Thursday, October 28, 2010

A look at Basic RolePlaying, pt.1

The upcoming release of Chronicles of Future Earth has renewed my interest in the Chaosium game system Basic RolePlaying (BRP), so much so that I parted with $40 of my hard-earned scratch to buy the core rulebook. Weighing in at a hefty 400 pgs., this tome is too much to review in one post, so I will divide it up into sections and review each separately.

As I've mentioned in the past, I played Call of Cthulhu before, so I am quite familiar with the d100 system that BRP is built around and the character generation procedure is the same as the one used in CoC. There are eight basic stats, strength (STR), constitution (CON), size (SIZ), intelligence (INT), power (POW), dexterity (DEX), appearance (APP) and education (EDU), although EDU is optional in BRP. INT, SIZ and EDU are generated by rolling 2d6+6, while the others are rolled using 3d6. There are options for redistributing some of the statistics and there is also an alternate point-buy system included for those who dislike random generation. There are a variety of derived statistics based on those listed. These include melee damage bonus (or penalty) based on STR + SIZ, hit points equal to the average of CON + SIZ and power points, the fuel for things like magic and psychic abilities, derived from POW. These stats also provide bonuses (and occasionally penalties) to various skills.

After generating the basic and derived stats, the player choses a profession. This is like a class in D&D, except that the only purpose it serves is to determine which skills are professional skills. A character gets a much larger pool of professional skill points than personal/cultural skill points, so the selection of a profession will determine what a character is good at.

By necessity for a generic game system, the skill list is extensive, especially since attack and defense actions are also governed by skills. The list is manageable, although there are a few examples (i.e. Spot, Listen and Sense or Fast Talk, Bargain and Persuade) where some streamlining could have been applied. Still, I find little to fault in the skill system. I appreciate the elegance of a game system that uses the same mechanics for all actions, be they combat-related or skill-related. It took D&D decades to achieve this and it's clear from looking through the skill list, that BRP was a major influence on the designers of D&D 3.x.

In my next installment, I will look at the powers; Magic, Sorcery, Psychic Abilities, Super Powers and Mutations.


1 comment:

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I too bought a copy of BRP, mostly based on Akrasia's recommendation, and because I had purchased several Cthuhlu gamebooks, which use BRP as their foundation.

Being ambivalent towards skill systems, it isn't what I would normally gravitate towards, but it is an elegant system.