Basic Role-Playing (BRP) is a role-playing game system which originated in the fantasy-oriented RuneQuest role-playing game rules. A percentile skill-based system, BRP was used as the basis for most of the games published by Chaosium, including Stormbringer, World of Wonder, Call of Cthulhu, Superworld, Ringworld, Elfquest, Hawkmoon, Elric!, and Nephilim. Pendragon (acquired in 1998 by Green Knight Publishing, and 2005 by White Wolf), while related, has sufficiently different mechanics that it can be seen as a separate system. The BRP standalone booklet was first released in 1980. Two years later it became part of the Worlds of Wonder boxed set. The first edition boxed set of Call of Cthulhu included the booklet as its character creation rules. Greg Stafford and Lynn Willis are credited as the authors.
BRP is similar to other generic systems such as GURPS, Hero System or Savage Worlds in that it uses a simple resolution method which can be broadly applied. In this case an attempt to roll under a certain number with percentile dice. Each incarnation of the BRP rules has changed or added to the core ideas and mechanics, so that games are not identical. For example, in Call of Cthulhu, skills may never be over 100%, while in Stormbringer skills in excess of 100% are encouraged for those who follow Law.
In 2004, Chaosium published the Basic Roleplaying monographs (the hyphen was dropped in the later products). Books with a quick and inexpensive printed format of tape binding and printed cardstock covers, the four monographs (Players Book, Magic Book, Creatures Book, and Gamemaster Book) were printed in order to assert Chaosium's copyrights in the run-up to the publishing and distribution of Deluxe Basic Roleplaying, a game system that is essentially RuneQuest 3rd Edition but with additions to allow play in other genres.
Chaosium released a new version of BRP on June 24th, 2008 as single comprehensive book. Currently they are selling both a printed and pdf version of the game.
The core rules were originally written by Steve Perrin as part of his game RuneQuest. It was Greg Stafford's idea to simplify the rules (eliminating such things as Strike Ranks and Hit Locations) and issue them in a 16 page booklet called Basic Role Playing. Over the years several others, including Sandy Petersen, Lynn Willis, and Steve Henderson, contributed to their final form.
The BRP was notable for being the first role-playing game system to introduce a full skill system to characters regardless of their profession. This was developed in RuneQuest but was also later adopted by the more skill-oriented Call of Cthulhu and the dark fantasy saga of Elric in Stormbringer.
BRP was conceived of as a genre-generic engine around which any sort of RPG could be played, much like GURPS and the d20 system have become today. In order to underscore this, Chaosium produced the Worlds of Wonder supplement, which contained the generic rules and several specific applications of those rules to given genres. Superworld, specifically, began as a portion of the Worlds of Wonder product.
The fantasy game supplement Thieves World, based on the popular series of books by Robert Lynn Asprin, used both the system for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons as well as the RuneQuest variation of the BRP for character statistics, representing the two most popular game systems of the time.
Armour, which had been merged with defence in D&D was broken out. The act of parrying was a skill, the ability of the armor to absorb damage was a separate function. The last major element of many BRP games is one that is shared with Tunnels and Trolls (T&T), which originated this, which is that there is no difference between the player character race systems and the monster or opponents. By varying ability scores the same system is used for a human hero as a trollish villain. This approach also led quickly, as it did in T&T, to players often playing a wide range of non-human characters and game worlds that were deeply pluralist.
Other, non-Chaosium games have used BRP for its core rules. Other Suns, published by Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU), used them under license. In addition, Corum, a supplement to the Stormbringer rules, was published in the fall of 2001 by Darcsyde Productions.
BRP was also licensed to Oriflam in France to create a French language second edition of the Hawkmoon game called Hawkmoon, Nouvelle Edition. This version updated the original Hawkmoon mechanics to more closely parallel those in the newer Elric! game as well as adding sophisticated new rule systems specific to the setting (e.g. Mutations and 'Weird Science').
BRP was also licensed to Japanese companies. BRP games in Japanese are Houkago Kaiki Club (1997, school life and horror, Hobby Japan), Genom Seed (2004, mutant action, Shinkigensha) and Taitei no Ken RPG (2007, SciFi-jidaigeki, based on movie of the same title, Shinkigensha).