Friday, 25 November 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!
MCSPINDLE: I'm not gonna make more than 120 miles, Brag.
Brag: That's what you were complaining about? My days have been numbered since page 1. Metaphorically.
Brad: It is midday when you rejoin Interstate 10 to continue your drive west.
Brag: We probably shouldn't have stopped off at Little Chef.
MCSPINDLE: I know, right? They always said they two things to survive a nuclear fallout would be germs and cockroaches. And what do you know? Little Chefs.

Brad: The sun is at its height and it feels as if it has pushed the temperature to five degrees above unbearable. To save fuel you try to keep your speed below twenty-five miles per hour, even though the lack of a cooling breeze drives you to distraction. You were hoping to be able to scavenge some fuel in Ozona, the first town through which you were due to pass, but when you arrive you find that it has been totally destroyed.
A gently sloping mound of dust and rubble is all that remains of this town. You are forced to continue without respite, and throughout the long, hot drive, the experience of Ozona is repeated many times before you reach Bakersfield in the early morning.
You are both tired and suffering from mild heat exhaustion, but after having at last reached a town that is still standing, you agree that you must search for fuel and water before it gets dark. As the town is divided in two by the freeway, you decide to split up and search one half each.
Rob: Search the south side of Bakersfield.
Brad: At the far end of a block of derelict stores is a blue, star-shaped sign that marks the site of a Lone Star gas station. You hurry along the dustry street, hopeful of finding some fuel, but you are met with disappointment. All the security caps have been sawn off the gasolene storage tanks and not a drop of their precious contents remains. The gas station itself has been ransacked and nothing of value remains, but at the rear of the building you discover something that stirs your curiosity. It is a large storage facility with heavy double doors, which are chained and padlocked.
You walk around the building and notice that it has no windows or other means of access.
Brag: How does one get in?

Brad: Nothing hints at what it stored inside, and the more you consider it, the more intrigued you become. You head off to search elsewhere. After a long and laborious search of all the stores in this part of Bakersfield, you discover absolutely nothing of any practical value. Having exhausted both your energy and your patience, and with dusk already giving way to darkness, you abandon your search and return to The Brag Wagon. You return to find Kate sitting on the hood of the BragWagon, sifting through a box of items she has found.
She, too, has been unable to find any fuel, but she has salvaged enough food for a decent evening meal.
Kate: I even found some wine from your home state.
Brad: She proudly holds out a bottle of Californian dry white for your inspection.
Brag: You might want to climb off that hood. This is third base for him.
MCSPINDLE: I hope you found a corkscrew.
Brad: As night draws in and the temperature falls, a strong wind arises that whips along the freeway, howling like an angry ghost. You sense that it is the prelude to a storm and you suggest to Kate that you look for somewhere to shelter. An old brick-built library standing close by seems like a good bet: the walls are strong and it still has a roof, which is more than can be said for over ninety per cent of the Bakersfield buildings.
You decide to spend the night in the library's main hall. After clearing a space near the centre, you build a small campr fire, using a few of the many thousands of books that line the walls. Then, once it is ablaze, you help Kate to prepare the food she has found. Outside, the weather has gorwn steadily worse.

MCSPINDLE: YOU COULD LET ME IN!
Brag: I don't have room at the inn.
Brad: Thunder rolls acorss the surrounding plains and the jagged flashes of forked lightning illuminate the roiling clouds of dust with increasing regularity.
Brag: There's a storm comin'...
Kate: It ain't all bad. At least we don't have to worry 'bout Mad Dog's boys showin' up outta the blue.
Brag: Yeah, now they'll show up outta the lobby.
Brad: The food and wine taste delicious and, after eating your fill, you both settle down to sleep in front of the glowing embers of the camp fire. It seems as though you have only just closed your eyes when you are stirred to conciousness by a loud crackling sound and the acrid smell of smoke. Horror fills your sense when you open your eyes to see yourself surrounded by a blazing wall of yellow flame. Lightning struck the library roof while you were asleep, starting a fire that has been fuelled by the shelves of dust-dry books, and which has now spread to the main hall where it threatens to consume you both. Quickly you wake Kate and together you fight your way towards the main door.
You are within ten feet of the exit when a burning bookcase falls across your path.
MCSPINDLE: BWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!
Brag: This ain't good.

Brad: The heat and flames force you back from the entrance, and as you reach the centre of the hall, you look around desperately for another way out but every exit is now ablaze. Using a heavy rug from the floor, you cover Kate's head and tell her to make a dash for the main door. Bravely she obeys your command without hesitation, and she succeeds in escaping through the tunnel of flame and out into the street beyond. Heartened by her success, you raise your jacket over your head, take a deep breath and sprint after her.
Brag: I hear the Chariots of Fire music!
Brad: Your speed and sure-footedness save you from the merciless flames. Your jacket is blackened with soot and the legs of your jeans are smouldering, but you escape from the blazing library without sustaining any injury.
MCSPINDLE: Oh, whoever could have set that fire?
Brad: Kate catches you as you emerge from the library and pulls you a safe distance away.
Moments later, the roof of the library collapses with a loud, spliterning crack, and clouds of sparks whirl into the night, carried upward by the strong, gusting wind. Silently you look at Kate's smoke-blackened face, and then at the blazing library, and you realise ust how lucky you both are to have got out of that inferno alive.
Brag: You're...black?

Brad: By the time you recover fully from your ordeal and return to The BragWagon, the storm has blown itself out. The easter sky is lightening as dawn appraoches, and you decide to leave Bakersfield now, before the sun rises and the temperature becomes unbearable. Beyond the town, the freeway climbs steadily towards a distant line of mountains that shimmer on the horizon. You keep your speed as low as possible and cover forty miles with your fuel gauge nudgng the zero mark. Then the silhouette of Fort Stockton appears on the road ahead and your hopes of finding some gas are rekindled.
Brag: Forts are well known for their gasoline!
Brad: The first thing you see upon entering the town is a gas station. Like everything else, the station appears deserted, but there is something about this building that makes your skin prickle with presentiment.
Brag: Yes, whatever presentiment is, I'm prickling with it.
Brad: A battered Chevrolet pick-up with its hood raised at one of the station's four gasolene pumps. It looks far cleaner than any of the other auto wrecks that lie scattered around the town, and your suspicioins are further aroused when you notice a large black pool of oil on the ground beneath the engine compartment. You stop the BragWagon alongside and step out to investigate it.
Brag: Wait, this oil is fresh...
Brad: You dab your index finger in the pool. You are wiping it clean on the leg of your jeans when you hear an unexpected reply.
Man's Voice: Drop your weapons...or I'll drop you!
Brag: Oh....bollocks.

Brad: It is a man's voice and it is coming from inside a derelict pay booth.
Rob: I do as he says.
Brad: Reluctantly, you let your gun slip to the ground as the muzzle of a rifle emerges from the darkened doorway.
Man's Voice: You too, honey.
Brad: Kate obeys, tossing her machine pistol out of the car so that it lands deliberately near your feet.
Another Voice: [to your right] Don't even think about it.
Brad: From behind a wrecked auto steps a tall, muscular man, dressed in green army fatigues.
Brag: Fucking hell, there's two of you?!
MCSPINDLE: Cockroaches, bacteria and Sgt Slaughter.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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.

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