Basic Roleplaying – A Mini Review of My ‘Go To’ Game

Chaosium Basic RoleplayingChaosium’s Basic Roleplaying is the system that has powered most of their games, Call of Cthulhu probably being the most well known, with Runequest and Elric/Stormbringer tied for second place.

I love this game and own several versions including: Basic Roleplaying, Nephilim, Elric and Call of Cthulhu.

It’s a reasonably simple skill based system, revolutionary in 1978, and still stacks up well today. (You can read a very good history of the system at the most excellent: Pete’s Runequest & Roleplaying.) Basic Roleplaying passes my three main tests of a game:

  1. It’s fun and quick to play, and it’s fun and quick to gamemaster.
  2. Character generation is quick while still giving a high level of customization.
  3. The system doesn’t get in the way of the scene.
In short it’s what I wanted from GURPS, but didn’t get. GURPS is an excellent system but fails number 3 in a big way; like a cheap set in a movie you can always see the nuts and bolts holding the fake trees up.

The main rulebook has the base system and almost all of the spot rules from all of the various versions of the game.

  • Different character generation methods depending on the type of game you want to run.
  • Several different types of powers; Superpowers, Psionics, Magic, Mutations and Sorcery.
  • Equipment and weapons from all ages right through to Science Fiction stuff.
  • Sample monsters and creatures.
The book is well laid out, with a good index and all the games aids at the back for easy photocopying. I find it easy to find rules while playing and there is a checklist for optional rules. My players have picked it up quickly and rules clarifications are only rarely needed. It all seems to make sense and is internally consistant.
What I’d like to see in the future are some creatures books and vehicle construction stuff so here’s hoping.

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