Grade the Basic Roleplaying System

How do you feel about the Basic Role-Playing (BRP) System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 22 22.0%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 40 40.0%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 22 22.0%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 3 3.0%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 13 13.0%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%


Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Have you used the Basic Role-Playing (BRP) System (or RuneQuest System, as it's sometimes called) for your tabletop roleplaying games? If you've ever played RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Hawkmoon, Ringworld, Nephilim, Superworld, or Other Suns, you've probably used this system. Wikipedia says the following about it:

"Basic Role-Playing (BRP) is a tabletop role-playing game which originated in the RuneQuest fantasy role-playing game. Chaosium released the BRP standalone booklet in 1980 in the boxed set release of the second edition of RuneQuest. Greg Stafford and Lynn Willis are credited as the authors. Chaosium used the percentile skill-based system as the basis for most of their games, including Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, and Elfquest.​
BRP is similar to other generic systems such as GURPS, Hero System, or Savage Worlds in that it uses a simple resolution method which can be broadly applied. BRP uses a core set of seven characteristics: Size, Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Power, and Appearance or Charisma. From those, a character derives scores in various skills, expressed as percentages. These skill scores are the basis of play. When attempting an action, the player rolls percentile dice trying to get a result equal to or lower than the character's current skill score. Each incarnation of the BRP rules has changed or added to the core ideas and mechanics, so that games are not identical. For example, in Call of Cthulhu, skills may never be over 100%, while in Stormbringer skills in excess of 100% are within reach for all characters. Scores can increase through experience checks, the mechanics of which vary in an individual game."

BRP treats armor and defense as separate functions: the act of parrying is a defensive skill that reduces an opponent's chance to successfully land an attack, and the purpose of armor is to absorb damage.​
The last major element of many BRP games is that there is no difference between the player character race systems and that of the monster or opponents. By varying ability scores, the same system is used for a human hero as a troll villain. This approach allows for players to play a wide variety of non-human species.​

As I've said before in the other threads, the D20 System is the undeniable favorite for tabletop RPGs today, but there are plenty of options out there for those who don't like D20 or might be looking for something different. My goal in these little surveys is to highlight the different systems and options available to tabletop fans...I certainly don't want to bash anyone's favorites. So! If you've used the Basic Role-Playing System, I'd really like to hear about your experience. What did you like/dislike about it? What games did you play? And if you've never played it or one of the many successful games that use it, what's stopping you? I'll collect everyone's votes and give the system a "grade" from A+ to F, just for fun.

Grade: B
Of those who voted, 100% have heard of it and 89% have played it.
Of those who have played it: 25% love it, 46% like it, 25% are lukewarm, 4% dislike it, and 0% hate it.

The "grade" is calculated as follows:
  • Votes from people who have not played it will not affect the grade.
  • "I love it" votes are worth 4 points. The highest score, comparable to an "A" vote.
  • "It's pretty good" votes are worth 3 points. The equivalent of a "B" vote.
  • "It's alright I guess" votes are worth 2 points. This is your basic "C" vote.
  • "It's pretty bad" votes are worth 1 point. This is considered a "D" vote.
  • "I hate it" votes are worth 0 points. The lowest score, considered an "F" vote.

The grading formula:
GPA = Σ(PiVi)

GPA = "grade-point average," the grading score used in the Key below.​
Vi = percentage of votes in each category (Love, Like, Meh, Dislike, or Hate)​
Pi = corresponding score for that category (4, 3, 2, 1, or 0)​

Over 3.75 = A+
3.51 to 3.75 = A
3.26 to 3.50 = A-
3.01 to 3.25 = B+
2.76 to 3.00 = B
2.51 to 2.75 = B-
2.26 to 2.50 = C+
1.76 to 2.25 = C
1.51 to 1.75 = C-
1.26 to 1.50 = D+
1.01 to 1.25 = D
0.75 to 1.00 = D-
Under 0.75 = F
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Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
This is one of my favorite systems. I've never played RuneQuest or ElfQuest, but I've been a regular player of Call of Cthulhu for the better part of 30 years. The percentile-based skill system is the most elegant and straightforward way to handle most aspects of roleplaying, in my opinion.
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I'm the first person to vote "It's alright I guess." I don't mind using it for Call of Cthulhu, but I've got no desire at all to try to use it for any other game no matter the genre. It's not a horrible system, it's alright after all, but it doesn't do a whole lot to wow me. It's functional, which is more than I can say about Cyborg Commando.


Another ‘alright’ vote from me. It’s a pretty easy system for Cthulhu (played lots of that) as there is little combat, and that aspect of BRP is where a lot of the complexity lives in my experience. I’ve only played a little fantasy BRP (mainly Stormbringer) but I’ve looked a lot at the ‘modern’ RQ iterations and the complexity is comparable to GURPS in my opinion; since I have a good understanding of that system there feels little incentive to learn RQ6 / Mythras.

For me personally I find a weak point in the system is handling non-human PCs. For a genre agnostic system, lacking a detailed system (specifically a system, not just ‘GM decides’ with no mechanism for balancing) for making non-human PCs seems an omission. Other people seem happy with this - vive la differance.

Pretty much for any game where BRP is the base, I would sub-in GURPS as a comparable system if I was going to run that campaign.


Front Range Warlock
It's pretty good. I think where it falls apart somewhat are case-specific rules which, IMO, tend to make things more complex for the sake of complexity in many (but not all) instances. This is more obvious to me in the grounded instances of BRP (e.g. CoC's various firearms rules). I've actually written a BRP clone (Open Basic) that was very recently translated into French by a fan, so it's safe to say that I like it quite a bit.

I've played quite a bit of RuneQuest 2 (with additions from RQ3) and CoC, including using CoC for non-Cthulhu Victorian horror. It plays OK, but the skill advancement mechanism can be frustrating if you fail to make your rolls to learn, or roll very low on the amount you learn. GURPS seems to work better on those points.

No strong feelings in either direction (so another "alright" vote). Pretty straight-forward when everybody plays humans as in CoC; not that intuitive when you have fantasy-beings like Giants, Ogers and Dragons (however, if we consider WFRP 4e as a "BRP-ish" game, I remember finding the solution presented there at least workable).
Specifically looking at CoC, I like that there's mainly the skills and not a dozen talents/feats that affect task resolution. My main complaint would be that the skill list should be condensed a bit. And starting characters could be a bit more competent. But generally it's fine.


I think it's pretty good. Back in the day, I ran a lot of BRP (Runequest 2nd, Elfquest, Stormbringer and Elric, CoC). I've also run Mythras stuff. That said, I haven't run BRP by itself, though I have the BGB, and now have the UGE in my hands. I'm currently running a campaign in Savage Worlds which is going well, but I think when this is done in six months I'll switch to something in BRP. I like the "grittier" feel; I know you can emulate this in SW, but I feel BRP just gets it right. I'm also realizing I don't really like Feats/Edges/Talents or whatever they're called in various games. Passions are right up my alley, and being able to model certain social things with a percentile list (like Politics in a Rome game or Status in many others) is something I can really convey easily and set up on the fly if needed. I also hate, HATE, counting money in games (and this is where Mythras can lose me); BRP defaults to not doing that, which I appreciate. If they just had a mass combat system, all would be well (as it is, I will adapt SW's).


I gave it an "it's ok" vote. It's easy to explain to players for a one-shot/con game, runs alright, and is generally agreeable. It's impressive how agreeable considering it's age and the time period in which it was developed. A lot of games of similar age have just garbage rules.

Due to its age, there's stuff I'm not a huge fan of. The obscure skills in various games can be annoying. There's not great advice when and where to make skill checks so players dump points into skills they think they'll need rather than what is narratively interesting.

Some of the spot rules add needless unfun complexity. They're not obviously unfun until you're in the game trying to use them and there's not good advice for handling situations where you're ignoring various spot rules.

That's been my experience. I haven't run or played years-long campaigns with BRP games. My dislikes might just be parts of the game being not a great fit for one-shots.


Front Range Warlock
Some of the spot rules add needless unfun complexity. They're not obviously unfun until you're in the game trying to use them and there's not good advice for handling situations where you're ignoring various spot rules.

Spot rules are absolutely my biggest issue with the system. Some of them are simply just incongruent with the system's stated mission of being "basic" in application. I usually just ignore them. But you're right - there often isn't good advice given for doing so.

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