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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
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Reviews (4)
Discussions (9)
Customer avatar
Clyde G June 14, 2020 11:04 pm UTC
I would absolutely buy a PoD version of this.
Customer avatar
Sándor L November 22, 2019 8:35 pm UTC
+1 for POD. As Andrew said, the shipping cost from the US makes ordering this book from the Chaosium website a no go for so many of us.
Keeping fingers crossed for a new/revised edition as well. It would be great to have such a fantastic game system as an offset printed hardcover book.
Customer avatar
Keith M November 04, 2019 7:14 am UTC
Great to hear about a possible PoD!

Too bad about it not being a big seller. It is such a good system!
Customer avatar
Andrew L September 26, 2019 1:21 pm UTC
Ok so Runequest has been fabulously reproduced, Chutulu also so Why not BRP, And why no print on demand Softback, anyone but US Gamers is hammered for Postage :( :(
Customer avatar
Rick M September 27, 2019 4:50 pm UTC
BRP was last updated about 12 years ago. We are working on making this a PoD title.
As for making it a beautiful full color book like the new RQ or CoC books, we are doing a financial analysis of whether it is worth it.
Past sales history of the book shows it was never a big seller, which is why it was not reprinted after the initial print run sold out (after many years).
Customer avatar
Adam Steen B March 21, 2019 9:49 pm UTC
I wish there could be a new and improved BRP rulebook.
Customer avatar
Dani J January 13, 2019 4:10 am UTC
I will only consider buying this product, if there is a bookmark... Even then, this is like a product from 2007. I should expect new edition like it's offspring products (COC 7th ed, and Runequest)
Customer avatar
Rory H April 26, 2019 4:30 am UTC
Unlike it's offspring - and BRP was actually an offspring of RuneQuest - it's not really deemed a creative priority by Chaosium. I'm not sure it sells anything like as well as Call of Cthulhu, for example.
Customer avatar
Andrew L July 07, 2018 3:55 pm UTC
Like most of Chaosium's books I have this Direct from Chaosium's own webpages, However Considering I am a UK gamer and Import costs are way to High it would be nice if they Offered Print on demand Via Drivethru :)
Customer avatar
Clyde G June 01, 2018 6:20 pm UTC
Considering it's limited utility as an useful PDF, can we at least get a POD option?
Customer avatar
Todd S April 30, 2017 10:24 pm UTC
I got the pdf from the Chaosium site when I bough the physical book. That pdf does not have any bookmarks or hyperlinked TOC, which makes navigation of a 400 page file annoying. Does this pdf have such amenities?
Customer avatar
andrew F May 12, 2017 7:21 pm UTC
For those curious about it, this appears to be exactly the same document Chaosium sold as well. It's got a watermark, but also that page thanking you for buying it from Sadly, there are no bookmarks or other useful navigation aids in the book, leaving it as very much that: A book.

I must say that for one of the pricier PDFs I've bought here, this seems quite disappointing. I need quick lookup options for most systems out there to help keep things running smoothly, but I still intend to use Basic Roleplaying for a game or two, maybe more if I like it better than some previous incarnations of BRP.
Customer avatar
Craig R January 02, 2018 1:07 am UTC
This is very disappointing. My last job for 15 years before retiring was in the field of PDF creation and modification. I know from experience that adding things like TOC's and Bookmarks is NOT DIFFICULT. It is simply settings in whichever PDF generator you are using. *grumble*
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File Last Updated:
January 17, 2007
This title was added to our catalog on January 17, 2007.