Friday 28 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: Beyond the arch is a room lined with red granite. A large block of basalt, which once supported the sarcophagus of Khefu, fills the centre of the chamber. Behind it stands a gilded statue of the god Horus. The statue guards a narrow entrance in the far wall, through which you can see a crumbling flight of steps descending precipitously into darkness. Passing the block, you notice a ring of sand on its surface where someone has put a bag down and then picked it up again.
Could Ausbach have come this way? A sense of foreboding fills your mind.
Rob: Descend the steps.
Brad: As you are about to descend the steps, you notice a thin wire that has been stretched across the entrance, about a foot from the floor. Gingerly steeping over it, you proceed with greater caution down the cramped and uneven steps.
Rob: Why is that wire there, I wonder?
Brad: As you go deeper, dark stains begin to discolour the walls and the smell of herbs wafts up the stairwell. Then you round a corner and step into a room that is almost identical to the one you have just left.
Braggart: Oh good, hippies!

Brad: The room is also lined with red granite and contains another block of basalt. But behind the block looms an elaborately carved doorway, its flankes framed by interlocking snakes. Beside the block stands a trestle table, cluttered with bowls, phials and leather bags, from which rises the smell of herbs and spices.
Rob: I examine the items on the table. Worst case scenario, I can make a sandwich.
Brad: I like your thinking.
Rob: It's rules I live by.
Brad: Clearing a space for your lantern and butler, you sift through the objects before you. The leather pouches and phials are empty and the bows contain the residue of various sweet-smelling oils. Then you discover a leather bag which is still unopened. It contains something large and heavy.
Braggart: Pavarotti?!
Brad: Gingerly you loose the twine around its neck, tip it up and shake out the contents. To your horror, a severed human hand flops onto the table! It quivers with life, flexes its fingers and then crawls towards you like a tarantula.
Braggart: What is this....Thing?!
Brad: This is the legendary Hand of Glory, used by necromancers to destroy their enemies.
With a shudder of horror, you step back. The hand is shrunken and withered with age.
Rob: Hand of Glory! I must find a way to subvert it to my will.
Brad: Strange red symbols are tattooed on the back of each of its gnarled fingers. As you stare unbelievingly, it drops off the table and runs across the floor towards you.
Rob: Runs? On five fingers or two? I try and crush it underfoot!
Brad: Your boot crunches into the hand, crushing it into the floor. Brown dust floats up from around your boot and a disgusting smell fills the chamber. You have destroyed the Hand of Glory.

Braggart: Ergh, now I've got fingernails under my crap.
Brad: Turning, you pass through the carved archway. The corridor is broad and slopes steadily downward towards a yellow light!
Mungo: Could this be Ausbach at last?
Brad: Covering the lantern, you tiptoe down the corridor. On the right of the corridor light pours out of a doorway, before which a circle has been drawn on the ground. Inside the circle, the stubs of candles still smoulder and there are puddles of different coloured oils; you have discovered the remnants of the preparations Ausbach mixed to open the gateway to the underworld.
Braggart: Sumo tournaments? That's it?
Brad: Creeping forward, you peer round the edge of the doorway into a chamber lit by oil lamps.
The chamber is empty but its walls are decorated with elaborate representations of the Egyptian gods. Set into the wall opposite you is a gilded door and beside this is a representation of Thoth, sitting at a high desk. Stepping into the chamber, you admire the picture and the god's head turns to stare at you with dark eyes!
Braggart: Shit!
Rob: Hold fire. Let's see if it can communicate. If it can do that, it's already better than Mungo.
Mungo: *stares*
Braggart: See, now it's not as impressive.
Brad: Thoth puts down his quill and steps out of the picture, raising a hand in greeting.

Thoth: Don't be afraid, mortal. I mean you no harm. The creature you seek has already passed into the underworld and soon he will summon Het from the Outer Darkness.
Braggart: See, now I'm glad I didn't shoot you.
Thoth: Me too. I cannot interfere directly in these events, but I can help you indirectly.
Braggart: How do I take Ausbach out...back?
Thoth: Ausbach may be slain in two ways.
Braggart: Ooh, I'll try both!
Thoth: One is to turn the very element he serves - fire - against him. The other is to find his life-force, which Het has removed from his body and imprisoned somewhere in the Underworld.
Braggart: I don't suppose I could lob corpse dust at him, could I?
Thoth: The pyramidion is a crystal, fashioned by a race known as...
Mungo: Jews?
Thoth: The Polyps of Ombos.
Braggart: Seriously? Sounds like a race who needed to use up Scrabble letters.
Thoth: It is a power focus, or key, used to draw matter from one dimension to another. It was Het who ensured that the Polyps brough it to this world, in the hopes that she could then use it as a gateway, but her plans were foiled when the Polyps and their creature-ship were buried beneath the rocks of North Wales.
Braggart: That'd slow me down too.
Thoth: Thus the crystal was lost for millions of years, until the Egyptian Pharaoh, Khefu, stumbled upon it in the course of his sorcerous experiments.
Brad: Right, sorry, dude, but I'm out.
Rob: Out as in "done for the night"?
Brad: I was willing to entertain all kinds of shit in the name of Dickass DM, but this is it for me.
Rob: What's wrong, dude?
Brad: I've put up with Rain Lords, vampire weasels, superheroes tasering small children, rapey door knockers, and not to mention - of course - a zombie carrot. But I'm out here.
I draw the line at an Ancient Egyptian necromancer who goes holidaying in North Wales.
*sounds of a chair scuffing, someone leaving the room, and a door closing*

Brian Recession: I can GM for a bit, if you want?
Rob: This should be interesting.
Brian Recession: Right...ahem...
Thoth: He cast potent spells to draw it through time and space to his palace and, in so doing, he attracted the powers of the Outer Darkness. Thus Het learned of he crystal's rediscovery and, working through it, she corrupted Khefu.
Brian Recession: Then Brad's done doodles of what appears to be Darth Vader doing a Polar Bear, doggy style. Then it continues...
Thoth: She commanded him to build this [gestures to room] the first pyramid, in imitation of the pyramidion, so that a gateway to the underworld could be opened.
Brian Recession: I'm assuming he did that as a business expense, right? He'd be mad not to.
Rob: I guess so, yeah.
Brian Recession: Makes you wonder how many of the wonders of the world were tax deductable really, doesn't it?
Rob: I'll be honest, I've never given it that much thought.
Thoth: Then she instructed Khefu to focus the crystal, so she could use it to control the very fabric of the earth, which belongs to the primeval beast, Crom Cruach.

Brian Recession: Does he make this up as he goes along, do you think?
Rob: Probably.
Thoth: But Khefu died alone before all thAAGH!
Brad: Oh, no. What a horrible accident.
Rob: What happened?
Brad: Brian just suddenly and viciously slammed the back of his head into this paperweight that I was about to show him.
Rob: Wow. Is he okay?
Brad: Probably. Hang on, I've always wanted to try this:
Yeah, he's fine.
Thoth: Then she instructed Khefu to focus the crystal, so she could use it to control the very fabric of the earth, which belongs to the primeval beast, Crom Cruach.
Rob: Crom's Crotch?
Thoth: But Khefu died before all the necessary ceremonies could be completed and, with his death, the spells that held the crystal were broken and it slipped back to its tomb beneath the hills of Wales. Frustrated yet again, Het collapsed back into the Outer Darkness to brood. She returned to place Ausbach on its trail.
Rob: Sulk, more like. Emo bitch.
Thoth: Even now, he is within reach of achieving her ultimate aim!
Braggart: How long's her reach? We don't have much time!
Thoth: You must act swiftly to thwart her plans.
Brad: From out of the air, Thoth plucks a stone mace and hands it to you.

Braggart: How did you do that?!
Thoth: With this, you shall beat down the shades of the underworld.
Braggart: I'll say!
Brad: As you clasp the cold stone, energy pulses into your body.
Rob: *pulsepulsepulse*
Rob: Is it Thoth, or someone with a lisp saying Sos?
Brad: I don't have a lisp...
Rob: Point.
Brad: Finally, Thoth hands you a small gold coin and gestures towards a door at the back of the room.
Rob: Ah, giving me the old 'here's a coin, now fuck off' trick...
Thoth: That door leads to the ferry and the ferryman will require payment.
Mungo: This adventure has gotten a bit weird, hasn't it?
Braggart: Gotten?!
Brad: The door opens on a twilight world of grey rolling hills and dead vegetation. Oppressed by the landscape, you trudge wearily up the nearest hill. With each new step, the grass beneath your feet crumbles to dust. At last you crest the hill and look down upon a vast river, whose dark waters flow sluggishly through the barren land.
Rob: ...Surely the hill has collapsed if I'm walking and its crumbling...
Brad: Fine. The hill collapses and you die. Happy now?
Rob: ...No...I see the flaw. I'll be good.
Brad: The far bank is out of sight but, below and to your left, you see a crumbling wharf which just out into the water. Moored to its side is an ancient ferry.
Braggart: Let's steal it!
Brad: Descending to the wharf, you find it is made of bones that crunch beneath your feet. The boat at its side is both wormeaten and rotten. A dark figure, hidden in the folds of black habit, rears up out of the stern of the boat. With a thin hand, he waves you on to the ferry.

Braggart: I mean, let's find the purveyor of this fine craft, and pay him fairly.
Brad: The timbers of the ferry squelch and groan beneath your weight and the smell of mould and decay fills your nostrils. The ferryman lifts a pole off the deck and pushes the boat out into the silent waters.
Mungo: It's a bit shit here, isnt' it?
Braggart: Shhh, he might live here.
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.


Toxic. Carnivorous. Subterranean.

When an American oil company sets up an experimental drilling plant out in the vast deserts of Mongolia, they are completely oblivious to what actually lies beneath them. Pumping hot water deep into the ground, the company is hoping to expose untapped oil, but what they end up uncovering is something no one ever expected. As the superheated water plummets its way into the earth, it strikes a nest of deadly creatures that have been dormant for centuries. Thought to be purely mythological, these monsters are in fact real...and now they have been awakened! They are angry and they are bloodthirsty

Thanks to our friends at Lions Gate Home Entertainment, we've got two copies of Mongolian Death Worm on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 11th November, making sure to put "Death Worm" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome DVD!

Don't forget to put "Death Worm" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Mongolian Death Worm is available now, courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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