Saturday, April 09, 2011

H is for ...

Yes, there was something else here earlier.
Harn (or if you are diacritally inclined - Hârn)

Not Harnmaster, which is pretty good, but not the reason for this entry. Harnmaster, the rules set for Harn,  is C&S after a good twelve-step program and showing off its 2-year chip. Probably the most effective portrayal of real medieval life in an RPG, it was the epitome of the realistic low level campaign that a lot of players claim they want and no one really plays.

No, we’re talking about Harn, the world. And love Harn, the world. In particular, its maps. Harn had great maps. They rethought a basic concept of mapping and decided to go with realistic looking buildings in a realistic looking world. The area maps are topos of the quality you would get from the USGS. The city maps look greatly functional and look like they evolved over time as opposed to having been drawn in a boring math class. And their castle maps (also very lootable for your campaign) where the rooms were crammed with detail, including the difficulty of opening doors, the materials everything was map of, and the height of the ceiling (DMs, you know of which I speak – someone asks how high the ceiling is, in preparation for some player-generated hijinx).

But here’s the problem with Harn’s castles - you couldn’t ever DESCRIBE the room you came into (“It is a lopsided trapezoid with an alcove in the west. The alcove has a 6 foot domed ceiling, which the main room is 17 feet tall and ends in a flat ceiling. Oh, and along the east wall is a gallery made of wood 12 feet off the ground where they put the minstrels”). It as detailed to the point that it needed to be displayed in order to be used, and with such small and realistic rooms that it kills the 5’ foot square of D&D. For the cities and larger regions, they usually provided player versions in B/W to allow them to scribble over, the castle maps were always a pain.

And the world broke down nicely into small, easily-lootable chunks, which they presented as part of the Encyclopedia Harnica and Harnlore. Nice and portable, and suitable both for insertion into your campaign or a inspiration for your own developments.
More later,