Sunday, 12 June 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!
Chief: We of the Nanoc are the chose ones!
Crowd: Be it so!
Brag: I reckon I can talk him out of that car pretty easily...
Chief: By the strength of our faith have we been spared the great wrath of Hastsezini, God of Fire. Now, the time has come for us to reclaim the land of our forefathers.
Brag: Right...
Chief: I, Chief Drawoher, call upon Heng, the Thunder Spirit, to bring rains to quench the thirsty earth!
Brag: I have a direct line to him, if you'll just untie me I can contact him!
Brad: On hearing his words, several of the clan get to their feet and begin to dance around the totem, chanting as they raise their faces to the sky.
Chief Drawoher: This night Heng will hear our call!
Brad: He points at you with his tomahawk and utters...
Chief Drawoher: This night shall we offer this soul as sacrifice to the spirit of thunder!
Brag: The Chief smiles as the colour drains from your face, then he motions to his driver who slowly drives him away. The clan continues to dance around you for nearly an hour before dispersing to prepare for your sacrifice.
Brag: Well, you worship a complete pussy!
Brad: During this time you manage to free one hand, and furtively you work at undoing the buckles of your backpack.
Rob: That's the solution. Minimalism!
Brad: It is nearly dusk when the clansmen and their chief reappear. Slowly the shiny thunderbird drives towards you, positioned at the head of a torchlit procession of men and women dressed in strange, ceremonial robes. Chief Drawoher brings the line to a halt before the totem and calls for silence. Then he extols the virtues of Heng, the Thunder Spirit, and asks that he grant their request for rain. The clansmen form a wide circle around you and, as their leader steps forwards, they chant loudly and hypnotically.
Brag: Loudly and hypnotically!

Brad: With a glint of madness in his eyes, the chief unsheathes the sacrifical dagger, a blade carved from the bone of a buffalo, and holds it above his head.
Chief Drawoher: You die so that the land may live!
Brag: Mmm...Not sure I'm that keen.
Brad: In desperation, you remove your free hand from behind your back and attempt to grab his wrist as he brings the dagger down towards your heart. As your fingers close around the chief's wrist, you twist his hand aside with all the strength you can muster. He screams in frustration and tries to counter your unexpected move by grabbing at your throat with his free hand. In the desperate struggle the blade passes within an inch of your chest. He tightens his grip until you can no longer breathe, but you fight tenaciously to maintain your hold.
The tip of the dagger wavers, dangerously close, then jerks upwards and cuts through your bonds.
Brag: Hurrah!
Brad: Instinctively, you lash out with your freed hand and knock the chief down with a forceful punch to the jaw. By the time he has recovered and staggered to his feet, you have stripped away the remaining ropes and freed yourself from the totem. He still holds the dagger, but he is alone - his clansmen are deeply entranced and oblivious to the struggle that is taking place before them.
Chief Drawoher: Heng will be appeased!
Brad: He lunges at your heart...but you catch and twist his arm, driving the knife into his own chest!
Brad: The dying screams of their chief dispels the trance into which the clansmen have fallen, but before they can act, you jump into the Thunderbird and twist the ignition key. The moment the antique engine growls into life, you stamp on the gas pedal and accelerate away from the crowd. In a cloud of dust and blue smoke you leave Cross Plains and return to the gas station when you parked The BragWagon.
MCSPINDLE: Did you miss me?
Brag: Hey McSpindle, fancy a transfer?!
Brad: Before ditching the Thunderbird, you search it thoroughly and discover that the trunk contains a 9mm pistol and three rounds of 9mm ammunition. Then, with night drawing in, you climb into your own car and drive away at top speed.
MCSPINDLE: So, did you have fun whilst I was gone? Stab any minorities?
Brag: Funny you should mention that...

Brad: When you reach Rising Star you find that the convoy is awaiting your return with trepidation.
Rob: Who the fuck's Trepidation? Another Native American?
Brad: Because you are so long overdue, they feared that you had fallen foul of Mad Dog Michigan and his bikers. After you tell them what happened, everyone agrees that, with darkness almost upon you, it is too dangerous to continue.
The night at Rising Star passes uneventfully and at first light the convoy sets off cross-country towards Abilene. The arid, stony bed of Pecan Bayou provides excellent cover from the surrounding high ground and leads the convoy north-west, back towards Freeway 20.
It is shortly after midday when you reach the freeway, from which you can see the outskirts of Abilene less than five miles distant. Much of Abilene lies in the shadow of a bank of cloud, which has darkened the land since mid-morning. At first the unexpected arrival of this cloud cover cheered the colony, for it brough with it a welcome respite from the burning heat and promised a possible end to the drought. Unfortutnately, these inital hopes were soon shattered. As you approach the city a fierce wind arises.
It sweeps down from the north and lashes the convoy, not with rain, but with blinding clouds of grit and sand. Within the space of half an hour the colony is engulfed in a ferocious duststorm that threatens to bury you all without trace. At the first opportunity you signal to the others to pull off the elevated freeway and seek shelter from the storm. The danger of grit finding its way into the engines of the convoy vehicles, causing them irreparable damage, is uppermost in your mind, and anxiously you search for shelter. A signpost looms out of the swirling dust, pointing to what was once a high school.
Rob: If that engine breaks again, I shall be completely beside myself.
Brad: You signal to Cutter to follow you into the school yard, but the storm is reaching its peak and you are forced to halt before you can see the school itself. Quickly, the colony disembarks and blindly you lead them in single file, heads bowed against the stinging wind, until you reach the shool building. Fortunately, it still has a roof and four walls, and offers adequate protection from the storm. Once inside, Aunt Betty-Ann decides to take a roll call to make sure everyone is present.
MCSPINDLE: I can't lie. I'd forgotten she was still alive.
Brag: I've lost track to be honest.
Brad: She is about to begin when Rosita Rodriguez ries out in anguish.
Rosita: Maria! Where is my Maria? She is not here!
Brag: Who the fuck are you?!
MCSPINDLE: How do we solve a problem like this?
Brag: Road trip!
Brad: A check of the school reveals that Rosita's little six year-old girl is missing.
MCSPINDLE: Paedo Joe is still here though, right?
Brag: He's disappeared too...
Brad: She was with the family when they left the bus and must still be close by, but with the storm now at its peak, everyone know that her chances of survival outside are slim. Uncle Jonas calls for three volunteers to search for Maria, and McSpindle volunteers you. Cutter and Kate also volunteer.
Pop Ewell: You'll be needing one of these!
MCSPINDLE: A body bag? Jesus, Ewell...
Brag: Yeah dude, that doesn't make me feel good.
Brad: Pop Ewell hands you a CB Transceiver.
Pop Ewell: It'll do no good if you find Maria but can't find your way back here.

Brad: You join the others to decide on a search plan. Before venturing out into the storm, all three of you turn your transceivers to the same frequency so that you can remain in radio contact with each other throughout the search. Uncle Jonas also possesses a hadnset, and he selects his to transmit a signal on another frequency.
Brag: Just not the same as BBC Radio 4. I get tired of the fucking static.
Brad: By selecting that channel, and monitoring its signal strength, you should be able to find your way back to the school.
MCSPINDLE: I'm just getting Lady Sovereign on mine. Who knew she could survive a nuclear fallout, huh?
Brad: The three of you decide to split up and search different areas, thereby maximising your chances of finding Maria quickly. The school building will have prevented her from wandering to the south, leaving three directions in which to search: north, west and east.
Rob: I go west. When in doubt, listen to the wisdom of the Pet Shop Boys.
Brad: You pull your t-shirt up to cover your nose and mouth before venturing out into the storm.
Rob: Somebody fart again?
Brad: Visibility is less than five yards and, with the dust constantly gusting into your eyes, you must rely heavily on your sense of hearing for some indication of the child's location. Repeatedly you call out her name, hoping she will reply, yet all you hear is the incessant howling of the wind.
Rob: Are we sure it's not her?
Brad: A wide avenue leads you to a baseball park on the edge of the school grounds. For a few seconds the wind drops and you are able to see a small grocery store on the other side of the avenue, its front door hanging off its hinges. You can make out a thin, faint sound coming from inside the store. You run towards the entrance, eager to get inside before the wind picks up and you lose sight of the building altogether.
Rob: What's a faint sound? A dull thud?
Brad: The stench of rotting food assails your nostrils the moment you enter the store, making your stomach churn, but you force yourself to ignore it and continue your search. You call Maria's name and hear the sound again: it is coming from behind the cellar door. In the eerie-half-light you find the latch and lift it.
Brag: This teacher told me once that of all the possible combinations of words in the English language, 'Cellar Door' is the most beautiful...Don't be afraid, Maria. It's Brag...
Brad: You hope to reassure and comfort the girl, but when you push open the door, it is not little Maria who greets you.
Brag: Were-Maria!!!
MCSPINDLE: We can't find Paedo Joe...
Brad: A seething flood of squealing rats swarm out of the doorway and break like a wave against your feet. You scream in shocked surprise and drag yourself on to a nearby counter as the ravenous rodents run amok.
Rob: What a girl my character is. Did I fail a Piss Pants roll?

MCSPINDLE: Is everything okay? We just heard a girlish scream over the CB...have you found Maria?
Brad: You wait until the rats have disappeared before you clamber back down. Still shivering with the shock of your horrific encounter, you search the store in case Maria is here. You are almost relieved to discover no trace of her; at least she has been spared the terrifying experience you have just endured.
Rob: She'd probably handle it better.
Brad: You are about to leave to continue your search when your transceiver crackles into life. It is Kate, and she has good news: she has found Maria and she is on her way back to the school. You acknowledge her call, then tune your handset to Uncle Jonas' signal, using it to guide you back to base.
Rob: So my entire purpose during that was to get scared? Brilliant.
Brad: Yeah, I think this is the only gamebook where you're the comic relief.
Words: Brad Harmer & Robert Wade
You can become Brad's "friend" on Facebook, or you can "follow" him on Twitter. Depends how creepy you want to sound really.
This is intended as a loving tribute to Joe Dever, the Freeway Warrior series, Highway Holocaust, and all other gamebooks of yesteryear.


In the run up to the much anticipated 2012 release of the new Superman movie, Warner Home Video is proud to present Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1978-2006), released on the 13th June 2011. Rediscover the heritage of the cultural icon and quintessential superhero, Superman, in the first five classic films.

In this exciting eight disc collection, the Superman myth is depicted, from his birth on the doomed planet of Krypton to his life as a reporter in the big city of Metropolis . He discovers that hiding his superpowers as mild-mannered Clark Kent isn't easy when trying to sustain a job at the ever inquisitive Daily Planet, wooing hard-nosed Lois Lane and constantly battling with super villains across Metropolis.

For the first time ever, films one to four, Superman: The Movie (Original Theatrical) Superman II (Original Theatrical) Superman III and Superman IV - The Quest For Peace, are available on high def blu-ray. The collection also includes the recent blockbuster; Superman Returns, plus Superman: the Movie (Expanded Edition) Superman II (the Director Richard Donner cut).

Fans will also be treated to 20 hours of bonus features, including the never-before-seen original opening to Superman Returns, along with documentaries, deleted scenes and a ‘making of’ feature.

The Superman Motion Picture Anthology is out on Blu-ray on 13th June courtesy Warner Home Video.

Thanks to our friends at Warner Home Video, we've got a copy of The Superman Motion Picture Anthology to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to before midday on Sunday 19th June, making sure to put "Superman" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

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

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

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