Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Some Fantasy Trip Goodness

Douglas Cole at Gaming Ballistic has a new kickstarter up called More Perilous Journeys.

It is a collection of five adventures for The Fantasy Trip RPG by SJ Games. Like classic DnD, the Fantasy Trip is a minimalist RPG that focuses on labyrinth i.e. dungeon adventures.

In addition to his work on Dragon Heresy (a DnD 5e variant), and Dungeon Fantasy RPG (GURPS). Douglas also been supporting the Fantasy Trip along by publishing materials from several different authors. He built quite a team putting out great material for TFT coupled with a high production value as you can see from the cover below.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Charity Bundle at Drivethrug RPG

The situation with Covid-19 virus has effected all of us. Some more than others. As the crisis was developed One Bookshelf sent out an email asking for contribute to a charity bundle. The publishers were given a choice of one of three charities: Doctor without Borders, No Kid Hungry, and World Food Programme.


Kelly Anne, my wife, and I talked it over and went with No Kid Hungry with the Majestic Wilderlands as my contribution.



Each bundle has dozens of titles and for $20 you get a several hundred dollars worth of product. By a strange coincidence, Columbia Games contributed Harnworld to the same bundle. So if you are interested in the Harn by my recent series of post on Harnmaster, you will not only get Harnworld but my Majestic Wilderlands as well.

You see all three bundles at this link.

Hope you can contribute if you can. Stay healthy and stay safe!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A Walk through Harnmaster - Treasure and Bestiary, the final sections.

First the Harnmaster Boxed Set kickstarter is on its last day.

Treasure

This is a 24 Page Article

This article is in part commentary on the value of things and a catalog of treasure. I found the first part very useful and adopted it wholesale for the Majestic Wilderlands as it fleshed out a mundane treasure a lot. The latter part has a lot of flavor but it is more tied to Harnmaster and the Harn setting.

The Value of Items

The advice is not give out the "value" as what the PCs get for it will be part of a subjective appraisal than a straight conversion into coin.

Treasure Register

Given the above the referee is advised to keep a secret treasure register where the generated value and characteristics are record.

Treasure Age

As part of this the age of the treasure is generated. While a bit fiddly, Harn does a good job of structuring it time period into something more managable than usual. There are seven time periods each a very distinctive time in Harn's history. The unclearest are the differences, between Modern, Middle , and Anicent. A better way to look at it would be Current Kingdom, Early in the Kingdom's history, pre-Kingdom history.



Treasure Condition

Next is the condition of the treasure when it is found. Pristine or corroded badly?

Personal Possessions
Next a useful series of tables to generate the possessions of a NPCs. I suggest making a possesion roster for common types of NPCs as it something you don't want to do during play. Possession can consist of Clothing, Armor, Silver/Gold, Usurer's Notes, Gems/Jewelry, Trade Goods, Misc Items, and Camping/Equipment.

Next are the detailed listing and treasure generation for different types of treasure.

Potions and Elixirs

Harn relies more on potions made from natural herbs than the traditional magic potion. For those of you who play classic DnD, I created my own take on this.

Gems and Jewelry

A detailed system for generating jewelry or unmounted gems. Very useful for other RPGs.

Written Works

Harnmaster put some emphasis on written works as mundane treasure. The result can be flavorful and sold to the right party can net the party quite a bit.

Mystic Tomes

Generating works of a magical nature. The main mechanical effect is improving one or more skills.

Armor and Weapons

This section generate armor and weapons as treasure. Focusing on the mundane effect like adornments and weapon quality.

Artifacts

These are the magic items of Harnmaster. They are divided into two groups, major artifacts and minor artifacts. Major artifacts invariably have personalities although not all of them are sentient. Major artifacts have multiple powers while minor artifacts have only one.

The rest of the article about artifacts talkes about the different type of personalities (artifical, natural). How does Harnmaster Magic work with artifacts. A summary of some Harnmaster Magic spells that could be part of a major artifact so you can make them without owning HM Magic. How some artifacts need mental attunement which in-game is a empathic bond with the artifact and not some artifical treasure limitation. Some ways to invoke the artifact powers. Finally how Artifacts are powered by magical charges.

Artifact example.


Earthmaster Artifacts

The last section, 3 pages, are a table and list of Earthmaster artifacts and their abilities. Earthmaster are the enigmatic precurser race found in Harn and left several extensive ruins.

Earthmaster Artifact example.


Bestiary

This is a 8 page article

While the Bestiary is only 8 pages the Harnmaster RPG comes with three additional article fully fleshing three types of creatures Gargun (Harnic Orcs), Ivashu (Divinely created monstrosities), and Yelgri (Harnic Harpies/Gargoyles).

Bestiary Stats

This this section explains how creatures are presented and what their attributes means. Like Runequest, GURPS, D&D 3.X and many other system, creatures have the same attributes as character. However due to the article format that Harn uses there also an abbreviated one line stat block also used especially in the Bestiary article itself.

Rather than go blow by blow it just easier to show by using the Yelgri statistics



Creatures have a Description, Attributes, Skills, Armor rating, and often a custom strike location chart. Somewhat similiar to Runequest.

This section also has notes on Ethereals or non-corporeal creatures. Basically only enchanted weapons and spells can effect them.

It also gives notes on making your own creature using charts like the below.


Special Cases

This section covers special attacks and abilities including: Acid, Attacks on Ships, Charging Attacks, Crushing Attacks (constrictors), Tangle Attacks, Tossing, Venomous Bites/Stings.

The remaining 5 pages of the article are series of landscape charts giving the short stat blocks of many mundance and magical Harnic creatures.


Gargun

This is a 12 page article detailing Gargun or Harnic Orcs

Gargun appeared relatively recently in Harnic history. Created or summoned by Harn's only empire building mage, Lothrim the Foulspawner. After the fall of Lothrim's empire, his gargun servitors fled into the wilderness where they thrived after a fashion. Competing with barbarian tribes and isolated realms like the Dwarven kingdom of Azadmere.



There are several varieties of Gargun: Arak (Small Orc), Hyeka (Brown Orc), Khanu (Black Orc), Kyani (White Orc), and Viasal (Red Orc).

They have a unique biology in that each tribe is descended from a single queen who lays eggs that eventually hatch a gargun. The article goes into their history, culture, religion, and the different tribes as of 720 TR.

Ivashu

This is a 6 page article detailing the different varities of Ivashu. These are monsters created by the Harnic God Ilvir who is said to dwell in a tower in the center of the island. There are different varities along with unique creatures. This articles details the five most common that are encountered.

They are Aklash (the choking wind), Hru (Rock Giant), Nolah (Dank Stalker), Umbath (Bearer of the Mask), Vlasta (Eater of Eyes).



Some like the Nolah are reminiscence of a DnD monster like Trolls some like the Vlasta are their own special form of Harnic terror. However they all have unique spin due to their back story of being created by the god Ilvir.

Yelgri

This is a four page article.

This creatures is nicknamed the Harnic Harpy. It readly more like DnD's gargoyle but more mundane in origin. They are semi-intelligent and inhabit the mountainous regions of Harn.



Below is an example a naturalist style inhabited range chart that nearly all the creature articles use. This one is for the Yelgri


Wrapping it up

So that it for my walk through Harnmaster. Hope you enjoyed it, found it informative and will try out the system some day. It pricey but the quality is there and been the same since the mid 80s.

The previous post was Campaigns.This is the final post in this series.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

A Walk through Harnmaster - Campaign

The Campaign

This is a 16 page article.

First the Harnmaster Boxed Set kickstarter is in its last 48 hours.

This article has little in the way of general philosphy. Most of that was outlined in the Introduction. Instead this article focus more on the nuts and bolts of managing time and having things happen while the character travel around, have adventures, and live out their lives.

Calenders

Central to many of the routines is the Tuzyn Calender. A year is divided in 12 months of 30 days each. The full moon falls on the 15th and the new moon on the 30th.



The current year is 720 TR (Tuzyn Reckoning). While there are events in Harn history that happens 10,000 years ago or a 1,000 years ago. The most relevent are within the 700 years timespan of the Tuzyn Reckoning. Even within that "modern" Harn history is the past 200 years. This helps a lot with understanding what going on.

Another interesting aspect of the Harn setting is that the setting been pegged at 720 TR since its first release back in the 80s. I showed pictures of my collection in 2010 versus 2020 and despite that expansion anything set in the "present" is always referencing 720 TR. This allows Harn material both past and present to have a high degree of compatibility.

Finally while there are 24 hours in a day. Most of the following use 4 hour watches.

Day to day life in a Harn campaign involves determining one or more of the following.

  • Environ: Urban, Rural, Wilderness, Highway, Underworld (rare), River, Sealanes, Open Sea, Safe Environ (downtime)
  • Timetick: Normally the four hour watch, but can be 10 seconds for combat, 1 minute for Underworld or Urban
  • Weather Generation: More about this later but Harn has the best weather generation system of any RPG.
  • Encounter Generation: Roll to see what happen or who is encountered.
  • Movement: Where the players are going within the time tick.
  • Maps and Mapping: To aid this Harn product often have blank outlines or player view maps included.
  • Each of these section in Campaign gets explained along with relevant tables presented.


Maps and Mapping

Harn has several different types and scales of maps.


Poetic a in-game map.



Regional



GM Atlas map



Local map



Interior Map

Campaign Time

This one page section is about how to manage time within a campaign especially if you have multiple groups playing different session. While most referees are just refereeing one group at a time this type of advice is not commonly found anymore and is interesting to read.

Future History

Some advice and tables on how to generate events going forward from the 720 TR start date.

Movement Rates

Here we are given movement rates for different terrain and whether it is on foot, using a cart, a wagon, or on horseback. Harn measures distance in leagues where 1 league = 1 hour walking across level terrain or 2.5 mi/4 km. From long experience this is incrediably useful and I adopted it use for all my fantasy settings.



Transportation

This 2 page section gives advice, costs, and details on various forms of transporation like porters, wagons, and barges.

Caravan and Baggage Trains

There are several important long distance trails on Harn (Genin Trial, the Salt Route, etc). Caravans are a common occurance on these trails and this sections gives advice, costs, and details on how they work.

Encounters

This section is a series of encounter tables and their mechanics. At first glance it doesn't look too different than what found in most RPGS. However it much more concerned about the life of the setting and less on encountering monsters to fight.


Forms

The last two pages are two forms for use in running a Harn Campaign. The first is a 30 day calender with space to note what happens during each four hour watch. The second is a 12 month calender with six columns allowing you to note events happening in up to six locations for an entire year. Of the two I find the first the most useful as a campaign log even when I am not using Harn.

The previous post Psionic, The next post Treasure and the Bestiary.

Friday, May 1, 2020

A Walk through Harnmaster - Psionics

Psionics

This is a 8 page article. Four pages of mechanics, four pages of talent descriptions.

Psionics always been a bit of an odd duck in Harnmaster. Some referee used them some don't. Here they are presented as psychic powers. It important to keep in mind that unlike D&D's take, Psionics in Harnmaster do integrate with an important setting elements the Earthmasters.

The Earthmasters were an ancient races inhabiting Harn (and much of the world) predating the Elves. They disappeared leaving behind various enigmatic ruins. While Harn never spelled out in detail what the Earthmaster were, psionics abilities and artifacts are consistent theme.



Introduction

The recommendation is that psionic talents be generated in secret by the referee and then solely revealed during the campaign. Once revealed they become a skill like any other although one that more supernatural in its effect. Of course if veteran characters are being created or if it happens to fit the campaign, it may be that the character starts out with knowing some of the talents they have. It works either way.

Psionic Talent Generation.

The number of talents that a character has is based on Aura - 3d6 roll. Then a d100 is rolled and a table is consulted.



Each Talent is considered a skill and effected by the sunsigns like other skills are.

Dormancy

The next section gives advice on how to handle dormant talents. Which is any talent that is Mastery Level (ML) lower than 21.

On raised past ML 20, psionic talents are developed like any other skills except when Skill Maintenance Points (SMP) are used. Instead of 10 SMPs per development roll, it takes 15. So a character can only make two development rolls per month instead of 3 if they are focused on improving psionic talents.

Invoking Talents

It not particularly easy as even a marginal failure could cause the character to pass out.



Invoking talents is also fatiguing. There is a notation after the name of the Talent on how much Fatigue is accumulated after each attempt to use it.

There are two optional rules. On is for passive invocations of three talents: Medium, Prescience, and Sensitivity. The other is about Joint Invocation of Psionic talents.

Example Talents - Charm




Rob's Comments
I admit I am never of fan of psionics in a fantasy setting. But Harnmaster's take isn't half bad and it does fit given the lore. So far in three decades of Harn it hasn't come up in any of the sessions or campaigns I ran.

Previous Post Physician. Next Post Campaigns

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Walk through Harnmaster - Physicians

Physician

This is a four page article.

So now we get into how your heal from the injuries you suffered in combat.

Society of Physicians

This section gives some details about the life of physicians on Harn. The main difference is that they know the value of basic antisepsis (keeping things clean) although don't know why it works the way it does. And there are magical options available although they are covered elsewhere.

Injury Recovery

From the previous example Bjorn has a S2, Serious Slash to the Thorax from the fight. How does he heal? He has to be treated and there is a table for that.

Treatment




From the previous post, Bjorn is going to need surgery i.e. his gash needs to be cleaned and sewn up. A physician roll will get +20 as his cut not that complex to deal. This number comes from the EML (Effective Mastery Level) column. The next five columns list the result of the different levels of success plus what happens when there is no treatment (NT). If the Physician rolls a marginal success (MS). Bjorn's player now records that injury has a Healing rate of H5.

Each injury is treated separately.

Rob's Comment
The bonus EML for different injuries means a party member without anybody with a physician roll can take a stab at treating their friend. As you can see even a Critical Failure is better than No Treatment. (Sorry misread the table). The skill open up automatically at SBx1 when the attempt is made. There are also Herbs that give a further bonus by either knocking out the character to fighting infection. However there is a risk in a critical failure being rolled making the injury worse.

Healing

Once Bjorn has been treated he can now begin to heal. From the previous example he has a H5 rate. This means every five days of rest, he can make a healing roll. A healing roll is roll against the Healing Rate (H) of the injury time Endurance. In Bjorn case his Endurance is 12 so with a H5 healing rate he makes his healing roll verus 60%.  Also for human characters the healing roll is made every 5 days irregardless of the Healing Rate.



The goal of the healing roll is to have the Injury reduced to zero. For the first five days of rest Bjorn rolls a 56 and gets a Marginal Success (MS). His serious slash goes from 2 to 1. The second five days Bjorn rolls a 72, a marginal failure, and has no healing. The third five days, Bjorn rolls a 35 which is a Critical Success (CS), and heals the remainder of his injury. I would probably rule that he is healed three days in with that result. So Bjorn is out for 15 days healing from his fight.

There are spells, herbs, etc that can speed this up. The most common are herbs. For example injuries treated with Ichor of Agrik/Berilik Balm a paste made from Berilik Herb (Dragonhead) have half the normal chance of developing an infection. So if a Critical Failure (CF) is rolled and Berilik Balm is applied, roll a d6. On a 1-3 the infection doesn't happen.



yeah the Herblore article even has pictures of each type of herb.

There are two optional rules. One is how to treat Bloodloss if that rule is used in combat. The other adding a Diagnosis roll which add a bonus to the Effective Mastery Level (EML) either +10 for a Marginal Sucess (MS) or +30 for a Critical Success (CS). The authors leave to GM's discretion whether to apply a penalty for a failed roll. I don't recommend doing that, Harnmaster is pretty brutal to begin with.

There also mechanics covering how to use this for disease. Basically diseases are given a contagion index and a healing rate. You multiply the character's endurance by the Contagion Index (CI) to see if they save against the disease. If they fail then they contract the disease starting at the listed Healing Rate. A C1/H1 disease will kill most of the population.

Lingering effects of poisons are handled in the same way.

Instead of Injury levels going down, the healing roll for disease raise and lower the Healing Rate. At H0 the character dies and at H6 the character is free of disease/infection/poison. This healing roll is made every day.


That it for injury recovery, there is a lot packed into four pages of mechanics and like a lot of Harnmaster it handle the details in a straightforward manner that feels like how it would go in a medieval setting.

The previous post was Combat Part 2; The next post is Psionics.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Walk through Harnmaster - Combat Part 2

Combat Part 2

Melee Attack Sequence

So now you are engaged and ready to attack. This section use the Harnmaster Combat Tables which you can download.

The attacker declares what aspect of their weapon they are using (B/E/P) and whether they are aiming High (-10), Mid (0), or Low (10)

Athelstan with a 55 sword skill attacks with the edge of his broadsword (impact bonus of 5) aiming for the mid section (+0)

The defender either ignores the attack due to various circumstances, or if is active whether they Counterstrike, Block, or Dodge.

Bjorn with a 46 shield skill elects to block the swing with his round shield.


Both sides rolls, the attack uses his Attacker Mastery Level, and the Defender uses his Defender Mastery Level

  • Athelstan will have to roll equal to or less than a 70 (55 ML + 15 A)
  • Bjorn will have to roll equal to or less than at 66 (46 ML + 20 D)


The success levels are compared and the result apply

  • Athelstan rolls a 55 a Critical Success
  • Bjorn rolls a 68 a Marginal Failure


If the result is an injury, strike impact is rolled, strike location is rolled, and the armor protection is subtracted. If the result is 1+ then an injury has occured.

Cross indexing the two success levels results a A*2 results. Which means you roll 2d6 + 5 (the impact bonus of the edge of the broadsword).

Able rolls a 6 giving an 11 impact. Able rolls a 58 for Strike Location hitting the Thorax


Bjorn is wearing a Leather Vest over a Cloth Shirt giving a protection value of 5 versus Edge impacts. So Bjorn suffers a 6 impact.

Other results

AF, DF, and BF are fumbles, you have to make a fumble roll or lose your weapon (or shield).

Block means the defending weapon (a shield in this case) intercepts the attacking weapon (the Broadsword). If you use weapon damage then the lower quality weapon has to make a save first or be functionally destroyed. If the save is made then it is the higher WQ that has to save. I recommend using this optional roll. It is a 3d6 roll low versus the weapon's WQ. There even a more brutal variant where even you make a weapon save its WQ is reduced by 1 although it still works. This seems a bit unrealistically harsh. If you want to do this drop the WQ if you make the save exactly or by 1 anything lower the weapon is fine.

A DTA is a Defender Tactical Advantage, once each turn a character may gain a Tactical Advantage. They are allowed to take another action that turn. The most extreme result is that Athelstan attacks rolls badly, Bjorn gets a Tactical Advantage and attack back also rolling badly, Athelstan gain a Tactical Advantage and attack again hopefully not rolling badly again. Any further DTA are ignored.

Injury Determination

So now Bjorn got slashed across the thorax (upper chest) with 6 impact. Now it time to figure out his injury. We cross index the hit location with the impact to get a injury level. In this case an S2 results or a Serious Thorax Slash 2. It is recorded on the character sheet as Thorax S2.


The 2 is now added to the character Universal Penalty and for this injury the character has to make a shock roll. Remember the Universal Penalty is Injury + Fatigue but not Encumbrance. For every point of UP you roll 1d6. In this case Bjorn roll 2d6. If Bjorn rolls over his Endurance (average of STR, STA, and WIL) he collapses in shock. Now Bjorn has 14 STR, 12 STA, and a 10 WILL giving a END 12. He not going into shock for this injury.

If you look at the arm location above the Thorax there is a diamond. This is a symbol for a fumble roll as it is the arm. For the legs it is a stumble roll. Some Grievous wounds to the Legs and Arms also have a upside down triangle this is a amputation roll. K results are potential instant kills. If the character doesn't die then it is converted to a Grievous wounds now the character has to make a shock roll.

The end result is that after combat the character will have a list of injury they suffered. The total of which is applied to their Universal Penalty.

Rob's Comments
I generally don't like to use tables when refereeing. But these tables are excellent to use and don't slow down play. The bright layout makes it easy to figure the result of any strike. If one wants details for combat this is an excellent way to go.

More than any other system, I find the injury system of Harnmaster gets the players invested in their character. It tersely but graphically illustrates every injury and blow the character suffers. And it just adds something to experience that other system don't have.

The sidebar to injuries give several options rules. I recommend using Bloodloss. If a grievous injury is not bound up within 1 minute (6 rounds) then the character will suffer 1 Bloodloss that adds to the UP. If the total BP exceeds Endurance the character dies. Each grievous wound counts separately for bloodloss.

Beastly Blows

This section give special combat rules for Wings, Tails, and Tentacles

Missile Combat

Works similarly to Melee Combat. Defenders can Block or Dodge (or has to Ignore). The AML of the attack is modified for range. And potential impact is modified for range as well. Missile use their own combat matrix which generates hit or miss results.

Initiative Testing & Morale

For NPCs initiative is used for Morale Checks. This page covers the details and the results.

Mounted Combat

This section covers mounted combat in six pages.
The different Horse breeds are covered and their statistics along with the use of Riding Skill, Horse movement, how to command the horse in combat, and how actions work when mounted. Being mounted is an advantage especially in the impact rating generated for hitting and gives some damage opportunities not available on foot like steed trampling.

Jousting

The final two pages of Combat covers Jousting. There are some specific rules and notes covering the non-lethal aspect of the joust. Along with a unique combat matrix for resolving Joust strikes.




Next up is Physician cover what you do about all those injuries and why the battle isn't done when combat ends

Previous post was Combat Part 1, Next Post is Physican