Judge Dredd

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"I AM THE LAW!"

– Samuel Vimes

"Justice is incidental to law and order."

– J. Edgar Hoover
Jjudgedge Dredd. He's tough, but fair.

Judge Joe Dredd is the lead character from the same-named comic that has been printed in the British comic magazine 2000 AD since 1977. The comic is set 122 years into the future, by which time most of the world has been blown to fuck and the remains of humanity are packed into massive "mega-cities" where all law enforcement and justice is carried out by "Judges", i.e. supercops who act as judge, jury and, oh yes, executioner. Over the years Dredd has dealt with robot uprisings, mile-tall habitation blocks trying to kill each other, dirty commies, rampaging fatties, interdimensional horrors, mutants, psychics, aliens, zombies and other crazy shit. The series is simultaneously grimdark, silly and just plain awesome.

Hence, /tg/ fucking LOVES Judge Dredd. If you're trying to present an oppressive, dystopian science fiction setting, but you don't want to get too serious, read some Judge Dredd.

Two movies have been made. The first came out in 1995 and starred Sylvester Stallone and Rob fucking Schneider. While it got a lot of the visuals right, its soundtrack is pretty cool and even featured an ABC robot (from ABC Warriors, another 2000 AD title), the rest was just plain awful, and should only be watched if one wants to see Stallone's hammy performance or for the giggles and a solid soundtrack from Alan Silvestri. Judge Dredd's creator John Wagner fucking hated it. The second came out in 2012 and is better. While the visuals have been toned-down and is a lot more grimdark than in the comics, the feel and spirit is much more true to the source. Go see it. GO FUCKING SEE IT!!!!

The series is also notable for having a lead character who ages in real time.

In Gaming[edit]

Judge Dredd and its fellow 2000 AD titles have been a huge influence on British science fiction and gaming over the last 30 years. Warhammer 40,000 owes much of its background to 2000 AD; just look at the Adeptus Arbites for one of the more obvious influences (to drive the point home, Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain series mentions an Imperial holo-vid character by the name of "Arbitrator Foreboding"). In fact, Games Workshop put out a Judge Dredd board game in 1982, a RPG in 1985, and the skirmish game Block Mania in 1987. The rules for Block Mania can be found here.

Years later, Mongoose Publishing picked up the license and put out a d20 RPG in 2002 and then another in 2009, this time using their version of the Traveller system. They've also produced a miniatures game, Gangs of Mega-City One, a Necromunda style warband-game, and then replaced that with "Judge Dredd the Miniatures Game", something that they have released the rules for free. Check it out.

In the intervening time, WizKids made a few Judge Dredd and other 2000 AD minis for the HeroClix "Indy" expansion.

Warlord Games has the license to produce a wargame in the Judge Dredd universe.

In the grand tradition of getting shit done, /tg/ has begun work on a homebrew system called Judgement Time. In true Judge Dredd spirit, Frowning is a mechanic. The thread can be found here.

And finally, in the many years of Alignment discussion and bickering, Dredd himself has been declared the absolute embodiment of Lawful Neutral. If he catches someone breaking the law for ANY reason, they're going down. No exceptions. Stealing to feed your kids? Theft. Digging your way out of the undercity to escape a monster? Destruction of city property (to be fair he'd also kill the rampaging monster). Organizing a children's choir to sing "Happy Birthday" for Judge Dredd? Noise violation. (also, possible copyright infringement. Nope, that song is public domain by the time the comics take place, and even the longest-running copyright expired January 2017) Off to the iso-cubes, lawbreaker.

What keeps Dredd from being Lawful Stupid, though, is how he doesn't just ignore the circumstances: he'll make sure your kids end up in a foster home or temporary orphanage where they won't starve (or more likely the Judge academy), he'll find where those monsters are coming from and plant a Hi-ex round in their scaly foreheads and he'll.....well, okay the last one is probably him being grumpy, as usual. He will also always use the right amount of force for the job and can indeed prioritise, so if he's investigating a murder he'll settle for giving a jaywalker a warning rather than arresting them. Furthermore, he has been shown to bend the law and abuse loopholes under extreme circumstances (such as the 'Mechanismo' storyline), and to actively work against certain particularly unjust laws (see: his efforts to remove the mutant ban despite the bulk of the city supporting it; him allowing prisoners arrested during a democratic march to go free; quietly providing medical treatment to a terminally ill young girl through use of city funds, over the objections of other Judges).

This prevents him from becoming a caricature and puts him firmly in the category of both physical and moral awesome; the comics themselves also deal with the moral issues of judges and the law far better than one would expect, often serving as a sharp critique of the police state and satirizing real life, as well as putting the cast through some major shit such as the amazing 'America' story-arc, and the incredibly grimdark 'Day of Chaos' event - all showing that John Wagner has more balls than Frank Miller could hope to have in his entire lifetime.

Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000AD[edit]

The most recent addition to the Judge Dredd RPG family tree is the Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000AD gameline. Whilst the focus of the sourcebooks thus far has been on Judge Dredd and Mega-City Earth, the corebook devotes a good six pages to summarizing the other major worlds of the 2000AD multiverse - ABC Warriors, Absalom, Ace Trucking Co, Caballistics Inc, Defoe, D.R. & Quinch, Flesh, Indigo Prime, M.A.C.H I, Necronauts, Nemesis the Warlock, Nikolai Dante, The Red Seas, Robo Hunter, Rogue Trooper, Sinister Dexter, Slain, Strontium Dog, The Ballard of Halo Jones and The V.C.S. Currently, dedicated splatbooks allow you to run games set in the Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper worlds, so others may follow in time.

Taking its major design cues from the Judge Dredd D20 RPG by Mongoose Publishing, Worlds of 2000AD focuses on providing equal support to let players play Mega-City Judges, Civilians, and even Perps. In fact, it actually goes a step beyond Judge Dredd D20 by giving a surprisingly large roster of playable "non-standard human" species options!

Worlds of 2000AD Splats[edit]

Aside from the Corebook, which introduces the fundamental rules and a basic guide to Mega-City 1, the Worlds of 2000AD RPG currently has the following sourcebooks:

Worlds of 2000AD: Strontium Dog - Expanded lore and mechanics for playing a Strontium Dog, a mutant super-cop charged with standing against the worst scum that a corrupt and venal universe has to offer.

Worlds of 2000AD: Rogue Trooper - Expanded lore and mechanics for playing a soldier caught up in the bloody and apocalyptic war ravaging the once-paradisical colony of Nu-Earth.

The Cursed Earth: A gazetteer on the irradiated wasteland that dominates the America of Judge Dredd's time. Includes expanded rules for mutant characters and NPCs. Also breaks down the original Cursed Earth storyline, where Judge Dredd led a desperate convoy to cross the treacherous landscape between Mega-Cities 1 and 2 to deliver a vital vaccine against a deadly synthetic plague, so it can be run as a campaign.

Luna-1: A gazetteer on the anarchic frontier colonies of Earth's moon and on Titan, the moon of Saturn where the Judges maintain a personal prison for Judges who have been found guilty of breaking the law.

The Robot Wars: Expanded rules and lore for playing robot characters and NPCs. Also provides assorted robot-centric campaign and adventure seeds, including breaking down the original Robot Wars storyline from the Judge Dredd comics into a campaign.

The Day The Law Died: Lore and mechanics for the Special Judicial Squad, or SJS - the infamously brutal and power-hungry Judge division charged with rooting out corruption. Also includes a brief gazetteer on the Undercity, and a breakdown of the period in Mega-City 1's history when the insane Judge Cal took control of the city, with adventures set during that time.

The Apocalypse War: A gazetteer that covers Sov Block, the Russia of Mega-City Earth, as well as the polluted Black Atlantic, but focuses primarily on the catastrophic "Apocalypse War", when Sov Block attacked Mega-City 1 first with biological weaponry, and then with a full-scale invasion.

The Judge Child: A gazetteer that covers the wider universe of the Judge Dredd setting, fleshing out humanity's space colonies and the nonhuman races who call the galaxy home. Also breaks down the titular comic arc into a playable campaign.

Playable Species in JD&TWo2000AD[edit]

The core race of the Worlds of 2000AD RPG is, of course, humans, but the world of Judge Dredd has far more than just humans living in it - and that's not even scratching the races living in the alternate dimensions of Rogue Trooper or Strontium Dog! In fact, as of December 2021, the Luna-1 splatbook is the only splatbook lacking new playable species.

In the corebook, the extra options aside from playing humans are Clones, Mutants, Robots and Uplifted Apes.

Clones are genetic copies of pre-existing humans artificially grown in synthetic wombs; due to the mild genetic tinkering they undergo, they tend to be more well-rounded in physical abilities and they heal faster than pure-strains. The Apocalypse War splat offers players the option of playing Brain-Boosted Clones (genetically modified for superior smarts and/or increased psionics) and Augmented Clones (tweaked with genetic or biomechanical upgrades to be more effective.

Mutants are those poor unfortunates scarred by the radiation, toxins and other environmental nastiness endemic to the Judge Dredd world. Depending on the whims of fate, they may be hideously deformed, sport parahuman abilities, or fall somewhere in between. The Cursed Earth splat drastically increased their mutant abilities, so it's pretty much essential if you want to play a mutie in either Judge Dredd or Strontium Dog. The Cursed Earth also introduced the concept of Stable Mutants; particular mutant groups or communities who have certain traits that breed true. They still can and often do pick up at least some other mutations, but they are defined by specific mutations that have been reinforced by their environment and often more than a little inbreeding. Stable Mutant strains from the Cursed Earth splat consist of:

  • Alabammy Blimps: A "mutiebilly" clan native to the Alabama Morass, characterized by a peculiar mutation amongst its womenfolk that basically turned them into Amazons. No, put your pants back on; not only did these same mutations leave them all obese, they're also a clan of cannibals, who "reinvented" themselves after a famine led them to kill and eat their clan's menfolk.
  • Alabama Kinsfolk: The "generic" mutiebillies of the Alabama Morass.
  • Big Ol' Boys: A mutiebilly clan from the Kentucky Badlands who have the common trait of gigantism, leaving them an average of 9 feet tall.
  • Brotherhood of Darkness: A cult of mutants who wish to slaughter normal humans for their abuses of mutantkind. Centered in the Appalachian mountains, they spend prolonged periods of time in the dark and so universally sport glowing eyes, almost like a lesser version of Troggies (see below).
  • Children of the Apocalypse: A tribe of multi-headed mutants.
  • Dog Soldiers: Savage mutant mercenaries and bounty-hunters characterized by a "wolf-man" appearance, sporting canine noses and eyes as well as a full-body coat of thick fur. Official comic heavily implies them to be cannibals, as well.
  • Kentucky Trogs: A mutant strain from Kentucky who look like old myths of trolls come to life, with rocky skin, hulking frames and supernatural toughness.
  • Radsville Ninjas: A mutant strain characterized by their dwarfish size and the fact they all possess a functional third arm.
  • Spiderfolk: A primitive mutant tribe that hunts and worships the giant spiders of Michigan.

There's also the existence of human offshoots that Warhammer 40,000 would call "abhumans"; they have diverged from their human base stock, but are a stable, true-breeding race now.

  • Gila-Munja An infamous and legendarily fearsome tribe of mutie assassins armed with chameleonic hides and lethally poisonous claws. Known for being hardcore as hell, with their targets often dying of fear upon realising the GMs are after their ass. Stats are given in the Cursed Earth.
  • Troggies: A strain of mutated humanity adapted to survive in the lightless world of the Undercity. Stats are given in The Apocalpse War.
  • Hestians: A nascent human subspecies evolving to better survive on the strange planet of Hestia. Deep red to magenta irises and hair mark this budding race.
  • Martians: Human subspecies born and raised on Mars, where the lower gravity causes them to grow naturally tall and spindly.

Uplifted animals, which are animals mutated to have human-like intelligence and a more anthropomorphic form, are stated to exist, but not much is known about them. Uplifted apes (which come in chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan forms) are the most well-established from the comics, so they get their own unique statblock in the corebook, whilst "generic" uplifted animal rules are folded into the mutant rules in both the corebook and the Cursed Earth (which also doubles as mechanics for playing mutants cursed to look like furries, or even mutant animals gifted with a semblance of humanity by their warped genes). The Apocalypse War splat offers mechanics for playing uplifted bears.

Robots are given a basic rundown in the corebook, but expanded upon in the Robot Wars splat, which provides more extensive rules to better customize your robot and gear it towards a specific form and function; service, heavy labor, social, professional, expert, cobat or illegal. The Apocalypse War splat offers optional rules for playing a seaborg (a robot customized to handle life on the Black Atlantic) or one of the cheaper, shoddier knock-off robots made in the Sov Block, whilst the Cursed Earth offers mechanics for how life in that hellish wasteland impacts mechanical beings.

Finally, there are aliens, an oft-mentioned but little developed part of the comics. Most of the alien races are found in the Judge Child splatbook, which offers players the chance to play Abrams (blue, whimsical beings), Gralls (brutish humanoid trapirs from a society dominated by crime), Greys (the iconic little gray men, benevolent psions), Gyps (vulture-like humanoids who have been brutally enslaved by the human colonists of their world) and Oms (which look like stereotypical Stone-Aeg Troglodytes). The Day The Law Died also offers players the option to play Kleggs; a savage and brutal race of barbaric humanoid gators who largely work as mercenaries.

Gallery[edit]