Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I Love BRP

I want to say something.  Because it needs to be said.

I love BRP.

I flat-out LOVE it.

It is the simplest, most logical, most straightforward, most elegant RPG system I have ever come across.  Period. 

If BRP was a dancer, it would amaze me with its moves every time I saw it dance.  If BRP was a musician, it would make my jaw drop every time I heard it play.

I’m being a little bit facetious and hyperbolic there, but really that does describe how I feel about it.

I love the big gold book.  One cover.  300+ pages and its got 99% of everything I need to run any kind of campaign I could want.  Say it’s too long, or too overwhelming.  Sorry.  I don’t agree.

And, by the way – I love the Resistance Table, and Strike Ranks.  Yes – I mean it.

A year or two ago, I acquired a huge cache of D&D books – from original to 3.5.  Oh, and Pathfinder stuff, too.  I got kind of intrigued.  And I decided to not only check them out thoroughly, but, for fun, to convert my favorite old AD&D characters, long ago mothballed,  to 3.5/Pathfinder.  And also to BRP.  It was an enlightening experience.

Certainly, 3.5 improves on a lot of things from clunky old AD&D.  It’s a lot more streamlined, quite a bit more logical and flexible, and it flows much more nicely.  

But as I began to adapt these characters, I found myself getting irritable.  It’s a lot of work.  All the tables, the feats, the skill system, the levels.  Why don’t the experience levels and the spell levels of magic-using characters sync up?  Wouldn’t it make more sense if a being 10th level meant you could cast 10th level spells?  Why is the combat system so damn complicated?  It still looks like miniature warfare rules.  In fact, it looks more like miniature warfare rules than the AD&D combat system!  I would never want to play it.

And then I converted them to BRP.  And it took mere moments.  Because there’s so much I don’t have to think about.  Break down the characteristics, calculate derived stuff, assign the skills and – boom – you’re done.  Nothing is lost – it’s all there – just a hell of a lot simpler.

A few years back I got GURPS Cabal, an interesting occult RPG setting, and looked at with an eye to doing a BRP adaptation.  The biggest revelation was the magic system. 

See, the Cabal magic system is built on occult arcana, and there’s a host of modifiers that will affect the outcome of any spell.  It takes a whole (lengthy) chapter to detail it all. 

And yet, looking at it, I realized that the entire thing could be boiled down to a single, simple table of modifiers.  One table. One page. 

Why do people like to complicate things?

That’s another thing I love about BRP.  It’s ridiculously simple to add to or subtract from.

If you must.

Still, I keep seeing posts about adding things, like “feats”. 

I can’t see the purpose – when I converted those old characters to 3.5 and then BRP, there was nothing in “feats” that couldn’t be covered by skills and skill levels.

Oh, “advantages/disadvantages” – I see that one come up a lot.  I once gave someone great offense on yog-sothoth.com when I said I couldn’t see any real benefit to adding them to the game.  And I can’t.

Hey don’t get me wrong – if you really like “feats” or “advantages/disadvantages” – by all means – add them.  But you’ll never convince me they’re necessary, or make the game better somehow.

Okay, I admit, I’m feeling a little bit like, well, let’s put it this way…

Lately I’ve been reading my way through the run of The Dragon magazine.  It’s sometimes hilarious to see Gary Gygax’s infamous rants about players monkeying with his game, foaming at the mouth over things like critical hits, hit locations, point-based magic systems, weapon proficiencies, monsters as player-characters, etc etc etc.  And how the game was perfect and you would screw it up royally if you changed or added any little thing (of course, strictly speaking Gygax wasn’t totally wrong – AD&D didn’t have a lot of flexibility and any changes always seemed to feel bolted-on) (I should also note that many rules-variants that appeared in The Dragon were pretty awful). 

Well, I won’t say BRP is perfect.  I don’t believe in perfect.  But its perfect for me.  It’s the closest thing to perfection I’ve seen.  I won’t say you can’t or shouldn’t mess with it – actually, it’s a lot easier to mess with than many (most? all?) other systems.  But I will say I don’t feel the need.

So, yeah, I love BRP.  And I’m going to play BRP.  And nothing else, really.  Because as I said – it can handle any setting or genre I care to throw at it.

I hope that Chaosium will continue to support it.  But if they don’t – well – for years before the big gold book came out, there was a community out there – well not really a community, just a bunch of us out there in the wilderness -  who basically adapted our own versions of it, cobbled together from RQ and COC and Stormbringer, et al.  We played BRP even though it was barely on the market. 

And so, I’ve done it before.  I’ll do it again if I must.

I love BRP (said it again) and I have great, great affection for Chaosium. 

But I’ve got what I need if they decide to shut the taps off.

And by the way, Chaosium – with all due respect, CoC didn't need "fixing". 


  1. Totally agree.
    And CoC didn't need 'fixing.'
    And neither does RQ.
    And now we hit on where you and I differ. I no longer hold any affection for Chaosium.
    But I do have everything I need.

  2. Yep, I share those sentiments...
    I bought some spare copies of the BGB though, because I really have no faith in where nuChaosium is steering things.

  3. Glad to hear you love BRP! Fortunately, Chaosium is not shutting the BRP taps off, and the 'Big Gold Book' is available in print & PDF from Chaosium.com. What's more, Jason Durall, who wrote the BGB, is now on board at Chaosium as RuneQuest and BRP line editor. Cheers MOB (@Chaosium)

  4. It's terrific when that happens, and defintiely more power to your gaming. Part of me agrees, though I'm typically using many other systems these days. Of late we have been playing Mythras (which I think is wonderful) and more classic BRP in hte shape of The Laundry (using weapon stats from OpenQuest's 'The Company'), which is all rather fun.

    I thin my favourite iteration may still be Elric! 5th ed Stormbringer for clean fast moving simplicity. I felt I should have supported Magic World, but never did to my shame.

    I use a range of gaming engines these days as mood strikes or as game presents itself, but I'm always happy to go back to a BRP game.