Version control (new here)

Snaake's picture

Hey, I was thinking of finally trying to get to run/play Harn (with Harnmaster rules, probably on Harn itself). I bought some dead-tree versions from the local RPG store years ago, and I was wondering how they compare to the newer versions (and if there are any) of the game/supplemental material

I have

Harnmaster 3(+errata for 3.01 from the Columbia games website)
- I gather there're new stats in HMg, touch and speed (move?). Any other significant changes, sort of hard to get an idea from just the info on the products page...?

Harnworld (incl. Harnworld, Harndex books, some regional maps incl. Harn and some other...)

Harnmaster Magic and Harnmaster Religion
- There's a new magic supplement, Shek-Pvar, for HMg, right? What about religion, is the only content for that in HMg in the player book?

Shorkyne regional map, Chybisa Kingdom module, Dead of Winter adventure book (has some Kanday/Rethem politics)
- These don't really care about whether the rules have changed, yay!

Pilot's Guide
- impressive, I'd probably use these rules for designing ships, navigation etc. in other systems too

I remember reading a local RPG club library's copy of Harnmaster Barbarians way back then, is there anything similar (newer) on sale here? I still have access to the previously mentioned copy, if nothing else, of course. This is a book I didn't buy, and regret that, since I think all the Harnmaster stock at the local store was just what they had remaining from when Columbia published the game, and it's likely that they have practically nothing left there these days...

Also similarly, what about Harnmanor? The Dead of Winter adventure book mentioned it, sounded interesting.

P.S. I love the old versions, Harn is the one system and world I've wanted to play properly since I first read it, but have never had the chance to. It's just that all the support on this webpage at least is for newer versions, and I'm slightly confused.

Jack's picture

Sorry, I couldn't resist the subject line. If you've ever heard a 1-800-Ask-Gary commercial, then you understand. If you're not from my part of the States . . .

Anyway, it sounds like your confusion can be resolved with an update of some (not so) current events:

N. Robin Crossby is the orginal creator of HarnWorld and HarnMaster. Sadly, he passed away recently. NRC worked with Columbia Games to produce many Harn products over the years, probably including most of the ones you remember. However, he and CG ended their relationship and a subsequent licensing agreement ensued. I don't know the exact details or care to; the important thing to know is that the disagreement is unlikely to be resolved because lawyers are expensive and gaming companies are not rich. (Coarsely stated, but true.)

As a result, both CG and Kelestia Productions produce HarnWorld and HarnMaster materials. CG is focused on the island of Harn and most of their releases are expansions of previously released material. KP is focused on northwestern Lythia (Chelemby, Harbaal, Shorkyne if Larani chooses to smile upon me, et cetera).

The current *CG* version of HarnMaster is 3.0. The core rules have been updated, but the Barbarians, Magic, and Religion rules are actually unchanged (meaning un-updated) from 2.0. All of those rulesets are available from CG and the errata that you mentioned has been incorporated into the latest printing of the core rules. 3.0 requires a little work (house rules) as there are some holes in the system and the supporting rulesets haven't been updated, but it's still better than 2.0.

The current *KP* version of HarnMaster is HarnMaster Gold. I haven't purchased it yet, but I've played it and it goes into greater detail in many ways than 3.0 does. (Maybe that means that it has fewer holes and requires less work.) HMG has a Magic ruleset, but it does not have a Religion ruleset yet. I have no idea how much religion is included in the core rules, though I did find myself praying a lot when playing it. Especially during combat.

HarnManor is another CG product, and one I greatly enjoyed.

Basically, to stay current with HarnWorld and HarnMaster, you have to follow two companies' products. Columbia Games has a website you can seek out. However, please do yourself a HUGE favor and go to It's a fanon site with many, many great articles about all parts of Harn. I'm a big fan of Kaldor and I've found almost all the Kaldor material on to be as good as the canon material. Wherever you choose to set your campaign, will have something for you.

I hope this helps - enjoy your new campaign!

rbs's picture


The split between and HarnMaster and HarnMaster Gold occurred around 1995 when CG made some simplifications in the original HarnMaster (HM1) rules as part of releasing a more "accessible" HM2. The changes included removing a character stat or two, reducing the number of combat rolls, etc. Some changes were also intended to make it easier to use HM2 in conjunction with CG's BattleLust mass combat rulebook.

Robin thought this detracted from the spirit of HM1, and by mutual agreement, he released a privately published HM Gold 2.0 "player's edition" which more closely followed the basis of the HM1 rules.

In about 2002 or 2003, not long prior to the severing of the licensing agreement, CG released HM3, which is HM2 with some useful additions and bugfixes. IIRC, the revised missile combat and mounted combat rules received the most praise.

One of the first releases from Kelestia Productions was HM Gold 2.1 Player's Edition. The HMG GM's Edition followed a year or two later. The player's book is essentially all the rules that player's should know. The GM's book is the additional rules that players should not or need not know. As you can tell from the versioning, it's not a lot different from the HMG that Robin released around 1996.

Regarding magic, HMG Shek-Pvar from Kelestia Productions is an extensive magic supplement to the HarnMaster Gold system. It is referred to as version 3 because CG published a Shek-Pvar supplement in the early 1990s that they called a "second edition" magic system. CG later published a HarnMaster Magic supplement in the late 1990s to match up with the HM2 rules and which made _significant_ changes to the magic system. KP's Shek-Pvar (3), on the other hand, follows much more closely along the trail of the HM1 and Shek-Pvar (2) rules, and best of all, it includes a lot of spells. CG's HM Magic includes relatively few spells.

KP has published no religion rules supplement. If you feel the need for a lot of rules for specific rituals, the HM Religion supplement from CG can pretty much be used as is.

Old adventure books such as Dead of Winter can require a fair amount of jiggling of character stats no matter whether you use HM3 or HMGold. Most of these books were published before 1995 and the release of HM2.

Although many GMs find HarnManor very useful, it also has quite a few detractors. The big complaint seems to be that it is much too generous in the amount of income that manors generate for their lords.

rbs's picture

Snaake, I should perhaps also comment that although I definitely prefer the Gold version of the rules -- having started with HM1 some 20 years ago and preferring the way that the Gold rules retained the injury, fatigue and healing schemes of the original -- that HMGold 2.1 has been criticized for its organization. There are thing that would you think should be described at certain points in the text but the pertinent info is instead placed in the "GlossDex" section, a glossary+index.

Snaake's picture

Thanks for the informative replies. I'd like to add that HM3 was the version of HM I read first, so I'm sticking with it for now. Compatibility issues seem to be extremely minor though. I'll almost certainly give HMG a look-see at some point, I definitely intend to buy the multilayer Harn Map and the Venarive module at least anyway.

Also, is indeed awesome. The only downside is that a lot of the adventures (at least) are indeed focused on Kaldor. This is only a downside because probably largely due to Dead of Winter, I've become more emotionally invested in Western Harn... The three-way dynamic of the "good" and "evil" kingdoms and the politically alien Tharda, a possible upcoming Rethemi civil war (someone might try a coup in Kanday too tbh)... there's a lot of meat there. Of course, in the east there's the succession crisis, Khuzdul and Sindarin have a larger influence, and Gargun closer by, but still.

I have to agree that the vast majority of fan material for Harnmaster is practically on par with the commercial stuff. Friends, Foes and Followers is a must-have, for instance, and clearly better than some officially published material I've seen for other RPGs. Part of the reason I love the game so much. The sad thing is, I'm a player at heart, not a GM... but in the near future, it's probable the only way for me to get to play harn is to run the game.