Friday 21 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!
Brad: Many days had been spent in silence, hoping and praying for the sounds of excavation or a voice on the radio link to the surface. But all that could be heard was the static crackle of the gamma radiation which was blanketing the earth. Uncle Jonas proposed that an attempt be made to reach the surface by tunnelling through the blocked central shaft.
Rob: He's not a very bright geologist, obviously.
Brad: It was an awesomely dangerous feat, to dig vertically through 300 feet of compressed concrete rubble and twisted steel girders, but there was no other way you could ever hope to escape from the mine. Progress was painfully slow but the work gave you all a sense of purpose, a reason to go on, even though you feared what could be awaiting you on the surface.
Rob: Some disgruntled Cafe workers no doubt.
Brad: Those years spent in the mine taught you invaluable lessons in survival. Uncle Jonas showed you how to refine gasoline from crude oil to keep the generators alive; to coax fresh water from porous rock; to manufacture spare parts in order to maintain vital machinery. Aunt Betty-Ann, who had at one time been a nurse and a high school teacher in Denton county, attended to your education and made sure that you stayed fit and healthy. Their love and support enabled you to grow during those dark days underground despite the enormous sense of loss you felt for your parents, brothers and sister. You vowed then that one day you would repay their kindness by protecting and caring for them.
You'd think just "getting a girlfriend and moving out" would mean more to them, though, right?
Rob: They've been underground a while, maybe they've seen him masturbate now.

Brad: It was early September in the year 2019 when finally you broke through to the surface. Aunt Betty-Ann was convinced that radiation levels would still be dangerously high, and at first she was against leaving the mine. Crazy old woman.
Rob: I know, right? Cut the umbilical cord, already!
Brad: But, during the last few months of your incarceration, the static that had always jammed the radio wavelengths had gradually cleared, and Uncle Jonas was able to persuade her that this meant it was now sage to live above ground. When you first emerged from the mine, you thought you were on the surface of another planet. Surely this could not be Earth?
Rob: I'd imagine it is.
Brad: Few structures had survived the blizzards and intense cold that had swept around the world in the years following The Day, and now, after the dust had settled and the sun returned, the once-fertile plains of Austin resembled little more than a desert of parched and broken rock littered with the artifacts of an absent civilisation.
Rob: Anything I can mooch?
Brad: During the first few days, when you set out to explore this wilderness, it was easy to believe that you were the only survivors. But on the morning of the fifth day, Uncle Jonas made a chance radio contact with a family called Ewell who were living near the ruins of McKinney, thirty miles north of Dallas. They told him that they had been in touch with a handful of other groups who had managed somehow to survive the holocaust. Most were isolated, unable to move due to lack of fuel, food or water. They had urged those who could travel to join them in McKinney, to start a new community, and some were already on their way.
Rob: He's going to be mental, wait and see.
Brad: Your uncle and aunt also accepted their invitation. Which they totally didn't ask you about, and you probably stamped up to your room.
Rob: How old am I at this point? Nineteen?
Brad: Nineteen or twenty, yeah.
Rob: And remind me, Blake would be thirty-three, right?
Brad: Yeah. McKinney was not very far from Denton, and they were curious to see if anything remained of their ranch. They planned to return home, salvage whatever they could that might be of use, and then move on to McKinney. The Ewells were enthusiastic, but they warned that not everyone who had survived wanted to establish a new community. The ruins of Dallas and Fort Worth were controlled by gangs of criminals who fought with each other and terrorised anyone seeking to re-establish law and order.
They advised you to avoid them at all costs when travelling north.
Rob: Meaning that in true Fallout fashion, I should go back there once I've got the good guns.

Brad: Interstate Freeway 35 was the only highway still intact amid the devastation that surrounded the mine.
Rob: Hooray, I can go down to Waco, and see my buddy Vernon!
Brad: It offered a direct route home to Denton, if only transportation could be found, for Uncle Jonas considered conditions far too dangerous to attempt such a long journey on foot. It took more than a week to discover a vehicle that was still serviceable. It was an old school bus, one that had survived the years of sub-zero blizzards. With a few new parts, a tankful of gas and a lot of hard work it was eventually brought back to life. Provisions, including a small generator, were hoisted out of the mine and stowed aboard before you began the journey back to the ranch.
The noisy old bus bumped along the rock-strewn freeway that stretched northward across an empty sea of dust. It was a harrowing sight.
Rob: The school bus of doom sounds like a harrowing sight.
Brad: Hardly a trace remained of what were once thriving communities, and the once-populous cities of Temple and Waco had barely enough buildings still standing to qualify as small towns. It was not until you reached the outskirts of Fort Worth that you encountered signs of human habitation.
Rob: Shit. This is the crazy bit.
Brad: The road ahead was blocked by a line of wrecked autos, and at your approach a group of hard-faced men and women, clad in composite costumes of leather and riveted steel, suddenly popped up from behind this barricade.

Rob: Raiders, eh?
Brad: Uncle Jonas was suspicious and slowed the bus almost to a halt. Suddenly they produced handguns and rifles and began to take aim at the windshield, and he knew it was not the time to stop to ask for directions! He told you and Aunt Betty-Ann to brace yourselves, then stamped his foot on the gas and drove the bus straight through the wall of cars, scattering the punks like ten-pins in a strike. The bus was shot at many times as it sped through Fort Worth, but the street gangs had been caught out and you managed to escape from the ruined city before they could give chase.
Rob: Raiders will always auto-attack, even if you've got negative Karma.
Brad: When you got to Denton you discovered that the ranch, like all the other nearby dwellings, had been reduced to a heap of broken bricks and shattered timbers. The sight greatly upset your aunt, and Uncle Jonas felt it better not to stop but to continue overland to McKinney. It was easy to find where the Ewells lived, for their ranch was the only place in town that was still standing. See, I would class that as suspicious.
Rob: Yeah, it is a bit isn't it?
Brad: It looked more like an old frontier post than a ranch, with its fortified perimeter wall, lookout posts and stake-filled moat. But, after your brush with the citizens of Fort Worth, it was easy to understand the need for these defences. "Pop" Ewell, the seventy-year-old grandfather of the Ewell family, was the leader of this small colony of survivors; it was he who had urged Uncle Jonas to join them when they had first made radio contact. The colony numbered less than a dozen at the time of your arrival, yet as the airwaves became clearer, soon this number had more than doubled to twenty-five.
Pop Ewell: That's technically more than doubling. I know my trade descriptions act.
Rob: I'd wager that like most people who claim to know the trade descriptions act, he has no fucking idea.
Brad: If you've ever worked in retail - even for an hour - you can own most people. With my fave still being "If it's labelled cheaper than it should be, they have to let you have it at that price!"
Rob: Yeah, that's a fun one.
"This Xbox is priced at £1.99..."
"Yeah, but the sticker's very obviously been tampered with. The clue is that it says Colgate Extra-Whitening."

Brad: It was decided that a name was needed to identify the settlement. The name "Dallas Colony One" was adopted - "DC1" for short - and from that day on everyone worked hard to make DC1 a secure haven for those seeking refuge from the hostile wastelands and marauding city gangs. "Cutter" Jacks was one such refugee. Before the holocaust he had been chief mechanic at the International Grand Prix Circuit near Lake Dallas, and his incredible skill and knowledge of engines was soon to prove invaluable to the colony. He taught you how to drive, and from a pile of old wrecks that you helped him salvage from the circuit he built you a powerful, customised car. You used it to patrol the highways north of the city, keeping a lookout for gangs of city punks who frequently mounted raids to steal of destroy DC1's supplies.
"Cutter" also taught you to shoot, and it was your prowess with a gun and your skill behind the wheel that was to earn you the begrudging respect of your enemies who took to calling you Freeway Warrior!
Rob: That was just backstory?
Brad: We're still on the backstory. I did warn you.
Rob: Fucking hell.
Brad: The whole adventure runs over four books, dude.
Rob: I wouldn't mind so much, but the problem with these books is that the first action I take could kill me.
Brad: When "Worst Case Scenario = Hilarious"...You can't moan, really.
Six months after you arrived at DC1, the colony was faced with a major crisis. A heat wave was causing a drought that threatened to destroy the food supply. Crops were failing and the colony's artesian well - its only source of uncontaminated water - was beginning to dry up. The drought was also provoking more attacks from the city punks who were desperate for food and water.
Rob: This sounds almost exactly like the plot to Fallout 2.
Brad: And Mad Max.
Rob: That too.
Brad: Their common need united them and they posed a very real threat to the security of DC1. It was the last day of May 2020 when Pop Ewell made radio contact with another colony who were based in the city of Big Spring, 300 miles west of McKinney.
Rob: Right, Tina Turner is going on then.
Brad: She does, yeah...

Rob: If we're playing through Mad Max, I'm doing so listening to Thunderdome.
Brad: I'm on Cannibal Corpse for no reason other than if you're going to listen to Death Metal, it might as well be the band that's best at it.
It appeared that their situation was completely the reverse of DC1's: they had plenty of food and water but they were desperately short of fuel. They told of their contact with the survivors in Tucson, Arizona, who were also without fuel. The Tucson colony reported that the territories west of the Sierra Nevada mountains had been spared the worst effects of the radioactive blizzards that had devastated the rest of the country and, miraculously, much of southern California was still widely populated. It had survived the last eight years virtually intact. When you heard the news you could hardly believe your ears.
Rob: Lucky bastards!
Brad: Perhaps your family were alive! You might be reunited after all! Pop Ewell called for a meeting to decide how best to deal with the crisis now facing DC1. Everyone agreed that to stay at McKinney would lead to eventual death, either slowly from starvation or suddenly at the hands of the murderous city gangs.
Rob: Totally.
Brad: The only option open to DC1 was to try to reach California: only there lay any real hope for the future of the colony. Your decision was relayed to the survivors at Big Spring and a deal was struck to rendezvous with them as soon as possible. DC1 would join up with the Tucson colony for the final journey to California. Preparations began almost immediately.
Rob: Sounds sensible, unless they're mental.
Brad: Morale was so high that a heady sense of adventure and optimism enveloped everyone. Few guessed just how fraught with danger the journey would be.
After a week of careful preparation, the colony is ready to begin the long trek to Big Spring. Three vehicles have been picked up to make the convoy: the school bus, your customised roadster...The BragWagon...and a gasoline tanker that was salvaged from an old drilling site nearby Greenville.
Brag: Heh. We should call this thing "KITT".
Cutter: Hah! This on-board computer is better than KITT, my boy! this is the Micro-Chip Single-Processor Intuitive Network/Driver Liaison Engine!
Brag: Hunh. So...what do I call it?
Cutter: I've found that it answers to "Douche".

Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone) directs and stars in The Town, available to own on DVD and an action-packed Blu-ray Triple Play (loaded with extended cut and extra features), on Monday 31st January.

Can’t wait that long...Then you can pre-order yourself a copy here

As he plans a job that could result in his gang’s biggest score ever, a long-time thief plans a way out of the life and the town while dodging the FBI agent looking to bring him and his bank-robbing crew down. In addition to heading an electrifying cast, Ben Affleck also directed and co-wrote this suspenseful, critically-acclaimed crime thriller that unfolds — and often explodes — across gritty Boston locations. Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlewaite and Chris Cooper also star.

To celebrate the release of The Town on DVD & Blu-ray, we’re giving you the chance to win a bumper stash of merchandise - the winner will receive a jacket, bag, t-shirt and coaster and five runners-up will receive a t-shirt and coaster each.

For your chance of winning just answer the following question…

Ben Affleck made his directorial debut with which film?

a. Good Will Hunting
b. Gone Baby Gone
c. Mystic River

For your chance of winning, send your answer, name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 28th January, making sure to put "The Town" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive the top prize, with five runners up receiving a t-shirt and coaster each!

Don't forget to put "The Town" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

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