The Basic Interdimensional Roleplaying Game is a project I have been working on for some time now. It is currently in a draft version, but I am making it available here.

The game currently has two parts, a rulebook which explains the process of character creation and the principal rules of playing the game, and a catalog of descriptors for character creation.

Whence BIRG?

The mechanics of BIRG reflect nothing quite as much as my own history with roleplaying games. My introduction to RPGs was technically the original Diablo, but after realizing that the 'M' stood for mature and that we were literal children, my dad quickly rescinded permission for us to play it. He did however allow us to play Angband instead. Neither my brother nor I ever got particularly far in Angband. However we did improvise for ourselves a less-brutal, somewhat free-form tabletop version of the game.

Later, I got a copy of the 3rd edition D&D Player's Handbook, a lovely introduction to "real" roleplaying games. I remember distinctly that the first chapter described "Abilities" as the basis of the game, and thinking that that made a lot of sense. After all, it is a fantasy game, so we need to know who is able to do what. However, I also recall being disappointed in how the word meant not general capabilities but a set of six attributes. I loved DnD, but from the very beginning I knew that there was a gulf between the game that I expected and the game that I had.

After a long time of playing exclusively D&D and a couple of related d20 games, my friends and I branched out into GURPS, first with 3E GURPS Lite, then with the real thing and all its many supplements. I loved the setting-agnosticism and the flexible crunchiness of the character creation.

One gripe that I had with GURPS was the idea that a zero-point character would be human being with average attributes. That seemed wrong to me, even if it made some game-mechanical sense. A recurring theme in my game design from then on was to try to find some way to describe characters in strictly positive terms; that is, without assuming an imaginary "average" person as a baseline. What are the faculties of a human being, measured against say, a houseplant? Later, as I grew more and more leary of systems like GURPS measuring things like physical disabilities, neurodiversity and social status with a common character-creation currency, I returned to those doubts and my design for a strictly-positive-terms character creation system.

However, it wasn't until much later, after GURPS had given way to In a Wicked Age and other storygames in my general rotation that I stumbled upon The Fantasy Trip, the direct mechanical ancestory of GURPS.

TFT was in many ways the game that I had expected when I first opened up the PHB. Obviously it was not an exact match, but it was much closer than anything else I had encountered, even GURPS. I was in love with its modularity, even though my exact interests had moved on slightly from hack-and-slash. It is TFT that most directly inspired the structure of BIRG's character creation, although it diverges in many ways.

I would like to make one note about the way character points are used in BIRG. My intention in giving point values to different descriptors is not so much to give a uniform way to compare what two characters are "worth," as it is to accomplish the internal task of calculating character attributes. While you could use character points as a "budget" for creating characters my intention is that players should simply select whatever descriptors they think suit their characters. If you want to make a very competent character or one who struggles with most tasks, that's a decision that I encourage you to make for yourself and to own, having made it.