The New Harnmaster

Alex Greene's picture


I'm impressed by the previews of the new Harnmaster. Can you tell us more, such as an estimate of the page count, some of the contributing artists, and something like a rough idea of when you estimate the book will go live (e.g. Spring or Summer 2023, etc)?

This question can become the go-to place for inside info on the new HM core rulebook as it goes through its final stages of development. As well as posting the official announcements on the front page, if there's anything else interesting to whet our appetites, here is where you can let us know.

McBard's picture

Alex—thanks for your interest! The page count tops well into the 400s—an all-in-one rule book. In addition to Juha Makkonen, we're in the middle of art direction with several other of our regular artists, but I'll hold off announcing them until the ink's dry, so to speak. :)

There's not a definitive release date yet, but mid-2023 is a very rough estimate. I'll be as transparent as possible and share updates on this when I can. Previews will continue every several weeks, and we do plan on providing a very short Quickstart PDF beforehand, but even this is several months off.

Walt McAtee
Project Director

Shealladh's picture

I am seriously looking forward to the direction this is heading.

As a suggestion for previews "in the coming months" maybe it would be nice to see a snippet alongside that of a blurb of the people behind the entry, ie. artist, writer, designer, etc.

In this way not only do we get to see what is coming, but also able to get to know the people in the cogs chipping away at things. Normally where we would not get a chance to see. Might also brings a connection between those in the factory and gamers, old a new, together a little more.

Either way, samples are looking good so far.

McBard's picture

That's a good idea, Shealladh. Many recognize the KP names of Jeremy Baker and Ken Snellings, but certainly not mine! Let me put something together, either here or in the next preview to clarify that. Thanks for the suggestion.

Hrafnaguð's picture

Is there any plan to have a printed option for the new HârnMaster edition? I would love to finally have a hardbound copy of HM on my shelf. Given the limited audience, I assume this could only be done as PoD, but I would gladly pay a premium for such a tome.

McBard's picture

Yes, we are exploring hardcover printing PoD and pre-order/kickstart options. The reason for starting previews so well in advance is in large part to gauge people's interest in a print edition. Thanks for getting the conversation started!

Walt McAtee
Project Director

Alex Greene's picture

One thought which occurred recently, when I created a cabal of independent witches operating out of Golotha in Rethem, was how the Shek-Pvar had stitched up the local magic scene, to the point where actual witches couldn't even have their own independent system without being forced to join a Chantry and learn magic of one convocation only - and Morgath help the poor witch who was a born water worker, forced to join a Peleahn Chantry because there was nothing else around.

There really does need to be a magic system for non-Pvaric magic, doesn't there? :)

Tempest13's picture

Robin was specific in stating that the Shek Pvar are only one way to do magic. While Harnmaster is somewhat lacking with other practitioners that does not mean they do not exist. After all the game world was system agnostic for 3 years before Harnmaster even existed.

McBard's picture

I see three approaches to making non-Shek-Pvar mages.

1) This is the most obvious but likely least satisfying: 'witches', 'warlocks', and 'sorcerers' could be people who simply have a handful of Talents, such as Clairvoyance, Telekinesis et al. (Btw, the new edition drops the word 'psionic' and instead calls them Arcane Talents).

2) Perhaps more satisfyingly, the new HM makes what was an optional rule suggestion on page Shek-Pvar 12 of HMg—Natural Attunement—into canon. Now, Natural Attunement is on the list of possible Arcane Talents one can attain at character generation. This allows a mage to develop Pvaric spell casting without attending a Chantry, but only in the single convocation to which the character is naturally attuned. There are several other benefits, such as allowing for the possible research into Neutral spells, but it's not assured. Thus, a much wider variety of 'witch/warlock' can manifest outside the formal structure of the Shek-Pvar through the Natural Attunement arcane talent—but it's still Pvaric spellcasting.

3) The most ambitious—perhaps controversial—option is to have an entire non-Pvaric system of spell casting. I think we do need to remember that the Shek-Pvar have quite a reach throughout Lythia, so any non-Pvaric systems would likely still be in the great minority. But surely something non-Pvaric exists in at least Kamerand and Mernat, if not also in isolated other pockets.

Lastly, I'll share a quick 'preview-before-the-next-preview'. We at KP have been referring to the new HM edition as HMK, shorthand for HârnMaster and the world of Kèthîra. Exactly how this will appear in logos and covers and the like is still being developed—but exploring the topics of non-Chantry Pvaric magic and even non-Pvaric magic is very much in HMK's spirit of broadening the game's horizons.

Walt McAtee
Project Director

Lawrence W. Thrasher Jr's picture

Can anyone at KP provide us with a ball park figure on the finale price tag that we mite expect to see?

McBard's picture

It's too early for a definitive price. However, with the book coming in at roughly 450 pages, it would be hard to imagine a stand alone PDF less than RuneQuest6's $28 (445 pages) or WHFRP4's $30 (350 pages), for instance. At the moment, we're still exploring POD and crowd sourcing options for a hard back.

Walt McAtee
Project Director

Puster's picture

I am just in the process of printing most of the modules I got over the years.

Its not easy to gain access to services that print US-letter format. Especially not loose pages.
That said, I went to to print some samples.

Venarive, with its 276 pages (content and index merged) comes out at 48€ (high quality paper). That comes without a map and of course no royalities - is somebody buy the book directly from there this would be on top, so around 80.

Sounds intimidating. Buying more books then one probably is cheaper in the medium run.
Summa Verarive came at 31, Kethira at 15, Chelemby with its 150 pages at 29.
The quality is comparable with the Kaldor module by CGI.

I am quite sure people would be willing to pay 20-30% more, then the printing, just to have them in their hands. As they do not get a pdf with the print you could probably lower your prices for the printout.

The main trouble is boxing together a cover-pdf, but once I worked out how it took me perhaps 10 min per book.

If somebody is interested I can put some images online. If KP wants any help with that, just drop me a mail.

That said, a 445 pages printout would be massive, the sheer printing cost would be close to 70-80 and it would be hard to handle during games. For PoD it would probably be better (again) to cut it down and sell them seperately, eg. Bestiary, Core and Magic, for perhaps 30 each?
A fine option that you would have with PoD-publishers is that you could put different versions online, like a Hardcover (Kaldor-style), a softcover for smaller articles or ring binded for heavy usage of rules.

Sorry for the rambling. Just ordered eight printouts yesterday, so it hits a nerve :-)

BTW: For friends of the DinA4 I found a publisher ( that stretches the PDFs up a bit, so that the white stripes on top and bottom vanish at the cost of a slightly strechted design. No notable price difference, though.

Puster's picture

Here are some images of Kelestia hardcovers. Its a world of a difference.
If you need help setting up such stuff at PoD-Providers, message me.
A A4 and US-Letter in comparison:

Jan's picture

Amazing! Printed products are certainly more attractive at the table than just files.

dmmilner's picture

Any updates on starting a Kickstarter? I have money burning a hole in my pocket I'd like to throw at this.

McBard's picture

Thanks for checking in, dmmilner. In terms of announcing any crowd funding, we've long decided to complete most of the art direction first—as opposed to the reverse, where some kickstarts are announced and even funded well before fulfillment can take place—and that work continues. We want to finish with it so as to offer a quick turn around when the time does come.

In the meantime, we will release a free Quickstart adventure in the next month or two to give you a closer look at the game, and will also continue with the Previews.

Trust me, we're working hard to get HMK to you and appreciate the encouragement. Keep that pocket fire at least smoking!

Walt McAtee
Project Director

Tempest13's picture

I would like to ask you for your cover info as I am thinking of going through lulu for some of the books as well. Any help would be appreciated.

Jan's picture

Are you referring to a book's spine size that needs to be known in order to create a fitting cover? Lulu (and other POD services) give you calculations for that, depending on the page count and the desired binding type (hardcover/softcover).

Tempest13's picture

No, sorry for the confusion. I was directing my comment towards Puster who said he had already worked through making the book covers, and since his examples looked nice I was hoping to use the same.

cesuhr28's picture

The making of elixirs for the alchemist takes way to long to make 1 dose. I feel an alchemist can make batches with multiple doses once the recipe is perfected. Now if you are perfecting the elixir it could take a long time. If it is kept in the process to make 1 dose that takes that long than there is now reason to play an alchemist.

McBard's picture

Thanks for taking a look at the Preview! Let me share some more information that might help put Alchemy in better context.

HERBLORE: this skill will enable the creation of what in HMK are called potions. These are not magical, but rather mundane (albeit exotic) concoctions that hunters, apothecaries, and even alchemists themselves can prepare much more quickly. It requires foraging for the proper herbs and then, once they are gathered, a matter of minutes to make (unprepared herbs can also be stored in a proper dark and dry place for months). Such potions have quite humble effects—perhaps adding a +5 or +10 to an injury's Healing Rolls (the Curative potion)...or improving similarly Shock Rolls (narcotic)...or increasing Initiative and Awareness by a like bonus (Stimulant).

Alchemists receive two "ranks" of Herblore in their occupation table (Herblore/2) and so could, with development, be able to make such potions, too.

ALCHEMY: as noted in the preview, Alchemy is an esoteric skill—it enables the creation of arcane (magic) concoctions called elixirs. It should be noted that HMK follows the general model of HMg SPELL RESEARCH in terms of time, where CL1 spells usually require a five- or tenday to learn; up to CL6 and their 50+ days. Quite long! HMK follows HMg here, in both terms of spell research but also in that elixirs require similar research each time they are made. To be more accurate than the Preview, it takes 10 + 3d6 days—so, fairly, about 2/3 a month on average. But, yes, still quite long!

This preparation length was established for several reasons:

1) Elixirs are NOT "spells in a bottle" (that is, Shek Pvar spells made into elixir form). Rather, they each have their own unique effects. More importantly, they are usually more powerful than a similar Shek Pvar spell, by comparison. For example, the Healing elixir is very likely the single most effective healing source in the game. Made all the more powerful because they are portable and can be "cast" (imbibed) by anyone.

2) Imbibers of elixirs that have a specific duration (such as the Fireshield elixir that grants about a 5 AV increase against Fire aspect impact) will very likely enjoy its effects for several months—yes, months. It's true that elixirs will decay slowly through this time, but they are not the "magic potions" of many other games that last a matter of minutes or, at best, hours.

Thus, an elixir's power and duration necessitate a much longer time commitment than mundane potions made with Herblore.

ROLEPLAYING: playing a PC Alchemist will, indeed, take a certain amount of strategy. They require a workshop and usually a sponsor (often the Guild of Arcane Lore or wealthy patron, such as a noble). The preparation and decay rules ensure that elixirs do not proliferate throughout a campaign—they come and go in a matter of months, even when not imbibed. Alchemist will not have a longterm stock of elixirs and they are not sold, at least not any more than how Pvaric spells aren't sold either in most games set in the world.

In summary, an Alchemist is likely best suited for a long-term campaign. However, at the end of character generation, a PC Alchemist starts with a handful of elixirs and so would readily work for a one-off session or short campaign. In the end, you still may find the 20 days of average preparation too onerous and so may wish to modify it, although, after mastering the entire set of rules, I wouldn't suggest a much shorter length than 10 or so days. But your P-Harn is your own, and I even imagine that some Harn players have become so accustomed to such things as elixirs not even existing—and that's an option, too!

I hope I haven't gone on too long, cesuhr28—and, again, thanks for your interest.

Walt McAtee ('McBard' here and on
Kelestia Productions
Product Director

cesuhr28's picture

It is not worth playing as an alchemist character if you have no interaction with anyone because you spend all your time creating the elixirs.
In Harn Gold it says for spell research, "allow 48 hours of research time for each complexity level of the object spell". So a level 2 spell may take 4 days to research. Why not follow suit with the elixirs. There is no 10+3d6 days to research a spell, so why make it that much harder for an Alchemist. Are you making the spell users this way, too? If so, forget playing this new style.
I have been playing an alchemist in the Harn Gold and have played a major magic user for years. I do know the principle of research.
In DnD 1-2 editions it would take Wizards weeks to get new spell for a new level. All the other players got to go adventuring and get treasure while the lowly wizard had to learn his/her new spells. It wasn't conducive for parties in the game because the wizard felt left out of being apart of the group when leveling up. It was hard on the gm as well to make sure the wizard player was able to keep up with the experience of the party.
I like Harn Master and Gold.
A game should have fun elements, not spend all the play researching what you are going to make in a lab. Life is hard enough as it is. Don't make a game that tedious and hard too. We have jobs for that.

McBard's picture

HMg spell research times are much longer than you imply. Research Scheduling gives an example of 12 hours per day maximum (page Shek-Pvar 35 sidebar), so the 48 hours per CL is really a base 4 days per CL per test.

Given a reasonable Arcane Discipline ML75 and a -5 penalty per CL (and no major bonuses or penalties from the sundry list on page 18, such as Aural Interference etc) the following are the number of research test attempts required before one learns a spell:

CL1: 1.22 tests
CL2: 1.3 tests
CL3: 1.4 tests
CL4: 1.5 tests
CL5: 1.6 tests
CL6: 1.75 tests

Thus, the estimated number of days to learn the HMg spell (4 days per CL):
CL1: 5 days
CL2: 10 days
CL3: 17 days
CL4: 24 days
CL5: 32 days
CL6: 42 days

And also note that the average opening SB is only 2.4 (most likely just SB2). So, even for a character with the pertinent attributes around 15, we're talking about a starting ML of 36 for CL1 spells in the Primary convocation down to ML22 for CL6 spells.

So, the HMg mage has theoretically "learned" the spell, but with even Primary spells all starting around ML20-ML35, it will take many castings to improve them to a manageable ML60-70 range. Even allowing one casting per day (and thus one SDR per day), that's another 50 days perhaps (including failed SDR rolls, but excluding time lost from Spell Misfire rolls). The rule on page 20 technically does not limit such castings to one per day, so it's really hard to judge what most GMs would allow. I suppose you could cast these spells on the hour, or every 10 minutes, but surely Spell Misfire will catch up to the mage making such perfunctory castings, just to climb out of he ML30s.

In any event, the base line days of such research in the new HMK edition are quite similar to the HMg rules outlined above: 5 days (CL1) up through 50 days (CL6). However, a big difference is that, in HMK, spell MLs in the Primary convocation will likely be in the 70s at the very start, as soon as the research is complete. So the extra 40 game days of casting in HMg is dropped (or, at least, the weird vagueness that informs the rule is eliminated).

But, just like in HMg, you can houserule HMK to suit your gaming group's preference—halve it, quarter it, whatever you like.

HM3 spell research, which dictates 2 days per CL, comes in at about half the time of HMg, with typical starting Primary MLs for a similarly talented character perhaps a little higher (around ML40). However, you'd then be in the similar realm of having spent 5 to 20 days "learning" a spell merely to ML40. And then you're facing a much more arduous climb in ML, given HM3's CML-based improvement per month and the fact that SMP are awarded only for casting under "adverse" conditions.

Finally, to circle back to the original topic, the Alchemy research times are solidly in the middle of the actual HMg ranges: 20 days (3d6 +10 days). This is easily houseruled to 1d6 or 2d6 +5 days, if you prefer.

dmmilner's picture

Any news you can share on this end? Release dates? Crowdfunding? That sort of thing?

McBard's picture

dmmilner, check out the thread here:

I'm working on a specific release announcement within the next several weeks, and will share it ASAP.

Walt McAtee
Project Director