Rolemaster to HARP character conversion guidelines

Copyright Jörg Jahnke © 2009

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"Do not forget to buy skill ranks in the three Resistance skills -- HARP characters do not get better at resisting simply by going up levels."


While many might regard HARP as the lightweight cousin of Rolemaster, and many groups might indeed start with HARP and later switch to the more complex Rolemaster, there might be some who already use Rolemaster, then try HARP and are intrigued by its simplicity and want to use HARP as their preferred system. For those this guide is meant to ease the conversion of old Rolemaster characters to the HARP system, in case some of the old characters should still be used.

The following sections present only guidelines. In general an experienced player and/or GM is often able to convert a character without any guidelines without significantly changing the "spirit" of the original character. In such a case this document is probably not needed. But sometimes it can be useful to have guidelines like this, which can assist players through the process of converting their character(s).

The type of conversion is not one that takes a RM character of e.g. level 8 and directly converts it into a HARP character of the same level which now is a best-possible copy of the RM version. Instead the conversion starts at level one, gives direction to which profession to use, how to convert the stats and the skills and then the character must be developed from level one up to his current level. The final level should be identical as in the RM version.

Profession conversion

For converting to the right HARP profession please refer to the table below. It lists all the Rolemaster core professions and professions from the RMSS and RMFRP Companion books plus the corresponding HARP profession(s) with appropriate Training Packages. For some Rolemaster professions multiple possible conversions are listed, separated by slashes. In such cases the first listed option is usually the best choice. But in some cases this first choice requires additional HARP books beyond the HARP core rules. If these books are not at hand or you think the first option doesn't fit for the particular character, then use the second or the third choice.

A comment on HARP Mages and Clerics: These two professions, especially if College of Magics and/or The Codex is being used, have access to a wide variety of spells. Not all of these spells fit to the concept of the old Rolemaster profession. The GM should have a close eye on the player's spell picks especially when a conversion to one of these professions is done.

Rolemaster Profession HARP conversion
Fighter Fighter
Rogue Rogue
Thief Thief
Warrior Monk Monk
Ranger Ranger
Bard Harper
Monk Monk + Adventurer (Codex) / Monk
Cleric Cleric
Animist Vivamancer (CoM) / Druid (Codex) / Cleric
Healer Cleric
Mentalist Mystic (Codex) / Mage
Seer Mystic (Codex) / Mage
Lay Healer Cleric
Magician Elementalist (CoM) / Mage
Illusionist Mage
Alchemist Thaumaturge (CoM)
Mystic Mystic (Codex) / Mage
Sorcerer Mage / Necromancer (CoM) / Demonologist (Something Wicked)
Astrologer Mystic (Codex)
Magent (RMSS/RMFRP) Shadowblade (Codex) / Rogue + Harper / Rogue + Mage
Dabbler (RMSS/RMFRP) Shadowblade (Codex) / Rogue + Harper / Rogue + Mage
Paladin Fighter + Cleric
Arcist (Arc. Comp.) Mage + Wizard TP (CoM) / Mage
Wizard (Arc. Comp) Mage + Wizard TP (CoM) / Mage
Chaotic (Arc. Comp.) Wildmage (Something Wicked) / Rogue + Amateur Mage TP (CoM) / Rogue
Magehunter Ranger + Magehunter TP (CoM) / Ranger
Warrior Mage (Ess. Comp.) Warrior Mage
Runemaster (Ess. Comp.) Mage + Runemaster TP (CoM)
Mana Molder (Ess. Comp.) Thaumaturge (CoM) / Mage
Mythic (Ch. Comp.) Shadowblade (Codex) + Magehunter (CoM) TP / Thief + Harper + Magehunter TP (CoM) / Thief + Harper
Summoner (Ch. Comp.) Vivamancer (CoM) / Demonologist (Something Wicked) / Mage
Warlock (Ch. Comp.) Warlock (Something Wicked) / Mage
Priest (Ch. Comp.) Cleric
Armsmaster (Ment. Comp.) Warrior Mage
Enchanter (Ment. Comp.) Mystic (Codex) / Mage
Barbarian (SoHK) Fighter + Ranger / Fighter + Caldean Rovers TP or Bounty Hunter TP
Sage (SoHK) Rogue + Tyrian Sage TP
Outrider (SoHK) Rogue + Ranger / Rogue + Caldean Rovers or Bounty Hunter TP
Swashbuckler (SoHK) Rogue / Fighter
Zen Monk (MAC) Monk + Adventurer (Codex) / Monk
Taoist Monk (MAC) Monk + Adventurer (Codex) / Monk
Elementalist (F&I) Elementalist (CoM) / Mage
Elemental Priest (F&I) Cleric
Elemental Champion (F&I) Warrior Mage
Arcane Elementalist (F&I) Elementalist (CoM) + Wizard TP (CoM)

Stats conversion

While having similar, though not the same, stats like Rolemaster, HARP does not use the approach of Temporary and Potential Stats with automatic stats increases per level as RM does. Instead HARP knows only the current stat value of a character and this value is not limited by a maximum value, in RM the Potential Stat, but can be increased by spending Development Points as the player sees fit. Therefore, when converting the stats, there are two approaches:

A) Forget about the old Rolemaster stats. Instead create the HARP stats and develop these as the player sees fit.

B) Use the old Rolemaster stats as a target number which the player should use during level advancements to decide which stats to increase.

If you would like to use option A then there is no need to read on.

Two of the 10 Rolemaster stats have been removed, or have been combined with other stats respectively, giving a total of 8 stats for HARP. The following table lists all Rolemaster stats and their HARP equivalent. In the two cases where two stats have been combined just average (rounding up if necessary) to the two RM Temporary Stats to create the HARP stats.

Rolemaster HARP
Agility Agility
Constitution Constitution
Memory + Reasoning Reasoning
Self Discipline Self Discipline
Empathy + Intuition Insight
Presence Presence
Quickness Quickness
Strength Strength

The stats converted in this way should be used as a guideline where to invest during subsequent level advancements of the character. The starting point at first level should be one of HARP's stat generation methods, e.g. the 550 fixed points distributed among the 8 stats. And during the following level advancements, the player should ideally invest in stats in a way that the character might reach the above converted stat values.

Skills conversion

When converting the skills I suggest to concentrate on the top 5 to top 10 of the skills and skill categories (the latter exist only in RMSS/RMFRP) to keep the same general direction that the character had before. It is not always necessary to restrict the player so much that he has to develop all skills in the same way as he had done for the Rolemaster version of the character. Often this will not even possible since the number of DPs might differ between the RM and the HARP version of the character, not allowing the same skill development. For these most important skills consult the table below to find the HARP equivalences. These skills should be developed to more or less the same number of ranks as the character had before.

Sometimes it will not easily be possible to develop a skill as before. E.g. the player might want to convert a RM Healer with some skill ranks in Shock Bolt. This would in HARP translate into a Cleric and the Elemental Bolt spell - but this spell is usually only available to Mages. There are several options in such a case. You might find a similar skill to develop, e.g. Arcane Bolt might be an option in the above example, you might drop the skill altogether, thereby perhaps giving the character a slightly different direction, or you might search for ways allowing the skill to be developed as desired. In the above example this might include creating a special clerical order that has access to the Elemental Bolt or adding the Mage as additional profession and then developing this skill. For cases where there is only a few ranks in the skill or for secondary skills of a character I would suggest simply dropping the skill and developing something else.

In other cases, the direct conversion of a skill might make little sense. E.g. when converting a RM Lay Healer, this Lay Healer might have developed some ranks in the skill Sculpting since one of the professional Base Spell Lists enables him to create artificial limbs, where he can use the Sculpting skill to create these of high quality and as close to the original limbs as possible. But since such spells for creating artificial limbs do not exist in HARP, it probably makes little sense for the converted character to develop skill in Crafts: Sculpting, which would be the equivalent skill. In this case, the player should better select another skill to develop for his character.

Also some skills work differently in HARP than in RM, e.g. Chi Speed is now an action that takes a full round of activity to perform whereas Adrenal Speed took only 20%, Chi Defense now has some restrictions as to how long it can be used, in contrast to Adrenal Defense where this was not restricted. In such cases the GM should discuss with the player whether these skills should really be converted to the corresponding HARP skill. Apply common sense before having the player develop a (in his case) more useless skill for his character.

Rolemaster Skill HARP Category & Skill
Acrobatics Athletic: Acrobatics
Acting Artistic: Acting
Adrenal Concentration Concentration: Chi Focus
Adrenal Defense Concentration: Chi Defense
Adrenal Speed Concentration: Chi Speed
Alchemy Mystical Arts: Alchemy
Ambush Subterfuge: Ambush
Animal Handling Outdoor: Animal Handling
Animal Mastery Outdoor: Beastmastery
Animal Training Outdoor: Animal Handling
Appraisal General: Appraisal
Attunement Mystical Arts: Attunement
Awareness skills General: Perception
Blind fighting Combat: Blind Fighting (ML)
Boat Pilot Outdoor: Sailing
Body Development Endurance
Boxing Combat: Martial Arts Strikes
Brawling Combat: Brawling
Camouflage Subterfuge: Stalking & Hiding
Climbing Athletic: Climbing
Contacting Subterfuge: Streetwise
Contortions Athletic: Contortions
Crafts General: Craft
Dancing Artistic: Dancing
Demon Lore Mystical Arts: Arcane Lore: Demons
Diagnostics General: Healing
Directed Spells Mage/Elementalist Sphere: Elemental Bolt
Disarm Foe Combat: Combat Style: Disarm Foe
Disarm Traps Subterfuge: Locks & Traps
Disguise Subterfuge: Disguise
Dragon Lore Mystical Arts: Arcane Lore: Dragons
Duping Influence: Duping
Evaluation skills General: Appraisal
Fauna Lore General: Lore: Fauna
First Aid General: Healing
Flora Lore General: Lore: Flora
Flying/Gliding Athletic: Flying/Gliding
Foraging Outdoor: Foraging/Survival
Frenzy Concentration: Frenzy (ML)
Herb Lore General: Herbcraft
Herding Outdoor: Animal Handling
Hiding Subterfuge: Stalking & Hiding
History General: Lore: History
Hunting Outdoor: Foraging/Survival
Interrogation Influence: Duping
Jumping Physical: Jumping
Languages General: Linguistics
Lock Lore General: Lore: Locks
Locking Holds Combat: Martial Arts Sweeps
Magic Ritual Mystical Arts: Magic Ritual
Maneuvering in Armor / Armor category Physical: Armor Skills
Martial Arts Striking Combat: Martial Arts Strikes
Martial Arts Style Combat: MA Style
Martial Arts Sweeps Combat: Martial Arts Sweeps
Midwifery General: Healing
Mimicry Artistic: Mimicry
Mounted Combat Combat: Combat Style: Mounted Combat
Navigation Outdoor: Navigation
Nerve Strikes Combat: Martial Arts Strikes
Orienteering Outdoor: Navigation
Perception General: Perception
Pick Locks Subterfuge: Locks & Traps
Pick Pockets Subterfuge: Pick Pockets
Play Instrument Artistic: Play Instrument
Poison Lore General: Lore: Poisons
Power Point Development Mystical Arts: Power Point Development
Public Speaking Influence: Public Speaking
Region Lore General: Lore: Local Region
Religion General: Lore: Religion
Riding Outdoor: Riding
Rowing Outdoor: Sailing
Runes Mystical Arts: Runes
Sailing Outdoor: Sailing
Scaling Athletic: Climing
Sculpting General: Crafts: Sculpting
Second Aid General: Healing
Setting Traps Subterfuge: Locks & Traps
Siege engineering General: Lore: Siege engineering
Silent Attack Subterfuge: Ambush
Singing Artistic: Singing
Spell Lists Mystical Arts: Pick the corresponding spell(s)
Spell Lore Mystical Arts: Arcane Lore: Spells
Spell Mastery Additional ranks for the corresponding spell(s)
Stalk & Hide Subterfuge: Stalk & Hide
Stalking Subterfuge: Stalk & Hide
Staves & Wands Mystical Arts: Attunement
Streetwise Subterfuge: Streetwise
Stunned Maneuvering Resistance: Stamina
Surgery General: Healing
Survival Outdoor: Foraging/Survival
Swimming Physical: Swimming
Tactics General: Lore: Tactics
Tale Telling Artistic: Story Telling
Trading Influence: Trading
Trap Building Subterfuge: Locks & Traps
Trickery Subterfuge: Trickery
Tumbling Athletic: Acrobatics
Two weapon fighting Combat: Two weapon combat
Undead Lore Mystical Arts: Arcane Lore: Undead
Use/Remove Poison Subterfuge: Poisoning
Weapon skills Combat: choose the appropriate weapon skill
Weapon Style Combat: Combat Style
Wrestling Combat: Wrestling (ML)

Do not forget to buy skill ranks in the three Resistance skills -- HARP characters do not get better at resisting simply by going up levels.

Talents & Flaws conversion

RM and HARP use quite different systems for Talents, i.e. Flaws do not exist at all in HARP. For some RM Talents, e.g. Instinctive Defense, there is a similar Talent in HARP, for most Talents there is not. Just let the player decide which Talents are appropriate for his character.

Items conversion

Conversion of items is usually straightforward for bonus items and Spell Adders only. These items can be transferred usually unchanged to the HARP character. For armor conversion please use the table below to match the Rolemaster ATs to HARP armor. The table lists only those ATs which can be purchased normally according to the Rolemaster equipment tables.

Rolemaster AT HARP Armor
5 Soft Leather, shirt
6 Soft Leather, shirt + bracers
7 Soft Leather, full set
8 Soft Leather, full set
9 Studded Leather Armor, shirt
10 Studded Leather Armor, shirt + bracers + greaves
13 Chain Armor, shirt
14 Chain Armor, shirt + bracers + greaves
15 Chain Armor, full set
16 Chain Armor, full set
17 Plate Armor, "shirt"
18 Plate Armor, "shirt" + bracers + greaves
19 Plate/Chain Armor, full set
20 Plate Armor, full set

For the Rolemaster Power Point Multipliers, there is no equivalent in HARP. The best match are HARP's Power Point Adders. A RM *2 Power Point Multiplier would translate into a HARP +2 Power Point Adder, a *3 Multiplier into a +3 Power Point Adder etc.

The most difficult conversion is for the various spell casting items. HARP features, in CoM, all those item types which Rolemaster also has, i.e. Runes, Daily Items, Potions, Single Use Items and Charged Items. But the spells themselves cannot in most cases be directly converted. Here the GM should check with the player which HARP spell, including necessary scaling options, does best fit the RM item to convert. E.g. a RM Daily I Firebolt spell item would probably best be converted to a HARP Elemental Bolt spell (type fire) scaled to a Medium Attack with a 100' range, which is the standard RM range of bolt spells.


GM Gamemaster

RM Rolemaster (any version)

HARP High Adventure Role Playing

RMSS Rolemaster Standard System

RMFRP Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing

Arc. Comp. RMSS Arcane Companion

Ess. Comp. RMSS Essence Companion

Ch. Comp. RMSS/RMFRP Channeling Companion

Ment. Comp. RMSS/RMFRP Mentalism Companion

SoHK RMFRP School of Hard Knocks: Skill Companion

MAC RMSS Martial Arts Companion

F&I RMFRP Fire & Ice: The Elemental Companion

CoM HARP College of Magics

Codex HARP The Codex

ML HARP Martial Law

AT Rolemaster Armor Type

DP Development Points