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Friday 25 February 2022

A Collection of Crimes

Judge Dredd: Case File Compendium 1 is an anthology of investigations, scenarios, and adventures for Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD, the fourth roleplaying to be based on the famous character from the long running weekly comic, 2000 AD. Published by En Publishing, it compiles the five previously available titles in the Judge Dredd Case File series—named after the compilations of the comic strips—and adds two new ones for a total of seven. Some come ready to play, some need a bit of preparation, some are full scenarios, other vignettes, but all are relatively easy to slot into a campaign. All can be run as scenarios for the other options in Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD that have the Player Characters as either Civilians or Perps in Mega-City One, but primarily, the contents of Judge Dredd: Case File Compendium 1 are intended to be played using Judges, typically of Grade 5 and above.

The analogy opens with Judge Dredd Case File #1: Monkey Business by Russ Morrissey. This is a fairly uncomplicated affair, intended to be run as a one-shot or convention scenario, preferably with the pregenerated Player Characters from the core rulebook. That said, it is easy to run with Judges of the players’ own creation, or even with Civilians dealing with the problem because the Judges are busy or with a gang of Perps looking to take down their rivals. Bronson & Sons, a small and not very modern department store, has been taken over by a gang of apes. One is atop the roof, armed with a bazooka and causing mayhem, whilst the rest are inside awaiting the rival of the Judges (or their rivals). This includes a Gorilla ready and waiting in full football gear to bat up, and the rest of the gang all in Prohibition-era suits and fedoras. There is a wrinkle or two, and the Game Master will have fun hamming it up with the Ape gang, but otherwise, this is easy to run and drop into an ongoing campaign.

Judge Dredd Case File #2: Nobody Expects the SJS! by Benjamin Rogers is intended as an interlude. The totalitarian nature of the regime governing Mega-City One comes to the fore when the Judges are pulled from an investigation, whether in the middle or at the end of a shift and told to report to another station house. The Judges are stripped of their equipment and interviewed and interrogated by Judge Mordant of the Special Judge Squad to determine if they are guilty of misconduct. Several methods of interrogations are provided for Judge Mordant, up to and including ‘The Random Physical Coercion Test’ or Corporal Punishment. Consequently the scenario includes warnings about the content and rightfully so. The scenario is highly adversarial, involving harsh interrogation and psychological and physical abuse, with essentially the Game Master acting directly against the players’ Judges, who depending upon if they are guilty of misconduct, may end up sentenced to Titan and thus out of the campaign. Other outcomes are also discussed and both these and the situation itself, are interesting to roleplay if the group is not too uncomfortable with it. Lastly, ‘Judge Dredd Case File #2: Nobody Expects the SJS!’ does feel too early to run in campaign.

Judge Dredd Case File #3: Night of the Living Dredd by Richard August has a lovely pun for a title and takes the Judges (or other character types) below Mega-City One and onto the banks of the Big Smelly. Occasionally, the Justice Department sends Judges down below of a sweep of the underground area and the player Judges might be on such a sweep or another case, when they are best by a horde of zombies and forced to take refuge in the dilapidated remains of a suburban house. This is the end of Night of the Living Dead played out with daysticks and Lawgivers in which the Judges have to survive a terrible night in hope of rescue, all the while wondering what was the cause of the corpse cortege.

Judge Dredd Case File #4: Obstructing the Law by Benjamin Rogers presents a big challenge for the Judges when a Citi-Block is thrown into disarray when the local eating champion gets stuck on the way out of his apartment in Gordon Ramsay Block on the way to a local eating competition. This is fantastic situation which requires careful intervention by the Judges, not just in freeing the Fattie from where his stuck, but in dealing with the consequences if they fail. This includes dealing with citizens from the rival Jamie Oliver Block, the chances of the situation escalating into a Block War, Gordon Ramsay Block residents rioting, and more. This is a fun roleplaying situation which makes inventive use of the Judge Dredd setting.

Judge Dredd Case File #5: Red Dredd Redemption by Richard August is more of a set-up than an actual adventure or investigation. It is, however, a classic set-up. A Perp whom the Judges previous put away has been released from the Iso-Cubes and wants to revenge. To do this, the Perp conducts a reign of terror against the Judge (or his family if he has one), which should culminate in the kidnapping of an ally or a family member, perhaps a particularly reliable informant. For the Judges, the scenario should start with them coming to the rescue of the victim and the apprehension of the Perp. There are some nice suggestions as where this should take place, but it should be isolated and it will require some development upon the part of the Game Master. Like the earlier ‘Judge Dredd Case File #2: Nobody Expects the SJS!’, the set-up for ‘Judge Dredd Case File #5: Red Dredd Redemption’ means that it is better suited for Judges with more than a few cases and arrests on their record.

‘Judge Dredd Case File #6: All Boxed Up’ by Shaun Cook is a longer scenario in which the philanthropist Quququey, an alien trader, wants to redevelop one of Mega-City One’s shanty towns, Cardboard City, as part of a trade deal. The Judges are tasked with assisting him and keeping him safe, which means checking the area prior to his visit. There are lots of opportunities for investigation into minor crime, dealing with members of the Anti-Alien League who object to Quququey’s presence, and interacting with the citizens of Cardboard City. The Game Master will certainly have a lot of fun portraying the ordinary citizenry and oddballs that the Judges run into. There is scope also for Perp Player Characters in particular, their objectives being at odds with those of the Judges, of course. This will require a little adjustment upon the part of the Game Master. This is another solid slice of Judges working the streets and will probably take a session or two to play. If there is an issue with the scenario, it is that it could have done with better organising to make the various plots and motivations clearer.

‘Judge Dredd Case File #7: The Future of Law Enforcement’ by Marc Langworthy is the last scenario in the anthology. Where many a Judge Dredd campaign begins with the Player Characters as Cadet Judges on their Hot Dog Run or Eagle Day, here the Judges are summoned by Judge Dredd himself and assigned to oversee the latest batch of Cadets on their Hot Dog Run, a test run of their capabilities and training into the Cursed Earth. In particular, this Hot Dog Run is targeting a band of mutant raiders, ‘Cherpo’s Crusaders’, which has been active recently in the Alabama Morass. The Judges, accompanied by the Cadets, will need to search the area around Sausage Tree Farm, which is where most of the convoys that ‘Cherpo’s Crusaders’ has targeted, has come from. Along the way there are random encounters and the Cadets to keep an eye on. They take a supporting role mechanically and there is a random chance that they will mess up in one encounter. Each Player Character Judge is expected to take charge of one Cadet and it is suggested that each player also roleplay one of the other Cadets. The scenario includes rules and guidelines for this. This is solid, meaty little scenario which will culminate in the Judges giving assessments of their charges.

Physically, Judge Dredd: Case File Compendium 1 is nicely presented and well written. The scenarios do vary in quality and some of them do require development upon the part of the Game Master. Some though really are good and will be fun to both run and play as part of your Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD campaign.

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