Sunday, June 07, 2015

Judge Dredd - Mongoose

I've just finished reading the Mongoose "Judge Dredd" RPG book. What they've put in this book is good but I'm left a little disappointed and here's why.

This is a setting-book, you require Mongoose Traveller to actually play the game. I find this so very disappointing. What I really wanted was one book with setting and rules.

There are no rules to play, in here. There are Char' Gen' rules but these refer to the Traveller rules so you end up with two books to look through, which is tedious and a pain the butt. With this book alone you can not fire a gun nor ride a Lawmaster. :( You can gain skills when creating a character that are not explained in this book. :(

There are other omissions too which I found rather galling. Traveller has a wonderful set of subsector rules for mapping space, I'd hoped there would be the equivalent rules in here for mapping a sector of Mega City 1. Nope. In fact there is a section saying you don't need to do this, that you should keep you game versatile and use story rather than maps. Dammit, I wanted to map a sector, build a series of blocks. That was actually what I expected from a Traveller based system. So yes, disappointing.

The book has some great pieces of comic book art. But no maps, not one. It even goes into detail of one sector telling you all about a number of city blocks and characters therein, but again, no maps. I find that puzzling.

I've used the above to waffle on about how disappointed I was, but that is offset by how good this book is as a resource. If you have read one or two Dredd stories and want to run a game set in that world this book is an excellent purchase. You don't need to have read every Dredd story ever, as all the major themes in the background are covered in this book. There is a lot of detail here that will make you salivate. If you want to run a Dredd game using any rules-set I would suggest this book is a must buy.

I'm an author, I write adventure game books.

1 comment:

George Quail said...

I gotta object to three paragraphs and multiple smillies set aside to lament about the fact this is a supplement when you expected a fully packaged set of the core rules inside.

The fact it's a setting for Traveller and requires the standard core book is clearly indicated not only on the back cover of the hardcopy but also on Mongoose's product entry on their website and RPGNow's details on the PDF. There is no bait and switch here, especially considering the many Mongoose settings for Traveller like Babylon 5, Strontium Dog or 2300AD all designed on the same basis. (Or, say, the many setting books for D&D like Dark Sun, Eberron, Ravenloft or Forgotten Realms.)

I have more sympathy with your complaints about the lack of sector mapping, in that I can understand why you might expect the hex-map system would get ported across - the book doesn't promise it but it doesn't not promise it. (If nothing else, there's aliens in Judge Dredd's world so a stellar map wouldn't be a bad thing.) That said, trying to map a block Mega-City One would probably be a bit dull since the impression I always got from the comics is that it's a maze of Zoomways connecting everywhere and the various hab-blocks are essentially self-sufficient. Not quite as interesting as the many and varied results a string of UPPs spread around a hex map can create.

Eschewing maps frustrating you is probably a bit of a GM style clash rather than a real failure of the book. If you're thinking something more sandbox-y, simulationist and "exists beyond the player characters" then a firm map of a sector would be useful. However the book's advise that such a map is pointless when there are no dead ends seems reasonable to me, especially considering the game is more overtly going for copying the feel of the comics where Mega-City One's structure changes by the needs of the story. (One rarely gets Gotham City or Metropolis maps either. Even what state they are located in can be an argument starter!)

In the interests of pedantry, I must point out that "no maps, not one" isn't accurate. There's not a city block map or an overview of the city but the inside cover has a map of the whole world. Clearly not the sort of thing you were looking for, but a map it most certainly is. I actually really like this map since combined with the descriptions elsewhere it helps open up a host of Mega-Cities to play in. If the canon weight of MC1 doesn't appeal then moving to Oz, Mex-City, Hondo City or Delhi Cit gives you a cleaner slate (and some new stereotypes to mine)