Friday 7 January 2011

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 Joe Dever gamebook Highway Holocaust. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!

Rise of global terrorism on an unprecedented scale. Political violence funded by organised crime syndicate called HAVOC - The Hijack, Assassination and Violent Opposition Consortium.
Experts suggest they may have come up with the cool acronym first.

The governments of many small and impoverished nations fall into the hands of HAVOC. International terrorists receive arms, training and shelter in these "Badlands".

2003 - 2008
Raids on oil and gas installations, assassinations, and the kidnapping of prominent world statesmen become commonplace as HAVOC attempt to terrorise the civilised world into submission. Despite public outrage and growing international tension, the major powers steadfastly refuse to give in to HAVOC's demands.

Brad: This is more accurate than anything Nostradamus has come up with.
Rob: So there's HAVOC, and the VOC, who I'm convinced were responsible for video ratings at one point.

President of the United States and General Secretary of Supreme Soviet both assassinated at emergency summit meeting. US, USSR and major European nations create the World Defence League and declare war on HAVOC. The Badlands are invaded, key HAVOC bases destroyed, and thousands of HAVOC agents are captured.

HAVOC leaders imprisoned for life in "Deep Pens" - maximum security gaols located deep underground - to prevent their escape or release by HAVOC agents still at large.

Rob: Deep pens hold more ink, I take it?

New leadership emerges to unify the scattered remnants of HAVOC and plan revenge.

A WDL train transporting seventeen 100-kiloton nuclear warheads, destined to be neutralised and dismantled, is attacked by HAVOC agents. The train is destroyed and its deadly cargo stolen.

Rob: Seventeen 100-kiloton warheads?! That's...seventeen thousand kilotons!

2012 - New Year's Day
HAVOC hijack a WDL news satellite and broadcast a chilling ultimatum.

Rob: "Cancel Hollyoaks or get the fuck blown out of you!"

HAVOC Leader: How are you gentlemen? All your base are belong to us. We have planted the seventeen stolen warheads in major cities throughout the US, USSR and Europe. We call for the immediate release of all HAVOC agents held in Deep Pens, plus the payment of $2 trillion in gold bullion, or we will trigger the warheads one by one until our demands are met in full. You have twenty-four hours. You have no chance to survive. Make your time. Hahahahaha!

Brad: Hunh. You know what's a scary thought?
Rob: What's that?
Brad: Well, the All Your Base Are Belong To Us thing is about ten years old a good chunk of our readers will be too young to get the reference.
Rob: Christ.

WDL leaders declare emergency and request that the deadline be extended. HAVOC refuse.
Rob: Those dastards!
2nd January 2012
First warhead detonated at Brie Nuclear Energy Plant, ten miles south of Paris, France.

Brad: I find it hard to imagine anyone would care.
Rob: If it didn't hit Paris, why would you?

Blast and radioactive fallout claim millions of lives.
Rob: "Fallout", you say?
Brad: Can you still see the screen over your erection?

HAVOC repeat their demand and extend deadline by twenty-four hours.
Rob: Wait, so they detonated and then extended it anyway?
Brad: They're doing them one by one every twenty four hours.

3rd January 2012
"The Day"
"Blake's 26th Birthday"

Rob: Timed coincidentally...

World Defence League agents discover location of HAVOC command headquarters on an island in the South Pacific Ocean. Immediately orders are given to infiltrate and destroy the HQ and its occupants. The assault is swift and decisive: the complex is quickly overrun and its inhabitants are killed.
Rob: Touche, WDL...

Yet, ironically, as the news of this victory is being related around the world, HAVOC enact their ultimate revenge. A transmitter hidden on the island, fitted with a time-delay mechanism, clicks on, sending its high-frequency radio signal to a communications satellite orbiting the earth. This signal is amplified and returned ot earth where, simultaneously, it triggers the remaining nuclear warheads. The initial explosions set off a disastrous chain reaction that feeds on civil and military nuclear installations all across the northern hemisphere. Hundreds of millions of people are killed within days, and many more perish during the years that follow, falling victim to the lingering radioactivity and the severe climatic changes that affect the earth.
Rob: Cheerful...
2012 - 2019
Blake ages from 26 to 33.
Brad: Let's not talk about how old I'll be.
Rob: Okay, you old bastard...

Gale force winds sweep across the world, carrying enormous amounts of dust into the upper atmosphere and preventing much sunlight from reaching the earth's surface. Temperatures plummet, deterring survivors from remaining above ground. Communications are disrupted by gamma radiation, making all radio, cable and satellite contact impossible. Small colonies of survivors develop into total isolation from one another during these years of darkness.
Rob: How do people Facebook?!

2019 - 2020
Gradually, the dust storms die down and the sun penetrates the atmosphere, thawing the earth's frozen surface. Radiation has decayed to tolerable levels, and survivors emerge to reclaim what little remains of the world they once knew.

Rob: Sounds like what I've spent a large portion of the day doing.
Brad: You are Brag Phoenix, a survivor, born on Thanksgiving in the year 2000.
Rob: What's the age gap between Blake and I?
Brad: Between Blake and Brag Phoenix, or Blake and Rob Wade?
Rob: Blake and Brag Phoenix. I already know the gap between me and Blake.
Brad: Well, Blake was born in '86, he's fourteen years older.
Rob: Okay. Would he be dead in this universe? That makes me sad.
Brad: We'll assume he's alive. Because there totally aren't enough E14 writers being written into Dickass DM recently. For fuck's sake...
When you cast your mind back to the time before The Day, you recall your two brothers and your sister, your parents house in California, and summer vacations spent cruising the blue Pacific off Catalina Island aboard your father's boat.
Rob: Yeah, I remember those days well...The whoosh of the walls, the roar of the floorboards...
Brad: They are your fondest memories, yet your most vivid recollections are of winter vacations, when the family would drive to Dallas to spend Christmas with Uncle Jonas and Aunt Betty-Ann. With names like that, I'm assuming that they're Creationists.
Rob: Ah yeah...those pricks.
Brad: Of all your Texan Christmases, the 2011 visit was the most memorable. It was also the last time you saw your family alive. Your parents had decided to cancel the trip to Dallas that year.
Rob: I bet they're kicking themselves.
Brad: The oil shortage had pushed up the price of gasoline to $30 a gallon, and only the rich could afford to drive long distances, even in cars equipped with solar-packs. You were so disappointed when you heard the news that you decided to walk the 1,300 miles to Dallas, and would have done so had your father not caught up with you three miles from home. Then, when Uncle Jonas and Aunt Betty-Ann got to hear of it, they fixed it with your parents so that you could at least spend Christmas with them at their ranch near Denton.
Rob: I like how stubborn my character is before the adventure even starts. Eleven years old, and my attitude is still "Fuck you, I'm walking it then".
Brad: He's a Braggart, all right.

From the moment they met your charter flight at Addison Airport you knew it was going to be a vacation to remember. Uncle Jonas was an oilman. And a Creationist.
Rob: So where did he believe the oil came from then, if not dinosaurs?
Brad: There's a question I'm gonna ask a Creationist, next time I meet one.
He had been one ever since he graduated from the University of Texas in '95 with a degree in geology. Earlier that summer he had been put in charge of construction at a shale-oil mine near Austin, the very fist of its kind in Texas, and as a special Christmas treat he promised to take you on a guided tour of the whole underground complex. Christmassy, no?
Rob: Yeah, sounds festive. I remember that time around Christmas, my dad took me around a building site.
Brad: You were lucky. Mine worked in an abattoir.
On New Year's Day 2012, the three of you started out early on the road to your uncle's mine, located on the Austin Chalk, over 200 miles, with an overnight stop in Waco. For, in an effort to conserve energy, the Federal government had imposed a speed restriction of fifteen miles per hour on all state highways.
Rob: I can't fault the logic there.
Brad: Say what you like, it's the sort of insane bat shit governments try and pass off as "logic".
"Low gears, everyone. Uses less fuel."
Rob: "Low equals less, we've got graphs!"
Brad: "We can put you in prison if you disagree, now."
It was a slow journey, and despite the sombre radio bulletins that gave news of HAVOC's latest threats, you can still remember your excitement at the thought of exploring those tunnels deep below the earth. Your arrival at the mine was met by a military patrol, posted there by the World Defence League.
Rob: Of course, mines are the first places people raid.
"I need bauxite!"
Brad: The job of the patrol was to prevent sabotage; oil installations all over the world had become one of HAVOC's primary targets in their campaign of terror. The mine was officially closed for the New Year's recess but Uncle Jonas had right of access at all times and, after checking his papers, the patrol allowed you in. It was a massive complex and, for security reasons, it was totally self-supporting. A central shaft serviced the many working levels to which there were attached laboratories, workshops and even refineries for processing the precious crude oil after it had been extracted from the rock.
Rob: Hehehehe...Central shaft services...

Brad: Uncle Jonas was explaining the function of these refineries, 300 feet below the surface, when it happened. The ground shuddered when the shock waves from the first distant explosions reached the mine, and you remember thinking that it must be the start of an earthquake, the like of which you had experienced many times at home in California.
Rob: "Can't we talk about this on the surface?"
"Nope, you need to really be underground to understand it. You'll thank me one day."
"You're a jammy fuck, Uncle Jonas."
Brad: But as the levels nearest the surface began to collapse and the central shaft filled with falling rubble, you realised the awful truth. The unthinkable had happened.

Uncle Jonas: Not the dinosaurs!

Brad: At first there was no way of telling the extent of the surface devastation. Below ground, the safety generators had automatically switched into operation when the main power supply failed, and the tremors faded quickly, encouraging your aunt and uncle to believe that the damage above was superficial.
"Superficial" is one of those words that bugs me. What's "ficial"?
Can you get "subficial" damage?
Rob: I misread that as "Superfacial" and thought it was a movie I saw recently.
Wait, is the Aunt underneath as well? She's not been mentioned once before now has she?
Brad: Yes. "On New Year's Day 2012, the three of you started out early on the road to your uncle's mine, located on the Austin Chalk, over 200 miles, with an overnight stop in Waco."
Rob: Yeah, but it doesn't say that she's gone under with us. I assumed she was in the cafe.
Brad: Uncle Jonas was confident that the military would mount...

Aunt Betty-Ann: Wa-hey!

Brad: ...a rescue operation and that you would be brought out within a few days - a week at the most. Aunt Betty Ann was also optimistic. After all, there were emergency supplies, enough to feed 200 men for a whole month. Little did she know that the three of you would end up consuming all of those supplies, or that the mine would become your home, your shelter and your prison for the next eight years of your lives. It was a month after The Day when the three of you accepted that there would never be a rescue operation.
Rob: Who did I eat first?


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