Concentrate Your Mind

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2007

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

All being well, I will soon be starting a full-blown HARP SF campaign. As part of the preparations for that campaign, my players are dusting off their characters from the occasional playtest scenarios and bringing them into alignment with the current rules set. One of my players who will be playing a clairvoyant telepath character noted that there was no indication as to how long a character could concentrate on a psionic ability. I knew that I hadn't put any guidance on the issue in College of Magics (oops!) and a quick email to Tim at ICE confirmed my suspicion that rules on this point hadn't appeared anywhere else in canonical HARP material or in the Bazaars.

So it was time to open up the HARP SF manuscript again and create some simple rules to handle the problem, both for psionics and spells.

An active character (e.g. moving around, tracking a foe, piloting a spaceship) can concentrate on a spell or psionic activation for up to one minute (thirty rounds). At the end of that period, the character must succeed at an All-or-Nothing Medium Mental Focus maneuver to maintain the spell concentration or psionic activation for another minute. After each successful Mental Focus maneuver, the difficulty level increases by one step, so at 2 minutes of concentration (counting from when the character first started concentrating on the spell or psi ability), the Mental Focus maneuver increases to Hard [-20]. At the three minute point, it will be Very Hard [-40], and so on.

A passive character (in a meditative trance, sitting quietly, etc.) can concentrate for much longer and need only make Mental Focus maneuvers every five minutes.

And that's it. A short and simple solution to the problem.