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[RPG]: HarnMaster 3rd Edition, reviewed by Arthur Reyes (4/5)

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HarnMaster and RuneQuest

Post originally by David at 2003-03-27 11:14:45
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It sounds like HarnMaster is VERY similar to RuneQuest, which came quite a bit earlier. Percentile skills; skills are effected by more than one ability; character creation involves the character’s background; damage involves hit-location and cumulative penalties, although RQ also involves hit-points. I’m wondering what advantages HM has over RQ. These are some of the main differences I can see.

1. HM is still print, although it isn’t too hard to find copies of RQ 2 or 3 and much of the support material is currently available in re-print.
2. HM seems to have more occupations, although this may or may not be good. You can probably recreate most of the HM occupations in RQ, and if they’re restrictive I’d probably rather not have them.
3. There seem to be substantial differences in the combat systems, however I don’t know HM well enough to really comment on them.
4. The HM critical success mechanic seems cool, though it would probably be easy to import it.

Any other thoughts on this?
 
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RE: HarnMaster and RuneQuest

Post originally by Arthur Reyes at 2003-03-27 12:42:01
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I played RQ for many years, so I'd like to comment.

Occupations:
HM has many more occupations than RQ because a) there are more skills which are less broadly defined, and b) almost every profession found in a medievel world has been listed. The rules do not suggest restrictions on occupation other than from a social perspective. If the players are all unguilded freemen, then they SHOULD be restricted in their selection.

I failed to mention in my review that HM3 also has an optional point based character creation system, and some professions are worth more points. For example, Ratcatcher = 3pts, Knight/Bailiff = 20 pts.

Combat:
The initiative system is very different, as there is no modifiers for size & weapon length. Whereas RQ defined initiative solely on who attacks first, HM differs in that initiative represents the combatant's overall battle experience.

HM does not have segmented combat rounds, although I have found a set of houserules that do this very well, based on movement rate. (reminiscent of car wars, oddly enough) Aside from initiative, attack/defend/hit location/damage routines are all the same, though HM is more detailed in some respects.

RQ limitations: (especially for Glorantha)
Some work would need to be done to make HM handle the epic levels that are normal for Glorantha, especially magic levels. Harn Religion and Magic does not have nearly the same number or spells, nor power. Although I haven't given much thought to the conversion process, I believe it would be easy, with all the work being focused on converting RQ spell-damage levels. This very topic came up recently on harnforum at : http://www.harnforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=1732

Because all skills are limited to 100+Skill Base, and combat skills are reduced because of encumbrance, you will generally not see the problem that plagues (IMO) powerful RQ characters: where combat is a furious activity for several rounds, without anyone getting an edge, then someone explodes spectacularly with limbs flying in every direction.
 
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Hold up a minute this is rediculous!

Post originally by Zerohawk at 2003-03-28 07:50:24
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I'm not sayint this game isn't great or anything, I havn't played it and what I've read seems to lead that it is a well done game. However, let me make sure I read this right:

Price: $40
Pages: /160/!

I understand that game prices are high for a reason, but dag gone! That is just WAY too much of a price to page ratio there! I expect at LEAST 300 pages AND hardcover for a book that runs $40!

If the page listing is a misprint please inform me, but dang it! Seriously, that is too much to ask for so little material.
 
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RE: Hold up a minute this is rediculous!

Post originally by Arthur Reyes at 2003-03-28 08:38:37
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Ah yes, more information left out of my review. The page count/price is no misprint. However, you do get a few more items with that price:
really nice box
pad of character sheets
very nice high quality GM screen (quad fold, glossy, color art on the front, actually useful charts)

Unlike many books, HM3 doesn't slow pitch the rules to the reader. Its contents haven't been padded with lots of examples or unnecessary text. Everything is written to the point. Unlike my own writing. :) Maybe the cost is a tiny bit steep, but the product is very high quality.

I do not have a huge collection of RPGs, nor an endless supply of hobby dollars, but considering that I own most or a large chunk of AD&D 1E, RuneQuest, Cthulhu, and D&D3e, I have found that the value of HM is inline or better than most of my other purchases.
 
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RE: Hold up a minute this is rediculous!

Post originally by Peep-Show Master at 2003-03-28 09:14:34
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Personally I wouldn't pay $40 no matter how many pages a module was on, if it was a crappy module (HM3 is a fabulous product). To me it has always been a question on how much value I get for the money, not how many pages it is on. Counting pages compared to cost has nothing to do with quality at all. I would gladly pay $40 for a mere 20 pages if they were of use to me. Meaty does not mean quality.
 
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RE: Hold up a minute this is rediculous!

Post originally by martin at 2003-03-28 10:34:40
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i agree. harnmaster products may seem a bit pricey but the art work is solid, the cartography is beautiful and the information is always useful and to the point.
 
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RE: Hold up a minute this is rediculous!

Post originally by Miginath at 2003-03-28 12:31:11
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40 bucks isn't too bad if you consider that includes a screen (15 bucks) and a pad of Character Sheets (10 bucks). In essence you are actually only paying 15 bucks for the rules if you figure how much the other products go for independantly. Essentially, beisdes dice you have everything you need to get started with Harn, including some pretty neat detail on the unique monsters found on Harn. You will probably want to get the world set and a kingdom module or two soon but considering all the great fan built material out there (and lots of it done by people who are regular contributors to Harn products) you could put that off for a few months while you navigate around Whyce Manor or Chewinton. Bang for your buck Harnmaster is up there compared to other systems.
 
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RE: HarnMaster and RuneQuest

Post originally by Miginath at 2003-03-28 12:59:33
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I'm wondering what advantages HM has over RQ.

1. Harnmaster deals with fatigue and injury much more realistically than Rune Quest.

2. Character advancement is also much more natural. Skills advance depedant on their use.

3. Harn Magic is definately different than Runequest magic. This is not to say one is better than the other though.

4. Healing is very different but very well done in HM. The foolhardy adventurer who fights all the time will soon find his days numbered or find himself crippled with injuries.

There are many differences between the two systems. In fact, there are similarities between Harn and Rolemaster (another d100 system) but all three systems have their strengths and weaknesses. Harnmaster is a relatively simple system to learn and use and optional rules and house rules are easily incorporated into it in a way that doesn't unbalance it. It is not a wargame like D&D is fast becoming but it suitably tactical that you can use miniatures to do battles but don't need to. I guess the best way to understand it is that it is a system that you should look at.
 
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RE: HarnMaster and RuneQuest

Post originally by David at 2003-03-28 13:23:57
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>2. Character advancement is also much more >natural. Skills advance depedant on their >use.

This is also true of RQ. In fact, the two systems sound rather similar.
 
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