Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Basic Roleplaying

Product– Basic Roleplaying

System- Basic Roleplaying

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $15 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/24384/Basic-Roleplaying&affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR– Want to play Runequest in whatever world you want?  95%

Basics–  Why not do EVERYTHING!  Basic Roleplaying is Chaosium’s basic game design for their systems, with rules for a basic RPG and then additional rules to build out different type of games from magic spells, mutations, weapons, and combat actions.

Basic mechanic- This game uses the same percentile system as most of their products.  Take the basic skill or attribute and try to roll under it.  Attributes are your standard DnD ones, but then you multiply by 3 for hard checks or 5 for normal checks and attempt to roll under that value.  Roll under and succeed!

Powers- Powers come in LOTS of varieties here.  Mutations and super powers almost function like feats in other games.  Magic, psychic abilities, and sorcery are more akin to spells in Call of Cthulhu with a character using power points.

Combat-Combat is a bit more advanced than Call of Cthulhu, but builds well and shows its influence on Runequest.  In turn order, you do an action.  Opposed rolls like attacks allow an opponent to do dodges or parries, but each dodge or parry has an escalating chance of failure.  From there you consult a chart to see how hard you hit or miss.

Ok, thats the basics, let’s look at my thoughts!

Mechanics or Crunch– Do you like Runequest? I do, but it’s not my favorite.  I prefer the simplicity of Call of Cthulhu for managing mechanics.  Then again, you can’t get the gritty nature of combat like you do in Runequest.  It’s much less “roll and check your percentage” and more “let’s compare skills/attributes, then check a chart,then maybe oppose roll”  So, there is a trade off of what you want in the game.  None of that is bad in any way, but how deep do you want the game to be?  Some days you just want a simple ham sandwich and some days you want nine layers of flavor. Both are good at the right time.  The one thing that I feel Call of Cthulhu misses is feats or character qualities.  This has it, but I still don’t completely get what I want as its not just “You’re better at X or get a reroll with Y.”  Sure its simple, but I would like that small thing to make this game just a hair closer to DnD’s bonuses.  Overall, solid crunch that misses a few things by a just a bit.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– Theme is hard to judge here.  This is the basic game, so its basically for everything.  I feel its well done, but its also VERY general.  But thats on purpose.  If you wanted a high fantasy game or a superheroes game, this book would honestly work for both.  It also has a bit of art and themes for both as well.  5/5

Execution– What’s here is good, but the book just needs a bit more pizazz.  There is art, decent layout, the text reads easy, and there are hyperlinks because this is 2023.  That said, the book is completely black and white all the way though, so even though I’m reading a book on a tablet it feels like I’m reading a hardcover in the 80s.  That’s nitpicky, but that’s the worst I have to say. 4.75/5

Summary– How much you like this book comes down to how much you like how Chaosium handles games in general.  Do you like percentile-based systems?  Chaosium does it the best with Call of Cthulhu.  I would argue the second best is Runequest.  This book feels like the precursor to the latest edition of Runequest with lots of mechanics being identical between them.  So, to find out if you like this book and system, just ask yourself “Do I want to play Runequest set in X?”  If you want Runequest in a sci-fi setting, then this is a good book.  If you want Runequest in Tolkien, then this would be a good book.  I would turn down none of those, so I like this book.  Still, want my feats and some color art, but for the price and all the things you get with it this is a fantastic general system to get into right away.  95%


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