Friday 9 September 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 Freeway Warrior II: Mountain Run. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: You start your engine and point the Brag Wagon southwards. For seventeen miles you follow the 137 south.
Rob: Why only seventeen?
Brad: The surface of the highway is so poor that were it not for the line of shattered telegraph poles that run parallel to the road you would find it impossible to tell the difference between the highway and the open ground. It takes you an hour to reach a junction where the remains of another highway, the 158, cuts east/west across your path. Its condition is marginally better and, for the first time since you left Stanton, you are able to increase your speed to thirty miles per hour as you head east towards Sterling City. From there you will make your way along Freeway 87 to San Angelo.
Rob: That explains it.
Brad: It is nearly noon when you see a ramshackle town appear out of the heat haze that dances on the road ahead. Now the temperature is well above 100 degrees Farenheit and, as you drive along its deserted main street, you think about stopping to rest for a while in the shade.
Rob: Stop. In the name of heat stroke.
Brad: All the houses and stores of this forgotten town have collapsed long ago, all, that is, except for two. Both of these sorry, sand-blown shells stand of either side of an alley at the edge of town, and it is here that you decide to park your roadster. Quickly you discover that the buildings were once a hardware store and a tiny, one-pump gas station.

MCSPINDLE: Wasn't that what the girls called you at school?
Brag: Sadly, they never called me.
Rob: Investigate the hardware store. See, this is why I prefer Fallout: New Vegas. In that game, I would only have to choose which one I visited first.
Brad: I need to play that. I like the sound of it. You enter through a gaping hole in the store's front window. The shattered remains scrunch loudly beneath the soles of your boots as you explore its darkened interior. The place is a shambles, the fittings and stock having been exposed to the elements for many years.
It is a relief to be out of the midday sun but you soon experience difficulty with your breathing for the air is becoming saturated with a fine dust stirred by your movement.
Rob: I return to the car.
Brad: The heat of the sun hits you like a blazing hammer as you walk back to the Brag Wagon. Slowly you ease yourself into the driving seat and pause for a few moments to look at your map. You estimate that Sterling City is a little over thirty miles away, less than an hour's drive if the highway and your luck hold out. You leave this ruined town, a place once known as Garden City. On every side, a desolate plain of arid, lifeless earth stretches to the horizon.
The highway meanders across this wasteland, following the gentle curve of a dry watercourse that the ranchers and oilmen of this county once knew as Lacy Creek.
MCSPINDLE: Is it me, or is the narration really patronising?
Brag: Narration?
MCSPINDLE: I mean....landscape.
Brag: Oh. I guess so.

Brad: You have been driving for half an hour when you see a signpost, its blistered metal plate announcing your approach to the Sterling county line. As you cross this boundary, your engine begins to splutter and backfire.
Brag: Stop coughing!
Brad: Coughing and pooping, the BragWagon lurches to a halt in the middle of the highway.
Rob: Incidentally, my girlfriend has found me unbearable to live with during her asthma flare-up recently.
Brad: Because you're so dusty?
Rob: No, because my advice is "stop coughing!"
Brad: She can get as arsey as she likes; that is what it boils down to. Silly bint.
Brag: Why did you poop? And what did you poop?
Brad: You try to restart the engine but it refuses to run smoothly for more than a few seconds at a time. You are running over all the possible faults that could have caused the breakdown when suddenly you remember the computer aid digipad that Cutter fitted to the dashboard while you were in Big Spring.
Thank God it was one of those pads with a USB socket. You know. The non-douchey ones.
He had salvaged the unit from the wreck of a '99 Mercedes Malibu Coupe and modified it so that you could use it to run an automatic systems check on the BragWagon.
Hurriedly you tap in your access code and immediately the unit's LCD identifies the fault...

MCSPINDLE: Fuel...filter...*coughs*
Brag: Driver. PEBWAEE
Brad: It takes you an hour to dismantle, clean and replace the fuel filter. The fault rectified, the engine starts sweetly the first time you touch the ignition.
Brag: What? You didn't do anything!
Brad: You accelerate away but within a few minutes you see something in the distance that makes you slow to a snail's pace. It is a girder bridge that carries the highway across the North Concho River. The bridge is intact and passable, but you are worried by the sight of a lazy plume of woodsmoke rising from a spot near its approach ramp. You pull over to the side of the road and focus your lenses on the distant bridge. Two clansmen, both stripped to the waist, are roasting something on a spit that is suspended over a small camp fire.
Their motorcycles are parked beside them, nose-to-tail across the road, so that they obstruct the entrance the bridge. The two men appear to be occupied with the cooking of their meal and are, for now, unaware of your presence.
Rob: Surprise, motherfucker!
Brad: Using the cover afforded by the undercut banks of Lacy Creek you are able to creep to within twenty yards of the bridge unseen.
Rob: Great stuff.
Brad: The harsh, greasy smell of roasted coyote wafts over your hiding place as silently you watch the taller of the two clansmen fan the camp fire with his hat, while his partner kneels down and carves himself a large slice of the blackened meat.
He chews it without enthusiasm before finally spitting it out in disgust.
Rob: How did I place that smell so fast?
Clansman: Goddamn dogmeat! I ain't never gonna git used to it!

Brad: He gulps a mouthful of water from his canteen as he rises to his feet. Your pulse quickens as he turns and starts to walk straight towards you.
Brag: I'm not here.
Brad: You press yourself against the hot earth and pray that the clansman will stop before he reaches you, but when he is less than six feet away he catches a glimpse of your shoulders and automatically he reaches for his pistol. You sense something is wrong and you look up to see his sneering face. You are galvanised into action.
MCSPINDLE: Why didn't you bring me? I'm actually galvanised!
Brad: With a superhuman effort you leap from the river bed and drag the clansman, screaming, to the ground before he is able to cock his pistol. A blow to the wrist disarms him, sending his gun skittering across the rocks, but he recovers quickly and rearms himself with a dagger drawn from his boot.
Running Combat:
You mock his games console of choice.
Brag: A Dreamcast?! Still?!
You mock his favourite game.
Brag: Deadly Premon....just go to hell.

Ray-ban is defeated.
Brad: At your killing blow, your adversay drops in a limp and lifeless heap at your feet.
Brag: Errrrgh, these were new shoes. New to me, anyway...
Brad: Meanwhile, his confederate has run back to his motorcycle and armed himself with a machine pistol. You dive aside just in time to avoid his first burst of fire, and, as you scurry for cover, you retrieve the pistol that you had kicked from his dead partner's hand. With a vengeful scream, the clansman comes running at you, firing his machine pistol from the hip.
Rob: I shoot him!
Brad: Bullets tear up the ground where you lie, forcing you to stand up and meet his madman head on.
Rob: What does a vengeful scream sound like anyway?
Brad: Remember when you beat that programmer to death with a copy of Deadly Premonition? That was a vengeful scream.
Brad: Quickly you cock the pistol and take aim at his chest as he comes bounding across the rock-strewn highway, his teeth bared and his eyes blazing with hatred.
Brag: Cockpistol! Sorry, was trying out a new war cry. What do you think? Oh right, you're angry with me for shooting your boyfriend. Wow, you are taking forever to get to me...
Brad: You try to ignore the hail of bullets whilsting past on all sides as cooly you crouch down and adopt a two-handed combat stance in order to steady your aim.
Words: Brad Harmer & Robert Wade
Brad Harmer: Facebook Twitter
Rob Wade: Twitter
This is intended as a loving tribute to Joe Dever, the Freeway Warrior series, Slaughter Mountain Run/Mountain Run, and all other gamebooks of yesteryear.


What will you do? How far will you go? What will you become?

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Thanks to our friends at Bantam, we've got two copies of Mark Morris' Dead Island to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 16th September, making sure to put "Dead Island" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome book!

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Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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