The Cambridge Geek

The Despairing Maze - Transcript - Episode 001

All of the words said out loud for Episode 001 of The Despairing Maze.

F/X - Intro music

Hi guys. Welcome to my first podcast! I'm just going to give you a quick introduction in this episode, so you know what's going on.

Basically, I've really enjoyed actual play podcasts for years, enough so that I would love to do my own, but I don't have the time to actually sit down with my mates and play a campaign.

So I decided to come up with a compromise that would still let me make something, but that meant a much smaller time commitment. It's basically a solo actual play, using a choose your own adventure style gamebook.

Now, you may or may not be aware, but the actual choose your own adventure people are very very keen on protecting their brand, so depressingly, I'm not going to be able to play You Are a Shark.

Instead, I turned to your friend and mine, open source. A lot of people enjoy making gamebooks, so there's a whole bunch available for free on the internet, and some of those people are very happy for you to turn them into podcasts.

I did have a look through the Windhammer Prize winners first - that's an online competition for short gamebooks. If you search the phrase Windhammer - that's all one word - and books, you should find it fairly easily.

Trouble is, that's quite old now, I think it finished in 2015, so I wasn't sure I'd be able to find the authors for permission, and so I went hunting for more recent works.

Scrolled through an absolute load - Sturgeon's Law still applies - before I found something that looked interesting. Although, actually, it's more like it found me. I was clicking around a website and it appeared as a popup as the "gam of the day". Yes, I'm pronouncing that correctly. I love the little defects you get in hobby sites.

But there it was, gam of the day, The Despairing Maze. Enjoyable name, so figured I'd give it a try. This is also a very easy way to learn to podcast as well, so I'm not too worried if I find it's not that great. I'll keep a metaphorical thumb in the page of life, so I can always record something new if this is naff.

Just going to point out, since it's an electronic gamebook, I can't actually use my thumb. When they're released as PDFs, you can always just sort of scroll back to the previous page, but this is all in HTML in some sort of frame, so I don't think I can even cheat it with the back button.

Bit of a shame, as it means if I want to record the entire book I'll need to keep restarting it, but I guess I can cope. It'll keep me honest if nothing else.

Right, that's enough preamble, so let's get to the book itself. I don't think you're going to get dice rolls in this, it's not like the um skill and stamina system of say the Fighting Fantasy books, but there may well be some things in the background that we don't see, and I can always leave in some overly dramatic mouse clicks.

You never know, if something important happens, maybe I'll give one some reverb.

And maybe I'll go to good old Kevin Macleod, the podcaster's friend for some background music.

But for now, let's open this book and read the blurb.

Obviously, I'm going to say things like 'open this book' when of course I mean 'click on the link'. Here we go.

F/X - Mouse click

The Despairing Maze.

Many people have gone missing from your town recently, usually in the night, though sometimes on long walks during the day. The police have increased their street presence, and this seemed to help for a while, but eventually even they seemed to begin to disappear.

People have begun to talk about a kidnapper, wild animals, a serial killer, or even aliens, but none of these are close to the mark.

The missing are not dead, or abducted by anything so pedestrian as a human force. Instead, they have been taken by a growing malevolence, that has been collecting people like lab mice. Now, it has taken you. Can you escape The Despairing Maze?

I thought that sounded pretty fun, so seemed a reasonable choice. Since it's a maze, I figured I might find myself needing to map it, and so I've got my pen and paper handy. If it's not atrocious, I might try and find a way to include it in the show notes somehow.

That might be important, because I figured I could also run audience polls on what action to take. Not for every choice, as these are quite short sections, but maybe for important ones.

Anyway, because I've taken so long to set up, I'll only do the first section today. Perhaps that can be our first choice. Here we go.

Section 1.

You awaken on a cold wooden floor, staring up at a dull grey ceiling. Wincing through a headache, you struggle to sit up, and realise your clothes are gone. Instead, you are wearing what seems to be some type of hospital gown, grey and formless.

While it does seem to have pockets, there is nothing in them, no keys or wallet, but worst of all, your dad's treasured penknife is lost to you.

Looking around you, the colour of the walls match the ceiling, as well as the single door. It is fitted with a sliding window, a ground slot, and a handle, but no visible lock. There is a high window, which is barred, leaving you no way to slip out even if you could shatter the dirty glass.

A security camera sits on the ceiling in the opposite corner to the door. Though you were lying on the floor, there is a bed, containing a mattress and a thin blanket, as well as a desk and chair. All are bolted to the floor.

What do you do?

To pull on the door, go to Section 17.

To bang on the door and shout, go to Section 23.

To wait quietly, go to Section 34.

And that's the first section. As I said, I'll stop there for now, and figure out some way of letting people vote on it. Maybe a twitter poll. I've set up a twitter @DespairingMaze, so I'll see if I can figure that out.

That’s the end, so go forth...and choose.

F/X - Ending music