Basic Role-Playing System

Core Rules


Every player starts in role-playing by creating a character. The numbers rolled which represent his basic characteristics will go a long way towards determining his relative worth and value in the game world.
The seven basic characteristics are Strength (STR), Constitution (CON), Size (SIZ), Intelligence (INT), Power (POW), Dexterity (DEX), and Charisma (CHA).
For human beings, these basic characteristics are found by rolling 3D6 once for each of the seven. Doing this yields seven numbers which should be written down in the appropriate places on the character sheet. Using 3D6, each number will be not less than 3 and not more than 18. You need not accept every roll, though -- you might, for instance, make a personal rule that any roll below 10 has 3 added to it, so that the resulting character is not ridiculously weak in a specific characteristic. You are free to ignore the existence of characters who do not interest you. In fact, you are free to do what you will with the game or the characters! If your fantasy world widens, and you build a home base, you could populate your home farm or castle with the characters you otherwise might not run. After all, somebody has to wash the windows and answer the door, and rub down your war horse after adventuring!
Take this opportunity to roll up the characteristics for your own character, and copy the results onto one of the character forms.

STR is Strength. This measures the muscle-power of the character. STR measures what and how easily he or she can pick up something.

CON is Constitution, a relative measure of health. From CON you can figure a character's hit points (HP). These tell the amount of damage a character can take before becoming unconscious or dead. In Basic Role-Playing, CON points are identical in amount to a character's HP; also circle that HP number on the character form. Whenever damaged, mark off the number of damage points taken directly on the Hit Point section. Damage can be repaired by Healing, which raises the HP number, and CON will also resist poison and disease, as explained later. Note that CON is not lowered by damage.

SIZ is Size, combining height and weight into one figure. This will be important if something wants to lift your character, or if he or she needs to squeeze into a small space, or even help determine who in an adventuring party is first attacked.

INT is Intelligence; your character is that smart and no smarter. It's hard to play a smart character if you aren't, and it's almost as hard for a smart person to play a dumb one. For that reason the 'Idea Roll' is used. The character's INT is multiplied times a number determined by the referee, and then the character tries to roll equal to or less than the number, to "really" think of it. Commonly, the multiplier is 5, but never more than 5. A player may have to play a character who is ignorant of facts the player knows, and sometimes the referee must give data to the player which the player's character normally would know but which the player doesn't, since he is unfamiliar with the scenario. Thus a character sees arcane symbols chalked on a wall. The player does not know the meaning, but the referee has him make his INTx5 die roll on D100. A roll of less than INTx5 means the character recognised the meaning of the symbols.

POW is Power, the measure of a person's soul, piety, or will. In games with magic, POW resists spells cast at the character and powers cast spells. Use it also as a 'Luck Roll' for tight spots. For instance, if a character falls down a hole, he might land upright and take no damage. Determine if this occurs by rolling his POWx5 on D100.

DEX is Dexterity, or how quick a character is. In combat, the character with the higher DEX hits first, hopefully disabling his opponent before being hit himself. Characters can dodge when they see something coming from a distance, such as a rolling rock or a charging bear, and concentrate on getting out of the way. The typical 'Dodge Roll' is DEXx5 on D100.

CHA is Charisma, a measurement of the intangible ability to inspire others to follow or listen to a character. Use it as a persuasion roll, when the character is trying to talk his way out of a tight spot, or when he is trying to convince someone to obey him. Suppose some local authorities notice your character is a stranger and question him or her: you could try your persuasion roll to get away. The referee may rule it CHAx5, or even CHAx3 if the authorities have reason to be suspicious. And if you're trying to talk to a "non-player character" (NPC) -- a character run by the referee -- the NPC might try his INTx5 and not be persuaded!

Other uses of these characteristics will be explained in chapters to come. In many odd situations not covered in these rules it is possible to see one of the characteristics as being appropriately influential in a decision. Sometimes it may be a combination of characteristics, such as adding SIZ+STR+CHA when trying to bluff down the local bully to leave you alone. Situations will arise not covered by the rules, and using characteristics in this way is usually the quickest and most convenient way to decide the results.

Download the official character sheet by Chaosium, Inc.


Whether your character is heroic or dastardly, you'll want him to act and succeed. In Basic Role-Playing your character can succeed in three ways: (1) automatic actions, (2) simple percentile rolls, and (3) the resistance table rolls. These will be discussed separately.


This term describes activities which are always successful under normal circumstances. There is no need to roll any dice for these. They are assumed 100% successful. These include walking, running, talking, seeing, hearing, and any other normal basic function.
Attempting to do these things under extraordinary conditions, or trying to do them with close scrutiny, requires a die roll, as outlined in the next section.


Ordinary actions performed under stress or requiring concentration need a die roll to be successful. This includes Climbing, Jumping, Spotting Hidden Items, Listening, or Moving Quietly. Further, any action which requires a specific special skill to do requires a die roll as well. Examples of these are Riding, Swimming, Throwing, or Picking Pockets.
A list of common skills is given below, with normal starting percentages.
Spot Hidden Item25%
Move Quietly25%
First Aid45%
Fighting skills are also in this category. The brawling ability of Fist is included, as is Throw. Tool-using people easily use Hitting With a Stick -- in weapon terms this is called a fight mace.


The final method of determining success is by using the Resistance Table. It makes it easy to figure out if your character succeeds in pitting some characteristic of his against something else, also expressed as a simple number comparable to the characteristic. The Table is a ready-to-use version of the formula devised to solve such problems.

Resistance Table

To use it, take the active person's characteristic and find it on the upper, horizontal entry. Then find the passive object's characteristic on the left-hand, vertical line. Cross-index them and you have the maximum number you can roll and still succeed in the task.
For instance, a character with a STR of 9 wishes to push open a door that is stuck. The referee determines that the door has STR 4. Checking the Resistance Table you'll see that he needs to roll 75% or less to succeed. If he rolls that, then the door has been pushed open.

These three methods of determining success give you all the mechanics you need for a character to perform normal activities.


A great pleasure of continued role-playing is watching and participating in the advancement of a character from his humble beginnings to his ultimate fate. Characters grow and change, generally getting better at whatever they attempt to do. There is real satisfaction in having characters be successful.
Success is measured in many ways. Your character may be important in whatever local game in which he participates. He may be a knight or warrior, a cleric or magician, a nobleman or a wicked tyrant. How this occurs depends upon how the particular game has been established.
These rules standardise another measurement, advancement through experience. Simply put, the more you use a skill, the more you learn about it and the better you get at it. This includes concrete skills, such as swordfighting or jumping, abstract ones such as Listening, or exotic skills in advanced versions of the game.
Whenever your character has finished an adventure, typically after play is done and before everyone goes home, you should check over his character sheet to see what skills were used during play. If your character succeeded in using skills, they should have been marked on the sheet. Just trying is not enough to learn by -- you must succeed. No matter how many times a character succeeds in a skill, he gets only one chance, between adventures, to learn by experience.

For each skill he used successfully, subtract his current skill level from 100%. That gives you his 'learning threshold' for that particular skill. Then roll D100 and try to roll a number equal to or smaller than his threshold for the skill. If you do not roll that low, then he hasn't learned from his experience. If you did roll low enough, then your character did learn something, and you add 5% to that skill.
Repeat the procedure for all the skills used in the run. Note here that a successful weapon attack does not raise the parry skill, and vice versa.

You can see that successfully doing something you're poor at is hard, but also that if you succeed at it then you're likely to learn from the experience. Conversely, if you're good at a skill you'll usually succeed at it, but it will get progressively harder to increase your skills.
Finally, remember that characteristic rolls, such as the dodge roll or the luck roll, do not increase this way. Those are constant unless the characteristic itself should change for some reason.


Raw loot is another important source of success. Much FRP is based upon heroic exploits by warriors and their ilk. A complete campaign will have places to buy useful goods or to just spend money frivolously. It is important to be able to upgrade the armour, occasionally buy new weapons, and (where the campaign allows it) to purchase training in skills and magic.
Treasure is often overlooked, even by referees. If you can carry them, you can always cart off armour and weapons, and another option is to skin monsters and sell their pelts. Always search for hidden traps and secret compartments before giving up the search for money. The monsters didn't put it in the open for you to stumble over!


If success is rewarded, failure is not. It is painful to miss out on a chance, even if it has no immediate effect on your character other than not bringing home the rich merchant's daughter just then. While your character may get a bit hungry without money, that will only motivate him strongly on the next adventure. But there can be worse fates, such as the failure to finish climbing up that rope, or failing to make a parry.


Damage is a measure of the hurt which your characters' bodies can take. Damage is inflicted whenever there is a physical cause, such as falling from a height or being stabbed.

Whenever a character is hit, the amount of damage he receives is subtracted from the total HP available. In Basic Role-Playing there is no penalty for taking cumulative damage until the character is down to 1 HP or less.
When a character has 1 HP left, he goes unconscious. This means the character lives but will stay unconscious till aided by outsiders. He will not wake naturally. He must be tended till he heals (see below) or until enough First Aid is given to wake him.


When a character takes more damage than he has hit points, he dies. When a character dies, there may or may not be various means of resurrecting him, depending on the possible expansions added to BRP. It is generally a sorrowful occasion. Characters may or may not wish to bring the body back. But whether they do or not, they probably will loot the body.
Healing is a natural process wherein the body regenerates HP. This occurs for any living creature. Healing happens at the rate of 1 HP per week of game time.


As previously noted, it is possible for a character to be damaged through combat or accident. In most cases a character wearing armour is protected by it from taking the damage.
All armour has a point value telling you how good it is in stopping damage. The most common armour is leather, and it is worth 2 points. This is roughly equivalent to a heavy motorcycle jacket. The best armour available is plate armour like knights wear. It is worth 6 points.
Whenever a character is wearing armour and takes damage, the point value of the armour is subtracted from the amount of damage. The remainder of the damage is passed onto the character's body HP.
For example, a character wearing 2-point armour is struck by an arrow doing 5 points of damage. The value of the armour is subtracted first, so that 2 of the 5 points of damage are nullified. The rest, 3 points, pass onto the body and are subtracted from the HP.


Shields work like armour in that they block damage. But a shield generally blocks more damage than armour, there being an average of 12 points for common shields. Unlike armour, to block damage the shield first must be successfully used to parry. (A shield parry is an ability with a D100 chance to succeed.)
Suppose a character is attacked by a bear. The bear swipes with his paw and does 15 points of damage. The character now must roll to see if he successfully parries. In this example, he does. His shield blocks 12 points of damage, leaving only 3 that penetrate the shield. If the character had any armour on that would further block damage, presume that it was leather and therefore blocked 2 more points of damage. Therefore only 1 point of damage would penetrate both shield and armour and have to be subtracted from the HP. Without the shield, the character would have taken 13 points damage, possibly enough to kill him!


Because FRP games usually take place in a primitive, non-technological environment, we concentrate on ancient weapons. In general, combat is a combination of a number of skills used by a fighter against another (an attack) or to help himself (a parry). In all cases this is a specific simple percentile die roll resolution, as outlined above.


A weapon can be a sword or a rock or a coal shovel grabbed from the comer. In Basic Role-Playing there are five weapon types: natural weapons, hand weapons, thrusting weapons, thrown weapons, and missile machines. Every weapon has a different percentage skill for their use in attack and their use in parry. These skills are used differently and will develop independently of each other.

HAND WEAPONS are of three kinds: maces, axes, and swords. Mace is a term describing any blunt instrument, ranging from a big stick to an elaborately shod and studded implement. It is used for bashing and for parrying, and it takes a good amount of damage compared to other hand weapons. It does the least amount of damage of the three kinds of hand weapons, but it is also the easiest to use without any training, and hence has the highest attack percentage for beginners.

An axe does the most damage of the three kinds of hand weapons, but it takes less damage before breaking than a mace does, and it is harder to use, so it has a lower beginning attack percentage.
Swords are traditional hand weapon favourites because they do more damage than a mace (though less than an axe) and also take a large amount of damage before breaking. But a sword is the hardest hand weapon to learn to use, and therefore has the lowest attack percentage to start.

THRUSTING WEAPONS include only one kind here, the spear. For the play purposes of Basic Role-Playing this is specified to be a two-handed spear. This means that the same weapon must be used to attack and to parry with. The spear does a fair amount of damage compared to the other weapons listed, and has a reasonable beginning attack percentage. Its disadvantage is that it is relatively fragile, and often breaks during combat. But it is the only weapon which can be used from the second rank. This means that a person with a spear can stand behind someone else and still be able to attack. Additionally, a spear is a weapon which can impale, as defined below.

THROWN WEAPONS include javelins and rocks. They are not used to parry with, nor can they be parried (though a target may dodge them, as mentioned previously). Javelins are simply thrown spears. They do fair damage and may also impale. Thrown rocks are the simplest of weapons and have a good beginning attack percentage. They usually do not do much damage when opposed by any armour.

MISSILE MACHINES here include only bows. A bow is a relatively difficult weapon to master and so has a poor initial attacking ability, but it does have the best range and does a fair amount of damage. Importantly, it also impales.

NATURAL WEAPONS include the fist and the kick. These start with high attack percentages and work well against unarmoured victims, but are relatively useless against armour.

THE SHIELD is not a weapon, per se, but is still the most important item in a fighting man's armament. It has a fair beginning parry percentage, but no beginning attack percentage because it cannot be used offensively. It takes a fair amount of damage when compared to a weapon. But when a shield takes damage, the effects from successive blows are not cumulative: a shield can take blow after blow and not break, white any weapon will give way after a white.


An 'impale' is a special type of successful attack which can be done by long pointed weapons which are used for thrusting. Here the impaling weapons are the spear, javelin, and the arrow. When a person succeeds in an attack with one of these, they should always notice if they rolled lower than 20% of the required attack. If they did, then they have impaled their foe.
This means that the thrusting weapon happened by chance to find a joint in the foe's armour and to have slipped in, driving deep into vital organs or bone. Because of this, two special things happen:
  1. More damage is done. The attacker must roll the normal damage (1D8+1 for a spear, for example) and then add the maximum damage possible with that weapon to the damage they already rolled. An impaling spear would do an automatic 9 points of damage, plus whatever the attacker rolled -- a devastating blow of a minimum of 10 points and a possible maximum of 18 points damage!
  2. The attacking weapon is stuck in the enemy's body. (This was a common event in medieval battles.) The next melee round the attacker can try to pull it out by rolling D100 equal to or less than their impale percentage x 2.


WeaponTypeBeginning AttackDamageBreakageNotes
  & Parry % Points 
2-Handed SpearThrusting25%1D8+115Impales
JavelinThrown20%1D10 Impales
BowMissile10%1D6+1 Impales
ShieldParry25% 12Does Not Break

A disadvantage to all this: weapons which can impale cannot do damage to other weapons. In a fight between a spearsman and a swordsman with shield, for instance, the spearsman is likely to do more damage if lie connects, but lie is also likely to have his spear whittled into toothpicks by the sword. Want to bet which event decides the outcome of the fight?


Weapons have two uses, attacking and parrying. Each weapon can do only one of these actions in a particular melee round, and the intention of which will happen must be stated during the Statement of Intent phase of the round. Shields, as noted, can only be used for parrying, and bows and thrown weapons can only attack. Since most will carry a hand weapon and a shield, it is possible to make two parries per round without an attack if desired. This is useful if attacked by more than one opponent.
An attack is made by rolling D100 and attempting to roll equal to or lower than your character's attack percentage. Such a roll is a successful attack.
A parry is done in the same way. When a shield is used, it is never necessary to state that a parry will be attempted unless there is more than one foe, whereupon the specific enemy being parried must be pointed out.


Fighting is done in "melee rounds." See the next chapter for an explanation of game sequence. For now the point will be that when a number of foes fight, the order in which they strike at each other is important, and is determined by the DEX of the fighters. In the first melee round all creatures with DEX 18 try to strike. Then all creatures with DEX 17 go, then 16, 15, 14, etc., till every character has an opportunity to strike.
Characters parry when they need to, without regard to their DEX. If Bosh Blockhead's DEX is 6, he still can parry Amazing Alfred's DEX 18 blow. There is only one shield parry per character per melee round, but the character can also attack or parry with his weapon, making possible two parries in a round.
Characters and creatures alike may try to hit, and still miss. The defender may or may not parry successfully. In a one-on-one melee, there are four possible results:

... if the attacker's strike......and the defender's parry......the final result is:
hitsmissesdefender takes damage (armour may absorb some)
hitsparriesdefender takes no damage, but if a weapon was used to parry then it takes damage from the attacking strike*
missesparriesattacker's weapon takes damage if parried by another weapon*
missesmissesno damage anywhere
*2-handed spears cause some exceptions; see below.

If a character or monster takes enough damage to kill him or knock him unconscious before lie bas got his attack, then he never gets to make that attack.


This section is simply to bring all the information about this weapon into one place.

Two-handed spears can be used from the second rank. They can be used to attack and parry in a single melee round, or to parry twice. They cannot be used to attack twice in a round.

These weapons may impale, thereby doing extra damage as explained previously. Once impaled into a foe, they must be pulled out, requiring at least a full melee round.
Two-handed spears do not damage weapons when they parry an attacking weapon which misses its strike, nor do they damage weapons which parry their successful attack. This makes them an exception to the chart just above.


Turning from a foe means you cannot parry any attack from that foe. And if someone attacks their target from behind, so that their target cannot see them and jump around, then the attacker gets a 20% bonus added to his ability to hit.
Changing weapons in melee takes a full melee round. While a character is changing weapons, he can parry with his shield or dodge. It takes a full melee round to stop and look all about. In general, a single action can be done in a melee round.


Time scales measure the passing of events and define the amount of movement possible in a turn. There can be different scales, depending on the game being played.


This scale is of minor use unless your characters are racing against time. Time passes quickly on this scale, and generally is used to explain past events or cover travel periods. In some games it is important for training or study.
Movement in this scale assumes 10 hours per game day.
Walking Movement - 20 kilometres per day.
Marching Movement - 30 kilometres per day.
Riding Movement - 20 kilometres per day (animals are moving at a walk, possibly accompanied by wagons).
Cavalry Movement - 40 kilometres per day (riding animals unhindered by wagons, going at walk-trot-walk pace).


A full turn indicates 5 minutes of time, and is used to describe the passage of time as an adventuring party is engaged in scenario actions like walking, climbing, searching, and so on.
Man Cautiously Advancing - 120 metres in 5 minutes.
Man Strolling - 240 metres in 5 minutes.
Man Running - 2000 metres in 5 minutes.
Riding Animals: double the above rates.


A melee round is used during combat or other tense situations where seconds count. It is approximately 12 seconds long and is defined as the time needed to perform one complete action. 'One complete action' includes an attack and a parry, or preparing and throwing a rope, or looking around an area long enough to use Spot Hidden Item or Listening, or preparing and lighting a torch, or changing weapons, or mounting and settling on a horse, or speaking clearly to others nearby, and so on.

In a melee round, all humans and other 2-legged folk move not more than 24 metres.
In a melee round, all 4-legged types move not more than 36 metres.
If a character or creature aims solely at getting away or at following someone who is getting away, 2-legged movement should be doubled, and 4-legged movement should be tripled.


Because this is a game, it simulates the perception of a real situation, but does not reproduce it exactly. It is necessary to impose an external order upon play to keep events moving smoothly. This external order is called the turn sequence. Events occur without confusion as long as it is followed.
During game weeks the passage of events is conversational. The referee tells what has happened and should be prepared to answer questions casually and completely without resorting to format turn sequence.
Similarly, the referee will narrate the sequence of events in scenario scale segments (5 minute segments) or even longer ones when nothing significant occurs (there's no point in repeating the phrase "nothing new" for 20 times during an uneventful passage, though the referee may want to throw out false clues or threats occasionally to keep the party interested).
Melee scale gets more complex since individual characters become intimately involved in the action. Here there is a strict sequence or order of play, which should be closely followed. This sequence can also be used for other time scale.
  1. Statement of Intent
  2. Movement of Non-Engaged Characters
  3. Resolution of Melee, Magic, etc.
  4. Bookkeeping
Statement of Intent. During this phase, the players and referee formally state what their characters will do that melee round. It is usual for the referee to state intentions first in one round, then have the players state first in the following round, but this varies, and the referee should follow whatever method he prefers. During the round the stated action may be changed, but another action may not be substituted. For instance, the statement may be, "I will fire an arrow at that troll," but if the referee states that the troll is dodging behind cover, so that you haven't a clear shot, you can abort the shot but cannot choose another target nor perform another action.
Movement of Non-Engaged Characters. Now the characters, both players and referee-controlled characters, can be moved about. This may bring some forces into action. As a rule of thumb, moving characters will not engage in melee in the round in which they moved and met, but will be able to fight next round. Likewise, if that troll didn't move but spent the round waiting for you to run up to it, then it cannot fight either, and must wait till next round.
Resolution of Melee. Now all attacks, parries, and missile firings are resolved.
Determine which person or monster hits first by checking their DEX. The higher DEXs go first, followed by the successively lower DEXs until everyone has struck. If a character is knocked unconscious or killed before he strikes, then he cannot make a return blow.
Missiles shot in melee will always be resolved before any hand combat.
Bookkeeping. In this phase everyone records damage, healing, or successful use of a skill on their character sheet.

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