The first step when creating a HARP Fantasy character
is to choose a Profession. Much like a career, a Profession
reflects the focus your character has given to training and
development. A Profession also determines how difficult it can
be for you to learn certain skills. Some of the special abilities
found in HARP Fantasy are only available to characters of
a particular Profession. Finally, a Profession can also offer
insight into a character’s demeanor or motivation in life.
Not sure I agree with the last sentence but I will let that ride as they do say ‘can’ not ‘does’
As mentioned last time, there are nine professions. The first thing I noticed that was ‘odd’ and un-Rolemaster was the prime stats for the professions. Clerics have two key stats, Insight and Reasoning but fighters have four key stats, Strength, Agility, Constitution, Quickness. Harpers have 3, Reasoning, Insight, & Presence. So rather than everyone has two prime stats HARP makes a more logical decision of actually highlighting the stats that are really most likely to be useful to that profession.
What you don’t get is an automatic 90 in the key stats if you have rolled badly so key stats are very much just information only.
Another difference is professional bonuses. In HARP they are called Professional Abilities but they are the same thing. RM2 has +1 to +3 per level in specific categories. RMSS has the whole thing up front as a boost to starting characters. HARP doles the bonuses out on a regular basis. A Cleric for example gets to add a +10 bonus to any one skill every 7 levels. A fighter gets to add a +10 to any combat skill every 3 levels and a +5 to any Athletic or Physical skill. Every profession has a customised list of where these bonuses can be added and at what interval of levels.
There is a very interesting section on Mages. Mages don’t get level bonuses they get a different ability which I won’t go into. What is interesting is that mages have access to 40 spells but only 33 are listed in the HARP Fantasy book. This effectively makes College of Magic non-optional.
So leaving that aside, each profession has a number of favoured skill categories. The number of favoured categories varies from profession to profession with fighters and warrior mages being the most limited at four categories each and rogues being the most flexible at seven categories.
As part of the skill rules not only do each profession have a number of categories but every profession gets 20 free ranks to spend in those categories. The distribution of those ranks is defined so you cannot pile all 20 into Broadsword for example. This is the Fighters categories and free ranks.
Athletic: 2 General: 2
Combat: 8 Physical: 8
And in contrast this is a Rogue
Athletic: 3 General: 3
Combat: 3 Physical: 3
Mystical Arts: 2 Subterfuge: 3
And for a spell user the Mage
Artistic: 2 General: 4
Influence: 2 Physical: 2
Mystical Arts: 10
So right from the start the new player creating a character is starting to fill in the skills on the second page of their character record. I quite like this but it does remind me of the original MERP character creation.
After the list of professions we get a few special rules.
The rules on attacking multiple targets, covered here under monks martial arts are virtually identical to RMUs multiple attacks. The only discernible difference is that the penalty is -20 per additional attack. In RMU I believe it is -25.
Now things get a bit more divergent from Rolemaster.
HARP allows multiple professions. The basics of it are that you spend 20DPs when you level up for the option to add a new profession to the character. From that moment on when you level up you choose which of your professions to level up. Once you have made that choice you spend your DPs using that professions costs. The next time you level up you can again choose which of your professions to level up, rinse and repeat.
Regarding experience the cost in EXP to level up uses the sum of all your levels so if you were 3rd level fighter and a 3rd level rogue then you would count as 6th level.
So that is the bulk of the content. The multiple professions is the give difference and it does allow you to make some interesting combinations. I also really like the way they have balanced professions. I kind of expected everyone to get six favoured categories and have two key stats and get 20 free ranks and get a +10 professional bonus every x levels but it is not like that. Everything has been tweaked and massaged to balance the professions and make them a little bit more differentiated.
So far there is nothing I don’t like and despite the more limited scope of HARP over RM2 I think there is great flexibility here.
My last thought is on College of Magics. I don’t own this book but it looks like I will need to buy it. I don’t think this is a hardship, it is only $15. Also there seems to be a ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ thing going on where RM players look on enviously at HARPs scalable spells and HARP players want RMs critical tables.
I will add CoM to my reading list.
Next time will be stats, races and cultures.