Friday 25 April 2014

Dickass DM - The Adventures Of Hercule Braggart: Trouble At The Track - 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 a classic Sherlock Holmes gamebook. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Hercule Braggart.

When last we left our hero, Braggart was trying to get a client list, and had decided on a way to distract a man, using an unfortunate patsy, also known as John.

Catch up with Part 1 Here
Catch up with Part 2 Here
Catch up with Part 3 Here
Catch up with Part 4 Here

BRAGGART: "Watson, act dazed when I bump int-THINK FAST!"
Brad: You immediately trip and bang into the doctor. He crashes theatrically into a chair next to Roscoe's table and falls to the ground as if injured. He is such a fucking drama queen. As you bend over the list, Roscoe grabs your shoulder and yells.
ROSCOE: "Just what do you think you're doing, mate?"
BRAGGART: "Just browsing."
ROSCOE: "Now get away from this or I'll teach you what snoops get!"
Brad: He shakes his big fist in your face.
Rob : I leave. No sense getting into a fight unnecessarily.
Brad: Sensing that you have all the information you can gather, you stroll to the tables to talk to Colonel Stuart and his employees. A groom walking a horse tells you which barn to go to. The Colonel greets you affably, although he is still obviously agitated.

COL. STUART: "I hope you learned something. My men are waiting to talk to you."
Brad: You and Colonel Stuart have a small barn to yourselves; the only visible stall is Irish Star's. The barn appears old and worn, although there are signs that the owners of the track have been working to repair it. Colonel Stuart notices you studying it and laughs.
COL. STUART: "It may not be the best barn here, but they let me have it for nought as it is being repaired. We shall be here for a week only, and like my Scots ancestors, I'll save a penny wherever I can."
Rob : I question his men.
Brad: Colonel Stuart leads you to other stables. Here, he rents two stalls, both of which are clean and well-tended. A neat tack room holds a cot, where the groom sleeps. Stuart's two men are waiting for your arrival. Henry Raines, the trainer, is a thin, dried out man with a sharp nose and narrow eyes. He has the air of a man who knows his business. Beside him stands John Oliver, the groom, dressed in work clothes.

BRAGGART: "So you're Raines, who does the reins? And you do all of the cleaning, Oliver?"
Brad: He has an open, red face and seems a very ordinary sort of working man.
COL. STUART: "This gentleman is a detective. It is obvious that something was done to slow Irish Star today, and I have hired him to investigate the matter."
RAINES: "Investigate? [eyes flashing] Does that mean you think we did owt to the horse, sir?"
COL. STUART: "No, no. I shall explain. [to you] You had better start with Oliver."
Brad: At a nod, John Oliver follows you into an empty stall.
BRAGGART: "Sorry, I know very little of horses and the work that goes into making them raceworthy. I seek only the truth behind the matter of Irish Star."
OLIVER: [eager] "Sure thing, guv. I'm always glad to help the gentry. Just shoot your questions and I'll tell you anything you need to know."
BRAGGART: "Can you tell me what exactly you do here?"
OLIVER: "I do what you might expect, guv."
BRAGGART: "Yeah...I don't know what that is."
OLIVER: "I muck out the stall and lay own fresh straw in the morning. I feed the horse and I cools him out sometimes. Now, on race days like today, Mr Raines has a boy of his who walks him after the race, so I can have everything shipshape when he comes back to his stall. And, o'course, I groom him couple times a day, keep the big boy pretty as a picture, I do."
BRAGGART: "Gor Blimey trousers, guv'nor, and no mistake! I know an Oliver, actually. A Tom Oliver, who works at a local club. Any relation?"
OLIVER: Tom? Now why do you bring him up, I wonder? Well, it makes no difference - he's my brother. Strange you should meet us both on the same day, eh?"
BRAGGART: "Indeed...Did you mention the horse to your brother at all?"

Brad: The groom recoils from the question, as if struck a blow.
OLIVER: "Tom said I talked down Irish Star?"
Brad: His mouth is wide open in astonishment.
OLIVER: "Why, that fool got me advice turned straight around, guv - I told him to bet his all on the horse. I'd never talk down me own master's horse, guv; it'd cost me my job and all chance of getting another one."
BRAGGART: "Very interesting. A lot of people seem shocked that Irish Star ran badly, and Colonel Stuart suspects foul play. Do you know why the horse struggled?"
OLIVER: [surprised] "Me, guv? Why, if I knew what made a horse run good some days and bad others, I'd be making a better living than I gets for mucking out stables."
BRAGGART: "Indeed."
OLIVER: "Even the best horse is unpredictable as the weather. Why, there's men what say there's fifty ways a horse can lose a race, or more! So, the Colonel's just grasping at straws when he claims that somethin' was done to the horse."
Brad: Rocking on his heels, Oliver pauses, expecting a reply.
BRAGGART: *stares*

Brad: There is an awkward pause before Oliver continues.
OLIVER: "Yessir, I think it was just a bad day for the horse. Shook me, cause he trained well for the race, but it happens to the best of 'em sometimes. [winks] Before you spends too much time detecting, just remember that the Colonel ain't all that good at paying his bills, right?"
Brad: Gazing out the open door, you consider further questions for John Oliver.
BRAGGART: "Who did you see near the stable?"
Brad: Oliver thinks for a moment, squinting his beady eyes, then nods.
OLIVER: "I seen a couple of gents named Bowser and Fitzhugh, what bets a lot. But then, them two hangs around the stables all the time, lookin' for a word to guide their wagerin', if you gets my drift. Course it would cost a man his job and a beating on top of it if he was to tip off a couple of touts like that."
BRAGGART: "Naturally. Do you say useful things, or just more like this?"
Brad: Satisfied that you have gotten all the information possible from John Oliver, you dismiss him.
BRAGGART: "You're fired."
Brad: The groom takes a bucket and goes out after water. As Colonel Stuart has calmed down Henry Raines, the trainer is now willing to talk to you. Up close, the man shows the quiet self-confidence of the true professional. You search for just the right question to ask Raines.

BRAGGART: "Do you know why the horse ran badly?"
Brad: Raines hesitates for a moment, then shakes his head.
RAINES: "I really don't, unless Colonel Stuart is right, and someone drugged the horse. I was certain, as sure as I ever have been, that my horse was going to win. I swear."
BRAGGART: "Why were you so sure?"
RAINES: "I'm one of the best in the country at training winning horses - I know when a horse is ready to win!"
BRAGGART: "Well, you seem sure. Or arrogant, I can't tell."
RAINES: "Ah, I told the Colonel it'd be a waste of time to talk to the likes of you. Good day."

Brad: Angry, Raines walks away, leaving you in his wake. Colonel Stuart approaches you.
COL. STUART: "I trust you have all the information my men can give you. Is there anything else you wish to do in the stable? I have an appointment."
BRAGGART: "Can I search them?"
Brad: The Colonel looks surprised, then nods.
COL. STUART: "Well, if you think it's necessary...Hope you like horse shit."
BRAGGART: "Thanks. Love it."

Stay tuned to E14 for the next thrilling edition of Dickass DM, coming May 2nd!

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