Jump to content

2011 BRP Reviews/2012 BRP speculations?


TrippyHippy

Recommended Posts

Well it's the time of the year where it may be fun to take stock of where BRP is, after a few years of establishing itself as a generic system on the market. For my own purposes, my gaming habits are mostly BRP based now, although Traveller still holds my attention too, and I at least follow what's going on in other companies.

In a broader RPG scope, the most significant 'events' of 2011 were probably:

1) The gradual emerging of the Pathfinder RPG preeminence over and above D&D, including the most significant release of the year in their excellent Beginner's Box set.

2) The equally excellent release of The One Ring rpg from Cubicle 7 (tempered somewhat by their stalling over the Doctor Who game), which has met with rapturous reviews (but limited circulation around the US, apparently).

3) The Star Wars licence captured by Fantasy Flight Games, including the rights to a new RPG.

4) The general decline of some very established companies in terms of their shop shelf presence and, indeed, actual unit sales - including WotC, White Wolf and noting that HERO games very nearly collapsed totally this year.

Times are a changing, although I would note that rising games such as Pathfinder and the Warhammer 40K RPGs are still essentially 'traditional' RPGs, rather than games nominally called 'Indie' (essentially, games designed with more heavily directed gameplay to adhere to specific agendas - I would include D&D 4th and WFRP3.0 in that category, incidentally). Other 'Traditional' games like Traveller or Shadowrun, too, appear to be doing solidly well. We do see high production standards in games such as D&D4 and WFRP3, however, along with more expressly 'indie' games like The Dresden Files (based on FATE) and Mouseguard (based on the Burning Wheel), but they simply don't seem to be as popular as the old style. Take that as you will.

So how does BRP fit in?

I think it's fair to say that it will never be as popular as D20 titles like D&D or Pathfinder (or possibly the WH40KRP titles for that matter), but in comparison to other generic systems on the market it seems to be doing well. HERO games have apparently stuttered to a halt, GURPS seems more and more content to rely on PDF support rather than physical copy, and really it's just the young turks like Savage Worlds and the FATE system that seem to be in a growth situation alongside BRP.

BRP itself can now be found through a variety of different corebooks outside of the 'Big Gold Brick' book (which sells itself largely on having such a striking cover, along with a nice internal layout and a history that other generic RPG systems don't have). The break up and 'open licences' associated with the RuneQuest design has contributed to this: now we have Legend, OpenQuest, Renaissance and the upcoming RuneQuest 6 to choose from. Rumours abound that Delta Green may also be getting a new edition with self contained rules, and we already have The Laundry (brilliant, BTW) to go along with Call of Cthulhu. How many core rules do we need? The fortunate thing is that most of these games and systems are largely supplimentary to each other, unlike the schism you now see in the D20 family of games. There is a greater community feel to BRP and this makes it a good time to be a BRP gamer.

BRP has now started to hit it's stride in supplemental support through a variety of different companies, and almost every major genre seems to be covered. Cubicle 7 seems to have the most clout with regard to printing books, but the accumulation of titles from Alephtar Games, Cakebread and Walton, Mongoose, D101 Games, Crooked Staff Production, along with Chaosium's Monograph titles and other publications, are doing BRP proud. I am particularly pleased with some of the releases towards the end of the year - Mythic Iceland, Merrie England and especially Clockwork and Chivalry. It really gives the system a lot of credibilty, and it's only really GURPS that can compete with these types of historical genres. Maybe a few more companies could be encouraged to convert to BRP? It's hard to see this happening to be honest - unless companies can be guaranteed to make sales, they aren't going to jump on board in tough economic times. I for one, however, would love to see (as an example) Red Brick Games converting Blue Planet and Fading Suns to BRP. Is anybody willing to pick up the Conan license and create a BRP RPG with it? Why not? It would also be nice to see an acceleration of the monograph titles being converted to full publications - particularly the popular Classic Fantasy (D&D) book, Aces High (Classic Western?), and perhaps with a Classic Space Opera book to follow?

BRP is, of course, also blessed with it's close association with Call of Cthuhu which is almost a generic historical setting itself, and has a massive amount of supplements (still growing each year) that all have applications and utility beyond straight horror gaming (did you pick up on the upcoming World War Cthulhu advert at Cubicle Games? >geeksqueek< moment for me!). It was Call of Cthulthu's 30th Anniversary this year, producing another reprint of their 6th edition that has now served them for a decade. This drew some criticism, although many will be pleased with the chance to pick up a hardback copy at least. There are some rumours of a 7th edition. If this is the case, then surely there is a case to be made for a box set version - akin to the Pathfinder Beginner Box, or Doctor Who perhaps? Haven't we done the 'antique/collector's' book motif to death already? Lets do something *new* with the game - and no, I don't mean throw out the system a la 4th Edition or WFRP3.0 - I mean simplify the system to a beginner level as necessary, spruce up the presentation, clarify the explanations and actually sell the game to a new audience.

Everybody seems to want to have a piece of Cthulhu in gaming, and it is one of the few titles that could actually serve effectively as a gateway product (don't they already have box set Cthuhu board games that sell well?) In my view BRP is just as accessible at it's core, if not moreso, than any other system on the market. Maybe a deal could be struck between Chaosium and Cubicle 7 or Fantasy Flight Games to actually get a flashy, full colour Call of Cthulhu box set? Pathfinder has created the model of how it should be done. Could you imagine a better flagship for the BRP system if done right? Could you imagine it not selling as well as the Doctor Who box, by comparison?

Anyway, them's my thoughts. What's yours?

Edited by TrippyHippy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 68
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Hi. I for one would like to see more adventures and less campaign settings -- I think much has been covered by now both in historical and geographic terms. What is lacking in the BRP part of the indie hobby is the incredible frenesy of the OSR movement. There are scores of high quality (crappy too of course but I tend to concentrate on the interesting stuff) "original frp" adventures out there and since I do not use that system it is a pain to have to produce BRP or T&T (my favourite systems) stats for those.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think TrippyHippy's opinion is absolutely true - in the Orlanthi acception of the term, that is I agree with 85% of it.

Apart from some considerations about companies mentioned that I will not make public (hint: there will be a new player in the league in 2012...), there are two points that deserve more attention IMO.

First of all, the statement that BRP "Will never be as popular as...". Well, we have just had evidence that this is not necessarily the case. Which is the Fantasy RPG that sold the most in electronic format in 2011? Easy, it is D&... er, no, Path... no, uh, ... Legend? Is it possible? Well, while I do not want to overestimate the success of Mongoose's marketing campaign, I think it should not be underestimated, either. My only regret is that they could have done that while still partnering with Issaries, and they did not.

The second point is about boxed sets. It is something I have considered doing myself, but in the end i abandoned the idea. The reason is simple: RPGs are headed in a different direction than boardgames - they started as a variant of tactical wargames, but they are no longer one. The question then is: is a box a good format for them? There are two conditions that make the answer to this question become a "yes".

a) You want to make a collector's edition that appeals to people who started playing when RPGs were all boxed. This may be a good business practice, but I would rather like to get more young players involved than to bleed old schoolers dry.

B) You want to make an edition that allows people who have never played an RPG to start without any further help - which includes providing several copies of the character sheet, including dice and counters, etc. I think the model for this is the Pathfinder beginner's box, which is a very good tutorial that opens the doors to this option-filled game to newbies. In this case, a BRP beginner's box would be a good product. However, the genericity of BRP as a toolbox makes it less suitable for this kind of operation than Pathfinder is, as Path is a fantasy RPG with a definite flavour, while BRP is generally used for historical, high fantasy, sci-fi, pulp or whatever - so you do not know in advance what genre your players will use it for. Could work for Legend, OpenQuest or RQ6, though.

Oh, and one more thing: in case anyone was wondering, I will announce the 2012 Alephtar plans between Christmas and New Year. Do not expect anything too exciting, though.

Edited by RosenMcStern

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding boxed sets. I certainly agree with RosenMcStern's two reasons to produce a boxed set. I should add that I love boxed sets. Getting maps, handouts, maybe a separate booklet of illustrations, various record-keeping sheets, punch-out pieces, and who knows what other goodies inside? I find that pretty awesome. Look at some of those Chaosium boxes, for Cthulhu or RQ. Yeah, you can get them in PDF nowadays, but it's just not the same. I had the old Masks of Nyarlathotep box. It's gone now, and I bought the hardcover book, but it's just not as cool. And remember the Orient Express box? I don't have that one anymore either. I personally don't associate those boxes with the old Avalon Hill boxed wargames; I just love them for what they are.

OTOH, I'm very price-conscious these days, and boxed sets can't be cheap to produce. Doesn't mean I don't love them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rosen makes a good point about Legend's sales. One might have to qualify it with the point that it was sold cheap ($1 on RPG.Now), but then wasn't this the major ploy of Savage Worlds (Complete RPG, handy format, nice price), to make that game a success? If it works, then go for it - although I would have to see how additional supplements sell to make a full judgement. But we can say that for core rules, this format is popular.

With regards to Box sets, it does make a difference as to which products are considered. In my view, there are two categories of choice:

1) Gateway games. Akin to the Beginner Box idea, but noting that only certain licences will really sell to a new audience: D&D, Pathfinder, Warhammer, The One Ring, Doctor Who, Star Wars (perhaps). In this respect, I don't really think BRP would be a seller - but Call of Cthulhu would. I don't, incidentally, think the system needs to be 'dumbed down' either - just tidied up as you would expect in any edition. Moreover, it would be a gateway product for BRP.

2) Boxes with lots of fiddly bits. Especially campaign boxes - Masks of Nyarlathotep being an excellent example, with all the handouts. Beyond the Mountains of Madness ought to really have been a Box Set too. What about the long lost Orient Express campaign? There were rumours that Cubicle 7 would make a Boxed London set to complete their Cthulhu Brittanica series....

Who is the other 'player' in 2012 going to be?

Edited by TrippyHippy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi. I for one would like to see more adventures and less campaign settings -- I think much has been covered by now both in historical and geographic terms. What is lacking in the BRP part of the indie hobby is the incredible frenesy of the OSR movement. There are scores of high quality (crappy too of course but I tend to concentrate on the interesting stuff) "original frp" adventures out there and since I do not use that system it is a pain to have to produce BRP or T&T (my favourite systems) stats for those.

I agree that some good adventures would be a plus, but adventures are so setting dependent that they must go hand in hand with settings. I think the last thing BRP needs are more generic adventures like In Search of the Trollslayer or the various Adventures monographs, which I think suffer from being too broad and not focused enough. I disagree that we have enough settings - at least, I'm always looking for the right settings. I think we need to create more imaginative and detailed settings - not just generic settings. Dozens of fantasy and sci-fi authors manage to do it - so why not RPG writers.

Oh, and one more thing: in case anyone was wondering, I will announce the 2012 Alephtar plans between Christmas and New Year. Do not expect anything too exciting, though.

Well, in another thread, you mentioned that Parpuzio is on hold for 'reasons that would soon be made clear', so I'm expecting at least an announcement in that regard, and it seems it could be potentially exciting, no? Alephtar makes consistently good product - more consistently good than most - so I can honestly say that I expect your announcement to provide at least a little excitement! ;)

Lastly, I'd just like to say I love boxed sets - but please make the box durable. My most recent boxed set is The One Ring, and it's a thing of beauty. Furthermore, from a system perspective, it's giving me some ideas that I think could apply to BRP games, and that's always exciting...

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

__________________________________

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll sound off on adventures, too. I think we have quite a number of settings, and while the BRP family has usually put out a big rulebook + setting for each line, it has rarely put out competing lines within the same genre. And I think that's a good thing. Otherwise, are you not diluting your customer base somewhat? How many BRP space opera sets do you really need? Wouldn't it be better to settle on a base space opera set, then publish various adventures that maybe include fiddly rules changes to hit their particular sweet spot?

I was recently trying to put together a BRP Middle Earth face-to-face game. I was skimming through several ICE region books, but finally my enthusiasm was engaged when I came across an actual adventure module! Just like in the Old Days, they can save a GM lots of time, and provide a great springboard that can get you quickly into a game. A not-insignificant point, I think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In terms of retailers - not that I am aware of. In terms of downloadable PDFs, plenty. The Chaosium site actually shows how much of each title has been downloaded. The RPGNow site doesn't provide the amounts, but does rank the highest selling products into Platinum/Gold/Electrum/Silver/Bronze categories and keeps a chart for current sales.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over here boxed sets of roleplaying games have become very rare, because

the book shops cannot order them through their normal channels and the on-

line shops cannot mail them at the reduced postage rate for books. Almost

all of the roleplaying games companies which once produced boxed sets have

stopped to use boxes, and attempting to sell boxed sets in Germany would

significantly reduce the market share one could reach with books.

I have no idea whether the situation in other European countries is similar,

but if this should be the case, a boxed set might be a not very good idea.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Italy, there has been an attempt to market a D&D retro-clone (La Marca del Este, a Spanish game) in a boxed set. It did sell some copies in Lucca, but nothing spectacular. I think the idea is that of appealing to boardgame fans, but I am afraid it will backfire in the end, as the box forces the publisher to charge TVA (now 23%) to the purchaser. Everyone is obsessed with replicating the "winning formula" of D&D in the seventies, not realizing that this happened in the last deca... er, no centu... yuck, in the last MILLENNIUM =|

Jokes aside, you can easily deduce PDF sales figures from the medals at DriveThru. In my experience, DTRPG sales are proportional to PDF sales. So here is some objective data.

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I loved the boxed sets as a kid. I love hard cover books and pdfs as an adult.

Any of those nifty player aids that turned up in the boxes can be easily replicated by printing them off pdfs, and pdfs themselves are a great thing to have.

For me nothing beats having a weighty hard cover tome to read for my core roleplaying rules, I feel it lends a bit of prestige to my rpg book collection, and they look great in the bookcase.

I for one, would not want to be going back to cardboard boxes with paper booklets. Also it would be quite difficult to present the hobby as a mature past-time if all the supplements turned up in game boxes.

No, please lets NOT see the return of the box sets !!!

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the point about Box sets is that they work for some things but not others, and you have to do them right (and it probably ought to be noted that board games generally outsell RPGs on the whole these days, unlike in decades past).

Looking at last years attempt at re-introducing the Red Box for D&D, the basic problem I felt was that the product itself was flawed - not enough in it, and not a complete game. On top of that, the major advantage of having a box set is the fact that you can store things in it, in a neat and tidy way. This advantage is mute, however, if you make a bunch of supplements that a) don't fit into it and B) are often in box sets themselves! Compare this all to the recent Pathfinder box set - which is essentially a complete game (up till 5th level) in itself, very high quality production, set at a very good price, and directly leads onto the core line. I wouldn't be surprised if it emerges as the best selling product of last year, and it's ideal as an introductionary product that you could buy as a Christmas present.

For the record, I don't think that every BRP product would benefit from a box set. Different mediums work for different products - the best medium for monographs, for example, is in PDF in my view - as it is the cheapest way of distributing unedited books, while Chaosium can gauge what is likely to sell or not (Classic Fantasy is clearly a strong candidate for a full product). The big gold hardback for BRP core is ideal too. In the case of Alephtar games, well so far we generally have supplements - which wouldn't work in box sets either.

What I am arguing for, if Call of Cthulhu 7th edition emerges, is that this can be done in a Box set in such a fashion as to act as a gateway product for the whole BRP line. The game itself is simple enough in rules and concept to be an introductionary game, and if the box is the right size it could actually be used to store extra supplements in it if you wanted. I'm sure it would be a highly successful product, if it was done right and was a complete game, and it would at least be something that would spark interest a lot more than yet another book edition.

Edited by TrippyHippy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with TH - there is a place for boxed sets marketwise. They target a younger audience, and in all reality, isn't that what is needed - more young players to keep this hobby going? Because while D&D was originally targeting war gamers, it didn't take off until it attracted new blood, and the new blood was a much younger crowd that flocked to the introductory boxed sets.

Just now, at Amazon, in the Best Sellers in Fantasy Gaming - both the Pathfinder boxed set (10th) and the D&D 4th edition boxed set (7th) are in the top 10, with only the Pathfinder core book (2nd) and Pathfinder Bestiary 3 (6th) products beating them out as far as RPGs go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well D&D was the first biggie in the rpg industry, if not the first rpg full-stop. I guess it has had so much marketing force behind it that often the entire rpg hobby is referred to as 'D&D' by many of the public. There has been a proliferation of other games and genres since the late 70s, but nothing really came close to D&D in production standard or sheer marketing power until the emergence of White Wolf's World of Darkness line in the mid 90s.

So maybe D&D or one of its D20 OGL products will always grab the public eye first, due to sheer weight of marketing history as well as great production standards. I cannot remember it being any different in my lifetime.

I guess a BRP primer box set aimed at a more juvenile or casual market would be the way to go, if at all. That way the product could possibly sit on the shelf of a general Toy & Hobby shop, rather than the less common and the more secular Comic & RPG stores. It would have to be very 'flashy' to say the least, to compare with the artwork on D&D and Pathfinder. The game itself would have to have a quicker advancement system following archtypes, as that's what the kiddies want, and its more in line with MMOs as well, which many of them will be playing. I have heard good things about Rod's 'Classic Fantasy' monograph, so something like his work in a quality box with great artwork may be the thing.

I wouldn't want it to define the BRP system however, as the mature edge of BRP (as seen in the Glorantha, Stormbringer, CoC etc) makes it very immersive from an adult perspective. But perhaps Classes & Pretzels is what sells, and maybe that's all it is to it - there is a some charm in that when it is all said and done...

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess a BRP primer box set aimed at a more juvenile or casual market would be the way to go, if at all. That way the product could possibly sit on the shelf of a general Toy & Hobby shop, rather than the less common and the more secular Comic & RPG stores. It would have to be very 'flashy' to say the least, to compare with the artwork on D&D and Pathfinder. The game itself would have to have a quicker advancement system following archtypes, as that's what the kiddies want, and its more in line with MMOs as well, which many of them will be playing. I have heard good things about Rod's 'Classic Fantasy' monograph, so something like his work in a quality box with great artwork may be the thing.

I don't want to dampen anybody's enthusiasm but without something like a strong licence backing this, I suspect it would only end up with Chaosium losing money.... (Mythos anyone?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think licenses are over-rated, but I'll admit that 'Dungeons and Dragons' is a much more exciting and evocative name for attracting kids than 'Basic Roleplaying' is. If you're going to prepare a boxed set for kids, it needs to have an exciting cover, and exciting name, and your product needs to look like something that a mother or father can pick up off the shelf of the store on a whim for their kids and feel secure about. You don't need a license for this - but you do need a decent name/concept. 'Worlds of Wonder' would probably work.

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

__________________________________

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

New guy here. Let me say that again, New guy here! :) I think BRP is in a great position to be just as popular as some of the other systems and/or titles. I also think it is in a very good position to be a seriously powerful driving force in the horror and sci-fi realms. I enjoyed playing Star Wars, but if you weren't a jedi, you were going to die very quickly. So people were forced into playing jedi or forced into confronting jedi/sith. And if they didn't, well that's what Star Wars is all about. BRP really gives us the opportunity to show the sweeping difference between say Joe "WTF" dirt farmer with his daddy's pistol vs Sam "Reaper of Souls" Colt the gunslinger. BRP brings an incredible amount of options and as has been mentioned above, adventures are what could be taken advantage of for the better. They can be scaled (obviously) to fit the needs of a GM, so I think it would help BRP if they had a wider support element. But again, I'm the new guy, so take my limited experience with BRP with a grain of salt. Did I mention how much I like the flexibility of BRP?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't want to dampen anybody's enthusiasm but without something like a strong licence backing this, I suspect it would only end up with Chaosium losing money.... (Mythos anyone?)

Yep I'm inclined to agree here, see my original post, but I was just throwing a bone out there to feed Loki's enthusiasm. Personally I wouldn't be spending money on a boxed rpg set these days.

And yes, Basic Roleplaying is a lackluster title compared to names like 'Dungeons & Dragons' or 'Warhammer'. I liked their first attempt at a generic ruleset using three different settings, 'Worlds of Wonder', that title is much more evocative as well as remaining generic, I don't know why the BGB wasn't released as that actually. I seriously doubt kids would buy a boxed set titled 'Basic Roleplaying Lite', but they may go for 'Worlds of Wonder' - heck more adults would probably pick the BGB up as well if the name had more of a ring to it.

Still, it pays to have enthusiasm Loki, 'cause after all that's what rpgs need!

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like I said, I wouldn't advocate a box set for Basic RolePlaying - I think the hardback book is the best format for it. I am arguing that a 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu should be done as an Introductionary Box set, that could act as a gateway for the whole BRP system.

Call of Cthulhu has enough notability as an IP to do this - and I note that Cubicle 7 are already proposing a Cthulhu Brittanica: London Box Set. If a box set is mooted as a potential success, why shouldn't the Core rules be too?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Putting aside the idea of a boxed set for a moment, I think a Worlds of Wonder style book, with few options and and a clear set of starter rules for the three types of game (SF, Supers and Fantasy), would make BRP hugely more accessible to a younger audience. The question is, would we like that? ;)

Dreamscape Design: Crafters of the Finest Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dreamscape Design: My Corner of BRP Central ... Mine, All Mine! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...or like the old RQ proposing the Very Basic RPG in the box, which allowed to start playing without magics. The French magazine Cassus Belli, which had for a while the rights of the BRP, published actualized basic rules + 3 very basic settings. This could be a good idea, as teaser for more developped settings. Just use the Basic Quick Start + the 3 very simple and classical settings (space opera, fantasy with orcs, super heros à la Marvel, all themes easy to understand and likely to find amateurs) slowly introducing some more rules + the BGB.

The most important is the younger audience: whatever the form, old afficionados like us will anyway like it...:)

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...