Friday 10 December 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 is GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Robin Waterfield gamebook Phantoms of Fear. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Braggolas.

Brad: When you are about halfway across the creek, you have one of the most ghastly experiences of your life. You feel something cold slithering inside your clothing and fastening itself to your stomach.

Braggolas: When you said "water soluble", did you mean "touchy-feely"?

Brad: You involuntarily scream in horror, and your fear is increased by not having the faintest idea what manner of creature has attached itself to you. The time it takes you to wade to the north side of the creek - since there is little you can do when impeded by the water and you want to get out - seems to take forever.

McSpindle: *strumming lute*
He carried his brave minstrel
Across the roiling tide
Whilst Cthulhu's penis
Slithered up inside.
Braggolas: Shut up! Now is not the time!

Brad: As soon as you reach the bank, you rip open your shirt and see not one but several Khulian Lampreys clinging with their suckers on to your flesh. These carnivorous creatures live both in water and on land. Now that the initial shock is over, you can feel the pain as the concerted effort of all their powerful suckers begins to tear your flesh.

McSpindle: Pussy.

Rob: I flick water at him.

McSpindle: Stop it.

Brad: You must act quickly: you have already lost two stamina points. Your only chance is to cast a Weaken spell, and you will then be able to pluck them from your body.
Rob: I do it!

Braggolas: Ha. Fuckers.

Brad: Night is drawing in, and after your recent horrific experience you feel like resting anyway. You make camp in the boughs of an ancient tree, since you feel safer off the ground, away from marauding creatures of the night.
Rob: Probably wise, I did get the fuck sucked out of me.

McSpindle: I'll compose a song about that.
Braggolas: Knock yourself out.
McSpindle: Oh, he sucked and he fucked all night long...

Brad: With your mind firmly set on your quest, and praying to your gods for guidance, you allow yourself to settle into a deep dreaming state.
All at once you find yourself on a vast open plain and you know, in your dream, that it has taken you measureless years to reach this spot.
Rob: Wait, am I still dreaming?
Brad: What do you think?
Rob: I guess so.
Brad: The terrain is desert and stretches without features to the horizon in all directions.
Rob: I wait around.
Brad: For a while, nothing happens. Then you see the most bizarre and unrealistic series of images.
Rob: The trailer for The Matrix?
Brad: You are standing in the middle of a sort of ravine, whose sides are made out of...well, you suppose they are buildings of some sort, since many weirdly dressed humans are coming and going through the doors. But you cannot even begin to guess what stone the buildings are made of; they are filled with unnatural lights as well, but the worst thing is that they tower to the sky and threaten to fall on everyone's heads. You shout to the strange people to run, but it soon becomes clear that they can neither see nor hear you. You can see, but cannot hear; you are surrounded by rush...
Rob: Awesome.
Brad: ...but it all takes place in eerie silence. Then a new horror becomes apparent. The smooth path you are standing on is suddenly filled by dozens of monsters.
Rob: That was fast. I guess that explains the "sudden".
Brad: They are made of metal and glass, it seems, and move at a terrifying speed. Each of them has at least one of the humans in it, who are obviously prisoners, and often have grim, tortured expressions on their faces.
Rob: I would, too, I imagine.
Brad: You wake up from this nightmare: you can bear no more of it.
Rob: There are bears too?!
Brad: Is this some other world altogether, or is this to be the future of Titan? Is the earth to be controlled by metal monsters, with humans for slaves? And where were the Elves, Dwarfs and other races?
Rob: Game of Blood Bowl elsewhere?
Brad: You find tears springing to your eyes in fear for your race, for you know that no Elf could live in such a place.

McSpindle: Poof.

Brad: But now you are awake, you must get on with your mission. You take stock of your situation. When you think back over the last part of yesterday, it occurs to you that you noticed no increase in the strange behaviour of the forest animals while you travelled north.
Rob: Got that to look forward to then.
Brad: This makes you think that, while you may be no further away from Ishtra's pit, which is causing their disturbance, you are probably no closer either. Lake Nekros still lies to the east, so you must choose between heading west, or south-west.

McSpindle: *strumming lute*
Modern Elven Warrior
Mean mean stride
Today's Braggolas
No sense of direction...
Doesn't quite scan...
Braggolas: Arse.
McSpindle: "No sense of arse"?
Braggolas: Yeah, why not?

Rob: Let's go west.
Brad: As you journey west, you keep meeting impassable thickets blocking your way.
Rob: Stupid people?
Brad: You have to zig-zag to keep heading in the right direction, and you reckon that you are walking about three kilometres for every kilometre of westward progress you make. Eventually, you get fed up with this delay, and you start to hack your way through the thick people with your sword. This is all right for the first couple of thickets, but you are less fortunate with the third. Your hacking disturbs the spores of an Itching Power Plant. The tiny spores get everywhere inside your clothing, and the irritation they cause is extremely distracting.

Braggolas: Buggery.
McSpindle: I am so glad I came along for this.

Brad: You decide to return to your former zig-zag route to avoid any further such dangers. Now your progress is slowed even more by your frequent need to stop and scratch!
Rob: I get that a lot anyway.
Brad: You should probably get that looked at.

McSpindle: *strumming lute*
Oh, he scratched and he bitched
And he swore and he itched
And we prayed to the Goddess Clarityn...
Braggolas: I am going to ram that lute up your arse!

Brad: The only compensation - if it can be called that - for your slow progress during the day is that you are unable to sleep all night, because of the itching, so you can press on with your journey. The further west you travel, the more you notice that the wildlife of the forest is wary of intrusion - even that of a Wood Elf, who is normally considered to be just another denizen of the forest. This gives you confidence that you are heading in the right direction.
Rob: Or that I've pissed off the forest...
Brad: The cautiousness of the animals, however, brings its own dangers, since they are more likely to attack any intruders. Sure enough, round about dawn, you are set upon by a couple of Sciacalls, whose lair you stumble into.
Rob: Roundabout dawn? What happens there? Does the sunrise spin until you're sick? What are Sciacalls anyway? They sound like nerve disorders.
Brad: These creatures resemble jackals, but have a ridge of bony projections down their spine. As is usual with their kind, the female attacks first, to try to supply her mate with meat...

McSpindle: Wa-hey!

Brad: ...but if you defeat the female, you will find that the male is perfectly capable of fighting for himself.

Running Combat
The female Sciacall approaches.
I go and get my dice bag...because someone has moved it.
Not naming any names.

Rob: Oh she di'nt!

You shove McSpindle's lute up its arse.
And adjust the tuning.

McSpindle: Floyd-Rose, Bitch!

Rob: Oooh, those are tricky.

You fiddle its expenses.
The Female Sciacall is defeated.
The Male Sciacall approaches.
It whomps you on the wang.

Braggolas: Just because you have no use for yours...

You wang it on the whomp.

McSpindle: What the...?

You tell it the ending to every M. Night Shymalan movie.

Braggolas: Underwhelming!

You play Pendulum's riff.
That one.
The only one.
Male Sciacall is defeated.

Rob: I hate Pendulum, I must really hate this Sciatica.

McSpindle: My lute is covered in faeces...
Braggolas: Be thankful I retrieved it at all.

Brad: It seems that the route you have chosen is beset with dangers. Later in the morning, you meet a Weevil Man, returning home from hunting.

McSpindle: A Weevil Man? Pfft...makes more sense than that Vampire Weasel.
Braggolas: Or Zombie carrot.

Brad: Weevil Men are mutants which are so misshapen as to resemble a cross between a beetle and a human. They have tough natural armour on their backs and tend to drop onto all fours to protect themselves.

McSpindle: Pussies. I squirt blood from my eyes as a defence.
Braggolas: That's a defence?! I suppose it depends on how much you squirt, if you squirt out five pints you're in trouble.

Brad: They were driven long ago from civilised society and the few remaining members of their species dwell in the hidden places of the world - such as deep in Affen Forest!
Rob: Where we are! Presumably...
Brad: Yes. As survivors in the hard world of Titan, they are far from cowardly fighters. This one drops the pack he is carrying and comes warily towards you, swinging a hatchet in a menacing way. You have time to cast a spell, if you want.
Rob: Cast! Weaken!
Brad: Your spell weakens the Weevil Man, but he still closes into full combat.

McSpindle: I'll provide ambience.

Running Combat
McSpindle plays the Final Fantasy battle music on his lute.

Rob: That's impressive going...

The Weevil Man shuffles warily towards you.

Rob: This sounds like a Pink Floyd song...

The Weevil Man is careful with that axe.
You spray him with pesticide.
You make him watch two Police Academy movies.

Rob: Which ones? That will clarify my rage.
Brad: I can't tell them apart.

McSpindle hits him.

Braggolas: Dude, I've got this.

Weevil Man is defeated.

McSpindle: Great Gig in the Sky, Bitch!

Brad: Did you want to take the Weevil Man's hatchet?
Rob: Yeah, why not?

***Braggolas has acquired Weevil Man's Hatchet***

Brad: You also look through his pack, to see if you can replenish your Provisions, but the crawling, maggoty contents make your stomach heave.

McSpindle: It's only Marmite...

Brad: By noon, you are starting to climb into a range of hills. In your weakened state, you find the climb very tiring.
Rob: Four Stamina points dropped? Is McSpindle jabbing me in the back of the head as we go along?

McSpindle: Sorry.
Braggolas: You will be, let me see that lute...

Brad: You make it to the top, and sit down to survey the scene below. The hill descends gently into a valley, where all seems to be peace and harmony. The trees there still seem to be clothed in spring green. But this fresh copse ends with shocking abruptness in terrain which is unlike anything you have seen before, awake or in your worst nightmare.
You realise that you are looking out over the blighted part of the forest, which your dream revealed to you.

Braggolas: Shit.

Brad: It is considerably larger than you thought it would be: it stretches for kilometers.

Braggolas: And here's me using Imperial measurements like an idiot!

Brad: Empathy knows no distances, and as a Wood Elf you can feel the pain of the suffering forest, even though you are still some way from it.

McSpindle: Hey, I was just...Gah! What the fuck is all this?


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