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Call of Cthulhu maker offers $10,000 worth of cash prizes to aspiring tabletop RPG designer

Chaosium’s inaugural BRP Design Challenge will spotlight “new and upcoming” talent.

Cover art for the Basic Roleplaying core book
Image credit: Chaosium

Chaosium, the tabletop publisher behind Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest, has offered a grand total of $10,000 in prize money to amateur designers who take part in the Basic Roleplaying: Universal Game Engine Design Challenge.

Open to contestants from anywhere in the world, the BRP Design Challenge tasks designers with creating new tabletop titles using Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying engine - this D100-based system was first used to power the original 1970s RuneQuest and featured roll-under mechanics (meaning players must roll under a target value to pass a skills challenge or successfully land a hit during combat).

Versions of that system now rests under the hood of several popular RPGs, including Call of Cthulhu and the upcoming King Arthur Pendragon 6E. Contest entries will use the 2023 release of the Basic Roleplaying: Universal Game Engine core book, which was published under Paizo’s ORC license and therefore allows creators to publish anything using its rules without owing royalties.

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Entrants can be either digital or physical but all must explain their interpretation of the BRP rules and explain the unique qualities of their bespoke system, narrative setting or tabletop game. They will also need to submit a production budget for the project, explain how they would use the money awarded from the design challenge and outline how and where their RPG is best marketed. Entering a project into the BRP contest does not sign over any rights to Chaosium - all contestants, whether they win or not, will retain the entire rights to their work.

Chaosium says the goal of the BRP Design challenge is to “financially assist new and upcoming creators” and “empower designers from all walks of life, with original ideas, concepts, and systems, with the goal of seeing all shortlisted entries eventually published.” All shortlisted games and the eventual trio of winners will receive a trophy, award logos they can print on product materials and “can expect continued promotion on the Chaosium channels as they work toward eventual publication,” according to the company.

The submission window will remain open until midnight on May 31st, after which Chaosium will judge the contestants’ creations and shortlist 10 projects to receive an initial $500 prize. Of those, three winners will be presented an additional $2,000, each. A public-voted Player’s Choice will earn a separate $500 prize. More information about the BRP Design Contest, including submission guidelines, can be found on Chaosium’s website.

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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