Sunday 7 August 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: Its arms are long and hang down to the ground, and it moves rapdly over the marsh on its webbed feet. It pays you no attention.
Brag: Pretend I'm not he...oh.
Rob: Hmmm...Is it going to fuck me up if I call out to it?
Brad: I dunno.
Rob: Logic dictates yes. Thus my course is clear.
Brad: Okay...
Brag: Hey, Dickhead!
Brad: The creature halts suddenly and looks over its shoulder to stare at you in bewilderment.

Brag: Yeah, you!
Brad: Its wide mouth opens and a pink forked tongue darts out and recoils just as quickly. Its big eyes look full of sorrow, but then you realise that the creature is a cunning Marsh Hopper.
Rob: How does cunning make a difference? Is this one fiddling his expenses?
Brad: Despite their pathetic appearance, Marsh Hoppers will often lead unwary victims into the lairs of carnivorous marsh beasts for the price of a few scraps of meat. However, no creature knows how to cross treacherous marshlands better than a Marsh Hopper. The Marsh Hopper beckons you with its head to follow it across the marsh.
Rob: Follow it.
Brad: What's the reasoning here?
Rob: He's good at crossing marshlands.
Brad: Sinking knee-deep into the slimy marsh, you struggle to keep up with the agile Marsh Hopper. Suddenly it turns south and once again beckons you to follow it.
Rob: Plus if I can kill something, looty looty.
Rob: Why is it I decided to even *head* west?
Brad: You landed on the east side of the island. I presume your goal lies west.
Rob: Fair enough. I'm going to head west now.
Brad: Fuck that guy, right?
Rob: Yeah, he's taking me away from my objective now. That's just silly.
Brad: Although you are expecting some terrible beast to rise out of the water, everything remains calm. Gradually the ground becomes firmer underfoot and soon you are out of the water and walking through thick mud. Keeping a watchful eye on the terrain and sky, you are unaware of the disgusting soft bodies clinging to your legs. It is only when you notice some discomfort that you look down to see the Giant Leeches wrapped around your calves.
Rob: How giant is....Giant?
Brad: Bigger than you average leech, but not monstrous. Four leeches cling to you.
Rob: That'd be presumably the Fucking Massive Leech.
Brad: You have to use some salt to remove them.
After checking yourself carefully to make sure you are finally rid of the parasites from the marsh, you continue west across the muddy plain.

Brag: Damn! I was going salt? Why did I pack a lunchbox full of salt?
Brad: If I knew that, I'd be writing these gamebooks, wouldn't I, smart-ass?
Ahead you see two hills and you decide to walk towards the gorge dividing them. The ground rises and you are at last away from the difficult terrain - the jungle and marsh are behind you. Grass and flowers make the island appear lush and beautiful, but you know you cannot afford to relax.
Brag: Relaxing costs money here.
Brad: It is not long before you reach the gorge and see that it runs between several hills in a westerly direction.
Brag: And I'm already going to have to spend out on a new saltbox.
Rob: Walk down the gorge.
Brad: You walk down the gorge and into the shadow, the sunlight being cut off by the southern hills. As the gorge narrows, you suddenly hear a rumbling above you. It is the sound of a landslide, and soon rocks and boulders are crashing down all around you.
Rob: Damn. I sense this going south fast. If I don't go south myself... By which I mean "into the Earth's core."
Brad: You run down the narrow gorge, hopeful that another rockfall will not occur. The gorge once again widens out and you slow down to a walking pace as your claustrophobia dies down. On a large boulder to your right you see some words which seem to have been carved out of the stone.
Rob: Read boulder.
Brad: I see the pronouns have fucked off again.
Rob: Sorry, I've been playing text adventures in the car all day.
Brad: That's awesome. On what?
Rob: My iPod.

Brad: Intriguing. The words form a stark warning which reads "Turn Back Or Die".
Rob: What have I transformed from? I don't know if reverting is preferable.
Brad: But you cannot tell whether the warning is for those entering the gorge or for those leaving it, as the boulder faces both ways, equally. However, not wishing to take chances, you grip your sword and walk stealthily down the gorge. I'm not sure how much sense that last bit makes.
Rob: Yeah, surely I'd be allowed to choose to just give up?
Brad: In the fine sand on the ground you notice traces of old footprints leading out of the gorge. They end abruptly in front of you, and there are signs of a struggle. Two pairs of footprints lead back down the gorge, with two straight lines behind them as though their owners have dragged a body behind them. As you follow the trail of the footprints, you catch sight of a shiny object in the sand.
Rob: Shiny shiny looty looty....
Brad: You prod it with your foot and see an oval snuff-box made of brass. Picking it up you see that it has a hinged lid.
Rob: Hang on, does it mention anything along the lines of "property of Pandora"?
Brad: No. Just "Front Toward something something".
Rob: I open it.
Brad: Inside the snuff-box you find a small gold nugget and a piece of paper with a message scrawled in charcoal which reads:
Rob: "You found my golden nugget! Also, you have cancer now."?
If you read this, it will mean that I have failed in my attempt to escape from the slave mines of the Lizard King. My raft is hidden beyond the gorge where the plain meets the river. If you are here to help us, please follow the river upstream until you see the mud huts. The slave mines are near by, but beware the Lizard Man guards.
Brad: You fold up the piece of paper, put it in your pocket together with the gold nugget, and continue to follow the foot prints.

***Brag Slytherin has acquired +1 NUGGET OF GOLDING***
***Brag Slytherin has acquired PLAINTIVE CRY FOR HELP. IN PAPER FORM***
Brad: The ground underfoot becomes rockier and the footprint trail you have been following disappears. In the distance you hear a faint rumbling - could it be the yawning of an awakening volcano?
Rob: Volcanic eruptions are just yawns?!
Brad: You hurry on down the gorge, but are stopped in your tracks by the sight of a huge reptile blocking your path. You stare incredulously at the armoured beast which appears some six metres in length. It is a Giant Lizard, and it sees you as a source of food.
***Final Fantasy Music***
The Giant Lizard tries to sell you a Big Issue.
You convince him that you've already got one.
The Giant Lizard takes your Mum out on a date.
Brag: She'll expect the best!
You taunt him about his sloppy seconds.
Rob: I....ergh.
You smash his basking lamp.
Brag: I don't even know what that did, but fuck you!
You get to the checkout, then run back to get something you've forgotten, leaving him silently fuming in the queue behind you.
Giant Lizard is defeated.

Brad: You step round the huge body of the Giant Lizard and press on down the gorge.
Rob: Why didn't I loot his corpse?
Brad: Because he had nothing. He was a Giant Lizard.
Rob: Fine.
Brad: At last the gorge widens out to become a grassy plain, and the hills are soon behind you. Not far away, some ten metres to your left, you see a pond where many birds are drinking.
Rob: Which kind of birds?
Brad: It doesn't say, but there's an ominous picture of some crows.
Rob: Hmmm....Drink at the pond. If it doesn't kill carrion birds, I'll be fine.
Brad: The water in the pool looks cool and refreshing, although you are a little perturbed at the layer of green algae which floats on the surface.
Rob: I skim it off. Algae's fine, though.
Brad: As you bend down to drink, a jet of liquid shoots out of the pond towards you from a wide green mouth which suddenly appears in the water.
Rob: Did you know that algae causes most of the world's greenhouse gases?
Brad: I remember hearing something to that effect, yeah. Isn't it because of all the the middle-class algae using those stupid off-road plankton to pick the kids up from school?
The liquid hits your face and your eyes start to sting. You have been temporarily blinded by the acid of a Spit Toad.
Rob: "Spit Toad"?
Brad: You realise what it happening and draw your sword.
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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