Requiem for a Gentleman

[The frequence of my posts is pretty low these days. Hopefully I will make up for it with a good bunch of posts I have drafted.]

Today I would like to elaborate on my last point: Chaosium and Hero Games are de-genericizing their classic generic systems (Basic Role-Playing and Hero System, respectively), to focus on their best selling genre games (Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Champions). I am especially sorry for BRP, and here is why.

BRP is by far the most long-lived system still around. In thirty years it has brought to life many disparate, often memorable games. In my country, where Runequest was not translated in order to avoid the competition of D&D and MERP, BRP was especially known for Call of Cthulhu and Stormbringer. A literate system for anti-heroic and desperate adventures. In what I might call the Classic Age of gaming in Italy (late 80s-mid 90s), while D&D was by far the most widely played RPG, it was a rarity that a gaming group only played D&D. The informal arrangement was that in a group people alternated to GM, and more often than not each member bought the core books for a different system. So almost every group that played D&D also played CoC, Cyberpunk 2020, MERP or Stormbringer.

Eventually, even the generic BRP booklet was translated in Italian and had some diffusion, but the Classic Age had come to an end by then. The move by Chaosium to publish the Big Golden Book in 2008 was the explicit recognition that the system itself had some popularity, and people would have loved to use it for other, less explored settings of their own choice. In the last ten years, the Big Golden Book, together with the licences to Cubicle 7, Alephtar Games and others, has generated a great number of sourcebooks, most of them historically inspired, of the highest quality. Books like Alephtar’s RomeCelestial Empire or Crusaders of the Amber Coast are among the very few that can rival the classic GURPS 3e historical titles. Because of the end of the BRP licenses, all these books have been put out of print all of a sudden, and forever. This is objectively a huge loss for the gaming community at large, especially if you consider that the books were very usable with other systems, and the second-hand prices for these books are already outrageously high. I am glad to have the PDFs of most of these titles, but I deeply regret not buying physical copies when I was still allowed to.

Now that it has been deprived of BRP, Alephtar Games is working on their own generic d100 system, which will be called Revolution D100. I have come too late to back them, but I am pretty surely buying the thing when it is out. BRP deserves a worthy heir.


EDIT 23 December 2016 – Rome has been expanded and redone as a Mythras supplement. It also seems that Revolution D100 is finally out. Hallelujah!


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