Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Classic Fantasy - Bastard Child of BRP & AD&D

So, I spent some time perusing the Classic Fantasy Monograph for Basic Roleplaying from Chaosium.  I wasn't sure what to expect going in, and I wasn't entirely sure of what I saw as I started reading it.  The reason for that confusion is that I felt like I was in two worlds the whole time - Classic AD&D (although the Bard is more AD&D 2e or even Dragon 56) somehow translated into BRP.

When one thinks of the two systems, they are pretty far apart.

AD&D uses classes and levels.  BRP uses broad professions and skills.

AD&D uses a D20 for most task resolution.  BRP uses percentiles.

AD&D characters earn experience points.  BRB characters earn skill increases.

The list goes on with spell lists and levels, hit points, the whole power curve for the players is different.  On the surface, there isnt much that links them, besides perhaps the fairly similar ability list overlap of Strength, Constitution, Intelligence and Dexterity.  Then Rodney Leary came along and did his mash up.  From what I can tell, it works fairly well, if it is a bit disorienting.  At times, I didn't know whether to read with my AD&D eyes, or my Basic Roleplaying eyes.

All of the basics from the players' POV are included.  All the classes you know and love (except assassins) are included.  The classic fantasy races are there. Multiclassing rules are even included, which is pretty nice for a expansion built on a classless system.

Alignment is a major addition, especially for classes that need to reach certain levels in good / law / etc to unlock new abilities.  For the Paladin's warhorse, or his turning undead, or his spell use... he needs to do actions that show how good he actually is.  It's a novel concept to work around BRP's lack of level advancement, and I think it would work well.  Heck, it might work well enough to lift that for AD&D, D&D and their brethren. 

The spell list is extensive and takes up about a third of the book.  Most of the spells are fairly direct ports from D&D and it's different variations.  I can't tell you how well the spell casting replicates D&D, asI think I would need to see it in action, and I'm about 20 years away from playing Runequest 3 and its horrid spell casting system.

There is a decent equipment section included, as well as some new / optional rules that deal with dungeon delving in BRP.  It lacks a monster bestiary, but there is a book just for that. Classic Fantasy is pretty much the Player's Handbook for a Fantasy themed BRP campaign.  On that level, it works pretty well.  You just need to remind yourself its not Dungeons & Dragons, no matter how similar the taste ;)


  1. You should look at GURPS Dungeon Fantasy for a different take on the same subject.

  2. Hmm, will have to check that out.

  3. Thanks for the review of Classic Fantasy. The second book is hopefully to be released this fall. Or at least submitted to Chaosium.

    Pop on over to the forum at BRP Central if you have any questions, it's kinda my second home.


  4. rod,

    thanks for stopping by

    ill peek over at brp central


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