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%

aramis erak

Legend
Right, but I think counting "descent" past the generic BRP is problematic (except for new editions of the same game). Pendragon is certainly later than Call of Cthulhu, but I wouldn't consider it a descendant as much as a sibling.
The early BRP is probably not the precursor for most of the 80's Chaosium games, except WoW. Why? Because most of their 80's games have some of the rules from CoC, and the later (1984) RQ3, that were left out of BRP & WoW... But not all picking the the same ones....

Several of them use 2d6+6 for Size and Intelligence; RQ 1e/2e don't, RQ 3E does. So does ElfQuest. IIRC, so did CoC; In know the 21st century versions do. Ringworld uses 2d6+6 for all atts for humans from non-high/low Gravity worlds...

Note that modern BRP cores are much closer to RQ (at least to 3rd ed) than was 1980 BRP to RQ 1E, 2E, or 3E.
The Success classes table is on page 384 of the 2010 edition, labeled 2nd edition.

The original BRP booklet was 16 pages plus cover. It uses straight dex to determine initiative, not Strike Ranks.
It does keep the special success/impale, but has no crits nor fumbles. All atts 3d6. No damage modifier
11 Weapon skills, 9 common skills, no species.
(1981 printing, labeled 3rd edition.)
There's really not much there... it's a VERY shortened set of rules, perfectly suited to the rules-light simulationist space... :p
 

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aramis erak

Legend
About the only thing that HeroWars/Quest has in common with RQ is that it defaults to Glorantha.
And the scaling of skills, the extensive use of opposed rolls, the use of both relationships and personality elements as ability scores, rolled against in the same manner as skills...

Yeah, core combat is VERY different, save that opposed rolls are the primary method of resolution. But that is carried forward into all conflicts, not just ones of martial nature.

When teaching it to the roommate at the time it came out, he kept making direct comparisons to Pendragon.
It's also not pure Robin Laws - it's Greg and Robin together.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I voted "It's okay" but at one time I'd have voted higher. Its a very intuitive system that with the right add-ons can cover a lot of ground.

That said, in many respects its not the tool for the job the way I think of it these days; its a big linear die roll, it tends to lack some tools for character definition, and it really, really wants to lean in to the gritty end of things in general.
 

Ulfgeir

Hero
I am somewhere between I love it, and Pretty good.

It is a simple system that doesn't get in the way of playing. Though I prefer the approach taken in The Troubleshooters to that of many other games with too long skill lists.

I love Call of Cthulhu, and it is a game I have played a lot.

BRP (and a d20-derivate version of it with roll low) has a long legacy here in Sweden, as the first Swedish game used it.
 

Some of the criticisms - that it's "serviceable, pedestrian, old, functional" are reasons I voted I love it. Too many systems today go too far out of their way to become the center of attention. "Hey everybody!!! I'm the syyystemmm!!!" BRP sits quietly in the background where it belongs, lets you focus on the adventure and setting and takes literally 5 minutes to pick up with every group I have ever played (over multiple genres, space, fantasy, horror, spies). It just works.
 
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aramis erak

Legend
Looking through the earlier editions of Drakar och Demoner, in the 90's, it hopped over to 1d20, instead of 1d100.

Looking at Hero Wars, Greg was very strongly in favor of 1d20 resolutions instead of 1d100. The Mongoose issue is what "doomed"/Fated modern RQ to 1d100 for now.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
I know I posted in this early, but I think I'm going to do it again.

BRP has a couple of big virtues; its relatively intuitive, can pretty much put almost all the numbers you're going to need to routinely know on the sheet, and is relatively easy to adapt to most genres (it can be adapted to others--the full blown version of Superworld Steve did shows that--but it requires some heavy lifting). Its not quite as one-single-resolution as some people will sell it (the traditional version had three: they might all use percentile rolls, but attribute rolls, resistance rolls and skill rolls aren't the same thing. Some versions try to compress that--Mythras, for example, has reduced everything to skill rolls (though whether there's a price for that is something that can be argued)--but the full traditional version has all three.

I used some version of it (mostly RQ or Superworld) throughout a lot of my gaming career. I want to make this clear because its not a system I'm intrinsically hostile to, and not one I'm not familiar with. I want to do this because I'm about to mention a number of reasons I don't really use it any more.

1. I'm no longer a big fan of big linear die rolls such as D20s and D100s. They're easy in some ways, and make probabilities clear, but they also (mostly) require you to use pretty linear modifiers in effect (you can mess with divisors or multipliers, but that tends to reduce some of the convenience of a percentage system). I'm really much bigger plan of either 3D6 or die pool systems.

2. Its really hard in most versions to get away from random attribute generation. This is because almost all forms have a pretty sharp-edged and strong breakpointing, so if you go to any sort of point distribution you'll almost certainly end up getting a lot of those breakpoints hammered hard which can be unappealing on a number of grounds. Arrays are a little better, but its still not ideal.

3. Like a lot of old school systems, BRP typically doesn't give you much character definition tools outside of attributes and skills (and paranormal abilities for those who have them). Some things simply don't fit in that model, and I'm used to having some sort of talent/trait system these days.

4. As a default, BRP can be more lethal than I generally want these days, and its not easy to address without over-fixing it. A Savage World style metacurrancy system would work if you can get the numbers right, but its not actually trivial to find a model there that's sufficient but not excessive.

Summary: Its a system that, when it came out, was revolutionary in many ways; it was what I hopped to when I found D&D progressively unsatisfactory on a number of grounds. But from my point-of-view these days it usually shows its age, and some of the problems with it are not trivial to address.
 

I know I posted in this early, but I think I'm going to do it again.

BRP has a couple of big virtues; its relatively intuitive, can pretty much put almost all the numbers you're going to need to routinely know on the sheet, and is relatively easy to adapt to most genres (it can be adapted to others--the full blown version of Superworld Steve did shows that--but it requires some heavy lifting). Its not quite as one-single-resolution as some people will sell it (the traditional version had three: they might all use percentile rolls, but attribute rolls, resistance rolls and skill rolls aren't the same thing. Some versions try to compress that--Mythras, for example, has reduced everything to skill rolls (though whether there's a price for that is something that can be argued)--but the full traditional version has all three.

I used some version of it (mostly RQ or Superworld) throughout a lot of my gaming career. I want to make this clear because its not a system I'm intrinsically hostile to, and not one I'm not familiar with. I want to do this because I'm about to mention a number of reasons I don't really use it any more.

1. I'm no longer a big fan of big linear die rolls such as D20s and D100s. They're easy in some ways, and make probabilities clear, but they also (mostly) require you to use pretty linear modifiers in effect (you can mess with divisors or multipliers, but that tends to reduce some of the convenience of a percentage system). I'm really much bigger plan of either 3D6 or die pool systems.

2. Its really hard in most versions to get away from random attribute generation. This is because almost all forms have a pretty sharp-edged and strong breakpointing, so if you go to any sort of point distribution you'll almost certainly end up getting a lot of those breakpoints hammered hard which can be unappealing on a number of grounds. Arrays are a little better, but its still not ideal.

3. Like a lot of old school systems, BRP typically doesn't give you much character definition tools outside of attributes and skills (and paranormal abilities for those who have them). Some things simply don't fit in that model, and I'm used to having some sort of talent/trait system these days.

4. As a default, BRP can be more lethal than I generally want these days, and its not easy to address without over-fixing it. A Savage World style metacurrancy system would work if you can get the numbers right, but its not actually trivial to find a model there that's sufficient but not excessive.

Summary: Its a system that, when it came out, was revolutionary in many ways; it was what I hopped to when I found D&D progressively unsatisfactory on a number of grounds. But from my point-of-view these days it usually shows its age, and some of the problems with it are not trivial to address.
I don’t disagree on some of these points but as an alternate take:

1. Although there may be some statistical advantage to using non-linear modifiers, I’ll assert that the ease of use and understandability of straight linear modifiers outweigh any disadvantages. Folks grok +1/+10% easily and this makes teaching BRP easy. I’ll give the nod to playability over more complex systems every time.

2. One thing that’s great in BRP is that monsters, NPCs and PCs all use the same stat blocks, something others have complained about in the D&D model. BRP has the an assigned point system option for character gen, but we’ve always rolled stats and allowed players to assign numbers to chacteristics as desired. INT and SIZ are constrained by the type of roll (2D6+6)

3. We’ve found that even “special” abilities can be handled by the skill system. If you had say the ability to Leap Tall Buildungs, you could simply add it as a skill, perhaps with a high percentage. Superworld used this model with some detail about how to use those skills. Again, simplicity and ease of use helps.

4. BRP gives the opportunity for Hp to be a total of SIZ+CON instead of an average, which can make for a more sturdy PC. There are other spot rules that allow for a more high powered game. We like the grittiness and lethality of RQ and CoC but there are many ways around it.

I do agree the system is older, but I’ve found it easily adaptable and modifiable to fit with the theme of the game I’m running. It’s modularity and streamlined resolution system still shines today.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
I don’t disagree on some of these points but as an alternate take:

Entirely fair. I was careful to say they're why I don't use it. I know some people don't care about some of these at all.

1. Although there may be some statistical advantage to using non-linear modifiers, I’ll assert that the ease of use and understandability of straight linear modifiers outweigh any disadvantages. Folks grok +1/+10% easily and this makes teaching BRP easy. I’ll give the nod to playability over more complex systems every time.

I get that. I just think that the linear die kind of forces the combination of the ease of use and the die type forces you into a corner on that which can be avoided with other kinds of base dice usage.

2. One thing that’s great in BRP is that monsters, NPCs and PCs all use the same stat blocks, something others have complained about in the D&D model. BRP has the an assigned point system option for character gen, but we’ve always rolled stats and allowed players to assign numbers to chacteristics as desired. INT and SIZ are constrained by the type of roll (2D6+6)

I'm actually a moderate fan of characters whether PC or not built to a common metric. I'm just not a fan of random generation.

3. We’ve found that even “special” abilities can be handled by the skill system. If you had say the ability to Leap Tall Buildungs, you could simply add it as a skill, perhaps with a high percentage. Superworld used this model with some detail about how to use those skills. Again, simplicity and ease of use helps.

I just think some things are intrinsically all-or-nothing.

4. BRP gives the opportunity for Hp to be a total of SIZ+CON instead of an average, which can make for a more sturdy PC. There are other spot rules that allow for a more high powered game. We like the grittiness and lethality of RQ and CoC but there are many ways around it.

Sure. But its hard to get it right. Hit points, at the end of the day, aren't entirely a good model for handling damage (more true with level elevating, but not untrue with fixed hit points), traditionally RQ in particular handles one end of that well (virtually any attack is a genuine threat) but that's (pun not intended, but there it is) a two edged sword; but flipping it the other way sacrifices some of that threat.

I do agree the system is older, but I’ve found it easily adaptable and modifiable to fit with the theme of the game I’m running. It’s modularity and streamlined resolution system still shines today.

You'll notice I complimented those right out the gate. So this part I don't disagree with at all.
 


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