Saturday, June 20, 2020

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance

The Covid pandemic has caused severe economic disruption which impacted businesses across the United States including those involved in publishing the tabletop roleplaying industry. Particularly hard hit are those of us who make a lot of our sales from conventions. I am personally am out a significant amount of money as result of Garycon being cancelled and North Texas Con being held on a restrictive basis. But my plight isn't hard as others impacted by Covid-19.

During the early days of the pandemic, Congress passed a bill that made the entire United State eligible for disaster relief. This includes small businesses. You can read for yourself the various options the small business administration has for disaster relief here.

One of the things offered is the ability to apply for a emergency grant and a loan. When I saw this being made available in March I immediately applied. Then I didn't hear anything for a long time until the middle of April. The Small Business Administration approved my grant and sent me a $1,000. Which was slightly more than I was asking for. As near as I could tell the SBA simply looked at how many people were involved and multiplied it by $1,000. In my case that was one. The SBA will approve grants of up to $10,000.

Keep in mind these are grants not loans that have to be paid back. It not free money either. You have to have filed taxes either as a corporation or using a Schedule C profit or loss from business attached to your personal income tax form.

Now I didn't write about this because shortly after I received the money the SBA closed the application process for all business other than agricultural. Apparently the flood of applications was so great they they fear the program would run out of money without fulfilling the ones they had.

The good news they reopened the program for all small businesses.
If your publishing or game business was impacted you can apply here.

The process doesn't end with the grant. Eventually they will send you a loan offer. Again appears to be based on the number of people involved. However this is a loan that has to be paid back over 30 years at 3% interest. So keep that in mind if you get into this part of the process.

Hope this help and stay safe. I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised to have received the grant. I feel this will help many of us who have lost sales as a result of the pandemic.

Matrox in the comments points out an aspect of the process that I forgotten about.
Anyone else out there who this might help, the process is very easy, the only quirk is you need your total gross receipts and cost of goods sold from 2-1-2019 through 1-31-2020. If you gather that info ahead of time and have your EIN/SSN handy you should be all set.
Note that you can get most of your gross receipts and cost of good sold from your corporate tax return or your Schedule C. You will have to figure it out for the month of January 2020.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Black Lives Matter Charity Drive

The job isn't done. Borrowing from the words of Martin Luther King used in his last speech, we have crested the mountain and descended part way down the slope but we as a nation and society still have not reached the promised land for black americans or ourselves.

Now is the time to complete the journey as one nation to fulfill the promise of our Declaration of Independence. That all are created equal. That everyone's unalienable rights are not denied. That all enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Onebookshelf has reached out to myself and other publishers about a charity drive to support various organization dedicated to civil rights. Three charities were offered, Black Lives Matter, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Police Accountability Project.

I have opted to contribute the Wilderlands of High Fantasy Maps as part of the charity bundle for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  Keep in mind the Wilderlands map comes not only with the map PDFs but the PDF for the guidebook as well. The charity drive also features individual products made by African American authors on DriveThruRPG. This is the link for the entire charity drive if you are interested in contributing to one of the other bundles or authors involved.

This only a small effort given the larger events happening. However the mighty river is born of numerous small streams. If each of us contribute what we can when we can, we will all reach the promised land together.

Black Lives Matter.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Adventure Record Sheet for Champions & Hero System

I always been a fan of the Hero System and Champions. While I moved on to other system for fantasy roleplaying it is still my goto RPG for super hero campaigns. I am starting up a campaign for some friends who are interested in playing some super heroes. One of the things I used in past campaigns is a form from Champions II from way back in the 80s to track PCs and NPCs in combat.

However it has issues where that it doesn't have many lines for characters and splits the information for a character into different sections. I used to use the one in Fantasy Hero but it small. So I made a new one.

Download it here

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A walk through Harnmaster - Combat Part 1


This is a 26 page article

First off if you have trouble following any of this I strongly recommend downloading and reading Bill Gant's Harnmaster Combat vs D20 Combat Essay.

Scale and Components

Harnamaster supports miniatures and this section has the author's recommendation on what scale to use. Namely 1 inch = 5 feet, that you use 25 mm miniatures, and a hexgrid is preferred. It also goes on to say that if you don't use a hexgrid then just multiply all references to hexes by five to get the number of feet.

Combat Profile

Explains the combat profile portion of the character sheet and its most import elements

  • Endurance: The ability to tolerate and recover from physical ordeal. It is the average of Strength, Stamina, and Will.
  • Move: The number of hexes a character can move in 10 seconds (a round). It equal to the character's agility so a human can move up to 50 feet in a 10 second round.
  • Dodge: An automatic skill that opens at Agility x 5. This can be improved as a skill.
  • Load: The information is repeated from Characters. Basically the weight the character carries divided by Endurance.
  • Encumbrance Penalty: see above


Harnmaster has a variety of choices for weapons. It not exhaustive like GURPS Martial Arts and focuses on the medieval along with some selections from the Roman Era.

Each weapon is rated for the following: A - Attacking skill bonus; D- Defending skill bonus; WT - Weight; WQ - Weapon Quality; Impact Values (B/E/P) - Bonus to impact for Blunt, Edge, and Point; Then Price in d (silver pennies);


Next combat discusses Armor. Just as weapons have impact bonuses for different aspects (Blunt, Edge, Point) Different types of Armor defends better against various weapons aspects plus there is a rating for resisting fire.

While tersely written, it is a fiddly part of Harnmaster/ Like many of the other fiddly parts it is front loaded onto the character sheet before play.

Armor nuances

Harnmaster is at the high end for the number of hit locations. You buy armor in pieces and layers of armor stack on top of each other. Eventually the weight will radically degrade your combat capabilities but for most characters there is a sweet spot of protection for what they can carry.

For example you don't just wear a Chain Hauberk you also wear a Quilt Gambeson. This give the extra padding especially for blunt attack to resist injury.

If you get the boxed set you will also get a GM Screen that has a chart listing the totals for common combinations of armor layers.

The good news if you armor your character like you see an medieval illustration you will be just as protected in-game as in real life.

There an optional rule to damage armor if the character suffers a high impact injury. The high impact creates or tears a hole in the armor. It fiddly and I have never used it as it involves an extra roll in future rounds.


This section explains movement. Basically a walk is half move, a jog is a full move, running is double move, and sprinting is triple move. The primary mechanical effect is how much fatigue you gain while moving. It doesn't come up often in combat as sprinting causes 1 FL per 1 minute (6 rounds) of sprinting.

Engagement Zones

Like some other RPG, active characters exert a zone of control. Harnmaster sets this at five feet around the character. The effect is that if you are engaged you can only move one hex per round (any direction). If you were not engaged before moving next to the opponent you must stop movement. Engagement Zones can overlap and a single character can be engaged with up to six opponents.

There is an optional rule allowing the Engagement Zone to be extended to 10 feet for long reach weapons.

Another optional rule is the reaction zone. The reaction zone extends as far as the character can move. If an opponent starts outside of the character's reaction zone then the opponent must stop if they move into it. If the opponent starts within another character's reaction they can move normal. The point of the rule is to give the character a change to intercept somebody if they move within their move range.

Combat Sequence

Harnmaster uses 10 second combat rounds.

The character with the highest initiative goes first. If two character are tied then go with the higher skill base, any further ties resolved with a 1d10 or 1d6 roll.

You can do one action: Res, Pass, Free Move (up to running or move x2) , Engage (half move and optionally attack), Charge (full move and must attack), Disenage (move 1 hex, and do a half move), Rise, Grope (using anything with DEX), Melee Attack, Missile Attack (Load or Fire for a crossbow, Load/Ready & Fire for everything else), Grapple Attack, Esoteric Attack (magic or psionics).

There are optional rules for

  • Surprise
  • Engage Initiative: when engaging first time both roll initiative, if the defender has a higher success they can perform an attack
  • Combat Fatigue: Two variants for suffering Fatigue during combat. I recommend #2 each character suffer 1 Fatigue for every 5 minutes (30 rounds) of combat.

Previous post is Skills, Next post is Combat Part 2

Monday, April 27, 2020

A walk through Harnmaster - Skills


This is a 24 page article.

In a nutshell skills are checked with a d100 rolled low. If you roll equal to or less than your skill level +/- modifiers then you succeeded. If you roll a 0 or 5 on the last die it is a critical result. Most resolution tables list four entries: Critical Failure, Failure, Success, and Critical Success.

Skill Base

What your skill level starts out at is based on your Skill Base. The Skill Base is an average of three attributes. This is one of the more fiddly bits of Harnmaster but like much of the other fiddly bits it is frontloaded when you create the character.

Once you calculate your skill base you add in a modifier for your sunsign.

For example the skill base for Stealth is an average of Agility, Hearing, and Will. So a character with an Agility of 12, Hearing of 15, and a Will of 9 will have a skill base of 12 (12+15+9 = 36 /3 = 12). If the character had the Hirin (Eagle), Tareal (Pentacle), or Tai (Lantern Bearer) sunsign they would get a +2 bonus for a SB of 14. Note that fractions are rounded to the nearest whole number. So a total of 35 would round to 12 (11.6667) but a total of 34 would round to 11 (11.3333).

Rob's Comment
I recommend using a printout made form a spreadsheet of triple values. A list of totals and their calculated skill base. Like the one I made for my campaign that your can download from here.

Using Skill Base

When you open a skill there is a opening mastery level modifiers under the Opening Mastery Level or OML column. So when the character starts out with stealth their initial skill level is SB x3. So using my example with a SB of 12 the character would have a Mastery Level (skill level or ML) of 36%.

When you go through character generation, the skills you get often have a higher OML. Using the Hunter Trapper from the previous post. We see the Hunter/Trapper opens stealth at SB x4 not SB x3. The above character with a SB of 12 would start out with a ML of 48%, 56% if the character had one of the three sunsigns that influences Stealth due to the SB of 14.

Note that any skill in all caps are default skills. 

The other role Skill Base plays is that it determines your max skill level (100 + SB), and higher SB makes improving skills easier.

Mastery Level (ML)

Harnmaster calls skill level, Mastery Level. Unfortunately they opt for a bit of jargon.

  • OML: Opening Mastery Level, The multiplier used to determine the initial Mastery Level when the character obtains a skill.
  • EML: Effective Mastery Level, Your mastery level plus or minus any modifiers. This is what you roll against.

Your minimum EML is always 5%, your maximum EML is always 95%

Skill Index (SI)

This is your Mastery Level divided by 10 (rounded down). This is used in several mechanics where you are able to do more with a higher SI. They don't give a spot for it on your character sheet as it is always the first number of your Mastery Level.


An optional rule to allow for more fine grained skills. Some skills you can have specialties and improve them separately. You can start taking specialties at ML 40+. The advantage is that you can improve a specialty twice as fast as the broad skill. An example is Musician and different instrument. Or Swords and the different sword types. I recommend using this rule. And for @TristramEvans the specialties for Lovecraft are specifically noted at the GM's discretion.

Skill Table

I showed you a slice of the skill table above. It is divided into Physical, Communication, Religion, Combat, and Craft & Lore. The Craft & Lore is the longest list.

Each skill has its Name, the Skill Base attributes, Sunsign modifiers, OML, and suggested specialities.

Skill Testing

Here the rules talk about how to have player test their character skills. A marginal success is rolling equal to or less than your Effective Mastery Level. Otherwise it is a marginal failure. Any roll ending in a 0 or 5 is a critical result.

Opposed Skill Checks

Harnmaster looks at relative success, Marginal Success versus Critical Failure for example. The higher success level wins with Critical Success being the highest. If both character roll the same success level then it is either a tie, or who ever rolls the lowest wins if a tie is not relevant. In practice using this is straight forward and fast with no math involved.

The Universal Penalty

Character get injured, or get tired, Harnmaster folds these conditions into the Universal Penalty.

The Universal Penalty that is a number from 0 to X. It applies in one of two ways.

You add the number to any save you have to roll with d6s versus one of your attributes
You multiply 5 and it reduces your EML that you roll against.

For example a Universal Penalty of 5 means that your skill levels are reduced by -25%, and your add +5 to any xd6 rolls versus your attributes.

The Universal Penalty is made up of the following.

Injury Penalty

Every injury that the character suffer is rated from 1 to 5. Adding together all your injuries gives you your character's injury penalty.

Fatigue Penalty

If your character exerted themselves strenuously for 5 minutes or more then they add one Fatigue level. Casting spells or using Psionics also adds Fatigue level.

Your Universal Penalty is the sum of your Injury Penalty and Fatigue Penalty.

Physical Penalty

For physical activities like combat, climbing, or stealth. You also have to add in your Encumbrance Penalty. This total is the Physical Penalty.

The Enumberance Penalty is calculated by adding up the weight of everything you are carrying and dividing it by the character's endurance. So if the character carrying 60 lbs and their endurance is 15 then their EP is 4.

Rob's Comment
Encumbrance is generally considered fiddly in most systems and this no different. However it easier than most as it is handled by dividing the weight carried by encumbrance. It fits with the gritty medieval theme of Harnmaster. Finally it why the high combat skills of characters with military skills is important. The high mastery levels represents in part the training they got with having gear on.

If you don't want to account for every item in encumbrance then just total up the weapons and armor/clothing worn and tack on 10 or 20 lbs for gear.

Skill Development

When a character gets a development roll you roll 1d100 + Skill Base. If it exceeds your Mastery Level then the ML goes up by one. Up by 2 if it is a specialty.

Skill Development Rolls

Characters get Skill Development rolls for
  • Study/Practice, HM assume that throughout a month Character practice and study their skills. There is an optional to increase this if the character has high Will
  • Employment and Instruction, bonuses are given for job related skills and for being taught by somebody with a higher ML.
  • Stressful/Bonus Experience, the referee can award bonus development rolls after adventures that test the character's skills. The author encourage to give these out for failures as well as successes.
All of this part of a subsystem using Skill Maintenance Points. It sounds fiddly but it only one page and what it amounts to is that character get three development rolls a month, one roll for 40 hours of work, or 10 hours of instruction. There is an optional rule where you have to use SMPs to maintain skills you HAVEN'T used. But I never used that option.

Rob's Comment
I like this a lot. GURPS has some of this but Harnmaster's take is far cleaner and easier to use provided you don't use Skill Maintenance. I have a house rule that you double your gain if you roll a critical on your development roll. (2 for broad skills, 4 for specialties). I like that you automatically get 3 rolls a month which helps greatly with players feeling free to poke and muddle around. Otherwise they feel like they need to get into scrapes in order to advance all the time.

The Skills

Pages 8 to 19 are the descriptions of the skills and their mechanics. A lot of stuff in these pages so I will highlight a couple.


Jumping is an example of a skill using the Critical Failure to Critical Success scale. The numbers present the percentage of the character's height that they are able to jump.


Example of a description only skill.

Stealth is tested when a character attempts to move without being detected. It can only be applied in situations where an observer would not automatically see the sneaker. The attempt presumes reasonable cover and/or poor light. EML is modified for distance to the target, available cover, etc. Rolling any failure indicates detection, although with MF it may be reasonable to test Awareness of potential observers.

Languages and Scripts

The description for both are several paragraphs. When we get to treasure you will see that not only knowing a language matters but the script in which it written matters as well. Luckily since this focuses on Harn there isn't an overwhelming number of choices although the author does touches briefly on the rest of the world.

Craft/Lore Skills

Most of these skills can only opened after a period of training with a teacher following the instruction rules in skill development. In some way this section along with combat are the heart and soul of a Harn character. There is a fair amount of terse detail packed in here.

Combat Skills

Combat skills are easy to get, you can open them after just one combat with a relevant weapon. However after ML 70 you can only improve them through bonus development rolls gained in actual combat.


This skill can only be improved through bonus development rolls gained as a result of combat. This skill typically not roll but used to determine the order of initiative.

Value Enhancement
Product Quality

These three section give general mechanics for using the Craft/Lore skills focusing on items and good that you can make with these skills. It one page.

Attribute Testing

This section get into the different ways you can use your attributes. It is two pages and covers the basic in the usual detailed but terse Harn style.

Example Lifting

Normal, healthy characters can lift Strength × 10 pounds, at least briefly, with little or no difficulty. When attempting to lift heavier loads, the table (below) is consulted. The table assumes loads can be conveniently gripped with both hands/arms. Awkward loads are more difficult. Lifting tests are subject to Physical Penalty

It is possible to successfully lift a weight and then find it too heavy to hold. Once a load is lifted, an immediate Carrying Test is required.

Mental Conflict

I haven't used this section much. However in two pages it give a system to resolves things like psionic attacks, possession, ethereal conflicts, and control of a magical artifact. It simplified compared to Harn combat with a single table resolving attack and defense. While different things can happen the immediate result of mental conflict is gaining fatigue levels and perhaps passing out.

That it for skills, next is the big one COMBAT!
Previous post is Characters, Next Post is Combat Part 1

Follow Ups

Starting Wealth

Charles ask a question about starting wealth. On Character 17 there is this table

But there no mechanics associated with the table. Instead the section is a series of guidelines outlining things like Family Weath, Clothling & Possessions, Weapon & Armour, etc. 

The oversight here is that the original release of Harn had three things: the map, Harnview book, and the Harndex book. In Harnview there was a section called the Pre-game. It has some of the family and social class tables and information found in the first section of character but it also goes onto explain that the referee should run a mini-sessions to flesh out the character's background with the player. This was in the 1st edition of Harnmaster but the specifics was spread out among the product line in later editions and printings. 

The table above along with the income values for various occupations work with that idea. If the character was realtively successful in the Pre-game then a value from the Rich column would be warranted. If the character pre-game was neither good or bad, then use the Average column. If the pre-game didn't go so good then Poor column should be used. 

For a more specific method, Harnmaster 1st edition recommed 1d3 month of wages from the character's occupation plus some clothing, tools, weapons, etc based on their estrangment, social class, and occupation. 

For example in a recent Harn campaign I ran, two of the players were part of the Aleath City Guard. So they had quilt gambeson, spears, and daggers from their service. As well as some coins that the players used in part ot augment their equipment.