Friday 29 November 2013

Dickass DM - The Next Generation! - Under The Wire: Part 5

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 gamebook Under The Wire. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Alistair Braggart.

Catch up with The Story So Far

When last we left our intrepid hero, Braggart had just been introduced to some French prisoner, when he sees a tunnel in the works...

EUGENE LANGE: "As you can see, we are quite busy. Please, move away from here."
Brad: Reluctantly, you do so. You wander off towards your own part of the camp, and spend the rest of the day reading. Pronounced Mun-going. After Appel, you feel rather tired, despite having done very little today, and you go to bed early. At about 3:00am, you awake to the sound of sirens blaring. For a moment, you almost believe that you are back in London, listening to an air-raid warning. You start to panic, remembering that the camp has no air-raid shelters.
MAN IN THE NEXT BUNK: [clambering down] "Someone's trying to escape..."
  1. Stay in your own bunk and ignore the excitement
  2. Get up and have a look outside
Rob : Get up and have a look outside. Any chance to ogle an escapee, to be honest.
Brad: You peer through one of the windows and see a man in civilian clothes running towards your hut. Reacting instinctively, you open the window and beckon urgently to him. He looks frantically around before veering towards you and vaulting head-first through the window.
BRAGGART: "I was only going to show you these new curtains."
Brad: The man is a Belgian and wearing very good imitation civilian clothes. He speaks little English, but is obviously grateful for your help.
Rob : How does one communicate that without language, do you think?
Brad: You manage to understand that his escape attempt went wrong when he nearly blundered into a dog-patrol several huts away. He panicked and ran, but does not think that anyone had actually seen him until a searchlight caught him in its beam for a second. He managed to evade it and is fairly sure that the Germans did not see him enter your hut by the window.

Rob : And you say he doesn't speak much English? I mean, just the term 'dog patrol' is complex enough conceptually.
Brad: Apparently.
Rob : I'm not even convinced *I* understand it.
Brad: La chien de la routine
Rob : Isn't that just a dog who's stuck in a rut? A pug that lives for the weekend? A schnauzer who doesn't do enough for just himself?
Brad: The following day, your visitor manages to merge with the other men in your hut as they leave for Appel and is able to rejoin his own comrades without being spotted.
Rob : Wait, so his hiding place is 'back where he was'? Fool-proof.
Brad: Later on in the morning he reappears and, with a big smile, he takes you to meet the camp Escape Committee.
Rob : Sorry, Fuhlpruhf.
Brad: They seem suitably impressed by your quick thinking of the night before, and offer to co-opt you on to the committee. You may choose in which area you would like to work.

  1. Tunnelling
  2. Escape over or through the wire
  3. Methods of bluffing your way through the gates
Rob : CATERING! God, if I had a quid for every time I've wanted to be responsible for catering in a prison of war....Oh. Well, in the absence of that...tunnelling it is!
Brad: You are introduced to Frank "Mole" Moseby, "The Tunnel King", a jovial Yorkshireman in his late thirties.
Rob : The Tunnel King? And his name is Mole?
Brad: I think it's one of those shitty nicknames.
Rob : You reckon? I thought maybe he was big on that diary fellow. Or had a skin blemish.
Brad: Like when you see someone who has a nickname in a film credits, and you just KNOW they're the only ones who call themselves by that name. "C'mon me 'Crash'!"
Rob: "I will literally give you a tenner to just call me 'Tex-Mex' once."
"MOLE" MOSEBY: "I'm a hard taskmaster, Mr Braggart. Do your bit, though, and I'll see you right."
Brad: He details you to start shift work in the current tunnel.
BRAGGART: "Oh please, call me Mongoose. Since we're going fucking batshit with these..."

Brad: The tunnel leaves from the store hut by the kitchen and runs due west, hopefully to the tree line beyond the cleared ground outside the camp. You soon settle into a daily routine of digging for shifts of two hours each. By the third week, you have grown used to the claustrophobic conditions in the tunnel. Digging at the face one morning, you remove a large rock which is blocking your way but, as you so, the roof of the tunnel caves in.
Rob : Better that than the poor bastards trapped when the cave of the tunnel roofed in.
Brad: Frantically, you begin to worm your way backwards.
Rob : *Mongoose
Brad: IT seems like hours rather than seconds before you feel hands tugging at your legs.
Rob : Having worked in IT, I can confirm this is how it feels.
Brad: The panicked scrabbling of your body turns presently into a smooth slide backwards, and you emerge, choking and spluttering, into the musty air of the remnants of the tunnel. The tunnel has been set back by at least a week - maybe more.
BRAGGART: "Bollocks."

Brad: After your accident, you are given the less hazardous task of a "Stoolie" - a lookout.
Rob : I thought there would be poo involved from that name.
Brad: Several days later, you are on duty outside the storeroom, casually leaning up againt the wall, when you see three guards purposefully striding to wards you.

  1. Create a diversion
  2. Rush into the storeroom and warn those below
Rob : I create a diversion. Most likely getting my dick out.
Brad: Desperately, you come up with a plan. As the Germans approach, you pretend to cower away in fear.
Rob : With my dick out.
Brad: Crouching on the ground and wrapping your arms over your head, you pretend that you have finally gone over the edge - "Wire Happy" they call it in the camp. Despite your act, the Goons know something is up.
Rob : Is that what's referred to as a Section 8?
Brad: Ignoring your act, one holds you at gun point while the other two head straight for the hut. You hear muffled raised voices. Minutes later, three grimy figures emerge under arrest.
BRAGGART: "Three? I only remember seeing two...Are you smuggling people IN?! WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU IN CHARGE?!"
Brad: You and your comrades are given a month in the cooler, and the tunnel is filled in.
Rob : Also, obligatory Mr Freeze joke for the "cooler" reference.

Brad: As far as "Doing the Complete Opposite of the Brief", this escapee is heading the same way as the Silver Braggart.
Rob : Hey, for all we knew, that small child was Hitler. Or was having a heart murmur fixed by electrical stimulation.
Brad: Sitting in solitary confinement, you have plenty of time to think.
BRAGGART: "I need to buy a boat."
Brad: How could the Goons have known about the tunnel? Someone in the camp must have informed.
BRAGGART: "A boat wouldn't *need* a tunnel..."
Brad: During the brief exercise periods, you discuss this with your fellow tunnellers and they agree. An inquiry will be held when you all get out.
Rob : An official one? Seems difficult to organise.

Brad: An official military enquiry is held upon your release. But to your amazement, the line of questioning seems to be aimed at pinning the blame on you. You are the least well-known of the team, and the most likely suspect.
Rob : Makes sense. Of Team E14, I'm most suspicious of Blake.
Brad: Your reasoned arguments and obvious honesty seem to make an impression upon the senior officers.
BELGIAN PRISONER: "But if Braggart did not inform the Goons, then who did?"
Rob : That was confusing. For a second there, I thought I was engaging the prison guards in philosophical debates.
Brad: Suspicion now naturally falls upon the other recent arrivals and the camp, and the officers question you searchingly about them. You tell what little you know, but cannot think that it will help very much.
BRAGGART: "I've mostly been looking at their asses. I'll be honest, I wonder if being cooped up with all these men is having an effect on me. Dahhhling."

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Crouch And Spike Built A Guitar!

You might have found yourself wondering "Where are Team E14's newest contributors, Spike and Crouch?

Well, wonder no more! They've been hard at work on construction, and the fruits of their labours can be seen below:

Incidentally, as someone who has heard these guitars live, they sound absolutely phenomenal!

If you enjoy their musical stylings, check out Sour Crouch and the Xenophobes, a band starring Mr Crouch himself, here:


Friday 15 November 2013

Dickass DM - The Next Generation! - Under The Wire: Part 4

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 gamebook Under The Wire. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Alistair Braggart.

Catch up with The Story So Far

When last we left our intrepid hero, Braggart had just arrived at Stalag Luft 14 and had just walked towards the main camp.

Brad: Looking through the wire into the main camp you can see a large group of prisoners gathering in front of a series of huts inside the compound to welcome you. Your group is ushered into a building on the left which appears to serve both as a reception centre and a guard barrack room. In turn, the seven of you are searched. Then issued with two blankeys, washing equipment, a fork, mess-tin and a small packet of tobacco.
Rob : I get two blankeys this time? Was one meant to go to one of the corpses?
Brad: Walking with Clank and Wheezy, you enter the main compound to be greeted by the rest of the inmates. Instantly, a stream of questions are thrown at you.

BRITISH GUY #1: "The Germans haven't landed in England, have they?"
BRITISH GUY #2: "Where were you shot down?"
BRAGGART: "...Hang on, I'll just go and check...It was right in the aeroplane."
BRITISH GUY #3: "How's London getting on?"
BRAGGART: "It's getting on getting on. Or something."

Brad: With a series of nods and monosyllables you answer the questions without stopping in your walk forward to meet the Senior British Officer. Group Captain McSpindle's hut lies in the centre of the British part of the camp and you are led there by a group of other prisoners. Straightening your uniform, you knock on his door.
BRAGGART: "That's better. Had my cock out all afternoon without noticing."
Brad: The Senior British Officer is a fairly tall man in his middle forties, bespectacled and with a vaguely aristocratic air. He welcomes you warmly and offers you a seat.
Rob : How does one welcome warmly? Does he rub my arms a bit?

Brad: His quarters are quite comfortable, if a little cramped. In a soft voice he asks your names, ranks and serial numbers, jotting them down in a ledger on his desk. He assigns you to Hut 113, in the south-east corner of the compound and suggests you get some sleep after your journey. You stand again, salute and leave.

  1. Go directly to Hut 113
  2. Have a look around first
Rob : Have a look around first.
Brad: The camp is alive with activity: football (Sorry, Omer), open-air language classes and many men just walking around the perimeter.
Rob : Are they guards?
Brad: Doesn't say.
Rob : Otherwise they're just orienteering, in the lamest possible way.
Brad: Everywhere there are RAF uniforms, mixed with those of other nationalities - French, Dutch and Belgian. It appears that roughly a third of the prisoners are French, a third British and the remainder a mixture of Dutch and Belgian. Many have been here since just after war broke out in 1939. Feeling that you need a rest before you inspect the camp properly, you make your way to Hut 113 with Clank Wheezy.
Rob : Clank Wheezy?
Brad: Sorry, typo. Clank and Wheezy
Rob : Ahh ok. I thought our new reboot involved making old characters collide/bang.
Brad: As you enter, a Flight Officer by the name of Read introduces himself and shows you to your bunks. Taking the top bunk in a tier of two, you nod off into a deep sleep.

BRAGGART: "Is that pronounced Red or Reed?"
READ: "Neither."
READ: It's spelt R-E-A-D. But it's pronounced "Mun-go".
BRAGGART: "Right."
READ: *stares*

Brad: You awake to the sound of a bell ringing.
Rob : Wait, wait, wait. I've been captured by the Jerrys with a guy named Mungo?
Brad: The officer on the bunk next to yours explains that this is the call to "Appel" - daily parade and head-count.
BRAGGART: "How's *that* pronounced?"
READ: "a.pɛl"
BRAGGART: "That doesn't help me. I'm not up on my phonetic alphabet."
READ: *stares*

Brad: As you trot along to the assembly area at the rear of the camp you discover that this happens at 8:30am and 4:00pm every day. Apart from Appel and the ritual of locking the prisoners into their huts at 6:30 every evening, the Germans appear to leave the POWs to their own devices. Arriving at the Appel area, you see ranks of airmen, lined up by nationality, with their superior officers at the front.
Brad: Most look sullen and despondent - hardly surprising when they have been here for so long.
Rob : I thought they were the soldiers. Why would *they* be depressed? If they're unhappy with their lot in life as prison officers, DON'T RUN A PRISON!

Brad: I mean officers in the Allie...never mind. The head-count is slow, with the Goons [prison staff], running back and forth along the lines of prisoners. Presently you are all dismissed and rush off to line up for breakfast.
Rob : Wait, not *the* Goons, surely. This is turning into a prison-based fucking Royal Variety Performance.
Brad This is your first real opportunity to meet the rest of your fellow Britons.

  1. Bring up the question of escape
  2. Start by asking for more details about the prison layout and routine
Rob : Ask about more details.
PRISONER: "There are nine towers, with searchlights and a constantly manned machine-gun in each."
BRAGGART: "Do they have any constantly gunned machine men?"
PRISONER: "Then there are about half-a-dozen dog handlers and thirty of so other guards, plus the Ferrets, of course."
BRAGGART: "The Ferrets?"
PRISONER: "Yes. The Abwehr men."
BRAGGART: "Ab-who?"
PRISONER: "That's the ones. They just snoop about looking for anything suspicious."
BRAGGART: "Where is the camp?"
PRISONER: "About twenty-five miles from Frankfurt, near the Rhine Valley. It's about a hundred and fifty miles to the Swiss border. Thinking of escaping?"
BRAGGART: "I don't really feel strongly about escaping to Switzerland."
  1. Avoid this question by asking one of your own
  2. Ask him if the camp has an Escape Committee
BRAGGART: " you taller than me? Why, how many people have escaped?"
AIRMAN PRISONER: "Not many. Six, I think. The French try it all the time, but most of them get caught. They're good tunnelers, though."
BRAGGART: "Yeah? I thought they'd be...good at surrender. Still got it."
  1. Ask if there is an escape committee
  2. Decide to try to escape on your own
Rob : I think I should escape on my own. Worst case scenario, it'll be funny.

Brad: You walk out into the compound.

  1. Inspect the wire perimeter
  2. Look around the huts first
Rob : BY MYSELF?! Fine. Look around the huts. Best case scenario, I find some stuff to pike.
Brad: Walking towards the huts, you see a group of French prisoners loitering around in front of one particular building. They look pretty suspicious.
Rob : That' that racist?
Brad: You decide that they must be up to something - planning an escape, perhaps. Curiosity turns your steps towards them.
READ: "BI-Curiosity..."
BRAGGART: "Did you say something?"
  1. Try talking to the Frenchmen
  2. Ignore them
Rob : Try talking to the Frenchmen. I need recommendations on cheese and/or bread.
EUGENE LANGE: We are keeping an eye on the Goons. My name is Eugene Lange, Chief Goon-Baiter.
BRAGGART: "My name is...Alistair Braggart. Sorry for the delay, I had to look back life?"
EUGENE LANGE: "You have not been here, long. Perhaps you will get enough excitement soon."
BRAGGART: "Why do you describe people based on their most distinguishing feature, nose?"
Brad: You shrug and look past him at the compound. Only a few yards away, around the corner of a hut, one of the Ferrets is appraoching the German snoopers.
  1. Try to warn Eugene, and risk having the Germans think you are an accomplice.
  2. Do nothing
Rob : I do nothing. And in the game.
Brad: One of the other Frenchmen has spotted the German. Casually he nudges Eugene, who turns nonchalantly to and taps on the window behind him. Looking past him for a moment, you see four men quickly pull a cover over a hole in the floor of the hut and scatter. Another man walks over to the window and chats casually to Eugene until the German has walked past and disappeared.
BRAGGART: "Couldn't...couldn't I have done that conversation bit?"
Brad: Eugene turns back to you and smiles.
BRAGGART: "I'm just saying the guy walking over seemed kind of unnecessary."

Thursday 14 November 2013

E14 Presents: Claymore Division! - Game Review: "Of Gods And Mortals"

It's time once again for Claymore Division! This time around, the boys review "Of Gods And Mortals" from Osprey Publishing.

If you like the show, don't forget to join the Claymore Division Facebook group!

Also, if you like the sound of the game, you can also pick up the rulebook direct from the publisher Here!

Friday 1 November 2013

Dickass DM - The Next Generation! - Under The Wire: Part 3

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 gamebook Under The Wire. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Alistair Braggart.

Catch up with The Story So Far

When last we left our intrepid hero, he had been captured by the Nazi forces, and had just arrived in Calais. Following the captain, he jumps off the boat and heads into the crowd..

BRAGGART: "Hier. Deine blankey back."
Brad: Close behind you follows a second member of the crew.
OFFICER: "Halt die Klappe!"
BRAGGART: "That's Herr Klappe to you, Kraut."

Brad: After a few minutes walk you arrive at the E-boat command HQ and are ushered into the commander's office for interrogation. A bald, portly man of indefinable rank sits at a desk, partially hidden by mounds of paperwork. As you enter, he sits up.
BRAGGART: "Don't get up, tubby. Wouldn't want you rupturing a chin."
BALD PORTLY MAN OF INDEFINABLE RANK: "Your name, rank and serial number?"
BRAGGART: "Red Four...Red...Four."
BALD PORTLY MAN OF INDEFINABLE RANK: "You were seen shooting at a German pilot who had bailed out, Flight Officer Redfour. What do you have to say for yourself?"
BRAGGART: "Sorry I missed?"

  1. Repeat your name, rank and serial number
  2. Deny it, and give an account of your actions over the Channel.

BRAGGART: "Red Four...Red...Four."
BALD PORTLY MAN OF INDEFINABLE RANK: "You have nothing further to say?"
Brad: You stand silently at attention as he looks at you.
BRAGGART: "Nein...Wait, I mean Four."
BALD PORTLY MAN OF INDEFINABLE RANK: "I have no alternative but to hand you over to the Gestapo for interrogation. I am sorry."
BRAGGART: "No you're not."
Brad: Realising that you must speak quickly or else risk being handed over to the secret police, you recount your actions over the Channel.
BRAGGART: "If there's one thing I won't tolerate, it's liars in Nazi uniforms."
Brad: As you finish, he clears his throat and says:
BALD PORTLY MAN OF INDEFINABLE RANK: "I am glad that you have chosen to co-operate, Braggart. I see no need for any further unpleasantness."
BRAGGART: "I do. You fat fuck."

BALD PORTLY MAN OF INDEFINABLE RANK: "You will be taken to Luftwaffe headquarters - they are responsible for downed RAF pilots. Goodbye."
Brad: A Kubelwagon staff car is parked outside with three armed men in it and you are swiftly driven away to Luftwaffe HQ. The town is full of soldiers.
Rob : Kubelwagon? Why would they be delivering Jewish pudding? Surely that's the total opposite of what Nazis would do.
Brad: It's like a jeep.
Rob : Ah.
Brad: The Germans seem to have preparations well under way for their invasion of England. You wish you were still in the skies defending your homeland against them and you curse yourself for the mistake which has brought you here. Presently, you arrive at Luftwaffe HQ and are locked in a cell for the night. At daybreak a guard arrives with a bowl of food and a mug of coffee; he does not speak English.

  1. Try and talk to him
  2. Stay quiet and eat, hoping for an opportunity to get away later
Rob : Try and talk to him.
Brad: He does not understand your stumbling German and shrugs before turning to leave.
  1. Attack him
  2. Wait for a better chance later
Rob : Wait for a better chance. Seems pointless to attack *everyone* I meet this early on.
Brad: Several minutes pass; then the guard returns and gestures for you to follow him outside.
Brad: The yard at the rear of the Headquarters is deserted save for a truck with its engine running and two German soldiers standing sentry at the rear of the vehicle.
Brad: Walking closer, you see the the truck is half full of British servicemen, all waiting to be driven to the POW camp.
Brad: You climb aboard and introduce yourselves.
BRAGGART: "Red Four, chaps! Introducing myself and all that, there's a good lad."

Brad: It seems that the seven others in the truck were all picked up in the early houts of the morning from the local jails.
BRAGGART: "Why would you hide in their jails?!"
Brad: Five of the prisoners are the surviving members of a Blenheim crew - Flight Lieutenant Clank, Flight Sergeant Wheezy and their flight crew, McDonald, Robinson and Common.
Rob : Common?
Brad: I think he's a rapper. The other two are fighter pilots like yourself - Parkinson and Cowie. Before long, the truck is ready to move off. Three Germans sit in the cab at the front and a further two join you in the rear.
MCSPINDLE: "Wa-hey!"

Brad: Both soldiers are young and nervous - one has a machine-gun, the other a rifle. Cautiously, you study both of them.
BRAGGART: "They look young...and nervous..."
Brad: It seems best to wait until you are in the countryside before trying anything.
BRAGGART: "Shit, I shouldn't have said that out loud."
YOUNG NERVOUS NAZI: "Wo ist meinen blankey?"
Rob : "Deinen blankey? Sheiße."
Brad: The truck follows the road to Lille. Every mile is clogged with German equipment heading for the coast.
Rob : "Saxophones? You've gotta fucking be kidding me!"
Brad: You seem to be the only ones going inland. Presently, the lorry stops at the side of the road in a small wood and the two guards jump out before gesturing to you all to follow them and stretch your legs. Wait...
Rob : Alright...
Brad: Isn't this how Skyrim starts?
Rob : Now that you mention it, I did decide my stats and choose my gender...
Brad: This could be your opportunity to escape.

  1. Try to wander off on your own
  2. Stay with the main group and see what they decide to do
Rob : Stay with the main group.
Rob : I remember too well what happened the first time I was alone in Skyrim.
Brad: The three other guards have not appeared - presumably they have wandered off into the undergrowth to relieve themselves. There are eight of you prisoners and only two guards.
  1. Decide to make the first move
  2. Wait for someone else to do it
Rob : Wait for someone else to move. This will be a good way to gauge my chances.
Brad: Clank is talking earnestly to Wheezy. Suddenly, as you watch, they begin fighting. The two guards move quickly towards them to stop the fight. As they approach the stuggling pair, the other five men rush them.
Rob : See? Worth me holding off.
Brad: After a flurry of blows and echoing gunshots, the scene clears to reveal three RAF men lying inert on the ground and one of the guards rubbing a bruised arm. Both Germans are extremely angry and one screams at you to rejoin the group.
NAZI: "Rejoinen das gruppe!"
BRAGGART: "Mit blankey oder ohne?"

Brad: Moving carefully in order not to alarm them, you do as they wish. The three other Germans emerge hurriedly from the undergrowth and help to drag the bodies away. The remaining six of you are herded back aboard the truck. The German mood of anger and increased caution does not change. Indeed, when you reach the next stop at a local jail to pick up two more prisoners, they handcuff you to the wooden slatted seats in the truck. It seems you will be seeing Eastern France and probably Germany after all.
Rob : Damn.
Brad: The rest of the journey is largely uneventful.
Rob : I hate Eastern France the most.
Brad: Why?
Rob : I don't really. I have no real opinion on anywhere except Valence, Lyon and Paris.

Brad: Each night, your guards lock you up in a local jail and by day they handcuff you to the seats in the truck. Eventually, you arrive late one afternoon at Stalag Luft 14, near Wiesbaden in Germany. The soldiers from the truck hand you over to the prison guards before driving away. The camp seems well-established. As you pass through the first gate you see that it is covered by a tall tower with a machine gun post at the top. Once inside, you stand in an enclosed parade area which you will soon now as the "Vorlager".
Rob : Should I be making notes?
Brad: Do you ever?
Rob : No. That wasn't the question though.
Brad: If you need to re-read any of this...just scroll up.
Rob : That goes for you too, readers. *Thumbs up*