Slaughter Margin play write-up: who was that masked fattie?

I recently ran the 1980s Judge Dredd scenario Slaughter Margin as part of a (very) long weekend of gaming. It ran over three sessions and this is a writeup as the play was experienced by the players. It contains plenty of spoilers but also has elements which were heavily changed. We used the Godlike superhero rpg mechanics, with one psi judge and one muscle judge – Judge Dregg and Judge Keg. There was a duel theme of 80s music and nuclear war, with the two linked together in ways which was intended to tip off the players to what was going on.

Session one, prog one:  It’s Cruftz for you, disgraced judges

The two PCs have just returned from a six month suspension for leniency, having unwisely chosen not to arrest supersurfer Chopper whilst he was engaged in dangerous sporting activity. By way of punishment their first patrol is guarding a robodog show being held in the Vox Museum of the 1980s (on the 124-127th floor of Andy Macluskey Block). They are greeted by the animatronic curator: “Hi, I’m Craig the Bassist from Dros, an early innovator in the leading art movement of the late 20th Century, Boy Bands.” Playlist: Sigue Sigue Sputnik ‘Love Missile F1-11

The judges start checking permits, starting with minor celebrity Otto Sump who is hoping to win ugliest dog category. As the competition begins, a overwhelming sonic attack screams through the judges’ earpieces, deafening Keg before he can pull off his helmet. Two of the smaller dogs start to go crazy and one rips out the throat of his owner. The two judges take them down with well-aimed shots before one of the megahounds joins the fray. The crowd scatters before Dregg disables it with a shot to the right front leg and back left leg – its a megahound roundandround!

Prog two: One last job for an aging mobster

Chaos is still generally ensuing when an explosion from the floor below rocks them. Hold on, the sonic attack seems to have knocked out all alarms in the vicinity  and what’s under the museum – a bank you say! Keg uses his Reckless power to leap to the pedway below, followed by the more sedate Dregg.

The bank below has a smoking hole where its vault used to be and a getaway vehicle outside. What’s this on the floor – a banana skin. That can only mean the earlier mention of Joe Bananas planning a heist has come to pass (playlist “The Banana Splits theme’ by punk band The Dickies). As Keg takes up a position, an ape in a baggy Italian suit carrying two tommyguns emerges – it’s Mikey ‘Bubbles’ Jackson, Joe’s idiot nephew. He sprays the immediate area with bullets with no discernible effect before Kegg drops a stumgas grenade on him and Dregg roars in on his Lawmaster. Uncle Joe stumbles out: “I’m too old for this kinda swing – take me to the isocubes, judges!”

All a little easy – and they are are made suspicious by Joe’s explanation that he was turned on to the heist by an anonymous tipoff  (“dey said there was enough credits here to keep a monkey in bananas for life…”) who told him that if he hit the bank at exactly the given time, there would be no alarm. Suspecting that the real heist is upstairs, Dregg roars back up to the Vox Museum and is warned by Craig the Bassist that there are intruders on the top floor (the one dedicated to the Cold War – playlist: The Scorpions’ “Winds of Change”).

Prog three: ‘They’ve killed Ronnie!”

Creeping up the stairs, Dregg peeks round the corner and sees that half a dozen men in elaborate samurai costumes and Kabuki masks are in the process of exiting through a hole cut in the glass dome of the roof – sky sleds hover outside. (playlist: “Battle without Honor or Humanity” by Hotei from Kill Bill soundtrack). An animatronic Margaret Thatcher is wandering the floor aimlessly, shouting: “They’ve killed Ronnie. They’ve killed Ronnie.” An animatronic Ronald Reagan lies headless against a replica of the Berlin Wall, tendered to by a concerned Gorbachev.

Amongst the samurai is a man in a business suit carrying a case – whatever has been stolen is clearly in it and he becomes the focus of the judges’ fire as Keg joins Dregg. at the top of the stairs. Rounds are exchanged and a couple more hidden assailants attempts to engage in hand to hand combat with light-katanas. The guy with the case is mortally wounded but the case is taken by one of the robbers and although the judges manage to damage their skysleds, most of the robbers escape. The wounded man crawls to the edge of the hole cut in the glass dome, shouts “Fat Man is coming and we will all become death!” and jumps.





Lists of things

Favourite fantasy games

13th Age

Runequest Glorantha



Chivalry and Sorcery


Favourite sci-fi games

Ashen stars



Favourite other games

Judge Dredd

Night’s Black Agents


Golden Heroes


Favourite Horror game

Trial of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu

Cthulhu Dark

Delta Green


Things I’d save in a fire if i had no chance of replacement

Thieves World

My first edition Call of Cthulhu

My D&D white box original

City State of the Invincible Overlord

the d100 my mate bought me at Dragonmeet

Beyond the Mountains of Madness

Tomb of Horrors S1

Delta Green Countdown

The copy of Adventurer magazine with my first paid contribution in it

AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide

Trail of Cthulhu


Gaming in 2018

This year I played in games of Call of Cthulhu 6th edition (UK Games Expo), Lamentations of the Flame Princess (skype) Night’s Black Agents (skype), Stormbringer (, Delta Green RPG UK Games Expo), Alternity, The Laundry Files (v briefly at UK Games Expo) and ran 13th Age, Runequest Glorantha (Dragonmeet), D&D 5th edition (Dragonmeet), Godlike and Judge Dredd. I also played Mansions of Madness (including in Vegas), Kingdom Death, Hero Realms, Cthulhu Wars, Star Realms and Ticket to Ride.  I attended UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet.

My purchases included but were not limited to Pulp Cthulhu (and Two-headed Serpent campaign), Runequest Glorantha, Cthulhu Dark and Delta Green RPG. I am waiting on Kickstarter fulfillment on Gods War, The Yellow King and Cthulhu Wars Onslaught.

My immediate plans for 2019 include extended weekend of gaming in January, a day at UK Games  Expo in the summer, possibly starting a Pulp Cthulhu game and finally unpacking Gods War which has been being built in China since the late Zhou Dynasty.

Dredd at the second time of asking

The original Judge Dredd rpg from 1985 just missed by first phase of gaming. At the point I had largely stopped playing (there was maybe some Call of Cthulhu still there) and certainly stopped buying new things. I also was not a big 2000AD in my teens though I certainly bought it most weeks for a couple of years in the early 80s (Casefiles 3 seems to cover that time – i remember Blood of Satunus and mad Judge Cal well).

So when i started recollecting all ‘the old stuff’ again about ten years ago, JD was on the ebay list but more for completion’s sake. It never particularly occurred to me to run it (my first game after the big thaw was a long and overly ambitious Call of Cthulhu campaign in the Delta Green universe).

But then last year when the latest long and overly ambitious campaign (13th Age’s Eyes of the Stone Thief) finished, I was casting around for some one shots with systems I hadnt run before. I did a couple of Godlike sessions and then read Better Living Through Chemistry, the JD scenario in the Grognard zine run by the Armchair Adventurers, and knew it had to be run.

And so I plucked the original JD rules from the Lost Shrine and read it for the first time. And realised what a fantastic setting it is – one of the best on offer. You obviously have a great and infinitely varied setting, not just the city but the Cursed Earth and other areas. You have a rich history of ‘actual events’ to draw on populated with colourful characters. And the player characters are based in a meaningful position to adventure – they have purpose but with some flexibility. It works great for one-shots but also for campaigns.

The scenario went  well and I’ll be running the 80s Games Workshop scenario Slaughter Margin at Nerdcon19 (actually three of us with a long weekend of gaming by the sea). The original mechanics were ok but I’ve decided to adapt Godlike as a) I like it  b) I know it c) i thought it would work for combat which was fast and furious. Difficult to judge how deadly it will – Godlike is quite unforgiving. I’ve thrown in some ‘talents’ to spice it up – one character is a psi-judge and the other has some potentially quite fun combat-y talents. There is a 1980s theme (it starts in a 20th century museum) which has meant i can indulge in a cheesy playlist as well.

Nerdcon19: speak friend and enter

[strikes staff on ground] “MELLON!”

In a little more than a month, the great stone doors of Nerdcon19 will swing open and assuming you are not grabbed by a big tentacle monster, you can step inside for a long weekend of gaming, fine wine and sea air.

Judge Dredd you say? What about classic 80s scenario Slaughter Margin? Plots, secret histories, serial killers…robodog shows? Oh yes. Can two disgraced judges solve the crime of the 22nd century and prove they ‘are the law’.

Hero Realms is also on offer. The first episode starts with a big fight in an inn with enthralled patrons eager to murder the newcomers. We are playing it in Selsey, home of West Sussex’s worst pubs – just sayin’.

Damon is hard at work with the glue to create a dazzling array of diminutive horror for Kingdom Death. Beasts from beyond the nightmare landscapes of the imagination – don’t worry, we’ll have rocks (one each).

Bar room brawl, 13th Age style. A pissed up ranger, half-orc assassin and a dwarf fighter with a chip on one shoulder and a big axe on the other. Time (for a fight) gentlemen.

Magic duel, 13th age style. Gnomes can be wizards – it says so in the rules. And humans can be clerics and Drow can be sorcerors. So that’s all right then…ready, steady, throw those spells.

God’s War is the huge Sandy Peterson board game (Cthulhu Wars with the Gods of Glorantha in the Runequest universe) which has being built in China for about 203 years after Kickstarter took my money. It should arrive by Christmas (they didnt say which christmas….)

Fine-ish wine has been ordered. Ocado are straining under the demand for ‘dry snacks’. Logs are stocked for some outside, fire-warmed drunkeness.

Buy an advance ticket and queue up outside or turn up on the door and waltz right in. What would Gandalf do?