Rolling On The Mean Streets. Dredd Roleplaying So Far!

Today saw the kickstarter launch of the Judge Dredd and Worlds of 2000AD kickstarter campaign, seeing the toughest lawman in Mega-City One brought back to life in roleplaying form by those awesome folks at EN Publishing, the home of EN World one of the internets premier games industry resource and news sites!  The game will be the first in a range of products that will not only feature Judge Dredd, but also bring some of the galaxies greatest comics characters to the gaming table, as the license covers the vast plethora of characters and settings from 2000AD’s forty plus year history!

So as the kickstarter gears up  I thought it a good time to take a look back through history and take a retrospective look at the history of Judge Dredd in roleplaying down the years.

Judge Dredd the Early Years!

Every story has a beginning and ours starts with one of the legends of gaming industry Rick Priestly, the creator of one of the most iconic games in history Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader and one of the most prolific writers in the games industry.  In 1985 Judge Dredd wasn’t even ten years old, but had already become an icon of British comics and had caught the attention of many roleplayers, the strip was ideal for a roleplaying setting and thus Judge Dredd the Roleplaying Game was born!  In 1982 Games Workshop released Judge Dredd the Board Game, written by co found Ian Livingston and the game proved to extremely popular, this success lead to Rick writing the roleplaying game! Released in a boxed edition with a series of miniatures to back up the game, Judge Dredd was a hit and had a simplistic system that was great for those who found games like MERP overly complex with dozens of charts or Traveller where a character could die before it even finished its creation.

The core box set featured two soft bound books, the Judges Manual and the Games Masters Book both featured full rules for creating your own judges, and running adventures in the Big Meg.  The creation system was simple and featured the players taking on the role of Judges from various departments of the Justice Department.  Most players would opt to emulate Dredd and be street judges, while there was scope to play as tech, med or even Psi judges, each with their own unique skills and talents to round out the game.

Games Workshop had a great deal invested in the system and by 1989 when the second edition of the game came out (now in a single hardbound book) it was featured as one of the companies key top twenty items on store reports, where it stayed until late 1991!

The game put the players as Judges on the mean streets of Mega-City One and was supported by two adventure supplements Judgement Day and Slaughter Margin, and several articles for White Dwarf magazine written by various writers, including Marcus L Rowland!

Judgement Day was the first full adventure for the game and the plot revolves around an attempt to brainwash judges using their sleep machines in order to bring about the destruction of Mega-City One. Written by Marcus L Rowland the adventure introduced a few new elements to the game, and had a fairly run of the mill adventure. The scenario also featured another sheet of full colour card stock characters to use in your games.

 

Following on from Judgement Day was Slaughter Margin a boxed adventure that featured eight A3 floor plans and generic card stock characters and street furniture. Again the adventure was pretty in-depth as it followed an event that could have catastrophic consequences for the city and weighed in at forty eight pages, written Richard Halliwell (Space Hulk).  As well as the card stock figures the adventure also came with a small flyer for the range of 2000AD miniatures that you could use in the adventure itself and in your games.  All this was in a very lovely red and white box with artwork by Brian Bolland!

 

Towards the end of the 80’s a final supplement was released in conjunction with the hard backed version of the game.  The hardbound version featured both the Judges Manual and Games Masters Book in one bound volume.  The Judge Dredd Compendium was a collection of adventures and source material that had been previously featured in White Dwarf and featured a stunning cover by renowned artist Chris Achilieos depicting Judge Anderson, the image still remains one of the artists personal favourite paintings.

 

Citi- Block was another boxed set released for the game that also was usable with the then newly launched Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader.  This featured floorplans that allowed you to play on a citi-block, as well as furniture and trappings that would give an added dimension to the product.  The main thing for the Judge Dredd game that was present was the rules for generating your own blocks and conducting Crime Blitz under Section 59C of the Justice Code.

 

Sadly there was very little support in the form of expansions for Judge Dredd other than a range of miniatures, and by the end of 91’ Games Workshop was moving away from the roleplaying side of the hobby to concentrate on its own range of miniature games.

Games Workshop also released Block Wars and Block Mania, a board game and expansion which was set in Mega-City One and sees neighbouring city blocks going to war with each other.  Rogue Trooper was released as a board game and had a small run of miniatures, and that was about the extent of the company’s involvement with the comic. These will be covered in another retrospective soon!

Games Workshop

Judge Dredd the Roleplaying Game 1985 Rick Priestly

Judgement Day 1986 Marcus L Rowland

Judge Dredd Companion 1987 Marc Gascoigne

Slaughter Margin 1987 Paul Cockburn, Marc Gascoigne, Richard Halliwell

Citi Block 1987 Graeme Davis, Richard Halliwell, Alan Merrett, Carl Sargent

Judge Dredd the Roleplaying Game (Hardback) 1989 Albie Fiore, Marc Gascoigne, Ian Marsh, Rick Priestley

Mongoose Publishing

After almost ten years with no Dredd related products on the market, a new company successfully got the rights from owners Rebellion to produce a game based around Judge Dredd, Mongoose Publishing! Based in Swindon, the company had very quickly made a name for itself by producing a wide range of products for the then latest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, that used the D20 system.  With well over two dozen products under its belt a call was put out for playtesters for a up and coming game based around Judge Dredd, and I answered and as luck would have it I had a large amount of input into the game via the feedback I submitted, and went on to work on the project itself.  With the core writer on the game being co-founder of Mongoose Publishing, Matthew Sprange, the game went into production in early 2002 and was released later in the year. Unlike the Games Workshop iteration of Judge Dredd, this would get a lot of support, from articles and adventures in the Signs and Portents magazine (Mongooses in house publication), to a large range of books presented in the form of Rookies Guides to, a nod to the earlier Slayers Guides for D&D, as well as a trilogy of adventures that built into a campaign, a miniatures based gang skirmish game Gangs of Mega-City One and lots of miniatures.

D20 OGL

Judge Dredd the Roleplaying Game 2002 Matthew Sprange, John Caliber, Matt Sharp, Marc Farrimond, Alejandro Melchor

Full Eagle Day 2002 John Caliber

Mega-Cities Most Wanted 2002 Matthew Sprange, John Caliber, Matt Sharp

Rookies Guide to the Justice Department 2002 John Caliber

Rookies Guide to Brit –Cit 2002 John Caliber, Matt Sharp, Richard Siddal

Rookies Guide to Crazes 2002 Marc Farrimond

Rookies Guide to Block Wars 2002 Matthew Sprange

Rookies Guide to Criminal Organisations 2002 Matthew Sprange

Rookies Guide to Psi Talent 2002 Matthew Sprange

Rookies Guide to the Undercity 2004 John Caliber, Matt Sharp,

The Kazan Gambit

  • The Sleeping Kin 2002 John Caliber
  • Russian Roulette 2002 John Caliber
  • Target: Mega-City One 2002 John Caliber, Matt Sharp

Rookies Guide to Atlantis and the Black Atlantic 2004 Marc Farrimond, Peter Whalley

The Awakening Matthew Pritchard 2004

 

The D20 system is quite a clunky mechanic but under the open gaming license it allowed Mongoose Publishing to use an already established core mechanic that many people would be familiar with.  The core rule book was released in late 2002 in a hardbound form with a stunning cover by Kev Walker, featuring a silhouette of Dredd towering over the big meg itself.  A limited edition version of the game was also released and only 200 copies of the steel bound book were made, each was numbered and signed by Matthew Sprange and Alex Fennel the owners of Mongoose Publishing.

While Dredd was doing well and Mongoose had gone on to land the rights to use other game systems, a full game was released based on the Slaine character from 2000AD shortly after the Dredd release and was successful enough to spawn a ten supplements and was revamped in 2007 to use the Runequest system.

In 2009 Mongoose was moving away from the D20 system as it was about to be phased out and replaced and to OGL was coming to an end.  The company switched to the Traveller system which used D6 as its core mechanics and released a new version of the game in late 2009 which featured tweaked up rules and fit in with the Traveller systems mechanics, but at its core reused a lot of the background that was in the D20 version, sometimes verbatim passages reappearing.  Though it was quite a successful game in its own right and spawned several sourcebooks and adventures (detailed below) and even a spin off Strontium Dog roleplaying game! I will take a look at both the Slaine and Strontium Dog lines in another article!

Mongoose Publishing also ran a kickstarter campaign for its revamped version of its own miniature combat game which, although fully funded and successful would cause a lot of problems for Mongoose Publishing and in 2015 the company handed over the distribution of the miniatures and the game to Warlord Games and by 2016 had totally left the license.  The kickstarter for the miniature game which ran in 2012 was plagued with a lot of problems and it was only in January 2018 that the final pledges for the game were honoured.  In late 2017 all of the 2000AD related miniatures that featured in Warlord Games webstore where removed and in August this year Strontium Dog the Miniatures Game was released, paving the way for other 2000AD related products.

Traveller

Judge Dredd the Roleplaying Game 2009 Lawrence Whittaker

Bad Moon Rising 2009 Lawrence Whittaker

The Cursed Earth 2009 Simon Beal

Democracy Falls 2009 Bryan Steele

Judges Handbook 2010 Simon Beal

Heroes and Villains of Mega-City One 2014 Matthew Sprange, John Caliber, Matt Sharp

WOIN: Whole new Worlds of Wonder

And now we come to the present, and EN Publishing the owners of EN World launch their kickstarter for the Judge Dredd and Worlds of 2000AD roleplaying game and the kickstarter campaign is fully funded in a staggering NINE minutes!  Unlike the previous games set in the 2000AD universe, this new iteration of the game will feature one core rulebook and allow players to expand on that and will feature additional material that will cover a wide range of characters from stories other than Judge Dredd that span the comic books forty plus year history and beyond.

Also unlike previous editions, this will start right at the beginning and follow on in chronological order, with the first campaign source book being The Robot Wars, the very first of the Mega-Epics to grace the covers of the galaxies greatest comic book.

 

So what does the future hold?  Well there will be a lot of hard work for the guys over at EN Publishing and we here at Gamers Web will be supporting the product with our own material. You can see a bit of an insight in our interview with the design team HERE! On behalf of George, Craig and myself, we send out our heartfelt congratulations to everyone at EN Publishing!

The Judge Dredd and Worlds of 2000AD Kickstarter runs till the end of October, you can pledge your support and get yourself a copy by clicking the link below NOW!

 

 

Published by

Marc Farrimond

I'm a 55 year guy from Wigan in Lancashire living in Edinburgh, Scotland with two of my four awesome kids and my long suffering wife Laura. I have worked freelance over the years for some of the biggest names in tabletop and roleplaying and I am a very keen cosplayer and photographer.

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