HARP Fantasy Walk-though Pt1

When I first mooted this idea it was to do a chapter per post. Having looked at the rulebook there are 15 chapters but some are more substantial than others and some lend themselves to be discussed together. 

This is all based upon High Adventure Role Playing Fantasy, last updated 7th April 2017.

Chapter 1 was largely fluff and waffle about the history of HARP, what is an RPG and differences between versions. We can skip all that and get on with Chapter 2 Character Creation Overview.

So HARP describes character creation as a six step process:

  1. Choose Profession
  2. Generate Stats
  3. Race & Culture
  4. Buy Skills & Talents
  5. Buy Equipment
  6. Final Touches

Of the professions there are nine included in the book: Cleric, Fighter, Harper, Mage, Monk, Ranger, Rogue, Thief, and Warrior Mage. I am curious about the Warrior Mage as I know that HARP allows multi class characters so what is the difference between a Fighter/Mage multiclass and a Warrior Mage?

Stats-wise HARP uses 8 stats: Strength, Constitution, Agility, Quickness, Self
Discipline, Reasoning, Insight and Presence. There is no appearance stat which I am quite pleased about. It always bugged me that RM claimed 10 stats then made you roll an 11th stat which was treated completely differently to the other 10 but was then not used anywhere else in the game.

The Race & Culture overview lists six races Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling and Gryx, with Gryx being Orc to you and me. There are no half breeds but I do know that HARP has some very neat rules for half breeding the races at both parental and grand-parental levels.

The cultures offered are Deep Warrens,  Shallow Warrens, Sylvan, Nomadic, Rural, Urban and Underhill. No Reaver which is a pity as that is a PC favourite. Cultures give characters a collection of free skill ranks that are added straight to the character sheet. Each culture gives a total of 20 ranks but more of that when we cover the cultures chapter.

Skills and Talents. Skills are grouped into categories, so no surprise there. Each profession then has a list of favoured and non-favoured categories. Within those categories each skill will cost 2DPs. All the skills in a non-favoured category cost 4DPs per rank. The ranks give the expected +5/rank for the first 10 ranks. You get 100DPs at first level and you cannot by more than six ranks for a starting character and no more than three ranks per level in later levels. This means that starting characters are going to be more competent than equivalent RM characters that would have been capped at four ranks at first level, two from adolescence and two from apprenticeship.

Talents are bought in the same way that we have seen in RMU and Chapter 7 has an extensive list. I will go into this in more detail in a separate post.

Equipment is bought using 10+1d10 gold pieces. HARP uses just four coins. Platinum which is ten times the value of gold, Gold which is the ‘gold standard’ and silver is one tenth the value of gold and copper that is one tenth of the value of silver. so 1pp is worth 10gp, 100sp and 1000cp. That has stripped out the bronze, iron and tin pieces that we are used to. Prices in HARP are pretty much identical to my copy of Character Law. A boradsword is 10sp and chain shirt 65sp in both games. Starting money in RMC is 50sp +1d100sp so on average 100sp and a max of 150sp. In HARP the absolute minimum is 110sp and the max is 200sp. So not only are starting HARP character better skilled but they are also better equipped.

The final step is of course the fleshing out process of personality, likes, dislike, attitudes and back story.

A boxout on the page tells new players about the importance of prime stats which is why profession comes before stat rolling. 

This first character overview chapter makes many references to the character record. I have put them below. I think any RM player would be instantly at home with them. Interesting to note is that Fate points are built in as a core rule and there are plenty of lines for multiple professions for those that have fond memories of the Fighter/Magic User/Thief. The second page includes every skill in the fantasy game and at least one blank line for something additional.


I don’t think that any rolemaster player would be overly put out by the look of a HARP character. I can see how the RMU categories with one cost per category could be be half way house between traditional Rolemaster’s one cost per skill and HARPs fixed prices for favoured and non-favoured skills. The crux being that old Rolemaster fans are used to an infinite array of professions and they want them all to be differentiated and HARP has few professions and few additions in its supplements. That isn’t really a limitation as characters can have multiple professions so an RM Magent could be a Mage + Rogue in HARP, for example.

Next time I will see how HARP treats its professions.

7 Replies to “HARP Fantasy Walk-though Pt1”

  1. I was surprised the Warrior Mage was there too. The people who made RMSS preferred the Dabbler, which I feel is neither as exciting nor as iconic a class, to the Warrior Mage. That was in 1995, I believe. So I find it surprising that HARP went back to the Warrior Mage.

    1. To be honest I am not surprised having read the rules so far. HARP is painted in big bold colours. When I hear ‘Dabbler’ as a profession I frankly have no instinctive concept of the professions core strengths. Contrast that with Warrior Mage and we all know immediately what you are going to get.

      If a Dabbler had a bit of magic and a bit of combat ability and a bit of this and a bit of that then I guess you can build that by starting as one profession and then buying in as many multiclass talents as you want to explore. You would never be as good as any pure classed character as you would not rack up the professional bonuses nearly as fast. As these professional bonuses max out at +25 or +30 eventually you would get there in your favoured skills but the single class character would always be better and more capable in their niche.

      1. Regarding core strengths, my assumption would be that anything called the Dabbler didn’t have any. A jack of all trades character.

        1. I confess I haven’t read much of the professions chapter in my RMFRP book but I guess the dabblers core strength could be ‘flexibility’?

          1. In RMU, they have a couple of unique lists that focus on Trading and manipulating mechanical devices. The rest of their lists focus on stealth/movement/influence.

            The problem with all of that, as several posters have pointed out, is that none of that is especially useful. Many classes have lists focuses on stealth/movement/influence, and you can even find a lot of spells like that on the open and closed lists.

            One cool suggestion another poster made was to reimagine the Dabbler as a kind of Field Alchemist/Arcane Trickster, who uses a combination of magic and mechanics to create things like magical tripmines and grenades to control the battlefield. I would love to play a Goblin Dabbler like that! I hope in the future to write up some alternate, houserule spell lists for this upgraded Dabbler.

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