"Exploding With Excitement": Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000AD Kickstarter

“When we approached Darren Pearce to write on the core rulebook, he exploded with excitement,” says Russ Morrisey, designer of Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000AD and founder of EN World. “I mean literally. It was messy.”
While he’s possibly exaggerating just a little bit, it’s fair to say that the reaction to Judge Dredd hitting Kickstarter has been fiery. The game sailed past its modest target in a matter of minutes and at time of writing is scraping its way towards six figures. But why are people getting so worked up about the WOIN system’s first foray into the world of comic books, cops and criminals?

When we sat down with Morrisey, Pearce (who presumably recovered from his spontaneous combustion) and Andy Peregrine, Author of the Robot Wars campaign, to talk through their creation, they explained that they thought that it represented something special – a unique take that could put a spin on your typical RPG tropes.

“I don't think the word typical can ever really apply to a Judge Dredd or 2000AD game!” says Peregrine. “So many stories are so off the wall it is hard to categorise them. When you have apes in hang gliders shooting at mutants, block wars, mad soviet agents and insane robots all over the place, no two days are ever the same.” Morrisey added, "it's a veritable treasure trove, and a dream for an RPG designer."

If you’ve ever flicked through the pages of a 2000AD comic you’ll be able to appreciate the strange places it can go, but Pearce explains that the crime-ridden dystopia of Judge Dredd is the one sitting at the forefront. As with the stories that inspired it the game spends most of its time on clashes between the totalitarian police force and the desperate, dangerous criminals they face, but exactly who you play as is up to the group.

“So, a one-shot game could be a group of Judges who are tasked with a simple patrol during one night of life in Mega-City One, with various street level crimes for them to prevent or deal with,” says Pearce. “Or perhaps the PCs are the criminals or even a group of Citizens out on the streets when an event threatens their lives.”

Morrisey adds that the books present loads of short – only one page or so - adventure summaries that detail many of Dredd's case-files, and which can easily provide a game session's play. “I ran the Brotherhood of Darkness a couple of weeks ago, in which a group of Judges had to investigate the kidnapping of the mayor's son and rescue him from a mutant gang in the Cursed Earth,” he explains. “It was fun getting the Judges to follow all the clues to find out what had happened.”

Of course, one of the greatest aspects of the Judge Dredd series – and of many other 2000AD strips – is that they’re often about more than cool guns and stoic heroes. Ever since the magazine was founded it’s worked satire and tar-black humour into the stories wherever possible, with even the iconic judges holding up a dark mirror to cold, macho policing tactics. “The style and parody in Dredd is very much hardwired into the stories,” says Peregeine. “Many of the 2000AD stories were written as satire in the first place, and it is quite concerning to see how relevant many of them still are today!

“What makes many of these stories so good is that the satire never detracts from a good story, so you might miss it. At the risk of sounding horrifically pretentious, it’s like Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. You think you are getting a simple romance or a light comedy, but when you look closer you find the digs at society and politics are everywhere, and often quite biting.” Pearce adds that this is “definitely something that we like to think we've preserved in the game.”

“It's not too hard to keep to that, when the real world keeps on writing fiction better than you can,” he says. For more information about Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000AD, listen to this episode of Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk and visit the Kickstarter page.

This article was contributed by Richard Jansen-Parkes (Winghorn) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!

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Richard Jansen-Parkes

Richard Jansen-Parkes


The title of this article really caught my eye...but only because at first I thought it read, "Exploding With Excrement."

I'm glad to see that wasn't the case.


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