Review: SSDC – Beyond the Rift (Battlelords of the 23rd Century)


Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century: Beyond the Rift
Beyond the Rift is a campaign setting and sourcebook for the military sci-fi system Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century written by Tony Oliveira and published by SSDC.
By Aaron T. Huss

Beyond the Rift is a new campaign setting for Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century that can be utilized instead as a standard sourcebook. It extends the Battlelords system to the Zenax galaxy filled with new alien species, new weapons and armor for those species, and new opportunities for action and adventure. Battle Masters who wish to keep their games within the default setting can instead use the new alien species as additional character creation options for their players. To top off the value of this book are new hand-to-hand combat rules that can be incorporated into every adventure and campaign, regardless if the new galaxy is used.

PLAYER’S SECTION

The bulk of Beyond the Rift is given to the sections designed for use by the players. This starts with SSDC’s standard descriptions and details of seven new alien races, all very unique from each other and those already available. Each one is accompanied by illustrations including ones that depict the different races wearing their armor.

Following the details of the new races are three chapters that correspond with the new races: Skills, Weapons and Equipment, and Matrices. These are to be expected as you need to properly outfit your new alien races along with using them with the applicable skills.

Following these chapters is a look at what life is like in the Zenax galaxy, from a player’s point-of-view (without some of those pesky behind-the-scenes details). From here you get to learn more about what makes the galaxy unique including some of its major locations, lost races, current events, and things to look out for. This helps the player understand what life in the Zenax galaxy is like as a greater whole without divulging the BMs secrets.

The player’s content section wraps-up with new, advanced hand-to-hand combat rules. This chapter is kind of a bonus as it can be applied to all games inside and out of Zenax and with or without the new alien races.

BATTLE MASTER’S SECTION

The Battle Master’s Section, while small, is a behind-the-scenes look at what is really going on throughout the galaxy. These are the secrets that the BM can use to create adventures and campaigns, incorporating all the previous content into a cohesive conglomeration of events, major and minor. There’s even information about how to bring the characters to the Zenax galaxy or how to launch a new campaign starting in the galaxy. This is what the BM needs to get the ball rolling.

OVERALL

It’s always exciting to pick-up a new game system and run a full campaign. But when you’re done, how do you run a second campaign without it being repetitious? Or, how do you run events that the players aren’t at least partially aware of what’s happening behind-the-scenes? I good answer to this is to move the campaign to a new setting, and that’s what Beyond the Rift helps you do. As-is, it can be used as a completely new setting. As an alternative, it can be used to present many new options for a new campaign within the previous setting. Beyond the Rift is a book that keeps subsequent campaigns from seeming mundane.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
As always, Beyond the Rift follows the same high standards of publication quality set forth by previous SSDC publications. They stick to their excellent layout and formatting with the standard styles of art that makes the other books look so great. The best illustrations are those of the new alien species so you know what they look like, even in armor.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
SSDC was an excellent job at making interesting and unique alien races. To make it even better, none of them look like humans. They all have their particular quirks and no two are truly alike. To coincide with all these new races, you get the full listing of everything a player would need to choose one of these species as a character. In addition, there are extensive, new rules for hand-to-hand combat to coincide with the prevalent martial arts of the various races. The only thing missing are mechanics concerning the space that is found beyond the rift. All of the descriptions are fluff-oriented and based on what’s going on with and between the different species. However, you don’t learn about the sizes of different planets, their physical appearance, distance between alien space, or things like that. However, a BM can still fill-in these details as they please.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
One thing that makes Beyond the Rift so valuable is that it’s primarily self-contained. Besides the core rules and major supplements, everything you need to add this new galaxy to your games is found within the book. Not only do you get all the standard mechanics for the new races, you also get all of their weapons, armor, combat mechanics, skills, and matrices. There is a lack of details concerning the setting as a whole, but you get a lot of valuable information that allows the BM to use the setting as they please. They simply fill in the rest using what data is contained within.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Beyond the Rift is a great campaign setting and sourcebook for those looking to add more options to their Battlelords games. You can give the players a change of pace by sending their characters to a new galaxy or simply offer them new races to choose from in an upcoming campaign. The book contains pretty much all the content you’ll need to incorporate all aspects of these new races along with providing the BM with loads of adventure seeds.

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