Judge Dredd: The Roleplaying Game (1989)

The last day of May and the last of our marathon of game systems is Judge Dredd! This is the hardcover edition from 1989, the original box set came out in 1985 and was Games Workshop’s second RPG. System-wise it is its own thing, but owes a lot a lot to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (which would come out the next year). The rules are a bit more straight forward than WFRP. Easy to pick up, fast, violent. I think it mirror’s the comics pretty good.

Confession: I don’t know jack about Judge Dredd other than basic facts, because I am American and the comics were hard to come by when I was a kid (honestly, I was always a Death’s Head guy, yes?). It was a segment for many years in 2000 AD, a long running weekly anthology comic that launched the careers of a terrifying number of comic creators (interior art in this book is credited to Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra, Dave Gibbons and Cam Kennedy, among many others, all taken from the comics). Dredd is a street judge, patrolling the dystopic Mega-City One (which roughly corresponds to the Northeast corridor of the US). Because it is a dystopia, he has the power to arrest, try and execute criminals on the spot. It’s satire, see?

The GM sections of the book are exhaustive in their work to bring Mega-City One to life. NPCs, factions, vehicles. As usual, Games Workshop does a particularly good job with space, laying out how city blocks work (they’re like mega-tenements) and giving floor plans and schematics. All in all, a pretty excellent rulebook.

Dredd is kind of the perfect license for GW? Its grim and gritty, but also funny and silly, while also brightly colored and cartoonish. I may not know much about Dredd, but I love this period of GW design, and in a lot of ways, Dredd is the height of it.

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