Friday 29 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: The flickering, opaque, alien mist covers the quarry like a canopy. It is as if you are about to enter a brightly-lit cavern. Keeping close to the left-hand slate embankment, you stealthily advance along a narrow defile that leads out into the quarry. Ahead you can hear the noise of a steam engine.
Rob: What...the...fuck?
Brad: Immediately inside the quarry stands a small locomotive linked to a line of slate trucks. For the first time in three days you see a machine that actually works. But you are even more surprised by what is happening beyond the train. Crouching low, you run into the trucks and shelter behind them.
Some forty yards in front of you a group of villagers and mutants are feverishly working about a dark cleft in the quarry wall. In the strange diffused light the villagers appear ashen-faced and there is a disturbing hint of green to their pallor.
Rob: They're probably a little queasy.
Brad: They move like automatons and they seem to be under the control of three of the tentacled alien creatures. At some unheard signal from the aliens, the villagers and mutants retreat across the quarry and take cover behind some stone slabs. The aliens retreat, too. There is a series of explosions and the rock face to either side of the cleft falls away.


Rob: Hrmph, Metal Gear...
Brad: The rock fall reveals part of a dusty black object. As you watch, the thing begins to writhe and the quarry is suddenly filled with an intense blue light, stabbing out from the object like a fiery dragon's breath. The light splits into myriad beams of colour - red, orange, blue and violet - accompanied by a high-pitched hum.

Chemise-Rouge: Laser Floyd!

Brad: Finally the light beams cut off with an audible crack. Your skin tingles and you feel giddy. The human slaves are stirred to action by the tentacled aliens and return to excavate the creature-ship from its tomb. A blotch glows incandescent on the body of one of the aliens.
Then a ball of light curves gracefully across the quarry floor towards you. The burning globe glides over the top of the slate trucks and ignites on the quarry floor, scattering vicious rock splinters. Obviously you are not welcome here!
Rob: Clearly!
Brad: A second globe punctures the locomotive's side, releasing a great jet of steam. Using the steam cloud for cover, you race for the narrow way out of the quarry and collide with the man who ambushed you on the hillside - somehow he is still alive!

Redshirt: I told you to hit him again.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: You most certainly did not!

Brad: Though the man seems weak after your earlier struggle, he succeeds in grappling with you. A glance over your shoulder reveals the alien guards crowding into the defile. Can you break the man's grip and escape the aliens' energy bolts?
Rob: I certainly hope so!
Brad: With all your might, you swing the man round so that he is between you and the aliens. An energy bolt ignites on the rocks to your right and you feel pain stab through your arm. Then a bolt ignites upon the back of your opponent, bathing you both in an intense white light. The man screams, then falls limp.
Rob: Hehe.
Brad: The smell of charred flesh clogs your nostrils as you drop the body (possibly still holding the arms, let's be honest), and run out on to the quarry road. The slag heaps and broken ground to the south of the quarry road offer ample cover and a chance to shake off your pursuers. That man really held a grudge against you for some reason.
Rob: Yeah, I noticed that. Did I fuck his mum?
Brad: Some while later, you reach the Petrie-Heydrichs' house and Lucy quickly ushers you inside.
Rob: Like a proper usher, with a waistcoat and a torch like the ones they use to guide down planes?
Brad: As you enter the study, that old man looks up from his books and invites you to take a seat by the fire. He listens studiously while you relate the day's adventures.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I got a man vaporised!
Charles: Awesome! Was is all like "Pow!! Arrrgh!!! Whoosh!"?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Mostly it was all 'ARRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! IT BURNS!!

Brad: By the time you have finished, the light is fading and, while Charles mulls over your story, Lucy takes a taper from the fire and lights the table lamp.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: So...lived here long?

Brad: Gazing thoughtfully into the fire, Charles begins to talk:

Charles: Couple of weeks now.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Wow, so you've lived here as long as I feel like I've been here!
Charles: It feels awfully long to us too.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I have that effect on people.
Charles: Whilst you were prowling around Quarry Valley, I was visiting the village. There I discovered we were not the only victims of last night's attack.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Just the only ones who bagged a kill?
Charles: At least twelve villagers were taken from their homes and dragged away to the quarry. No doubt they were the luckless individuals you saw today. At first I could not fathom this sinister turn in events, but the sounds of blasting at the quarry and your ownobservations have led me to this conclusion: the aliens are trying to free their machine from its tomb and need all the help they can find.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I have first hand evidence of that being true.
Charles: Now, we must formulate a plan which will not only destroy the aliens, but also ensure the safety of the villagers they have kidnapped.

Brad: You stay awake until the early hours of the morning, devising a plan with Petrie-Heydrich and Lucy. Eventually you decide upon the following: disguised as a mutant, you will attempt to enter the quarry and join the kidnapped villagers.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: All night, and that's the best we could come up with? Make me look a bit mongy?

Brad: Meanwhile, Charles will organise the remaining villagers to push a shitload of dynamite into the old mine.

Redshirt: Right...

Brad: The resulting explosion should seal the mine and distract the aliens. Fifteen minutes later Petrie-Heydrich's party will begin to hurl bundles of dynamite down on to the aliens and mutants in the quarry. The time between the blast and the attack should be sufficient for you to lead the kidnapped villagers to safety.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Sounds like a plan where absolutely nothing can go wrong.
Charles: It's a good just needs a little more dynamite.

Brad: Satisfied that this is the best plan you can devise, you eat a hearty supper before retiring for the night. You awake in the morning refreshed and ready to begin your rescue bid. To complete your part in the plan, you must disguise yourself as one of the mutants in order to enter the quarry without alerting the aliens. To that end, you take flour from the kitchen and rub it into your skin to simulate the mutant's pallor. A back-pack would be too conspicuous, so you can only take four of the following items with you:
Stick of Dynamite (each stick counts as one item)
Revolver (loaded with six bullets)
Warrior's Wand

Rob: Well, let's see: a single stick of dynamite...Revolver...Knobkerrie...Dagger.
Brad: What's the thinking here?
Rob: I just figure with a Revolver and a Dagger, I cover my bases in case you've been fucking with me all this time using Cluedo.
Brad: Armed and ready, Charles, Lucy and yourself tramp up to Quarry Valley. Here you join a group of grim-faced villagers, armed with a variety of home-made weapons, shotguns and dynamite. One group is led away by Petrie-Heydrich and Lucy, while the remaining villagers move off towards the quarry rim with a cargo of dynamite. You are left alone to begin your perilous task.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Lucky I have my two red-shir...guys?
Redshirt: I'll be with Lucy.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Who hasn't?
Chemise-Rouge: I'm. Going. Home.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Fine. Piss off then, you ponce.

Brad: Picking your way quickly but cautiously among the slag heaps, you move easy towards the quarry. No sounds disturb the early morning air as you approach your destination. Have the aliens already departed?
Rob: Have I gone deaf?
Brad: Or do they lie in ambush near the quarry's entrance?
Rob: Either way, it'll be exciting.
Brad: You climb the crumbling flanks of a slag heap and peer over the crest. Below, two mutant man-things armed with mattocks lurk in the shadows of the defile. As you try to judge your chances of overpowering these guards, the quarry locomotive chugs into view towing a line od laden slate wagons. The engine pulls out of the defile and rumbles onto a circular track which girds your vantage point. Below you, the train halts and the single mutant driver proceeds to dump the slate.
His task completed, the mutant climbs back into the locomotive's cabin and releases the brake. The train moves off round the slag heaps towards you. Here is your chance to enter the quarry.
Rob: Why is there a slag heaping towards me?
Brad: I'm amazed it's taken this long to get around to that gag.
Rob: I try and slip into one of the slate trucks.
Brad: As the train rumbles round the slag heap you hastily descend the broken slope and fling yourself onto one of the trucks. You hoist yourself inside just as the train comes into view of the quarry guards. You have not been detected and the locomotive chugs back into the quarry to halt on the spur line where you encountered it yesterday. Peering from your hiding place, you see the villagers standing just yards away from the train. Away across the quarry floor looms the bulk of the alien's creature-ship.
It has been dragged from its ancient tomb, out into the middle of the quarry. Now three aliens appear to be supervising the labours of man-things who scuttle around and over the ship, which resembles a great black slug. As you watch, the ship heaves and mutants topple from its back.
Rob: Clumsy of them to be up there really.
Brad: There comes a weird crackling sound and pulses of orange and violet light spit from the creature ship's rear into the quarry wall. The rock blackens and then melts! After centuries of slumber the creature-ship awakens. Time is running out! How will you save the villagers before the creature-ship blasts off?
Or before Charles' party destroys the mine and commences hurling explosives down into the quarry? Are you considering any of this? Fucktasm?
There appear to be two grim alternatives.
Rob: Right...Any cheery ones?
Brad: You could join the villagers and try and lead them to safety, or you could unhitch the rear slate wagon from the train and herd the villagers into it...there is just a chance that the truck can be made to roll, in which case it will trundle under its own momentum back down the gentle incline of the defile and Quarry Valley, all the way into Bryn Coedwig.
Rob: Wasn't the entrance to quarry valley being exploded, or have I got it round the wrong way?
Brad: I can't be expected to keep track of your loopy schemes.
Rob: Unhitch the wagon. As long as some alcoholic celebrity's not on it.
Brad: If the Braggarts live for one thing, it's ludicrous schemes, right? Slipping from your hiding place, you drop behind the train and run to the end truck. Here you unhitch the coupling, slide down the slate chute so that the villagers will be able to board, then jam a piece of slate under one of the wheels to prevent the truck from rolling away.
As you finish your task, you feel your scalp tingle and a horrible sensation, like cold water, fills your skull.
Rob: I drown?!
Brad: Peering round the truck, you see one of the aliens wafting across the quarry towards the villagers. The creature's body seethes with a mass of orange and black stripes, while its tentacles fidget excitedly.
Rob: Gross...
Brad: As a group, the villagers begin to move towards the monster. Their minds must be enslaved by the alien!
Rob: Jammy bastard!
Brad: You must fight the alien in order to release the villagers! Running forward, you burst out into the open ground between the shuffling people and the alien creature.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Excuse me, I'm with the band. No, really! I'm Bob Dylan!



Using characters intended for an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, writers Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis created Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which began airing in 15-minute episodes as part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming. This collection brings together all the episodes from the fourth series.

Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad are walking and talking food products who spend their days solving mysteries and coping with general problems regarding adolescence. Part of the network's Adult Swim series, which targets 18-34 year olds, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is strikingly original entertainment.

Thanks to our friends at Revolver Entertainment, we've got three copies of Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Season Four to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 5th November. The first three entries out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!

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