Thursday, January 24, 2013

The "Red Headed Step-Child" of the OSR - Basic Fantasy RPG

It seems whenever I compile a list of OSR games ans resources, I inadvertently leave off the Basic Fantasy RPG. It's not that it's a bad set of rules - it's actually a very good set of rules. It's not that there is a lack of material for the system - there is enough freely available to keep your game running for years.

I was talking with +Christopher Helton about this last week via G+, and the conclusion I came to is that it gets overlooked a lot because it isn't seen. How's that for a self fulfilling prophesy? ;)  What I mean by that is the big names in the OSR have either their core books and / or supplementary material available on RPGNow. That's not the case with BFRPG. With BFRPG it's all available at a central location  it's own website. The problem is, without knowledge of the website you won't have knowledge of the game.

The other thing Chris and I talked about was organizing a "Basic Fantasy Role Playing Blog Appreciation Day" or something with a similarly awkward sounding title. The idea would be to organize a couple of bloggers and G+ posters to post about / talk / whatever on the same day. Kind of a saturation of the media to get the BFRPG in the hands of a few other gamers. It is free and there is a crapload of free stuff for it. Think of it as a community service for our readers :)

If it's even halfway successful, we could do this for other deserving yet under appreciated RPGs on a monthly basis.

So, what say you my fellow bloggers? Are you with us?

I'm going to suggest next Thursday, January 31st for the "Basic Fantasy Role Playing Blog Appreciation Day".

Just add a comment to this post (on the blog or G+) to let us know if you are joining us. It should be fun. The type of post you make it up to you. All we ask is that it have something to do with BFRPG.

Of course, anyone can and should add their thoughts to this, whether you plan to participate or not. Good idea? Bad idea? Needs more crumpets. Whatever ;)

(edit -  the BFRPG site is currently running a bit slow on downloads tonight- i think we are driving traffic already ;)


  1. I haven't used my blog in awhile, but I will be down with helping. Have the book and wouldn't mind helping to send it some love.

  2. @dragolite - welcome aboard!

    I'll link all of the participating blogs on next weeks post, so all of the links are there for folks - i'll update the links throughout the day

  3. I'll participate. I've been thinking of getting the print copy from lulu just to show my support for the game. Had I stumbled on it first, I'd have gone with Basic Fantasy over LL.

  4. @DH - welcome aboard to you too ;)

    add your blogs to the comments section here so i can be sure to add them properly later

  5. I am a fan of Chris' work, and would be happy to participate.

  6. @RC very happy to have you joining us :)

  7. I'd like to get involved, too. BF's a good little game that deserves more than it gets.

  8. This is a great idea. I know nothing about it so I look forward to reading all the blog stuff, and if it becomes a regular thing, maybe someday I'll know the system and be able to help out.

  9. Hello, I don't have a blog. I am running a play by post game of Basic Fantasy. I really love BF. It's free, there are quite a few adventures written for BF. I like the fa t that race and class are separated, but to me it has that old school feel that got me into RPGing in the first place. There are a few people who are adding to the collection of works for BF. That (IMO) makes the game just that much stronger. Thank for your taking the time to read my post.

  10. "What I mean by that is the big names in the OSR have either their core books and / or supplementary material available on RPGNow"

    That's exactly why I don't like RPGNow (aside from the fact I can't download from it). Monopolies are dangerous, especially to niche hobbies.

  11. Apart from the lack of promotion and marketing, I think another issue that has held back BF RPG is the fact that it was in a constant state of change for quite a few years (the current version, release 75 I think, has been stable for a while now and may finally be it). Chris makes no apologies for this as he has an open source software background.

    LL had the original and revised versions. OSRIC had two main versions too. S&W muddied the water a bit with multiple versions and I believe has paid a price for it, but none of them can compare with the sheer volume of BF releases. Such change doesn't make for a stable product (free or otherwise) in the eyes of many consumers.

    Now that it seems to have been tweaked to perfection I hope the game will get a lot more love and attention.

    1. I just noticed this comment, and I want to disagree... but I can't, not exactly. It's true, we make a lot of releases, both of the Core Rules and of the various supporting products. But the problem here isn't in how we do things, it's in your understanding of how we do things.

      Open Source projects aren't like anything else you've ever been involved in. One of the old adages of Open Source development is "release early, release often." If you don't show your work, you don't get help. The sort of products you are used to are built in secret, by one person or a small team, and only the blessed few of their closest supporters get an early peek. That's not how community development works.

      But it was hardly unstable... more like, incomplete. From R6, the first public release, to R62, the 1st Edition print release, little was removed or changed that was of any substance. I ran a convention game using R45, which was one of the earliest "feature complete" releases, and games started from then on suffered only the most minor changes from new releases. The 1st to 2nd edition release cycle was much the same... one of my stated goals was to not invalidate the 1st edition rulebooks already in print in any substantial way. The only "major" rule changes were to the wrestling and stronghold sections, two parts of the original release that were lightly tested when 1st edition went to print.

      Now we're starting 3rd edition development, but again, we're going to avoid invalidating anything significant. Known errata will be fixed, some monsters will be added, and maybe a magic item or two as well. No new races, classes, or spells are going into it.

      I don't dispute that we've made, and will make, a lot of releases. I do dispute the use of the word "unstable" to describe our process.

  12. Count me in!

    In some ways I find BFRPG to be superior to LL.

    I'd love to spend a day talking about it.

  13. Considering that I plan to use BFRPG when I ever start running my megadungeon again, count me in on this.

  14. Well, thanks! I never considered that RPGNow might be of some importance in others discovering the game... I guess I'm too focused on the free/at cost distribution model. There's a reason why the Lulu.com page for Basic Fantasy RPG says "Don't buy this book!"

    I do heartily appreciate the kind words and your plan of action. I'm looking forward to the 31st!

    Y'know, it's possible the fact that I don't blog about the game is part of the reason it's not seen on blogs. I've run all my game communications on the phpBB forum at http://basicfantasy.org/forums since we effectively moved away from Dragonsfoot; our Facebook and G+ pages are decidedly secondary. It's tough to keep up with multiple social media channels...

  15. Good idea! I like Basic Fantasy and the material. I'll write a view lines, I guess.

  16. I adore BFRPG B/Ex approach and discovered it before Labyrinth Lord or S&W. The downloads page is fab too. The BFRPG community (as CG says) is very non-commercial, so maybe there's less incentives to promote or cross-promote.

    I am concerned about what Jeremy says about RPGNow - as a publisher and an affiliate, like many bloggers - I'm wondering if there is a general dislike out there for the OBS sites. Downloading is possible once an account is set up - I joined originally to download free products. Is signing up to a service such a big barrier?

    Random posts regarding BFRPG: http://adventuresandshopping.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Basic%20Fantasy%20RPG

  17. To be fair, Billiam, BFRPG predates either LL or S&W, as well as OSRIC (which came close on my heels, but I did get mine out there first).

  18. I'll do it, love the game and the amount of fun stuff on the site. I even own a hard copy even though I was informed not to, because its free as a PDF.


  19. BFRPG works fine and dandy. I used it to play a campaign that included modules for 4 different versions of D&D and it worked just fine using a simple and set of rules.

  20. To answer your question BB, I HATE having to download free stuff from RPGNow/DriveThruRPG. I have a different user/pass for both, and I can never get them straight. The watermark is a total pain in the ass (except for when kind publishers zip their files to prevent them from being watermarked - then they're just a pain in the ass because you have to unzip them). A lot of this is just me and my ultra-laziness, but I have a very low tolerance for jumping through hoops. There are a number of free things I've never bothered to look at due to them being distributed via RPGNow. I also sometimes view it as pretension on the part of the publisher, that they need to look at download counts to make themselves feel better. I know this sounds real dickish, but it's how I feel sometimes.

    I have this same hangup when I can only see a preview of a blog post in google reader, and have to click through to the blog itself to read the full post. I just go "screw you I just won't read your blog then!"

    I much prefer people using some sort of direct link or google drive or whatever, so I can just look at the file in my browser and decide if it earns a press of the save button.

    All that being said, I think putting BFRPG on RPGNow is a good idea to help more people become aware that it exists, but the existing downloads page on basicfantasy.org should of course remain in place as well.

    Hopefully my candor here doesn't make me look like too much of a lunatic!

  21. I would love to talk a bit about BFRPG, and I am glad you shed some light on it.

    *sets reminder*

  22. Count me in
    Castelli & Chimere - http://d20d12.blogspot.it/

    we are also completing the translation of the BFRPG in Italian :)

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Put in the wrong blog: http://graphpapergames.blogspot.com

  24. I don't have a blog but I'd be happy to promote others via G+, F***book, Twitter.

    I'll be starting a new campaign with some folks completely new to the hobby, so I have been paying especial attention to the rules as I plan (muhahaha).

    Some of my gaming group is still around and paying attention to social media. I should be able to get some convo going.

    Twitter: LordDaleus
    Google+: Dale Poole

  25. That's one area where I've had a lot of nice comments... it's really easy to start a new campaign with newbie players using Basic Fantasy RPG and one of the introductory modules like my Morgansfort or J.D. Neal's Chaotic Caves (and those two actually mesh together nicely with very little work).

  26. http://peoplethemwithmonsters.blogspot.com/2013/01/make-mine-basic.html

  27. Hey, Erik... if you ever get the urge to do this same thing for OSRIC, or S&W, or LL, please let me know. I'd love to be involved.


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