Friday, 22 March 2019

Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD

This is the book I have been waiting for more than any other ever since it was announced over a year ago. This is Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD produced by EN publishing based on their WOIN role playing system. It has been written by Russ Morrissey, Darren Pearce, Nick Robinson and Rob Schwalb and runs to 270 pages. I should preface this review by stating that I am a massive fan of the WOIN role playing system (hence this blog) and an even bigger fan of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd. I have been collecting the comic since prog #1 and own every issue.
There are ten chapters to the book, all differently colour coded, which is a very nice touch. I'm going to review each chapter in turn.
Chapter 1: Introduction. This gives a brief history to the world of Judge Dredd in 2099, the start date of the scenarios presented in the book and in The Robot Wars supplement. This takes us right back to the start of Dredd's adventures in the 2000 AD comic. I can see the point of this although I expect some people would have preferred it to be set in Dredd's present day. Future supplements will progress in Dredd's timeline until we get to the present day in the Judge Dredd comic strip, currently 2141 as I type this. There is a very welcome three page example of play presented in a comic strip format.
Chapter 2: The Worlds of 2000 AD. This chapter gives brief overviews of many of the strips that have appeared in 2000 AD over the years. No doubt some readers will be asking "where is such and such strip?" Have no fear. EN Publishing hold the licence to produce all of the stories that appeared in 2000 AD so there is a good chance your favourite strip will appear at some time in the future. Just bear in mind, 2000 AD has a huge backlog of different stories. Currently in production are supplements for Rogue Trooper and Strontium Dogs.
Chapter 3: Character Creation. This chapter takes you through the process of creating a character to play in Mega City One, be it Judge, Perp or Citizen. When I bought the N.E.W. rulebook, primarily to check out the WOIN role playing system, I immediately fell in love with the character creation system. The idea of career paths greatly helps in bringing a character to life. This is the longest chapter in the book, running to 70 pages, and is the chapter I'll be referring to more than any other chapter. Brilliant and faultless!
Chapter 4: Equipment. Here are the stats and prices for your basic equipment, weapons, armour, shields, drugs, cybernetics and vehicles. My one criticism of this chapter is that it lacks pictures of the various items listed. The N.E.W. rulebook provided pictures of everything listed in its Equipment chapter and I found that a great aid. I'd have liked to have seen the same here, but I do appreciate it would have added to the page count considerably.
Chapter 5: Playing the Game. This chapter presents all the rules you need for playing any game based on a 2000AD comic series, not just Judge Dredd. It includes rules for the Attribute check, common tasks, countdowns, the role of Luck, combat, injury and death, objects and the environment. You'll need to refer to this chapter if you buy any any supplement for a different 2000 AD story setting.
Chapter 6: Mega City One. This chapter gives you a history of the city, a gazetteer, a glossary of MC1 terms and a list of crimes and their punishments. What I particularly liked about this chapter was in the gazetteer, each location came with ideas for using that location with your PCs, thus giving you loads of scenario plots.
Chapter 7: Games Master Advice. A very helpful chapter for Games Masters giving advice on running campaigns, published adventures, creating organisations (note that the rules for creating organisations in N.E.W. are very similar but much more detailed), types of scenarios and campaigns, plots and railroading, opponents and rewards.
Chapter 8: Crime Blotter. This is simply five short scenarios that can be played by Judges, Perps or Citizens. I really appreciated this as you can never have too many scenario ideas.
Chapter 9: State of the Empire. This is a much longer scenario, set in the decaying and mostly derelict Empire State Building. Once again, it can be played by Judges, Perps or Citizens. A great introductory scenario. The floor plans were a very useful addition.
Chapter 10: Foes. This gives you the rules for creating foes. Note that these rules are very different to the character creation rules in Chapter 3. In there, you start with an origin and advance your character until you reach whatever grade your Games Master has assigned you (usually rank grade:5). In this chapter you pick the grade you want and work backwards from there. Examples of common NPCs found in Mega City One round out this chapter.
Appendix. Here you will find six pages of quick reference rules as well as four pre-generated Judge characters. I have converted four of my 28mm scale Judge figures to represent these four characters and I'll showcase them in a future post.
My thoughts on this book is that it far exceeded my expectations and I believe it is the best Judge Dredd RPG that has ever been produced. The whole layout and production values of the book are of  a very high standard. I showed this book to my brother, who is not a role player, and his first comment was, "Wow, this is very impressive!" WOIN has quickly become my favourite RPG system of all time, and so I can't wait to get started on my own campaign. Will I be playing Judges, Perps or Citizens? That's a no-brainer - it has to be Judges. Judge Scott will live again.
Do I have any criticisms of the book? Yes, a few. As I said above, I'd have loved to have seen pictures of all of the equipment items. I'd also have liked to have seen a map of Mega City One, showing all of its 300+ sectors. Finally, for a book called Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD where were the stats for Judge Dredd? That's a serious omission in my opinion. I did ask Russ this question and he replied that Dredd's stats will appear in future supplements as he ages and grows in experience. He also gave me a link to download Judge Dredd's Character Record Sheet as he appears in 2099. Here he is. Surely this should have appeared in the rulebook and not as a download.
Here are my maps of Mega City One that I downloaded from the Internet.
And here's a map of the Undercity. Feel free to copy any of these pictures.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Judge Dredd GM's Screen & Counters Set

Last Friday was a very happy day for me. It was the day when I received my Kickstarter bundle from EN Publishing for the Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000AD RPG rulebook, the Judge Dredd: Robot Wars supplement, Judge Dredd GM's Screen and Judge Dredd Counters Set. I have been eagerly awaiting this rulebook ever since I first heard it being announced over a year ago. I shall review the rulebook in my next post and the Robot Wars supplement after that. In this post I'm going to take a closer look at the other two products, starting with the Judge Dredd GM's Screen. I'd seen photos of it before, but when I actually held it in my hands I was blown away by the high quality of it. It is by far, the best Games Master's Screen I have ever seen. It is such a beautiful product. What I was not expecting was just how thick and sturdy it is. It is made of very thick card, which gives it real heft. Facing the players in the centre of the screen is a two page picture of Judge Dredd being flanked by two other Judges, all on Lawmaster bikes. Beautifully painted by Brian Bolland it is also the image used as the front cover of the rulebook. To the left of the screen is a table listing various crimes and their sentences - a very useful aid for players with little or no knowledge of the Law. On the right side of the screen are all the stats you need for the Judge's Lawmaster Bike and Lawgiver Pistol. On the reverse side are an assortment of useful tables for the GM. From left to right are the Character Creation rules; next up are stats for a selection of melee weapons, ranged weapons, equipment quality and what some of the character's Attributes mean; these are followed by a page with tables for Skill ranks and their meaning, Difficulty scores for tasks, Derived Statistics and their associated Skills, Dice Pools and a list of NPCs and where to find them in the rulebook; finally is a long list of encounters for Judges on patrol, listing the Perps, the Crime and the Location. Obviously, the screen can't list every table in the rulebook, but it does cover the ones that will most commonly be used  by both players and GMs. I can't recommend it too highly if you want to run a game of Judge Dredd.

Less useful is the Card Counters Set. I got them simply because I'm a completist but I can't see me using them much, if at all. The majority of the thick card counters (only printed on one side) are 25mm in diameter. Some of the larger NPCs like the Heavy Metal Kids and Octopus Guard are 50mm in diameter and the counters for the Lawmaster Bikes are rectangular in shape, measuring 25mm by 50mm. There are 54 different counters, some of which are singular and others with multiple identical counters. They are designed to be used with the main scenario from the rulebook and the Robot Wars supplement. I have such a vast collection of 28-32mm scale Judge Dredd figures that I simply have no use for them but if you're just starting out on running a Judge Dredd scenario or campaign then these will come in very useful, especially as there are currently no companies producing figures for Judge Dredd. Warlord Games own the licence to produce them and will be making them in the future but I have no idea when that will happen. It is unlikely to be this year. Sadly, there is no counter for Judge Dredd himself - definitely an oversight in my opinion.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Ghostbreakers: Spirits of Manhattan

Spirits of Manhattan is the third of EN Publishing's W series of supplements that reimagine certain films and TV series and gives them a twist to fit in with the WOIN RPGs, specifically N.O.W. in this case. This one is based on the Ghostbreaker series of films - Ghostbreakers: Spirits of Manhattan, Ghostbreakers II: Ectoplasmic Boogaloo, Ghostbreakers III: Through the Nether, Ghostbreakers IV: Seems Like Teen Spirits, The Ghostbreakers Project and The Ghostbreakers (2010 reboot). Spirits of Manhattan is set in New York in the year 1984 and features the four Ghostbreakers who appear in most of the films, scientist Dr. Aurora Bradshaw, exorcist priest Carlos Martin, scientist Dr. Miles Wheeler and taxi driver Kimberlyn Gardner, plus their receptionist Emeline Holt, a half-ghost (she is fully corporeal and cannot become incorporeal) and Patrick Dempsey, a business major who oversees the team's finances.
The first part of this 74 page supplement written by David F. Chapman has rules for two new careers (Demonologist and Exorcist), equipment used by the Ghostbreakers (their Ghostmobile is a converted pope mobile!), info and floor plans of the locations that feature in the story, and stats for an assortment of supernatural entities. The bulk of the book is the introductory scenario, Spirits of Manhattan, which follows the plot of the first film. It is split into three acts, each of which are broken down into a number of scenes. The book ends with character record sheets for the six characters mentioned above, if you want to use them instead of creating your own characters.
Clearly this supplement is based on the real world Ghostbusters films. As such the tone of it is comedic and not dark or serious. The characters in this adventure are normally those featured in the Ghostbreakers: Spirits of Manhattan movie. If the players prefer, they could create their own characters, usually a combination of scientists, occult experts, students and slackers. Of course, using the adventure as a guide, you could run your game after the events of the movie with your own team of Ghostbreakers, working as a franchise of the main group, located anywhere in the world. All they'd need is some start-up funding, the blueprints of the technology (available for a hefty licensing fee from the original team) and a vehicle they can modify.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this supplement and I very much want to play it. Indeed, it inspired me to send off for the Paranormal Investigator figures and the ECTO-1 vehicle from Crooked Dice Games. I'll review them here as soon as I get them painted. Spirits of Manhattan has suggestions for future scenarios if you want to turn this into a campaign. You could also convert the scenarios from CDG's Paranormal Investigators supplement to add even more variety to your campaign. I bought my copy of Spirits of Manhattan for £15.90 from Amazon UK.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Santiago - A Myth of the Far Future

Catch the most wanted criminal in the galaxy!
Bandit, murderer, known to all, seen by none... has he killed a thousand men? Has he saved a dozen worlds? His legend is as large as the Rim itself, his trail as elusive as a wisp of starlight in the empty realms of space. The reward for him is the largest in history.
From Keepsake to Altair, a group of bounty hunters must follow a trail of clues across the Inner Frontier, racing against their rivals, to be the first to track down the Outlaw King.
An adventure for starting bounty hunters using the What's OLD is NEW roleplaying game system, set in the far future. Based on the novel by Mike Resnick.

This 48 page scenario supplement written by Russ Morrissey is designed to be used with the N.E.W. sci-fi rulebook. This book is an adventure set in the lawless vastness of space where the gun rules and criminals turn to bounty hunting when they have had enough of crime. The book is filled with the most amazing colourful characters on a plethora of worlds. The most memorable characters of the time are commemorated by the Black Orpheus in his epic poem, which helps to drive the story on throughout the book. Santiago is the biggest villain in Resnick's imaginative future, and the very best bounty hunters want to find and kill him for the reward and the fame. This is not so easy though, as Santiago and his deeds are shrouded in myth. The tension increases as more and more "characters" from the poem arrive on the same world. Surely, this is where Santiago can be found - but can he be killed?
The scenario starts with info on numerous planets that the PCs will visit in their quest to track down Santiago. The N.E.W. rulebook features a simple introductory scenario in the appendices to this story and this supplement carries on from where it left off. The PCs visit a series of planets picking up clues to the whereabouts of Santiago on each one. As so, this is a very linear adventure - move from A to B to C, etc. Stats are provided for a large cast of characters whom the PCs will interact with. Some of these are exceptionally tough and powerful (10d6 compared to 5d6 starting characters). In addition, on each planet the PCs visit are a list of bounties they can pursue. These will need to be fleshed out by the GM but can be useful if your players need extra credits and/or experience.
I enjoyed reading this supplement. I read the novel, Santiago by Mike Resnick many years ago and liked it a lot but I had forgotten much of the plot. I have been wondering whether I could use this scenario in my The Ace of Spades Campaign? and the answer is probably not. The setting is very different to mine and is set many, many years ahead of my campaign. That said, it is a very well written supplement and I know I would enjoy playing it.
Amazon UK currently have it for sale at £11.73. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Four Go Camping part 3

"What are we going to do? That's easy. We kick the crap out of the robbers!" Sabrina replied with such confidence that she inspired the young kidnap victim, Caroline, who looked at her with hope in her tearful eyes.
"They're not getting you, Caroline. Let's get 'em, St. Trinian's!" Sabrina screamed defiantly as she led the girls outside.
The four bank robbers exited the silver SUV and lined up in front of it. Youngest of them was Billy "Blondie" Bates, a 19 year old vicious thug who wore a leather jacket and denims. He was cocky, arrogant and full of youthful exuberance.
Next to him was Bert Corbett, a former bricklayer who would always be a follower, never a leader. He was rarely seen without his flat cap. A taciturn man, he was handy in a fight.
Leader of the gang was Barry "Bazza" Bates, a chain smoker and the father of Billy. He wore a frilly, powder blue shirt, as he liked to make an impression, but it wasn't always what he hoped for. To many, he was a flash git!
Finally, was Neville "Baldie" Dempsey, an ex-boxer and the muscles of the quartet, who was more brawn than brain. Long past his prime, he was still good at fisticuffs.
They all had served time in prison for previous crimes. None of them were armed but they oozed menace. Bullying and intimidation was a way of life for them. The bank robbery had gone without a hitch and the boot of their car was filled with sacks of cash from the job. Full of confidence, all they had to do was return Caroline to her father, the bank manager. Easy peasy!
Bazza was just as surprised as his colleagues when he saw four blonde teenage schoolgirls emerge from the cottage ahead of the young kidnap victim.
"Who the hell are you?" he asked indignantly. "Where's John and Tara?"
"Oh, they're fast asleep in the back of the cottage," Sabrina replied with a wicked sneer. "If you've come for Caroline here, you're going to have to go through us first!"
"Mouthy bitch, aren't you?" Bazza fumed. "Do you have any idea who you're talking to?"
"I don't know and I don't care," Sabrina smirked, "but Caroline is under our protection now. We are not handing her over. If you want her, come and get her."
"Don't be such a freaking Muppet!" Bazza was fast losing his cool. "Get out of my way or I'll break your freaking face!"
What Bazza did not know was that he was facing four St. Trinian's students, and St. Trinian's students never backed down from a challenge, especially a challenge that involved violence.
"Charge!" Sabrina shouted.
Bazza's eyes bulged in surprise! Had she really said, "Charge?" Did she have a death wish?
The two sides were lined up so that Frankie was fighting Baldie, Sabrina took on Bazza, Bridget faced off against Bert, and Rosalie would fight Blondie.
Each combatant rolled against their Initiative stats to determine who went first in the encounter. Rosalie rolled 6d6, Sabrina and Bazza rolled 5d6 and everyone else rolled 4d6. The scores from highest to lowest in order were Rosalie 20, Bazza 19, Sabrina 18, Baldie 15, Frankie 14, Bridget 13, Blondie 13 and Bert 11.
Baldie attempted a quick one-two punch to Frankie's face but she deftly dodged them both by stepping to one side and countered with a powerful kick to his groin. As he doubled over in agony, she knocked him out with a straight uppercut to the jaw.
Baldie had a Boxing score of 5d6 to roll against Frankie's Melee Defence of 18. He rolled a 17 and 16 for his two attacks this turn, so missed them both. Frankie had a Brawling score of 5d6 to roll against his Melee Defence of 18. She spent two of her 5d6 Luck dice to increase her two Brawling attacks to 6d6 each and scored a 23 and a 21, so they both hit. Her Brawling damage was 1d6+4 Blunt damage per hit but she spent two more Luck dice to increase them to 2d6+4 each. She rolled scores of 14 and 10 for a total of 24. Baldie had a SOAK score of 2, so he absorbed 4 points of damage in total, meaning he took 20 points of damage. He had a Health score of 20, so the two hits reduced him to 0 Health, which knocked him out. Note that spending Luck dice in combat can make a huge difference to the outcome.
Rosalie confidently head butted Blondie, bringing tears to his eyes. She swiftly followed up with a swing punch to the side of his head, which flattened him. She popped a bubble from her bubblegum in triumph. Two down, two to go!
Rosalie's Brawling score was 5d6 and Blondie only had a Melee Defence score of 15. She rolled 18 and 17 for her two strikes, so both hit. Her Brawling damage was also 1d6+4 Blunt damage per hit. Rosalie spent 4 of her 5 Luck dice to boost her damage per attack to 3d6+4. She scored 16 and 15 for a total of 31. Blondie had a SOAK score of 5, so that reduced the total damage to 21. Even so, he only had a Health score of 20, so that reduced him to -1 Health, which rendered him unconscious.
By facing off against Bridget, Bert had clearly drawn the short straw. He was simply no match for the young hellion. Holding her baseball bat in both hands she swung it at head height and smiled triumphantly as it smacked solidly against the side of Bert's head. His teeth rattled and his eyes glazed over. He never saw the second swing which connected with his forehead and knocked him out.
Bridget had a Clubs score of 6d6 to roll against Bert's Melee Defence of 15. She rolled 20 and 25 for her two attacks, easily hitting Bert. Her baseball bat did 2d6+2 Blunt damage for a successful hit, but she spent two more of her 5d6 Luck dice, having spent one already, to boost the damage per hit to 3d6+2. She scored well with rolls of 17 and 12. Bert had a SOAK score of 2 which reduced them to 15 and 10, for a total of 25. With a Health score of 20 reduced to -5 by the damage, Bert slipped into unconsciousness.
"Right, you bitch, take that!" Bazza spat as he attempted two jabs to Sabrina's face. His first attack missed as she blocked it but his second jab glanced off her left cheek.
"Is that the best you can do?" Sabrina said, mockingly.
She planted her right fist square in his gut. As he whooshed in pain, she kneed him in the groin, forcing him to squeal like a falsetto. He slumped to the ground clutching his crushed testicles. The pain was unbearable.
Bazza and Sabrina appeared to be evenly matched with Brawling scores of 5d6 and Melee Defences of 18. Bazza rolled 14 and 19 for his two jabs. He rolled 1d6+4 for his Brawling damage and scored a 9. Sabrina had a SOAK score of 4, so she took 5 points of damage. With a Health score of 40 she barely felt it. She retaliated with rolls of 18 and 24. The 24 was made up of 6,6,6,4 and 2, so was a critical hit. Her Brawling damage was 1d6+5, which she increased to 2d6+5 for both strikes by spending two of her 4d6 Luck dice. She rolled 12 and 13, which were reduced to 10 and 11 due to Bazza having a SOAK score of 2. With a Health score of 25, he dropped 21 points to Health 4. He was still conscious but what of that critical hit? I rolled 1d6 on the Blunt damage section of the Condition chart and scored a 1 for a result of temporarily Dazed. Bazza was knocked down and would lose one of his two actions. Wishing to end this quickly, Sabrina spent another Luck dice to make this a serious condition. Now Bazza would lose both of his actions per turn until he could recover. 
"Arrogant sod!" Sabrina mocked as she kicked Bazza in the jaw, knocking out one of his front teeth. Blackness washed over the bank robber leader, blessedly sending him into temporary oblivion. Sabrina was in no mood for showing mercy. Kick a man when he was down was her philosophy. He had to pay for kidnapping an innocent young girl.
In the second round of combat, the Initiative scores remained the same. Bazza attempted to recover from his Dazed condition. To do so he needed to roll a 6 on 1d6. He rolled a 3. Note that even if a character loses all their actions they may still attempt to shake off a condition but only one attempt may be made per turn. With Bazza now being prone, Sabrina gained a +2d6 bonus to her 5d6 Brawling score to hit him. Rolling 7d6 for her kick, she scored 28, easily beating his 18 Melee Defence. Rolling 1d6+5 for her damage, she scored an 8. Subtracting 2 for Bazza's SOAK, meant he took 6 points of Health damage, which reduced him from 4 to -2. He fell unconscious.
The fight was over with an emphatic victory for the St. Trinian's girls.
"You were amazing!" Caroline beamed as she was overcome with joy. "Thank you so much!"
"Hey, we girls gotta stick together," Sabrina said, putting a comforting arm around Caroline's shoulders.
"No one messes with us St. Trinian's girls," Rosalie added with a big smile. She popped her bubblegum again.
A few minutes later the police arrived in four squad cars, quickly surrounding the area. By now the six bank robbers were all tied up and lined up in a row outside the cottage. Bridget stood watch over them, menacingly tapping her baseball against her shoe. None of the robbers, who had all recovered, dared to look at her.
Two male detectives quickly ascertained what had gone on with a series of decisive questions to Caroline and Sabrina. Both girls answered truthfully. The four St. Trinian's teenagers were the heroes of the hour.

Aftermath
The bank robbers were arrested and received hefty prison sentences. The robbery and kidnapping were kept quiet until the day of the robbers' trial. Caroline was quickly reunited with her father. He was so grateful to Sabrina, Bridget, Frankie and Rosalie that he offered them a one week's stay with all expenses paid at a luxury spa hotel in the English countryside. There, they were pampered like royalty, their every need taken care of. It was a summer holiday the girls would never forget.