Friday, 8 October 2010

Dickass DM

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 Clive & Ian Bailey gamebook Where the Shadows Stalk. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones.

Brad: With these words, he turns and disappears into the mist. Uneasily, you stand alone in the ruined village whilst the ancient oak creaks and sways above you. A ghostly light begins to fill the empty windows and doorways of what was once a mill. A strange clanking noise comes to your ears and you see a distorted shadow capering in the pale light.
Rob: I stay beneath the oak. I know better than to second-guess a guy with a beard.
Brad: The noise increases and shadow flits across the doorway, as if its owner were hard at work. The mill begins to shake and the shingles rattle. Suddenly, some whirl into the air and hurl themselves at you!
Rob: I stand my ground. I'm not sure how strict he was being with that whole "don't fucking move" thing, so I figure I'll play it safe.
Brad: You flinch, but the shingles all fall short of the tree's span. The lights in the village blink out and a terrible cry pierces the gloom. Shuddering, you tighten your grip on the spear and glance around at the dark ruins which loom out of the twilight all about you. A flash of lightning suddenly illuminates the village, crashing to the earth admist the ruins. A roar of thunder growls forth, making the soil quiver.
Then, amid the ensuing silence, you realise a new light has come to Ratgoed: one of the ruins is afire with orange and yellow flames.
Rob: Lots of thunder and lightning...I feel like I've wandered into a Thin Lizzy album. I remain by the tree. Even in death, at least I will be obedient.
Brad: Now that's the sort of epitath I expect for someone who works in retail. Watching the house from a distance, you quickly realise that, whilst the fire burns vigourously, nothing appears to be consumed. Intrigued, you watch more closely but your concentration is shattered by a splintering crack from above. Glancing up, you are blinded by a garish blue light, but not before you spot a great branch plummeting towards you! The bough crashes down onto your shoulder
Rob: That bearded bastard! he lied to me!
Brad: Staggering to your feet, you retrieve the spear from where it has fallen. Looking around, you see the fire has mysteriously disappeared. Suddenly a strange blue light begins to play around the spear's blade. It starts to flow down the haft towards your hands, burning them with ice-cold flames.
Rob: I grit my teeth and hold on...to what I've got. It doesn't make a difference if I make it or not...
Brad: Tenaciously, you grip the spear. The fire numbs your hands, draining them of life.
Rob: Well, Bon Jovi lyrics aren't helping, either. I'm running out of ideas...
Brad: Then, as quickly as it appeared, the fire flickers out and feeling returns to your hands. You rub your hands together and shudder as an unnatural wind begins to gust out of the darkness. The wind rustles eerily through the windowless houses and tugs insitently at your clothes.
Rob: How insistently? Like spoilt child at a theme park, or starved toddler?
Brad: Horses' hooves drum nearer and nearer: the wild hunt is coming. A mass of horsemen suddenly surges into the village. They glow an unwholesome green and carry with them the reek of death and decay. Pale corpse hounds leap amongst them crying to the wind, whilst the steeds, their dead eyes filled with madness, charge towards you. Well, no way this can go wrong, right?
Rob: Been nice knowing you.
Brad: As the cold eyes of the spirit warriors gaze upon you, your stomach knots in fear.
Rob: I stand my ground.
Brad: The hunt draws to a halt around you. The riders regard you in silence, whilst the hounds skulk around the horses' legs.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Bring it, bitches.

Brad: The riders' skeletal forms seem to sag in the twilight, but one figure stands out as the leader. His eyes hold yours in a cold gaze, then as if in pain, he slowly dismounts. He speaks to you with a voice which seems to come from a great distance.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Get your nads caught under your legs?
Hunt Leader: I am the warrior leader of the Wild Hunt. Our quarry are the souls of erring mortals. Since you stand alone here in the borderlands, I presume you are our prize.

Brad: With these words, he raises his spear. Two riders stiffly dismount and advance towards you.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Fu...

Brad: This will be a hard fight, for both your body and soul will be in peril.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: ...ck.

Brad: The fight will last until you destroy both of your spirit advesaries or they slay you. Both riders are armed with vicious hunting spears.

Running Combat
You thrust your spear at one and he jumps back.
He says "boo" really loudly.

Rob: How loudly?
Brad: Really loudly.
Rob: Oh dear...

You stab him in the face and he vaporises.
You stab the other in the side.
A choked groan escapes his withered lips and he falls to the ground, dragging your spear with him.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Ha! Protected your face for nothing, you bastard!

Brad: His body crumples and dissolves. Exhausted, you look up. The hounds are whimpering with fear and the rider's horses are restive. The cold eyes of the warrior lock onto you and they are filled with hatred.
Rob: Yeah, they are.

Hunt Leader: The dead will not be denied!

Rob: Hehehe. Wait. Fuck.
Brad: He raises his spear and hurls it at you. There is no time to dodge.
Rob: I do it anyway!
Brad: But the spear stops in mid-flight and falls harmlessly to the ground. Between you and the hunt stands the cowled figure of Omer. His hand is held up against the warrior.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Just the man I wanted to see. Why did this spear catch fire in my hand?!
Omer: You have been defeated and must abide by the decision of the fates. Be still and await my command!

Brad: Omer turns to you.

Omer: These valleys lie under the shadow of the Outer Darkness and this combat was ordained to test whether you were capable of facing such a terror alone. With this victory, you have proved your worth and I am now bound to offer you two choices.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Is one a change of pants? I could see myself taking that.
Omer: You may either agree to remain in these valleys and take up the fight with the terrors of the Outer Darkness, or you may choose to leave, in which case I will return you to the lands beyond the fog.

Brad: Do you choose to stay, or choose to leave?
Rob: Wait, so my choices are stay asleep eternally, or wake up?
Brad: I guess so.
Rob: I'll go back to the lands beyond the fog, I guess. If that's the one that means waking up.

Omer: As you wish.

Brad: You awake back in your room, with a note from Charles Petrie-Heydrich:

My dear friend,
I hardly know where to begin, for I am nearly at my wit's end.

Rob: Has this sent me back to the fucking beginning again?
Brad: Yup.
Rob: Oh, for fuck's sake...

**time passes**

Omer: You may either agree to remain in these valleys and take up the fight with the terrors of the Outer Darkness, or you may choose to leave, in which case I will return you to the lands beyond the fog.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Hmmm.....maybe it'll be different this time. I'll leave.
Omer: Very well.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I was being sarcastic!

Brad: You awake back in your room, with a note from Charles Petrie-Heydrich:

My dear friend,
I hardly know where to begin, for I am nearly at my wit's end.

**times passes**

Omer: Take up the fight with the terrors of the Outer Darkness.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: You know, I'm feeling like I should.

Brad: Silence follows your decision, disturbed only by the whimpering of the hounds and the moans of the wind.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I get it. Not the best gag.
Omer: Since before the coming of man to this land, a dark terror has lurked beneath these valleys. That the terror came from the Outer Darkness, there can be no doubt; but why it came, or how it was entombed, is a mystery. If it were still buried, it would hardly trouble this land but, because of the delvings of man, it has been uncovered and now the terror is awake! Still worse, its powers and servants have proved too numerous for such as I to control.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: You a pussy then?
Omer: Even now it is gradually destroying everything living around it, in its attempt to escape from its tomb. My time with you is running short. For even I cannot bridge the barriers of time and the fog for long.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I can't run for very long, I am sorry about that.
Omer: You must stop the terror from escaping and you must destroy it in these valleys - for if it does break totally free, it will spread terror and destruction across the world! But you will not face it unaided.
Brad: Omer places a hand in a fold of his cloak and draws out a strange wand, carved with runes. Immediately, the riders shy away and a hiss of anger escapes their leader. Omer offers you the wand.

Omer: This has the power to summon the hunt to your aid. But it can only be used once.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Righto. Cheers.
Omer: When you are in peril, cast this over the heads of your enemies.
Ghost Warrior: There is a price to pay, if the hunt are to be used against my will.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Please don't say Hit Points...I'm knackered.
Ghost Warrior: Cast the wand at your own cost, mortal, for whie we must ride when it falls, we will draw upon your life-force to materialise in the mortal realm.

Brad: The Ghost Warrior re-mounts and leads the hunt from the village.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Oh, later? I'll live with it.
Omer: Heed the warrior's warning and use the wand well!

Brad: Omer fades from sight and you find yourself falling over and over through darkness.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: OWFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK! Hunh, Jackie Estacado...

Brad: You awake with a start and find yourself staring up at Lucy and her father, Charles Petrie-Heydrich.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: It's not what it looks like. I mean, I know my hands are in her pants, but I was...looking for jewels!
Chemise-Rouge: You are in the House of Elrond, and it is ten o'clock in the morning on October the twenty-fourth, if you want to know.
Charles: Goodness gracious!
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Jewels, I swear!
Charles: You seem to have been fighting in your sleep, armed with your knobkerrie and this curious runic wand.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: It's mine, and I'll fight with it how I want!

TO BE CONTINUED...


PSYCH 9 GIVEAWAY

An abandoned hospital, a woman on the edge, a serial killer on the loose and a string of unsolved murders...the perfect ingredients for a tense psychological horror...

Psych 9 centres on a near abandoned hospital that has been plagued by a spate of killings. Taking on a night job at the hospital, Roslyn experiences a series of disturbing events connected to a string of local murders by a killer dubbed the NightHawk. She discovers a chilling therapy room belonging to a strange and eccentric psychologist...

When a woman working in the hospital is brutally slain, Roslyn seeks help from a detective, but the detective soon realises that the key to the killings may lie within Roslyn’s own troubled mind.

Thanks to our friends at Universal Pictures we've got two copies of Psych 9 on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to psych9giveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Friday 15th October. The first two names out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!

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