It has been several years since we last had a new roleplaying game set in the amazing universe of Britain’s most loved comic book character Judge Dredd, in fact the last incarnation of a roleplaying game came out from Mongoose Publishing back in August 2009. When it was announced that EN Publishing had secured the rights to produce roleplaying games set not only in the Judge Dredd universe but in all the worlds of its parent comic book 2000AD, fans were rightly pleased and after months of speculation on what format this would take, things began to slowly emerge in late August this year.
Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000AD was launched as a kickstarter campaign on Tuesday September 25th at 5pm GMT and at 5.09pm the campaign was fully funded, with its target goal of £7,000 being surpassed in just nine minutes! Since that date the campaign has snowballed and it was promised by owner of EN Publishing and EN World Russell Morrissey that if the campaign reached £100,000 then a quickstart rules set would be released to give fans a chance to try out the system long before it hits backers eager hands.
And so at around midnight on October 4th just over a week since the launch of the campaign Russ honoured that promise and the quickstart rules were made live!
Coming in at twenty nine pages and in full colour, the Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000AD Quickstart rules, give you a basic taste of what to expect from the core rule book that will act as a lynch pin to the rest of the 2000AD universe of games!
Covering the very basics for games mechanics, four sample judges and a sample scenario, you should have enough to give you a feel of the game and what to expect when for your players.
Seeing that Judge Dredd is a comic book character with a pedigree of comics that stretches back over forty one years, it is little wonder that EN Publishing has a wide range of art to choose from. With an awesome Greg Staples cover that features Dredd looking stern as always, on a dark blue background that he seems to just emerge from.
This is a mean Joe Dredd, one who has seen everything that the crazy world of Mega-City One can throw at someone and come out of the other side. The tonality of the blue is just perfect, reflecting the contrast between where man ends and law begins.
Interior artwork is lifted directly from the comics long history and features panels by some of the more famous artists such as Henry Flint, Colin McNeil, and the late co-creator of Judge Dredd, the maestro Carlos Ezquerra himself (who passed away this week at the age of 70)! Art is used to great effect and often acts as a footer or header to a page.
Layout is quite well thought out and the quality that you would come to expect from a company with a reputation such as EN Publishing. Clear and concise and laid out in such a way that there is little confusion at all as to what each page is giving the reader. The use of fonts is well chosen and fits in with the comic book theme perfectly. My only gripe with the layout is the location of the pre-generated player character for the adventure, I do feel it would have been a much better idea to have had them at the end of the scenario itself, rather than before. It is of course just a cosmetic thing but something I found odd and made printing the adventure double sided that much more difficult.
And speaking of the adventure. The quickstart comes with a short introductory adventure ‘ State of the Empire’ and the aforementioned four pre-generated characters. The pre-gens are a street judge, a tech judge, a psi judge and a med judge, to give the players more scope and showcase the nature of the game, allowing the players to choose from a wide range of skill bases and not just the standard run of the mill street judges.
The four pre generated characters each have their own player drawn image that while not comic book, keeps with the overall theme of things and shows a side that someone has taken time to create and craft a character from scratch.
The scenario is aimed at four starting level judges who must band together to go up against Judge Whitey the very first villain that Dredd ran into in Prog 2 of 2000AD over forty one years ago! Of course there is a lot more to the adventure than that and full stats are given for all the major npcs that the players will come across as well as some really neatly done maps of a very iconic building. Without giving away too much detail, the adventure, the plot twists nicely and adds some touches that would fit in perfectly in any classic Dredd story.
The proof of any roleplaying game Is its mechanics, the very engine that drives the system and keeps it running. If the core mechanic is too difficult you run the risk of losing your players (especially new comers to roleplaying) as dozens of charts, tables and such can not only be confusing, but off putting too. On the other side of the coin, if the system is too simple you run the risk of alienating those who want a challenge and may be put off by something that seems to easy. A balance needs to be made and Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000AD seems to have it that very well indeed. In previous versions of Judge Dredd roleplaying games the mechanic was often clucky and filled with charts. Mongoose Publishing’s original version of the game was based around the D20 system from Wizards of the Coast under the Open Gaming License, while the later version was based around the Traveller system. Both systems have flaws that make gameplay difficult at times. D20 is filled with charts and more and Traveller has a system that means your character can actually die during character creation, even before you get to play it!
Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000AD uses Whats Old Is New as its core mechanic, a system that is simplistic as not to put off new players, yet retains enough of a mechanic that it won’t alienate seasoned roleplayers and veterans alike.
Using d6 (six sided dice) the system calls for you to make skill checks or attribute checks based on the number of dice you have in the pools for the attributes or skills (often both at once) with the aim to use these pools to beat a target number issued by the Games Master. Each of the attributes will reflect a various aspect of the characters nature and physical ability so Logic will be used to solve tasks that need figuring out, while Strength would be used for tasks that require brute force. Each character has ten attributes, though most characters will only use nine of them as the tenth (much like the old Games Workshop game) is for Psi Judges rather than regular judges.
Each of these attributes has two values, the top being a number, the lower being the amount of dice that are rolled for that attribute. The top value is assigned a number between 0 and 9 taken from a pool of 49 points (at least in the quick start anyway), with a pool of 22 dice being split between the attributes (with none higher than 3 in the quick start though that may change in the full game) and assigned to the bottom value!
Players simply add values together and roll the dice and try to be a target set by the Games Master! (Russ gave a good explanation of how the mechanics work in our Interview).
The full rules will of course expand on the quick start rules and will give full character creation, complete with divisions that your judge players can be in (Wally, Accountant even Exorcist to add a few more) as well as skills, equipment and rules for playing not only judges but perps, citizens , robots and more!
The quickstart is a good way to get the hang of the system and if you are a seasoned gamer it will be no real difficulty to work out character generation to make your own characters (obviously you will be missing a lot of skills and no experience) and it’s a great way to leave you wanting to know more!
The kickstarter still has twenty days left to go as of writing this article and there is still time to pledge and get yourself a copy by clicking on link below.