Review: SSDC – No Man’s Land (Battlelords of the 23rd Century)


Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century: No Man’s Land
No Man’s Land is a supplement for the military sci-fi system Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century published by SSDC and written by Lawrence “The Condor” Sims, Doug Nelson, Benjamin Pierce, Louis Norton, Geoff Wheeler
By Aaron T. Huss

No Man’s Land is a valuable campaign sourcebook for Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century, fully detailing an entire sector of space. This sourcebook contains more than just maps and new planets. It details new races, groups, pirates, services, structures, planetary defenses, and of course sector maps and new planets. In addition to the obvious setting information, the new races offer more options and variety for player characters. What makes this book so valuable is the amount of source material covered throughout its pages. Each section contains an important piece of the sector including major groups to be encountered and full details of the different planets. If you’re going to enter this sector of space, you better have the right book to guide your way, and this is that book.

MAJOR GROUP ENCOUNTERS

No Man’s Land starts quite strongly with one of the most valuable groupings of source material during game-play. Major Group Encounters covers all the different groups, societies, (non-player) races, hostile archetypes (that can create encounters), and even political parties. Why is this so valuable? Because it gives the Battle Master (BM) a host of ideas to put into their adventures and campaigns for in-game encounters plus it provides a quick reference if your players opt to take unexpected paths. Each group is summarized along with added flavor text, giving the BM just enough information to add the group quickly. This prevents having to sift through multiple pages of content on a single group just to add them quickly. However, the drawback for this is the lack of details, but it does allow the BM to improvise. A total of 36 groups are detailed.

RACE EXPANSION

Race Expansion brings in 3 new player races into the system, providing the players with additional character creation options. Each one is properly detailed and described and include a pre-generated character. This is a good way of bringing players into this sector of space by adding player races inherent to the area, adding to player immersion.

WAYFARERS

Wayfarers takes a look at (space) pirates and all the mechanics and fluff surrounding them. This is a very extensive write-up which includes how players can become part of a pirate clan or what it would be like to encounter a pirate clan. In addition to the pirates, there’s a nice story about the lost Atlantis civilization and some speculation as to how they can be included in Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century.

SPACEPORT SERVICES

There are many things found at your average spaceport, more than just repairing the damage. Spaceport Services contains a great list of services and places with a variety of purposes during game-play. This includes simple refit or repair to more criminal-like services such as money laundering and DNA masking. This section does a great job of helping the players think outside of the box by giving them options they may not have otherwise known. While this helps the BM determine what the players may find, it really helps the players expand their gaming experience and take it to very interesting levels.

STRUCTURES

Structures is a small listing of facilities the BM can place throughout an adventure or campaign, giving the players either somewhere to go, such as a cloud city, a place to find parts, such as a ship’s graveyard, or a school to learn new matrix powers. There are nine such facilities total and each one is properly detailed and described.

PLANETARY DEFENSE

Planetary Defense takes a very detailed look at warfare on a massive scale. You get a nice look at the different types of planetary bases that could be available, the different types of space fleets, and the different types of ships involved. This is then broken into actual planetary weapons that range greatly in their support purpose with each one containing a proper description. There are total of 6 subjects addressed here.

SECTOR LAYOUT

The Sector Layout is the very high-level overview of the sector (in map format) and includes all the rules necessary to read the subsequent subsector pages. Anyone looking to design their own sector can use all of this content for source material and a platform for what options can be available for designing the different planets (such as population, government, gravity, etc…). This section is a lead-in to the follow-on chapters.

SUBSECTORS

No Man’s Land contains a detailed look at 4 different subsectors: The Industrial Province, The Denderon Hemisphere, The Plains of Desolation, and The Voidlands. Each one is properly mapped and each planet, object, or structure is properly defined and described including a brief description, listing of Major Group Encounters, Services available, Structures found within, and any Planetary Defenses. Obviously, this ties together all the previous sections into additional in-game content. While players wouldn’t really be interested in this (except maybe for character background), it’s extremely valuable for any BM.

OVERALL

No Man’s Land is a perfect blend of usable source and character material for players and source material and mechanics for Battle Masters. This new sector is filled with all types of additions to the game ranging from simple new races to powerful groups that can bring huge forces to bear. I highly recommend this book to every Battlelords player.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
No Man’s Land follows the traditional Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century layout, presentation, and overall quality. I’m a fan of the flow these publications follow and I like the illustrations placed in key locations and even random locations. There’s very little else to be said because it’s quite high quality and has the same look and feel as all other Battlelords publications I’ve read to date. While this may seem like a strange comment, it’s quite easy to read source material when it’s presented in a format you’ve seen before, and appreciated.

Considering only illustrations, this book does a great job focusing on the fact that it’s presenting you with new sector material with the 4 subsectors. The illustrations show lots of large, capital ships, and space structures that mix well with the new race illustrations and those sprinkled throughout that depict bits and pieces of the groups located throughout the sector. Overall it’s an excellent combination of well-placed illustrations.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
No Man’s Land is filled with mechanics, and they are all excellent! Not only do they cover the entire gambit of possible uses from simply adding new races to creating long-term campaigns that span multiple subsectors. Everything is presented in such a simple and easy-to-use way that the mechanics are only enhanced by how easy they are to find and use. But don’t think this book is all crunch, there is plenty of fluff as well especially when it comes to describing many of the groups that can be encountered.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
This book is all value. From crunch to fluff, you can use it all in virtually every single adventure and campaign within the sector and even those in additional sectors. The best value, however, is its designed variety. There’s information for pretty much everything and virtually any Battlelords player.

Overall: 10 out of 10
This is a must have sourcebook for Battlelords players and a definite need for Battle Masters. It’s filled with excellent source material, crunch, and fluff. No Man’s Land sets a definite standard on how to present new sectors and the variety of material that can be included.

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