Literature: Dice Man

"Enter the Diceworld...it's DEAD easy! No brains or batteries required!"
—Series tagline
Dice Man was a short-lived Choose Your Own Adventure comic spinoff of 2000 AD. It ran for just five issues but featured many famous characters from the comics including Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock, Rogue Trooper and Sláine as well as the original character Rick Fortune, the eponymous "Dice Man" of the title - a psychic Hard Boiled Detective with a pair of magical dice that can grant him supernatural powers. The last issue featured a parodic adventure of Ronald Reagan.

The series consisted of five issues.

  • Issue 1 - Three adventures - Judge Dredd in House of Death, Nemesis the Warlock in The Torture Tube and Sláine in Cauldron of Blood
  • Issue 2 - Three adventures - Hammerstein of the ABC Warriors in Volgo The Ultimate Death Machine, Rick Fortune in In The Bronx, No-one Can Hear You Scream! and Slaine in Dragoncorpse
  • Issue 3 - Three adventures - Torquemada from Nemesis the Warlock in The Garden of Alien Delights, Rick Fortune in Dark Powers and Rogue Trooper in Killothon
  • Issue 4 - Two adventures - Slaine in The Ring of Danu and Rick Fortune in Bitter Streets
  • Issue 5 - Three adventures - Rogue Trooper in Space Zombies, Rick Fortune in Murder One and Ronald Reagan in Twilight’s Last Gleaming!

Some of the stories would later be featured as bonus content in anthologies featuring the the characters in question. A year after the series came to it's premature end the writers of Twilight's Last Gleaming! would publish the similar You Are Maggie Thatcher - A Dole-Playing Game in book form but the format has not been revisited since. Arguably the series failed due to being neither one thing nor the other. The stories were too short and simple to appeal to Fighting Fantasy fans, who were used to four hundred reference adventures whereas Dice Man had adventures with as few as fifty references while comic fans just wanted to read the stories, not have to deal with dice and notekeeping while dealing with a story that didn't read in a linear fashion.

Dice Man provides examples of the following tropes.

  • Alien Geometries: The demon Astragal in Rick Fortune's adventures has six faces, but you can only ever see three of them, the same as a die (dice). Wotan's Spear, an artifact in Dark Powers, shows impossible angles to other dimensions within it's crystal structure.
  • Atomic Hate: The most likely outcome of Twilights Last Gleaming! (assuming you pass the Secret Service test) is being nuked by the USSR. It's actually very hard to avoid nuclear armageddon in the game.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The cover of issue 3 but not in the actual adventures - see Covers Always Lie below.
  • Badass: Most of the characters you play. Judge Dredd is the ultimate lawman, Rogue Trooper is a genetically engineered supersoldier, Rick Fortune is a tough and resourceful guy who takes on all manner of human and otherworldly opponents, Sláine is a barbarian warrior, Nemesis the Warlock is an extremely skilled driver and gunner, Hammerstein is a war robot and even Torquemada can handle himself in a fight. About the only character who doesn't qualify is Ronald Reagan.
  • Battering Ram: Dredd has the option to use his "Lawmaster" bike as one in House of Death.
  • The Berserker: Slaine can call upon the "warp spasm" in The Ring of Danu - a berserk battle fury allowing him to defeat one enemy (or group of enemies) automatically. He can only use it once in the adventure.
  • Body Horror: Trying to bullrush your way past the napalm trees in Killothon leads to your gruesome death as a tree branch spears you and it rapidly grows through you seeking nutrients.
  • Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden Of Alien Delights features several homages to Bosch's work - if Torquemada's purity rating drops too low he can end up transformed into a version of Bosch's iconic "Eggman".
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Naturally the battle in Volgo The Ultimate Death Machine takes place close to an orphanage full of children. If you make poor choices you can end up accidentally nuking it yourself...
  • Chainsaw Good: A variation in Killothon - a large scorpion like creature called a "saw-jaw" has a biological chainsaw instead of claws.
  • City Noir: Two of Rick Fortune's adventures take place in depression era New York City.
  • Cool Car: Nemesis's Blitzspear in The Torture Tube.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue 2 shows Rick Fortune, Torquemada and Rogue Trooper back to back surrounded by weapons aimed at them but there is no crossover in the stories inside, which is understandable. It's unlikely that Rick Fortune (who opposed Nazis) would have much truck with the facist Torquemada and Torquemada would most likely have considered Rogue an impure deviant due to genetic alterations he has while Rogue for his part hates corrupt authority figures. While Rick and Rogue could conceivably be on the same side, their vastly different life experiences not to mention the huge temporal gulf (Rick being a 1930s private investigator while Rogue is a supersoldier from the far future) would make such a pairing fraught to say the least. Issue 3 shows Astragal wearing a suit and hat and firing a tommy gun - he does neither in the adventure inside.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Ronald Reagan is characterised in this manner in his adventure.
  • The Dandy: "Spats", one of Lady Die's henchman in Bitter Streets is known as a snappy dresser. You encounter him in a barbershop while he's getting his hair done.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Rick Fortune can end up losing his head to one in Murder One if his strength is low enough.
  • Death Row: Screw up badly in Bitter Streets and you can end up here...and there's no way out except the electric chair.
  • Death Trap: Torquemada puts Purity Brown in one in Torture Tube as bait to draw Nemesis out.
  • Downer Ending: No matter what you do, at least one member of the clone family you are trying to save is killed in Space Zombies. Also very likely in Twilights Last Gleaming! as it's very hard to avoid nuclear armageddon no matter what choices you make.
  • Eagle Land: Pretty much Flavour #2 in Twilights Last Gleaming!
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Most of the creatures (and some of the vegetation!) you encounter in "Hell-Hunt Jungle" in Killothon fit this trope.
  • Evil Doppelganger: Elfric transforms himself into an evil duplicate of Slaine in The Ring of Danu. The player can kill him with a special ability or item but otherwise ends up in a Mirror Match fight to the death.
  • Failed a Spot Check: If the player doesn't pay proper attention to the artwork in Killothon, Rogue can come to a very messy end courtesy of a tripwire and booby trap.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Almost true in Twilight’s Last Gleaming! - it's extremely hard to keep Reagan's Popularity rating high enough and his Sanity Meter low enough to avoid being executed as an imposter while simultaneously keeping the International Tension rating low enough to avoid nuclear armageddon as actions that increase popularity and/or reduce sanity tend to increase tension and vice versa. It's also impossible to save all three members of the clone family in Space Zombies - one or two of them (depending on your choices) will always die.
  • Fanservice: Some of the female characters in Slaine's adventures are drawn like this - the Maiden and her nymphs in The Ring of Danu and Ukko's ex-wife Pona is in an inexplicabally Stripperiffic outfit in Dragoncorpse. Killjoy fufills this role in some of Rick Fortune's cases.
  • Fantastic Racism: Torquemada in The Garden of Alien Delights is violently prejudiced against all non-human lifeforms.
  • Femme Fatale: Very much present and correct in Rick Fortune's adventures - with the very subtle names of "Killjoy" (a heroic one) and "Lady Die" (who threatens a henchman with fingernail removal in one scene).
  • Film Noir: Rick Fortune's experiences fall squarely under this trope for the most part.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Elfric's Wild Hunt members "Gut Ripper", "Gizzard Squeezer" and "Ghoulie Grinder" allow your sidekick Ukko to do this in The Ring of Danu.
    Ukko: "As I don't want my guts ripped...my gizzard squeezed...or worse...I think we'd better hide!"note 
  • Hard Boiled Detective: Rick Fortune is a classic 1930s version with a supernatural twist.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Ronald Reagan has a "sanity" score and you have to keep the score low to avoid suspicion that you are not the real Ronald Reagan. His diagnosis and eventual death from Alzheimer's disease robs this mechanic of some of it's humour.
  • The Hecate Sisters: In The Ring of Danu you meet three aspects of the titular earth goddess Danu - the beautiful maiden representing Spring, the aggressive and violent woman representing Summer and the ugly withered crone representing Winter.
  • Hellhound: Black Shuck, the demon dog makes an appearance in The Ring of Danu.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Heinrich Himmler appears in Rick Fortune's adventure Dark Powers, he can't be killed but you do get an opportunity to smack him around. His subordinate Wolfram von Sievers also appears in the same adventure. Adolf Hitler does not appear, but his poetry forms part of the plot. Also caricatured versions of Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev appear alongside Reagan in Twilights Last Gleaming!
  • Hulk Speak: Volgo in Volgo The Ultimate Death Machine has such stellar lines as "VOLGO KILL GOOD!". Hammerstein lampshades this.
    "...reflecting that dialogue isn't exactly Volgo's strong point..."
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: "White Bone Road" leads to "Hell-Hunt Jungle" in Killothon.
  • Immune to Bullets: Judge Mortis in House of Death can't be stopped by standard rounds. Dredd deals with the problem by switching to high explosive shells. Later in the adventure Judge Fire is immune to all Dredd's bullet types. Some of the enemies Rick Fortune has to deal with can't be hurt by bullets either and neither can Astragal the three headed demon as some unfortunate gangsters may discover depending on die rolls.
  • Kill It with Fire: Judge Fire tries to do this to you (as you're playing as Judge Dredd) in House of Death. If you succeed in the adventure, you use Judge Fire's own fiery trident to destroy Judge Death's body and you burn the titular house to the ground in the epilogue.
  • Life Meter: Called different names in the different adventures but present in all of them except Twilight’s Last Gleaming! - this relies on a Sanity Meter, a Popularity rating for Reagan and an International Tension rating governing how strained relations between the USA and the USSR are.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Irritatingly present in certain adventures - failing to roll over or under a certain number leads to instant failure and/or death.
  • Mirror Match: A possibility in The Ring of Danu, see Evil Doppelganger above.
  • Named Weapons: Slaine's axe is called "Brainbiter". Judge Dredd wields a "Lawgiver" pistol and rides a "Lawmaster" motorcycle.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Three members of Elfric's Wild Hunt in The Ring of Danu are called "Gut Ripper", "Gizzard Squeezer" and "Ghoulie Grinder".
  • No Swastikas: Averted - they are shown prominently in Dark Powers.
  • Occult Detective: Rick Fortune takes on cases involving magical artifacts, zombies, demonic transformation and other similar phenomena.
  • Off with His Head!: Failing to deal with the "saw-jaw" when you first encounter it in Killothon will come back to bite you later in the adventure - it brings down a bridge you are on then beheads you while you lay helpless after breaking your back in the fall. Also Volgo can bite Hammerstein's head off in Volgo The Ultimate Death Machine. It's also how you deal with Judge Fear in House of Death, kicking him down the stairs to be decaptitated by a tripwire activated blade. Rick Fortune can also meet this fate courtesy of a ceiling fan in Murder One if his strength is too low.
  • Old Dark House: Croglin Mansion in House of Death.
  • One-Hit Kill: Judge Death can do this to you in House of Death, either automatically or by random dice roll depending on how well you are doing in the adventure at that point.
  • Our Dwarves Are Different: Slaine's sidekick Ukko is based on older legends of dwarves than the Tolkein types. He isn't bearded and wouldn't know honor if it came up and bit him being a seedy and unpleasant thief.
  • Religion of Evil: The Brotherhood of Baal from House of Death qualify, worshipping the Alternate Universe Dark Judges and trying to bring them into Dredd's universe.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Played with - Rick Fortune wakes up in an open grave after falling into it during a fight in a cemetery and subsequently being knocked out during the prologue of In The Bronx, No-one Can Hear You Scream!
  • Rocket Jump: Averted - if you chuck a grenade at the ground to try and give yourself extra lift while flying an autogyro in Killothon, all you manage to do is kill two members of the clone family you are trying to save in the blast, followed by your own death shortly afterwards as the remaining member tries to kill you before you both die when the autogyro crashes.
  • Sanity Meter: Rick Fortune has one in all his adventures as does a secondary character in one. Ronald Reagan has one too with the twist that having it falling to zero or below doesn't end the game. Rogue Trooper has a variation - if your "hero points" are too low at a certain point in Space Zombies you snap under the strain and die gruesomely at the hands of your zombiefied former friend.
  • Sidekick: The dwarf Ukko is Slaine's sidekick in his adventures. He's not a very pleasant guy but is useful, able to pick locks and find treasure though he can lead Slaine into trouble.
  • Tap on the Head: Happens twice to Rick Fortune in In The Bronx, No-one Can Hear You Scream!, once in the prologue and once during the adventure.
  • Telephone Polearm: Volgo tries to smash Hammerstein with a telegraph pole in Volgo The Ultimate Death Machine.
  • The Many Deaths of You: As standard for Choose Your Own Adventure type games there are MANY ways to die in all the games.
  • Third Eye: Elfric, your principal opponent in the Slaine adventures has one.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Dark Powers takes place in 1930s Nazi Germany
  • Trigger Happy: The Secret Service in Twilight’s Last Gleaming! are disturbingly quick to open fire if they are not sure you are actually Ronald Reagan.
    "You know Secret Service rules - yeah, no warning shots!"
  • Villain Protagonist: Torquemada in The Garden of Alien Delights - to say Torquemada is not a nice guy is an understatement.
  • The Wild Hunt: Your arch-enemy Elfric leads one of these against you in The Ring of Danu.
  • Your Head A Splode: If you fail to gain control of Astragal in Bitter Streets in the final confrontation, your only option is to chuck a grenade into his mouth and blow his head up from the inside out. If you don't have a grenade at this point...

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