Basic Roleplaying Universal Game Engine – First Impressions

So I was a complete @chaosium_inc fanboy yesterday and downloaded the new version of the Basic Roleplaying Universal Game Engine. This is my impressions from a quick skim read. Bear in mind that I’ve got a long history with the previous version of the book, 2008 Big Gold Book (BGB), so I’ll be comparing it to that.

On the one hand, it is a tidied-up version of the BGB, so as an old hand (who was in the playtest) there’s a lot of familiar content. But there are also new bits that bring it into the modern age. The book’s author Jason Durall gives a breakdown of what’s different over at Basic Roleplaying Central.

The main big thing for me is the presentation, which is now clean full-colour art.  Probably less art overall than the BGB, which was full-on black and white, almost in the style of a 90s book, but more impactful. Certainly, it brings it up on par with the recent full-colour editions of Savage Worlds.

The devil is in the details, and only a full read will see if the new version really makes it a streamlined generic system that you can put together a new game out of. BGB was more like a reference book of BRP’s greatest hits and a bit dry with it for my tastes.

One thing as a publisher that is exciting is that the WHOLE of the book, sans product identity (trademarks etc) is released as open content under the emerging Open Roleplaying game. Even the draft version of the ORC license, this is a much more generous license than the previous BRP-OGL.

Tis was the night before Chaosium’s (New) Basic Roleplaying

The nerves of this old BRP fan are set afire since tomorrow a new version of Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying, or Basic Roleplaying Universal Engine as they are billing this version, will be released in pdf form tomorrow, with print to follow later in the year.

So many questions that demand answers?

What will be the differences between this and the previous version, 2008s Big Gold Book (which was on sale for $1 back in January)?

What form and terms will its release under the new ORC license be?

What support will Chaosium give it? Or is it expected to come from Third Party publishers?

I’m going to have difficulty sleeping tonight 🙂

Beyond Dread Portals on Kickstarter until 2nd May

This is Paul’s take on fantasy D20 Class/Level gaming, streamlined rules with narrative elements, set in the baroque worlds controlled by the Empire of Ys.

If you want more info, there’s a video of Paul and me talking about the game, an interview with the Smart Party Podcast and us, and a 92-page preview pdf (rules up to 5th Level includes an adventure) linked to on the Kickstarter page.

It went live today, and until Tuesday, 4th May, all backers get an early bird backer gift of “The Traveller’s Guide to Polydrones” written by Paul and myself.

New edition of Swords and Wizardry coming to Kickstarter soon

Swords and Wizardry is still my favourite of the D&D retro-clones, although the recent arrival of the Old School Essentials Basic and Advance box sets gives it a close run for its money.  Matt Finch brought it back under his Mythmere games imprint after it got a wider audience with Frog God games for a while last year, and now soon, he’s kickstarting a new edition.


Beyond Dread Portals Kickstarter mark the date!

Finally, after many false starts, I’ve got a date for the Beyond Dread Portals Kickstarter opening.

Sunday 2nd April

(it would be a day earlier, but you’d think I’d be fooling 😉 )

Check out the preview pdf (but bear in mind the final product will be non-OGL since its author Paul Mitchener has gone through it and purged all D20 SRD content during the OGL fiasco in January).

And here’s me and Mitch having a short chat about it.

And if you want to catch up with the story so far, over the years I’ve made here at the Sorcerer.

The Dandy vs the fiend from Beyond Dread Portals, by Dan Barker

Looking for a new Fantasy RPG?

On the one hand, it’s sad that the worry and upset surrounding WoTC’s new OGL makes existing players want to move games, but if you are in that boat, fear not OpenQuest, while firmly D100 based, may be a suitable alternative.

One game design goal for OpenQuest was to be accessible and welcoming for gamers more familiar with a certain World’s Favourite Fantasy RPG. This is reflected in the default setting, which is very early-medieval period, has orcs, goblins, and other familiar fantasy races from myth and legend. But also, the system is at the simpler end of the D100 spectrum without losing any features. The OpenQuest main rule book is a complete all-in-one book with all the rules, a complete bestiary, an example setting and a complete adventure.

Interested? Read the full article over at

Also, within the next month or so, I’ll be releasing OpenQuest Dungeons, which along with two adventures, has advice for new Referees and players on how to run D100 in the familiar environment of the Dungeon.

OpenQuest Dungeons, cover by Jon Hodgson

OpenQuest Dungeons, cover by Jon Hodgson


Basic Roleplaying, I’ll buy that for a Dollar!

I have warm rosy memories of being on the playtest group for Chaosium’s Big Gold Book of Basic Roleplaying sometime in the 2000s. The book is a big, bold attempt at making BRP a generic system which you can use for any genre or mash-up of genres.  It also pulls from various Chaosium games over the years, being a great-hits compilation as well. Well recommended.

Basic Roleplaying Gold Book