Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dredd and Javert: We are the law!

The past two nights, I've watched two different movies: Dredd 3D (in 2D) and the new Les Miserables movie. Perhaps due to the juxtaposition, I was struck by the two characters who identified so strongly with the law that, at key points in both movies, they were moved to say the phrase "I am the law!"

There are other parallels, of course. Both characters are situated in unstable urban settings, where violence is ready to erupt. Both are unswerving in their missions to uphold the law. Both find their adherence to their moral codes tested.

Of course, one survives and the other doesn't. If you don't know which is which, I'll just keep that a secret for now.

In any case, both movies stirred up gaming inspiration.

Dredd 3D triggered several things upon viewing, the strongest one being the desire to run the 200+ floor high City Blocks of Mega-City 1 as mega-dungeons. You could use Stars Without Number as the ruleset, look for some geomorphs or city street generation rules from various RPGs to help create the north, south, east, and west corridors, apartments, offices, industrial zones, etc. as your Judges patrol and investigate and mete out justice for crimes. Another thing I enjoyed was the infusion of psychic abilities into a grittier version of the 2000 AD setting, with Judge Anderson as its primary (and most powerful) representative.

Les Miserables has always been, for me, a musical. The book and the non-music movies resonated with their characters and messages, but not as powerfully as the music and lyrics in the musical -- a triumph of translating a story from one medium to another. The movie, however, was less triumphant -- but I did enjoy it. It gave some fantastic visual grit and weight to the more stylized (and, by necessity, more compact) visualizations that are normally seen on stage. The obvious inspiration is to a Fading Suns campaign, where laws are different for the nobility and the serfs -- and for the growing number of freemen on some cities in the Known Worlds.

The plight of Valjean is surely one that many citizens of the various worlds might empathize with -- being branded a criminal for life, struggling to be an honest man in a system that discourages it, suffering because of the weight of a merciless implementation of the law.


  1. When I saw the title of this post, I had a wild thought that you'd be describing a game of hardboiled steampunk lawmen where we have to sing all our lines :-)

  2. Haha! That may not be a bad idea...

    ... for a beer and pretzels game!

  3. Make that a tequila and pretzels game for better, uh, role playing :-)

  4. Why not use theactual Judge Dredd RPG from Games Workshop? It's well done and has a great Companion.

  5. I'll look at it, when I find it. I don't have a copy readily available.


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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