Release [Chaosium] Basic Roleplaying: Universal Game Engine—7 changes in the new edition

Michael O'Brien

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Basic Roleplaying: Universal Game Engine is available now in PDF! While this updated edition features new art and a brand new full-color layout, here BRP creative director Jason Durall highlights seven changes from the previous iterations of BRP that we believe makes this the best edition of Basic Roleplaying to date!

1. General improvements to the text​

While a decade may not seem that long, the TTRPG space has changed a lot in the 10+ years since the last edition of Basic Roleplaying was published. As such, the text has undergont a big update, including a lot of rewriting for clarity and consistency, as well as a focus on the use of direct language. The text was also edited for brevity.

In some instances, entire rules were completely rewritten for clarity's sake (looking at you, Encumbrance!) and others tweaked to make sure their usage was more clear (such as with the Augment mechanic).

This also includes some core terminology changes. Damage Bonus is now Damage Modifier, and the Appearance (APP) Characteristic has been changed back to Charisma (CHA), to bring it more into line with the original Basic Roleplaying rules set.

We also cut back on unnecessary extra mathematics, so there are no longer any rules that require you to calculate 1/4th of a skill (those rules have now been changed to 1/5th, a much more commonly derived number in BRP).

The text has also been rewritten to be more player-facing. Instead of “the player”, it’s “you”, and instead of “the gamemaster”, it’s “your gamemaster”. For sections specific to the gamemaster, the text shifts to “you” being the gamemaster.

2. Changes to powers and general streamlining​

While many powers in Basic Roleplaying: Universal Game Engine might be familiar, most of them have undergone tweaks and changes. Care was taken to streamline the powers, as well as removing as many subsequent and sometimes unnecessary rolls (such as “If the D100 roll for the power succeeds, roll another D100 to see if X happens, then a resistance roll, etc.”).

Text of core rules was also smoothed out to remove any superfluous detail, such as removing unnecessary explanations of what common animals are.

3. Simplified core combat rules​

This edition of Basic Roleplaying has seen the removal of Strike Ranks (a core combat mechanic used in RuneQuest), along with splitting attack and parry into separate weapon skills that had to be tracked separately. Strike Ranks in the prior edition of BRP were not as well implemented as they are in RuneQuest, and feedback on splitting attacks and parries lead us to the conclusion that the rule itself was not particularly useful. As it is not easily supported on the basic character sheet, it seemed an easy thing to remove.

4. Simplified Sanity Rules​

The Sanity mechanic in previous editions of BRP was derived directly from Chaosium’s own Call of Cthulhu. As such, the Sanity rules were very specific to a modern horror setting, with terms and terminology based on modern psychiatric practice, which didn’t gel with the level of universality we want for Basic Roleplaying. Sanity in this edition of BRP is simplified in order to have the mechanic make sense across all settings and time periods.

[And while we're talking about Call of Cthulhu, the rules changes specific to Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition address and improve the play experience for horror roleplaying, pitting human characters against unfathomable evil. Those rules are balanced and scaled for the human experience. Basic Roleplaying, on the other hand, is a multi-genre rules system with a toolkit of optional rules to customize play with characters ranging from Bronze Age adventurers to galactic superheroes. Many of the rules changes unique to Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition do not scale beyond the human level.

Other Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition rules are also parallel, redundant, or even contrary to certain optional or core Basic Roleplaying rules. Short of a full rewrite of BRP to integrate them (and draw BRP away from being a middle ground), the difficult decision was made to make those rules unique to the Call of Cthulhu gameplay experience.]

5. Gender-neutral pronouns​

As part of our ongoing mission to make our games as inclusive as possible, all instances of “he or she” from previous editions of BRP have been updated to “they.”

6. Introduction of new mechanics​

Basic Roleplaying: Universal Game Engine sees the inclusion of the Reputation and Passion mechanics. These allow gamemasters and designers to add a layer to the experience with social standing, a mechanical measure of trust amongst different in-game factions or individuals, as well as mechanizing key character story elements and backgrounds with Passions.

7. Updates to general roleplaying advice​

For a long time, it was expected that a TTRPG rules manual would include extensive explanation of what a roleplaying game is. Because the hobby has exploded over the last decade, we’ve dramatically reduced the amount of text dedicated to beginner content (such as “how to find a group” and “how do you sit around a table?”). However, attention has been paid to advice for using Basic Roleplaying with Virtual Table Tops and Online Play.

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And those are the seven major changes you’ll find in this edition of Basic Roleplaying: Universal Game Engine! The book is available in PDF right now from and DriveThruRPG with the hardcover to follow later in 2023!

Remember—when you purchase direct from you get the cost of the PDF deducted from the physical book when is out.
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