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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.

Duellist's Handbook

Heavy Gear

Dream Pod 9

127 Pages L??.??

The Duellist's Handbook takes Heavy Gear into the sometimes seedy world of Gear Duelling, where pilots fight in gladiatorial type events for honour and money. This sourcebook has all the usual high quality features that we have come to expect from Dream Pod 9 products, excellent layout and 'anime' style artwork which compliments the well thought out text. If any product is going to bridge the gap between the tactical and role-play side of the Heavy Gear game then this is it, these Duellist pilots have complex emotions that really do need to be explored to gain the most from a Duellist campaign.

Gear Duelling is an ancient and honourable act on Terra Nova, and a strict honour code has been drawn up regarding the fighting of a duel. With their roots firmly placed in military tradition even the commercial and underground duelling circuits have paid strict adherence to the code. Not all duels are lethal, however, and Dream Pod 9 have provided details of many different types of duels that can be fought. The role of the Duellist in Terra Novan society is fully explained, and the psyche of these troubled individuals will reward the efforts of good role-playing.

For me, chapter 6 is where the Duellist's Handbook really shines. It details 'The City of Trash' (aka Hhayr ad-Din) which has become the underground heart of the badlands and a haven for the illicit end of the Duelling circuit. Anyone serious about role-playing in the Heavy Gear universe is going to want to start a campaign in Hhayr ad-Din, it offers a heady mix of intrigue and deception, and encapsulates the badlanders struggle against the polar powers on Terra Nova. Dream Pod 9 have excelled themselves here, I hope that the upcoming Northern & Southern League Sourcebooks will do as much to flesh out the rather meagre description in the Terra Nova Sourcebook.

At the end of the book are provided updated rules for duelling scale games, some new gear designs and an imaginative selection of duelling weapons to fit to your Gears. There are some real gems here that fit the whole duelling theme very well indeed. This is probably the best selection of original new weapons to have appeared yet in a HG sourcebook.

Overall This product really links the two opposing themes of HG, tactical vs. role-play comes together at last. I am a little disappointed that Dream Pod 9 have not made more effort to expand the role-play combat system to better fit in Gear fights, relying as they have on a few minor rule changes to the existing tactical system. Regardless of your preference for role-play or tactical games, this product has something to please everyone.

Review by: David Crowhurst

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