Sunday 17 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: You crouch down out of the wind and struggle to light the fuse.
Rob: This is scientifically sound as an idea over the gun by the way, I want that on record in case this goes tits up.
Brad: Would you like to take a moment to explain exactly what it "scientifically sound" to our readers?
Rob: Two seconds, I need to double-check my science...I think I'm right...
Brad: I figured your "science" was pretty much "Expolsions rule!"
Rob: Dynamite causes an exothermic reaction, thus releasing heat which diffuses into the air, thus affecting the creature. Plus it makes a "boom" noise, which is the bollocks. All the bullets would do would be to displace the air around them as they travelled, plus make more of a whiney sound.
Brad: Right. As soon as the fuse splutters into life, you stand up and hurl the explosive down the stairs, then flatten yourself against the cavern wall. There is a dull thud and a great mass of debris and dust erupts from the stairwell into the cave.
Rob: What exactly IS a dull thud? A noise that doesn't excite you?
Brad: A few moments later, you step back to the head of the stairs and hold your lamp on high. Through the settling dust you can see that the stairwell is now a mass of rubble. The wind has stopped.
Rob: Hell yeah! Science FTW!
Brad: You reach into your pocket and pull out an old battered compass.

Chemise-Rouge: We're trapped underground! How is drawing perfect circles going to help?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Bet you're glad I didn't pack the Spirograph to draw my circles!

Brad: The needle spins erratically, then comes to a halt. Down here it may not point true north, but at least you can use it for reference.
Rob: I follow the cavern away to the south west. Maybe by "not showing true north", it shows it as south west instead.
Brad: For some while you tramp by the cavern wall. You must have entered a natural cavern, for there is no sign of mining here. The walls of the cavern run with moisture and, from time to time, you are obliged to negotiate grotesque stalagmites. I wonder what constitutes a "grotesque stalagmite".
Rob: Grotesque stalagmites are better known as "Gargoyle poles"
Brad: It is also very cold. Presently you come across the entrance to a tunnel that appears to run away to the south-west.
Rob: I leave via this tunnel.
Brad: This tunnel climbs up and away from the cavern. In the distance, you can see daylight! Presumably that's actual daylight, and not the Stallone movie of the same name.
Rob: God, I hope so.
Brad: You run forward and find that the tunnel wall has been rent by a jagged fissure.
They set themselves up for piss-taking by saying "LOCATION has been rent" don't they. People need to consider all meanings of a word.
Above, you can see the rim of the pit and the sky beyond and realise that you must be close to the surface. Elated, you hurry on up the tunnel.
Temporarily dazzled by the strong daylight, you stumble on along the tunnel. But, within only a few steps, your foot slips and you claw at the tunnel wall to prevent yourself from falling into a yawning hole.
Rob: A vagina?
Brad: You pry loose a shard of stone from the tunnel wall and lob it out into the void. You are rewarded by a brief clattering from below, then silence.

Redshirt: Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time!

Brad: Then you begin to count: one...two...three...four...At the count of twenty-seven you hear a faint echoing splash. Obviously the chasm is of immense depth.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I know the solution to this:...Count slower!

Brad: By the dim light of your lamp, you can just make out the other lip of the abyss and the tunnel winding away beyond.
Rob: I go back into the cavern. I realise based on earlier that it sounds a bit strange, but I think leaping across would lead to mortality becoming much more of a problem.
Brad: Downcast, you wander back down the tunnel, past the fissure and into the cavern.
Here you despondently follow the wall to the north. You feel strangely vulnerable as you pad along beside the cold moist walls of the cavern, aware that you are surrounded by a vast darkness that may conceal other terrors. Presently you come across a narrow rock shelf that rises close to the base of the cavern wall, then climbs away into the shadows.
Rob: A shelf climbs away? That's a curse that could rip IKEA to pieces. I follow it, anyway. Maybe it knows a way out of here.

Chemise-Rouge: This became a dungeon crawl so slowly I barely even noticed.

Brad: The rock shelf rises high above the cavern floor. It is a precarious path to follow, obliging you to hug the clammy rock wall for fear of falling into the void. Suddenly a loose rock slips away from under your foot and you stumble. You brace your body against the wall and hear the stone crash onto the cavern floor below.
Rob: Bloody hell, the person who designed this cavern wants shooting!
Brad: Then, gingerly, you carry on along the shelf.
Rob: How does one continue Gingerly?
Brad: Eventually, your persistence is rewarded for the shelf widens and turns north-east into a narrow tunnel. The tunnel begins a sharp descent.
Rob: Awesome, a game of Descent mid-RPG!
Brad: The floor is treacherous and you try to check your descent by blocking your body against the tunnel walls. But, in a moment, you lose your footing and begin a ghastly sliding descent that you are powerless to halt. The word "descent" three times in one paragraph. The editor of this wants shooting.
Rob: Sliding Descent doesn't sound like as much fun.
Brad: The chute deposits you in a shower of gravel at a cross-roads.
Rob: I head south-east.
Brad: The tunnel proceeds for some yards, then ends abruptly in a jumble of rocks. You are about to turn back for the junction, when you stub your foot on an object lying on the floor of the tunnel. It is a dusty canvas bag.
Rob: Is it a descent?
Brad: Brass buckles glint as you fumble to open the bag's flap.

Redshirt: Wa-hey!

Brad: Inside, you find the dessicated remains of a piece of bread and what was once, presumably, a lump of cheese. There are also three other objects: a frail grease-proofed bag and two bottles, one green and the other black. The paper bag contains a substance which appears to be salt, a hunch swiftly confirmed as you taste it. The green bottle once possessed a cork stopper. This has now shrunk with age and, of course, the contents have long since evaporated.
The black bottle, on the other hand, has a glass bung which is secured to the neck by copper wire. You carefully undo the wire, remove the bung and place the bottle to your nose. You immediately recoil spluttering - the bottle contains sulphuric acid. Do you want to keep any of those items?
Rob: Hmmm...I'll keep the lot. Have I got room for the lot?
Brad: Yes. You return to the junction.
Rob: I go north-east this time.
Brad: This tunnel descends still deeper beneath the mountain. Deeper and deeper you trudge, first to the north-east and then to the north-west. Some way off, you can hear water falling and presently you find yourself standing on the threshhold of a cavern.
Rob: I explore the cave.
Brad: On entering this cave, you are immediately assailed by an almost unbearable noise. Water drips from the darkness above and spatters across the centre of the cavern. Here the dust of ages has been turned into a sticky grey ooze of unknown depth.
Rob: Oozy dust? Now I've seen everything!
Brad: Clearly it would be better for you to follow the edge of this dank grotto, but even here the surface is spongy underfoot. As you gingerly step around the walls of the cave, you hear a new sound behind the incessant babble of water droplets.
Rob: Water droplets make idle banter?
Brad: It is a sort of muffled plopping, as if something large were stirring within the noxious grey ooze. Then the pattering of the water cascade is temporarily replaced by a hollow drumming and a loathsome slimy thing snuffles towards you out of the gloom.

Chemise-Rouge: It really has given up all hope and just become a dungeon crawl now, hasn't it?

Brad: The thing is large - a squat oval some ten feet long.
Rob: Like a sponge?
Brad: It moves with a horrid sucking noise, audible even above the waterfall.

Redshirt: Like a sponge?

Brad: There is no evidence of any mouthparts or eyes, simply two rows of obscure tendril things at its rear and a pair of fidgeting palps at the front.

Chemise-Rouge: Like a...oh.

Brad: Two streams of noisome mucus spurt forth from these palps and splatter close by you. Some of this stringy ichor falls upon your skin and you feel a smarting sensation. Now the thing extends a trunk-like proboscis from within its foul body and begins to reel in its spit. This dark lurking thing intends to ensnare and digest you at one and the same time!
Rob: Jesus...Use the salt on it! I've got loads to use!

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Trees hate salt! Fact!

Brad: Hastily, you draw the fragile package from your bag. Perhaps a creature of slime can be dealt with like a garden slug?
Rob: Works for me.
Brad: The package bursts across the creatures back. For a moment the creature continues its stealthy advance, then it begins to writhe as phosphorescent weals break out upon its body.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Haha! Taste seasoning bitch!

Brad: Would you like to try and finish it off, or run away?
Rob: Try and finish it off! Is "Finish it off succesfully" not an option then?
Brad: Do or do not...only a Sith deals in absolutes. The creature launches two streams of slime at you! Fortunately, you dodge both of them!
Rob: I'm awesome. Salt it again!
Brad: You succeed for MASSIVE DAMAGE!
Rob: Finish it off!
Brad: The creature is dead. White pus oozes from its wounds.

Redshirt: At least, I hope it's pus.

Brad: With a shudder, you edge past its unwholesome mass and hurry back along the tunnel to the junction.
Rob: Hmmm...Let's go north-west

Redshirt: Is there logic behind this decision?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Nope.

Brad: Fantastic stalagtites hang from the roof of this tunnel, obliging you to duck and weave asyou walk along. As you trudge, you note that the atmosphere has warmed somewhat.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: It does seem a lot less tense here. A much warmer atmosphere.



Predators, a bold new chapter in the Predator universe, shot under the creative auspices of Robert Rodriguez, stars Adrien Brody as Royce, a mercenary who reluctantly leads a group of elite warriors who come to realize they've been brought together on an alien planet... as prey. With the notable exception of a disgraced physician, they are all cold-blooded killers - mercenaries, Yakuza, convicts, death squad members - human "predators" that are now being systemically hunted and eliminated by a new breed of alien Predators in the ultimate battle of survival of kill, or be killed.

The Special Features of the DVD include:

Commentary by Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal
Tactics of War featurette
Making A Scene
Theatrical Trailer
Digital Copy for your laptop or media player (iPod) that can be enjoyed on the go.

Thanks to our friends at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, we've got three copies of Predators on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Sunday 24th October. The first three names out of the hat will win a copy each.

Out on Blu-ray and DVD on 1st November 2010

Become a fan of Predators on

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