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The Basic Roleplaying Design Challenge!

Posted by Brian Holland on 5th Mar 2024

BRP Design Challenge

Chaosium is excited to announce the Basic Roleplaying Design Challenge!

The goal of the BRP Design Challenge is to financially assist new and upcoming creators in bringing their games to independent publication (be that digital or print). Chaosium seeks to empower designers from all walks of life, with original ideas, concepts, and systems, with the goal of seeing all shortlisted entries eventually published independently.

Entry to the BRP Design Challenge is free.

As part of submission, entrants will need to provide:

  • A pitch for their game (both in long and short form).
  • A production budget for their game.
  • An outline on how the winnings from the BRP Design Challenge will help bring their game to life
  • A competitor market analysis of their game, showcasing where it fits in the market as a product.
  • How the BRP rules have been used in their game.
  • What makes their use of the BRP system, their setting, and/or the gameplay experience unique.

All entrants retain ownership of their work in its entirety. Chaosium does not require the signing over of rights of any kind in order to enter the BRP Design Challenge.

Winners and shortlisted entries will also retain ownership and—regardless of what winnings may be received as part of this competition—may still publish their games royalty-free under the ORC license.

“We’re very excited to give a selection of independent game designers a leg-up in making their dreams a reality,” Chaosium Vice President Michael O’Brien said. “Basic Roleplaying is a core system that is so easy to use and tweak to any setting or genre, and we cannot wait to see the imaginative worlds and innovative designs submitted.” 


BRP Design Challenge Prizes

Each award will also receive a trophy.

You can submit your game to the BRP Design Challenge here!

Looking for some helpful information on getting started? Check out the Chaosium primer for designing games with BRP!

Submissions close on May 31st, 2024 at 11:59pm Pacific US time.


Q: Do I give up any rights to my work to enter the BRP Design Challenge?
A: No. All entrants including winners retain ownership of their work in its entirety. Chaosium does not require the signing over of rights of any kind in order to enter the BRP Design Challenge. Participation is also free.

Q: Can I submit a game in a language other than English?
A: Only games submitted in English will be eligible for awards.

Q: I live outside the USA, can I still enter?
A: Yes, but all entries must be submitted in English.

Q: Can I submit more than one game?
A: Yes. You must make a different submission for each.

Q: Why can't I use AI tools like Midjourney or Chat GPT?
A: The goal of the BRP Design Challenge is to uplift and support talented designers and creatives. AI tools are programmed by taking content from talented designers and creatives without their permission.

Q: How long should my game draft document be and what should it contain?
A: It should be as long as it needs to be in order to best showcase your game. It does not have to be a complete manuscript or the final draft of your game. We expect to see as much as you need to show us to get a really good sense of what makes your game unique, what your writing style is like, and anything else you believe you need to showcase to make your game standout.

Q: I don’t have any art or maps to submit! Will that be a problem?
A: Not at all. While we are very keen to see any art or cartography you may already have for your game, it is not required to submit your game.

Q: What is a third party IP?
A: Any intellectual property not covered by the ORC that you did not personally create.

Q: Regarding rules. What is in on/off the table?
A: The BRP ORC Content document is available as a free download here. It’s 303 pages long – essentially it’s the entire text of the Basic Roleplaying Universal Game Engine book released in March 2023. Literally everything in this text can be used for personal and commercial purposes royalty free under the auspices of the ORC (Open RPG Creative License).

Q: Can I modify the rules as presented in the BRP ORC Content document for my own game?
A: Yes. You are free to use the BRP ORC Content document as a springboard for your own creativity.

Q: I’ve got an idea for a game that is very similar to an existing game, is that allowed?
A: For the BRP Design Challenge we’re seeking out original uses of the BRP Engine. Someone could certainly go ahead and create a cosmic horror mythos roleplaying game similar to Call of Cthulhu using the BRP ORC Content document, for example. However, that’s not the aim here – we’re looking out for interesting new ways to use BRP, not a rehashing or recreation of what already exists.

An important exception here would be if you have already created an original game of your own, but using a different rules engine – for example a steampunk superhero game set in space that uses the 5e rules. If you’d like to convert your existing game, even if it has already been released, to use the BRP rules, that’s something we would be interested in for the BRP Design Challenge.

Q: If a rule or mechanic is found in Call of Cthulhu or Pulp Cthulhu or RuneQuest or Pendragon or some other game but not in BRP, are those mechanics off limits?
A: You need write your own rules text to express what you want to do; you can’t copy the text from Call of Cthulhu or Pulp Cthulhu etc, which are not part of the ORC license.

Q: I love the Call of Cthulhu Sanity System. Can I include it in my game?
A: The simplified rules for Sanity in BRP are open under the ORC, which means you can use that version of the rules. The specific Call of Cthulhu Sanity rules are not part of BRP, (any more than RuneQuest's Rune magic or Pendragon's rules for Passions) which means they are not under the ORC.

Q: I don’t have a budget for my game because I don’t know how much certain things cost. How do I make a budget?
A: There are many robust and thriving TTRPG creator forums and resources online where independent creators discuss all elements of the production process including budgets. For example, the Jonstown Compendium Creators Circle and the Miskatonic Repository Creators Circle groups on Facebook, both of which also have “creators helping creators” databases with rates for artists, editors, layout specialists, writers, and more.

Q: I don’t know what a competitor market analysis is. How do I make one?
A: A competitor market analysis is a document that shows you understand where your product (in this case, a game) fits into the market. You should look at existing products that your game would be competing with and how they compare to yours, what the target audience is, and any niche your game fills.Similar to building a budget, there are a lot of TTRPG creator resources online that can help you with this.

A very basic example: after searching online, you found no TTRPGs about pirates who shapeshift into dinosaurs in order to protect Mars from the undead. This illustrates that there is a gap in the market for a game about pirates who shapeshift into dinosaurs in order to protect Mars from the undead—which is exactly why your game is going to be especially great!

Q: Why do I, a game designer, need to provide things like a competitor market analysis or budget for a game design competition?
A: We want to see every game shortlisted for the BRP Design Challenge eventually published, be that digital, print, via a crowdfunding campaign, or however else the designer sees their project succeeding. The path to any kind of successful publication is not just understanding where your game fits in the market, but also how much it will cost to get there. 

Q: Do I have to plan to publish my game physically?

A: No. Success in publishing means whatever it does to each individual who submits their game. If your goal is to publish a PDF, that is as valid as someone who has a goal to launch a Kickstarter.

Q: The budget proposal is meant to highlight where and how any funds from the Basic Roleplaying Design Challenge could be used - what are some examples of that?
A: You could explain how you’d use the extra funds to hire a cover artist, or improve the cartography, or engage the services of a professional proofreader, etc. Or, if you’re planning to crowdfund your game, paying for some sponsored ads on social media, for example. But if you want to say in your budget that you'd use the prize money from the BRP Design Challenge to "help pay my rent while I work on my game" that's a perfectly valid response too.

Q: Will Chaosium audit how the prize money is actually spent?
A: No.

Q: Can I expect feedback on my submission, even if I do not make the short-list?
A: Unfortunately we are unable to enter into any discussion about submissions.

Q: If I am shortlisted or win the BRP Design Challenge, will Chaosium publish my game?
A: That would be an entirely separate conversation. Publication of games submitted via the BRP Design Challenge is independent. The purpose of the competition is to assist creators in achieving that goal.

Q: How do you expect me to produce and release a game for $500 if I get shortlisted, or $2500 if I win?
A: We don’t. We’ve set up the BRP Design Challenge to give some assistance to independent creators in their goals of publishing their own original tabletop roleplaying game (using the BRP rules). The funds received, the prestige of winning, and the promotion we will give to shortlisted and winning designers, will hopefully help make a significant difference to reaching that goal.

Q: If I am shortlisted or win the BRP Design Challenge, when do I receive the prize money?
A: Winners will receive their prize money within 30 days of the final winner announcement.

Further questions? Contact us at

Basic Roleplaying Universal Game Engine