Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hârn write-ups posted!

At long last, the write-ups for our our last two Hârn roleplaying game sessions have been posted. You can find them by going to this page:

I thought the write-ups were pretty cool. They definitely sound like the sessions were more fun than they were. Actually, the last two sessions weren't bad, but they could have been better.

This is the fourth or fifth time I've tried to run a campaign set in Hârn, and the second most successful. Most fall flat on their face. The one that was truly successful was over 20 years ago, when the Hârn material first came out. I ran it using the RuneQuest III rules. Each time I've tried to run the game with a variant of the HarnMaster rules, it has collapsed.

Hârn is a pretty accurate simulation of 12th century Europe... with magic and monsters. The game system is pretty realistic. Combat is accurate and detailed. The magic system befits a magically poor universe: it's quirky, it often doesn't succeed, and when it does the effects are limited in scope.

So, when combat occurs the game slows to a crawl for everyone not involved in the battle. The only way I could make a large battle work was to use the BattleLust miniatures rules (same game universe, similar but stripped down rule mechanics) and have Alana and Jason fight most of the non-player characters. That left me alone to do the more detailed combat with Jimmy's character. The results in the write-ups are great, and if every character was a fighter and/or everyone wanted detailed combat it would have worked well. The plot slowed whenever magic was cast. The magician spent a lot of time resting. Every spell cast attempt, unless a critical success, tired the mage. So you have these inordinately long spell casting sessions that suggest Hârnic sorcerers are lazy sots.

Both Michael (who played in my second attempt at a Hârn campaign) and Jason (the player of the above-mentioned mage) said virtually the same thing: it's a good system if you want to simulate 12th century Europe. For fantasy... not so much. I know my friend Dave Nickle ran a Viking game using HarnMaster. I think if I was going to do a Viking game I'd go whole hog, make the players Viking champions, and use Robin Laws' Rune rules (which I bought earlier this summer).

So is that for Hârn then? Well, I'm not sure... I really enjoyed the characters when I was doing these latest write-ups. I have toyed with the idea of doing a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition game in Hârn, but I think that would be a lot of work. If I am going to run WFRP2 again, it will probably be set in the Warhammer universe. Although we talked about playing WFRP2 when we last met, I have a really good idea for a Hârn scenario. I think I might also have the game system for it: Savage Worlds. I'll do some investigating, and then next time we meet we might play an adventure instead of generating WFRP2 characters.

Anyway, it's late and I wanted to get this entry posted before I went to bed. Enjoy, everyone!

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