Monday, 21 January 2013

Dredd: How To Game It

Pictured: THE LAW
So, because I was ill as fuck over the weekend, the girlfriend's flatmate picked me up a copy of Dredd on DVD to cheer me up.

I loved the movie. It managed to perfectly recreate the look of the comics - I wasn't all that convinced by the choice of South Africa, at first, but it turns out that Cape Town pretty much looks exactly like Mega-City One. It mixes ultra-modern, sleek aesthetics with junker vans and slums, and even has those wonderful mixes (like the futuristic flyover built from concrete, cutting through a regular "Americanised" street, with shanty houses on one side). It's awesome!

The casting was good - Olivia Thirlby makes a slightly younger-than-usual Psi-Judge Anderson, but pulls off the "badass rookie" pretty well, and Urban nails it. Lena Heady was a little take-it-or-leave-it as Ma-Ma - I can think of a lot of female actresses out there who could have brought more to the role. But, she wasn't terrible. Plus, movie-geek rage happened when her scar make-up couldn't stay consistent between shots.

The SFX were well-realised - they added to the scenes, rather than dominating them (a common problem in bigger-budget movies). Practical effects are used for most of the movie, with the real exceptions being the scenes powered by the perception-altering drug Slo-Mo - thus adding to the feeling of unreality (and, in theatres, most of the 3D elements were Slo-Mo scenes as well!).

But, the thing that stuck in my head was how much fun it might be to run a game in the setting.

The first thought was a skirmish-style game, as I've been wanting to try a little bit more wargaming recently. Necromunda is pretty much already a hab-riot on the tabletop, but the rules for playing as a smaller, elite force (like the Arbites) as versus a larger gang are a bit wonky. Plus, the Arbites in a campaign game have a few issues (like the system of replacements and hiring).

Inquisitor28 could be a good fit, particularly inspired by this post. A small group of Judges/Arbites, controlled by one player, and the inhabitants by another player (or multiple players). You could have simple survival as the goal, but it's always more fun to have a clear objective in Inquisitor (perhaps, similar to the movie, the Arbites have to protect a witness/perp, and the other gangs need to make sure they don't get out alive/they're the ones who kill the witness/they steal the witness away for their own nefarious purposes). I'd maybe consider modifying the rules to reflect ammo (even just price up clips, etc), and track wounds a little more "realistically" for the Arbites. Building a multi-level environment might pose a problem, but it surely can be done!

There is also a new Judge Dredd miniatures line and Skirmish Game from Mongoose Publishing, which are both pretty top-notch. The rules are a free download, for one thing, and the miniatures are sculpted suspiciously similar to the Wargames Foundry 2000AD Miniatures, and their Street Violence Range as well - meaning that you have a lot of options for this one.

I'll pop up a quick review of the rules soon.

I also thought about full-on roleplay in the setting. While there is a Judge Dredd system out there, I was never a fan. So, searching about, I thought MiniSix could make a good starting point. But, then I thought - really, the Warhammer 40k setting has borrowed so much from the Dredd setting, that it's time to give something back...

I'll pop up some conversion ideas for running Dredd in the WH40kRPG system this week - stay tuned!


  1. Hey dude. I have the old 1980's Judge Dredd Roleplaying Game from Games Workshop, which is a superlative version that really captures the feel of Dreed. That's for RPG's.

    For Skirmish gaming you can't go wrong with the new Dredd game from Mongoose. I recommend using it for Troupe style play, each player having his own Judge character, taking it turns to act as DM, taking the players through a scenario they've created. It's how I intend to run games down in Folkestone when I start doing monthly Dredd events. The exception being that I will always be the DM. It becomes very much a roleplay-lite wargame, as you're one judge gains levels and skills through play.

  2. I've been reading through the rulebook (still kinda amazed it's free), and it does seem pretty awesome. I did see it becoming similar to Necromunda as far as "RPG-lite" goes, so that's a plus.

    Plus, those miniatures are pretty scrumtious.