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What's BRP really good at?


PoppySeed45

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I asked a similar question some days ago on RPGnet, but I realized, I'd get better, and more informed, responses here.

As the title says, what is BRP really good at? Like, what sorts of genres or settings lend themselves well to BRP, with no houseruling, following the BGB? For example, fantasy (high and low)? Various sorts of sci-fi (space opera, cyberpunk, hard, etc)? Intrigue/Influence based games? Historical settings (like, using actual history, or history with a twist)? Games with lots of combat? Games with almost none? Social-monster games (like, you're a bunch of courtiers in a king's court trying to stop a war)? Or what?

Very curious here. Bonus points if you've actually used the BGB to run said game that you mention.

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BRP is at its best depicting normal, human-level heroes regardless of genre, although it's traditional venues have been assorted sub-genres of fantasy (RuneQuest, Pendragon, Elric, Elfquest) and horror (Call of Cthulhu) with a little space opera sci-fi thrown in (Ringworld, BRP Mecha). There have been several excellent historical roleplaying supplements (Rome, Age of Eleanor, Celestial Empire) and semi-historical (Mythic Iceland). Combat is gritty and even veteran characters are fragile, so this isn't a system where player-characters can charge headlong into a fight like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis without without getting a scratch. They'll have to use their heads and fight smart (and perhaps dirty) to survive.

Pushing the boundaries of the system are Astounding Adventures (pulp) and Superworld (super heroes). BRP does best with low- to medium-level supers. Once you hit Justice League or Avengers level, things sometimes don't run as smoothly.

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If you're running a gritty fantasy or occult game, regardless of the setting, it works well, due to the way powers are handled and the already mentioned low hit points. But it's real strength is it's easy configuration and the wealth of optional rules both in and out of the book, as well as the internal consistency of these rules. These allow for just about any play-style while remaining true to the skill based advancement and simple rolling mechanics of the core.

I've run post apocolyptic and high fantasy (with lovecraftian elements) games in the system, and honestly it's never failed me (Though too high of stats gets to not being fun anymore if the challenges don't scale appropriately).

If you don't want as gritty a game, it's easy to do as well. Normally HP is CON+SIZ/2, so removing the /2 lengthens fights considerably, and I think is actually an optional rule for heroic combat in the book.

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If you're running a gritty fantasy or occult game, regardless of the setting, it works well, due to the way powers are handled and the already mentioned low hit points. But it's real strength is it's easy configuration and the wealth of optional rules both in and out of the book, as well as the internal consistency of these rules. These allow for just about any play-style while remaining true to the skill based advancement and simple rolling mechanics of the core.

I've run post apocolyptic and high fantasy (with lovecraftian elements) games in the system, and honestly it's never failed me (Though too high of stats gets to not being fun anymore if the challenges don't scale appropriately).

If you don't want as gritty a game, it's easy to do as well. Normally HP is CON+SIZ/2, so removing the /2 lengthens fights considerably, and I think is actually an optional rule for heroic combat in the book.

Gritty fantasy? Right up my alley. As is the occult (indeed, I'm thinking my next game will be an urban occult game). So that's good to hear.

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BRP is at its best depicting normal, human-level heroes regardless of genre, although it's traditional venues have been assorted sub-genres of fantasy (RuneQuest, Pendragon, Elric, Elfquest) and horror (Call of Cthulhu) with a little space opera sci-fi thrown in (Ringworld, BRP Mecha). There have been several excellent historical roleplaying supplements (Rome, Age of Eleanor, Celestial Empire) and semi-historical (Mythic Iceland). Combat is gritty and even veteran characters are fragile, so this isn't a system where player-characters can charge headlong into a fight like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis without without getting a scratch. They'll have to use their heads and fight smart (and perhaps dirty) to survive.

Pushing the boundaries of the system are Astounding Adventures (pulp) and Superworld (super heroes). BRP does best with low- to medium-level supers. Once you hit Justice League or Avengers level, things sometimes don't run as smoothly.

Historical is one of the main areas I'm interested in, since I'm quite the history buff. And yes, BRP Rome is on my buying list; just waiting for the next paycheck (it helps I'm re-reading the Masters of Rome series now, naturally).

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To me... I don't think it is a question of what BRP is best AT.

What makes BRP so great (and in my opinion the best system) is that it is easily integrated to fulfill all of those scenarios. That's the point of the BGB, its versatility.

To answer the question "what is BRP best at?" I think you have to ask yourself and your players.. "what are YOU best at?" Undoubtedly BRP can accommodate your needs regardless the scenario, but I think certain groups of people are better at certain genres than others.

Anyway I know my post is a bit of a derailing, but I hope my point is clear and unoffensive. (The Saints lost badly tonight, and I've had a bit too much to drink.)

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There are many things BRP is good at. For example, it is easy to understand, learn, referee and modify.

One of the reasons I like and use it, especially for my alternate history settings, is that it tends to gene-

rate plausible characters, characters who are still "on a human scale" and vulnerable enough to inspire

the players to play them like real persons, who are aware that brute force does not always lead to suc-

cess and that despite all of their skills there will always be many problems they will not be able to solve.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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To me... I don't think it is a question of what BRP is best AT.

What makes BRP so great (and in my opinion the best system) is that it is easily integrated to fulfill all of those scenarios. That's the point of the BGB, its versatility.

To answer the question "what is BRP best at?" I think you have to ask yourself and your players.. "what are YOU best at?" Undoubtedly BRP can accommodate your needs regardless the scenario, but I think certain groups of people are better at certain genres than others.

Anyway I know my post is a bit of a derailing, but I hope my point is clear and unoffensive. (The Saints lost badly tonight, and I've had a bit too much to drink.)

Well, I disagree obviously (and thus my OP). Certain systems lend themselves to certain things. Burning Wheel gives players a tool to guide social conflicts (the Duel of Wits). Strands of Fate gives tools to pit organizations abstractly against each other (the Organization Fate fractal). Savage Worlds is a whole lot about heroic characters and a lot less about the farmer in his hovel. D&D Re/Blue box seems to be an exploration game with a tactical game tacked on. D&D 4th seems to be a tactical game with exploration tacked on.

All these games lend themselves to doing certain genres and what not well, with little or no extra work on the part of the GM. Can you do any sort of genre/setting with any of those? Of course. But that doesn't mean the game is built for it to be easy, whereas they ARE built (by design or accident) to handle certain genres and playstyles and settings well. Or not.

Take Savage Worlds. You certainly CAN do gritty games in Savage Worlds (there are even variant rules for it in the Deluxe book), but at default, SW isn't built for that sort of game. You have to make some extra effort (those rules changes, teaching and remembering them) to implement that. BRP, in my estimation, lends itself better to gritty games; the default damage and weapon mechanics generally create an atmosphere where one or two solid hits can kill, and you've no metagame resource, at default, to manipulate to save you (like SW bennies).

So, my question. What is BRP BGB good at? What does it lend itself to?

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There are many things BRP is good at. For example, it is easy to understand, learn, referee and modify.

One of the reasons I like and use it, especially for my alternate history settings, is that it tends to gene-

rate plausible characters, characters who are still "on a human scale" and vulnerable enough to inspire

the players to play them like real persons, who are aware that brute force does not always lead to suc-

cess and that despite all of their skills there will always be many problems they will not be able to solve.

An interesting way to answer, and I like it. I'm leaning towards it too, frankly, and for the reasons you're mentioning here. Though I haven't tried to teach it yet. One of my motivations is this. I mean, I'm running Burning Wheel Gold now, and we're having a blast, but the system pushes towards certain outcomes, and the players are playing their characters based on things they like and don't like in the system (and certain parts are really awesome for them, and others a bit against their taste). If that makes sense.

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It's good at allowing you to take games of different genres and mashing them together because of the universality of its mechanics without being anywhere near as crazy as Palladium or (purportedly) extremely fiddility GURPs.

I'm running Post-apocalyptic Arthurian Romance with Mecha. The bits I had to house-rule were only done so because I am using Pendragon as the base instead of something like Merrie England.

My roleplaying blog: Axes and Orcs. Scramblings of anime, D&D, and RQ-derived games.

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I asked a similar question some days ago on RPGnet, but I realized, I'd get better, and more informed, responses here.

As the title says, what is BRP really good at? Like, what sorts of genres or settings lend themselves well to BRP, with no houseruling, following the BGB? For example, fantasy (high and low)? Various sorts of sci-fi (space opera, cyberpunk, hard, etc)? Intrigue/Influence based games? Historical settings (like, using actual history, or history with a twist)? Games with lots of combat? Games with almost none? Social-monster games (like, you're a bunch of courtiers in a king's court trying to stop a war)? Or what?

Very curious here. Bonus points if you've actually used the BGB to run said game that you mention.

As I replied in your post over at RPGnet:

BRP in general really only struggles with 4 color supers (aka high powered, over the top). It can handle just about everything else from street level supers, modern warfare, historical/historical fantasy, high powered fantasy, grim'n'gritty, near future, far future, etc. Using the various options for skills over 100%, high powered stuff goes fine as the "master" in whatever gets a significant advantage when facing mooks. However, there is still some risk - a high leveled master vs. a horde of mooks runs a significant risk of death without a decent plan and good tactics.

I and others here were involved in the proofreading and clarification of rules when Jason compiled/wrote the BGB, as well as Magic World with Ben. So, while I cannot say specifically that I used the BGB, I used the rules that provided the source/inspiration to run games set in Moorcock's Multiverse (using Elric!/Stormbringer and others), Call of Cthulhu, adventures in Athas (TSR's Dark Sun), and I am working on a port of Skyrealms of Jorune over to BRP. I am also fiddling with a John Carter of Mars/Barsoom write up, have played some Star Wars and Traveller BRP hacks, and others.

Ian

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Like others here I find BRP runs games with normal human level characters very well. However it can run higher level stuff well, it just doesn't look like it does. This is because in BRP the character is shinier than the gear they carry. I think that's because we are conditioned to think high fantasy = DnD and in DnD past 9th level you are only as powerful as your gear. One of the things I like about Mythic Iceland is that the power level scales from normal person to Odin's-favourite-mortal.

The comment about BRP being easy to understand and quick to run is also true. A lot of the time people compare gaming systems by what they can do without mentioning how easy it is to use. I ran a Call of Cthulhu game a few years back after a long break and running it was a joy. Everyone understands percentages and the skills do what their names suggest without fiddly exceptions and caveats. None of the players had played it before, but picked it up very easily. Questions to the DM were about the adventure and situation, not the rules. This is BRPs biggest strength: They system doesn't get in the way of the game, you don't get those jarring breaks while looking up obscure rules.

The sacred sentence of science: "I might be wrong: let's find out." - David Brin

My Blog: http://grevsspace.wordpress.com/

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BRP is good at gritty combat, low-magic settings, Alternate History of all kinds, Science Fiction and Horror.

It is especially good at high-impact games where you don;t have superheroic abilities but a good blow to the gut could discommode or kill you.

Where I find that BRP shines, though, is in its flexibility. All you need for a setting is a set of backgrounds, professions, setting-specific skills, setting-specific magic if relevant and you are good to go. The basic combat and skill resolution is the same regardless of the setting, and that it a big plus point for me.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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I am going to toss my vote into the: gritty combat, low magic, normal human-level games. It is easy to learn, easy to modify, easy to import/export to other systems and genres. It rewards storytelling and it plays quickly. It is also very difficult to have players min/max in BRP. They can be very, very good at something, but not so ridiculous as other games allow (or reward).

Here is an older, very similar thread: The-Strengths-of-BRP

One of the things that I have done is to take other games (primarily Palladium and D20) and convert from those games to BRP (taking characters, background, setting, etc. and just importing directly into BRP) and running them that way. I have done specifically to reduce the min/maxing that those other games reward and have found that it makes the crunchy part of gaming much, much simpler while still keeping the feel of the original setting intact.

-STS

Edited by sladethesniper
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Something no one else has mentioned is that BRP is also really good at preventing "munchkin"-style players from "gaming" the system. Since there are no feats/advantages/edges, players can't stack bonuses in order to engineer a character that breaks the game or requires the GM to implement power inflation. This also contributes to the flow and pace of the actual game since there are fewer times the game has to stop to look up rules. Most of book digging that happens in other systems is the result of feats/advantages/edges, etc.

Edited by Paul_Va
Typo correction

You can follow me on Google+ here: https://www.google.com/+PaulVasquezE

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Something no one else has mentioned is that BRP is also really good at preventing "munchkin"-style players from "gaming" the system. Since there are no feats/advantages/edges, players can't stack bonuses in order to engineer a character that breaks the game or requires the GM to implement power inflation. This also contributes to the flow and pace of the actual game since there are fewer times the game has to stop to look up rules. Most of book digging that happens in other systems is the result of feats/advantages/edges, etc.

Very true, and now that you've mentioned it, it's one of the draws. While Burning Wheel isn't so bad in this regard, other games I've thought about using are (including FATE, which has people arguing about which Aspects apply to any given roll, which drove me crazy last time I ran it). Really, I'm liking the idea of no "extras" like Feats/Edges/Traits and all that.

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Something no one else has mentioned is that BRP is also really good at preventing "munchkin"-style players from "gaming" the system. Since there are no feats/advantages/edges, players can't stack bonuses in order to engineer a character that breaks the game or requires the GM to implement power inflation. This also contributes to the flow and pace of the actual game since there are fewer times the game has to stop to look up rules. Most of book digging that happens in other systems is the result of feats/advantages/edges, etc.

I totally did, like two posts before you... :( j/k...

-STS

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Sorry for coming so lately...

I fully do agree with everything said above and just would like to add this...

Most games insist more on one aspect described by the GNS theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNS_Theory) rather than on the two other ones. GURPS, for instance, insist on simulationism while D&D insist on gamism...

In my humble opinion, BRP is the one that allows the best balance between the three.

The rules are not too much simulationist but still give a good feeling of realism and consistent characters. The rules are also light enough to allow GM and players to thing about the story and the descriptions rather than about rules... And BRP finally allows to play easily in a gamist mode for those who want to: even if there is no feats/advantages/edges, as it has been very well said above, the players can still choose wisely their skills in order to build the best possible team of player characters and, then, act strategically to use these skills at best (it is incidentally a good hint to do so if you want to avoid a pathethic failure during a Call of Cthulhu campaign: you need skilled linguists, skilled scientists, skilled investigators and also skilled combatants) .

Brief, everybody can be happy with the BRP system... Of course, the drawback of this very fine balance is that if you really love one of the three manner of playing, and only that one, you may find that BRP doesn't fit you. The pure simulationists will find that it is not precise enough. The pure gamists will find that there is not enough options to optimize their characters. And the pure narrativists will find that there is too much random (and not enough way to control the story).

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Sorry for coming so lately...

I fully do agree with everything said above and just would like to add this...

Most games insist more on one aspect described by the GNS theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNS_Theory) rather than on the two other ones. GURPS, for instance, insist on simulationism while D&D insist on gamism...

In my humble opinion, BRP is the one that allows the best balance between the three.

The rules are not too much simulationist but still give a good feeling of realism and consistent characters. The rules are also light enough to allow GM and players to thing about the story and the descriptions rather than about rules... And BRP finally allows to play easily in a gamist mode for those who want to: even if there is no feats/advantages/edges, as it has been very well said above, the players can still choose wisely their skills in order to build the best possible team of player characters and, then, act strategically to use these skills at best (it is incidentally a good hint to do so if you want to avoid a pathethic failure during a Call of Cthulhu campaign: you need skilled linguists, skilled scientists, skilled investigators and also skilled combatants) .

Brief, everybody can be happy with the BRP system... Of course, the drawback of this very fine balance is that if you really love one of the three manner of playing, and only that one, you may find that BRP doesn't fit you. The pure simulationists will find that it is not precise enough. The pure gamists will find that there is not enough options to optimize their characters. And the pure narrativists will find that there is too much random (and not enough way to control the story).

I think this might be the best explanation I've seen of the benefits of BRP, although the one exception I'd take is that I think Call of Cthulhu shows that BRP is just about the best narrativist system there is.

You can follow me on Google+ here: https://www.google.com/+PaulVasquezE

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I think this might be the best explanation I've seen of the benefits of BRP, although the one exception I'd take is that I think Call of Cthulhu shows that BRP is just about the best narrativist system there is.

Narrativist for the monsters...for the PC's not so much. They CAN have large effects on the story, but the GM has to tweak the expectations of the genre to do so. For a pure story, it works, but the costs can be very high for the PC's.

-STS

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I think this might be the best explanation I've seen of the benefits of BRP, although the one exception I'd take is that I think Call of Cthulhu shows that BRP is just about the best narrativist system there is.

Thank you.

Cthulhu can be played in a very narrativist way, indeed (very few dice rolls). But I still wouldn't say it is the best narrativist system (even if this is the one I do prefer, of course). Narrativists players want features that allows to bend story to their willing from time to time, like plot points. They also love when subplots (what they wrote about their character story) have an important impact on the campaign. Narrativist GMs like rules where the story is more taken into account than the rules. They like for instance having the possibility of ruling that a character automatically succeeds or fails a task, without having to roll any dice and without player risking to shout immediately: "Hey! that's not fair! I had 50% to avoid that. Why didn't you allow me to make a roll?"

So, in that matter, Cthulhu may not the best candidate. Theatrix is certainly the one which pushed the narrativist limits as far as possible.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatrix_%28role-playing_game%29

There is no roll in Theatrix and, worse, the characters abilities are not even used to determine success or failure of tasks. The description of characters action is what allows the GM to know if he succeeded or failed. The character stats are just a way to know how he did it (by luck or by ability).

Likewise, if the players want to succeed a Cthulhu campaign with the BRP system, especially a long one, they will have to play with a minimum gamist mode. They have to balance the skills of their team in order to be good at the widest possible range of abilities, in order to find the most possible clues, to read the most possible books, to win the most possible combats. Not against monsters, of course! Fighting them directly is suicide. But against cultists who will inevitably try to prevent them to go deeper in the investigation...

And the rules are still here to keep things realistic and consistent. Even if he wanted too, the GM doesn't have the right to decide that a gun shot critical success doesn't hurt a foe when this one is an ordinary human without armor and magic power... Or the GM will have to quickly find a very good explanation because the players will indubitably question the realism of his game world...

So, in my humble opinion, even with Cthulhu the BRP system remains a very good balance between gamism, narrativism and simulationism. But Cthulhu is surely more narrativist than other versions of the system - I fully do agree with that.

Edited by Gollum
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