Sunday 26 June 2011

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 Joe Dever gamebook Highway Holocaust. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: You are about to take a closer look when Pop Ewell calls everyone to the bus. He has made radio contact with Big Spring.
Pop Ewell: Here, Brag...
Brad: He hands you the headphones.
Pop Ewell: Your ears are younger than mine. See if you can figure out what they're saying.
Brag: Errggh, dude, put those ones away.
Brad: You slip on the headphones and listem to a voice that is almost completely obscured by the hiss and crackele of static. You close your eyes and concentrate as hard as you can in an effort to undersand what is being said.
Rob: That's latin by the way, E14ies, it's an Event horizon reference!
Voice on paying you a with you the skies...
Brad: You relay the mesage to the others and they begin to laugh.
Hammer Harlan: I think the heat's finally got to you, Brag! Here, let me listen to those 'phones. Ain't nothin' wrong with my hearin'.
Brag: Fine by me, 'Hammer'. I bet you've got a tiny wang.
Brad: You pass him the headphones, but before he has had a chance to put them on, the insect-like sound of a small engine draws all eyes to the west.
Hammer: Well, I'll be...
Brad: High in the azure sky you see a tiny flying machine with fragile, bat-shaped wings. Spell-bound, the colony watches as the plane circles above the town and comes in to land on the stretch of freeway that approaches the bridge. Slowly the pilot extricates himself from the tiny, motorised hang glider and gives a friendly wave as he strides towards the group.

Pilot: The name's Rickenbacker.
Brad: He shakes Uncle Jonas by the hand.
Rickenbacker: I'm from Big Spring. I saw y'all while I was scoutin' the freeway and thought I'd drop by. Shame about the radio: 'fraid my set's seen better days.
Brad: Rickenbacker warns the colony that a large groupe of clansmen is riding towards the town from the east. They are less than five miles distant and closing fast. He also tells you about another gang of bikers, a clan called The Mavericks, who have been the bane of the Big Spring colony for the last six months.
Brag: Mavericks? I bet they play by their own rules...
Brad: They control the city of Lubbock, 100 miles to the north, and their raiding parties are in the area foraging for food.
Rickenbacker: I know the next thirty miles ain't gonna be easy for you folks, but there's a big welcome waitin' for y'all at Big Spring.
Brad: He gets ready to take to the air once more.
Rickenbacker: Don't delay now. We're countin' on you to make it through.
Brag: ...Okay...
Brad: As soon as he is airborne, the colony sets to work on the bridge with renewed vigour. The Lions are closer than anyone dared imagine and everyone is eager to get across the river before they show up. When Cutter announces that the bridge is safe, you drive the BragWagon across the platform and park it on the freeway ready for a fast getaway.
Brag: Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be roped into taking them on single-handed.
MCSPINDLE: Why aren't we just driving away, leaving them all to die?
Brad: The colony crosses over on foot, and Cutter drives the empty bus across the bridge. The platform creaks and shudders, but Cutter is able to cross safely to the far side. Together with Kate, the three of you return to help guide Uncle Jonas and the tanker across. Just as the front wheels are about to mount the platform, Kate screams a warning.
Kate: The Lions are here!
Brag: I fucking knew it.
Brad: You see a cloud of dust approaching, then the roar of a hundred motorcycle engines fills the air as the Detroit Lions come racing along the freeway into Colorado City.

Brag: A hundred? For fuck's sake...
MCSPINDLE: It might not be that bad. Some may have more than one motorbike each.
Brag: ...Think about what you just said.
MCSPINDLE: I think we'd all be happier if we didn't.
Cutter: You gotta hold 'em off until we've got this baby across!
Brad: Cutter waves frantic signals to Uncle Jonas who is having to fight to keep the tanker in a straight line. The sight of the makeshift platform sagging under the weight of the heavy vehicle makes your stomach turn. As you reach the end of the bridge, you notice two ideal defensive positions. One is a three-storey factory that overlooks the freeway; the other is an auto-wreck overturned on the approach ramp to the bridge.
Rob: I hide behind the auto wreck. I don't really have the weaponry to justify a sniper point. I'm quite sensible really. When it comes down to it.
Brad: You crouch behind the wrecked car and watch as Kate disappears into the factory. Minutes later you see her face at a window on the top floor and notice the barrel of her gun resting on its ledge. Nervously you count the passing seconds, your eyes fixed on the road ahead. The first of the Lions appears: it is a motorcycle and sidecar. A lion's head flag flutters from an aerial fixed behind the rider's saddle, and a heavy-caliber machine gun is mounted in front of the chair.
Brag: See, McS? Some of these bikes are carrying two people! Your maths was doomed from the start!
Brad: As soon as they see the tanker they open fire, sending a stream of tracer bullets arcing towards your position. As the fiery shell rip through your covers, you fight the urge to throw yourself down on the ground, and take aim at the approaching vehicle. You know that you must make your shot count, for if just one of the tracer shells were to pierce the tanker, it would ignite the fuel and blow it sky high. You rest the butt of your pistol on the side of the auto wreck and, as the enemy vehicle speeds nearer, you cock the hammer and focus your aim at the driver's head.
Brag: Hammercock!
Brad: You have aimed too high: your gunfire passes over the driver's head, alerting his partner to your position.
Brag: Fucknuggets!
Brad: He returns fire, sending a hail of bullets into the wreckage that shields you. They strike with devastating effect, the deadly tracer shells blowing the rusty metal to pieces.
MCSPINDLE: I'm over here!
Brag: Sorry, I saw rusty metal and assumed you'd been shot!

Brad: You throw yourself to the ground. Your speedy reactions save you from being cut in half by the deadly tracer shells. The air is alive with bullet fragments and pieces of twisted metal, and you dare not raise your head for fear of being hit. Out of the corner of your eye you see Kate aiming her rifle from the window of the factory. She shoots and immediately the machine gun fire ceases.
You look up to see the rider clutching his fave with both hands.
Rob: Were they dumbstruck by her terrible marksmanship?
Brad: He swoons, falls backwards, and then tumbles from the saddle. Before the sidecar rider can jump free, the speeding machine careers off the road into the wall of an office building, and explodes in a searing ball of flame.
Rob: Swoons?! Sorry, was this gamebook written in the 1920s?!
Brad: Yes.
Rob: Hunh.
Brad: With a smile you signal a thumbs-up to Kate and she returns your salute with a wave.
Rob: Of her tits?
Brad: A few minutes later a column of motorcycles - the main body of the clan - rides into view. They are now less than a mile from the bridge.
Cutter: C'mon, you two! It's time to go!
Brad: The tanker has made it across the platform and is now parked with the other vehicles on the far side of the river. Kate is running towards you from the factory and, as she reachers the bridge, you call out to her to set the bomb. Tensely, you watch the clansmen as they gun their bikes along the freeway, and you glance repeatedly over your shoulder, praying for Kate to signal that the bomb is ready. Then the front line of bikers open fire with their machine pistols, and suddenly the air is filled with the whine and whistle of bullets.
Kate: It's ready!
Brad: She takes off across the bridge at a run. You spring to your feet and run towards the platform, weaving back and forth in order to present the Lions with a difficult target. Kate and Cutter are screaming encouragement, inspiring you to greater effort when you reach the centre of the bridge. Bullets are flying everywhere: whistling, singing, smacking into the asphalt on either side of your feet as you sprint the last few yards. As you pass the tanker, Cutter steps in front of you and grabs your jacket to slow you down.
Brag: Don't do that! I'll get hit, you pillock!
Brad: He points to the ruins of a nearby church and tells you to follow him there. Inside, the colony are huddled on the ground with their hands over their heads, waiting for the bridge to blow. A few seconds after you enter the church and take cover next to Kate, there is a tremendous flash, followed almost immediately by a deafening roar like a violent earthquake that shakes the walls and floor. Dust and debris fall from the rafters but miraculously no one is injured, and when finally the tremors cease and you go outside to survey the scene, all you can see is a vast cloud of dust hanging over the place where the Colorado City bridge once spanned the river.

Brag: Haha! Taste river from a height, bitches!
Brad: Debris from the explosion lies scattered across the ground for hundreds of yards. Cutter is worried that the vehicles may have been wrecked, but after a thorough check the damage is found to be superficial. As soon as the colony are back on board the bus, you slip behind the wheel of your roadster and lead them awa from Colorado City. You have been driving for no more than twenty minutes when you see in the distance a small cluster of weathered buildings shimmering in the heat.
Brag: Aww, man, Sniper Village!
Brad: A sign informs you that you are now approaching the town of Westbrook. The fatigue of your journey and the glare of the afternoon sun prevent you from noticing the shiny metal spikes that lay strewn across the highway. As you enter the town, there is a loud bang and your steering wheel shudders violently.
Rob: Mines!
Brad: You pull over to the side of the road and give an emergency signal to the convoy to stop immediately and not to follow you into Westbook. The tyre on the right-side front wheel is completely flat. Wearily you climb out of the driving seat and go to inspect the damage.
Rob: Highway code regulations dictate that you must always carry a spare, so I must have one.
Brad: As you stoop to remove the spike, a shot rings out.
MCSPINDLE: This...really...hurts...
Brag: Shut up whining, it's no worse than a thorn in the paw. You didn't see that lion in The Bible pussying out.
Brad: Instantly, you drop to the ground and take cover behind the engine compartment of your car. A glance over the hood invites another shot; it passes within inches of your scalp and makes you duck, but not before you notice the muzzle flash of the sniper's gun. The ambusher is hiding in the doorway of a diner on the other side of the highway.
Brag: Probably interrupted his sandwich with our noise.
Brad: Two motorcycles are parked at that side of the building, indicating that he is not alone.
Rob: Could be up to three more people then...
Brad: You pull the CB transceiver out of your backpack, flick the power switch on and key-on the frequency that Pop Ewell monitors aboard the buss.
Brag: Breaker breaker, this is ManAndWhineyCar, we're pinned down by the diner by a sniper. The chicken is off, repeat, the chicken is off!
Brad: The tiny speaker crackles into life.
Cutter (on radio): Hang in there, Brag. I'll circle 'round the back and flush 'em out.
Brag: Good stuff. I'll just keep attracting fire from this increasingly powerful sniper.

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