Friday, 1 April 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: You are staggering to your feet when another attacks you from behind. The speed of your reactions save you from the wheels of the motorcycle.
Brag: Ha, that's what years of video gaming will do!Brad: You hit the ground, roll over to lessen the impact, then take cover beneath the belly of the tanker.
MCSPINDLE: Well, there's no way this can go incineratingly wrong.
Brag: Shut up and put the heating on!
Brad: In the flickering light of the camp fire you see two bikers skid to a halt, then hurriedly step away from their machines. Both draw knives as they run towards the open door of the bus.
Rob: I leap to my feet and try to intercept them before they enter the bus.
Brad: You are within a few yards of the bus when something heavy hits you square in the back, slamming you to the ground.

Brad: Gasping for breath, you fight to free yourself from the steely clutches of a biker who has pounced on you. Desperately you struggle as he tightens his claw-like hands around your throat. Owing to the surprise of the attack, you are unable to use your hunting knife for the first round of combat.
Rob: Damn.
Running Combat:
You bend your knee and kick him in the arse.
Rob: I had trouble picturing that in my head.
Brad: He jumped on you from behind.
You mock his Apple products.
Brag: I bet you look like a douche in a coffee shop!
He points out that you left the BragWagon's lights on.
Brag: Damn, we'll have to bump start it!
I can't think of anything funny, so you just stab him.
BIKER is defeated.
Brad: You push away the lifeless body of your enemy and spring like a tiger towards the boarding door of the bus. Inside, chaos reigns.
Rob: Damn, too late. Well, nothing left to do but become a minion of chaos.
Brad: Behind the driver's seat, Kate and Uncle Jonas are grappling with a fat clansman in a desperate attempt to prise a vicious machete from his hand.
Rob: I stab the prick through the neck.
Brad: Meanwhile, the central aisle is blocked by a running battle as Hammer Harlan and Juan Rodriguez fight to defend the women and children from two fur-clad bikers. Their screams of terror merge with the curses of the clansman, filling the bus with a chilling cacophony of noise.
Rob: Much like the argument over splitting the bill with two seven year old kids at a Wimpy.
Brad: You act swiftly, and decisively, plunging your hunting knife into the backs of the two bikers, and dispatching the third with a thrust to his heart. Suddenly, the sound of a horn echoes from the other side of the camp, and you see the tanker, with Cutter at the wheel, start to move away.

MCSPINDLE: Coward! Traitor! Either/or!
Uncle Jonas: Quick, Brag! Get back to the BragWagon and follow Cutter! We're breakin' out o' here right now!
Brad: You leap from the bus and sprint to the BragWagon as fast as your aching legs will allow. One of the bikers, dressed in a riding suit of tattered red leather, sees you running and stops his machine in order to draw his machine pistol. He is the leader of the clan and he intends to add you to the long list of those he has killed. With a superhuman effort, you leap and dive across the hood of the BragWagon in an attempt to avoid being caught by the burst of automatic fire.
Rob: I'm a superhuman? You never mentioned this!
Brad: We already did one where you were a superhero. The most heroic thing you did was bunk off of work and go to a funfair.
Rob: That was a great day...
Brad: Bullets follow you across the car, piercing the side and glancing noisily off the case-hardened rollbar. One of the hollow-tipped slugs creases your thigh, making you cry out loudly with the sudden pain! Your scream convinces the biker that he has killed you, and he turns his attention elsewhere. Heroic.
Rob: I have the best blood-curdling girly scream!
Brad: You drag yourself into the BragWagon and start the engine without being seen, and swiftly you accelerate away, steering your roadster towards the tail-lights of the bus as it crashes through a group of bikers and escapes onto the freeway.
MCSPINDLE: Do not get blood on the seats.
Brag: You're lucky you're not a soft-top convertible, otherwise we'd have already had that trouble.
Brad: A few random shots ricochet off the trunk as you follow the bus out of Santo, but within minutes you pass out of range and the gunfire ceases.
Rob: They kept firing for minutes after I got out of range? What, do they get paid by the bullet?
Brad: The twin beams of your headlights cast a white corridor of light along Freeway 20 as you overtake and pull in to take your place at the head of the convoy. With the memory of the biker's raid still fresh in your mind, you cast frequent glances in your rear-view mirror to make sure that the clansmen are not on your tail. The road climbs steadily for several miles as it approaches the moutains of Erath country.

MCSPINDLE: That's where the Riders of Rohan live, right?
Brag: Yeah, I think either there or another local hamlet. It's definitely this area.
Brad: A signpost reflects the glare of your lights, announcing your entry to the town of Thurber, which once had a population of 5,006.
MCSPINDLE: How many of those people do you suspect are still alive?
Brag: At least one.
Brad: You are distracted by a light flashing in your mirror. Uncle Jonas is signalling for you to stop. You reach the bus soon after Cutter and hear him asking what is wrong. Uncle Jonas says nothing. He simply tugs...
Brag: Dude, I know we've just been through a ton of stuff together, but don't feel like you can do that in front of me.
Brad: the steering wheel and watches in dismay as it spins freely on the hub.
Cutter: Looks like we've got ourselves a big problem.
Brag: I hope this is spark plugs...
Brad: He peers under the front wheel arch.
Cutter: The steering linkage has sheared clean in two.
Brag: Fuck.
Cutter: I'd guess that rough ride out o' Santo did for it good and proper.
Uncle Jonas: Can you fix it?
Brag: Like he fixes sentences? You want to live through this?
Cutter: [dejectedly] Not without welding gear, or a replacement part. I guess we'd better stop here for the night. Looks like we won't get much further in this ol' bus anyhow.

Brad: An uneasy silence descends on the colony once news of the breakdown spreads. Cutter continues to inspect the bus but you decide to return to your roadster and snatch a few hours sleep. You are staring at the surrounding mountains, lost in thought, when you see a pinpoint of light flickering in the darkness. With your pulse racing, you grab your gun and set off to take closer look.
Brag: The 24 hour Steering Linkage R US!
MCSPINDLE: Wouldn't it be much quicker and safer if you just, fuck it. Have a nice night. I appreciate the space, to be honest. It's not easy having his sweaty arse on my seats the whole time. Crunching through the gears. One hand on the wheel. Filling all the ashtrays with Bombay Mix. Good riddance.
Brag: Yeah, it's almost like you're a tool! Murderer...
MCSPINDLE: Oh, God! Why?!
Brad: The broken ground is illuminated by the full moon but, after a short while, the shadow of Washout Mountain intrudes across your path and soon you find yourself in pitch darkness.
MCSPINDLE: (across the plain) Headlights FTW, loser!
Brag: Fuck off!
Brad: You have taken fewer than a dozen steps when suddenly the ground disappears beneath your feet. With a yelp of horror, you scrabble at the air as you fall head first into a steep-sided gulley.
Rob: If I die, I'll be annoyed. I've had no say in this!
Brad: You are winded by your fall and lie for several minutes staring helplessly at the starry sky. Gradually you recover your sense and manage to pull yourself unsteadily to your feet.
Rob: So I was helpless to move but okay to adminster First Aid?
Brad: A cursory check of your equipment reveals that your CB Radio and Compass are smashed to pieces.
Rob: Damn it! What was the point of taking those?!
Brad: Don't hate the player, hate the game. Book.
As your strength returns, you resolve to climb out of the gulley as quickly as you can. The climb is steep and torturous but you manage to reach the top of the gulley in one piece. Carefully, you pick your way around the edge until you happen upon a narrow path that ascends towards the flickering light on the mountainside above.
As you draw closer, you see that the light is being cast by a small fire burning at the entrance to a cave. You approach with caution.
Rob: When did caution join my party?
MCSPINDLE: When you ditched "rollbars". How are the ribs?
Brag: How can you communicate from all the way over there?
MCSPINDLE: I'm talking to you through your CB Rad...oooooh....sorry...
Brad: As you draw level with the cave, you are greeted by a strange and curious sight.
Rob: Strange and curious are here too?
Brad: A scrawny old man, dressed in an assortment of evil-smelling rags, sits cross-legged beside the fire.
Rob: How does something smell 'Evil'?
Brad: He pokes at the crackling flames with the handle of an old branding irnon, and mumbles continuously and incoherently under his breath. At your approach, he raises his eyes and stares at your gun, yet you sense that it does not worry him unduly.
Rob: Is he cooking something, or just odd?
Brad: I really like the idea of the second option. Let's go with that.
Old Man: Saw your lights on the road.
Brad: A toothy smile cracks several layers of dirt that have built up around his nose and mouth.
Old Man: Said to m'self, those folks will come a'callin'. Best whup up a real larrupin' meal to make 'em feel right welcome.
Brag: Dude, I know we've had a nuclear holocaust, but seriously: it's called 'soap' and I'm sure there's still some knocking around.
Brad: He appears to be from somewhere between Arkansas and Yorkshire, right?
Rob: Sounds like Arkshire, or Yorkansas.
Brad: He jabs his metal rod into the fire and spears the blackened remains of a large rat. Proudly he holds it up and nods enthusiastically, as if he were about to serve you a prime T-bone steak.
Brag: So you didn't have an inkling as to the size of our party...
Brad: Your stomach turns when he offers you the charred carcass.

Old Man: You gone an' broked down, ain't you' boy?
Brad: He points to the convoy on the highway below.
Old Man: What exactly's the problem.?
Brad: I really want his first name to be "Gary".
Old Man: You never know, maybe I kin help you out.
Brag: Bus fucked. Details short. Grammar fucked by party member...Are those Kwik-Fit overalls under all that dirt?
Old Man: You'd not be the first folks that ol'Mountain Goat'd set right.
Brag: "Mountain Goat"?
Brad: Mountain Goat taps the side of his nose with a greasy forefinger.
Brag: I'm amazed you can find your nose under all that crap.
Mountain Goat: [smug] I know just where you can lay y'hands on the part you need to fix that ol' bus o' yours.
Brag: And you know, from here, which part it is? All right, MG, I'll bite, where is it?
Mountain Goat: If you agree to take me with you, I'll tell you where. Is it a deal?
Brag: Deal. [Under breath] Watch this guy...I'm not sure I trust him...
Mountain Goat: You'll never regret this!
Brad: He scurries away to the rear of the cave to collect his meagre belongings.
Rob: This shouldn't take long.
Brad: He reappears a few minutes later with a tattered rucksack on his back, and offers to lead the way down the steep hill. During the descent he tells you that Strawn is the next town due west. Before The Day, a large service depot that repaired buses and trucks was located there. If the part you need still exists, the service depot at Strawn is the place where you are most likely to find it. Upon reaching the bus, you find that the reaction of the colony to Mountain Goat is less that enthusiastic.
MCSPINDLE: He's going on the roof rack.

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