The ‘Old School Renaissance’, at least with respect to D&D and AD&D, is a well known and (by now) a well-established phenomenon within our strange little hobby.
However, it seems that the gaming community is in the midst of another renaissance, namely, a renaissance of ‘Basic Role-playing’ (‘BRP’) or ‘d100’ games and settings.
BRP-based games never ceased being published altogether by (at least one) professional RPG company, unlike ‘classic’ D&D and AD&D (0e, Basic, and 1e). And even though Chaosium, like many other RPG companies, had a ‘near death’ experience during the 1990s, it never actually went under.
Impressively, Chaosium’s role-playing games always have been ‘powered’ by BRP, the essentials of which have remained largely unchanged for three decades now.
Things looked pretty grim for Chaosium and BRP early in the twenty-first century. As far as I know, the only BRP-based role-playing games still being published were Call of Cthulhu and Stormbringer (5th edition). (Although I believe that Pendragon also saw sporadic support.) Stormbringer was barely supported. Only one supplement was produced for it during the 0s, namely, the superb Corum book from Darcsyde Productions. (Although Elric! supplements were fully compatible with Stormbringer 5e, those all had been produced during the 1990s.)
These days, though, things look dramatically improved for BRP!
Chaosium published a complete ‘core book’ for BRP in 2008. It includes the core BRP rules, as well as most of the optional rules found in various BRP games and supplements published by Chaosium over its long history.
Call of Cthulhu, of course, continues to be supported by Chaosium, as well as some other companies, such as Goodman Games.
Cubicle Seven has just come out with The Laundry RPG (as well as a few CoC books). I recently purchased The Laundry PDF, and my first impression of it is very favourable indeed. I’ve only read Charlie Stross’s first Laundry book, but I liked it very much, and plan to read the rest in the series. It strikes me as a great setting for a (not-fully-serious) CoC-flavoured game. (Alas, Yog-Sothoth only knows when I’ll be able to give the Laundry RPG a proper read…)
And although out of print, most of Chaosium’s back catalogue of Stormbringer (first and fourth editions), Elric!, and Hawkmoon materials are now available in PDF (thanks to an arrangement with Mongoose Games).
Then we have Mongoose Games’ RuneQuest II. My impression is that Mongoose’s first attempt to resurrect RuneQuest was something less than a ringing success. I know that I decided against purchasing anything for MRQ when I skimmed through the initial book. Subsequent reviews confirmed my early negative judgement. Moreover, Mongoose’s long record of poor editing and spotty quality control in their books made me decide against giving MRQ a shot.
However, based on some favourable initial reports, I decided to give Mongoose’s second effort at RuneQuest a shot. I’m very glad that I did, as the core book avoided the usual Mongoose missteps. Moreover, the system looks very, very well designed. I think that Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash did an excellent job! (Sadly, I suspect that MRQII is too ‘rules heavy’ for my regular players. But perhaps I might eventually convince them to give it a shot…)
Probably my favourite new BRP setting produced in recent years is Clockwork & Chivalry – a MRQII campaign book published by Cubicle 7 that describes an ‘alternative history’ version of 17th Century England. I drooled in anticipation over this setting in this post. Now that I’ve received the book and looked through it, I believe that my earlier enthusiasm has been entirely vindicated.
Last – but certainly not least! – there is RuneQuest’s ‘lighter’ and ‘simpler’ cousin OpenQuest, written and supported by a friend of this blog, Newt Newport. I’ve raved about OQ in past posts here, so I shall refrain from doing so again now. However, interested readers may want to look at my comparison of MRQII and OQ.
So, lots of cool things are available for BRP these days! Among them:
· The glorious golden BRP corebook from Chaosium
· The usual wide range of Call of Cthulhu material
· The brand new Laundry RPG
· Mongoose’s RuneQuest II
· The Clockwork & Chivalry Setting for MRQII
For such an old system, BRP looks to be in surprisingly good health! J