Show us your stuff!

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There’s still time to submit your photos of the supporting material that you’ve made for your games.

Handouts, minis, floor-plans, counters, character sheets, improvised props or anything you’ve produced to enhance a game. Send it before the end of the month and the best, selected by our friends Jo and Cris from bonhomiegames.uk will be sent a copy of HeroQuest Glorantha as a prize (kindly donated by them).

Send them to me at dirk the dice at gmail dot com, or by twitter, or me we, or on the Facebook page.

We’ll show a selection of the images on here in a scrapbook.

The competition is inspired by the preparation that I’ve been doing ready for Convergence.*

Last year was an incredible learning experience as I managed to get loads of time playing with different people in one-shots at conventions. For years and years I’ve played with a small circle of people who know what to expect from my games (and I know what to expect from them as players). Playing one-shots with people that you don’t know or only know as gamers presents a number of exciting challenges that ‘up your game’.

Famously, when it comes to prep, when I play with the Armchair Adventurers, it usually amounts to a few scrawled notes on post-its and, if they’re lucky, I’ll sketch a map in front of their very eyes using my trusty note-board and dry-wipe pen. Chutzpah, ‘barrelling on’ and a sense of humour manages to pull me through the * deepens voice * Theatre of the Mind.

I ran @dailydwarf ‘s rather brilliant Judge Dredd scenario A Better Living Through Chemistry on a couple of occasions last year. Thanks to the artistic efforts of Roger Coe, it came with floor-plan maps that really enhanced the experience.

Playing in other people’s games have really given me clues on how to manage and track elements of the game in interesting ways. At GROGMEET I played Price of Freedom which was more like a tactical war-game than I was anticipating. The experience of play was helped by the visual bits-and-pieces used to support the descriptions. Not just floorpans and miniatures, but all of the equipment was presented on cards with the stats and a photograph: my Judd Nelson character looked cool with an Uzi open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine gun.

In a Dying Earth game, the illustrated cast of characters were displayed to the players as they were introduced which made sure everyone knew who the NPCs were and could refer to them (by pointing at them) without having to remember their names.

There’s advantages to having physical stuff at the table.

Gaz from the Smart Party said on Me We, “They instantly make your game better. Having character names on the table, maps with places on, Termination Warrants with the mission writ large… All provide more texture. Plus, lazy players are reminded of details they couldn’t be arsed writing down or memorising. Attentive players are rewarded with cool artefacts to mess about with.”

I really admire these trappings in other people’s games, but generally I find them hard work to create with minimal returns. For the Strontium Dog game, I’ve thrown myself into making Warrant Cards, equipment cards, character sheets and customised counters. It seems that having a generic game like Savage Worlds encourages the GM to create home-made stuff.

I’ll post some of the stuff I’ve made when we’ve played the game: If you show me yours, I’ll you mine.

 

* Convergence in Stockport 9th – 11th March – a great, small, friendly convention that first got me into running games for strangers. All of those strangers have become friends.

Episode 18 (Part 1) Judge Dredd RPG (with Marc Gascoigne)

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INTRO: Warning, there’s an unnecessary David Bowie impression in this bit, as the Judge Dredd Board Game appeared in Labyrinth.

POTTED HISTORY: (00:05:00) A brief publication history of Judge in RPGs and news of the forthcoming game from EN Publishing.

OPEN BOX (with Marc Gascoigne): (10:44) We are joined by a giant in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing. He tells stories about his time editing DragonLords fanzine , working with Games Workshop and designing Judge Dredd.

DAILY DWARF: (00:48:24) @dailydwarf writes an introduction to some of the great material that appeared in White Dwarf, before the sun set on its coverage of RPGs.

ATTIC ATTACK: (01:07:00) Blythy joins Dirk in the loft to reflect on 2000ad and how it influenced our play.

OUTRO: (01:37:00) Dirk is running Judge Dredd at Spaghetti ConJunction in Birmingham on 10th Feb 2017. Also, there’s news about how to get PDFs of the GROGZINE and the forthcoming Virtual GROGMEET.

1D6 Judge Dredd RPG

… down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.

He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it.

He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

Raymond Chandler

Last week, we played Judge Dredd the RPG, published by Games Workshop back in 1985, co written by former Dragon Lords editor Marc Gascoigne with Citadel supremo Rich Priestley. When I trailed this on twitter it generated a great deal of interest – more than any other tweet I’ve ever written in fact – so this is a follow-up play report for all those people who were interested in finding out what happened.

@dailydwarf came out of GM retirement, after a 35 year freeze, to deliver his own scenario Better Living Through Chemistry, as a online, dry-run ahead of its appearance at GROGMEET. It was a chance to stretch some of those muscles that have been dormant and to familiarise everyone with the rules. The scenario will also be appearing in the GROGZINE, so I’m going to avoid any spoilers here and concentrate on some of the experiences of playing rather than the details of the story.

Despite the usual setbacks that inhibit the gathering of grognards – including holidays, family commitments, the under-funding of public services creating staffing shortages, and dodgy online-gaming platforms – we managed to straddle our LawMasters to dispense justice on the streets of Mega City One.

“You’re not very good with your d6s are you?” complained @dailydwarf as I fell short on yet another zinger. Roll one on this table, five highlights from the sessions and one fumble.

“Be careful out there …”

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In many ways, Judge Dredd is the perfect RPG set up: you are given missions to resolve, your motivations are straight forward, the setting is rich yet flexible and there’s plenty of opportunity for mystery and investigation. Every session begins with the report sheet of perp activity in the sector, packed with warnings, leads and specific tasks for your patrol as it hits the streets.

There were reports of an air-ship seen in the sector featuring costumed individuals, shouting about treasure … hang on, isn’t that our cast of characters from Storm King’s Thunder?

Mega-City One

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Very quickly, we felt like Judges, and adopted our roles very diligently, as we headed out into the wasted areas of sector 170. The scenario was set in the period after the Apocalypse War when the city was coming to terms with the devastation. Our judges were clearing through the wreckage of partially destroyed blocks. It felt like coming home, as this was the classic period of Dredd stories which generated nostalgia for both the game and the comics of the early 80s.

Unlike many licensed settings, the backdrop didn’t feel constraining. The city has been generating stories for 40 years and is richly populated with characters, perps, and imagery that provided instant immersion. @dailydwarf also used a slide-show of specially adapted elements from the strip to illustrate scenes and NPCs we encountered, which made it feel like we were part of a Prog.

Get me back to TEK

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Each of our Judges had a role in the team: the grizzled Veteran, the giddy rookie, the hotshot, and I went for the Judge who had been reluctantly redeployed to the streets from TEK division. He was keen to impress upon his fellow judges the capabilities of their kit. In the first encounter he gave an impressive display of ‘high-ex’ bullets from his LawGiver to bring the ceiling down on perps. This was followed by a less impressive display as a close-ranged ricochet bullet hit one of his team members. Whoops, sorry ‘Holy Cremola!’

I’d forgotten about the levels of back up available to Judges and how they can get you out of trouble. There’s always Pat Wagons available to pick up perps, Clean-up squads, Meat Wagons, Med-squads and forensic support for those tricky investigations.

We traded one-liners as the incidents piled on us, we had some great fun with Chemical Brothers lyrics too: “Hey, isn’t that another one of those block bustin’ beats?”

Judge Crunch

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@dailydwarf provided his “Dredd-Hack” cut down version of the core mechanics. Most situations are resolved through attribute based percentile checks. Depending on your Judge’s speciality, you may have some Special Abilities that allow for some additional investigative or combat edge over the perps. The combat is crunchy, and goes something like this: roll to hit, roll location (d100), roll for armour coverage if appropriate before rolling for damage. Perps are at a disadvantage as they’re not as souped up as the Judges, but they have the opportunity to strike first with their wild-fire. Judges have to be more measured in the their approach as they need to be able to pass sentence rather than shooting indiscriminately.

There’s a reference list in the Dredd Hack, providing advice on general sentences. I thought 20 years for illegal Boinging (R) was always too steep.

Why does it have to end?

Normally, when it comes to fumbles, I always complain about the interference of the online glitches (1-D-6 passim). I’m not going to this time. Sure, it was a right-royal pain in the arse for some of the time, but most of the time, it worked fine and the confusion, over-talking etc added to the experience as it felt more immersive.

The only fumble about this experience is when it came to an end. It felt like it should be the beginning of an epic campaign. Mega City One is a great setting, the rules are serviceable, the players were switched on, so it was one of those great RPG moments when you wanted to carry on with the characters and have more adventures.

“Hey, Grim, let forever be.”

As for @dailydwarf, his inert GM skills are now awakened, we’re all in for a treat. He’s a natural.