Friday 18 March 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: Hammer wipes the sweat from his brow.
MCSPINDLE: (to Brag)'s Hammer time.
Brag: ...Fucking hell...
Hammer: If we smash a rad or rip a tyre, we can kiss goodbye to our hopes o' seein' Big Spring.
Cutter: True enough.
Brag: A rad..?
MCSPINDLE: Yeah, it's short for...
Brag: ...
Brag: ...
Brag: ...
MCSPINDLE: I got "radiator". Anyone got better than that?
Brag: I guess it could be that... But surely if you smash the radiator, you've written off the entire car...
Cutter: But I've got an idea that'll give us a better-than-evens chance o' cuttin' through without a scratch.
Brag: Yup...
Brad: Cutter points to the side of the highway, where a length of crash barrier lies curled and twisted like a petrified metal snake.
It's a well known similie.
Cutter: We could rig that piece to the front of the bus...

Brad: He indicates a v-shaped section, shorter than the rest.
Cutter: And use it like one o' those ol' fashioed batterin' rams. It'll protect the engine an' wheels an' pack one heck of a punch.
MCSPINDLE: One heck is about 1/20th of a bastard, if we're talking Newtonian Profanity psi.
Rob: I would love to see you write that chart.
Brad: Uncle Jonas looks sideways at Cutter, his eyes narrowed, his face drawn and serious. Then his expression softens and he starts to laugh.
Uncle Jonas: Why, you sly old son of a gun. Trust you to figure out a way.
Brag: Yeah, you ain't not no sucker boy!
MCSPINDLE: Yeah, guess someone must have told them about your little manouevre at the Battle of Tanaab.
Brad: Fifteen minutes later, the barrier is firmly roped and braced to the front of the bus.
MCSPINDLE: There is no way that this can go crashingly, burningdeathingly wrong.
Brag: Yeah, and hopefully there'll be no murder. I'm looking at you, car...
Brad: Cutter volunteers to take the wheeel and lead the attack, with Uncle Jonas driving the tanker and you bringing up the rear in the wagon.
MCSPINDLE: Is it just me, or does that make us sound gay?
Brag: Quiet, handsome.
Brad: If all goes to plan, the bus will smash through the barricade, leaving a gap wide enough for both the tanker and you to follow in its wake. As soon as everyone is in position, Cutter gives the signal to move.
Rob: The "if" in that sentence suggests it won't be as easy as all that...
Brad: Fortunately, the bridge is below you, at the bottom of a steep hill, enabling the bus to build up a good speed.
MCSPINDLE: I'm frightened. Are you?
Brag: A fair bit, yeah...

Brad: Your heart quickens as the convoy gathers pace, and nervously you watch as your speedometer needle moves further around the dial. Clockwise, I hope.
The bus is fifty metres from the barricade when the defenders open fire, their automatic weapons filling the air with wave upon wave of lead. You'd think they'd use bullets, right?
Rob: Yeah, I imagine it'd shoot better. Wait, hold on, since when were there defenders?
Brad: I did say it was manned.
Rob: Fair enough, must have glossed over it.
Brad: I'd hate to think I'm wasting my fucking time, here.
Rob: Relax, it's not a total waste. Besides, what else are you going to do?
Brad: "Sorry, I drifted, my ship's drifting into a black hole, right?"
The vast bulk of the tanker shields you from this hail of death, but your heart goes out to those aboard the bus who must be bearing the brunt of this withering fire. Then you hear a tremendous crash as the bus slams into the barricade, and moments later you see the tanker shudder as it widens the gap that Cutter has made. It ploughs through with ease, but in doing so, it catches and spins the torn wreckage directly into your path!
MCSPINDLE: You dicks!
Brag: Kill the ignition!
Brad: A rush of adrenalin sharpens your senses, making you super-aware of the deadly situation. You react with lightning speed, steering your car out of the path of the oncoming wreck yet avoiding the myriad other obstacles that litter the bridge and threaten to send you to your doom. With consumate ease you overcome these dangers and resume your position in line behind the tanker. Once the convoy is clear of the bridge, Cutter pulls over to the side of the highway and you stop in line behind him and the tanker. Uncle Jonas jumps down from his cab and together you run forward to check the damage to the bus.
The front and sides are riddled with bullet holes, many of which have penetrated the engine and passenger compartments, yet, miraculously, no-one has been killed or seriously injured.
MCSPINDLE: Apart from, bizarrely, all of the Egyptian first born.
Brag: I sense God's hand in this...

Brad: Aunt Betty-Ann appears at a window and reports that four members of the colony have been hit. She says not to worry - they have minor wounds and she is sure they will pull through.
Aunt Betty-Ann: It's okay! The bullets went straight through!
Brag: That's not necessarily a good...Well, as long as you're okay. Auntie, did you ever write that will I mentioned?
Brad: The radiator is leaking coolant but Cutter is confident that he can have it fixed within the hour.
Brag: Well, he warned us...
Cutter: It's a real shame we've got so few guns onboard.
Brad: He sets to work sealing the perforated radiator mesh.
Cutter: It ain't no fun being the target for them punks when you don't get a chance to shoot back.
Brad: A hundred yards along the highway you see a sign that points to a road leading off to the East.
It says:
Rob: I decide to investigate the base while Cutter finishes his repairs.
MCSPINDLE: Anything to get away from Cutter, huh?
Brag: Yeah, I can't not take no more no'sir!"
Brad: The overturned fuselage of an Amcorp DL-70, a wide-bodied military transport plane, blocks the entrance to this derelict air-force base. Casually you swerve around the wreckage a drive across the perimeter fence, knocked flat by the same blast that destroyed the plane eight years ago. Cruising along the main runway, you cast your eye over the hangers and buildings that once serviced this base. Most have either collapsed or been wrecked by city gangs, but there are still a few that could be worth investigating.
Rob: This is uncanny. I was at an air force base in Fallout 3 today.

Brad: They should do a Fallout gamebook. We would DDM the hell out of that.
Rob: I investigate the stores.
Brad: What's the thinking here?
Rob: I figure there's more likely going to be something to help the convoy in the stores. And if there's the opportunity to either pike stuff or taser small children, I'm usually not far away.
Brad: Unfortunately, the stores show signs of having been looted recently. Lockers, drums, and crates that were once full of spares and munitions lie discarded in heaps on the floor. You climb across the debris, searching amongst the empty ammunition lockers.
Rob: And sod's law, just like Fallout, when I do find some good stuff, I won't have any space in my inventory.
Brad: After nearly an hour of painstaking work, you manage to find just three rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and a +2 hammer. Do you want to take either or both of them?
Rob: Take the rounds, not the hammer.
Brad: Done. You leave the stores. You climb into the BragWagon and leave the air force base, arriving back at the convoy minutes later, just as Cutter completes his repairs. You have little to show for your - frankly half-arsed - search of Carswell, but, as Uncle Jonas is fond of saying, every little helps.
Rob: Uncle Jonas a Tesco shopper then?
Brad: As soon as Cutter has the engine running smoothly and everyone is back on board the bus, you return to the BragWagon, and lead them west to Weatherford. As the afternoon wears on, the rays of the sun cast a blood-red hue on the surrounding landscape. Ahead, the freeway cuts a straight line due west, towards the high peaks of the Edwards Plateau that pierce the horizon like a row of sharpened flints, jagged and blue. You stare into the distance, trying to relax and not think about the dangers you have faced today, or the unknown perils that lie ahead. An hour later you catch sight of Weatherford and signal the convoy to stop.
You eat one of your meals.
Rob: Probably wise, it's been a while.
Brad: Despite the delays, the convoy is making better time than expected, and with at least an hour of light still remaining, it is decided that it would be best to press on to the next town and make camp there overnight. You are finishing your food when suddenly Pop Ewell calls to everyone to hurry to the bus. He has located a broadcast on his CB radio set, and he is as excited as a youngster on Christmas morning.
Pop Ewell: Listen to this...
Brad: He holds up the earphones.

Brag: If this is fucking Enya again...
Brad: A faint call sign can be heard above the crackle of static, broadcasting the same message repeatedly.
Radio: Radio KLFM Mineral Wells...Radio KLFM Mineral Wells...
Cutter: That's a town about twenty-five miles north-west o' here. It's not where we're planned on headin', but it would be worth checking out.
Rob: The Broadcast sounds like a waste of time. I try and insist that that the convoy continues along its chosen route.
MCSPINDLE: You think it's a trap, huh?
Brag: Yeah. It's almost possibly a likely place for a trap scenario!
Brad: The convoy is divided in opinion. Roughly half urges an investigation of the signal; the other half believes, like you, that it would be foolish to risk walking into an ambush on the dubious merits of such a patchy broadcast.
Rob: If this ends up taking us there, what was the point?
Brad: A vote decides the course of action in your favour, and the convoy prepares for the next stage of its journey to Santo.
Brag: Democracy FTW!
Brad: You lead the way along Freeway 20 and, as you pass by the outskirts of a town called Brock, the sun dips reluctantly below the horizon.
Rob: Surely it's never up to the Sun when it drops.
Brad: A full moon brightens the twilight and the temperature drops rapidly until you find yourself shivering in the cold night wind.
MCSPINDLE: I'll put the heating on if you ask.
Brag: Okay, put the heating on.
Brad: It takes forty minutes to reach Santo, and another twenty to find a site on which to set up camp overnight. Uncle Jonas orders that the vehicles be drawn into a circle, like a ring of wagons in the wild west, to offer the best protection against the threat of a night raid. Lots are drawn to see who will stand the first watch; unfortunately, you pick the shortest straw.
Rob: Dang.
Brad: It is an hour after midnight when you see a cluster of lights in the middle distance. They are less than a mile away to the east, and approaching at speed. With only a few minutes at the most before the bikers reach the camp, you sound the alarm. Like a pack of screaming demons the marauding bikers descend on the convoy, shooting wildly as they weave in and out of the circle. One of the bikers guns his machine towards you, forcing you to dive aside to avoid being ridden down.
MCSPINDLE: This wouldn't be a problem if you were a car!

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