Quick & Dirty BoL To BRP Conversion

Right, so I love Barbarians of Lemuria. The game feels right to me – I like thinking in the terms and structures laid out by it. But it’s pretty rules light – too light for most of my players, sadly. So what I’ve been doing as I’ve been working on my BRP Arabian Nights game (and planning for other eventual things like a BRP Mythic Russia game) is to think of things in BoL terms and then convert them to Basic RolePlaying, since that system seems to be about right for my players (and, to be honest, I love it too). To date I’ve just been doing this “on the fly” in my big ol’ head. And that’s cool. But I thought I’d go ahead and write down the concepts so that they’re saved somewhere other than said noggin.


This one is pretty simple. Just take the BoL attribute value and multiply it by 2, and then add/subtract that to/from 10. So a 0 in BoL is a 10 in BRP, and a 3 in BoL is a 16 in BRP. Seems close enough.

Oh, and we need to map those Attributes, don’t we? It’s pretty obvious, but just in case:

  • BoL Strength = BRP Strength, Constitution, and Size
  • BoL Agility = BRP Dexterity
  • BoL Mind = BRP Intelligence and Power (and Education, if used)
  • BoL Appeal = BRP Appearance

One could, of course, come up with more complicated formulas. Or one might be concerned that doing it this way loses some detail. Dowhutchalike. If you need that strong guy to be sickly, adjust as needed. In fact, that kind of adjusting is probably a good way to take Boons & Flaws into account.

You should calculate the necessary derived stats (Hit Points, Stamina Rolls, etc) from the BRP attributes.


Each level of a Career, beginning at zero, is equivalent to 20% in the appropriate skills for that career in BRP. So our pal Andrei Ivanovich Denisov has 20% in Sailor skills, 40% in Merchant and Soldier Skills, and 60% in Minstrel skills.

You can comb through and cross-reference the skill and profession lists in BRP to figure out what those skills actually are, or you can just run with it BoL style and view them as overall categories. I’d likely to the former for PCs and the latter for NPCs. But that’s just me. Actually, I probably wouldn’t do any of this for PCs, since they’re probably going to want to build their characters in BRP in the first place.

Oh, and if it turns out there’s some crossover between skills you think two different careers have, and the character in question has different levels, just average them. So in the case of Andrei Ivanovich Denisov, where BRP’s Persuade skill falls under both Performer (a good match for Minstrel) and Merchant (the 1:1 mapping for Merchant) you could decide that his skill level Persuade is 50%.

Combat Abilities

The same concept for Careers applies to Combat Abilities. And that works nicely for BRP since it, too, doesn’t tie your profession to your martial prowess (like, say, D&D does). In general, consider BoL’s Combat Abilities to map to BRP as follows:

  • BoL Brawl = BRP Brawl & Grapple skills
  • BoL Melee = Two or three of the BRP melee weapon skills (the broad kind, like Sword & Axe)
  • BoL Ranged = Two or three of the BRP missile weapon skills (again, go broad here)
  • BoL Defense = BRP Dodge skill & Parry skills (if you want to separate Attacks & Parries from each other, otherwise just use this for Dodge)

And again, each level (starting at zero) is worth 20% here. So the aforementioned Andrei Ivanovich Denisov brawls & grapples at 40%, swings a sword or axe at 60%, fires bows or slings at 20%, and dodges at 40%. I’d probably let him keep his parries equal to his attacks, but I could very easily see not doing so.

BRP Professions sometimes include access to combat skills, but I’d just ignore those in favor of the above, based on the way BoL handles such things.

Boons & Flaws

Boons and Flaws really call for eyeballing. As noted above, they can easily affect Attribute scores. They could also provide a boost or penalty to certain skill rolls. Or they could even go so far as to automatically make certain skill rolls Easy (double skill) or Difficult (half skill). It all depends on how much power you want these aspects to have. Personally, for elegance’s sake, I’d opt for the Easy/Difficult effect on non-combat Boons & Flaws and go for a 15% bonus/penalty on the combat-related Boons & Flaws. Actually, if one really wanted to make this a serious, well-thought-out conversion system, there’d need to be some significant work done here. But that’s not what I’m after here. If you are, well, you’re on your own, kid 🙂


Oh lord. The bane of all conversion attempts: magic. For a straight BoL to BRP magic conversion I think I’d use the BRP Magic power system, with the Magician’s career level setting the skill level for the spells known. And for spells known I’d opt for six or eight (Heroic or Epic power level). I could also see using BRP’s Sorcery system (but that’s mostly because of the two, I prefer it). Again, this one’s a judgement call.

For Alchemy you’re on your own. But mapping Alchemist career levels to skills is probably a good place to start.

For the Priest/Druid “magic” as seen in BoL Legendary Edition I’d give the character an equivalent number of opportunities to invoke their deity’s power in the form of making an appropriate skill roll Easy or Difficult. Since these are much more one-off and hard to come by than actual Boons & Flaws, I’m ok with these having such a dramatic effect in combat. You could also require a POW vs POW contest for the Priest/Druid to be able to affect the target with this ability.

A Final Note

I haven’t put this process through any rigorous testing, so I don’t know how the final products work out in terms of point levels and such. They might be wildly overpowered or wildly underpowered. Adjust as you need to and it won’t really matter if the NPCs you characters face are “Normal” while the PCs are “Epic” (or whatever). Actually, it quite possibly shades the other way, but that entirely depends on how many skills you assume apply to each BoL Career (and that, of course, will vary by career). This is really just a slightly more advanced version of eyeballing a BoL character into a BRP character, after all 🙂

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0 thoughts on “Quick & Dirty BoL To BRP Conversion

  1. Goblinkin

    Good eye for the conversion there mate. It does look like a lot of work though
    So what kind of setting are you trying out? Are we talking a BoL setting with Basic RPG rules or are you going for a Mythic Russia setting?

    1. the venomous pao

      Thanks, amigo. It looks like a lot of work, but I think in general I’ve got it all internalized well enough that for me it’s easy.

      There’s not a specific setting, necessarily. It’s more that I’m utterly enamored of the BoL way of thinking about a character. The simplicity of the four easy stats and the sheet majesty of the careers system just work for me. So as I need to create NPCs and monster and such for whatever I’m going to be running in BRP (which, to be fair, isn’t exactly hard to work with) I like to sketch them out in BoL format. Then, with the above (which, again, isn’t as involved as it looks) I can change these things over to BRP. I think my analogy is pencils vs. inking in comic books.

      Anyway, if I hold true to form I’ll forget about this process/concept in another month or so and it’ll just be a clever exercise I put myself through for naught 🙂

  2. bat

    That does seem like a sharp conversion and it makes sense. As another who appreciates both games (I am a bit more into CoC than straight BRP, but the differences are negligible). How about some broo for BoL?

    1. the venomous pao

      Glad you approve, amigo!

      I’m truly a BRP guy (well, actually it’s probably more Elric!/SB5 than straight BRP, but I never actually player those games – I’ve come to them after the BRP big golden book rekindled my love for the system), which is somewhat odd, since I seldom played any BRP-based games in my youth. I’ve actually never played Call of Cthulhu and only played Runequest once at a con 25 years ago. So I’m unlikely to produce the Broo for ya, but then again, maybe I’ll get a wild hair.

      You know, reading back over that just confuses me as to why I am, in fact, so in love with BRP. I mean, I had Superworld when I was young (and was an aficionado of all things superhero rpg). I had the original 16 page BRP, too. And I always loved the concept. But I did precious little (if anything) with any of ’em. And yet the system stuck in my head all these years, so when they finally released the big golden book I jumped on it. It’s a bit like running into a girl you knew, but barely interacted with, 20 odd years later and finding out she was the one for you all along 🙂

      Of course, at the same time, you meet all these other delightful ladies and you’re just swimming in it. Fortunately, unlike romantic entanglements, none of these RPGs are going to get mad at me for not being faithful!

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