Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Visualising Judge Dredd: Dream, Design, Print

As a kid reading 2000AD, I was enthralled by the zarjaz ideas that the writers invented.  As an adult, I see that many of the stories took contemporary issues and explored them to their logical extremes.

Take sugar for example, in the 70s & 80s as kids we would think nothing of downing a litre of Vimto followed by handfuls of popping candy to see if our mouths exploded.  In the Dredd universe it is the most addictive substance in the galaxy and more illegal than narcotics.

I have used this classic Sci-Fi narrative approach extensively when creating the backdrop to my Mega City One adventures (it works particularly well for crazes).  Take a common or garden thing and amp it to the max.  However, I can sometimes be guilty of not describing what is in my head in enough detail that players can formulate effective plans.  A physical representation such as miniatures would be ideal and is now a real possibility thanks to budget 3D Printers.

From Friday Night Dream, through Design and Print to Table

Last Friday saw me throw a new challenge at the PCs in the form of Fast Incredibly Destructive Giant Ironclad Tank (FIDGIT) Spinners.  These heavily armoured combat vehicles are being transported through Sector 55 to the Omni Dome where they will take part in a demolition derby with the last vehicle running crowned the winner. 

The description I gave to my players was a classic UFO festooned with rotating rings of blades and spikes.  The vehicle runs on three wheels like a dodgem car giving it an incredibly small turning circle. 

Design in Sketchup

I've been using Sketchup for quite a while and it has to be one of the easiest 3D modelling packages around, the best thing is that it is free.  The design was simple, a relatively easy taks to design in sketchup as it is essentially a series of circles which are lathed to create the cones and a dome.  Wheels and blades are simple shapes etruded with the push/pull tool.
A FIDGIT Spinner

Export, Slice and Print  

I use an old copy of Sketchup on my venerable 08 iMac but the latest version of Sketchup Free is a web based tool.  It is a trivial task to port from one to the other and export as an .STL file and import into my slicer Cura 3.1.  This then gets sent to the 3D Printer (in my case a knock-off Prusa Mk3) which converts raw PLA filament into a finished FIDGIT Spinner in 1 hour and 25 minutes.

A couple of 3d Printed Spinners and a 5th Element Taxi
with Laserburn Lawmen and GZG 15 mm Sci-Fi minis for scale
As you can imagine the potentil is tantalizingly infinite and it is now quite literally possible to go from imagination to reality in time for next weeks game.


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Prog 3 - Juve Punks, a Vampire and Meg Way Carnage

The ongoing adventures of a Judge patrol in Sector 55 of Mega City One

Firefight on Floor 426

The synthi wood door of the apartment splintered into a thousand pieces when Dave Sputum unloaded his stub gun.  Steele quips  

"Start to blubber punk, here comes the rubber!"

and unleashes a 3 shot burst of Rubber Ricochet rounds which floors one of the perps.  Holmes tosses a stumm gas grenade into the apartment which is quickly kicked out into the hallway.

Meanwhile Judge Que decides to gain access to via the balcony nextdoor and High Exes the door of the adjoining apartment.  The residents of 426-58 are stunned but get out of her way as she barrels through the pad heading for the balcony.  Obstructing a Judge in the execution of their duties is a crime.

Psi-Judge Wallace has a precog vision of the perp charging out into the corridor.  Pulling down their respirators the Judges in the corridor brace to engage.  Steele steps into the doorway and fires 3 GP rounds striking the punk in his left arm as Holmes fires a 3 round burst opportunistically over Steele's shoulder and takes out a door handle, a light fixture and the 90inch Tri-D Set hanging on the lounge wall.  After reloading Dave fires wildly at the patrol, a lucky shot slams into Holmes abdomen.  As he charges down the narrow corridor of the apartment he trips over the unconcious body of his  accomplice Nelson Spunge, falls flat on his face and the stub gun skitters across the floor.

Que vaults over the adjoining balcony ledges and lands in a combat stance just as Steele executes a coup de grace.

"You're the Slime, I punish the Crime!" retorts Steele and unloads a 3 shot burst into Dave's head splattering blood, bone and brain fragments across the apartment.

Wallace administers a hypo spray to Holmes gutshot, cuffs the unconcious juve and then tears off a wakey-wake strip wafting it under the punk's nose.  With a splutter Nelson Spunge comes to, blinking incredulously at the blood soaked shattered remains of his family home.

"You killed Dave, you drokking gruds!!"

"Dave got in well over his head" laughs Steele, "Now tells us what you know about the Nitro-9"

Nelson explains that he has no idea what the Judge is talking about.  Tech Judge Murtagh sweeps the apartment with the sniffer which comes up empty.  Spunge continues to tell the judges that Dave got out of the Iso-Cubes this morning after a 3 month stretch for handling stolen goods.  The pair celebrated by going to city bottom and buying some vintage comics, none of the hard stuff, just a Dandy, a couple of Beano's and a Tammy.  The dogeared contraband publications sit incriminatingly on the nearby coffee table being avidly read by one of Dave's eyeballs.

As the adrenaline fades from her bloodstream Que peers over the balcony.  Running along the pedway some 10 floors below is a strange 2 foot tall blue mammal with a turtle shell pursued by two YPs, a girl with long red hair and a boy with pair hair, dressed in white uniforms emblazoned with a red "R" closely followed by a large beige cat.  Passing this off as a reaction to the stumm gas she refocuses her attention on the apartment.

The Judges bag Dave's stub gun, seal the apartment with CS tape, radio in for a clean up crew and escort the juve down to the holding post outside the block entrance.  After a quick trip to the block's med centre to dig the bullet out from Judge Holmes they decide to continue their investigation into the other resi with known Nitro-9 experience, Tom Vampire and confront Nigel Faraway who is on stage at the brexit rally in the atrium.

Interview with a Vampire

Steele's intimidating gait parts the riotous assembly like a red hot hammer through synthi-butter.  A master of public speaking, Faraway milks the opportunity for all it is worth before gesturing the Judges to meet him back stage.   Steele gets straight to the point and asks Faraway what he knows about the High Explosive heist whose trail leads directly to this block.  Faraway explains that this is a peaceful gathering and his motives are honest and true.  Perhaps the Judges should investigate what's really going on and visit the real agent provacateurs in Merkel Mansions, Mitterand Habitat and Berlusconi Block.  The Judes demand to interrogate Faraway's volunteer Tom Vampire.

Faraway exits through the curtains and a few moments later Vampire emerges.  A tall, thin 28 year old man dressed in an immaculate suit enters.  Sweat beads across his bleached skin and drips from his top lip smearing the laughable drawn on pencil moustache he wears as an affectation.

When questioned under birdie lie detector, Vampire testifies that his explosives knowledge comes from his first and only job 10 years ago when he was on a fatberg cleaning crew in the sewers.  They used Nitro-9 to blow up the more stubborn blockages which set like plas-crete.  His rap sheet is clean save for a jay walking incident 5 years ago.  The lie detector barely registers off the 0 scale and a frustrated Steele tells Vampire that if he hears anything to call it into the sector house immediately.
Holmes puts in a call to Tech Judge Carson who informs them that they have recovered some partial DNA from the abandoned Judge uniforms and have MAC, the Justice Department's super computer cross matching it with Sector 55 residents.  He estimates only a 1 in 5 chance of a positive match and it will take a couple of days for the program to finish running.  Perhaps there is another way, her stoolie Vinny the Spiv might know something so she arranges to meet him after her shift ends at his regular haunt the "La Cuccaracha" bar in Jessica Alba Conapts.

Destruction Derby on Meg-Way 5555

With Nitro-9 leads drying up, recently graduated Psi-Judge Wallace advises that his instructors at The Academy used the mantra "If in doubt, roll out" meaning that they should mount up and look for trouble.  As they gun their lawmasters an urgent call comes in for an escort duty from the spaceport.  45 minutes later they are talking to the Fidget Spinner World Series loadmaster Trevor Wombat.  He has a problem, he is due at the omni dome in 2 hours for tech inspection and he has 7 heavy haulers each loaded up with 4 spinners waiting for an escort.  Each of the spinners sits on the back of the loader, their armour plated, bladed and spiked shilouettes reminiscent of sleeping dinosaurs strapped down and covered with tarpaulin.  The fans at the Omni Dome are in for a real destructive treat tonight.

The convoy is a wide load and takes up 3 lanes as it heads out at a steady 80mph on Meg Way 55-55.  Steele and Holmes are up front and Que and Wallace bring up the rear.  The first few clicks go without incident until a slow driving Old Person in a white compact bubble car blocks their path.  Holmes rides alongside and taps on the glass.  The OP gips the wheel like her life depended on it and the sudden shock of a Judge demanding her to pull over makes her jerk the steering wheel in fright.  The white compact fishtails wildy out of control and veers right before crashing into the guardrail.  The car's safety foam pre-emptively triggers safely encapsulating the interior in a rigid shell.  Holmes slaps a slow driving citation on the magled vehicle and chases after the convoy.

Que spots that a strap has come loose on hauler 4 and orders Wombat to strap it down.  A crewman emerges from a hatch in the cab and attempts to tighten the strap just as the truck rolls over a pothole.  The jolt throws the hapless tech into the air and leaves him dangling from the strap inches from the road and the haulers huge tyres.  Que quickly rides alongside and wrestles the tech onto the back of her lawmaster.

Wallace drives expertly up to grip the crew ladder and orders his bike into auto mode.  He climbs onto the bed of the truck and tightens the loose strap.  As he finishes he gets another psychic vision.  3 perps are about to jump onto the convoy from the bridge ahead.

The call comes too late for Steele as his bike thunders under the bridge but Que takes a well aimed longshot and hits one perp square in the center of mass and he falls backwards onto the bridge.  The remaining perps leap.  One lands on the cab of hauler 3 and rolls onto the flat bed, the second bounces off the bed and slams into the windscreen of hauler 4 before being crushed under its wheel like roadkill.  Wallace scans the back of hauler 3 but can see no sign of the remaining perp.

Steele side slips right and slows down to bring him alongside the truck.  Even above the roadnoise and the rumbling drone of the heavy hauler he can hear the unmistakeable sound of a turbine spooling up.  Suddenly the straps and tarpualin explode like confetti as the spinner tears off it's protective wrapping and careens sideways off the flat bed passing over the stunned Steele, shredding innocent motorists to pieces as it clears a path of destruction ahead.

Steele pulls back to a safe distance, selects Armour Piercing rounds and fires a close knit burst at the spinners glass-steel canopy.  The rounds bounce harmlessley off the glistening dome, these machines are not just common citi cars, they are built like tanks and designed to destroy each other.

Back Issues

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Prog 2 - Super Duper Loops and Loopy Droops

Holmes, Steele and Wallace arrive at Super Duper Loop Plaza in Steve Jobs Block and join Judge Que and a full complement of Riot Squad manning the crowd barriers.  The Super Duper Loop capsule is due in 10 minutes and the crowd is getting increasingly excited.  The Judges witness minor offences being committed such as littering, but now is not the time to be diving into the crowd to make arrests, surveillance will follow those perps home cuff them in a safer more controllable environment.

Steele spots something in the foliage at the side of the plaza, a two foot height yellow rodent.  When he pokes about in the bushes a male citizen wearing a trench coat emerges showing signs of emotional distress.  Obviously a flasher, he struggles to resist his inner urges even when Steele points his lawgiver at him.  He can't contain himself and flashes open his coat to reveal a blue leotard underneath.  Out of the corner of his eye Steele spots a young civvo in a red cap enter the bushes and a little later a bright flash.  Pushing the kook out of the way Steele investigates the undergrowth further but finds no sign of the boy or the yellow rodent.
The 2 foot tall yellow rodent
The unmistakable thwoppa thwoppa of a rotor drowns out the assembled crowd and the chopper of Super Duper Loop creator, Elon Deerscent, lands in the plaza just as the jumbotron counts down to zero and is replaced by a vid feed from inside the approaching capsule.

The faces of the celebrity citizens are barely recognisable as they contort in expressions of terror.  Something is clearly amiss with this maiden voyage and further confirmation is received when the capsule shoots through the station at Mach 7.

Deerscent immediately runs to the chopper signalling the pilot to spin up the blades.  The Judges react, calling in a spray of riot foam from the nearby Riot Wagon which coats the tailboom of the chopper and sets hard as rockcrete.  The chopper attempts to lift off and rips off its own tailboom.  With its counter rotation device gone it corkscrews into the air violently throwing out Deerscent and the pilot before crashing down and exploding in the middle of the crowd.
Within seconds nearby med teams and a water cannon equipped H-Wagon quell the flames and begin treating the casualties.  Holmes and Wallace rush to find the pilot unconscious on the ground.  Steele and Que rush after Deerscent who has picked himself up and run into the bushes.  Chasing him through the undergrowth they emerge to find him standing on the railing which marks the edge of the plaza.  Deerscent tells Steele "no further or I'll jump".  Steele continues to advance, trying to calm the situation down but the inventor jumps off the railing flipping him off with two extended middle digits.  Rushing to the railing the Steele and Que see Deerscent thump his chest and bat wings extend from his arms to his legs.  He rolls and flies off.
Benny the Bat, a somewhat famous perp who used a Bat-suit to criminal effect
Fishing out hypo rounds from his glove pouch Steele fires twice, narrowly missing him with both shots.  Que is more successful and as Deerscent succumbs to the sedative he loses control slamming into the sloping windows of nearby Steve Woz block and sliding down into a park level which juts out of the side of the structure.

Meanwhile Judges Holmes and Wallace have left the pilot in the capable hands of a medic and run over to the station complex.  After relaying events to sector control Wallace tries to negotiate with the station bot who seems to be malfunctioning as he does not recognise the authority of the Judge and proceeds to seal the station behind plas-steel security walls which pop out of the ground.  Wallace contacts the Super Duper Lopp Inc's customer centre and is eventually put through to the technical team who successfully cut the power bringing the capsule to a graceful stop.

Steele and Que leap on their Lawmasters and drive off in the direction of Steve Woz block.  When they arrive at the block park there is no sign of Deerscent save for a human shaped divot in the grass.  Que routes the park surveillance vids to her bike computer and spins back to see Deerscent pick himself up and stagger off in the direction of the block's Med Centre.  Soon after the heavily bandaged Deerscent is cuffed to a Med Centre gurney awaiting collection by a Pat Wagon.  No doubt he will lawyer up, these rich citizens always think the law doesn't apply to them.

Back to the Euro Zone

The four judges regroup on 5527 heading towards Thatcher Towers and unfinished Nitro-9 business.  

Cross referencing all the registered residents with those who have explosives experience throws up 5 matches, 3 of which are already serving time in the iso-cubes.  They request forensics backup which arrives shortly after in the shape of Judge Murtagh, a tech Judge with his Sniffer device specially calibrated to detect Nitro-9.

Iona Skye lives at 202-47 a sweet old lady of 92 who serves up a great synthi -tea and tells the judges of the days of her youth after the apocalypse war when they drove this block across the destroyed Mega City along with others which survived the Sov Rad bombs to form what is now the Euro Zone.

Tom Vampire 28 lives in a dingy apartment at 427-95.  No one answers the door so the judges force entry and a scan of the filthy interior draws a blank save for a collection of pristine suits and a duffel bag of "Vote Nigel" badges stashed in the closet.

Neither apartment tests positive on the Sniffer and the Judges seem to be running out of leads.  Wallace decides to do some house to house enquiries and knocks on the door of 427-96.  A juve punk answers the door and tells them that he saw the guy leave this morning whistling a happy tune.  He doesn't know where he went but he's one of Nigel Faraways lackeys.  The door closes and in hushed tones they hear two voices converse "Phew that was close", "Yeah they almost got us".

Judge Que knocks on the door again, issuing a standard pre arrest declaration.  Steele hears the unmistakable click of a stub gun being primed and thanks to his lightning reactions pushes Que out of the way as seconds later the door explodes in a shower of splinters and bullets.


Back Issues

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Prog 1 - Another Day in Mega City One

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

Sector House Briefing

Another hot and sunny Wednesday afternoon's patrol in sector 55 begins with a briefing.  Patrol Chief Belloch informs the assembled Judges that weather control has a ten minute shower programmed for 14:00 hours.  Elon Deerscent is going to be unveiling the latest stretch of his super duper loop with a big ribbon cutting ceremony at the newly commissioned Loop Plaza near Steve Jobs Block.  Lastly, Sector 55 is hosting the Fidget Spinner World Series later and expects a large number of competitiors  and tourist fans to be targetted by the locals or causing trouble.

Hitting the Megway

Judges Holmes, Steele and Psi Judge Wallace mount up and head out to Loop Plaza on Meg 5535. As they approach the junction with 5527 the traffic has slowed to a crawl.  An impromptu roadblock is in place manned by two Judges, White and Greene.  Pleasantries are exchanged and the patrol takes the off-ramp for 5587 heading to Loop Plaza.

A few miles down the road Holmes suddenly realises that there was something wrong about those two judges.  White's left knee pad was on upside down.  She orders the patrol to do a swift 180 and ride back to the roadblock.

The two Judges are gone but their Lawmasters remain parked blocking the off ramp.  Two civs in grey corporate security uniforms flag them down.  They explain that the Judges requisitioned their truck and sped off towards the 5527 off-ramp.  The guards are really concerned as they forgot to tell the Judges to be careful, their truck is loaded with Nitro9 explosives and any sudden impacts will set the explosive off.

This looks like a classic case of Jimping and Road Piracy, but the Lawmasters are real which means somewhere there are a pair of Judges in trouble or worse dead.  The patrol soon finds a set of tyre marks  at the side of the road which swerves off into the undergrowth.  At the bottom of a short slope is an abandoned Fonda hatchback.  Wallace gingerly lifts the tailgate to reveal Judges White and Green, stripped down to their regulation underwear, bound and gagged in the trunk.

When released, the Judges explain that they were investigating this abandoned vehicle when they were jumped from behind and knocked out.  They didn't see their assailants and they woke up in the trunk of this car.

A message from Sector Control squawks over their helmet radios.  They had a drone cam following the truck but it went into a through-way in Thatcher Towers and never came out.  The judges head out to the block to investigate.

Thatcher Towers in the Eurozone

Arriving at the through-way the truck is abandoned awkwardly on the side of the road its rear doors wide open and cargo gone.  The only thing in the back of the truck are two piles of judges uniforms.  A cursory scan of the through-way identifies at least 4 block vid cams which might have caught the perps in the act.  They make their way to Thatcher Towers and enter the block at the level 250 atrium.

A demonstration is in full swing with a couple of thousand residents chanting about something called BREXIT.  On a stage at the far end of the atrium stand a few well dressed citizens below banners emblazoned with the the slogans "Vote Nigel"  "Vote Brexit".  At the moment this seems like a peaceful gathering but the Judges' training and experience tells them that a situation like this can get ugly fast.

However, their immediate concern is a missing cargo of Nitro-9 and so they head to the Block Security Station.  When they arrive it is in lockdown and after Steele shows his badge, the staff let them in.  The watch officer Dun Can tells the Judges that they are an old pre Apocalypse War block and their CCTV system can't surveil every camera simultaneously.  They don't have any footage from the cameras in the through-way as they are totally focussed on the rally in the atrium which has been going on for the last two weeks ever since Nigel Faraway was elected to the post of Citi-Def Block Commander.

Just as the Judges are about to wrap up their investigation, Chief Belloch shouts over the radio

"Steele where are you? 

You're supposed to be at Loop Plaza by now.  Get your asses down there pronto!"