Friday 9 May 2014

Dickass DM - The Adventures Of Hercule Braggart: Trouble At The Track - Part 7

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 poised to interview a veterinarian (not the kind who fought in 'Nam). How will that go? I wonder...

Catch up with Part 1 Here
Catch up with Part 2 Here
Catch up with Part 3 Here
Catch up with Part 4 Here
Catch up with Part 5 Here
Catch up with Part 6 Here

Brad: Shall we make him the Viennese cake from the Halloween special?
Rob : Ask about the drug.
BRAGGART: "I hear you're a Viennese whirl. Do you know much about horse medicine? Only I received a bottle of Hastings Distillate of Opium the other day, and I'm worried my horse might explode. It's the kind of prank my mate does, he's a real prick."
Brad: You hand him the bottle and wait as he stares at it. Finally he begins to say something:
ANTHROPOMORPHIC CAKE: "I didn't know there was any of this left in the country...seeing as there was never much of it."
BRAGGART: "Hastings a bit of a hoarder?"
ANTHROPOMORPHIC CAKE: "Dr. Hastings was a good horse doctor who liked to experiment. He mixed this up as something to calm wild horses but died before he could decide how well it worked."
BRAGGART: "Do I have some with me then?"
ANTHROPOMORPHIC CAKE: "Only a few friends of his ever used it, and no-one ever found the formula. I'm very surprised to see it at a track, I can tell you. It's something you'd use back home at the farm."
BRAGGART: "Any idea who tested it?"
ANTHROPOMORPHIC CAKE: "I don't recall all the names. I believe most of them were Scots or Irish. Dr Hastings was a Scot himself and tended to people from his own part of the country."
BRAGGART: "Right..."
ANTHROPOMORPHIC CAKE: "The only one who runs horses down here was Lord Hampton."
BRAGGART: "Cheers."

Brad: Having gathered all the evidence you seem likely to get, you return home to await the arrival of Mr Holmes and Dr Watson. You turn your mind to useful reading of the sort Holmes recommends, hoping to avoid constantly rehashing the case, but night after night you still find this case a distraction. "Have I uncovered the pertinent information and interpreted it logically?" you wonder. It is a relief to receive a note from Mr Holmes, informing you of his return and asking you to come around to Baker Street and give him your solution. You waste no time going to see him. Watson and Colonel Stuart are with the detective when you arrive, the latter willing to explain some of the unusual elements of the case. Before requesting your solution, Holmes listens to Colonel Stuart, who has some other information to offer.
COL. STUART: "Yes, Mr Holmes, it's more clear than ever than Irish Star was drugged. Now that there has been time for it to wear off, the horse is back to his old energetic self."
BRAGGART: "I imagine the comedown was a bitch."
HOLMES: [to Braggart] "Did you discover what drug was used to slow Irish Star?"
BRAGGART: "Indeed. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you....Hasting's Distillate of Opium. Well, not literally give it to you. You'd get off your tits."
HOLMES: "Yes, I have heard of that. It would be an excellent method of slowing a horse, though Dr Hastings developed it for a much different use."
Brad: Colonel Stuart looks sharply at you.
BRAGGART: "Ouch! You almost cut me, you fucker."
COL. STUART: Why, Mr Holmes, that's remarkable!"
BRAGGART: "Sorry, am I here?"
WATSON: "Pfft. Get used to it."
COL. STUART: "That is just what the track veterinarian found when he examined Irish Star."
BRAGGART: "Did he find any gratitude for me under there?"

HOLMES: [turning to you] "Now, young man, suppose you tell us just how this deed came to happen, and who is responsible."
BRAGGART: "Mm. I thought you might ask for that."
Brad: You run through the case for your hero.
HOLMES: "A fine summation of the evidence...but get to the crux of the matter. Whom do you accuse of drugging Irish Star?"
BRAGGART: "The jockey. I shall give you my reasoning, gentlemen, for I believe it to be a much grander conspiracy than it may first appear."
Brad: Holmes looks astonished.
HOLMES: "How could you bring such a charge? Or think such a thing?"
BRAGGART: "I'm not prejudiced against short people, if that's what you're getting at."
HOLMES: "With the drug that was used, the horse must have been doped long before the jockey ever touched him."
BRAGGART: "Yes...that's true. I still think he was in on it, though."
HOLMES: "Irish Star was already showing the lethargy from it when he approached the starting line."
Brad: Holmes lights his pipe and settles back to explain the case.

HOLMES: "The evidence points to John Oliver, Colonel Stuart's groom, as the man who drugged Irish Star. He certainly would have had access to the horse at the right time for the drug to work, a fact that is true of few others."
BRAGGART: "There is that, but the jockey had a lot of money and seemed in good spirits at the bar, which struck me as odd."
HOLMES: "Oliver also predicted that Irish Star would run badly when everyone else around the track expected him to run well, and a groom, especially a poorly-paid one, would be an easy target for a generous bribe."
Brad: Colonel Stuart blushes at the mention of his financial woes.
BRAGGART: "All right then, smart-arse, so how did the jockey get the money?"
HOLMES: *stares*..."Of course, while knowing who drugged the horse is important, it is critical to prove who paid him to do the deed."
BRAGGART: "Ah, see now that I do have a better idea of."
HOLMES: "Oliver will likely have little chance to repeat this crime, but his master might strike again through some other agent. So, Braggart, who bribed John Oliver to drug Irish Star?"
BRAGGART: "Lord Hampton."

Brad: Holmes smiles.
HOLMES: "And how did you deduce that?"
BRAGGART: "Elementary."
HOLMES: "You must have evidence to bring so serious a charge against peer of the realm."
BRAGGART: "Lord Hampton was looking to expand his horsey collection, and had made Colonel Stuart an offer to purchase the horse before the race for 500 pounds. The fact that he offered a lower sum in advance of the terminus of the race led me to suspect that he knew that the horse would perform poorly, and that Colonel Stuart's hand may be forced through financial hardship. Add to that the fact that Lord Hampton was a colleague of the late Dr Hastings, who created the Distillation which caused all this bother, and it is not hard to imagine how he obtained the means."
HOLMES: "Very good."
BRAGGART: "Of course, Colonel, if you hadn't been so motherfucking poor, he couldn't have done this."
HOLMES: "His Lordship will be here himself in a few minutes. How shall we command justice from the villain?"
BRAGGART: "I suggest a double-dog dare. Or a game of 'I have never'."

Brad: The plans made, you are all seated and ready when Mrs Hudson introduces Lord Hampton. The peer looks dapper and distinguished as ever.
LORD HAMPTON: [eagerly] "Your invitation, Mr Holmes, indicated that you would help to settle the matter of my purchase of Irish Star?"
Brad: Then, noting the intensity of Holmes' look and the hatred in Colonel Stuart's eyes, he stops, his smile faded.
LORD HAMPTON: "What is this? Why are you looking at me like that?"
BRAGGART: *stares*
LORD HAMPTON: "I demand that someone explain this inquisition!"
BRAGGART: "Who are you?!"
MCSPINDLE: "Chimney sweep. That's why I'm in the chimney."
BRAGGART: "Right...You realise this is not the top floor?"
MCSPINDLE: "Is it not?"
BRAGGART: "No. Not that that's relevant, but I thought I might flummox you and maybe you'd fuck off."
MCSPINDLE: "Oh. Didn't work did it?"

HOLMES: "I wonder, why a man of your reputation would see his name dragged in the mud, just to buy a horse more cheaply. You are wealthy, your Lordship; you could have paid more than the horse was worth and never noticed the loss. What will people say, I wonder? Will they ever let you on a track again? It's difficult to believe, but I have solid evidence now."
Brad: Lord Hampton does not deny the charge, or try to defend himself.
Brad: Instead, he turns so pale that you see Watson stir with professional concern. Then he bows his head in shame.
LORD HAMPTON: "I do not deserve mercy."
WATSON: *reflex clothesline*
LORD HAMPTON: "It was greed that sealed my fate. I hated to see that great horse running so far below himself, when under my silks he would achieve fame. It is idle to say I would never repeat my crime - the stewards will warn me off for life, now."
BRAGGART: "You must have been sitting upside down to think the horse was running like that."

Brad: The man looks crushed. Holmes' face softens a little.
HOLMES: "Perhaps it is not too late. I am not Scotland Yard."
BRAGGART: "He doesn't have to know that!"
HOLMES: "I suggest that you give orders to your solicitor that Colonel Stuart's stable be financed as it should. For yourself, I know that you have been offered a foreign appointment that would occupy you for the next two years. Purge your crimes by service to the Queen and with restitution to your victim."
BRAGGART: "Better that than the other way round!"
HOLMES: "Thus, when Irish Star becomes a champion, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you assisted him in his climb to excellence."
Brad: After a moment, the peer accepts Holmes' terms. He leaves with Colonel Stuart to arrange their financial agreement, and after a little more talk, you leave Holmes and Watson to walk back to your own quarters. One question fills your mind: What will your next case be?...

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