Sunday, 7 October 2018

Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD quick start first impressions


Being a 2000 AD and Judge Dredd fan, I've been following the recent Kickstarter by EN Publishing for the (wordy) Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD.

Recently they've released their free quick start rules and adventure to help people get a feel for the game, so I wanted to give my first impressions.

The WOIN system is simple enough - it probably translates well across genres, being an easy d6 pool system, which I guess is why it was used. I've not played NEW so I don't know how pared back the quick start is, but there are some stats we have to ignore in the QS that will come into play in the main game. It's certainty not crunchy - rolling a d6 pool of attribute + skill and attempting to meet a target. There are also exploits in the game, offering further abilities, but these aren't detailed here. While this won't be to everyone's taste, I like a lite game so I'd be happy to play this.

It's interesting that you can play as judges, perps or citizens. While the QS doesn't have character creation, I'd be interested to see how much these characters differ. Will there be perp scenarios and judge scenarios when the game releases? This would make sense, it's tough to wrap up two or potentially three play styles in a single scenario.

The QS does include a scenario and, honestly, if this is what they want a Dredd game to be like, then I'm seriously disappointed. The adventure takes place in the Empire State Building, where a crazy perp called Ricki Rocco is holed up with a load of gang members. You're offered hooks for judges, citizens and perps, but the scenario only comes with 4 pre gen judges. I suppose it could be played when the full rules are released, but that defeats the point, right?

The scenario has some weird errors. Some of the section sub heads dealing with intros for perps and citizens are inconsistent. At the beginning, it says the perp section is titled In and Out, but the actual section is called Criminal Empire. The citizen section is referred to as Lost and Found, but later it's called Little Lost Ray Fey. Also, the citizen hook is baffling, mentioning that they could be after the cursed treasure of skull island. Where the hell did that come from? Maybe I missed something, but it doesn't seem like a thing.

The scenario is fairly rudimentary, but suffers from wall of text syndrome. There are very few bullets, no key info bolded, so it's not super useful at the table. There are also some really boring rooms containing nothing. You can search an empty office for an hour and surprise, surprise, you won't find anything. There are restrooms, explaining that the juves keep clean. I don't think this needed spelling out. The third floor is a series of empty offices, but it also says it's full of booby traps - yet it goes into no detail about what and where those traps are. So lots of fun to be had in rooms where nothing is happening! I do like that there's a room full of helpful robots who will do whatever you want, which could lead to some interesting situations, but these little nuggets are few and far between.

I really think an intro scenario should help the GM and players get to grips with the rules by offering ways to use attributes and skills. Not so much in this scenario. I counted a total of two checks and one instance of using tactical cover. While I don't think this would be so bad as a scenario for experienced players, this is not that.

When we reach the basement, we again find another glaring error. From what I can tell, there's supposed to be a giant toad in its lair, but the lair text doesn't actually say this. Instead it just says 'suddenly an immense form comes barreling out of the refuse...' and that's it. No mention of a giant toad, but in a later room it refers to the toad's lair. Then under the city, it says that you can add in another toad, blind crocodiles or troggies. But it doesn't give stats for these other two creatures, so why include them?

Honestly, this adventure is a bit poor. Clearly rushed out of the gate, it definitely needed another editing pass. They were clearly going for a Dredd movie vibe so that people only familiar with that would grok it but dear lord is this stale. You have the entirety of the Judge Dredd legacy to build on, a comic noted for its larger than life characters and insane situations. I get they wanted a scenario that could be used by all character types without having to change much, but I really hope this isn't the norm for adventures.

I'm cool with the system. It's basic, but that's my jam. The scenario, however, really could have been better.