Sunday, 24 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 Ian Livingstone gamebook Island of the Lizard King. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Slytherin.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: As the hours drift by, you talk and laugh, trying to ignore the dangers ahead. Mungo Redshirt is always one to tell a tale and he is now telling you about his father and how he used to work in a travelling circus.
Mungo Redshirt: He was a big man, big as a mountain. And he would do just about anything for a paying crowd.
Brag: Anything...?
Mungo Redshirt: Wrestle trolls, have elephants stand on him, even let a Killer Bee sting him!
Brag: Oh. That's not what I was thinking of.
Mungo Redshirt: He was a tough old customer, but he finally met his match in the north. The circus was in Fang as one of the attractions during the festivities surrounding the Trial of Champions, and my father decided on a whim to enter. He walked into Deathtrap Dungeon and, alas, was never seen again. He was really too old for such an ordeal, although there was no telling him that.
Brag: I have literally no idea what that is.
Mungo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathtrap_Dungeon
Brag: ...What?

Brad: Just as Mungo Redshirt is about to tell you his next tale, he jumps and and shouts:
Mungo Redshirt: Land ahoy!
Brag: Why is ahoy in the air?
Brad: You look to where he is pointing and see Fire Island in the distance.
Rob: Is there a flame to mark the island?
Brad: The island sits on the sea like a green cushion, with a jagged mountain protuding from it. Smoke gently curls up from its top: a volcano's fuming anger waiting to explode.
Rob: Is it soggy around the base? Like a cushion would be in the sea? Is there any actual fire?
Brad: Mungo Redshirt steers the boat towards a small inlet at the eastern tip of the island, hoping that it will remain concealed between the high rocks.
Rob: I return to my original question: Is there any actual fire?
Mungo Redshirt: *stares* No. No fire.
Brag: Pictures of fire?
Mungo Redshirt: *stares*
Brag: Dhalsim from Street Fighter II holding a blowtorch?
Mungo Redshirt: *stairs*
Brag: ...What did you just do with your eyes?
Brad: You both put on your backpacks and clamber out of the boat to begin your quest to find King Mc'spnd'lah. You could scramble round the rocks to the beach in the cove to your left, or clamber over the rocks on the other side of the inlet to the beach in the cove to your right.
Rob: Cove to the left. Cove to the right. Electric slide! Left.

Mungo Redshirt: *stares*
Brag: Oh that's right, we wouldn't have electricity...Thanks for pointing out that inconsistency with your vacant look.
Brad: It does not take you long to reach the beach, which is small and covered with golden sand. A few rocks jut into the sea, and at the far end of the beach you see a tiny hut made of white stone. The roof has collapsed and the hut looks deserted. There are some long tracks in the sand, criss-crossing the beach.
Rob: I walk acroos the beach to the hut. Seems pointless to go all this way and not visit the hut. Is it Pizza Hut?
Brad: You are about halfway across the beach when suddenly a large mound of sand by the sea's edge starts to rise into the air.
Rob: Well, this was a fun prologue...
Brad: Then you see six large spiny legs and a pair of pincers, and as the sand slides off its huge shell, your eyes widen at the daunting sight of the Giant Crab before you. It scuttles across the sand, picking up Mungo Redshirt with one of its pincers; Mungo cries out in pain, unable to free himself from its vice like grip.
Rob: It's a giant crab! I attack the underside! In the meantime, try and help Mungo!
Brad: You run at the Giant Crab with your sword drawn. It drops Mungo into the sand in order to attack you with both pincers.
Running Combat:
CRAB BATTLE!

Rob: Oh, I do have a sword, I forgot about that. Am I automatically wearing my armour?
Brad: Yes.
You exchange blows with the crab.
King Mc'Spnd'Lah: Wa-hey!

The crab criticies your crab fighting technique.
You hit its red area for MASSIVE DAMAGE!
Brag: Ha! Who said being controlled by a supreme being who plays video games is a sure-fire way to death?!
The Giant Crab points out that you used to have loads of supporting characters for this thing, but you just keep using the same ones again and again.
Brag: Oh, and your supporting characters are where exactly?...Burn!
You point out that it's a bottom feeder - and that's pretty gay.
You mock its ability to count in base ten.
The crab points out that - no, really - you had loads - but it all comes down to McSpindle and Redshirt all the time. What happened to Clank, Cripps, Wheezy and all that lot?
You eat a crabstick.
Crab is defeated.
Brag: Ha! That was probably your cousin.
Brad: Kneeling down beside the crushed body of Mungo Redshirt, you gently lift his head in your arms. His eyes open a little and he manages half a smile despite his agony.
Mungo Redshirt: [whispers] Well, old friend, it's the end of the road for me. A lot of use I've been. Make sure you get King Mc'spnd'lah for me, won't you.
Brag: You're kidding. We were hitting it off so well! This isn't fair!
Brad: You bury him on the beach near the cliff, marking his grave with his sword skewered into the sand. More determined than ever, you set off on your quest and walk to the stone hut. The abandoned hut is littered with broken furniture, smashed pottery and a few bits of torn clothing. You kick away a dirty rug and see the handle of a trapdoor in the floorboards.
Rob: Lift the trapdoor. I'm a fool, I realise, because I dare...Nevertheless, my decision stands.
Brad: You pull on the handle and lift up the trapdoor. In a small compartment you see a wooden box which you lift out and place on the floor. The lid is covered with candle-wax.
Rob: Open the box. There is no way this can end badly.
Brad: The lid lifts up easily and inside you find a corked earthenware jug and a note which reads:
Rob: "*stares*"?

Many years ago I came to Fire Island for peace and solitude. But since the Lizard Men have dwelt here, such an existence is no longer possible. I have now returned to the mainland. Many of the plants and bushes here are poisonous; a scratch can kill you. Drink my potion from this jug and you will come to no harm. I wish you well for whatever reason you are here.

Farewell,

Baskin

Rob: Leave the hut.
Brad: Behind the hut you see a narrow goat-track leading up the side of the cliff. You wend your way up it and up the side of the cliff.
Rob: Wend?
Brad: You are quite exhausted by the time you reach the top. You take a swig of water from your flask and realise that water shortage could be a problem for you on this island.
Rob: Yeah, shame I'm not...surrounded by water.
Brad: Looking west you see the daunting sight of the sleeping volcano standing above the trees, but no sign of life - although you can certainly hear it; a cacophony of bird and insect noise.
Brag: Oi! Shut up!
Cacophony: Sorry!
Brad: With the light quickly fading, you decide to camp for the night behind some rocks. You do not sleep very well and are awake at first light, eager to set off. You decide to head directly west into the trees. The undergrowth between the trees is dense; plants with long or broad leaves, some with spiny tips, vines, creepers, fungi, roots and flowers of all sizes, shapes and colours fighting for light and space in the humid jungle thicket. You have to use your sword to cut your way through it, and it is a long and slow business.
Brag: God, it's humid...

Rob: Can I take the potion now, or do I have to wait for a window?
Brad: What potion?
Rob: The one I didn't take when I pulled it out at Pizza Hut.
Brad: No, I think it was then or never.
Rob: Sit down and rest at the base of a tree.
Brad: Hacking sucks, don't it? A sweet smell floats down from the upper foliage of the tree which makes you feel relaxed and drowsy. As your eyelids droop, you do not see a thick vine lower itself down from the branches above.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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 Ian Livingstone, the Fighting Fantasy series, Island of the Lizard King, and all other gamebooks of yesteryear.

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