Creative differences between Columbia Games and Kelestia

Drohem's picture

Hi guys, I new here. I played 1e HarnMaster back in the mid-80's and loved it. Alas, my group moved onto GURPS, I never got to return to HarnWorld and HarnMaster. I recently found my game and notes, and became interested again. I went and found Columbia Games site and discovered that their was a 3rd edition, and also that existed and that there was another version of HarnMaster and Harn by Robin.

I understand that there was some clash over creative direction in both HarnWorld and HarnMaster that led to the split between Robin and Columbia Games. I've read the FAQ here, but I don't get a sense of exactly what were the creative differences that lead to the split and creation of Kelestia by Robin.

I am sad to hear that Robin had passed away, and I don't wish to stir any bad blood with my question. I don't need any dirty laundry or minutia about the disagreements between Robin and Columbia Games. I'm really just looking for a brief explanation concerning the differences in creative direction for HarnWorld and HarnMaster that led to the divergence of cannon material.


Marduk23's picture

interim reply (HMG vs HMC)

I'm sure there'll be another (more detailed) response in a bit from someone a bit more personally affiliated with the disagreement, but the basic difference of opinion (on the surface anyway) is as follows.

Robin wanted to make the game more realistic. Doing so, of course, would make one of the more complicated games on the market even more, well, complicated.
Columbia Games wished to tone down the system to make it easier to play (and therefore more accessible).

You sadly can't have both with a game as rich and detailed as Harnmaster.

So Robin started on the Harnmaster Gold project, whereas Columbia Games published Harmaster Core (HMC) and then further simplified the rules in Harnmaster 3rd ed. (HM3)

((Personally, I think HMG is the current pinnacle of game-mechanics on the market currently, and although I've bastardized the rules with enough house-variants to make it almost unrecognizable... at its heart it is good old-fashioned Harnmaster Gold. :-) ))

Although you can certainly blend the two extreme versions together (and many do), you can see that there was a fundamental difference of opinion of where to take the game. Resources would need to be split between two different versions of the game concurrently, and that just isn't a valid business model. :-(

Through it all, some bad blood came up - but to be honest, I was not close enough to the parties-in-question to make a judgment call on who-said-what-to-whom... and frankly, it wasn't any of my business. ;-) I believe hatchets were buried long ago (or at least long enough ago), but as with most things it is hard to build bridges back out of cinders. Currently, the organization and creative processes for both versions run pretty much parallel and independent.

Drohem's picture

Thank you for the

Thank you for the information Marduk23!

Marduk23's picture

Not a problem

Think nothing of it. :-)

I just hope I didn't butcher the truth of the issue (or at least not any more butchering that is normally done by a second-hand account).

Neil's picture

This section

This section of the Lythia site has a lot of discussion about the dispute. Not all of it is well informed, and there is a lot of it. But it will give you a flavour of the issues.

The bottom line (IMO) is:
Robin created Hârn, Tom (Dalgleish, of CGI) published edited and commissioned additional materials. Tom & Robin fell out (apparently a combination of creative differences and money issues). The partnership ended, Robin claimed it was a full & final split, but the two men could not even agree over that.


Drohem's picture

Thanks Neil. I was really

Thanks Neil.

I was really looking to stay away from the whole mess between Robin and CGI, but I guess it's hard to separate it completely. I really want to focus on the creative differences and changes between HarnWorld and HarnMaster after the split. I have the 1st and 2nd editions of Harn and HarnMaster, and I'm looking for what the changes are in CGI's HM3 and HarnGold from the previous editions. Briefly, of course, I don't need anyone to write a serious dissertation, unless they wanted to, LOL!

From what I gather, HM3 is more simplified to appeal to a wider customer base, while HarnGold focused on more detail and complexity tied to the world of Harn? Would this be a brief, but fair, statement?

Neil's picture

In simple

In simple terms:
HârnMasterCore (HMC – or sometimes HM2) was the CGI (colour) second edition and is a simplified version of first edition HârnMaster. I like it.
HârnMaster3 is, basically an expanded (b&w) version of HMC which adds basic magic rules, mounted combat, jousting & not much else to HMC.
HârnMasterGold is a modernisation & expansion of the original, first edition HârnMaster.
All systems use the P’varic magic system (though there are significant differences in interpretation) and all generate characters with a ‘feudal’ background.
There are more similarities than differences between all versions and IMO conversion from one to another is easy.


Drohem's picture

Cool, thanks again Neil for

Cool, thanks again Neil for your responses. The mounted combat and jousting rules sound interesting, but probably not worthy of buying another edition. I like the 2nd edition color binder as well.

What is the modernization, and what was expanded in HarnMaster Gold? It is still percentile based with skill indices?

I see in the General Discussion- Meeting Hall that these questions are answered fairly well. Thanks!

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