Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Games We Forget About

Tooling around the internet yesterday, I came across some discussion or other discussion the HARP RPG, by Iron Crown. I stopped, and blinked. Back when I was in Spain, we ran a campaign of Irrin with HARP, but hadn't done so with any of my groups in the states. A thought jostled about in the back of my brain.

I called my buddy (and game group member) Matt.

"What was the problem with HARP--who had a problem with it?" I asked.

"HARP--like Rolemaster Lite?"

"Yeah, like right before our second season. We all talked about it, but someone didn't care for it."


I let my thoughts percolate. Someone had objected to playing HARP, but damned if I could remember.

I spoke with Matt yesterday after work.

"Maybe it was Loud Joe". Loud Joe is known for his penchant for abilities his characters shouldn't have and rune weapons (which his characters also shouldn't have). He loved Rifts.

"I don't know."

"Well, what do you think of it?"

"Looks good".


Point is, HARP is a very good game, one that simplifies some of the Rolemaster bits without going too loosey-goosey (while keeping those open-ended percentiles we love). But since I've been back in Indy, we've used Palladium Fantasy, Epic Roleplaying, Rolemaster, and Castles & Crusades. HARP came up, was rejected for a reason no one can remember, and was forgotten about.

What we have here is an embarassment of riches. There are so many game systems to discuss and try out, it can be easy to dismiss one out of hand or forget about it. Before we choose our next system, I'm going to make sure we take the time to review all the options. If you're forgetting about games you've had fun with in the past, you might be going in a few too many directions at once.


Bonemaster said...

Never played HARP. Didn't feel like giving my money to ICE. After the RMSS disaster (yes it was in the end a disaster), it was hard to take anything ICE put out seriously. At least in the groups I've played with there was no desire to do anything with HARP. I know I took a brief look through a rulebook, but it didn't do anything for me. ICE has had almost no presence anywhere I can think of. I was quite surprised to see that HARP actually had it's own website with an announcement of a new licensee. I wonder how expensive it is to become one or if ICE gives them away.

Ok, enough harping on HARP. (ok sorry, I thought that was clever). But you are correct, There are variety of games out there to play. Any people should always review their options before starting a new game. It doesn't have to be just some version of DnD nor a D20 system.

noisms said...

HARP is an excellent game - it's just what I want in a fantasy RPG. Much more so than D&D, really. The only thing that keeps me going with D&D is the sentimental attachment.

d20 was such a disaster for the RPG industry in many ways. Just think of all the potential HARP fans lost to mundane d20 fantasy games.

Gleichman said...

We attempted RM after DragonQuest but right before throwing in the towel and creating a home grown ruleset to play fantasy games with.

After that I looked at MERP but never saw HARP.

The failing points for us was that the complexity of changing or even understanding what the crit tables were actually doing was too high. Plus the system put a lot of focus on elements that weren't of interest to us.

ICE however did the best Middle Earth modules ever...

Golgotha said...

We gamers are a flighty and petulant bunch. I suspect that the same reason we bypass good systems (that might just do what we are looking for) is related to the same mindset that will make a gamer state how he refuses to play a non-d20 game because he "doesn't want to learn a new system" then--in the same breath--talk about how much he enjoys learning 4e.

Zachary The First said...

@gleichman: We ended up gutting a lot of stuff out of RM when we played it. Didn’t use maneuvers as intended, simplified/stopped level stat increase/decrease (like you’ve mentioned, I believe, I like changes on the character sheet to come through play, not instant levels, though you can do that to a point with in a leveling framework, I believe).

I believe I had a copy of Age of Heroes on my old desktop, but have lost everything on that comp. If you were ok with it, would you be able to email me a copy of AoH to look over? I’d like to check it out again.


PS--Hooray for Pete Fenlon's maps!

Gleichman said...

Golgotha- I think it's a cost/benefit thing. To be honest most new rpgs these days don't often anything you couldn't get from others that you might already be playing. But a new edition of what you're currently playing offers a bunch of new products (if of the scale of 4E) to what is in effect it's current users. Of course they will for the most part change.

Zachary- I'll shoot you the old copy I used to post online. I have a newer one that I intend to use LuLu to make myself a hardcopy, but it's in pieces and has been a long process with much delays.

Badelaire said...

I've got the HARP hardcover and picked up a couple of the magic supplements. It's not a bad system, but for me it suffers from an attempt to make an "RM Lite" but still being juuuuust complex enough to turn away people who aren't used to its crunch. I also think they abstracted / generalized some things they shouldn't have, like the weapon tables, which weren't complicated or hard to use - just another level of detail.

You're right though - there's a lot of good systems sitting along the sidelines that just quietly chug along, ignored by most but loved by a few.

Yax said...

Embarassment of riches. It's true. For me trying out a new set of rules is not fun and unless someone strongly suggests something new I'll stick with D&D. I'm lazy like that.

Steve said...

that's funny, because I remember you really selling HARP back in the first incarnation of your blog.

Zachary The First said...

@ Steve: Precisely! The only reason we didn't pick it up when I came back to the States is *someone* had an objection to it. Now we can't remember what it was, and HARP still sits there.

I ran a GREAT game with HARP when in Spain.

Johnn Four said...

I loved RM. Played it infrequently for a decade. A friend recommended HARP and I scooped it up, but then never gamed it. It sits now in box, dying a dusty death.

Dudes, when we get old enough for catheters and diapers we have to all hookup at the same palatial retirement centre for endless gaming.

Anonymous said...

Our group abandonded DnD 3.5 when we heard about Harp. Our group liked RM 2nd ed though (never played the RMSS or RMFRP) so we gave it a go and it had all the elements we liked about RM without the hassles we had...

We havent looked back.
Ok we did once but we came back when ICE released Cyradon, the HARP world. Its gritty and allows for any monsters without the whole "super high magic" things that always annoyed me about DnD worlds.