Sunday, 4 September 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 Freeway Warrior II: Mountain Run. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Cutter: [nods in agreement] Okay, Brag. As soon as we're safely away from here I'll talk to the others and get them to listen to your plan. But first we've gotta concern ourselves with gettin' out o' here in one piece - agreed?
Brag: Yeah. Whew, that's a load off, now I won't feel guilty if people di...let's go, shall we?
Brad: Suddenly, the discordant blare of a car horn splits the silence: it is Pecos Pete's signal to the other drivers to start their engines.
Brag: Yeah, they definitely won't hear you coming!
Brad: Quickly you return to the BragWagon and, as you fire up its engine, you see the twin tail lights of the school bus shrinking in the dark as it heads towards the now-open freeway gate.
The breakout has begun!

MCSPINDLE: Looking forward to not deviating from the plan?
Brag: Plan? Oh, that. Yeah.
Brad: The convoy leaves the sanctuary of Big Spring with its headlights blazing and its gas pedals pressed flat to the foor. The deafening motor noise rolls across the surrounding land like thunder, and the twisted car wrecks that litter this section of Freeway 20 seem to flash past with ever-increasing speed as you accelerate the BragWagon into the slipstream of the school bus.
Above, you see a smoky pinpoint of fire climb into the night sky, then explode with a brilliant flash. It is a signal flare, and it has been launched by the startled group of Maverick gang lookouts, who are manning a barricade less than half a mile ahead. The barricade comprises a line of old cars and other debris that has been dragged into a haphazard line across the freeway.
MCSPINDLE: You think that's bad? It's much more macabre when you actually are a car.
Brag: Yeah, I suppose some of them could be your cousins, right?
Brad: As the two truck screams towards its centre, you can just hear the crackle of automatic gunfire above the roar of the convoy's engines. Then, with a grinding crash, the truck slams into the barricade and ploughs straight through without slowing. Torn and buckled sheets of rusty metal are spun skywards, together with the bodies of those Mavericks too slow to jump clear. Still in line, the convoy follows Pecos Pete through the ragged gap carved by his truck. As you approach it, you grit your teeth and tighten your grip on the steering wheel.

Brag: Is this like....groping you?
MCSPINDLE: I...guess you...are inside me, right? Maybe we should stop this train of thought right now.
Brad: To your right you notice the steep embankment that borders this section of the freeway.
Brag: Ooh, an embankment!
Brad: An old panel truck is perched near the top of the slope, held there in defiance of gravity by blocks of concrete that are edged in front of its wheels. Feverishly two Mavericks are trying to pull away these chocks and, as you reach the gap, they succeed. Your stomach churns as the panel truck comes careering down the embankment on a collision course with the BragWagon.
Brag: Brace for impact!
Rob: I accelerate.
Brad: The mighty V-8 engine growls like an angry tiger as a quart of fuel is force-fed into the cylinders. The effect is breathtaking and immediate: The BragWagon surges foward and you feel as if you are being sucked into your driving seat as it gathers speed rapidly.
Rob: A quart?! The fucking tax on this wagon must be immense!
MCSPINDLE: Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-MC-SPIN-DLE!!!!!

Brad: For a few vital seconds the thrill of the acceleration distracts your attention from the panel truck. By mischance the vehicle reaches the bottom of the embankment, glances off a heap of debris, and is sent spinning wildly across the freeway. Your heart leaps into your mouth the moment you see it appear directly in your way.
MCSPINDLE: Fuck. What are the odds?
Brag: One in three.
MCSPINDLE: Really? I'd have
Brad: You act purely on instinct, yet the speed and precision of your actions are enough to save your life.
MCSPINDLE: Not to mention your on-board computer.
Brag: Yeeeeeah!
Brad: Skilfully you decelerate, using the BragWagon's gears and brakes in unison to prevent the car from ramming into the panel truck. Some people would call that "driving".
Rob: I always have.
Brad: Then, before the engine stalls or the surviving Mavericks are able to close in, you pump the gas and take off once more, your eyes now glued firmly on the tail lights of the school bus. A few poorly aimed bullets chase your escape but you soon catch up with the convoy and pass beyond the range of the Maverick's guns. You can see the first rays of dawn light in your rear-view mirror as you pull out from behind the bus and start to overtake the colony. As you draw level with the tanker, a watery spray speckles your windshield and you catch the strong, unmistakable smell of gasolene in the air.
Brag: This can only end well.

Brad: A stream of the precious liquid is escaping from a bulley hole in the tanker's side, and, as you draw level with the cab, you signal anxiously to Uncle Jonas to stop at the first opportunity.
MCSPINDLE: We. Have. A. CB!!!
Brag: I need someone to drive alongside and poke a finger in the gap! Hey, why are you shouting? We have a CB.
Brad: You have now covered less than a mile when the freeway approaches the ruins of Stanton, a town long since looted and forgotten by the Mavericks, and you bring the convoy to a halt. Pecos Pete offers to help Uncle Jonas patch up the damage, and while you are waiting for them to finish their work, you ask Cutter to help you tell the rest of the colony your plan to rescue Kate. Pecos Pete wasn't in the last one, was he?
Brag: I need it translated into 'Varmint', can you help?
Rob: Not that I recall. Maybe we met him at the end.
Brad: I guess he's kind of like the Gopher in the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh.
Rob: There's a Gopher?
Brad: He's not in the book. At first there are many who think you are being crazy and irresponsible. But gradually, after listening to Cutter's pleas on your behalf, they relent and finally consent to your rescue attempt. Your plan is to go it alone to San Angelo. When you arrive there you will infiltrate the town while Mad Dog Michigan and his gang are busy wheeling and dealing with the Angelinos. Once you have found and rescued Kate, you will leave the city and make your way west to rendezvous with the convoy at a town called Kent, situated at the fork where Freeway 20 joins interstate 10.
Rob: This would surely be more useful if I told them?
Brad: Fine. You tell them, then. The rendezvous is planned to take place exactly seven days from now. If either you or the colony fails to get there by midday, the party that does arrive is to assume the worst and press on to El Paso without delay.

MCSPINDLE: There is absolutely no way that this plan can go wrong.
Brag: Totally.
MCSPINDLE: Do you have any next of kin?
Brag: I've got a brother who's irradiated.
Brad: Before you leave, two large plastic containers, filled with sufficient fuel to enable you to complete the 400-mile detour you have in mind, are loaded into the trunk of the BragWagon. Then, with the tanker repaired and your preparations complete, the colonists, especially your aunt and uncle, bid you an emotional farewell.
Rob: Ironically, that'll weigh us down, which will reduce our fuel economy.
Brad: They are fearful of what might befall you, but all, without exception, admire your bravery and determination to save the girl you love.
MCSPINDLE: That's a bit heavy, isn't it?
Brad: Silently you watch the convoy rumble out of Stanton until it has passed beyond the western horizon. The sun has now risen, and the pot-holed remains of State Highway 137 can be seen cutting a straight line to the south. A wave of uncertainty unsettles your stomach as you think about the difficult mission you have set yourself, but you are quick to dismiss these fears.
Brag: Stupid fears. I've got a job to do and I'm gonna see it gets done!
MCSPINDLE: What if we run into Alcatraz?
Brag: I've decided to just play it cool and hope that he's forgotten our feud.

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