I first encountered Chaosium's house game system, Basic Role-Playing, in 1981. Sure, I had heard of Runequest (it was, after all, one of the big three RPGs at the time -- well, four in my neck of the woods, if you count TFT -- along with AD&D and T&T), but no one in any of my playing groups owned the game or pushed to check it out. It had been released as a separate product, simply called Basic Role Playing with a cover that looked like this. The name was odd for a standalone game, but the premise made sense -- take the very essence of the mechanics used in Runequest and other various Chaosium releases at the time and publish something that serves both as intro to the role-playing hobby as well as their in-house system. In effect, a pre-cursor to GURPS, HERO (as a unified game), et al., although missing a lot of the meat... but therefore also at a lower cost than what their other games were going for, which surely contributed somewhat to people not making the switch in the first place.
It was a nifty little system that I toyed around with once or twice, but there just wasn't enough for me to use on its own, and now I would still have to pay the full price for whatever full Chaosium game I'd choose. It got moved to my bookshelf. Fast forward about a year-and-half later to my AD&D group participating in (and winning, I'm simultaneously proud and embarassed to admit) a major gaming convention in my state and the first-place prize was, of all things, Chaosium's new product: Worlds of Wonder (WoW before WoW meant WoW). O.K., now we were talking! Not only did it include another copy of the original Basic Role-Playing mentioned above (although with a two-color cover), there were three separate books that greatly expanded the basics, enabling one to run a reasonably-detailed Fantasy, Sci-Fi,or Supers RPG. I won't go into detail on all of the booklets, but the Fantasy one was the first revision of Magic World. Unlike Runequest (which I'm not knocking, BTW), it was independent of Glorantha or any specific setting, making it now a reasonable counterpart to my AD&D and TFT (and others) campaigns.
If you've followed the links above you probably already know a fair amount of where Basic Role-Playing, Runequest, etc. has gone during those more than 30 years (!!!!), and chances are good you already know how the revised Magic World has come into existence... somewhat repeating the cycle (sans Worlds of Wonder). Now, with all that self-important prefacing out of the way, we can get to some content:
As with most of the systems on this site, no set of RPG rules covers every situation as well as every taste. Thus, we'll start with some house rules before we get to any downloads or links.
Skill: World Lore
(I always view RPGs that bother to include some mechanism [typically a skill] to reflect the setting-specific knowledge PCs might have with a little higher regard than those that don't. Nonetheless, Magic World's application is a little too generic for my tastes.)
As a house rule, you may elect to choose a specialty for your World Lore skill rather than having it be a general skill that covers knowledge of the setting overall. A prerequisite for this option is that your skill total must be at least 25% (i.e., base + any points allotted during character creation or training). If you choose a specialty, then you will receive a bonus of +25% to your skill for all rolls to which your specialty applies. However, your skill is halved for all other World Lore checks outside of your specialty. (The GM has the final word on what does and does not fall within your special area of expertise.)
Downloads and Links