Basic Role-Playing

Basic Role-Playing (BRP)
Basic Roleplaying.gif
Cover of the first edition of Basic Role-Playing
Designer(s)Greg Stafford and Lynn Willis
Publication date1980, 1982, 2002, 2004, 2008

Basic Role-Playing (BRP) is a role-playing game system which originated in the RuneQuest fantasy role-playing game. The BRP standalone booklet was first released in 1980 in the boxed set release of the second edition of RuneQuest. Greg Stafford and Lynn Willis are credited as the authors. A percentile skill-based system, BRP was used as the basis for most of the games published by Chaosium, including Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, and Elfquest.


The core rules were originally written by Steve Perrin[1] as part of his game RuneQuest.[2] It was Greg Stafford's idea to simplify the rules (eliminating such things as Strike Ranks and Hit Locations) and issue them in a 16-page booklet called Basic Role-Playing. Over the years several others, including Sandy Petersen, Lynn Willis, and Steve Henderson, contributed to the system.

The BRP was notable for being the first role-playing game system to introduce a full skill system to characters regardless of their profession. This was developed in RuneQuest but was also later adopted by the more skill-oriented Call of Cthulhu.[3][4]

BRP was conceived of as a generic system for playing any sort of RPG. Specific rule systems to support differing genres can be added to the core rules in a modular design. In order to underscore this, in 1982 Chaosium released the Worlds of Wonder box set, which contained a revised main booklet and several booklets providing the additional rules for playing in specific genres. Superworld, a superhero-themed game, began as a portion of the Worlds of Wonder set. A third edition of the core booklet, now titled Basic Roleplaying: The Chaosium System, was released in 2002.[5]

In 2004, Chaosium published the Basic Roleplaying monographs, a series of paperback booklets. The first four monographs (Players Book, Magic Book, Creatures Book, and Gamemaster Book) were essentially RuneQuest 3rd Edition, but with the RuneQuest name and other trademarks removed, as Chaosium had lost the rights to the name but retained copyright of the rules text. Additional monographs allowing for new mechanics, thereby extending the system to other genres, were released in the following years. Many of these monographs reproduced rules from other Chaosium-published BRP games that had gone out of print.

In 2008 most monographs were collected and updated as a single, comprehensive book, nicknamed the "Big Gold Book", allowing game masters to essentially build their own game from the various subsystems included. A quickstart booklet for new players accompanied it.

Other games published over the years by Chaosium using the BRP ruleset include Ringworld, Hawkmoon, and Nephilim.