HARP: A closer look at falling

Eventually, things in adventuring go wrong, and you need to deal with them when they do. I will focus on falling, likely to the character’s death, and the various charts and equations for dealing with the impact.

Things were going fine for a while, but now you’ve tripped over something near a ledge, lost the reigns of your flying mount, or been pushed out the airlock in atmosphere. You’re now in a free fall, and this is going to hurt.

How far you fall determines the size of the Impact Critical when you hit.

  • 1′ – 20′ / 0m – 6m: Tiny
  • 21′ – 50′ / 7m – 16m: Small
  • 51′ – 100′ / 17m – 33m: Medium
  • 101′ – 200′ / 34m – 66m: Large
  • 201’+ / 67m+: Huge

Armor, Shields, and your Quickness bonus won’t help you against the impact at the end of your fall. Skill in Acrobatics can increase safe falling distance, a few psionic disciplines and spells can do the same or turn the fall into flight, and your magical and psionic bonuses to Defense will be subtracted from the critical.

In most situations, things that are falling don’t hit the ground instantly. Below is the Falling Table from Martial Law in list format.

  • Round 1: Speed 30’/rnd, total distance fallen 30′
  • Round 2: Speed 60’/rnd, total distance fallen 90′
  • Round 3: Speed 150’/rnd, total distance fallen 240′
  • Round 4: Speed 210’/rnd*, total distance fallen 480′

At round 4 and after, the character will continue falling at terminal velocity until the fall is stopped.

On round 4 and after, the falling character will continue to fall at terminal velocity until the fall is stopped. Gravity can affect both terminal velocity and how long a character has to be saved. HARP SF uses 70 times (the square root of local gravity divided by the square root of local atmospheric pressure) to determine terminal velocity in meters per second. To get the time until a falling character hits terminal velocity in seconds, take divide the the local terminal velocity by ten times local gravity.

Remember, you can fall father safely on low gravity worlds, and falling on high gravity worlds is a bad idea. Good luck, and watch out for that first step.

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.