15 June 2023


The Basic Role-Playing System (aka ‘the Chaosium system’) started out as a very slim introductory booklet with just the barebones D100 rules. It wasn’t sold separately but was a free addition to many of the early Chaosium role-playing games that were sold in boxes.

The first game that was marketed as an expansion of the BRP System per se was the boxed set titled Worlds of Wonder, which contained three mini-games that used the same core rules applied to three different genres: fantasy, super-heroes, and sci-fi.

The fantasy mini-game was called Magic World [not the same as the later standalone frp game]; it was translated to Swedish and published as a standalone game in 1982 under the name Drakar och Demoner (Swedish for ‘Dragons and Demons’). As with many BRP-derived games, it went through a tortuous life of its own, changing publishers and/or names several times, and even having a system overhaul once before getting back to the BRP System (albeit with D20 instead of D100, à la Pendragon).

The game was purchased by Fria Ligan (Free League Publishing) in 2021, and is now coming back in English as ‘Dragonbane’. Fria Ligan already own several successful role-playing games, and apparently Dragonbane has adopted a few features from them.

Anyway, I’ve downloaded Dragonbane’s Quickstart, and I will try and highlight the differences I have found with the Basic Role-Playing System.


SIZ has disappeared. As a result, HPs are equal to CON instead of ½(CON+SIZ) or CON with SIZ-dependent adjustments.

Power points/magic points are called willpower points (WPs) and are used for special actions on top of spellcasting.

Game System

A ‘1’ is a crit, and a ‘20’ is a fumble, instead of having more refined D100-based values.

There is a system of boons & banes à la D&D 5E where you roll an additional D20 for each boon/bane and count only the lowest/highest result.

There is also a ‘push’ system like in CoC 7th ed., but it can quickly result in your character getting a bane.


Each combatant has a single action for each combat round.

Initiative is 1-10 and drawn from a set of numbered cards. Meh.

Parrying is a fully-fledged action and uses up your single action. Meh.

You can do nothing during a round and recover 1D6 WPs. Given the prevalent use of WPs this is pretty cool.

When you roll a crit in combat you get to choose amongst three different effects (double damage, extra action, ignore armour) rather than automatically apply a given effect. This is super cool.

Weapons get damaged more easily than in the BRPS because whenever the armour protection completely negates the damage from a melee attack the attacking weapon itself suffers the damage instead. Ouch.

There aren’t any hit locations. If an opponent is partially covered by an obstacle, you get a bane on your attack.


This is where Dragonbane shines: each monster has its unique abilities and attack table. The GM rolls on this table when it is the monster’s initiative (also randomly from the cards). A monster never rolls the dice to hit its target: monster attacks succeed automatically.

I really, really like this. Obviously I haven’t tested this in actual play, but I’d love to see some monster fear instilled back into my players’ eyes. Today they’re only afraid of criticals.

As an example, the giant spider from the sample adventure in the Quickstart has the following attack table:

It’s obviously massive work at the GM’s side to build such a table for each monster in their campaign. However, I really feel like this is the major innovation in Dragonbane.

Given the similarities with the BRPS I reckon any GM could pick and choose whatever they like best from this game to add flavour to their BRPS games. I guess you should at least download the Quickstart (available for free on DriveThru or directly here).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous16/6/23 10:09

    Thanks for the rundown on the mechanics. Some look good, others not so much.