Sunday, May 5, 2013


I am not the huge Judge Dread fan many people I know are. It's not that he's not an impressive character. It's not that he hasn't been around for years. It's not that he doesn't even have a song about him. I've enjoyed the comics where he's run into Batman say but for the most part, I haven't seen much about the character. Mind you Mongoose has tried to change that on many levels with role playing games and miniatures. Heck, before this, there was rumored to even be another movie.

I'll be discussing some specifics of the movie below but for those who want a snapshot yea or nay? Its worth at least a rental. The movie is very action packed but doesn't feel like one long action sequence. Its broken down into digestible chunks and Dredd comes off as a tough mentor without the story being vast and overpowering but rather just another day in Mega City One.

In terms of Dredd for inspiration as a RPG thought? Well, as I mentioned, there's already a RPG or has been. There's also the miniature line.

The movie brings out many good bits.

First off, gangs and judges are both small groups. Both empowered past that of normal people. Sound like adventurers to me. While it's easy to see this scenario in some post apocalyptic world, such as Game's Workshop skirmish level game, it's also easy to see something like this for say, a fantasy setting where the outside territories are dangerous. Imagine if the Spellplague did REAL damage to the Forgotten Realms and most of the setting was plague land? Imagine if Greyhawk was mostly lifeless outside of the city proper. Imagine it all being in a drow city with mind flayers and other powerful entities to contend with as all surface life has been destroyed. (Say the hated second adventure path by Paizo actually succeeded.)

Another bit that fits most adventurers is Judge Dredd wields the Lawgiver. A unique weapon that has unique abilities, ammunition and well, can only be used by him. Sounds like a powerful magic item eh?

In this film, the individual he tutors is Anderson, a psychic. So Dredd is the ultimate bad ass while Anderson doesn't do bad, but also has psychic powers. Sounds like an adventuring group where each character has some specialty but they overlap a little eh?

The movie does have a few interesting twists though. For example, corrupt judges. In a setting as harsh as this one, such corruption probably isn't out of place. Indeed, neither Dredd nor Anderson seem too surprised by it and make relatively short work of the corrupt judges. In a long term campaign setting though, such incidents may have a long term effect.

For example, one of the character themes of Spears of the Dawn, is that the characters are a social class, a special caste of individual that is there to help the common people. If too many of their fellow Spears turn out to be nothing more than bandits, rogues or scoundrels, what type of reception can the players expect from those they work for, with, or around?

The setting as shown here, is ripe for adventurer. It would actually make a great television show except for one part. Eventually, some one some where would decide to 'humanize' Dredd which would be the mistake. If they did a show, they should only have him show up in 'guest' capacity. Dredd is the ultimate law man but people may feel him boring after a while. Not me mind you. He's like the ultimate player character given flesh. "Choke on this." and other one liners fly from his lips quickly and his ability to pass punishment due to his status makes him a powerful figure.

In terms of setting up a dungeon crawl, you could do worse than steal a few bits from Dredd.