Review: SSDC – Galactic Underground (Battlelords of the 23rd Century)


Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century: Galactic Underground
Galactic Underground is a sourcebook for the military sci-fi / space opera system Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century published by SSDC and written by Lawrence R. Sims, Benjamin Pierce, and Doug Nelson.
By Aaron T. Huss

Galactic Underground is the first in a series of sourcebooks for Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century that presents the player (and Battle Master) with new options for character creation and during actual game-play. This includes new player races and a deeper look into the currently available races. This is, by far, a truly valuable sourcebook for players who are looking to create new, unique characters.

RACE EXPANSION

The Race Expansion chapter is actually two sections: new player races and current race source material. There are three new player races introduced here: Goola-Goola (Space Dwarves), Kizanti (humanoid warriors who hate the Phentari), and I-BOT (artificial men).
The Space Dwarves are a funny race filled with tinkers and mechanics who like to “fix” things, or at least they think they can fix things. Kizanti are another, fairly standard warrior race. I-BOTs are supernatural (pretty much superhuman) artificial men with major drawbacks if they become wounded (it costs big bucks to fix an I-BOT). These are great additions to the system.

The second section contains two parts of source material for Eridani and Phentari players. The Eridani source material details a warriors training from a young age throughout many years of focus. These different training levels are designed to add flavor, background, and depth to Eridani players which can be used as background for character creation or additional training during campaign play. The second part is in the form of an interview/journal from a Phentari taking a look at their innermost thoughts and feelings (toward many different issues). Again this can be used as background for character creation or as flavor during campaign play.

CHARACTER BACKGROUND

Character background introduces a number of optional backgrounds and various flavor mechanics for use during character creation. This includes: Starting Age (along with age modifiers), Skin Color, Skin Texture, Eye Features & Color, two I Was Just Growing Up tables, a Fickle Finger of Fate table, a Warrior’s Fortune table, a Matrix Controller’s Fortune table, and a Spy Fortune table. While these are all optional, they definitely add a lot of flavor to your characters during creation.

SKILLS EXPANSION

Skills Expansion is pretty much that, additional skills and skill specialties. In traditional Battlelords fashion, each one is fully described and properly detailed.

MATRIX EXPANSION

As with Skills Expansion, Matrix Expansion is fairly self-explanatory. It contains a number of new matrices covering all types. Each one is fully described and properly detailed.

STANDARD OF LIVING

Standard of Living is possibly one of my favorite chapters as it details how your character lives outside of their Battlelord activities. This includes a wealth of new mechanics including: Customer Credit Index (ability to get loans and credit cards), Employment Index (salary), Credit Cards, Your Abode, Your Neighborhood, and Your Neighbors Occupation. With many fantasy games taking a look at building kingdoms, why can’t a space opera adventurer live in a high-rise condo with a pool? These optional rules and mechanics are fantastic!

OVERALL

There’s very little more to say overall. If you’re a player looking for more options, Galactic Underground has lots of new options and is highly recommended. If you don’t care for new options, then you don’t really need it. However, there are some new player races to choose from and if you don’t pick this book up, you’ll never know who they are…

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century line always exhibits a great layout, presentation and ease of use. They continue integrating wonderful illustrations. Some of these are full-page and really catch the eye. Everything about Galactic Underground is so simple and yet high-quality. Another easy-to-read publication with loads of potential.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Galactic Underground is all about mechanics, and it covers quite the array of them. This includes new player races, background flavor, new skills, new matrix powers, and standard of living mechanics. It really covers the gambit of game-play from the first time you crack open a book to a long lasting campaign where you build your own abode. Other than some of the flavor descriptions for Eridani and Phentari, pretty much all the source material carries some form of in-game mechanics.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Galactic Underground carries a wealth of value. This is due to the variety of source material and the amount of new options presented. Not only are these new options valuable, but they’re an integral part of the system while still remaining optional. This means that players and BMs can opt to use them or not. They seemingly do not cause balance issues within the system and thus allow players to choose what they want to use and if they actually want to use it.

Overall: 10 out of 10
There’s little to say other than this is a fantastic addition to Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century, as long as you’re interested in new options. If you just want to stick with the standard character options, then this book really isn’t necessary. This is a plus though because if one player uses it, another is not forced to use it. The premises of the Galactic Underground series of sourcebooks starts out on the right foot.

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