HARP Herbs & Poisons

I thought I would get back on to my HARP read through. I don’t want it to completely lose moment and there are plenty of good things in here. My initial thoughts when I saw the chapter on herbs and poisons was that I would wrap this up with another chapter to skip forward a little.

I was wrong.

OK, the herbs are fairly straight forward, they have different names to the ones we know from Character Law and the companions but everything you would expect is here. You get the name, price, description of effect and those terrible arcane codes that tell you it can only be found in your left nostril on a moonless Thursday.

You can tell I love those 2-m-P and 3-c-M codes!

The impression I get from the HARP herbs is that they are slightly more heroic than RM herbs. There are more that seem to give bigger and better magical effects such as haste for 6 rounds or make your eyes glow red but you can see enchantments or being able to see invisible things. I know that similar effects were available in RM but they just seem a little more common and a little stronger in HARP. That is no surprise really as this is High Adventure after all.


It was when I reached poisons that the fun started.

HARP has something called the Cascading Resistance Roll. The mechanism is simple, roll d100 and add your resistance bonus to it. Bonuses come from stats, possibly racial and possibly magical.

Not every poison has a cascading resistance roll (CRR). Some have a simple target number, roll over the RR target number and you resisted and the poison has no effect.

It is the poisons with CRR lists that are the fun ones. Here are the first three listed poisons. I will explain IPCT and EPCT afterwards.

Amaric 300 gp * Flower/Paste 7-f-M Black paste destroys nervous system, killing instantly. RR(100)
Arbarin 38 gp * Flower/Paste 4-h-P Pinkish paste delivers 1-100 Hits. RR(85)
Aren 150gp 1-10 rounds Dragon/varies 6-f-U Grey/Black blood rapidly dissolves affected area. Affects metals and organic material. Does not affect glass, sand, or pottery.
If Ingested:
CRR (150) – No Effect
CRR (130) – 1d100-20 on IPCT
CRR (110) – 1d100-10 on IPCT
CRR (90) – 1d100 on IPCT
CRR (70) – 1d100+10 on IPCT
CRR (50) – 1d100+20 on IPCT
Failure – Instant death as entire body dissolves into gooey puddle
If splashed on object or victim:
CRR (140) – No Effect
CRR (120) – 1d100-10 on EPCT
CRR (100) – 1d100 on EPCT
CRR (80) – 1d100+10 on EPCT
Failure – 1d100+20 on EPCT


In Character Law poisons are described by there different types such as Reduction or Nerve etc. You then get written descriptions of possible effects at each severity. As GM you can then roleplay the poison effect as each bad thing happens to the character.

HARP has a different approach.

The IPCT and EPCT are the Internal Poison Critical Table and External Poison Critical Table. How well, or badly you did on your resistance roll gives a modifier to the critical roll from -20 (safer) to +20 (not so good for the PC) 

The External Poison Critical Table is used for things like holy water vs undead and acid attacks.

I am not going to show you the critical table but here is an external result:

Foe loses a large patch of skin and flesh. Foe takes 27 Hits, is
stunned 4 rounds, bleeds 1 per round, and is at -25.

and an internal result for the same roll.

Foe stumbles in agony. Foe takes 24 Hits, is stunned 6
rounds, bleeds 1 per round, and is at -30.

These CRR and poison criticals do not just apply to applied poisons and poisonous plants. When you get to the monster descriptions also come with the CRR stack and critical modifiers.

I think they are really cool. I am not normally an advocate for more tables but these I like. There is also a complaint that comes up occasionally in RM that there are not really any viable poisons for using on weapons. I think a secondary poison critical would be a brilliant idea even if it was just for the first critical of the combat. It would make poison arrows and blowpipes more fun, that is for sure!

One Reply to “HARP Herbs & Poisons”

  1. Sounds pretty cool. The slow effect of poisons in RM is of course a bit of a drag for people who like to use them, but I have been told it is also more realistic. So you’ve got the classic realism vs. fun debate to consider.

    By the way, for some reason, the name of the person writing the blog post on the website here is not being displayed in the main page; I am only seeing it when I click the article title and go to the article page. I think that is new: I’m pretty sure I used to be able to see the author’s name on the main page.

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