HARP Stats & Culture

So this time I want to cover two chapters of HARP Fantasy, Stats, Race and Culture.

The biggest difference here is that there are eight stats and they are on a scale of 1 to 105.

The rules give three options for generating stats, the first is roll eight d100 rolls and then assign them to the stats. You have your profession so you already know where you should traditionally be putting your best rolls.

The second option is heavily promoted as the recommended option and that is point buy. 550 points spread over the eight stats. There is an increasing cost for higher stats.

Stat Range

Cost per Point

The same costs are used for stat gains on leveling up but you spend DPs on stat gains at that point.

The final option is 500 point to spend plus 10d10. 

Development points are either fixed at 50 per level, recommended, or based upon stats. There is a boxout that warns that some players will spend their DPs to increase there stats to get more DPs in a virtuous circle and/or arms race.

Stat bonuses are work out to be stat-50/5 rounding up. So a stat of 51-55 gives a +1 a stat of 76 gives +6 and 100 +10. Above 100 the bonus increases at +1 per point to a max of 105 giving +15.

The stats are largely the same as Rolemaster stats but we have lost Memory and Empathy. Intuition has be renamed Insight but apart from that you will be entirely comfortable with the stats and their impact on skills.

Races & Cultures

There are six pure races available Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Gryx, Halfling and Human. They get a mix of stat bonuses ranging from -2 to +5. They all come out roughly as having a net bonus of +10. Human’s though are treated differently. The player can assign up to 10 ‘pluses’ to any stats as long as no stat gets more than a +3. This means you can have tough northmen or intellectual urban dwellers without having to define new races and then of course that muddies the idea of setting neutral rules.

In addition to stat modifiers each race gets resistance roll modifiers, an endurance point bonus and a Powerpoint bonus. Endurance points are HARPs #hits so dwarves are the toughest at +40 and elves the most fragile at +20. Everyone else fits in between.

In reference to one of the RMU discussions every stat has at least one race that has a bonus in that stat. Also bowing to common stereotypes Elves and Gnomes get the biggest powerpoint bonuses but I was pleased to see that even Dwarves get a bonus. These powerpoint bonuses are in the region of +10 to +40 with humans getting +30.

The racial descriptions are definitely adequate. You get about eight paragraphs of background which would be useful to a new player or GM but then you get a description of the ‘blood talents’ that make the race different. Every race has three blood talents.

These blood talents are really cool. At the end of the racial descriptions is a list of blood talents. There is a lesser or greater blood talent for every race with a description of the effect on the character. Each lesser blood talent costs 5DPs and a greater 10DPs. At the time of character creation the player can add a dash of another races blood to their gene pool by buying the matching blood talent. If a parent was of that race then you would probably take the greater blood talent but if it was a grand parent then just a less blood talent. So with this a la carte method any combination of base race plus mixed blood can be created. Here is an example…

Dwarven Blood (Lesser)

The character has a bit of Dwarven blood in his ancestry, marking him with slightly Dwarven features. The player may also select any one of the following Special Abilities to replace any one of the character’s normal racial Special Abilities. Once selected, it cannot be altered.

  • Dark Vision (Greater)
  • Dense Musculature
  • Stone Sense

Dwarven Blood (Greater)
One of the character’s parents is a Dwarf, making him half-Dwarven. His features are heavily marked, denoting his Dwarven heritage. The player may select any two of the following to replace any two of the character’s normal racial Special Abilities.

  • Dark Vision (Greater)
  • Dense Musculature
  • Stone Sense
  • The character’s Dwarven blood has a strong influence on his physique, determination, and lifespan.
    • Constitution Bonus: +2
    • Self Discipline Bonus: +2
    • Average the lifespan of both your races.

I think this is brilliant, simple and elegant.

The rest of the chapter is taken up with some tables for typical height, weight, ages and base movement rates for all the races.


The cultures section gives a description of each of the featured cultures and the number of starting ranks in languages. Although it does emphasise that Dwarves, for example, normally come from Deep Warrens there is absolutely no requirement to stick with those norms. 

So cultures are given a paragraph on Location, Clothing and Demeanor of that cultures members. but then there is a table of free adolescent skill ranks.

Every culture gets 20 free ranks including every culture getting at least one rank in melee weapon and at least one rank in missile weapons. The most militaristic culture gets 2 and 3 ranks and most get 1 and 2 ranks in some combination.

So by now your character has 20 ranks in their professional areas from their profession and 20 ranks across a wide range of categories from their culture and then languages on top. This is before anyone has spent a single development point.

So next time I will cover skills and we get to spend some DPs!

10 Replies to “HARP Stats & Culture”

  1. Wow, I was surprised by the fact that there is at least one race getting a stat bonus in each of the main stats. I say wow, because I assumed that RMU’s decision to not provide any races with Intuition or Reasoning bonuses was coming from HARP. I’m glad HARP does like virtually every other system and provides racial options for each build and stat. I hope RMU eventually comes to its senses and provides at least one or two races with Intuition bonuses and one or two with Reasoning bonuses.

    Just for my own edification: which HARP races get Insight bonuses, and which get Reasoning bonuses?

    I am also fine with loosing Empathy, which I think is not a great name; I am assuming the HARP equivalent of Essence magic uses Reasoning?

      1. Thanks, that is interesting to see.

        So unlike in RMU, both Gnomes and Elves get bonuses to Reasoning, and Elves additionally get a bonus to Insight/Intuition. Glad to see that HARP doesn’t leave these stats out — that they give some races bonuses in them.

        Does HARP have three realms of Magic or only two? I can’t remember if MERP had two or three. I am assuming Insight is the stat for Channeling/Divine casters like Clerics. What is the stat for Mages?

        1. You are going to have to wait until the Magic chapter, I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

          MERP had two realms, Essence and Channelling, which I always felt was a mistake. It should have been Essence and Mentalism in MERP. I think they went for channelling to appeal to the D&D crowd.

  2. What is interesting is that in HARP bonuses and stats have a direct linear relation; while in RM2 stats are transformed to bonuses not in a linear way.

    For some time now I think about when to use normal distributes ranges, and when it is better/easier/more logical to use linear distributed ranges.

    To be honest I think the point is that in the end when a Charakter tries to achieve something he/she should be talented in a specific way. I prefer if such talents are distributed among all PCs and NPCs according to a normal distribution.

    1. In RM2 the bell curve of stat bonuses work because the stat bonuses for skills is a god awful mess and pain in the arse. Every time a stat bonus improves you need to find all the skills that the stat applies to and then re-average the total bonuses. Some skills use just a single stat, some use two some use three stats and some use a double dip like melee weapons using St/ST/AG. If one had to recalculate everything every level it would make leveling up even more painful that it is.

      HARP uses the much kinder added stat bonuses rather than averaged. So incremental +1 bonuses mean that you just add one the the stat bonus and one to the skill total. Fast and simple. As stat gains are bought with your DPs it also means that stat gains only happen when you want them to and only on the stats you want to improve. So spending 5DPs to buy off a negative stat bonus could be good value for your DPs or getting a +1 across many core skills could be worth it.

      Also HARP is meant to be heroic and under these rules everyone could eventually end up with a stat of 105 in their core stats. If you skills are only giving you +1 per rank then spending 10DPs to increase a core stat from 100 to 101 could give you a +1 to many stats.

  3. Yes, RM2’s stats were a mess, because as Christian notes the stats and the bonuses do not have a linear relation. The early editions of DnD had the same problem.

    The solution is obvious, and it is the solution that both HARP and DnD figured out: make the stat bonuses linear, and tie them directly to the stat itself:
    –In HARP the equation is (stat -50)/5 (except for over 100);
    –In DnD the equation is (stat -10)/2;
    –And in RMU, it could be (stat -50)/3.

    It is so simple and obvious that I sometimes get a little frustrated that RMU will probably stick with its old system of unrelated stats and bonuses, that you can’t figure out in your head, and that you need a chart for. It is sad that this unnecessarily complicated system will be one of first mechanics — if not the very first — that new RMU players will have to grapple with the first time the sit down to play RMU. *sigh*

  4. I find this even sadder because most of the d100-based games that came out in roughly the same era fixed the whole stat bonus problem (if they used bonuses in the traditional sense) from the beginning. That’s because most of them used a +5 bonus matrix and started at around 80. So you could have +5 for 81-90, +10 for 91-95, and +15 for 96-00 (just examples of course). One of the beauties of a straight d100 system is you normally use +5 for the stock bonus and can adjust as needed. Why RM didn’t do this for stats but did for almost everything else is a puzzle. Kind of like how they determined damage for weapons…

      1. I saw it in SF-HARP, where as I recall it’s presented as an optional rule and not a standard bonus progression. It’s also written as if it applies to ALL rolls and not just skill bonuses. Plus giving it that kind of name seems to me to be disparaging, and thus possibly intended to steer people away from using it. My point was more that this was being done in more or less the same era as original D&D, so it remains something of a puzzle as to why RM went that route and why they’ve decided to keep going that direction.

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