Friday 4 February 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: Cutter and your uncle have rigged up a square canvas canopy to hide the tanker's tell-talk cylindrical body, which now holds over 5,000 gallons of petroleum, syphoned from the underground storage tanks at the Ewell ranch. In this fuel-starved world, gasolene is the most valuable of all commodities.
Brag: All the same, I'm driving in another lane.
Brad: If the city gangs were to discover that DC1 were transporting such a precious load they would stop at nothing to capture it. Most of the colony will be travelling aboard the bus, which will be driven by your uncle. Cutter will drive the tanker and you, acting as scout, will drive The BragWagon at the head of the convoy. With the bus full of passengers, luggage is limited to essential supplies only; everything else will be destroyed before leaving McKinney.
At dawn, on the day before the convoy is to set off, a thorough check is made of the vehicles and provisions. There is enough food and water to reach your destination but, apart from your personal weapons, the colony has very few firearms with which to defend itself.
Brag: Am I to understand I'm to shoot everyone?
MCSPINDLE: Of course, there are those who would argue that limiting the number of firearms around a petrol tanker would be a good thing.
Brad: Long Jake Bannerman, a former roustabout from Gainsville, has volunteered to drive north and search for weapons and ammunition. His brother once owned a hardware store in Sherman and kept his stock of sporting guns locked in the basement.

Brag: So why do they call him Long Jake?
Cutter: He's of average height, but there's another Jake Bannerman in the group, and it seemed unfair to refer to that one as "Short" Jake Bannerman.
Brag: Actually, that makes a surprising amount of sense.
Brad: Although they may have to be dug out there is a good chance that they have survived intact. Everyone agress that it is worth a try, and so Jake, equipped with a CB Radio, a shovel and a rusty revolver, sets out for Sherman in his beat-up old truck.
Rob: Why does he refer to them as sporting guns? Is there a ruthless variety that'll shoot for legs and stuff? Ahhh, seeee? He took a radio! That's one of my item choices validated already.
Brad: Two hours later he radios a message from Sherman.
Bannerman: [on radio] I found the rifles and the ammunition, but my truck broke down and I'm stranded in the town. I found a survivor...a teenage girl...we need you to pick us up ASAP.
Brag: Rail her!...Wait, is she 18?
Uncle Jonas: [to radio] Sit tight and wait for us to arrive. [to Brag, wryly] Trust Jake to go and maroon himself with a girl! Brag, you better git your body up to Sherman and haul 'em back here. An' no messin' with street punks on the way, y'hear!
Brag: Sure thing...Actually, I'll be honest and say that I have no idea what you just said.

Brad: You slide behind the week of The BragWagon and fire up its throaty V-8 engine. Then, with a farewell wave, you power the car out of McKinney and speed northwards to Sherman along what remains of Highway 75. The road stretches before you, empty and silent, shimmering beneath the early morning sun. With the temperature already in the mid-nineties, you are grateful for the cool breeze that whips through your hair as you speed across the barren flats.
Brag: Wait, that's not breeze...That's foreboding...
Brad: The tracks made by Long Jake's tyres are still fresh in the dust that blankets the highway, and you trail them all the way to the outskirts of Sherman, where you discover his pick-up abandoned near an old gas-station. A line of footprints disappears towards the centre of the town, and, as you follow them along the main street, you catch sight of Long Jake, a rifle in his hand, waving at you from the doorway of his brother's store. Behind him stands a girl.
Rob: Waving in what sort of way?
Brad: She looks eighteen, maybe younger.
There's a sentence that's haunted me more times than I care to remember.
Judging by the state of her clothing she must have been through a pretty rough time.

MCSPINDLE:, I guess not.
Brad: You bring The BragWagon to a halt in front of the store and, nervously, Long Jake motions you to enter.
Long Jake: Quick, Brag! Get over here!
Brag: Sure...?
Brad: You are barely out of the driving seat when a burst of machine-gun fire rings out across the street. Bullets hit the ground near your feet and a number of holes appear, stitched in a jagged row across the trunk of The BragWagon.
Brad: Dear readers, something you may not be aware of. Rob and I have been writing this for nearly five hours now and...
Rob: I dive to the ground and take cover.
Brad: Cowardice FTW.
Rob: Sod's law dictates that they'd blow out my petrol tank or something.
Brad: You throw yourself down, your hand reaching automatically for a weapon even as you hit the ground. Then you roll over and over towards The BragWagon and take cover behind the engine compartment.
MCSPINDLE: Safest place in a firefight, eh?
Brad: Now the street is silent once more. With the blood pounding in your ears you force yourself to listen for a sound that will betray the whereabouts of your hidden attacker.
Long Jake: He's in the drugstore!
Brad: Long Jake's voice draws another burst of gunfire from the building directly opposite. An eerie silence is broken by Long Jake, who shouts out:
Long Jake: 'Taint over yet, Brag. There's more of them damn peckerwoods hidin' our there somewhere!
Brag: I realise that, but I'm hoping they're going to run out of ammo!
Brad: As if to prove his point, two single shots ring out, almost simultaneously, and ricochet off the storehouse wall.

Long Jake: Watch your sides! Don't let 'em circle you.
Brag: Argh! My sides?!
Brad: You sense someone, or something, moving among the ruined shops away to your right. They are trying to get into a position where they will have a clear shot at you. If you are to survive this ambush you had better find somewhere less exposed.
Rob: I make a dash for the store.
Brad: With your pulse racing you jump to your feet and spring, head down, towards the darkened doorway. The moment you break cover, gunfire erupts from all sides. In the hope of making yourself a difficult target you zig-zag towards the door, but you manoeuvre is anticipated and a stream of bullets tears up the ground ahead, dangerously close. Long Jake shouts encouragement, and you are within a few feet of the doorway when a sharp burning sensation lances your right forearm.
Brag: Argh! My chlamydia is acting up!
Brad: Gritting your teeth against the sudden pain of your wound, you force yourself forwards and fall headlong through the doorway. The instant you set foot in the store, two hands reach out of the darkness, grab you by the jacket lapels and pull you away from the doorway. Immediately, there is a long burst of fire and a hail of bullets scythes the air where you were standing only moments before.
Brag: Bollocks.
Long Jake: These ain't no ordinary punks. [peering cautiously over the window-frame] They're scouts for a Yankee gang that's headin' this way, looking to take over. They're a mite anxious to get their hands of her, too. [nods towards the girl]
Brad: The girl is crouching behind the store counter, her eyes wide with fright.
Brag: Meh, she's ok, but nothing to write home about...Wait...if she's not hot....why do they want her?
Brad: Before Long Jake can reply, there is a flash and a deafening explosion. The store's rear door is blown inwards and a searing wave of hear and flying debris knocks you off your feet. Stunned by the blast, you rise unsteadily and reach for a weapon. A grey shape fills the rear entrance, its outline fuzzy in the smoke and dust that hovers there.
Brag: *gasp* Boring Man!

Brad: Then the shape draws into focus and you see the silhouette of a man, lean and sinewy, his thin mouth set in cruel sneer.
Long Jake: Look out!
Brag: I am!
Brad: The figure leaps through the doorway, a shogun held before him ready to fire! You lift your gun and squeeze the trigger, trusting your aim to instinct alone. At the same time, the double weapon flash of your enemy's weapon lights up the gloomy interior, making you cry out in anticipation of being caught by its deadly blast. But luck is with you. The shotgun spits its cloud of lead way to your right and you survive unscathed.
Rob: That's a bloody good trick.
Brad: Your enemy is not so lucky. Your gunfire hits him squarely in the chest, killing him instantly.
Brag: Quality over quantity, mate! [to Long Jake] Feel free to step in anytime, you lengthy bastard!
Brad: You catch sight of Long Jake lying on the floor, unmoving, his chest wet with blood.
Brag: Bollocks. Well, now I feel terrible.
Brad: You reach for a Medi-kit and rush to his side, but it is too late; he caught the worst of the shotgun blast and nothing can be done to help him now.
Girl: Watch the street!
Brad: The girl moves forward to search the body of Long Jake's killer.
Brag: What's it doing?
Girl: This dude you've waster has some real mean kin. They'll soon get to wonderin' what's hap'ning in here and'll come to check us out.
Brag: Right...slow down. What the fuck is happening in your mouth?
Brad: She pockets some cartridges (Master System, I'm assuming), snatches up the killer's shotgun, and hurriedly reloads it as she moves towards the door. From out of the ruins opposite step three punks armed with pistols. Slowly they advance, their movements stiff with caution.
Brag: Guys, your stiffness is wasted. Average. I'd probably still hit that, but I'd be loathe to tell anyone.
Brad: By "punks", I'm assuming they mean Mad Max/Necromunda looking things, and not the spotty, ginger, Mad Caddies t-shirt wearing things that hang around all-ages venues.

Girl: Make a run for the car. I'll cover you.
MCSPINDLE: I have a name, you know!
Brad: You nod in agreement and take a deep reath before launching yourself out of the doorway. The punks stop and shoot wildly at your moving form, but their nerve deserts them when the girl opens fire, and they soon melt away into the ruins. You reach The BragWagon, start the engine, then beckon to the girl to follow. The moment she is safely aboard, you drop the clutch and stamp your foot on the gas pedal.
Rob: Do I signal?
MCSPINDLE: Do you ever?
Brag: Quiet, you!
Brad: The engine roards and the back wheels spin, sending up great clouds of dust and loose stones, but the car does not move forwards. Panic knots your stomach as you feel the rear end snaking sideways - you are losing control.
Rob: I'm fucking stuck, aren't I?
Brad: Then the tyres grip the road and you are thrown back in your seat as you screech away, accelerating like a rocket along the main street that leads out of Sherman.
MCSPINDLE: You guys ever see Tremors?
Brag: Don't be


Terrified teens, haunted classrooms, wayward witches and dead cheerleaders…welcome to B-movie heaven as the Horror Channel kicks off its high school horror season with the camp comedy horror Return to Horror High which marks the movie debut of George Clooney as an ambitious but unrated actor.

He lasts thirteen minutes before meeting an unsavoury ending...

In 1982, the town of Crippen was rocked by a series of murders at Crippen high School. The killer was never caught. Now, several years later, a production company are in town to make a movie about the murders. However, it seems the killer is still there, and the cast and crew are beginning to disappear...

Return to Horror High is cheesey, over the top and campy – and it knows it! If you like your horror movies self-aware, with a dash or toilet humour and a few buckets of blood, then you could certainly do a lot worse than this, when it makes its network premiere on Horror Channel tomorrow night.

Incidentally, where the hell was something like the Horror Channel when I was a kid? The best we could ever hope for was Xtro 2 on Bravo or the Sci-Fi Channel (back before it was called “SyFy”). If I’d had the horror channel when I was a teenager, I doubt I’d ever have left the house.

Return to Horror High is miles ahead of the usual petrol station bargain bucket trash that Horror Channel is known for showing. It’s funny, it’s clever, and it’s actually really well directed and put together, too. Also, it has exploding breasts within the first eighteen minutes.

The murder scenes are of the Final Destination, ridiculously convulted variety, and sometime it’s funny because you know what’s coming...but it’s the getting there that is the fun part. They’re like bad jokes that someone thought of the punchline to first and then has to come up with a ridiculously long and vaguely surreal feedline to get it to work.

A bit like the first five minutes of Casualty, I guess.

If you’re back from the pub a little early this Saturday, then stick this on. It’s the sort of movie that works well with a group of friends to laugh with, be grossed out with, and take the piss out of the ridiculous hairdos with.

Return to Horror High is on the Horror Channel, Saturday 5th February at 22:55 (Sky 319/Virgin 149/Freesat 148).


HarperCollins has created a free widget for teens to download and receive exclusive instalments of a digi-tale called...How to Make any Twit Fall in Love with You written by bestselling 'Queen of Teen’ author and this year’s Roald Dahl Funny Prize winner, Louise Rennison. The widget can be embedded on to Facebook and enables participants to read and share a new written webisode every day for 10 days. Fans of Rennison, whose books have sold over 2.3m copies in the UK alone, will also be able to follow and discuss the latest instalments on Twitter.

The teen World Book Day website,, will host exclusive content for teens with free videos featuring interviews, readings, trailers and talks, as well as games to play, free downloads, event listings and a ‘what to read’ guide. Specially designed ‘interactivities’ on the standalone site will appear and offer desirable prizes from iPads to online publishing opportunities, as well as the chance for teens to talk to each other and share their opinions.

Thanks to our friends at Harpercollins, we've got three copies of Louise Rennison's latest book Withering Tights to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 11th February, making sure to put "Withering Tights" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy each!

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

Withering Tights is available now, priced £5.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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