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Basic Roleplaying

Watermarked PDF

The Basic Roleplaying System

Welcome to Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying system, a book that collects in one place rules and options for one of the original and most influential role playing game systems in the world.

This book comprises a roleplaying game system, a framework of rules aimed at allowing players to enact a sort of improvisational radio theater—only without microphones—and with dice determining whe­ther the characters succeed or fail at what they attempt to do. In roleplaying games, one player takes on the role of the gamemaster (GM), while the other player(s) assume the roles of player characters (PCs) in the game. The gamemaster also acts out the roles of characters who aren’t being guided by players: these are called non-player characters (NPCs).

From its origin, Basic Roleplaying was designed to be intuitive and easy to play. Character attributes follow a 3D6 curve, and the other Basic Roleplaying mechanics are even simpler. Virtually all rolls determining success or failure of a task are determined via the roll of percentile dice. This means that there’s less fiddling with dice of different types, and the concept of a percentile chance of success is extremely easy for beginners and experienced players to grasp. There aren’t many easier ways to say a character has a 70% chance of succeeding at an activity.

The core virtues of the system are as evident today as they were when it was first introduced. Primary characteristics of Basic Roleplaying that have emerged from decades of play, across many different varieties of the system are as follows:

  • The system is remarkably friendly to newcomers. It is easy to describe the basics of the game system, and the percentile mechanics, to non-gamers.
  • Players of other game systems often find Basic Roleplaying to be much less mechanistic and less of a barrier to the actual act of roleplaying. Less time spent on game systems usually equals more time available for roleplaying and thinking “in character.”
  • Most of the information players need to know is present on their character sheets.
  • Characters tend to evolve based on practicing the skills they use the most. They do not arbitrarily gain experience in skills and qualities based on ephemeral elements such as levels or experience ranks.
  • Combat can be very quick and deadly, and often the deciding blow in a conflict is the one to land first.
  • Basic Roleplaying is remarkably modular: levels of complexity can be added or removed as needed, and the core system works equally well with considerable detail as it does with a minimal amount of rules.
  • The internal consistency of Basic Roleplaying allows for rules judgments to be made rapidly and with little searching through the rulebook for special cases.
  • This book represents a first for Basic Roleplaying—a system complete in one book, without a defined setting. Previously, Basic Roleplaying has been an integral part of standalone games, usually with rich and deep world settings. Due to differences in these settings, Basic Roleplaying has had many different incarnations. Variant and sometimes contradictory rules have emerged between versions, to better support one particular setting over another.

Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying system reconciles these different flavors of the system and brings many variant rules together between the covers of one book, something that has never been done before. Some of these rules are provided as optional extensions, some as alternate systems, and others have been integrated into the core system. By design, this work is not a reinvention of Basic Roleplaying nor a significant evolution of the system. It is instead a collected and complete version of it, without setting, provided as a guide to players and gamemasters everywhere and compatible with most Basic Roleplaying games. It also allows the gamemaster the ability to create his or her own game world (or worlds), to adapt others from fiction, films, or even translate settings from other roleplaying games into Basic Roleplaying.

By Jason Durall and Sam Johnson; Illustrated by Kevin Ramos, Lisa Free, David Ingersoll, et. al.; Cover by Paul Carrick. 400 pages, illustrated, indexed. 8.5 x 11" watermarked PDF.

ISBN 1-56882-189-1


  • Introduction
  • Characters
  • Skills
  • Powers
    - Magic
    - Psychic Powers
    - Mutations
    - Sorcery
    - Super Powers
  • System
  • Combat
  • Spot Rules
  • Equipment
  • Gamemastering
  • Settings
  • Creatures
  • Appendices
 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (4)
Discussions (28)
Customer avatar
Nicholas B April 20, 2022 4:54 am UTC
CHA2026 is the older edition. The page difference between this and CHA2020 is due to two missing pages in the very back (an ad and a blank with the chaosium logo occupying it), and the cover page is marked "i" in the CHA2020 edition. I have found no evidence of any errata or other changes offhand, but I suspect that the ad (and filler page) were pulled for a product that I think probably holds a license elsewhere now.

Either way....this is my Desert Island game, the one that counts and I'll drag anywhere with me.
Customer avatar
Robert V April 20, 2022 3:32 am UTC
To answer the question of Keith M, Mark D, and Stephen M: I just purchased it (from DTRPG), and I can now download both "CHA2020-BRP_rulebook-dtrpg.pdf" and "CHA2026_-_Basic_RolePlaying_Rulebook.pdf".

This is the way most companies seem to operate with PDFs purchased on DTRPG, by the way: Unless it's really a pretty major update (like, say, for PF2 rather than PF1 or some such thing), you'll typically be able to download any updates to a purchased product that they may come out with later. It's also fairly typical for the information presented on DTRPG to not be entirely accurate :P
Customer avatar
Stephen M April 19, 2022 7:42 pm UTC
Same question as Mark D and Keith M.
Customer avatar
Mark D April 19, 2022 6:44 pm UTC
Same question as Keith M.
Customer avatar
Keith M April 19, 2022 6:06 pm UTC
So which version is the latest updated version?

Pretty confusing as CHA2020 is 17 MB, 401 pages, and the copyright latest date is 2022.

CHA2026 is 25 MB, 404 pages, copyright latest date is 2010.

I would think CHA2026 is newer than CHA2020 but why does CHA2020 have a more recent copyright?

Can someone explain this?

Thank you!
Customer avatar
Jim L April 19, 2022 8:39 pm UTC
On the Chaosium site, the current BRP softcover has code CHA2020, while the PDF there has code CHG2026.
I presume the latest PDF here has been updated to reflect the softcover BRP rulebook.
Customer avatar
Keith M April 19, 2022 8:44 pm UTC
Now that kind of makes sense as I was only thinking in terms of pdf (and not print).

Perhaps DTRPG just confused this a bit.

Thank you for your answer, hopefully DTRPG or Chaosium can elaborate further!
Customer avatar
Riun R February 16, 2022 4:28 am UTC
POD please for the love! Honestly, many people really want this. Put out a pod especially for international buyers. Please please please.

Customer avatar
Michael O April 19, 2022 4:21 pm UTC
Available in print (softcover) at
Customer avatar
James L February 11, 2022 6:35 am UTC
Chaosium needs to add updated 2010 pdf instead of this last updated 2007 version. Also print on demand is desperately needed. Lulu can't print it due to some errors with image sizes. :( The pdf on Chaosiums website is the 2010 version. Unfortunately the physical book is 2007 version. Which really sucks since I bought both from them on their site.
Customer avatar
Robert S April 12, 2022 11:51 am UTC
Hi James, is this still the older version (CHA2020-PDF) instead of the newer file (CHA2026-PDF) ?
Customer avatar
James L April 12, 2022 3:59 pm UTC
Hey Robert it looks to b the newer version. The physical copy Chaosium was selling from their website was the older version. They did include the newer pdf with that older version of the PDF from their website. That was the confusion for me. Someone told as an aside that they've pulled the book from their website now. I've not yet gotten around to checking that out though.

My advice to you is to buy the pdf if you want the Gold BRP book and then go to Lulu and have it printed up. That's what I ended up doing so that my pdf and physical copy matched. I tend to read pdfs and use the physical book for quick references while reading the pdf. Also I tend to use the physical book for actual game play. Anyhow I hope that helps.
Customer avatar
Robert S April 14, 2022 6:01 am UTC
Hello James, Thank you for the confirmation :) I've got the CHA2026-PDF version now (from Jan 2011). I also own one of the few hardcover editions - finally all these versions have the same content. :-D

If you look at the BRP forum ( there's also a list of errata in the downloads section that might be useful to look through. Some clarifications and minion rules are available, too.
Customer avatar
James L April 20, 2022 10:00 pm UTC
Glad to help. Also thanks for the reminder about BRP forum. Over the years I've tended to forget about as a tool. At least that is until I start Googling for something I was trying to recall I'm regards to d100 family of rpgs. Lol I'll have to wander over and check out the downloads area, it's been a few years. Errata of course always a useful download!
Customer avatar
Jonathan P January 18, 2022 11:03 pm UTC

I need a hardback of this.
Customer avatar
Christine M January 03, 2022 7:24 pm UTC
POD please!
Customer avatar
Rickard N December 26, 2021 9:41 pm UTC
Another request for POD.
Customer avatar
Leiah M November 17, 2021 5:14 am UTC
Adding my voice to the chorus asking for a PoD version of this game. I much prefer the older version of BRP to newer versions that have been coming out.
Customer avatar
Bob R October 20, 2021 3:56 pm UTC
Yep, another request for POD. I'm not sure why this isn't an option when so many other BRP titles are POD; heck even Chaosium themselves no longer offer a printed version, why not?
Customer avatar
Christopher H September 29, 2021 2:42 pm UTC
Another request for POD... in hardcover, please!
Customer avatar
Andrew L June 05, 2021 9:17 am UTC
One Thing I would say Is If No new Vesion is Created Please make the BRP Products POD, Rpgs need to flow quickly and PDF's are way to slow to find what you want during Gametime, Ok in Downtime but a Printed Book Is Always Monarch on a Games Table :) and I would Love to see the Other Old Chaosium Titles as Pod's To, Stormbringer, Hawkmoon, Ringworld etc etc all great Titles it would be Nice to get New printed versions Have done Like Wizards with Star Frontiers for example, and Some of the other Old Classic Editions othe Games Companies have re-released, It Dosn't take a Huge expensive re-write just a Jiggling in of Errata is good enough as do you really need to Fix Classics :)
Customer avatar
Andrew L June 05, 2021 9:00 am UTC
One thing About Updating BRP, Chaosium seems to realse new titles as PDF Then go to Print as Hardbacks great I love this, I can only assume its a Finacial Stratagy, Wouldn't it make more Sense to Offer the Titles as POD as soon as Available, No Wait for a Printed edition and Could Be offered as Soft or Hardback Options, I personally Love the Publishers who do this and I most cases POD is available in the Customers Home Country :)
Customer avatar
James C June 04, 2021 7:00 pm UTC
Another request for POD.
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This title was added to our catalog on January 17, 2007.