I considered filling this lede with as many revolution jokes as word count would allow. I decided against doing that. Revolution D100 is the latest entry into the already busy marketplace of percentile-based games inspired by the various works from the history of Chaosium and derived from the SRDs that Mongoose Publishing has released upon the world. Published by Alephtar Games, Revolution D100 is a multi-genre system akin to the wonderfully robust Big Gold Book (the fan nickname for the generic Basic Roleplaying Game (BRP) book published by another incarnation of Chaosium a few years back, and compiled and designed by Jason Durall and Sam Johnson).
The idea behind the Big Gold Book and Revolution D100 is that these rules are robust, and can handle a variety of different genres…so why not just make a generic rulebook that can handle all of these genres rather than a series of games that are similar in some ways, and different in others? Why not, indeed.
If you aren't familiar with Alephtar Games, they were a long time third party licensee with the previous incarnation of Chaosium to make a variety of supplements to the Big Gold Book. Alephtar Games did some really good work, expanding the BRP rules in new and exciting directions. Their Merrie England and Dragon Lines books did some good stuff. Once the licensing arrangements ended, Alephtar Games decided to take the D100 SRD and create their own game to support. That means that my expectations for Revolution D100 would be high.
Let me start with the things that I didn't like about the game. If you have been reading my reviews one thing that you will know is that I like simple and uncomplicated, particularly in combat. The combat of Revolution D100 is neither simple nor uncomplicated, unfortunately. Once you start bringing Strike Ranks (the way that a lot of BRP games handle initiative, which is a gross oversimplification but it gets enough of the point across) into games, things can get complex quickly and the Revolution D100 seems intent to make these things more complicated.
The "basic combat," which is a bit of a misnomer, introduces Resolution Points, which fluctuate during combat, as the basis of your character's Strike Ranks. This means that who attacks when can potentially change when ever damage is taken. The basic combat is a more abstract way of combat that seems to influenced by how the HeroQuest role-playing game resolves conflicts. I think that it could have been better suited to be labeled as "narrative combat" rather than basic, because of the abstraction.
Of the two options, this is the simpler method for handling combat, you just to be cognizant of what happens in play and remember that as resolution points change, so will strike ranks. Outside of that, basic combat is simpler than advanced combat.
The advanced combat rules are more in line with what people are used to with a BRP-derived combat system. In some places there do seem to be some D20 third edition concepts that have crept into the game, giving the Revolution D100 rules a bit more of a tactical crunch than you might find in similar D100 SRD derived games like OpenQuest or Renaissance. The nice thing is that if you have been looking for more tactical crunch in your games, the similarity of BRP-derived games make it easier to move ingredients from one game to another.
If you like more crunch in your games, then these, obviously, won't be drawbacks for you.
Another ongoing problem with the game is that it sometimes can take a couple of readings to get the comprehension of the rules down. English isn't the native language of the designers and that leads to some awkward or stilted phrasings that can cause a stumbling over understanding. An editorial pass by a native English speaker could have really strengthened this game. This is important when companies do a game in languages that aren't their native ones, regardless of what those may be.
Character creation in Revolution D100 is robust, with plenty of options. The designers streamlined the skill system down to a list of fifteen skills, but then added options called traits to the skills to expand what each skill can do. Traits are narrative hooks that give your character's skills bonuses and extra options. They are a great work around for people who are concerned about the whiff factor that you can sometimes get with starting characters in BRP games. I know that it has been a concern of players in games that I have run with various BRP rules over the years.
The magic systems of arcane and divine magic that fans of games derived from Runequest are in these rules, plus there as a robust set of power creation rules available and rules for psionics. Everything that you might need for "powered" games is available in these rules. The rules for this are simple, and should be familiar to previous users of games set in super worlds.
Like with the basic combat I discussed earlier, traits are another way that the designers have attempted to integrate the streams of the BRP rules from Runequest with the more narratively driven rules of HeroQuest. Both rulesets were designed with the intent of letting gamers explore the world of Glorantha, but fans of one are not often fans of the other. In this post story-games world, I like to see games that draw upon not just the design ideas of the sold-called "traditional" games, but the narratively driven games as well. It worked well for Dungeons & Dragons 5E to acknowledge and draw upon narrative mechanics, and it will work for other games as well. Honestly, this is one thing that I love about the design of Revolution D100. The motivations for characters also draw more upon HeroQuest ideas.
The main problem that I think that Revolution D100 will face is that, thanks to the return of the new Chaosium and because of the core of the BRP rules being out and available through the D100 SRD, the marketplace for BRP and BRP-derived games is getting extremely busy. Honestly, as a long time BRP fan, this is something that I never thought that I would see, and I never thought that it would be a bad thing. The trouble is that a crowded marketplace means that it is harder and harder to get attention for your product, and if the market is a smaller one that means that it is carved up thinner and thinner. Alephtar Games does have the cache of having been a successful third party publisher for Chaosium, and every little bit helps out.
This is where it is important to smooth out the bumps in a game. I think that Revolution D100 can be a contender if the publishers do things like give the game an edit for clarity. There is a really good game in there that can rise to the top of the crowded market, with a few fixes. There really isn't an in print generic implementation of the BRP rules currently available. The Big Gold Book is available in PDF, but unless there are some copies from the original press run out in distribution it isn't in stores. Getting into game stores could give Revolution D100 a big advantage. There are a lot of BRP games focused on fantasy (D101 Games' excellent OpenQuest and Chaosium's originator of Runequest), a few science fiction games, and a couple of horror games (Chaosium's groundbreaking Call of Cthulhu and Arc Dream Publishing's innovative Delta Green), which would (hopefully) mean that there is an unexplored niche for a generic ruleset.
If you already have a preferred BRP-derived ruleset, there are still a number of things that the Revolution D100 rules can offer up. The powers and psionics rules can add a new dimension to your games. There is also a number of creatures and options that are derived from a series of famous books that are derived from a famous series of books set upon Mars that features warlords and princesses. If you have a settingless ruleset that you are looking for setting material for, then Revolution D100 can help out with that too.