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Battlelords of the 23rd century 7E.


Battlelords of the 23rd century. 7E.

This is going to be a hefty review for a couple reasons.

1. BL23C7E is a large product, a whopper of a game book tipping the scales at nearly 600 pages.

2. BL23C traces its way back to 1990 so have a fairly long history as a RPG.

If you are a BL fan from earlier editions, the skinny is that this is an improved, far more professionally done product that streamlines combat a bit, adds a few new rules, changes some background and drops some of the cruder humor that earlier editions had. (Ram Pythons no longer have rules for making chunga, for example.) If you liked earlier editions, the jump to this one is worth it. Yes most of your earlier material can be easily converted.

For those who came in late..

This is a massive game book that's long on rules. It has a slightly schizophrenic nature as it has a fairly simplistic setting that would seem better suited to a rules lite game like pathfinder or star frontiers.

The setting is a somewhat generic space opera, not hard SF in any way, that has elements of the usual corporate dystopian future with mega corps running most of the known universe, mercenaries used as pawns in their power plays, “life is cheap” settings, along with more civilized core worlds where struggles don't always involve open use of plasma armed power armored merc forces. A nice thing about this setting is a lot of popular sf themes can fit into it. Traveller style games, firefly like settings, cyberpunk, hammer's slammers, etc all can be fit into the somewhat loose BL setting easily. Also something like mass effect would be child's play to run in this.

But the ruleset in the game is what's called the “x150 system”, a percentile based one and has rules for almost everything. 30 years of player input, new editions, different companies and playtesting have generated rules to cover the vast majority of possible situations that can arise in a game, and they're all in here. Combat is complex, with various factors. The game also has a detailed set of rules for armor, with most armor having ablative absorption polymers that offer a lot of protection but are quickly chipped away. Combat can involve sensors, ECM/ECCM, drones, special “powers” called matrix use (A magic system basically).

If you have a lot of various dice types, you'll be glad to know BL uses almost all die types from d4 to d20, even tho is is a percentile based system. Why have all those cool dice types and a system that just uses one?

Combat in BL is DEADLY. Many players may start out with 8HP or less. Given the damage most weapons do and the fact you take critical damage each time you take ¼ of you HP in one shot you can have characters taking crits when they take 2 points damage.

The creator of BL, Lawrence Sims, was a real life military vet and always wanted his game to reflect the “shit just got real” feeling of real infantry combat. If you want to keep your character alive you'll spend a lot of time taking cover and assessing risks. Just like real combat.

You have options modern troops don't, tho. BRIs are basically healing potions in a syringe. You can have a Zen Rigeln medic heal you with a matrix, your armor can have automated medical functions and if all else fails your preserved head can be put in a 'hat box” to have a new body stuck under it.
BL does kind of avoid the 'transhuman" genre to a degree. But there are plenty of cybernetics and genetic engineering to go around.

The range of possible PCs in BL is panoramic, with over a dozen diverse alien species to choose from, some with sub factions. If you like the aliens in Mass Effect, which BL predates by a long shot, you'll probably be happy with the aliens in BL. (I would not be surprised in someone involved in ME was a BL player at one time.)

Chargen features the choice of rolling on some charts like “i was just growing up” and “finger of fate” that can really give you the finger. There are some nice results on each, along with results that can make you want you crippled, useless character to die so you can try again ASAP.

The gear list is beyond belief. There are likely at least 200 or more weapons of all types, with some unlike anything i've seen in any other SFRPG. (Gravitational shears, anyone?) Most are more relatable, laser, gauss and plasma weapons are available in a variety of sizes and configurations.
Armor options for on for pages and pages, with missile launchers, missile interceptors, shoulder mounted self tracking guns, antigrav modules, flux shields, jump packs, grav chutes, mine layers, stealth options, ECM/ECCM modules....It just goes on and on. Tony stark would drool in envy at the armor and options available in BL.

Matrix users (mages) are limited to 3 races each with hefty nerfs built in. Each one has over 100 powers to choose from. While you can play a matrix user from any species, the cost is very high and your powers are too limited to be worth it.

The game has rules for most situations, medical treatment, various injuries both physical and mental, vehicle combat and even a starship combat system.

When you buy the BL23C7E rules book you are getting a complete game. Reiterate: COMPLETE.

And that brings us to another major selling point of this game. Value. For a 25$ PDF you get really pretty much everything you are likely to need or want in a RPG. In terms of value for money this is a 10.

Now the PDF is not hyperlinked so you can't look up something in the index, then touch the -page number to go to it, you gotta scroll, scroll, scroll, etc.
There are a couple other points to consider.

BL was first released in 1990. There are a fair number of games with backgrounds that long or longer, and many have succumbed to a couple trends.
One is the dumbing down of rules to pull in the video gamer players. BL has definitely not gone that way, I assure you!
The other is the “woke” factor, which many people find annoying, irritating and in general to suck the fun out of games it gets into. BL has successfully made it's resistance rolls to avoid infection by this particular virus.

In sum, BL may be for you if:
You like crunchy rules with lots of detail, options and simulationist feel.
You like Mass Effect a lot and wish it had a RPG.
You like a fun setting that doesn't try to make a lot of deep, profound philosophical, moral or social points and beat you over the head with them,
You are not a fan of “woke”.

If you like quick, rules lite, beer and pretzels games, or games that go on about the meaning of life, social injustice, etc. and expect you to learn a new set of personal pronouns, do everyone a favor and stay away from BL.

Glitch post, ignore.

Unneeded post now that I can edit posts.

Any idea when a print version of the new edition of the rules might be released?


--- Quote from: Rhymer88 on April 26, 2022, 08:18:02 AM ---Any idea when a print version of the new edition of the rules might be released?

--- End quote ---


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