Irregular Spell Acquisition

Copyright Tim Dugger © 2006

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"Using this optional system, combat will be more fluid overall."

In HARP, the normal method of learning spells requires the character to learn each spell as an individual skill. Using this option, the character learns not a single spell, but a whole group of related spells. However, these spells are not learned in a list format, but a chain format, as described below.

Spell Chains

Spell Chains are groups of linked spells. Each Chain is learned as a separate skill, and all spells in that Chain are cast using that single skill. However, the character is also required to learn an Arcane Lore skill for each Spell Chain as well.

Spells in a given Chain are learned in a specific order. The character learns the next spell in the Chain when he has enough ranks in the Lore skill equal to the number of ranks required by that specific spell and all of the previous spells on the chain.

Here are two sample Spell Chains, one for Fire spells and the other for Healing spells. Each Chain lists the spells in their proper order, then lists the number of ranks required in the Chain skill required to be able to cast the spell once learned. And finally, the number of ranks required in the Arcane Lore skill for that Chain is given, showing how many ranks in the Lore skill is required to learn the spell.

Fire Spell Chain
Spell Name Chain Ranks
Lore Ranks
Ignite 2 2
Fire Bolt 4 6
Fire Wall 4 10
Conflagration 5 15
Fire Aura 5 20
Heat 6 26
Fire Resistance 6 32
Fire Ball 6 38

Healing Spell Chain
Spell Name Chain Ranks
Lore Ranks
Relieve Headache 1 1
Cure Hangover 1 2
Heal Bruise 1 3
Heal Cut 1 4
Relieve Pain 1 5
Minor Healing 3 8
Neutralize Poison 3 11
Major Healing 4 15
Lifekeeping 8 23
Cure Disease 12 35
Lifegiving 12 47

As can be seen from the above tables, a character is required to learn 2 ranks in both the Fire Chain and 2 ranks in the Fire Chain Lore skill in order to learn the first spell (a cantrip, in this case). To learn how to cast a Fire Ball, the character requires at least 6 ranks in the Fire Chain, and at least 38 ranks in the Fire Chain Lore skill. Any and all scaling of spells is done using the Chain skill itself to determine the maximum amount of scaling allowed.

On the Healing Chain, we can see that it include 5 cantrips. Each of which must be learned via the Lore skill before a character can learn the Minor Healing spell.

Spells are learned in order of their Power Point costs. However, in both examples, there are multiple spells that have the same Power Point cost. It is up to the GM to determine which spells are considered more powerful and set their order within the Power Point cost.

Additionally, when creating Spell Chains, the GM is encouraged to have a minimum of 5 spells in each Chain. Although casting spells may become easier as spell users need only buy chain skill ranks for an entire category, the requirement to have sufficient Lore skill ranks may significantly delay the acquisition of common spells to relatively high levels.