Sunday, 24 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: Charles returns.

Charles: The house is clear.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I have thoughts. Would hearing them please you?
Charles: I have nothing else on.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: You don't even have a telev...oh right, you mean planned. What do you reckon did this lot then? They're as fucked up facially as that stuff what I killed in the mines.
Charles: You know, the creature in the hall reminded me of old Ivor Jones - it had his characteristic slouch.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Yeah, because nobody else in the world does that...
Charles: He worked at the quarry and, if he has fallen foul of the terror in the mines, it seems reasonable to assume most, if not all, of the quarrymen have as well. But what disturbs me, is why these mutants attacked the house. If they had wanted to kill us, why didn't they wait until we were out by ourselves? The more I think about it, the stranger it seems.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Maybe he recognised the house?
Charles: But one thing's certain, tonight was a rushed job.

Brad: He strikes a match and puffs on his pipe.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Did you wash the pen off that in the end?
Charles: I would hazard a guess they were out to kidnap us but I haven't the faintest idea why they would want to do such a thing. Still, a visit to Quarry Valley in the morning might answer that problem.

Brad: He lapses into silence and together you wait for the dawn.

Redshirt: So...Your daughter can sleep through a shotgun blast, then?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: That's Rohypnol, that's actually my fault...

Brad: After a light breakfast, you prepare to leave for Quarry Valley. As you pull back the table to leave the house, Petrie-Heydrich calls you back and gives you two kerosene bombs.

***Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones has acquired A REALLY BAD IDEA***

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Awesome!
Charles: These are nasty weapons, but they may come in handy.

Brad: Thanking him, you leave the house and walk down the road to the stone steps that lead into Quarry Valley. At the top you follow the cinder track. Clearly it would be foolish to take the turning that leads directly to the quarrymen's cottages, so once again you take the path to the mines.

Redshirt: Why?!?!?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I'm with you, buddy. Why are we doing this?

Brad: You ignore the gaping mine-shaft and begin to climb along the hillside above the valley. Below you is a barren alien world. Towering slag heaps choke the valley floor and march precariously up the valley side towards you. You climb on for some while before stumbling across a path that leads back down into the valley.
Do you continue to climb north-east above the valley, or turn south along the path into Quarry Valley?

Chemise-Rouge: We could just give up and go home...
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Sort of defeats the point, doesn't it?
Chemise-Rouge: I don't care! I don't want to die!

Rob: Let's go north-east.
Brad: Now you climb beneath rocky cliffs and see the distance a great expanse of water. Presumably, this is the reservoir that feeds the village and the slateworks. On reaching the reservoir, you find that you must walk upon a narrow boggy margin between the sheer cliffs to your left and the black waters of the reservoir to your right. Each time you raise your foot, the ground sucks and your footprint immediately fills with water.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: The ground sucks.

Brad: Walking here is hard work, so you pause and gaze out over the reservoir towards the southern hills. Now you realise that the dark waters of the reservoir churn with the spawn of some alien terror.
Rob: Sounds like a B-movie. 'Coming to theatres near you, Spawn of Some Alien Terror'.
Brad: Loathsome fan-headed things with segmented bodies writhe in the cold water. The black lake reverberates with a vile chorus of clicks and hisses. You turn away in horror and, in turning, feel the subtle impact of a small body which flops upon your shoulder.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Damn it, Redshirt!

Brad: A glistening tail flexes, then springs. Your teeth clench as a searing pain explodes across your cheek.
Rob: Oh, Jesus! Bukkake!
Brad: As you flick the creature from its perch, more of the things begin to fall from above. You run for your life between the cliffs and the vile churning water, as the creatures fall around in a nightmare rain. Some, you pulp underfoot, and others, you spatter with the back of your hand.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Pimpslap, motherfucker!

Brad: You run and run, until the cliffs roll away from the reservoir and you are free of the ghastly spawn. The ground is more open here and less boggy. Briefly, you pause and sit on a stone to recover from your ordeal.
Rob: I thought that read 'more or less boggy'.

Chemise-Rouge: I don't like it here.

Brad: Now the black waters are silent, disturbed only by the wind. As you sit, you begin to hear the sound of a child sobbing.
Rob: That's about the creepiest moment in any video game. Search for the child.
Brad: Hmm. Most likely because you know an escort mission is coming your way. And everybody loves escort missions.
Rob: Exactly. Best part of Resident Evil 4.
Brad: The child's sobs seem to come from up a stream which feeds the reservoir. Hastily, you splash and climb your way up the terraced watercourse until you discover the child sitting on a flat boulder.

Child: Lost...I'm lost.

Brad: Perhaps this is one of the village children? You step forward to touch the child on the shoulder and introduce yourself, when the scene suddenly changes. Instead of a small child, you touch the rubbery hide of some vile creature. The creature possesses a mass of writhing red tentacles, at the centre of which clicks a vicious beak. Its body is squat and lumpy.
See, this is just how babies and young children look to me, anyway...
Rob: Same here, except usually a bit lumpier.
Brad: Gill-like slits open and close, emitting a fluty imitation of a child's voice.

Beast: Won't you come and play? We've been waiting for you all day.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Do you know...Battleships? Because I am your destroyer!

Brad: It lurches towards you, propelled upon its single slug like foot.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I take up five spaces and am often the easiest to find!

Brad: How will you fight this monster and not betray your prescence in Quarry Valley? Use a kerosene bomb?
Rob: Try something else.
Brad: You leap off the rock and, swing on to the bank of the stream. Then you run up the bank and jump onto the water terrace above the creature. Here you hump
Rob: Hehehe.
Brad: up a large boulder and hurl it down at the creature as it slither towards you. The boulder strikes the creature!
Rob: Yeah, buddy!
Brad: The creature coils its tentacles around your ankles and tries to pull you off the terrace.
Rob: iDodge.
Brad: You break its hold.
Rob: I throw another rock!

Redshirt: No! That's what it'll be expecting!

Brad: The boulder smashes into the creature! It is defeated!

Redshirt: Or not.
Chemise-Rouge: Of course! Repetition! The only thing that can destroy a shape-shifting monster child thing. I want to go home.

Brad: You stagger away, back down the terraced stream-bed to the low ground. Here you follow the edge of the reservoir until you stand on the edge of the cliff above the quarry. A strange alien fog fills the quarry. What scene does it hide? As you muse over this question, there comes a faint humming sound.
In a moment the noise builds up to a sonourous throbbing beat and waves of unearthly colours begin to pulse through the mist. The stuff seethes as if it were boiling.
Rob: Jesus, it's techno. Again.
Brad: Then the colours fade and the beat trails off into silence. You hurry west between the clifftop and the reservoir and out onto the ridge of land which sweeps down to the valley floor. As you descend the ridge, a boulder smashes to the ground beside you. Turning, you see a man charging towards you.

McSpindle: (through clenched teeth) Kill all strangers!

Brad: You must turn and face the madman.
Rob: How do I know what he said through clenched teeth? Won't it come out all wrong?
Brad: That's the part of this you're having trouble with?
Rob: For all I know, he said 'Khal-El, Stranglers' and wants Superman to do "No More Heroes" on karaoke!.
Brad: The madman falls upon you with a scream and tries to grapple with you.
Rob: Do I get a two man commentary team, one of whom is from Brooklyn?
Brad: Why not?
Rob: Because it's a stupid idea.
Brad: You have one chance to overcome him with a well-aimed blow from your knobkerrie. Your knobkerrie connects with the man's skull; he groans and falls senseless to the ground.

Redshirt: Gay.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: What a poof.

Brad: He appears to exhibit none of the strange abnomalities that afflicted the man-things who assualted Charles' house last night.
Rob: Was he just a random lunatic?
Brad: Leaving him, you descend the hillside to an embankment which drops almost sheer to the quarry road. You slither down the muddy verge and look warily about. To your right, down the road, stand the quarrymen's cottages. To your left, the road disappears round the hill spur. You turn left and make your way up the road towards the quarry. This book really is a Dickass DM.
"Lots of things you could do, but you're doing this."
To your right, only a few paces from the road, run the gleaming lines of the railway quarry. You follow the road to the quarry's entrance where a strange sight meets your eyes.
Rob: Avon lady?

Chemise-Rouge: Yeah, because, until now, nothing has been strange.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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