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Announcing the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document and Open Game License

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Chaosium is pleased to announce the release of the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document (SRD).

The Basic Roleplaying SRD is based on Basic Roleplaying, the simple, fast, and elegant skill-based percentile system that is the core of most Chaosium roleplaying games, including Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, SuperWorld, and others. 

Under the provisions of the Basic Roleplaying Open Game License (OGL), designers can create their own roleplaying games using the Basic Roleplaying rules engine, royalty-free and without further permission from Chaosium Inc.  

For further details and to download the SRD document, see our Basic Roleplaying SRD information page.

Please note: the BRP Open Game License for use of the Basic Roleplaying system differs from the Wizards Open Game License and has different terms and conditions.

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THANK

YOU

VERY

MUCH !

 

(I will be pursuing this VERY directly.)

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Having an "open" version of classic BRP is awesome ... but I'm a little concerned about the Prohibited Content clause, notably the definition of "substantially similar".

Is a magic system that uses Magic Points to power small utility and tactical combat spells "substantially similar" to Battle Magic / Spirit Magic?

Is any rule that adds a fraction of one skill as a bonus to another skill "substantially similar" to Augments?

Are loyalties, allegiances, and/or emotional attachments expressed as percentile ratings "substantially similar" to Passions?

I get that Chaosium wants to avoid "retroclones" of its old or current games using its own Open Content. But if "substantially similar" is basically anything Chaosium decides it doesn't like the look of, publishers and fans might look to OpenQuest ... or write their own rules from scratch.

P.S. "... and all works related to Le Morte d’Arthur"? So anything Arthurian is off limits? (EDIT: By which I mean something like Merlin or Morgan le Fay or the Grail in another era.)

Edited by fmitchell
Clarification
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1 hour ago, fmitchell said:

P.S. "... and all works related to Le Morte d’Arthur"? So anything Arthurian is off limits? (EDIT: By which I mean something like Merlin or Morgan le Fay or the Grail in another era.)

I guess so. also includes anything Dark Ages related, so no Fall of Britain, no Angles/Saxons/Jutes invading. Presumably, nothing involving Charlemagne or the Vikings either.

Releasing BRP as an OGL Game is a good thing.

I would rather not have all the restrictions, but I can understand why they are in place.

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Looking at the PDF, it has a very slimmed-down set of rules.

One thing I notice is that it has no Hit Locations. Are we OK to include Hit Locations from the older Basic Roleplaying Rules or are Hit Locations too much like Runequest?

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2 hours ago, fmitchell said:

Is a magic system that uses Magic Points to power small utility and tactical combat spells "substantially similar" to Battle Magic / Spirit Magic?

This is my primary question, too, considering how integral the POW×5 roll for "small" magic seems to have been for BRP-derived fantasy games.

Does "substantially similar" mean mechanically similar, descriptively similar, or both? I assume the answer is both.

In any case, thanks Chaosium! It's cool to see this new game design tool out there.

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31 minutes ago, soltakss said:

Looking at the PDF, it has a very slimmed-down set of rules.

One thing I notice is that it has no Hit Locations. Are we OK to include Hit Locations from the older Basic Roleplaying Rules or are Hit Locations too much like Runequest?

Well, they are not _currently_ listed as Prohibited Content...

This is the issue. A someone who regularly re-skins something close to MW / BGB BRP for wildly different settings / feels, often using tweaks of "base" features... Can I use Skill Categories? Magic World Style Weapon Groups? Can I refer to "Power Points" as "mana points" and have a spell system similar to Magic World / BGB Sorcery? What about redoing my Ulfland setting (which uses hit locations and has two spell casting systems derived from the BGB). Or do I have to laboriously recreate all those mechanisms and spells with different wording and mechanics to NOT count as Prohibited Content... and if I do, why wouldn't I just use a less restricted SRD / OGL or just write my own D100 roll under, roll low game?

This is so limited, and so hedged with restrictions, it seems rather pointless? I appreciate Chaosium needs to protect its own IP (and that of its licensees), but the concept of an OGL / SRD is to provide a framework to let 3rd parties innovate and publish derivative support material that isn't viable for the source publisher because of the economics.

I was hoping for  a method of supporting the "BRP derived from the BGB, Magic World, Superworld and Worlds of Wonder" games (mechanically if not in terms of specific IP) that many of us play & run similar to what we once had in the monograph program, but less of a head ache for Chaosuium. This... is not that, at least at first inspection.

Ah well.

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16 minutes ago, NickMiddleton said:

Well, they are not _currently_ listed as Prohibited Content...

This is the issue. A someone who regularly re-skins something close to MW / BGB BRP for wildly different settings / feels, often using tweaks of "base" features... Can I use Skill Categories? Magic World Style Weapon Groups? Can I refer to "Power Points" as "mana points" and have a spell system similar to Magic World / BGB Sorcery? What about redoing my Ulfland setting (which uses hit locations and has two spell casting systems derived from the BGB). Or do I have to laboriously recreate all those mechanisms and spells with different wording and mechanics to NOT count as Prohibited Content... and if I do, why wouldn't I just use a less restricted SRD / OGL or just write my own D100 roll under, roll low game?

This is so limited, and so hedged with restrictions, it seems rather pointless? I appreciate Chaosium needs to protect its own IP (and that of its licensees), but the concept of an OGL / SRD is to provide a framework to let 3rd parties innovate and publish derivative support material that isn't viable for the source publisher because of the economics.

I was hoping for  a method of supporting the "BRP derived from the BGB, Magic World, Superworld and Worlds of Wonder" games (mechanically if not in terms of specific IP) that many of us play & run similar to what we once had in the monograph program, but less of a head ache for Chaosuium. This... is not that, at least at first inspection.

Ah well.

If it is not Prohibited Content then you are free to create your own derivative work. It isn't particularly limited unless you are trying to reskin RQG, Cthulhu, or Pendragon.

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30 minutes ago, NickMiddleton said:

This is so limited, and so hedged with restrictions, it seems rather pointless? I appreciate Chaosium needs to protect its own IP (and that of its licensees), but the concept of an OGL / SRD is to provide a framework to let 3rd parties innovate and publish derivative support material that isn't viable for the source publisher because of the economics

I concur. Yet:

I get the necessity for Chaosium to shield themselves from someone doing a „Holler of Hastur“ rule book, using the BRP OGL without ever having to check back with them, and adding rules that mimic CoC in all but name. 

On the other hand, there isn’t much left that Greg Stafford already did back in the 70‘s. ;)

Edited by foolcat

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Now having thoroughly skimmed the SRD, some unkempt thoughts:

  • Overall, I think opening BRP to the general public with an OGL is both a great and the right move for Chaosium to do, and I applaud them for it. In the long run, it will help to grow and sustain an ecosystem around BRP, getting more players in contact with it (who will in turn come to find Chaosium’s other setting rule sets hauntingly familiar).
  • Think of someone doing something like Beyond the Wall for younger players, but with proper rules...
  • The SRD is barebones. From the top of my head, I’d add Hit Locations and Crit rules (5% of skill value).
  • No word about the creation of characters, either. Intentionally or due to time restrictions?
  • The term “substantially similar” to define what game mechanics are and what aren’t “Prohibited Content” as per Section 1(e) of the OGL may prove to be too vaguely coined, and thus act as a deterrent to some.
  • I totally get Chaosium’s point saying “no reskins of our existing games” (see my post above), though. 
  • Why Pushing? Getting a re-roll at the cost of something (whether it’s brownie points or greater consequences of failure) has been done elsewhere before.
  • All in all, the SRD is something to build upon; both for Chaosium to expand and refine, and for takers.

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39 minutes ago, foolcat said:

No word about the creation of characters, either. Intentionally or due to time restrictions?

Character creation is there. Is very similar to the BGB. 

You pick a profession that gives you 10 skills and you have 300 points to distribute. Then you have INT x 10 as Personal Skill points. There are no magic system whatsoever in the document. 

Pushing as Prohibited Content is strange since re-rolling mechanics are universal. I would have seen the use of Luck in CoC7 as something more unique. 

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I find it odd that APP has crept back in, after CHA replaced it again in RQG. If they wanted to be like CoC, then it doesn't make sense as the Core Charateristics in CoC 7E are % now, not the traditional 3D6 stats.

And it looks like there are things like Agility Rolls and such, when we can just use the Resistance Table for things like that.

I guess it is pretty much like a slim BGB. Having a current generic ruleset for BRP is a good thing however, so let's see what comes from this...😎

Edited by Mankcam

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Thank you, Chaosium!

I think it's good, in part because it shows effort from Chaosium to recognize that such content is valuable. My hope is that this expands over time and doesn't shrink. It starts the conversation and shows what Chaosium has no issue with and what will tick them off. That's all a license really does.

I'm grateful that we've started the conversation. Other game publishers and game systems would be wise to take notice.

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1 hour ago, ajtheronin said:

Character creation is there. Is very similar to the BGB. 

Yeah, I see it. Guess what I missed was all the alternative ways to roll or buy stats. Again, this first version is very barebones.

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22 minutes ago, foolcat said:

Yeah, I see it. Guess what I missed was all the alternative ways to roll or buy stats. Again, this first version is very barebones.

Because it is a reference document. The skeleton so to speak. You are welcome to add to it as long as you avoid Prohibited Content.


The license explicitly allows derivative works. You can add hit locations, add your own magic system, psychic powers, rock god songs, archetypes, funky mechanics, psychonautical exploration mechanics, alchemy rules, spell systems based on the Sefirot or talking to angels through crystals - whatever, go for it.

Just don't try to create a retroclone of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Pendragon, etc.

Edited by Jeff
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32 minutes ago, Jeff said:

The license explicitly allows derivative works. You can add hit locations, add your own magic system, psychic powers, rock god songs, archetypes, funky mechanics, psychonautical exploration mechanics, alchemy rules, spell systems based on the Sefirot or talking to angels through crystals - whatever, go for it.

Just don't try to create a retroclone of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Pendragon, etc.

I guess that means no KA stat then, with derived stats for Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Moon?

Just asking for a friend. 😇

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This looks well and good enough, though I do have some similar concerns to others about prohibited content, namely Augments and Pushing. Why are these prohibited? They aren't defining features of the games they belong to, and would hugely benefit any BRP game, yet creators who want to do similar things are now forced to come up with less logical, unique ways. This is especially frustrating to me, since I'd already written them into a project I was working on.

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Because it is a reference document. The skeleton so to speak. You are welcome to add to it as long as you avoid Prohibited Content.


The license explicitly allows derivative works. You can add hit locations, add your own magic system, psychic powers, rock god songs, archetypes, funky mechanics, psychonautical exploration mechanics, alchemy rules, spell systems based on the Sefirot or talking to angels through crystals - whatever, go for it.

Just don't try to create a retroclone of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Pendragon, etc.

No offence intended Jeff, but compared to practically every other SRD since the original d20 SRD in 2000, this is more like a fragment of jawbone with a couple of teeth rather than an actual skeleton!

To do anything of substance with this requires far more work than with any other D100 OGL game. Unless we can legitimately reference the BGB from a compliant product? I had read it to mean that was NOT the case, and that one can only quote / reference the SRD itself or Open Content from other BRP OGL compliant products?

Also, I assume other Open Licenses are effectively off limits? So we cant co-opt material from say Monsters of Legends, any more than we could use creatures stats from the BGB? So we have to each come up with our own Goblins  or whatever until someone decides to write a BRP OGL bestiary?

 

Edited by NickMiddleton
Typo, clarity
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Generally good news to see this, but I need to push back against Pushing being prohibited content.  A reroll mechanic has been a part of many of the RPGs I've played over at least the last decade. 

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34 minutes ago, foolcat said:

I guess that means no KA stat then, with derived stats for Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Moon?

Just asking for a friend. 😇

No re-skinning any Chaosium game, including Nephilim.

!i!

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2 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

No re-skinning any Chaosium game, including Nephilim.

!i!

We don't think that is unreasonable. This is so people can publish their own settings, games, and unique ideas using the BRP system.

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24 minutes ago, ORtrail said:

Generally good news to see this, but I need to push back against Pushing being prohibited content.  A reroll mechanic has been a part of many of the RPGs I've played over at least the last decade. 

A game mechanic where you spend a luck point or Power point to get a re-roll or switch the value of the dice would work I think. I mean, it is still a re-roll but it is not how pushing works. 

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