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Sean's Picks of the Week (0724-0728) - Cut It to the Core Week!

This week's theme is Cut It to the Core Week, inspired by the release of Third Eye's Pip System, as well as the fact that you can get all kinds of core rulebooks and other goodies for 25% off thanks to it being Christmas in July at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. Having the core engine of your favorite game is not only a gateway into all the stuff you really like from your favorite publishers - it's a toolkit to begin crafting your own great ideas into a playable iteration for all to share.


With the recent release of my friend Eloy Lasanta’s core system, a new Theme Week is launched – Cut It to the Core Week! We’ll take a look at some core system rulebooks that may well give you the foundation for most or all of your gaming needs.

The Pip System is the foundation engine for Third Eye’s more kid-friendly gaming, though it works great for anyone looking for light, easy rules with which to dive into the fun.

The Pip System is designed from the ground up as a genre-bending rules system for any roleplaying game! Create your own setting, convert and existing one, or pick up one of our amazing worlds, like Mermaid Adventures, Infestation: An RPG of Bugs and Heroes, or A Kid’s Guide to Monster Hunting.

  • Perfect for introducting new players and kids to roleplaying
  • Customizable character options with minimal bookkeeping
  • Easy-to-learn mechanics utilizing only six-sided dice!
  • Includes all the rules needed to play (even a few premade characters to get you started)


(Hey, just want to say this up front – it’s CHRISTMAS IN JULY time at DriveThruRPG!)

Cut It to the Core Week continues with a Pick for all the folks still yearning for a World of Darkness that makes sense to them. This is the gateway book to everything else Onyx Path has done and is doing with what was once called the nWoD. If you liked the first run at “revising it all,” you’ll want to start here.

Keep walking.

Eyes straight ahead.

Don’t look back.

In the shadows and between the cracks of our everyday lives hide the Chronicles of Darkness. Here lurk creatures of ancient myth and urban legend. Here lie the graves of angels and the bunkers of secret government programs. Here every malformed horror you’ve ever seen out of the corner of your eye has a home. And they’ve seen you.

Don’t look back!

Chronicles of Darkness RPG rulebook contains:

  • A guide to creating characters to explore a world of modern horror, from hopes and fears to psychic powers.
  • Dramatic rules for investigation, social manipulation, and bone-crunching violence.
  • Over a dozen monsters straight out of weird fiction and urban legend… plus complete rules for creating your own.
  • The God-Machine Chronicle, a massive collection of sample characters and techgnostic adventures.
  • Formerly titled nWoD Core Rulebook 2nd Edition.


The runaway smash system from Monte Cook Games is a must-Pick for Cut It to the Core Week. Not only is this the engine for the wildly popular Numenera and The Strange, but more and more folks are diving into this system for published and home-crafted settings.

What will your Cypher System campaign be?

A Cypher System campaign of Victorian horror? High fantasy? Espionage? Galaxy-spanning space opera? With the Cypher System Rulebook, running any of those is as easy as running or playing The Strange or Numenera . Take the Cypher System to the limits of your imagination with this hefty rulebook that extends the system to fantasy, science-fiction, horror, modern-day, and superhero settings—or any setting you can imagine!

The Cypher System Rulebook adapts the Cypher System—the critically acclaimed, award-winning rules set that drives Numenera and The Strange—to an unlimited range of campaigns and genres, giving you the complete rules set (along with dozens of optional and genre-specific rules) and hundreds of character options, creatures, cyphers, and other resources. It’s everything you need to play virtually any game using the Cypher System rules.

If you’re already a fan of Numenera and/or The Strange, you’ll find new descriptors, foci, types, creatures, cyphers, and artifacts you can use in your campaign the minute you crack open the book. Many of the optional genre rules will benefit your campaign as well. There are pages and pages of content you can make use of in your existing game, even if you never take the Cypher System into another genre!

The Cypher System Rulebook gives you 416 pages of character options, equipment, game rules, special coverage of key genres, creatures, NPCs, and cyphers.

  • Complete game rules
  • Genre-specific rules and advice for fantasy games, modern games, science-fiction games, horror, and superheroes
  • Systems for issues such as vehicle combat, crafting, and insight, among others
  • Four new character types, each customizable to the needs of your setting
  • Over 50 descriptors and 70 foci
  • Loads of equipment and hundreds of cyphers and artifacts
  • Nearly 70 creatures and NPCs
  • Great GM advice on adapting the Cypher System to a variety of settings, and on running a fun, engaging, fast-paced, easy-to-GM game sessions

Start a new campaign set in a fantasy land of elves and fae creatures, a science fiction setting spanning the galaxy, or a modern slasher horror game—or add scads of new options to your Numenera or The Strange campaign. The Cypher System Rulebook gives you everything you need to run the game you want to play using the critically acclaimed, award-winning, and just plain fun to play Cypher System!


Today, as part of Cut It to the Core Week, we celebrate one of the first, most important, and most successful efforts to create a universal core game engine across multiple settings and genre. Basic Roleplaying (BRP) was the heart of the original Runequest and Call of Cthulhu, making it hands-down one of the most influential game designs in our history. It’s still going strong, as this list of products certifies.

Welcome to Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying system, a book that collects in one place rules and options for one of the original and most influential role playing game systems in the world.

This book comprises a roleplaying game system, a framework of rules aimed at allowing players to enact a sort of improvisational radio theater—only without microphones—and with dice determining whe­ther the characters succeed or fail at what they attempt to do. In roleplaying games, one player takes on the role of the gamemaster (GM), while the other player(s) assume the roles of player characters (PCs) in the game. The gamemaster also acts out the roles of characters who aren’t being guided by players: these are called non-player characters (NPCs).

From its origin, Basic Roleplaying was designed to be intuitive and easy to play. Character attributes follow a 3D6 curve, and the other Basic Roleplayingmechanics are even simpler. Virtually all rolls determining success or failure of a task are determined via the roll of percentile dice. This means that there’s less fiddling with dice of different types, and the concept of a percentile chance of success is extremely easy for beginners and experienced players to grasp. There aren’t many easier ways to say a character has a 70% chance of succeeding at an activity.

The core virtues of the system are as evident today as they were when it was first introduced. Primary characteristics of Basic Roleplaying that have emerged from decades of play, across many different varieties of the system are as follows:

  • The system is remarkably friendly to newcomers. It is easy to describe the basics of the game system, and the percentile mechanics, to non-gamers.
  • Players of other game systems often find Basic Roleplaying to be much less mechanistic and less of a barrier to the actual act of roleplaying. Less time spent on game systems usually equals more time available for roleplaying and thinking “in character.”
  • Most of the information players need to know is present on their character sheets.
  • Characters tend to evolve based on practicing the skills they use the most. They do not arbitrarily gain experience in skills and qualities based on ephemeral elements such as levels or experience ranks.
  • Combat can be very quick and deadly, and often the deciding blow in a conflict is the one to land first.
  • Basic Roleplaying is remarkably modular: levels of complexity can be added or removed as needed, and the core system works equally well with considerable detail as it does with a minimal amount of rules.
  • The internal consistency of Basic Roleplaying allows for rules judgments to be made rapidly and with little searching through the rulebook for special cases.
  • This book represents a first for Basic Roleplaying—a system complete in one book, without a defined setting. Previously, Basic Roleplaying has been an integral part of standalone games, usually with rich and deep world settings. Due to differences in these settings, Basic Roleplaying has had many different incarnations. Variant and sometimes contradictory rules have emerged between versions, to better support one particular setting over another.

Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying system reconciles these different flavors of the system and brings many variant rules together between the covers of one book, something that has never been done before. Some of these rules are provided as optional extensions, some as alternate systems, and others have been integrated into the core system. By design, this work is not a reinvention of Basic Roleplaying nor a significant evolution of the system. It is instead a collected and complete version of it, without setting, provided as a guide to players and gamemasters everywhere and compatible with most Basic Roleplaying games. It also allows the gamemaster the ability to create his or her own game world (or worlds), to adapt others from fiction, films, or even translate settings from other roleplaying games into Basic Roleplaying.


Do yourself a favor – take a look through the many, many products that link off of this page. Is there any real wonder why we’re finishing off Cut It to the Core Week with the single most popular and widespread multi-genre core rules engine in the gaming world?

(And, yes, I will argue to the mat that OGL/d20 – despite many interesting efforts to work it into various genres – is and always will be, first and foremost, the World’s Most Popular Fantasy Game engine well before it can be said to be a universal core set of rules).

Savage Worlds is played at just about every single convention in the U.S. and all over the world, and you’ll find every sort of setting and genre experience. It would be very difficult, I believe, to find a system more widely used across more styles of games.

And the core rulebooks is still only $10! Actually, as of this writing, it’s $7.49 for Christmas in July.

Savage Worlds is a Fast! Furious! and Fun! rules system for any genre of roleplaying game. Create your own setting, convert an existing one, or pick up one of our amazing worlds like Deadlands, Slipstream, or Weird War II.The rules give players plenty of depth to create their characters and keep bookkeeping to a minimum for the game master. If you’re looking for a game that’s fast and easy to set up, run, and play, Savage Worlds is for you!

Savage Worlds Deluxe is the newest edition, providing an update to the third printing of Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition. It includes rules updates, new rules material, new art, more examples, an expanded Setting Rules section, Designer Notes to give you an insight into the development, and much more. It does not, however, invalidate prior printings of the rules, which you can continue enjoy.


Having a powerful core engine that can be applied to multiple game settings and experiences is imminently useful for game developers and GMs alike, as well as just being an awesome way to experience lots of things without having to go through the learning curve of a new game every time. Other great examples of this idea are FATE, Apocalypse World Engine, What's O.L.D. Is N.E.W., GUMSHOE and, of course, the OGL.

As you're reading this, I am off to L.A. for one of the saddest and most important experiences of my life. My dear friend - brother, in my heart - Albert Deschesne of comic book industry fame - is to be memorialized by those that loved him best this weekend. Among the festivities, I am running a special superhero game with others who experienced Albert's unique and powerful vision for superhero storytelling (to include Gayle Reick of Savage Mojo and Ray Greer, one of the original Hero Games folks). I ask the Light of the Universe to give me some fraction of Albert's gift to entertain his friends and celebrate what he gave us all.

The Adventure Continues!

Note that I use affiliate links in all my posts as a way to generate additional revenue for my efforts; I make my Picks and other article choices, however, based on the desire to share a wide variety of things with you. Thank you for your support.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!



I just collect now.
Same here. I want to play a lot of the games I have on my shelf now but a player base is so limited. That is unless I play 5ed or pathfinder..... but even then it is hard to convince people to play other systems! I am really thinking about investing in some 5ed books to draw some people in.

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