Sunday, 16 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: Your attempt to pick this door lock is a dismal failure.
Rob: Ouch. I visit the cabin of the mysterious American, instead.
Brad: You proceed directly to Cabin 7 and place your ear to the door. No sounds reach you from within.
Rob: I attempt to pick the lock with the Skellington key.
Mungo: Won't it look suspicious if he's inside?
Braggart: He should answer the bloody door. It's just rude not to!
Mungo: You didn't even kno...fine.
Rob: Fuck, I didn't, did i?
Occupant: So, it's you at last.
Brad: He is a large man in an ill-fitting blue suit and a pair of dark glasses.
Braggart: What's this, what's this...?

Occupant: I've been expecting you.
Braggart: Really? I find that difficult to believe.
Occupant: Colonel Hiram T. Schroeder, US Army retired, at your service.
Braggart: Hi...?
Brad: Perhaps Colonel Schroeder is blind and has mistaken you for an invited guest; certainly, you have never seen him before. You are about to apologise for your intrusion when he disconcertingly replies:
Col. Schroeder: No, not blind! I did expect you, or rather we both expected you. I suggest you take a seat and I'll explain.
Braggart: All right...Where shall I take it?
Col. Schroeder: You see, Baron Ausbach is the very same fellow you apprehended in the British Museum.
Braggart: ...What?!
Col. Schroeder: He was certain you would not survive an encounter with the assassin bug aboard the mail plane.
Braggart: Well, to be fair to him, it was touch and go for a while...
Col. Schroeder: I rather hoped you would, for I see in your the persistence and courage, which are the fundamental requirements of investigators into the abhuman and abnormal.
Mungo: I thought we needed a Volkswagen van and a Great Dane, but whatever.
Braggart: this the buffet car?
Col. Schroeder: Ausbach is inclined to liquidate you, but I am inclined to initiate you into a partial knowledge of the dark forces upon which you have stumbled. you know who the thief of the pyramidion is.
Braggart: Ausbach wants to declare me bankrupt? How will that help?
Rob: I chat with Schroeder a little longer.
Brad: Colonel Schroeder reaches inside his jacket and draws out a small leatherbound book.

Col. Schroeder: You have pursued Ausbach because he stole something from you. Your pyramidion is the key to terrible power. It is time to learn the nature of that power.
Braggart: So he's done me a favour?
Col. Schroeder: Time to step beyond the forbidden gateway that shields mankind from the terrors of the Outer Darkness. Turn to page twelve of my little book and read what you find there.
Brad: This is what you find on page twelve of the book.
Before time itself, there was nothing except the chaos of the Outer Darkness, an awesome intelligence. When the universe we inhabit was created, this primordial entity was split asunder and flung throughout the cosmos. It dwells here still. I learnt its names from the gruesome mythology of the Egyptians. Studied its nature in the clay Sanskrit tablets of India's agent cities. While, in the bas-reliefs at the forbidden Mayan temple of Chuqua, I saw its hideous power.

In all, I have discovered five manisfestations of the Outer Darkness. First, there is Het the Destroyer; her element is fire, her guise the snake. Second it Yehog, the devourer within; his element is spirit and his guise a hog. Then there is Wendigo, walker on the wind; Byelbog, who broods beneath the sea; and Apep, who walks restlessly through the earth.

These five terrors forever lurk behind the everyday. Yet there are also myserious and benevolent entities who set protective rings about man's puny conciousness. Chief among these Keepers with one who was known to the Egyptians as Thoth.

Braggart: Is that Thoth or Sos with a lisp?
Mungo: It's written down...
Braggart: I...shut up.
He combines all five elements of the Outer Darkness, tempered with the power of knowledge. The Keepers appear to be patrons to all sentient beings, for in them can be found, in harmony, all six elements.
Brad: You close the book and look up at Colonel Schroeder.

Col. Schroeder: I am sure that what you have read will have raised more questions that it furnished answers. My little book contains much which is unintelligible for you at present.
Brad: You return the book.
Braggart: So where was Wally?
Col. Schroeder: Finally, I have a small gift.
Brad: He passes you a glass tube which contains lurid mauve crystals.
Col. Schroeder: They can provide a most potent restorative. In extremis, you can survive by imbibing the enture contents of the phial.
Braggart: Allrighty.
Col. Schroeder: Now you must leave me, for I am very tired. Yet before you go, I must give you two warnings. The first is, beware of Ausbach. He is a servitor of Het the Destroyer and plots the downfall of all mankind.
Braggart: Haven't we established that he's harmless or something?
Col. Schroeder: Second, I have given you the knowledge of means to obtain forbidden lore; use it well. Use it badly and you will become tainted by the chaos which is the Outer Darkness. Look on me and beware!
Brad: Colonel Hiram T. Schroeder rises and tugs tha dark glasses from his face. You stare into a pair of huge bulging snake eyes!
Mungo: Crom!
Braggart: Arrrrgh!
Col. Schroeder: Yes, my friend. Once, I was beguiled by Het's dark power. I paid the price.
Braggart: But you're totally over it, yeah?
Col. Schroeder: And Baron Ausbach is a living corpse.

Brad: He rises and shows you to the cabin door.
Rob: I abandon my investigation and return to my cabin.
Brad: You reach your cabin, then flop upon the reassuringly soft bed. Every joint in your body throbs and your head feels numb.
Rob: I get that.
Brad: A great weariness seeps through your being. Gradually, you slip into a fitful slumber, disturbed by the endless churning of words and images from the past few days.
Rob: Good stuff.
Brad: You awake with a start, lying on your side facing the cabin door. A yellowish mist is invading the cabin! Your nose feels try and a salty taste haunts your mouth.
Braggart: Pissmist! Salty Pissmist!
Mungo: Heh-heh-heh.
Brad: Sulphur! Desperately, you try to rise but your body seems paralysed. Now the mist begins to glow and a strange humming sound fills your ears.
Mungo: It's a twenty-first century rave!
Braggart: The worst kind!
Brad: Crude red letters begin to glow before your eyes.
Braggart: I'll have a P, please, Bob.
"I, Ausbach, tire of your meddling. Come to me atop the airship, or perish here in your bed."
Brad: The words hang in the air for a few moments, then begin to fade. Twilight's gloom seeps back into the cabin as the mist dissolves.
Braggart: Well, that's a surefire way to get me interested in coming up!

Brad: It's as if the strange display never was, yet a smell of sulphur lingers. Strength returns to your limbs and you rise. Your bedside clock shows the time to be half-past six. You must have been asleep for several hours. You gather your possessions, reload your pistol and leave the cabin.
Mungo: Are you going to change into your Silver Braggart costume?
Braggart: My what? Mungo, are you mad? I don't know what you mean. Totally don't!
Mungo: Sir, I helped you build the Brag Cave, remember? I serviced the BragMobile last week?
Brad: You slip out into the deserted corridor. In the distance you can hear the murmur of conversation and the clatter of pans; your fellow passengers are at dinner. You, however, turn away from their inviting clamour and head towards the airship's dark unheated hold.
Braggart: Man, i hope they haven't finished dinner by the time I've dispatched this prick.
Brad: You slip through a door marked "Crew Only" and enter an enourmous space, criss-crossed by glimmering metal walkways and stuffed with enormous, waxed-canvas, gas bags. For a moment you pause. The warmth of the airship's living quarters gradually flows from your body, the darkness enfolds you. What horror, beyond reason, waits for you atop the Lucretia?
Rob: Ausbach, we've established this.
Brad: As you traverse the airship's walkways, you pass a variety of valves and dials which must, presumably, control the gas bags and ballast. Once, you are obliged to hide from a maintenance crew, but at last you reach the base of a ladder, which must surely lead out on top the airship.
Rob: Ideally. It'd be a bit shit if it led nowhere.
Brad: Now above the roar of the airship's engines you can hear the howling fury of a storm.
The ladder rungs are occasionally illuminated by brief stabs of lightning as you climb towards your encounter with a twentieth-century wizard. You emerge atop the Luretia and struggle out into a rainswept howling wind. A wooden walkway, bounded on either side by a metal handrail, leads away forward. To either side, the corrugated back of the airship falls away towards the depths of the sky. Up ahead, silhoutted against the thunderclouds, stands your adversary.
You grip the handrail and push your body into the wind. You halt a few yards from the man. The roar of the storm suddenly fades, yet the clouds still scud across the sky and the lightning flickers. A cruel thin voice, tinged with a Germanic accent, speaks to you.

Ausbach: In Wales you spoiled my plans and robbed me of my prize.
Braggart: Heh-heh, yeah. That was pretty funny.
Ausbach: The pyramidion you claimed as a souvenir is a key which will unlock the hideous power of my mistress.
Mungo: Oh, god, is he going to get kinky?
Ausbach: Het the Destroyer!
Braggart: If it's hideous, why do you want it?
Ausbach: She shall wreak destruction on mankind and I, Ausbach, shall rule the living dead after her! Only you and that bumbling fool, Petrie-Heydrich, have stood against me.
Braggart: With a name like Ausbach, you'll only ever be a henchman!
Ausbach: Now you will perish.
Brad: Once again, the power of the storm returns. The figure at the rail turns and you shudder as you recognise the cruel features of the corpse-man from the British Museum. Ausbach lifts both hands high.
Ausbach: Let the power of Wendigo, walker on wind, flow through my body!
Brad: As if in answer, the wind howls and shrieks. Thunder peals and a bolt of lightning stabs into his body. The corpse-man shudders, yet remains standing. His eyes begin to glow an inhuman blue and a flickering skein of electricity shrouds his body.
Braggart: Uh-oh.
Brad: Now you must act for mankind, sanity and science!
Rob: I hold on high Petrie-Heydrich's blue crystal scarab!
Brad: As you wait, body braced against the handrail, you catch snatches of Ausbach's vile incantation to Wendigo, Lord of the Winds.
Braggart: Yeah, get ready to have that blow up in your face, fuckface!
Brad: His actions excite the shroud of electricity about his body; it shimmers in bands of blue or red. Finally, Ausbach emits a blood-curdling shriek, which rises even above the storm's fury, and throws his arms out towards you. A dazzling coil of electricity leaps at you. It looks like Force Lightning in your head, doesn't it?
Rob: Dude, most things do. Including stern looks from elderly relatives at gatherings.
Brad: Instantly, you interpose the scarab between your body and the bolt. At the last moment, before the electricy bursts upon you, it arcs upwards into the scarab. The ancient talisman glows incandescent blue.
Braggart: Just like putting too much air into a balloon! It's so obvious!
Brad: Then, with a loud crack, it discharges the bolt back towards its maker.
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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