Friday, 3 January 2020

2020 - the Dark Future is here

A random post on twitter reminded me that we are now living in the year of one of the greatest genres roleplaying has ever known.  Cyberpunk 2020.

I have been a fan of the genre since discovering it in the early 80s through the literary works of Gibson, Sterling, Williams and Effinger. Visual stimulation came in the forms of films such as Bladerunner, Akira, Bubblegum Crash, Black Magic M66 and Ghost in the Shell.

It changed the way I looked at technology and society and changed my future career choices.  I was never much of a punk but I immersed myself deeply in the dark gritty disposable future of a new breed of heroes.

The new 20s sees the cyberpunk alive and kicking in the form of the much anticipated video game Cyberpunk 2077 and a new version of the RPG from R.Talsorian.

Salut my friend

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Prog 6 - Vive La Resistance

A continuing series of session reports from my current Judge Dredd game using Starblazer Adventures rules. 

Moma Fratelli courtesy of Brian Daigle on Dribble

Wallace sees a silhouetted figure in the cab of the truck and fires a GP round through the right window.  A miss.  Still positions himself strategically behind the office wall and serves up a slice of justice pie with a three round burst of HE rounds hitting ED209's left gun pod and blowing off some panels.  Que likewise fires an HE round at ED209 further damaging it's left gun pod.  Holmes tries for the truck's rear door handle and as it begins to move away she leaps onto the rear step.  ED209 strafes Steel and Que's positions hitting Que in the left arm shattering her radius.  Call Me Edd rams the truck punching his loading prongs through the metal door sandwiching Holmes between the truck and it's torso.  The truck drives out of the loading bay carrying Holmes and EDD with it.

Fearing that the truck will make a clean gettaway, Judge Wallace throws a bleeper onto the side of the truck. Steel fires another three shot burst of HE at ED209 damaging his right gun pod.  Que follows suit firing a three shot burst which only does superficial damage to ED209's carapace.  Holmes climbs up Edd's loading prongs and clambers onto the droids large domed head.  ED209 stomps through packing crates to close the gap on Steel.  A case of squeaky toys explodes like a shower as twin rockets emerge from the wardroids gun pods.   With a woosh they shoot towards Judge Steel missing him entirely and blowing a huge hole in the wall to his right and blowing the main building doors to his left to smithereens.

Calling for his Lawmaster, Judge Wallace jumps down into the truck pit firing off an HE round at the trucks rear tires causing one of them to explode.  The truck rocks violently left and right.  Steel fires another three shot burst at ED209's damaged carapace hitting with one round.  Smoke begins to pur out of the hole as Steel calls his bike "To me!"  Que spots that ED209 is directly below one of the roof beams supporting the massive reinforced concrete floor slab above.  She shoots an HE at the beam which buckles and creaks as the heavy floor  bows and sags.  Holmes, clings onto the truck roof like a human spider, slowly edging towards the cab.  The truck careens around the corner onto 76th Street and Call Me Edd is thrown violently off the truck across the street and slams into the building opposite.  It's single menacing red eye flickers and dies.  With an unmistakeable gutteral roar Wallace's Lawmaster leaps through the destroyed front doors and into the warehouse.  The Lawmaster's superior combat computer immediately identifies the vintage war droid as a threat and fires it's cyclops laser at ED209 melting off the joint between the torso and the right leg.  ED209 hits the floor, it's chicken like legs flapping about in panic.

In hot pusuit Wallace fires another HE round at the front right tire, blowing off the entire wheel.  Que spots ED209's energy cell through the tangled mass of wires and circuitry.  Thrusting her fist through the sparking mess she triumphantly rips out the energy cell.  As Holmes crawls towards the front of the truck, the vehicle veers violently to the right and crashes into the warehouse wall throwing her onto the glass roof of the cab.  Wallace runs around the rear of the truck as Steel arrives on his bike accompanied by Holmes's Lawmaster.

"Citizen you are under arrest, prepared to be judged" orders Steel.

As the driver stumbles out of the cab, obviously concussed, Holmes drops onto him and they both crash to the floor.  Wallace pulls Holmes to her feet and then drops on the perp.  Steel dismounts and cuffs the perp's hands behind his back and drags him to his feet.  A male in his mid to late 20s, he wears a black and white stripey turtleneck jumper and a beret.  Que arrives round the back of the truck on her bike and gives Holmes the sniffer.  As they open the doors the sniffer needle bounces off the end of the scale but the truck is empty.  The Nitro-9 was definitely here but it has long since been unloaded.

Fratellis Pizza Wareouse Crime Scene - Click to Enlarge

Under interrogation, the perp is identified as Marcel Le Peu.  He admits to transporting the Nitro-9 but defiantly informs the Judges that they are too late and it has already made it onto the streets.  Running Marcel's ID through their bike computers the Judges discover that he has an older brother, Pepe.  Another career criminal, Pepe is at large, having most recently been released two years ago for handling stolen goods, his registered address is 258–33 Mitterand Mansions.  Despite having facing a 70 year stretch for numerous crimes, Marcel is uncooperative and resists further interrogation shouting "Vive La Resistance!".

Faced with closing down a uge crime scene the Judges call for immediate backup and Tech Support. Judge Belloch confirms the order and despatches an entire clean up crew.  With the discovery of a cache of weapons and a homicidal War Droid the investigation has been upgraded and an hour later Judge Hiro joins the patrol to bolster their numbers.

The contents of the warehouse are summarily catalogued by Tech Judges and forensic accountants.  The cacge includes a number of interesting items including several cases of guns, ammo, riot foam and anti-personnel grenades destined for several Citi-Def units in the Eurozone such as Berlusconi Block, Mitterand Maisons, Merkel Mansiona and Costa Blanca Conapts.

Mega City One - Sector 55 - The Eurozone
Judge Que receives medical attention from the support crew who put a synthi-cast on her arm.  They head for Mitterand Maisons whilst Holmes attempts to contact her stoolie Jimmy the Spiv.

Back Issues

Monday, 26 February 2018

Prog 5 - Ed, Edd, Eddy and ED209

A continuing series of session reports from my current Judge Dredd Game using Starblazer Adventures rules.

Inside Fratellis' Pizza

The Judges enter the dark warehouse through the broken window.  Haphazardly stacked crates, cases and boxes, of all shapes and sizes, form a maze of corridors and tunnels inside.

Steel and Que inspect one of the military style flight cases and find a consignment of Stub Guns which their label confirms were part of a consignment destined for the Citi-Def at Berlusconi Block in the Eurozone.  Steele makes his way along the wall until he finds the main door.  He locates the buildings electrical panel and flips all the switches.  The lights turn on illuminating the warehouse and the Judges get a brief glimpse of their surroundings.

if only it was as neatly arranged as this famous warehouse
Steele notices a flashing red light with a rudimentary label below which reads "SECURITY".  He immediately kills all the lights but the red light keeps flashing.  In the distance Que and Wallace hear the unmistakable sounds of droid servo motors whining.  The judges switch to their infrared lawgiver scopes.

Que and Steele spot an approaching droid whose nameplate reads "Call Me Eddy".  A forklift bot with two long fork arms, it trundles innocuously forwards to a large crate nearby marked "Soft Toys" and proceeds to lift it up.  A second forklift droid, "Call Me Ed" approaches Wallace and Holmes position on the 76th street side of the building and positions itself behind a large crate.  Eddy's torso swings violently towards the Judges as he throws the large crate at Steele.  His fate is not to die today and he leaps out of the way through the glassteel door into the office hallway as the crate lands, its contents of garishly coloured stuffed toys erupting like an exploding volcano.  Rolling to his feet he fires an Armour piercing round at the droids domed head which punches a neat hole through the glasteel wall of the hallway, and another just below the droids menacingly reciprocating singular red eye revealing sparking interior circuits.
 Edd pushes the crate towards Wallace who instinctively leaps atop it, the label at his feet reads "Anvils".  He selects a High Explosive round, steps back onto a second crate marked "Packing Peanuts" and fires at Edd's head.  At such close range the HE does not have time to arm and it ricochets off the droid exploding somewhere else in the warehouse.

Que spots a big red stop button just below the Eddy's nameplate on his chest and fires an AP round at it.  The plastic button stands no chance and disintegrates on impact as the round pierces deep inside Eddy shredding vital components as it goes.  Gears begn to grind and Eddy's torso revolves at an alarming rate it's long forklift arms acting like scythes shredding anything they touch. 

On the other side of the warehouse Holmes fires an AP round blowing off one of Edd's radar dish ears as it crushes the case of Anvils against the case of Packing Peanuts.  Eddy continues his inexhorable deathspin towards Steele and Que.

Wallace fires another AP round at Edd which penetrates but does not cause any appreciable change in the droids behaviour.  Faced with being sliced to death by Eddy's forklift hands, Steele calmly aims at the hole inthe droids body work and fires an AP round.  It is a direct hit! and Eddy drops an arm, overbalances and crashes to the floor.

Que moves into the office and spots another droid approaching from the shadows on the other side of the warehouse some 45 feet away.  It looks like a decomissioned war droid sporting a FOR SALE sticker half covering it's nameplate "Call Me ED209".  She immediately fires an AP round at the hulking bipedal death machine's head punching a neat hole in it's grill.  It's twin miniguns whirr into life as it commands


ED209 - Winner of 1980s "Now That's What I Call A War Droid" Award

Meanwhile Holmes homes runs up alongside Edd and slams her fist into the droids Kill switch shutting the oversealous cargo bot down.  As she surveys the scene her keen eye for detail makes her notice that the truck which had been parked in the loading bay with its driver side window wound down now has it wound up.  A third lifter droid hoves into view from around the other side of the Fratelli's Truck.

Wallace hears the truck's engine start.  From his elevated vantage point standing on the crate of packing peanuts he shoots at the right front tire with an HP and misses.  The round explodes under the truck lifting it up briefly.

Steele fires a Heatseeker over the shattered glassteel office window which locks onto the nearest heat source blowing off part of ED209's faceplate.  Que kicks through the shattered window and and shoots an HE at ED209's exposed circuitry the explosion spins the war droid off to the right as it unleashes both of its miniguns shredding crates and their contents like confetti at a wedding.

Holmes rushes towards the back of the truck grabbing at the rear door lever determined to gain entry and arrest the driver.

Back Issues

Making Judge Dredd fit the Starblazer Rules

I make no apologies I love Starblazer Adventures (SBA) because its Fate 3.0 is so simple and lends itself to fast cinematic play. I had long fallen out of love with the clunky GW rules for Judge Dredd and never bought into the Mongoose era so I naturally turned to SBA when it came to choosing a new system for my Judge Dredd Campaign.  

Starblazer Adventures
(sadly out of print)
My concept for the PC Judges is that the Justice Department mercilessly churns them out through the Cadet system removing any personality weaknesses and indoctrinating them with a core set of skills and knowledge which will serve them well on the streets of Mega City One.  SBA has no physical stats system and relies on a system of Skills, Stunts and Aspects to allow for a huge amount of character variety with little recourse for complex game grinding math.


Looking through the list of 31 skills, it was obvious that some of them would be innapropriate for Judges and I narrowed this down to a subset of 16
  • Alertness - perception based stunts
  • Athletics - agility and speed based stunts
  • Contacting - access to friends, connections and personal reputation stunts
  • Drive - vehicle stunts
  • Empathy - insight and intuition based stunts
  • Endurance - physical stunts
  • Engineering - technical stunts
  • Fists - unarmed combat stunts
  • Guns - missile combat stunts
  • Intimidation - human interaction stunts
  • Investigation - detective stunts
  • Leadership - command and legal knowledge stunts
  • Might - physical strength stunts
  • Mysteries - psychic powers (Psi Judges only)
  • Resolve - determination and will power stunts
  • Weapons - Melee combat stunts

The Skills Pyramid

Standard SBA allows players to allocate PC skills in a pyramid of 5 levels from Average (5 skill slots at +1 dice) to Superb (1 skill slot at +5) totalling 15 skills.  Given that there were only 16 skills to choose from and I wanted this to be a gritty game I reduced every level except superb by 1 slot giving players a choice of 11 skills for their character.
  • Superb (+5) - 1 skill slot
  • Great (+4) - 1 skill slot
  • Good (+3) - 2 skill slots
  • Fair (+2) - 3 skill slots 
  • Average (+1) - 4 skill slots


Pretty much all the stunts for all the above skills are available to players with the exception of some of the unique / special / magical objects or tech which aren't standard issue.


Remain unchanged from the standard SBA although these are dependant largely on how each PC is going to be played.  For exmple Dredd himself might have the aspect "I am the Law" and Walter the Wobot might have "Live to serve".  As long as it doesn't provoke an immediate psyche evaluation by the Justice Dept, I am fairly easy going.  

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Prog 4 - Pre Race Rumbles, Narcs and Pizza

The continuing adventures of four Judges (Holmes, Que, Steele and Wallace) pounding the mean streets of Sector 55 Megacy.

Aboard the Convoy

Wallace leaps on to cab of heavy hauler 4.  Que races along the right side of hauler 3 and Steele muscles his bike into line behind the stolen spinner but his line of fire is is blocked by a truck.  Holmes moves up to the ladder on the left side of hauler 3.  The Spinner brakes sharply crashing into the truck behind shredding bodywork and rubber across the megway.  The truck swerves violently into Holmes and pushes her bike forward.

Wallace climbs down onto his Lawmaster as Que climbs under the tarpaulin of a second spinner and fires it up its blades which shred straps and coverings like confetti in the wind.  Steele fires his Lawmaster cyclops laser punching a huge hole in the spinner causing it to shed one of its 4 huge blades which embeds intself in the side hauler 3 taking out a pair of tires in the process.  The haulers crew try valiantly to keep the truck in lane as it drifts lazily to the left.  Holmes radios Wombat ahead and tries to get the attention of hauler 3's driver .

At point blank range Wallace blast the spinning death machine with his cyclops laser and the bubble dome cockpit starts to fill with smoke.  Using his bike's PA system he cites the driver with the crimes of Road Piracy, Armed Robbery with Violence and Driving without Due Care and Attention.  The perp gives Wallace the bird.  With a whine of turbines, Que drives her requisitioned spinner off the flat bed of hauler 3 and slams into the stolen spinner locking blades and slams on the brakes.  the spinner acts like a huge anchor slowing them both down.  Holmes cuts across four lanes of traffic and doubls back down the hard shoulder to aid the crashed and shredded vehicles left in the wake of the spinner.  The convoy's procession towards the Omni Dome is unabated and now unescorted.

Wallace pulls down his respirator and climbs aboard the stolen spinner to unlatch the canopy.  He drags out an unconscious 40 year old male wearing a Banzai Institute jacet and a FIDGET World Series T-Shirt.  Que shuts off her spinner and gets out calling her bike.  Steele climbs up and switches the stolen spinner off.

"Where the hell is my escort!" shouts Wombat, "Give us a minute" responds Wallace.

The sirens of H-Wagons and Meat Wagons approach.  Wallace cuffs the perp to the FIDGET Spinner, he is wearing a corporate ID lanyard which says his name is Derek Wibley, the Team Principle of team Banzai.

When he comes around he explains that "This was just a pre-race rumble to get the fans excited".

Wallace retorts "There will be no rumbling for you!"

The judges mount up and rejoin the convoy.  The rest of their escort duty is uneventful. 
When they reach the Omni Dome a huge crowd and press pack are waiting as the trucks roll into Park Ferme.   Holmes surmises that this was some form of inter-team espionage and whilst the agitated Wombat talks to race officials, the judges proceed to the pits and confront Team Banzai.
team one that states the judges proceed to team banzai is that the person in charge is a mechanic called Jonah Louie The team are uncooperative and Wallace arrests them all for Obstruction of Justice

More Strange Creatures Sighted

Que spots an orange dragon about 2 foot tall walking behind the pit lane.  She follows but it spots her and runs off into the undergrowth.  She gives chase and enters a clearing, there is no sign of the dragon, just a male young person wearing a red jacket, white T-shirt and red cap.  She asks where the creature went, he says he doesn't know.  She says if that she doesn't want to see him loitering around here again.  The boy says okay and runs off shouting "Gotta catch 'em all!"

Their shift ends and the Judges return to the Sector House to fill out their paperwork and hit the hypersleep pods.  Holmes takes time-out to make her way over to the La Cucarracha bar in Jessica Alba block.  Her narc Vinnie the Spiv is propping up his usual spot at the bar and Holmes orders a synthi-orange and a mint julep.

Vinnie tells her that the Nitro-9 was stolen to order, Holmes slips him 100 credits for more info and when pressed, tells her that he doesn't deal in this kind of stuff.  The people who want this kind of stuff find it in city bottom.

A New Day a New Briefing

During the briefing the next day Patrol Chief Belloch tells them that they did a great job yesterday.  There were only 55 citizen fatalities at the Super Duper Loop Plaza and 47 on the Megway.

She also states that there have been numerous sightings by other patrols of small aliens in the sector.  Que adds that they appear to be getting help or being chased by humans.  A boy in a red cap has been seen chasing the aliens.  Belloch suggests that she visits face sketch artist Judge Ross.  Not long after an APB gets put out on the boy.

All the Clues Lead to City Bottom

Closing down leads in the Nitro-9 case is imperrative and the Judges head to Surveillance Command to inspect footage of the Thatcher Block Thruway and other nearby CCTV cameras.  With a bit of help from Barney they ascertain that 15 vehicles, all registered to Thatcher Block residents, took the off-ramp but none of them were commercial.  One vehicle, a van registered to Fratellis Pizza, spent 15 minutes too long in the tunnel before exiting.  The business is located at 101st street and 76th Avenue, city bottom.  The judges requisition a Nitro-9 calibrated sniffer and head to Fratelli's Pizza arriving two hours later, it is clear even in the darkness of city bottom that this warehouse has been at abandoned for some time.

Que gets out the sniffer and scans the buildings exterior for signs of Nitro-9.  Wallace spots a suspicious looking citizen carrying a suitcase walking hurriedly away.  Giving chase around a corner Wallace shoots a warning shot over the guy's head and he stops.  When questioned he says his name is Melvin Twaddle, he tries his best to hide the suitcase which is overflowing with comics.  Wallace tells the perp if he gives him information about the Fratelli's van he'll let him go.  Twaddle says he hasn't seen the van in a couple of weeks but the Juves who buy some of his comics might know, perhaps Nelson Sponge.  Beligerently, he gives up his suitcase as Steele scans his fingerprints on his bike computer.  Twaddle has numerous previous convictions for dealing in comics, he complains that this is his personal collection and it's taken years to collect he doesn't know what he'll do without them.  Wallace secures the suitcase to his Lawmaster, activates anti-tamper mode and consoles Twaddle with words of encouragement

"For every citizen there is always the hope, however remote, of employment"

Whilst using the sniffer Que spots tire tracks going in and out of the Fratellis warehouse garage through a rusty and graffiti covered roller shutter door.  An infrared control box is fixed to the wall nearby.  The judges decide to gain covert entry to the building and Steele begins pulling boards off of a window on the corner of 101st and 76th.  Punching through the thin glasteel he reaches through unlocks the window and the judges climb into the dark interior.

Back Issues