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Chaosium Releases Basic Role Playing SRD

Chaosium has released the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document (SRD).

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The Basic Roleplaying SRD is based on Basic Roleplaying, the simple, fast, and elegant skill-based percentile system that is the core of most Chaosium roleplaying games, including Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, SuperWorld, and others.

Under the provisions of the Basic Roleplaying Open Game License (OGL), designers can create their own roleplaying games using the Basic Roleplaying rules engine, royalty-free and without further permission from Chaosium Inc.

For further details and to download the SRD document, see our Basic Roleplaying SRD information page.

This uses an opening gaming license, but not THE Open Gaming License (the commonly used one published by WotC nearly 20 years ago). It is based on similar concepts, but this uses the BRP Open Game License. A notable difference is that instead of "Product Identity") (which in the original license typically includes trademarks, proper names, a handful of iconic monsters, etc.), this license used "Prohibited Content" which expands that to include mechanics, or "substantially similar" mechanics to some selected features of the rules system. For example, part of the prohibited list includes:

"Augments: The use of one ability — whether skill or characteristic — to augment another ability of the same or a different type, in a manner substantially similar to those of the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha rules."

Obviously you can make similar mechanics without using this license, but if you use this license you agree not to use mechanics similar to those in the prohibited content list.

The prohibited content list also contains Le Morte D'Arthur, and the Cthulhu Mythos.
 
Last edited:
Russ Morrissey

Comments






Von Ether

Adventurer
Someone is going to have their work cut out for them since all of the BRP magic systems are prohibited (and the post seems to have changed from last night to further explain that.)

On the other hand, a purely historical game is totally doable.
 


Jer

Adventurer
I don't get it. Unless there's some necessary requirement for them to have an SRD for the "community" sites on DriveThru I don't see what they gain by doing this and I don't see what another publisher gains from taking advantage of it. It's like Chaosium still doesn't believe in the benefits of open gaming but have seen everyone else open up their engines and they're taking a half-hearted stab at doing the same?
 

oknazevad

Explorer
Yeah, looking at the license and the SRD content this is essentially useless. If you use any of it you have to slap that logo on your book, "prominently", regardless of how little you actually use. And let's be frank, between the paucity of content in the SRD and the plethora of restrictions in the prohibited content list, there's so little anyone can or would use. Probably the only aspect that is actually distinctly useful is getting the classic resistance table actually under some sort of license (though as a purely mechanical aspect it's probably not copyright eligible in the first place). But again, if you use one thing then you can't use anything similar to the stuff on the prohibited content list and have to put their logo on both the front and back of the book.

And it's not like there aren't already truly open licensed d100 games out there. Both Mongoose editions of RuneQuest (the second under its post-license name of Legend) and OpenQuest (which used the first Mongoose edition's SRD to cover its legal basis) are already out there under the full, true OGL. Those give, without burdensome restrictions and glaring omissions, more than sufficient material to make a d100 game that is truly open.

So the real question is "why bother?" Between a useless SRD and the least open open license I've ever seen, what do they hope to accomplish? It's truly too little (content), and too late (there's already suitable functionally equivalent alternatives).
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
Yeah, looking at the license and the SRD content this is essentially useless. If you use any of it you have to slap that logo on your book, "prominently", regardless of how little you actually use. And let's be frank, between the paucity of content in the SRD and the plethora of restrictions in the prohibited content list, there's so little anyone can or would use. Probably the only aspect that is actually distinctly useful is getting the classic resistance table actually under some sort of license (though as a purely mechanical aspect it's probably not copyright eligible in the first place). But again, if you use one thing then you can't use anything similar to the stuff on the prohibited content list and have to put their logo on both the front and back of the book.

And it's not like there aren't already truly open licensed d100 games out there. Both Mongoose editions of RuneQuest (the second under its post-license name of Legend) and OpenQuest (which used the first Mongoose edition's SRD to cover its legal basis) are already out there under the full, true OGL. Those give, without burdensome restrictions and glaring omissions, more than sufficient material to make a d100 game that is truly open.

So the real question is "why bother?" Between a useless SRD and the least open open license I've ever seen, what do they hope to accomplish? It's truly too little (content), and too late (there's already suitable functionally equivalent alternatives).

I am not sure, but I heard that a licence is still a licence and that eventually Mongoose may lose that licence and thus making its SRD null and void at that point.

Or is this a very awkward way of making folks do a top to bottom reskin of magic mechanics they want to use and ensure the 3pp doesn't appropriate CoC and Golathra (which are covered under a community content program anyway.)
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
"The Basic Roleplaying SRD is based on Basic Roleplaying, the simple, fast, and elegant skill-based percentile system that is the core of most Chaosium roleplaying games, including Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, SuperWorld, and others."

Yet reading the current versions of Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest, we can see that their respective systems are now much more convoluted and complicated than the original ruleset. Hmmmmm....
 

foolcat

Villager
Straight from the horse‘s mouth, Chaosium doesn’t want re-skins or retro versions of their games published by third parties under their own BRP OGL. So no BRP-based Holler of Hastur 5.5, ever. Which is understandable, because it lies in the very nature of an OGL that it’s up for grabs by anyone, no questions asked.

Regarding the game mechanics that also fall under the Prohibited Content clause, it’s exactly about that: mechanics. For example, Mythras has rules for passions and skill augmentations (mainly through said passions) as well, but they work differently than their namesakes in RuneQuest: Glorantha. So for all intends and purposes, you‘re allowed to graft rules for passions and skill augmentations that are “substantially similar“ to those of Mythras onto your BRP OGL-based product, but not those that are a copy in all but words of the ones found in RQ:G. Or just invent your own and have fun balancing them.

The SRD being so slim isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Anything that’s in the BGB and doesn’t fall under the PC clause may be used as inspiration as is seen fit. You want hit locations with their own HP, strike ranks instead of DEX ranks, skill groups which are modified by attribute bonuses, or default skill values determined by reigning attributes instead of a flat number? Go right ahead. You may even lift the Bonus and Penalty Dice rule staight out of CoC7 and call it, let’s see, Advantage/Disadvantage (where have I seen this before?).
 

Dreamscape

Crafter of fine role-playing games
The only reason to use this is if you want to display the BRP logo.

I am not sure, but I heard that a licence is still a licence and that eventually Mongoose may lose that licence and thus making its SRD null and void at that point.
Some people may like to spread rumours about that but the WotC OGL is not ambiguous. Once something is published as open content, it stays open content in perpetuity.
 

Michael Dean

Explorer
The only reason to use this is if you want to display the BRP logo.

Some people may like to spread rumours about that but the WotC OGL is not ambiguous. Once something is published as open content, it stays open content in perpetuity.
I don't think he was talking about WOTC's OGL.
 

It would be good if it was based on the Big Gold Book. As it is it's less than 20 pages of a very bare-bones percentile system and 2 pages of a whole lot of restrictive clauses. Better off writing your own.
The Basic Roleplaying SRD is a basic framework, and the BRP OGL explicitly allows derivative works. For example, you can add such things as hit locations, add your own magic system, psychic powers, rock god songs, archetypes, funky mechanics, psychonautical exploration mechanics, alchemy rules, spell systems based on the Sefirot or talking to angels through crystals - whatever, go for it.

The SRD being so slim isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Anything that’s in the BGB and doesn’t fall under the PC clause may be used as inspiration as is seen fit. You want hit locations with their own HP, strike ranks instead of DEX ranks, skill groups which are modified by attribute bonuses, or default skill values determined by reigning attributes instead of a flat number? Go right ahead.
Correct, you are welcome to add literally anything to it as long as you avoid Prohibited Content (and avoid infringing others' copyright).

Straight from the horse‘s mouth, Chaosium doesn’t want re-skins or retro versions of their games published by third parties under their own BRP OGL. So no BRP-based Holler of Hastur 5.5, ever. Which is understandable, because it lies in the very nature of an OGL that it’s up for grabs by anyone, no questions asked.
Yes, the SRD was not released to help facilitate creating retroclones of existing Chaosium games, it's for people to publish their own original creations, settings, games, and unique ideas using the BRP system.
 


yojimbouk

Explorer
I am not sure, but I heard that a licence is still a licence and that eventually Mongoose may lose that licence and thus making its SRD null and void at that point.

Or is this a very awkward way of making folks do a top to bottom reskin of magic mechanics they want to use and ensure the 3pp doesn't appropriate CoC and Golathra (which are covered under a community content program anyway.)
As far as I can interpret from what Chaosium have said, their beef with the Mongoose RQ SRD was that it included items (such as Gloranthan IP) which were licensed to them for a specified period, and, thus, Mongoose were not in a position to perpetually sub license them under the WotC OGL. This could possibly include all names derived from the original Chaosium RuneQuest, such as attributes and spell names.

However, the situation is somewhat muddied. First, Mongoose devised a new game based upon the previous systems so they have some ownershis of the MRQ system. Second, Chaosium appeared to have approved some games derived from the MRQ SRD (in so far as not raising objections when approached by the publisher), such as OpenQuest.

It seems that really what Chaosium are trying to stop is someone producing Call of Cthulhu or Pendragon clones. However, with Community Created Content programs, I don’t see this being as much of a problem.
 


Sunsword

Adventurer
As far as I can interpret from what Chaosium have said, their beef with the Mongoose RQ SRD was that it included items (such as Gloranthan IP) which were licensed to them for a specified period, and, thus, Mongoose were not in a position to perpetually sub license them under the WotC OGL. This could possibly include all names derived from the original Chaosium RuneQuest, such as attributes and spell names.

However, the situation is somewhat muddied. First, Mongoose devised a new game based upon the previous systems so they have some ownershis of the MRQ system. Second, Chaosium appeared to have approved some games derived from the MRQ SRD (in so far as not raising objections when approached by the publisher), such as OpenQuest.
OpenQuest 3 will be released outside of the OGL its been using from what I understan.

The other thing to mention is that you can't trademark game systems.

If I want a horror game with a d100 and I choose to use "Mental Health" instead of "Sanity" and I avoid the Mythos elements that they have rights too, can they do anything about that?

I think what bothers me is that I understand their concerns but I'd rather them focus on pushing product out the door. I know they have to protect their IP or risk losing it, but this the same company that published Elric/Stormbringer while Moorcock was pissed they were using it and I believe Matthew Sprange of Mongoose was the one to solve things between Moorcock and Chaosium. They need to be careful that they don't end up being viewed the way 90s era TSR and Palladium are.
 

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