High Adventure Roleplaying (HARP) was born in 2003 in a desire to offer the slick combat table approach of Rolemaster in an easier-to-digest faster-to-play format. Despite wary detractor’s concerns the final product bears only a cursory semblance to its more complex and detailed cousin.
In 2011 Guild Companion Publications took over the helm for Iron Crown Enterprises. Their first releases were HARP Sci-Fi followed by HARP Sci-Fi Extreme. Correcting several errors and refining rules from fan input, the revised printing of HARP Fantasy was released later in 2011.
The HARP system is level-based, uses Professions instead of classes, has a broad detailed skill list and reads much like ICE’s alternative to D&D. The differences are in the details.
In HARP combat you roll an open-ended d100 roll; a result of 96 – 100 “explodes” keeping the previous roll, rerolling and adding the new results. The open-ended roll has no upper limit. Adding a skill modifier, considering any penalties and subtracting your opponent’s defense yields the attack result. The size of the attack or weapon then adds or subtracts from the attack result.
You then look up this result on the combat table for your attack. Results have a descriptive component, the number of "hits' subtracted from Endurance, the number of points added to an ongoing Action Penalty, and a possible number of points of Bleeding. Combat ebbs and flows with vivid descriptions and gritty consequences based on this fast single-roll lookup on a table.
Magic, detailed in the core book and the supplement HARP College of Magics, uses a Power Point (PP) concept where each spell requires a minimum PP cost and allows the caster to invest more PP to “power up” the spell. This flexibility grants plentiful options for the various spellcasting professions.
Races in HARP not only allow for the mainstream fantasy choices but offer up Lesser and Greater Racial Hybrids. Taking one of these options could create a Gnomish Blooded Dwarf or an Elven Blooded Gryx.
The latest release HARP Folkways presents an interesting format for a game supplement. The first half of the book informs with a detailed take on the “20 questions” approach, guiding the GM through the process of creating distinctive cultures. The last half of the book details a plethora of new races, professions and options for players. I found this book not only entertaining to read but imminently useful for fleshing out cultures.
The revised HARP Loot made its debut late last year. The traditional treasure tables are included with additional options for using land, titles and favors as rewards. Wrapping up the book are guidelines for creating a catalog of magic items both simple and fantastic.
The much-anticipated revised HARP Bestiary is due out in two to three months based on forum interactions with the line developer. Print-on-demand and PDF books are available from the various OBS sites.
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