Overview NOTEThis is just an overview. Nothing is final until it actually sees print, although major changes are unlikely to happen at this point. Stats HARP uses 8 stats. Four mental and four physical. These stats range from 1 - 100 (though it is possible to get a little higher) normally. They are Strength, Constitution, Agility, Quickness, Insight, Reasoning, Presence, and Self Discipline.
Races & Cultures Races and cultures are separated in HARP. You select your race, and then select your culture as it is obvious that you could have a dwarf raised by elves (as unlikely as that may be) or any other possible combination. There are six races available in HARP. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Gnomes, and Gryx (kinda like a peaceful orc who doesn't like to fight, but makes an excellent warrior).
There are no half-races in HARP. Instead, there are Blood Talents, which allow a character to be 1/2 or 1/4 of another race. You can even mix and match to get a character who is 1/4 human, 1/4 gnome, 1/4 dwarf, and 1/4 elvish (that is one mixed up character to be sure... hehe )
Professions To talk about professions, I must first tell you about how skills are learned. Skills are divided into broad related categories. Each profession has a number of these categories marked as Favored. Skills cost 2 points per rank for any skill in a Favored category and 4 points per rank for all other skills. Each profession also has a professional ability (such as fighters gaining a +10 to a single weapon every couple of levels, or the Mage being able to cast spells from the Mage list).
It is possible to multi-class, or add a new profession to your character. Doing so is done by spending development points on a specific talent. Once you have added an additional profession, you can increase you level in whichever profession you choose (that you have) whenever you go up a level.
Development Points Each character gains a number of development points each level based upon his stats (all of his stats). These are used to purchase skill ranks, talents, training packages, etc...
Skills Skills are percentile based, and the majority of them require a 101 or better on the maneuver roll to be successful. There is a maneuver chart with 4 columns. All other maneuvers that do not use the default method will use this single chart (which includes Percentage resolution, bonus resolution, RR and Spell casting columns). Difficulty ratings have been made intuitive and easier to remember by using multiples of 20. For example an Absurd maneuver (the hardest possible) gives a -100 modifier, while a Routine maneuver (the easiest) gives a +60. There are 9 ratings total.
Each skill rank gives a bonus, and HARP uses a system of diminishing returns for the skill rank bonuses. The first ten ranks give a bonus of +5 per rank, the next ten give +2 and all ranks after that give a+1 per rank. Any skill may be attempted (with the exception of spells) untrained (-25 plus stat bonuses).
Weapons actually use a category/group/individual classification. For example, the 1-Handed Edged category of weapons includes such groups as Long Blades, and Short blades. Each group contains a number of weapons that are usable with that skill. For example, you learn Long Blades, then you can use the long sword, broad sword, and a few others. One weapon of the group is selected as your default weapon and uses the full bonus, the other weapons of the group get a -10 (you can change the default weapon by spending a week practicing the new weapon). All other groups in the edged category can be used with either 1/2 of the known group's bonus or +25, whichever is less. This is because you basically learn the "basics" of using that category when learning a weapon. The same applies to the 1-handed concussion category, but not the others as the individual groups within those categories are not enough alike to make the groups compatible.
Spells are as were mentioned, scalable. You learn the basic form of the spell (which is learned just like skills, and each spell learned separately). Then when you cast it, if you have enough skill ranks, you can scale it up in power, range, duration, etc.. (it varies by spell), by paying the extra power points required.
You can wear armor while casting as well, but armor has a dampening effect when trying to manipulate magical energy. This requires more Power Points to be used when casting.
Oh! Almost forgot one thing. When you cast any spell with more power points than the base required, you get a -5 modifier for casting for each power point above the base cost used (yes, even for wearing armor). This way, Mages and other spell users are always striving to get better with their spells so that they can more easily cast the more powerful versions.
Also, there are no type of realm divisions. Spells are spells are spells. HARP does not explain the source of magical energy either, but gives several small examples on how different sources can flavor the magic system.
Combat is extremely streamlined and uses a one roll resolution. Armor adds to the Defensive bonus of the character. So to hit a foe, you roll d100 (open-ended) and add the character's OB and subtract the foe's DB. If the result is positive, then you have hit, and look up that result on the critical chart (one column per critical type). But it doesn't end there. Weapons come in different sizes. Once you have determined if the attack hits or not, you then modify that result for the damage size (crits run from -19 to 120).
Options HARP contains several options that a GM can use in game as well.
Drunkard's Rule: Round off all numbers to the nearest multiple of 5 before doing any adding or subtracting.
Life Points: If you don't want criticals, there is the Life Points option where the character has a number of Life Points equal to his ranks in Endurance plus his Con bonus. Damage is determined by your result and easily figured on the fly - no extra rolls.
Hit Locations: Simple rules for determining hit locations (the criticals do not list any locations), and for making called shots.
Interesting. I never bought the 'I can't do the maths' line on rpgs (anyone who can't do the simple additions that RM requires, say, should go back to highschool until they can, as far as I am concerned. That or learn how to use a calculator quickly); apart from that complaint, the guy seemed to like it. I'm not sure that complaints about allegedly difficult maths are going to be overlooked by the general gaming public, though (who might be maths-phobic), so that review might not help sales. Which is a pity, if that is the case.
Given that the guy who did the review dislikes RM to begin with, I think that he gave HARP a good review. RPG.net should have another review up by the end of the week (by Joe Kushner, who has reviewed lots and lots of stuff in the past). While I don't know the contents of the upcoming review, I do that for he rating, he gave HARP 4 on both style and substance.
Posted on Wednesday, December 31, 2003 - 11:45 am:
Do there still exist independent gaming magazines that review stuff? I think that the only one that was ever longlasting in the UK was White Dwarf and that became a house magazine years and years ago (about issue 80 something, I think). How important to sales are rpg.net reviews (especially given the distribution difficulties that ICE appear to be having, in actually getting a lot of shops to carry their products).