Sunday, 31 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.

Rob: I fire the revolver!
Brad: Can you blast the creature before it attacked you? You draw your revolver, crouch and prepare to fire.
Rob: It already attacked me?....Well then, no...
Brad: But, just as you are about to squeeze the trigger, you feel a terrible itching sensation all over your body and, looking down, see that your body is covered in a mass of writhing insects! In fact, the whole quarry seethes with millions of bugs. Centipedes crawl over your gun, beetles stir in your hair and maggots squirm round your feet.
Rob: That'd be hilarious if one of the centipedes just plucked the gun out of my hand.
Brad: This must be some kind of terrible hallucination, willed upon you by the alien.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Uh-uh. I think not.

Brad: Spiders crawl upon your face as you will your revolver back on target. The gun bucks in your hand and instantly the crawling horrors disappear. How many rounds do you want to fire?
Rob: One. Just to start off.
Brad: As the alien hangs in the air, an incandescent blotch begins to grow on its body.
You are about to be attacked by an energy bolt! The alien fails to launch the bolt.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Haha, wanker!

Rob: Use the revolver again!
Brad: How many bullets do you want to fire?
Rob: Two. I've got an exponential attack pattern.
Brad: Both rounds hit.
Rob: Of course they do, I'm the tits!
Brad: The bullets rip into the alien's delicate body. A colourless liquid pours from the gaping wounds and the creature collapses in a heap, its tentacles feebly twitching. Now you can begin to guide the villagers from the quarry.
Rob: I unhitch the truck.
Brad: Turning to the villagers, you see that, though dazed, they have recovered their free will. Which is nice.
Rob: I always find I miss it when it's not there.
Brad: Running over, you urge them to flee the quarry before Charles' dynamite obsessed attack begins. Yet, even as you coax them to the slate truck, three great explosions rend the air.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Run, you crazy sons of bitches!

Brad: Your time has run out; the attack has begun! As the weaker villagers finish scrambling aboard the truck, you and two able-bodied men kick the slate from the wheels and push. Reluctantly, the truck begins to roll, but in a moment it is rumbling down the line to freedom. You grab the truck's side and hoist yourself aboard. As the truck rolls towards the quarry defile, the air is filled with the unceasing crackle of dynamite exploions.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Where's the snap and the pop?

Brad: Glancing over the steel side, you see the aliens and their mutant minions scurrying through the dust to cut off your escape. How will you deal with this new threat?
Rob: Christ...
Brad: You hope the truck has enough momentum to smash through the creatures. With each second, the truck gathers more speed. However, the mutants are already crouched beside the line and the alien's flanks are glowing with the tell-tale white patches that precede an energy-bolt attack. Yelling to the villagers to keep down, you duck behind the truck's side and await the impact. With a jolt, the truck rolls through the mutants.
Rob: Deep Impact?
Brad: Presumably with a sound like a golf ball. A gurgling scream rises from beneath the wheels, then a large explosion stuns you, and you find yourself lying amongst the villagers at the back of the truck. Looking back, you see the front of the truck has buckled in and is beginning to melt - an energy bolt must have hit it! One of the villagers gives a hoarse cry and, turning, you see a misshapen arm appearing over the truck's side!
Rob: A horse cry? A misshapen arm? What the fuck is going on? I get my knobkerrie out!
Brad: As the first mutant hauls himself over the side, you greet him with a crushing blow from your knobkerrie. Clutching his face, he falls backwards, dropping a heavy mattock into the truck. Whatever that is.
Rob: Isn't he a TV detective?
Brad: Just looked it up. It's a digging tool, apparently. You order one of the villagers to grab it...then something flops onto the floor behind you. Spinning round, you come face to face with a hideously deformed mutant.
The stench of rotting flesh fills your nostrils and, as you retch, the horror attacks. With a terrible hiss, the mutant swings his mattock at you.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Well, bitch. Taste my knobkerrie!

Brad: You duck and the mattock whistles over your head, smashing into a mutant scrambling into the truck on your right. Hissing with anger, the mutant starts to pull the mattock out of his accidental victim, who slumps to the floor.
Rob: Knobkerrie, away!
Brad: Raising your knobkerrie, you aim a vicious blow at the mutant's head. The mutant slips to one side, dodging your blow.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Prick!

Brad: The knobkerrie splinters on the rim of the truck!
Rob: Oh fucking hell.

***Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones has lost KNOBKERRIE***

Rob: Is the car still moving at this point?
Brad: With a terrible hiss, the mutant swings its mattock at you. The mattock rushes over your head and sinks into another mutant who is climbing on to the truck behind you. Hissing with anger, the mutant you are fighting starts to pull his mattock free.
Rob: Hit him!
Brad: You aim a two-handed blow against his head.
Rob: Why would you punch like that?
Brad: I do not know. Your blow smashes into the side of his head. With a terrible hiss, the mutant swings his mattock at you. You dodge.
Rob: Hit him again!
Brad: You throw another gay punch. You miss the mutant, who has slipped to one side and your blow crashes down on the side of the truck. You howl with agony. The mutant attacks you.
You dodge.
Rob: Hit. It.
Brad: You miss and punch the wall again. Maybe you should throw a grown up's punch?
Rob: Maybe I will.
Brad: He attacks you. The mattock crashes into your shoulder, numbing your whole body.
Rob: Bollocks, this is almost the end! Grapple that fucker! If i'm going down, he's coming with me.
Brad: As the mutant readies the mattock, you grab its haft and push the creature back against the truck's side, whilst at the same time attempting to wrest the weapon from his hands. Tearing the mattock from the mutant's hands, you deal him a crushing blow to the head.
Rob: Yeaaaaahhhhh!
Brad: The mutant's body goes limp and he falls to the floor.
Rob: I stomp on his nads.
Brad: Elated by this success, you turn to help the villagers, as the truck rolls out of the quarry. The truck has picked up a fair speed as you turn to witness the villagers pushing out the last mutant. Three villagers are wounded and four are dead but otherwise your plan has worked!

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I am so tired.

Brad: As you kneel to help the wounded, a terrific explosion rends the air.
Rob: Terrific!
Brad: Looking back to the quarry, you see clouds of smoke and steam boiling into the sky and a great gout of water spurts from the quarry defile, sweeping everything before it.
Charles' dynamite must have released the reservoir waters into the quarry! A painful wailing begins to fill the air and, through the smoke and steam, you spot a large dark object rising above the hill. The wailing rises in pitch, then the creature ship shoots into the sky!
But part of it falls away and the ship begins to tumble, careering across the valley until it crashes into the far mountainside and is buried beneath a massive landslide! You have witnessed the destruction of the creature-ship!

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Hooray!

Brad: After helping the wounded villagers to get out of the truck at Bryn Coedwig, you trudge warily back up Quarry Valley to view the scene of devastation. Walking between puddles of steaming water and piles of shattered rock, you spot something glinting at the base of one of the slag heaps. A quartz crystal perhaps?
Rob: Maybe...
Brad: You hand prises free a curious alien crystal in the shape of a prism. It glows with an inner light but, as soon as you stare into it, the light disappears. Charles and his party of villagers appear round the far end of the slag heap and an irresistible urge to hide the prism fills your mind. Pocketing it swiftly, you hail him, and head back to Bryn Coedwig, swapping stories.
Rob: I smell a sequel...

Charles: Well, I felt the plan was a complete success, with only two casualties.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: My two red-shirts?
Charles: Maybe...were...are you fond of them?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Define "fond".

Brad: You stay at Petrie-Heydrich's house for a further four days, helping the villagers and scouring the valleys for any sign of the aliens.
Rob: Helpful of me, I think.
Brad: On the fifth day you decide it is time you took your leave and in the morning you say your farewells to Petrie-Heydrich and Lucy. The postman's pony and trap take you to Corris, from where you catch a train to London. By the time you reach your house in Bedford Terrace, the evening is well advanced.
Rob: As in "clever"?
Brad: The housekeeper greets you at the door and, after a light dinner, you climb the stairs to your study. Once in the study, you open the window to let in some fresh air and then draw out the prism to look at it under the desk lamp. It is made of an opaque material rather like glass but you cannot scratch it with your letter knife and it has a disconcerting green tinge to it. It is in the shape of a pyramid and its four sides are all smooth and plain. The base sports a curious symbol, which is not engraved but somehow set inside the object.
The symbol is a stylised representation of a dragon curled round upon itself with its jaws devouring its own tail.
Rob: Shite. Ouroboros...
Brad: Hey, I'm impressed!
Rob: So those aliens I sent away were actually just Latin speakers?
Brad: Nothing else speaks of the object's origin or function, though you do notice that when it is placed directly in a light beam, it does not refract the light like an ordinary prism, but instead absorbs it. Whatever this object is, it is certainly not a prism. The only thing you have ever seen like it before are ancient Egyptian pyramidions on show in the British Museum.
Rob: This is a Kojima project, isn't it?
Brad: But those miniature pyramids are made of stone, not this strange glass or crystal, and their sides are usually decorated with hieroglyphics and drawings. Unable to deduce anything further, you put the strange artefact on your desk and, settling down in your favourite chair, begin to read the newspaper. Over the widowsill comes a gaunt hand, bearing curiously long talons.
They scrabble over the desk top and seize the pyramid prism. With a shout, you bound to the window and peer out. How could a thief have snatched the prism when you inhabit the second floor of the house?
Rob: He had long talons...He could have been freakishly tall as well.
Brad: As you stare out of the window, you see below the figure of a man - crawling down the wall. You shout again and the thief springs to the ground. For a brief instant a pale ugly face leers at you, then the gangling figure turns and lopes away into the night. Grabbing your coat from the back of the chair, you run for the door...

TO BE CONTINUED...NEXT HALLOWEEN...

Epilogue:

Omer: Hah! How superfluous was I?

Dickass DM will return on 12th November.

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