At last you wrench your foot free of the slime and stagger across the fungal carpet to the railway line. The railway line takes you out across the sea of fungi to the far side of the cavern. Here the line terminates before the opening to a circular tunnel. You scrambled over rocks and up to the tunnel mouth to peer inside. By the pale cavern light, you can see that the tunnel's walls glitter like glass.
Rob: Glitter's there? He's wanted most places isn't he?
Brad: You hoist yourself over the tunnel's lip and cautiously walk away from the cavern.
Rob: Pretty much everywhere except Ice cream vans.
Brad: This tunnel is quie unlike those you have recently followed.
Rob: Has it been filled in? That'd throw us.
Brad: Instead of rough-hewn walls, this place has been constructed with mathematical precision. Equally placed ribbed sections march away into the gloom.
Rob: Hang on then...Instead of walls, this tunnel is held up with precision?
Brad: Yes. Some fantastic heat appears to have been used to bore through the rock. You slip and slide as you proceed along this tunnel and your footfalls echo away into the distance.
Rob: Not "fabulous" heat?
Brad: You feel sure that, no matter how gingerly you proceed, your every step is being broadcast along this strange tunnel. Your fears are nout unfounded, for ahead you detect movement.

Redshirt: You still have the revolver, right?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Yeah, unless Chemise-Rouge has melted it with his lava anus.

Brad: A curious filmy thing is wafting along the tunnel towards you. At first, you imagine that you are watching a luminous globe but, as the thing advances, you realise that here is an imminent encounter with an alien horror and as it drawsnearer, your head begins to ache.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Voldemort...At last we meet again.

Rob: I stand and face the advancing creature!

Chemise-Rouge: You shall not pass!
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: What he said.


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