Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Luna Larcency

Luna-1 is a supplement for Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD. Like The Robot Wars before it, it is as different a supplement as there has been for any of the four roleplaying games based on the Judge Dredd comic strip from the pages of 2000 AD, and that is all down to its focus. Traditionally, supplements for a Judge Dredd roleplaying game have concentrated on particular aspects of the setting—criminal organisations, crazes, psi-talents, block wars, and more—but Luna-1 focuses upon the one storyline, examining its episodes or Progs, and exploring their ramifications in detail. In Luna-1, this is the six months in which Judge Dredd is assigned to serve as Judge Marshall of Luna-1, a colony on Earth’s moon governed by judges from all three Mega-Cities. Told in Progs 42-59, this storyline thus takes Judge Dredd off Earth and onto the oxygen-short, crowded, and lawless and often wild frontier of the Moon. Here gangs and perps can escape the Mega-Cities to hide out and continue their criminal activities; corporations shorn of the scrutiny and regulations of Earth, build and hold more power and influence; resources are poor—especially oxygen, which needs to be paid for; even though they might hate each other, the Mega-Cities of North America and the Soviet East-Meg cities, will come together to participate in the Lunar Olympics; and criminal conspiracies work behind the scenes to take over the Moon! The supplement includes a Prog by Prog guide to the storyline with story hooks which the Game Master can develop as part of her campaign; descriptions of the Moon’s most notable locations and events, as well as what it like to both live and enforce the law there; new Exploits and Careers for Judges, Perps, and Civilians; an examination of a Moon-set campaign inspired by the ‘Luna-1’ storyline; stats and write ups for numerous NPCs; and more. 

LUNA-1 opens with a description of the Moon and a history of its settlement, including its important locations, such as the famous Armstrong Monument or Moonie’s Ranch, home to the reclusive corporate boss, C.W. Moonie, where he has ranchers raise genuine protein cake-fed, bio-engineered cattle on actual grass, their meat being highly prized by gourmets. The inhabitants of the Moon reside in domed settlements, ranging in size from urban sprawls to classic frontier towns. The maintenance of these domes is vital to everyone’s survival, as is a supply of oxygen, which of course, the inhabitants of the Moon have to pay for! The Oxygen Board has a monopoly on the supply. So it can be expensive! The Mega-Cities’ Justice Departments sometimes use Safe Houses on the Moon to keep witnesses safe. The Moon is also home to colonies from the other Mega-Cities beyond North America, including Shi-Shen Territories and Sov-Cities Territory, the closest they get to territories of the Mega-Cities. Locations important to the Moon, but back on Earth are detailed too, such as Moonray Tower and Temple of Lunar Light, a cult often described as being full of ‘loonies’. Events, like the Land Race—a race to grab new opened up territory, and the Lunar Olympiad are covered as well. They are all accompanied by adventure seeds.

In terms of mechanics, LUNA-1 provides numerous new options for Player Characters and NPCs of all types. New Judge Careers include Luna Judge, Zero Squad Judge (trained to work in zero gravity), Customs Judge, and more. STAR Judges or ‘Special Target Attack Retaliation’ Judges are drawn from all three North American Mega-Cities and their allies and assigned to police Earth’s off-world colonies, so the Player Characters could actually be a mixed group from various cities, not just Mega-City One. New Civilian Careers include Xenodiplomat, Corporate Executive, and Settler, whilst Perp ones include Luna Raider, Gunslinger, and Smuggler. They all include their own Exploits which can be gained by choosing them as Careers during character creation, and all provide interesting options for both Player Characters and NPCs. As expected, all of the characters from the ‘LUNA-1’ storyline are included in LUNA-1, from simple Badlands Gang Member and Futsie to Deputy Luna Marshal Tex, Judge Mex (complete with lasso for reigning in Perps), Elvis the Killer Car, and Judge Dredd himself. These can be used as is, if the Game Master wants to run the ‘LUNA-1’ storyline for her players and their characters, or simply used as inspiration for a campaign set on the Moon.

The campaign advice for the Game Master examines the how and the why of setting and running stories for Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD. This should not just be because the setting itself is cool, but rather because there are particular types of stories which can be set there, which in this case might involve the Lunar Olympics or the looser regulations applied to corporations. It also highlights the differences between Mega-City One and the Moon—as well as colony frontiers, and how that will change game play. Smaller communities means fewer places to hide and everyone knows everyone’s business, including that of Perps, plus colonies like the Moon rely much more on technology for everyone’s survival. Only light synopsises are given for the fourteen Progs which make up the ‘LUNA-1’ storyline, more attention being paid to the whole storyline as a roleplaying campaign with a beginning, middle, and end. There is advice here on how to use Dredd, for it might be that the Player Character Judges are actually seconded to the unrelenting lawkeeper as his deputies.

The full adventure in LUNA-1 is ‘Sundance Rising’, an unashamed space western. It is set further on the frontier of the Moon in the isolated toon of Grey Rock. Inspired by the film High Noon, the town’s Judge, William Kane, is gunned down by the Sundance Gang, led by the vicious Preacher Jackson and the Judges are sent into restore order. The scenario and setting of Grey Rock is nicely detailed and there are notes too to run with Civilians as inhabitants of the town taking the law into their own hands and fighting back and also as Perps attempting to impress Preacher Jackson enough to become members of the Sundance Gang. Either way, this is a good scenario with lots going on that should provide multiple sessions of play.

LUNA-1 does not just cover Judge Dredd’s six-month secondment to the Moon, although that is its primary focus. That is told in Progs 42-59, but there were stories which took place between this and the events of ‘The Robot Wars’—as detailed in the supplement of the same name, and these are detailed in LUNA-1, again Prog by Prog. Each includes a synopsis, settings and locations, villains and bystanders, how the story can be used ‘Outside the Law’ (that is, used with Perp and Civilian Player Characters rather than Judges), and suggested further adventures. Some of these can be used as part of a Moon-set campaign, some not, but either way, the Game Master is given another eleven story hooks! Lastly, an appendix takes the Game Master—and potentially, her player’s characters to Titan. This includes a complete description and history of the penal colony where corrupt Judges are sentenced and again hooks and for the Game Master’s campaign.

Unlike ‘The Robot Wars’ storyline there is perhaps less satire and less social commentary in LUNA-1. Obviously, there is the rampant commercialism, but the Moon-set storyline is more of a means to tell stories away from Mega-City One and on the frontier in the style of the Wild West than anything else. The writing style has settled down a bit and there is more of the comic strip’s humour coming through than there was in The Robot Wars.

Physically, LUNA-1 is a slim, but nicely presented book. It is an engaging read and it is liberally illustrated with artwork from the ‘LUNA-1’ story and the other Progs it details in its pages. This is all black and white artwork and it is drawn from the very early issues of 2000 AD so there is certain quaintness to it since it dates from before the character of Judge Dredd evolved into the way he looks today.

Luna-1 picks up where The Robot Wars left off, continuing its fantastic approach to turning episodic source material into gameable content. The humour is stronger, even if the satire is not, but this is thoroughly excellent sourcebook on ‘LUNA-1’ story, for the stories which can be told in and around it, and of course on the Moon (and other frontier settings) for Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD (or in fact, any roleplaying game based on Judge Dredd).

—oOo



En Publishing will be at UK Games Expo which takes place from Friday, June 3rd to Sunday, June 5th, 2022.

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