Sunday 9 October 2011

Dickass DM: Halloween Special

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 and Clive Bailey gamebook Terrors Out of Time. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!

Brad: He has written to Baron Ausbach, to confirm a meeting between them at 3pm on the 25th - in other words, earlier today! However, there is no mention of where the meeting took place. Replacing the envelopes ofn the table, you thoughtfully climb the stairs.

Mungo: *stairs*
Braggart: Why are you looking at those so strangely?

Brad: On the landing you find an imposing set of double doors, set between two busts of nineteenth-century generals. Hallways lead off the landing to the north and south.
Rob: I open the double doors.
Brad: The doors swing back to reveal a large display room, filled with exhibits from ancient Egypt. Figurines of the Gods, talismans, jewellery and carefully preserved hieroglyphic texts line the walls, whilst the floor is covered with statues, amphori and other relics from the Pharaohs.
Rob: Okay.
Brad: I consistently misspell 'Pharaoh' and 'hieroglyphics', but I'm sure you'll follow me. I butcher Ancient Egypt so bad, Metallica wrote a song about me.
The centre of the room has been cleared for the up-ended bottom of a sarcophagus. Nearby lies the discarded lid, its gold embellishments glowing in the light from your torch. You have found the other end of the Thaati Gateway the thief used to escape from the British Museum. Perhaps the pyramidion is somewhere in this room?
Rob: It would be the most sensible place.
Brad: Seaching wildly, you can discover nothing which even remotely resembles the stolen artefact, but you do find a heavy oak door set back into the north wall of the room.
Rob: I open this door.

Mungo: Ever onward, eh?
Braggart: Exactly. Silent Hill theory: if it ain't broke (from the other side) open it.

Brad: I would play the shit out of a Silent Hill gamebook.
Rob: I can't help but feel like a Silent Hill gamebook would play me.
Brad: The door opens to reveal a library. Two windows and a pair of oak doors in the east wall are the only features which provide relief from the rows of leather-bound books, reports and files. Below the west window stands a desk, covered with papers and the model of an Egyptian pyramid. Without hesitation, you step forward to examine the desk.

Brag: It's a desk.

Brad: A sign set into the model's base declares this to be a representation of "The Pyramid of Khefu". Beside the model is a large crumpled sheet of paper and a small brown envelope.
Rob: Is it a receipt from eBay?
Brad: The paper is illustrated with the representation of a heiroglyphic text, beneath which is a translation written in a spidery cramped style:

Discovered in the second chamber within the pyramid of Khefu. A papyrus of Amon-Khet, Cheif Priest of the deity Het. Translated by Baron Ausbach.

Braggart: There's that guy again!

...when the moon hath passed its glory and fades in the east, take thee the crystal pyramidion from the hands of Horus, in the great pyramid of Khefu. Then pass through into the Hall of Entry. Abase thyself and pour out thy preparations, chanting these words with the tongue of the serpent, unto the glory of those who dwell in the Outer Darkness:

Braggart: Well, that's just bloody bleak! Wait, "tongue of the serpent". I need to speak Parseltongue?

Het, I cry to thee destroyer!
Avert the terror of Yehog!
Avert the wrath of Thoth!
Bind thee the coils of Apep,
He who serves thee in darkness.
Dissolve these walls
So I may enter the caverns of dust,
The halls of silence,
The realm of torment,
Where only thy servants may tread.

Brad: Beneath the text is a drawing of the crystal key - the pyramidion stolen from your house! Now you examine the brown envelope. Inside is a receipt for two airship tickets.
Rob: I sense my next destination...

Brad: The receipt was issued at Croydon aerodrome for the Paris, Vienna, Budapest and Constantinople flight of the airship "Lucretia". The airship left Crydon early this evening.
Deducing that the pyramidion's thief may be aboard the airship, you resolve to leave Shandwick House and return to London. You pocket the paper and the airship receipt.
Then you leave the house.
You descend the great staircase and unbolt the front door. Outside the rain has stopped and the clouds have dispersed. The waning moon casts a baleful silver light across the shrubbery. Slipping your torch into a pocket, you crunch boldly along the gravel drive. Suddenly, a cry goes up in the woods to your right.
Looking behind, you see a figure emerge from the trees, then a puff of smoke appears and the foliage next to you is peppered with shot. You have disturbed the gamekeeper!

Braggart: Shit! Shot!

Brad: Turning on your heels, you run for the safety of the public road.

Mungo: My heels always run faster when they're aroused.
Braggart: I...We'll deal with that later.

Brad: Returning to Bedford Terrace, you find Petrie-Heydrich toasting crumpets over the parlour fire.

Braggart: Crumpets, not crumpet?
Charles: Yeah. Less screaming.
Braggart: I can imagine.

Brad: He invites you to join him and, while you eat, he listens to your tale. By the time you have finished, the fire has burned down to a red glow and the corners of the room are hidden in shadow. Charles' chair creaks as he shifts his weight and then he begins to speak.

Charles: I spent the day following up my assertions about the Thaati gateway and Het the Destroyer. Het is an Egyptian deity associated with the undead, such as ghouls, zombies and vampires, and the element of fire. Few myths mention her, but those that do state that she dwells in the Outer Darkness and is a threat to the world.
Braggart: All right. So have you got something to extinguish fire?
Charles: Thaati gateways are specifically connected with those sorcerers who chose to worship Het; so too is the symbol of the serpent devouring its own tail. The Egyptians called this symbol the 'Binding of Apep'.
Braggart: A pep?
Charles: They believed it was a Talisman created by the sorcerer-pharaoh Khefu to help Het gain control of the element of Earth as well as Fire. If Het had been able to use the talisman, she could have destroyed the world, but before Khefu could give it to her...
Mungo: Wa-hey!
Charles: ...he was killed and the talisman was lost.
Braggart: Right. So this talisman...not pyramid shaped was it?
Charles: The same legend also states that the spells which activate the talisman and summon Het may only be cast in the underworld. At first I thought this information all but useless, but with your discoveries it takes on a new and fearsome light.
Braggart: That's never ideal.
Charles: Ausbach must know of the pyramidion's powers and he has stolen it to gain access to the underworld - and for what reason other than to summon Het and to activate the talisman that lies encased within the crystal? Why he should want to do this, I do not know. Perhaps he is mad, or a servant of Het, but whatever the case, his actions threaten to place the world in grave danger and we must stop him!
Braggart: I should think it's obvious, destruction of the world and all that. I imagine he's got the same books as you.
Charles: Tonight we will rest.
Mungo: Good. I'm lazy.
Braggart: Me too! Your daughter about?
Charles: But in the morning you must fly after the airship "Lucretia" in your plane, whilst I shall book a passage to Cairo to investigate the pyramid of Khefu.
Mungo: have a plane?
Braggart: I....I guess I do...
Mungo: Are you Batman?
Braggart: Who's Batman? Some kind of superhero? Wouldn't catch me dead as one of them superheroes...

Brad: You awake in the morning. Mungo has reloaded your pistol and packed your bags.

Mungo: So long. I assumed you didn't want me to come along.

Brad: You add a second magazine and your swordstick to your baggage.

Braggart: Nonsense! Why don't you join me? [Under breath] Never know when you'll need a sacrifice...

Brad: Descending to the study, you eat a hearty breakfast, while Charles arranges his passage to Cairo and books a suite at the Grand Hotel.

Mungo: If you insist, sir. Mr Petrie-Heydrich is charging all of this to your account, by the way.
Braggart: Fine, I have means...Medians and modes, too.

Brad: Breakfast over, the sage old man hands you an exquisitely carved scarab beetle on a leather thong. It seems to be made of an unusual blue crystal.

Charles: This is a 'toofah' beetle.
Mungo: Yeah. Toofah a quid at the market...
Braggart: LOL.
Charles: It is said Egyptian sorcerers used such artefacts to reflect the spells of their enemies.
Mungo: Did you just say LOL out loud, sir? Because that's what the last two letters already imply, sir.
Braggart: You added the extra words, not me!
Charles: Of course, I have only read stories of such powers.
Braggart: Besides, what am I going to do, say 'L!'?
Charles: Is anyone even listening to me?
Braggard: Why is this on a thong? Ergh, it smells like balls.
Charles: However, if this Ausbach fellow is delving into the Outer Darkness, the blue scarab may be of use to you. I must confess *winks*, I am a robber. I 'borrowed' the scarab from a curator friend yesterday. I do hope he won't miss it.
Braggart: You're a robber? A criminal? Why, if I was a superhero in secret, I would think nothing of apprehending you. Lucky for you I'm not, eh?
Mungo: I'm sure, Mr Petrie-Heydrich. I mean, Mr Smith-Rhys-Jones borrows money from his children's charity all the time, don't you, sir?
Braggart: That money was just resting in my account!

Brad: You thank Charles, gather your bags and butler and leave the house.

Mungo: You didn't have to pack me, sir!
Braggart: Quiet, he only paid for one ticket!

Brad: At the aerodrome, your club biplane has already be dragged from the hanger and powered up.

Braggart: And there's no way I'm paying another....four quid? Sod it, I'll cover it. Get out of the bag.
Brad: Clambering in, you taxi downwind, open the throttle and roar into the sky. Unfortunately, the plane is infuriatingly slow and draughty.

Mungo: That'll be all these holes in the body work, sir.

Brad: You endure a miserable flight to Paris, only to find that the airship "Lucretia" has already left for Vienna.

Braggart: That name means nothing to me.

Brad: Are you picturing this journey as an Indiana Jones red line on a map thing?
Rob: Like I do every journey! The only difference between this journey and my journey to work is how much of the world map I'll cover this time!
Brad: Your only hope of overtaking her now is to cadge a lift on the overnight mail plane. The mail plane, a gleaming, three-engined, Junkers monoplane, is packed with mail bags and freight. You are the only passenger. The pilot, a friendly Viennese, shows you to your seat.
Rob: What, the pilot's a cake?
Brad: Yes.

Pilot: The flight will be chilly.

Brad: He hands you some blankets.

Pilot: We fly east along the Alps, over Innsbruck, Salzburg and Lintz.
Rob: Innsmouth?
Pilot: Then we turn north-east for Vienna. We arrive before dawn.

Brad: He then moves forward to his cabin and shuts the door.

Mungo: ...He was a cake, wasn't he? I didn't imagine that.
Braggart: Thank you! I thought I was going crazy!

Brad: You settle into your uncomfortable accomodation, while the pilot powers up the plane's engines. To your left is a window.
Rob: Open or closed?
Brad: In front is a bulkhead, which supports a voice tube, shelf and reading light. The pilot hails you down the voice tube.

Pilot: Be prepared.
Mungo: He could just turn around and talk to us...
Pilot: We take off now.

Words: Brad Harmer & Robert Wade
Brad Harmer: Facebook Twitter
Rob Wade: Twitter
This is intended as a loving tribute to Ian and Clive Bailey, the Forbidden Gateway series, Terrors Out of Time, and all other gamebooks of yesteryear.

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