Sunday 2 October 2011

Dickass DM: Halloween Special

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 Ian and Clive Bailey gamebook Terrors Out of Time. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: The wood around the door lock bulges, cracks and then splinters. Hinges creak and a pale and hairless head emerges into the still night air.
Braggart: Voldemort, we meet again...
Brad: For a moment it pauses, grotesque ears listen for any sounds of alarm, then the figure of a painfully thin man squeezes out of the doorway.
Braggart: Does being thin actually hurt, or is that just a shitty phrase? I thought I'd ask you since you're that thin.
Brad: You're not even there, yet, dude. Scarily, this is the only gamebook I've found that felt the need for an expositional cinematic.
Rob: Oh.
Brad: Muttering to himself, he plunges down a deserted side street, where tendrils of dank unhealthy mist begin to curl from the sewer gratings as he passes. The man draws the tendrils around him like a thick cloak. Hidden from view, he pads silently towards the houses that surround the British Museum.
Rob: Aaaaahhh. So, it's a cutscene.
Brad: The pyramidion lies on your desk beside an open window as you gaze at it from the comfort of your armchair, wondering about its origins. Once again you consider its strange characteristics. Shaped like a miniature crystal pyramid, it is obviously of great antiquity. Its sides are unnaturally smooth and cannot be scratched, even by metal.
Rob: Have I tried? That seems unusually destructive.
Brad: Really? For you?
Rob: I taze it.
Brad: Most puzzling of all is what it set inside the crystal: a stylised representation of a dragon, curling round to devour its own tail.
Rob: Ouroborous.
Brad: Your knowledge of Greek mythology is...surprising.
Rob: Really? Surprising?
Brad: Yeah. I never took you for a Greek mythology guy. Might be Roman. Who can keep track?
Rob: I dunno.
Brad: As you are lost in thought, a think tendril of yellow mist comes over the sill and, with it, a wizened hand that feels its way across the desk top and seizes the crystal!
Rob: It goes across my PC?
Brad: With a shout, you bound to the window and look out. Your study is on the second floor, so you expect to see the thief on a ladder.

Braggart: Naturally!
Brad: Instead, crawling head first down the wall, is a thin man. You shout again and the thief leaps down to the garden below.
Rob: I rate his dismount.
Brad: Your butler, Mungo, bursts into the room.
Mungo: Did you call me?
Braggart: Is your name 'Hey, cuntpouch, give that back!'?"
Mungo: *stares*
Braggart: Then no, no I didn't!
Brad: For a brief instant the burglar's hideous face leers up at you, then he turns and lopes away into the mist. Snatching your coat from the back of a chair, you run for the door. How will you arm yourself? With the swordstick in the umbrella stand at the bottom of the stairs?
Rob: I broke that, didn't I?
Brad: Or with your trusty knobkerrie which lies against the wall? No...I think you...broke...that. You must have more than one.
Rob: I guess. Do I have to choose one?
Brad: Yes. Does that answer your question?
Mungo: *scratches head* I could have sworn my knobkerrie was next to yours, last week.
Braggart: Erm....I sent it away to have it engraved?
Mungo: Oh. Okay.
Braggart: Tell you what, I'm going to take the swordstick. You can't bring the knobkerrie with you, but let's call it yours for the time being, okay?
Mungo: Right.
Rob: Oh, and my swordstick is called Wangdangler.

Brad: Taking the stairs two at a time, you rush to the street door, hurl back the bolts and plunge out into the sickly yellow mist. You pursue the thief up Bedford Terrace, below the imposing facade of the British Museum. On the corner of Bedford Square you pause. Silence.
Braggart: Did I leave the gas on?
Brad: You have lost the burglar.
Rob: I go back to the apartment. It's the last place I remember having him!
Brad: Cursing, you are about to turn for home when you hear the groan of a door hinge. A brief investigation reveals that the back entrace to the museum has been forced.
Braggart: Must have had an insatiable lust for knowledge.
Brad: Stepping inside, you are rewarded by the sound of distant running foot steps from above. There are two ascending stairways.
Rob: Take the staircase on the right.
Brad: Rapidly you climb the marble stairway and emerge into a dark deserted gallery.
Mungo: What made you choose the right hand *stares*?
Brad: As you hurry through, you note that the imposing display cabinets present a variety of Chinese porcelain and statuary. Ahead, a doorway leads from the Chinese room. You skid to a halt on the edge of a corridor and listen. Once again, silence reigns. You must decide which way the fugitive went.
Rob: Don't I make squeaking noises as I skid?
Brad: In my mind you did, yeah.
Rob: Left.
Brad: Before you stands an imposing column doorway.

Braggart: Ooh, imposing...
Brad: A sign in large gold letters declares: Egyptian Rooms.
Mungo: So...we can't go in there if we're not Egyptian?
Brad: You pass through the doorway and step into a lofty darkness. In my mind the interior of this British Museum looks an awful lot like the inside of the funeral home in Phantasm. Great statues and strange mythological creatures loom before you. You detect furtive movements ahead and realise that you are close to your quarry. Cautiously, you advance to the edge of a small gallery which is stuffed with glass cases of Egyptian funerary relics, sarcophagi and mummies.
Braggart: Seems like they'd space them out. Makes it difficult to...y'know, enjoy the exhibits.
Brad: The thief, his back towards you, is busy before an open display case, in which stands a coffin-shaped sarcophagus. Taking a firm grip on your swordstick, you stealthily advance upon the man, who appears engrossed in some bizarre ritual. He mumbles in a strange and unknown language. It is ugly, cruel and rasping.
Rob: Welsh?
Brad: Raising your swordstick, you are about to confront the thief when your foot squeaks on the polished wooden floor. The man's back stiffens, then he makes towards the sarcophagus. You have been detected.
Rob: I'm hearing the Metal Gear sound.
Brad: Now so do I.
Braggart: Freeze, boyo!
Mungo: Oh, yeah. I keep forgetting you're Welsh.
Braggart: So do I, somehow.

Brad: The man flings out his left arm and a shower of glistening golden particles arches through the air towards another display cabinet. A moment later you are upon the thief and grab him by the shoulder You wrench him round to face you and gasp at his hellish visage. His skin is stretched taut over his skull, his lips are curled back in a dreadful leer, showing a mouth too full of teeth, and his red-rimmed eyes have an evil gleam.
Rob: That *is* Voldemort.
Brad: Then the corpse-man pulls free of your grip, plunges into the sarcophagus and disappears! In disbelief you stand before the empty sarcophagus, the image of the corpse man's grotesque face seared on your mind.
Mungo: Is this a horror adventure? I hate being the ethnic minority in a horror adventure.
Brad: You are roused from your trance by the sound of breaking glass. Turning, you see a mummy.
Braggart: What...the....ahfuck?
Brad: Blindly, the ancient corpse gropes towards you.
Braggart: Easy pal, we just met.
Brad: Its joints creak and a vile muffled whimpering escapes from its bandaged head. Now, how will you defend yourself against this animated corpse?
Rob: Wangdangle!
Brad: The wheezing, creaking corpse-thing seems intent upon ensnaring you. It probes the air in front with clumsy sweeps of its scrawny bandaged arms.
Mungo: Chin it!
Brad: You take a step backwards and your feet crunch on broken glass. The mummy halts, cocks its head as if listening, then turns to face you.

Braggart: Shiiiiit.
Brad: Boldly, you stand your ground, then dodge the creature's first ill-timed attempt to grab you. Now you can attempt to skewer the thing. Your thrust is ill-aimed, the swordstick merely pierces the creature's wrappings. For a moment the corpse thing sways uncertainly, then jerks its arms towards you. The mummy misses.
Rob: I attempt to fight on.
Brad: Behind, you hear the sound of angry voices. The authorities have been roused by the night's events.
Braggart: Well, that's slightly new...
Brad: Perhaps a well aimed thrust to the mummy's shrivelled chest will deprive it of its unnatural life?
Rob: Could it hurt?
Brad: Once again you miss!
Mungo: What the fuck is wrong with you? You are the third worst hero ever.
Braggart: Who are the other two? Quickly!
Mungo: The Silver Braggart.
Braggart: Never heard of him.
Mungo: He's a superhero. He tasered a small child by mistake once.
Braggart: Mistake...Okay...
Brad: The mummy attempts to ensnare you. You dodge out of the way.
Rob: Fight on. Actually, fuck it. Do a barrel roll and bail out.
Brad: The mummy flings its arms around your body, pinioning your arms. You are trapped, with your face pressed hard against the thing's brittle wrappings, unless you can break its grip. As you struggle to free yourself from the clutches of this corpse-creature, you feel a chill begin to creep through your body. Contact with the mummy seems to be draining you of strength.
Braggart: He's quite cold...I suppose he's dead. I'm not, though! Little victories.

Brad: You succeed in breaking the mummy's grip.
Rob: Try to escape.
Brad: Desperately, you charge the mummy. Perhaps you can knock it to the ground and escape?
Braggart: Suggested donation is ten quid! Suggested!
Brad: You barrel into it, and it is propelled backwards through one of the glass display cabinets. You escape through one of the room's exits.
Mungo: Should I come too?
Braggart: Probably wise, I might need to offer you up at sacrifice, I managed to get my other two mates ki....Yeah, you'd best come.
Brad: Swiftly you make your way back through the museum, aware that the formerly deserted galleries now hum with activity. The museum authorities have been roused by your intrusion. At the head of the marble staircase, in the Chinese room, the sound of hobnails obliges you to dodge behind a display case. Moments later a police constable and a security man emerge into the gallery and hurry away towards the Egyptian room. Once they are gone, you slip from your hiding place and descend to the street.
Braggart: Good stuff, I didn't fancy a tour.
Brad: You cunningly conceal your swordstick beneath your coat.
Mungo: Couldn't you just conceal it in your walking stick?
Braggart: I don't use a walking stick.
Mungo: So, it's just a sword then?
Braggart: No, it's still a swordstick. It's just not a walking stick, it's a sword concealed in a normal stick. Inside my jacket.
Brad: You make your way home by a circuitous route, for the streets about the museum are now crowded with an assortment of police vehicles and running constables.
MUNGO: *stares*
Brad: You can explain nothing of the night's events, but you are sure of one thing: it is time to team your daredevil skills with the knowledge and sage advice of your friend, the scholar and explorer, Charles Petrie-Heydrich. You awake the following morning.
Braggart: Wake up, following morning!
Brad: After breakfast, you hurry out to the post office and send an urgent telegram to Petrie-Heydrich: "NEED YOUR HELP STOP STRANGE WORK AHEAD STOP COME QUICKLY STOP".
Braggart: Reading this back, it's bollocks. Why would I try to stop him coming? And why haven't I put any punctuation into this?
Words: Brad Harmer & Robert Wade
Brad Harmer: Facebook Twitter
Rob Wade: Twitter
This is intended as a loving tribute to Ian and Clive Bailey, the Forbidden Gateway series, Terrors Out of Time, and all other gamebooks of yesteryear.

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