Sunday, 3 July 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: A minute later you see Cutter jump down from the bus and scurry across the rock-strewn ground behind the diner, cradling a shotgun, which he loads as he runs.
MCSPINDLE: You know that if he dies, everyone's going to blame you, right?
Brag: You'd know all about that...
Brad: He disappears behind the building, then a few moments later you hear a burst of gunfire and see a swarthy faced man, dressed in western clothes, come running out of the front door with a pistol in his hand.
Rob: Western clothes? Like Italian gear or Cowboy hats?
Brad: Spaghetti Western, I guess.
The fleeing man sees you and fires twice, but his aim in awry and the bullets pass high above your head. You raise your gun and order him to stop but he ignores your call. He shoots again and you return fire, killing him cleanly with a shot to the heart.
Rob: Ha!
Brad: Cutter appears and beckons you over to the diner. Inside the doorway lies the body of another man, a rifle resting across his blood-stained chest.
Cutter: I reckon these two were from that Maverick gang that Rickenbacker warned us about.
Brad: He searches through the dead man's pockets.
Cutter: Seems like the Lions ain't the only ones we gotta look out for.

Brad: You help Cutter search the bodies and the diner.
Rob: I take all their ammo, water and med kits. The rifle...the +2 Club...and I drop the Bourbon so I can pick up the Binoculars.
Brad: You're aware you already have a pair of binoculars?
Rob: I only have the two eyes, right? Before you start, we're in a radioactive wasteland.
Brad: Yes, you have two eyes. No more, no less. You have binoculars and a telescopy, but you want another?
Rob: Right, fine. Drop the bourbon and take the Rope. Still take the Rifle and the Club. Wait, the Rifle and the Flick Knife.
Brad: Sure?
Rob: Yeah.
Brad: As soon as your flat tyre has been repaired and the highway swept clear of spikes, you climb back into the BragWagon and lead the convoy on towards Big Spring. In the distance you see the sun resting on the peak of Signal Mountain, and you estimate that no more than an hour of daylight remains. Then a freeway mileage sign looms into view, its paint blistered and barely legible.
You slow down and read:
16 MLS

The sign coaxes a cheer from those aboard the bus and renews your hopes of completing the first stage of your long journey west. A few miles further on you see another sign. This announces that you are approaching the town of Coahoma. With the memory of what happened at Westbrook still fresh in your mind, you decide to bring the convoy to a halt.
MCSPINDLE: Won't that just make them easier to hit?
Brag: You'd think so, but they're further away, so we might get a few 'warning' shots.
Brad: Your caution was well placed. As you focus your telescopy on the town, you count over twenty motorcycles parked at random along the highway. Their riders are looting the stores and houses nearby, and much of what they have found lies heaped beside their machines. Suddenly, a pinpoint of light climbs into the sky and explodes with a brlliant white flash that illuminates the surrounding landscape.

MCSPINDLE: Fuck! The Post-Apocalyptic gangs have split the atom!!!
Kate: It's a signal flare. I think they've seen us.
Brag: Yeah, I think you're right.
Cutter: We won't be a' skirtin' 'round this place. The land here's too craggy.
Brag: Do you just move letters around the sentence, is that it?
Cutter: The bus and the tanker'd not get a hunnerd yards. Nope, our only chance is to hit 'em before they get muled up.
MCSPINDLE: He's losing me now...
Brag: Why do you say it like that? You're a car, it's not hard to lose you, all we'd have to do is park you in a shopping mall.
Cutter: If we go now we could cut straight through that lil' ol' town and be on our way to Big Spring before they know what's happened!
Brad: The plan is put to Uncle Jonas and he agrees that it is the colony's best chance of reaching Big Spring before nightfall. Kate volunteers to ride shotgun with you at the head of the convoy. Uncle Jonas will follow in the tanker and Cutter will close up behind with the bus, enabling those with guns to man the back window and keep any pursuers at bay. Within a few minutes the plan is relayed to the colony and the vehicles are drawn up in line, ready to run the Coahoma gauntlet.
Brag: How long's this? About twelve parsecs?
Brad: "Coahoma Gauntlet" sounds likes something Jim Ross would say.
You check your rear-view mirror and see both Cutter and Uncle Jonas giving you a thumbs up.
Rob: Thumbs up what?
MCSPINDLE: They know you're going to die.
Brag: Kate...Let's get fabulous!
Brad: Thankfully your voice is lost in the revving of the BragWagon's engine.
MCSPINDLE: You'll thank me later.
Brag: Ahhh, you're a Nissan Cockblocker.
Brad: You move away, keeping an eye on your mirror to make sure that you do not out-distance the rest of the convoy. Then, as you approach the outskirts of the town, Kate raises her shotgun and gets ready to greet the Maverick clansmen who are brave, or foolish, enough to stand in your way. Gunfire erupts from the windows of the nearby buildings and bullets whistle past, fired from all directions. Kate opens up in reply, empty cartridge cases spewing from her gun as she picks off the renegade bikers with chilling accuracy.
MCSPINDLE: Fit birds with guns FTW.

Brad: Then the first of the obstacles appears and you stamp your foot to the floor. The force of your car's acceleration hits you like a kick in the back.
Brag: Kate, put your fucking foot away!
Brad: The car screams through the town, scattering motorcycles and riders, its rear wheels trailing a blue haze of friction-burnt rubber.
MCSPINDLE: BragWagon for the fucking win, bitches!
Brag: I did nothing, then?
Brad: The last few buildings are flashing past on either side when you see a solitary figure standing in the middle of the highway ahead. As you scream towards him, coolly he raises a rifle and takes aim at your windshield!
Brag: Don't! I just had Autoglass out!
Brad: You see the muzzle flash of his rifle and feel a red-hot pain cut across the top of your head as the bullet creases your scalp. In the next instant you feel a tremendous jolt as your roadster hits the rifleman and sends his broken body spinning through the air.
Brag: Nice work car, you killed again!
Brad: You brace yourself against wheel, but Kate is thrown forwards against the dashboard and gashes her forehead.
Brag: Well, you know what they say. A gash in the forehead is better than a fore...never mind.
Brad: At first you fear that she is badly injured, but she recovers quickly and, using dressings from her Medi-kit, she attends selflessly to your head wound before treating her own.

Rob: Cool, she brought her own medkit, so she's not Bogarting mine.
Brad: At the first opportunity, you pull the BragWagon over to the side of the freeway and wait for the convoy to catch up.
MCSPINDLE: Why am I all red and sticky?
Brag: Don't you remember? There was a bloodbath...
MCSPINDLE: There's something stuck in my radiato...Oh, God, it's still got eyebrows on it! GAAAAH!!! I'VE KILLED AGAIN!!! WHY?!?!?
Brag: I don't think you have control over it...
Brad: A few minutes later the tanker and the bus come thundering out of Coahoma. Apart from a few extra bullet holes, they both appear to have survived the run intact.
Rob: How many bullet holes ring alarm bells?
Brad: You restart your engine and accelerate away, confident that the colony will reach Big Spring before sunset, but when you glance in your rear-view mirror you spot something that sets your pulse racing.
MCSPINDLE: Oh, it a grisly memento? I hate it when I do that...
Brag: It had better not be what I think it is...
Kate: What do you think it is?
Brag: A giant Spider dressed in a vicar's outfit.
Kate: You're okay.
Brad: The glare of a dozen motorcycle headlights follow in the wake of the convoy. The Mavericks who survived your brief but devastating visit to Coahoma are now in pursuit, and they are closing the gap swiftly.
Brag: Ah, that's not as bad.
Brad: Shots are fired from the back of the bus, bringing down two of the leading bikes, but they do not prevent the others from moving alongside.
Brag: Kate, take the wheel!
Kate: What the fuck?
Brad: Anxiously you watch in your rear-view mirror as the pillion riders risk their lives to jump aboard.
Brad: The few who survive the leap without falling under the wheels gain entry by kicking their way through the windows. Suddenly the bus loses speed. You sense that something is seriously amiss and you go back to find out what is wrong. You wave the tanker on, then slow almost to a standstill in order to allow Cutter to catch up. As he draws nearer you see that a running battle is taking place on board.
Rob: Have you been rolling dice all this time without telling me?
Brad: You accelerate, bringing the BragWagon alongside the boarding door, then as soon as Kate has control of the car, you coil yourself like a spring and leap towards the door of the bus. McSpindle begins playing the Indiana Jones theme on his 8-track.
Brag: Keep that playing until they're all dead!
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.

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