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 a classic Sherlock Holmes gamebook. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Hercule Braggart.
Rob : Witness the return of HERRCUUUUUUUUUULE BRAAAAAAAGGARRRRRRRRT!
Brad: On a pleasant summer day in London, you decide to visit your mentor, Sherlock Holmes, and your cousin, Doctor John Watson. Perhaps today Mr Holmes will hand you a case to solve yourself.
Rob : That'd be nice; I've had to read about them until now.
Brad: Upon reaching 221B Baker Street, Mrs Hudson admits you with a smile, although obviously in the midst of a busy cleaning session.
MRS HUDSON: "How nice to see you again. Mr Holmes and Doctor Watson are in their rooms. You know the way."
BRAGGART: "Are they decent?"
MRS HUDSON: "You might do me a favour..."
BRAGGART: "Are you in need of a gentleman companion?"
MRS HUDSON: "Dr Watson's newspaper just came. It would save me a trip if you'd take it with you. I just came down from carrying the doctor a telegram, and I've a thousand things to do today."
BRAGGART: "Can I pretend I wrote it on the way upstairs?"
Brad: At your knock, Mr Holmes invites you in, and both men great you brusquely. Doctor Watson sits at his desk, writing, a telegram sticking out of his vest pocket.
BRAGGART: "Jesus, put those away guys!"
Brad: His pipe drawing well, Holmes relaxes near the window.
BRAGGART: "You have a pipe that can draw? Well, I can write newspapers in four seconds!"
Brad: You hand your cousin his newspaper and sit to talk with Holmes. Although rarely given easily, the detective's thoughts are always worth hearing. As you talk, you notice Watson turn to the back page of his paper, look at it intently for a moment, and then toss it aside with a grunt of disgust. Holmes chuckles.
HOLMES: "You're quite right, Watson. You will make more money telling the story of Silver Blaze than betting on any of tomorrow's races."
WATSON: "That's what I decided, Holmes. Those horses would have trouble - how did you know what I was thinking?"
HOLMES: "I know the same way I always know. By observation and reasoning. Besides, Watson, you make so much from my analysis of the trivial that you hardly have the right to complain."
BRAGGART: "...I'm still here."
WATSON: "All right, Holmes, the point is well taken."
Brad: Watson blushes and smiles.
WATSON: "But for the life of me, I don't see how you did it this time. I hadn't even told you that I was writing one of your adventures, much less which case."
HOLMES: "Very well, Watson, I shall explain...No, I have a better idea. Our young friend here will retrace my steps and show us how well he has studied my techniques. Come now, see what you can do. I shall provide a little guidance."
Brad: Suddenly nervous, you marshal your thoughts, trying to remember every significant detail of the morning.
BRAGGART: "Where would I begin, Mr 'Olmes?"
HOLMES: "Why don't you try the telegram first? Just before you arrived, Watson received a telegram which he stuck in his pocket without reading. What does that suggest to you?"
BRAGGART: "He's illiterate?"
BRAGGART: "The note was irrelevant to my cousin's writings. He's a proper swot when he's got a project, and so he is. So he ignored it until his work was complete. Also, he *is* illiterate. He's drawing flip comics of your adventures."
HOLMES: "Very good. There is some hope for your ambition."
Brad: Holmes continues to guide your analysis of the scene.
HOLMES: "Now, the next question to address is: was Watson writing letters or one of his stories? Try to tell just by looking at his desk - it should provide all the clues you need."
Brad: You survey Watson's desk point-by-point. Envelopes, stamps and other supplies fill the slots along the raised back. A pile of hand-written sheets lies at the left side, while blank paper is handy on the eight. Watson pretends to write on a sheet, perhaps to recreate the scene. Three crumpled balls of paper are scattered around his feet.
HOLMES: "Now that you've studied his desk, is he writing letters or a story?"
BRAGGART: "A story. There are no envelopes or stamps removed from the raised back of his desk. Also, he could probably do with a bin."
HOLMES: "Very good. Now see if you know what he was writing about."
BRAGGART: "Well, it was irrelevant to the contents of the telegram, of that I can be sure. However, it was not irrelevant to the contents of the paper. So naked girls and weather. But seriously, the horses are usually on the back, I've seen my mate Leroy go through them. I presume, therefore, that the case involves horses in some way. I'm guessing Silver Blaze is a horse? Or failing that, a jockey...but it's more likely a horse."
Brad: Watson laughs and applauds.
WATSON: "He will challenge you any day now, Holmes! Though I'm not sure I like the idea of the two of you reading volumes from my every gesture!"
BRAGGART: "Well it's easier than Captain Aspergers' here, that's for sure."
Brad: Holmes nods in more restrained praise.
HOLMES: "It will do for a start."
Brad: Holmes smiles mischievously.
BRAGGART: "See, that's what I'm talking about."
HOLMES: "Oh, Watson, in your story, did you tell of the dog who did not bark in the night?"
WATSON: "Indeed, Holmes, it is one of the key points."
HOLMES: "As well it should be. [turns to Braggart] It was an important teaching point, too. When you investigate something, look for what isn't there or didn't happen as well as what was or did. Watson, now that we have fully distracted you from your writing, shouldn't you read the telegram?"
WATSON: "[distracted voice] Telegram? Oh, yes, the telegram."
Brad: He rips open the envelope and reads it quickly.
WATSON: "Why, Holmes, it is from Sir Henry Baskerville. He invites us for the weekend, noting that he has something to show you well worth your time."
BRAGGART: "He sounds familiar."
HOLMES: "He does, does he?"
BRAGGART: "Oh, does he have a daughter called Judith?"
HOLMES: "More probably he feels he still owes us hospitality for that little matter we solved some time ago. Well, as you received the telegram, Watson, you must send our refusal."
WATSON: "Indeed, I will not, Holmes. Sir Henry provided us with a most interesting investigation, you must admit. Surely we can spare him a weekend. The fresh air will do you good, and you have no case to tie you to London at this time."
HOLMES: "Oh, very well, Watson. I can see I will have no peace until I agree. We can take a late train Friday afternoon."
BRAGGART: "Am I coming too? Only it's awkward with Judith; I'm the one who started that nickname."
Brad: This is really adding weight to the 'gay couple' theory, isn't it?
Rob : Especially the bickering.
Brad: Holmes busies himself with his pipe once more.
WATSON: "I have only one regret, Holmes."
HOLMES: "What is that, Watson?"
WATSON: "You will miss your chance to instruct me in the art of picking winning race horses - on Friday we had planned to go down to the track."
Brad: Holmes pulls his Bradshaw down from the bookcase and looks up the train schedule, then nods.
HOLMES: "Not at all, Watson. We can catch the train at a station near the racing grounds. Unless something holds up the card, we should be able to see the feature and have time to collect our winnings afterwards."
BRAGGART: "You go to the races? I'd have had you for a strip club fan."
HOLMES: "I usually am, but Watson needs a lesson or two from a logical mind to cut his losses. The race on Friday will provide an excellent demonstration. I am certain which horse will win, while Watson has his own ideas on the matter."
WATSON: "Why don't you join us? Then I shall have a witness when I show Holmes that pure logic is not the solution to every problem. Meet us here at noon - that is all right with you, isn't it?"
BRAGGART: "Hey Holmes, you OK? You've got that look on your face like when you see the Sudoku's been done."
What has caused Holmes to put on a weird face? Stay tuned to E14 for the next thrilling edition of Dickass DM, coming April 4th!