Friday, 4 April 2014

Dickass DM - The Adventures Of Hercule Braggart: Trouble At The Track - Part 2

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 a classic Sherlock Holmes gamebook. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Hercule Braggart.

When last we left our intrepid hero, Braggart had just noticed Holmes' expression change. Not very exciting, I know, but it's only part 1. Catch up with it Here!


Brad: From Holmes' expression you see that his mind is drifting away towards some other problem. As quickly as politeness permits, you bid them good day and leave. Some small matters delay you on Friday, and Holmes and Watson are boarding their cab as you run up Baker Street to meet them. The driver is busy piling their luggage on top of the groaner.
Rob : They sound like 1890s hooker names.
WATSON: "You almost missed us. It should be an interesting afternoon. Holmes is certain he already knows the winner in the feature and mocks my choice. Get in, and let's be off."
BRAGGART: "That's not all he mocks, I've heard him. I've even heard the phrase 'gimpy walk' used."
Brad: You do not need a second invitation, and soon the three of you are rattling through the streets, where most of the populace is concerned with far more serious business than a day at the races. You pay little attention to the London crowds, though, given a rare chance to talk with the world's greatest consulting detective.
HOLMES: "How is your education progressing?"
BRAGGART: "Oh, Auntie Sherlock, I'm too smart for conventional education, you know that very well! I'm good enough at the evidence bit, but I struggle to narrow the field down to one suspect like you can. I suspect I'm a long way off. And there's this bloke at school who keeps trying to shove me in a locker. The strange thing is that he almost always tries to follow me in on the occasions where he comes close to success. I mean, not that there's anything wrong with that if two people want to engage in such things, but it's not for me."

HOLMES: "It is a lifetime's study..."
BRAGGART: "What, homosexuality?"
HOLMES: "...and even then, there will be more than one time when you prove yourself a fool. That has happened to me, as Watson has told the world in his tales."
BRAGGART: "I understood it was some careful application and the right pressu...let's not talk about this. Oh yeah! You got totally humbled by that American bird."
HOLMES: "But one thing to consider - wherever you are and whatever you happen to be doing, keep your eyes open for things that might lead to crime. My greatest successes have come in matters where I have had an idea in advance that something was going to happen, and have been able to take steps to prevent the crime or catch the perpetrator in the act. That was how Watson and I saved Dr Roylott's stepdaughter from his evil designs and solved other cases."
WATSON: "Surely you downgrade your genius, Holmes."
BRAGGART: "Does that bring down the price?"
WATSON: "You make the most difficult tasks seem simple, you know."
HOLMES: "Not at all. But if you know a wealthy man has an heir desperate for money, you can prevent a crime by a word in the heir's ear. Or if we should see a notorious gambler bet heavily on a long shot today, we would protect the purity of the turf with a word to the stewards."
BRAGGART: "'Fucking Stop it!'?"

HOLMES: "A man who would make a career of detection must always have his eyes open to everything around him. It is the only way to do one's job."
WATSON: "Oh, enough talk of detection, Holmes! Why don't you tell my cousin about the race this afternoon?"
BRAGGART: "I already know there's a race... See? I learn..."
WATSON: "Explain to him why your logical and scientific approach to handicapping will do better than my foolish 'hunch'."
Brad: Watson laughs merrily, even as Holmes frowns.
HOLMES: "Watson, you should know better than to mock logic. You must admit that your attempts at picking winning horses have cost you half your pension."
WATSON: "Now, now, Holmes; I've done better than that."
BRAGGART: "So, Holmes, which filly do you like the look of? Not that I mean girl, oh my no! Not in this context, anyway. Not that I'm suggesting you don't like...I...So. Horses. Which one? Please."
HOLMES: "I am going to bet on Irish Star. He is a very strong horse and runs consistently well. He doesn't belong on the same track with the rest of the field - it is only an odd quirk in the conditions that allow him to run. From every point of past performance and current condition, there is simply no way that the horse can fail to win."

BRAGGART: "What do you mean he doesn't belong on the track with the rest? Is he a greyhound? Watson, why won't you put your money on him? Are you scared? Worried a greyhound on the track might upset your precious status quo?"
HOLMES: "Doctor Watson intends to bet on a horse called Maiwand, because it is named for the battle where he was wounded. He considers it a lucky omen, I believe."
Brad: Watson squirms slightly, although his usual bulldog expression indicates he will not change his mind.
BRAGGART: "Considering you were wounded there, I doubt that. Is Irish Star a bad omen for you? Were you wounded by some Protestant Shuriken?"
WATSON: "Well, what Holmes doesn't understand is that a horse doesn't always run true to form, and I have heard that Irish Star isn't going to run well today. And if you eliminate Irish Star, why, Maiwand is quite as good as any other horse in the race. Whatever Holmes thinks of me, I'm not fool enough to bet a bad horse just because I like his name."
Brad: As Watson chuckles, Holmes remains aloof and unresponsive to his teasing.

BRAGGART: "So your argument is....no to Irish Star, so yes to any other horse? Who told you Irish Star wouldn't run well? Maiwand? Is there a conspiracy?"
WATSON: "Oh, Tom Oliver, a waiter at my club. When he saw me looking over the entries this morning, he warned me about the horse."
BRAGGART: "Is he a horse?"
HOLMES: "A waiter at your club, Watson? But if he is so expert on form surely he wouldn't have to spend his days at such menial labour."
WATSON: "The man has connections at the track, nonetheless."
BRAGGART: "I ask again: Is. He. A. Horse?"
WATSON: "Holmes, you must admit you have found sources in more unlikely places many a time."
Brad: This riposte leads Holmes to a discussion of some of the more unlikely witnesses he has encountered over the years.
BRAGGART: "Remember that story where you interviewed a postage stamp?"

Brad: Holmes fills the rest of your trip to the track with stories from his past investigations, recounting many of the odd sources of information which have yielded clues. You sit, drinking it in, hoping you can use some of his ploys when faced with similar problems yourself. Finally, you reach the Thameside Racing Grounds. It is a simple place, for races are run here only a few weeks in the year.
Rob : Seems wasteful.
Brad: Low hills near the track provide alternative seating to the small grandstand and also shield the stables from some of the noise raised by the stands and the nearby railroad. Fresh paint on the stands and fences as well as the excellent condition of the turf show that the groundskeepers have made every effort to get the oval track ready for the races. As you pass through the gates, Holmes glances around him, following his habitual pattern of seemingly observing everything.
WATSON: "Anything interesting, Holmes? I hope we shan't have to give up these pleasures to pursue some rogue."

Brad: Watson laughs. Holmes smiles thinly.
HOLMES: "No rogues, but there's a man who once crossed the line."
Brad: He indicates a plump little man dressed in tweeds who is giving directions to a wagon driver.
HOLMES: "His name is Phillips. At his wit's end, he was about to steal from an Uncle to get the money to go into business. I warned his uncle, who listened to his plans and lent him the money. Now he supplies grain and hay to half the racing stables in the south of England."
Brad: Suddenly, Holmes' face hardens.
BRAGGART: "What the hell just happened to your face?"


Stay tuned to E14 for the next thrilling edition of Dickass DM, coming April 11th!

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