What is HARP?

As you’re here, I know you’re familiar with Rolemaster, and I’m here to tell you about HARP.  HARP stands for High Adventure Role Playing, and while it shares many things with RM it is its own game.

Currently, HARP has six books available: Fantasy, SF, SF Xtreme,  College of Magics, Martial Law, and Folkways. You can run fantasy games with just the core book if you want to, but for science fiction you really need both SF and  SF Xtreme.

HARP Similarities to RM

  • d100/percentile dice based with open ending
  • Modular: the mentioned expansion books for fantasy
  • Brutal and amusing critical hits and fumbles

HARP Differences from RM

  • Eight stats instead of ten.
  • Your attack roll is your critical roll, reducing dice rolling.
  • Critical tables are by damage type rather than by weapon, reducing the amount of time it takes to look up a critical result. They also top out at rolls of 120, instant death criticals, so it is much easier to top the charts.
  • Rather than learning a spell list associated with their profession, casters can alter their spells during casting.  This comes with an increased casting time, power point cost, and an increasing casting penalty the more  scaling options the caster wants to use. Each spell is learned as a skill that the caster must have enough ranks for number of power points used in the spell for all scaling options. Characters will have to take casting penalties into account to scale their spells to cast while wearing armor.
  • To create a mixed race/species or genetically adapted character, the player must purchase the Genetic Adaptation talent once or twice, one Greater Blood Talent, or exactly two Lesser Blood Talents.
  • Choosing a character’s culture gives adolescent skills and is a great starting point for character backgrounds.


If you’re a fan of RM and sometimes want something lighter, give HARP a spin. Or if you’re interested in RM but it seems too daunting, give HARP a go.

Dividing loot. An early RPG mechanic.

For those taking note, my blog volume has decreased substantially over the last month or two. Luckily, we have new bloggers that can help fill the gaps as well as bring different perspectives to all things Rolemaster and RPG’s. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t free up for another month or two and I’m going to limit myself to shorter posts that are geared towards generating discussion rather than me presenting my own solutions.

Let’s talk about dividing loot. I was meandering through some old D&D material and realized that they actually developed some rules on how players should divide up treasure. I had never given it much thought and in all the years of playing, dividing treasure always seemed fairly simple and intuitive.

Here is the original text from the Players Handbook.


1. Equal shares (share and share alike) is a simple division by the total
number of characters involved.
2. Shares by level is a division whereby all* character levels of
experience are added and the total treasure divided by this sum.
One share of treasure is given for each experience level.
3. Equal shares plus bonus is a method to reward excellence and
leadership. Treasure is divided by the sum of all characters, plus
two or three. The outstanding character or characters, as
determined by vote, each gain one extra share.
*For multi-classed characters add one-half of the lesser class(es)
levels to the greater class levels to determine total experience
levels for the division of treasure. Characters with two classes
receive shares for the class levels they are permitted to employ (cf.

1. Non-player characters who are henchmen of a player character
count as one-half character or for one half of their levels and
cannot gain bonus shares.
2. A character incapacitated or killed (but subsequently brought back
to life) is eligible to share only in treasure gained prior to such
incapacity or death.
3. Characters who are uncooperative, who obstruct the party, attack
party members, or are the proximate cause of the incapacitation or
death of a party member shall forfeit from one-quarter to all of
their share(s) as penalty for their actions.

Magical Treasure:
While it is a simple matter to total coins and precious items which can be
sold for an established amount of money, the division of magic items is far
more difficult. It is therefore necessary for party members to determine
how magic will be divided. As the number of items which will be gained is
unknown, selection of a system of division is not possible until after the
adventure is concluded.
1. If but one or two items of magic are gained these can be grouped
singly or paired to equal  share of treasure. If one is of relatively
small worth, it can be grouped with money to equal one share.
2. Three or more magic items:
a) best item
b) next best item
c) third + fourth items
d) “x” amount of money as compensation for not getting any
magic items
3. Three or more magic items, alternate method:
a) best item
b) second item + “x” amount of money
c) fourth item + “3x” amount of money

Magic items thus parceled are then diced for, the character with the
highest roll selecting first, and then the second highest scoring character
choosing next, etc. It is suggested that each character be given a number
of rolls equal to his or her level of experience, the highest of these rolls
being the one retained. Non-player character henchmen are typically
allowed but a single roll.
Variations on the above systems are, of course, possible. Systems should
always be established prior to the inception of the adventure whenever

To me, these rules are a curiosity- a remnant of D&D’s wargaming roots. I wonder if any game since has actually created or quantified a similar system of loot division? A few thoughts I had:

  1. It seems impersonal in a game generally played by a group of friends in a cooperative group. For a convention game or playing in a group of strangers it might make sense?
  2. While it may seem impartial rules would reduce group conflict, shares by level or equal shares with a bonus are begging for player disagreement. The modifiers seem a bit qualitative as well.
  3. I like the fact that it’s mentioned that henchmen get a share as well. That reinforces the importance of henchmen and retainers in D&D that isn’t really found in Rolemaster.
  4. The “shares” reminds me of loot and spoil agreements used by pirates, freebooters and privateers.

I suppose in a game system that quantifies everything and uses 1gp = 1xp, having hard rules about dividing treasure makes sense. Is this a legacy of a simpler time in RPG’s or a needless complexity that has been ignored by most other game systems since? Did you ever use official loot splitting rules for your group? Do these rules foster teamwork and collaboration or create problems? In a game that is based on group problem solving, is it strange to lay out these rules? Maybe it’s just quaint but unnecessary now–like wearing hats in the old timey days.

What other original D&D rules are “outliers” or seem obsolete now?