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  • How to Construct Valid Geographical Entities   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Hi Robin,

    Yes, the OS maps are all redone in metres/KM now...I agree, a monumental task but no doubt computers made it...well possible if not easy!

    My OS map of the plymouth area (UK) is 1:50 000; which is 2cm per kilometre, about 1.2 inches per mile. It opens out to about the size of a broad sheet newspaper and covers an area of about 24 miles by 30 miles.

    This means it covers about half the area of the maps you presented I guess...

    The contours on this scale work very well, even on my welsh maps (on which they laugh at 300 contours being too much!!!!) which cram them in as you would expect. I am of the opinion that to double the area covered would not create a folly of presentation (one could use 20m increments and it would solve any further cramming); but it would present a folly of endeavour!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In essence I dispute that relief maps show more than contour maps on the scales presented.

    However, on much larger scales I think relief maps are the only way to present things; much like in the much loved world atlasses of my youth. To put contours on 'nation' or continent depictions would be folly...

  • How to Construct Valid Geographical Entities   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I grew up on OS maps... I loved them as a child growing up...

    There were 1":mile and 6":mile. Wonderfully detailed.

    Yes, at these scales you use much tighter contour intervals. Hmmm... 10 metres sounds a lot like 33' ?

    Did they redo all the OS maps in metric measurements? That must have been a task and a half.

    Let me think... the grid map of the Aleath district is um... 62.5 miles across and um the square (at full atlas scale) would be 9.8 inches across... that's 0.1568 inches to the mile?

    I'm beginning to forget where I'm going with this, but it seems like you couldn't really do a meaningful OS map at these scales?

    So we have to look elsewhere for contoured maps at this scale... (and, frankly, they are hard to find).

    The assumption I made about contours is this: that for mapping all of Harn at this scale you first consider how high you have to go... that's about 10,000'. Then you think about how many contours you can cram into the mountainous bits (the only bits where you'll need to use all the contours in close proximity). So it's pretty hard to have more than 10 or twenty contours so show a few mountains (in fact even at 10 or 20, you could end up with solid brown bits).

    In order to show a hill in the 'flatlands' you need to add contours. The problem is that every time you add a contour to the flat bits, you also have to add it to the mountainous bits too. (Although some maps have taken to using a different contour interval in the mountainous bits than the flat bits... these tend to be overwhelmingly confusing, since the 'moderately' flat bits may have more contours than the mountains.)

    In other words, if you want a 33' contour (for example) in the flat areas (like around Aleath), that means you need to have more than 300 contours in the mountains (well, the biggest mountains anyway)... and that won't work at all.

    Even with a 33' contour interval, I can *still* show more detail with relief!

    And BTW, while it is theoretically possible to demonstrate the sheer folly of this many contours, it's a lot less work to leave it to your imagination ;)

  • How to Construct Valid Geographical Entities   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Hi Robin again,

    This contour interval of 500 or 1000 feet...where is this from? On my Ordnace survey maps the interval is 10 meteres...although they would be a different scale.

    I would like to see a comparison of the same area done contour style versus relief style..even if only to show that a smaller contour interval was, well, unreasonable.

    I agree that if the choice is no contours versus relief; relief is better.

  • How to Construct Valid Geographical Entities   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Sorry, I was being 'clever'. The map on the left is has very little relief and no contours.

    The reason for this is that the contour interval is either 500 or 1000 feet, and there is no land above 500 feet anywhere on the map.

    I was trying to illustrate the point that, if you select a 'reasonable' contour interval for the whole island, then you can barely show any topographical detail at all, whereas, with relief mapping you can show a great deal of detail regardless of the local elevation.

    Sorry about the confusion :)

    I suppose part of the problem is that I have designed several completely different mapping systems now, and only one or two of my maps (local maps) have ever shown any contours ;)

  • How to Construct Valid Geographical Entities   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Hi Robin,

    It is clear from reading this that I do not know what a contour map is! I thought a contour map was a map with contour lines on it!

    The two maps you provide as comparisons look very similiar to me at first glance; but on closer inspec there are subtle differences as you say. What exactly is a contour map and a relief map..I have already paraded my ignorance on contour maps, so here goes with it where there is shading to indicate height?

    Yours awaiting enlightenment, Peter.

  • How to Construct Valid Geographical Entities   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Thanks for taking the time to write this, Robin. As someone who was drawn to Harn (25! years ago) by a love of maps, it's wonderful to read your thoughts on this issues.

  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 34 weeks ago

    My thoughts go to you and your family.

    Your world will live.
    And I hope you to will. There are still hope.

  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Well, bugger. It grieves me to hear about your health tribulations. Keep your pecker up and give it your best fight.

    I would just like to say that since 1983 Harn has given me hundreds of hours of pleasure. . .such a gift is priceless. Thank you!

    May you soon be hale and whole.


  • "Tech" level   6 years 34 weeks ago

    That's pretty close.

    Articulated plate being rare all over, and there not really being much higher tech than mail.

    Yep, you just about nailed it. :)

  • Berema, Emelrene   6 years 34 weeks ago

    It's a sprawling city with narrow alleyways and broad boulevards. The engineering is impressive with sweetwater and underground drains and sewers (all properly separated). The place 'feels' old, older maybe than it actually is (although who knows how old that is?).

    There are lots of impressive buildings, but hardly anyone knows what they are.

    That's all I'm prepared to give you for now :)

  • FASERIP style dice resolution system for Harn   6 years 34 weeks ago

    First of all thanks for this very interesting presentation of a classical RPG rules mechanism. Personally, I wasn't aware of column shift systems in general and the FASERIP games in particular.

    I absolutely agree with your view on fate/hero/karma points in role-playing games; for several reasons, a fate point system is the best concept to distinguish player characters (the "heroes" in the sense of "leading characters") from non-player characters. Fate points increase player characters' survival chances without -- and that's the important aspect for me -- making them physically stronger or giving them "special powers". In my gaming groups, we have introduced fate points even where the official rules don't mention them. A pretty good alternative for HârnMaster Gold are the "Luck Coupons" we offer as a free gaiming aid under Downloads. They don't allow re-rolls but the increase/decrease of test results by a fixed amount.

    I don't agree however, that more result types or an expanded resolution chart would do HârnMaster too much good. They would probably add abstract complexity instead of making things more believable or exciting. What I would like to see in a possible future version of HârnMaster is in fact a reduction of tables and charts to a minimum as well as a resolution system that simply calculates the difference between the score and the die roll, i.e. where each single point can mean a different (positive or negative) quality.

    Example: A skill test against a score of 54 where a 62 is rolled has a test quality of -8 (a negative quality).

    In a skill contest (e.g. a combat situation), the opponents' test qualities could be compared to see what happens.

  • Demon in the House   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I really like the heart of it. To me it has a fundamentally male point of view that is really touching.

    My lady and I had a really long and thoughtful talk. She appreciated that I was making an effort to understand her. I've never gotten that from a game site!



  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I have been a fan of the world of Kelestia for 10 years. I am very sorry to hear about your health issues and wish you the best possible outcome given the situation you outlined.

  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 35 weeks ago

    My sincere condolences on this horrible news about your nasty, brutish oncs. Sending you good thoughts/prayers.

  • Demon in the House   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Its not a question of will. Thats why I like the story so much - I've been blindsided by requests that seem obvious to her but have never occurred to me. Like the farmer I do them for her but sometimes its a complete surprise. Its important because she is and thats enough. Doesn't mean its easy.

    It is fundamentally easier to do things that aren't real, that I see, over things that are real, that I don't. Do not mistake my honesty and will to change for something dishonourable or combative. A weakness unconfessed is never addressed.


  • Demon in the House   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I am *so* pleased there is evidence that someone has finally read this story :) I wrote it such a long time ago, and it has elicited narry a comment... 'til now.

    Unfortunately, I am placing an increasing burden on my own lady as I have been unable to do some of my own chores (those that involve bending over). However, it is possible that I will get an 'Indian Summer'... who knows? :)

  • Demon in the House   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Just DO IT!

    It does not matter if it has anything to do with reality.
    After all, she is putting up with your FRP habit...
    ...Where is the reality there?

    (Letting your imagination live: in truth. Writing that can be prose: maybe. Beauty of a world in stories: a belief. Reality: no)

    Council of The Ancient One
    "The man who WOULD NOT be king."

  • Demon in the House   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I'm amazed at the perception of wives. Things of vital importance that I just don't see. For my wife's sake I wish I was less like the husband of this tale but alas....

    For the 'zen' of my lady - for I can't quantify it in my mind - all manner of things must be done. It all seems to me like putting newspaper under the Cuckoo Clock. I do it because otherwise she is not happy. But, like the husband in this story, I can't see it to dedicate myself to it.

    Good story.


  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 35 weeks ago

    It's my favorite comment when things go badly, please feel free to use it.

    You're work has been a beacon of light in an all too often dark world. I must admit I have been one of the collectors; admiring it for beautiful maps, interesting historical footnotes, and completeness of form. The richness of the details and the way the piecies fit together (with their surprising junctures) is always a joy.

    As for the enviroment... The world will survive, even if man makes it uninhabitable for man. It is the lesser beings I most feel sorry for. Ironically the rising price of oil maybe mankind's best hope for salvation, we simply won't be able to afford to kill ourselves off.

    With best wishes for recovery,
    (Hint: Miracles do happen, usually when we need them most.)

    The Ancient One
    (Ten Grandchildren and counting)

  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Good Luck.

    Good Luck.

    Good Luck.

    Creativity, especially giving people joy, is a force for good. I hope you get more of that coming around.

    _When_ you're better, I'm going to pester you with every annoying Newbie question about Harn...


  • Language and Pronunciation   6 years 35 weeks ago


    Thanks for taking the time to reply, especially during your current circumstances ( :( doesn’t really do it justice).

    I know very little about languages, even my own, and I probably have the englishmans prejudice against those ‘nasty foreign’ accents. Acceptable in café, but nowhere else. There is, as you say, currently a move towards name changing and local pronunciations. Beijing and Mumbai are two examples that spring to mind; though my local Chinese restaurant still sells Peking duck and the local Indian makes good Bombay potatoes.

    I’ve always been concerned that accents could put off purchasers. My concern was based on the dismissive, or hostile, responses on the HârnForum. I admit that I’m one who dismissed the need for accents. If, as you say, the majority of your customers are in favour of the accents, any argument against them fails.

    The fact that your publications are all issued electronically allows huge flexibility. A simple accents on/accents off switch on the pdf’s (if it’s possible) should silence most of the critics. The devil in me wants to suggest that any new map of Hârn should have three options for labelling: unaccented (true) English, accented (Hârnic) English, and true Hârnic, written using the Lakise script.

    Finally, as a Glorantha fan, I’m well aware of the ‘Creator knows best’ syndrome I had a long, and interesting, discussion on the difference between Hârn fans and Glorantha fans on the HârnForum. My view is that Hârn material is presented as ‘factual/real’ and Glorantha material is presented as ‘mythic/opinion’. This difference means that Glorantha fans are more accepting of change of amendments imposed by the creator.

    Best wishes to you and your family


    - "Pardon me for living, I'm sure."

    -- (Terry Pratchett, Mort)

  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 35 weeks ago


    I'm sorry to hear that your current treatments have stopped working. Chemo is a mixed bag and can usually only help for so long. Here's hoping that you roll a critical success on your remaining treatment options.

    I truly appreciate the work that you have done over the years. I discovered Harn in the mid 80s and loved what I saw. There are many FRP worlds on the market but none come close to the detail and realism of Harnworld. Thanks for creating worlds for us to play in. Looking forward to more!


  • Life is Fun, Death is Peaceful.   6 years 35 weeks ago


    Well that is just rotten news. I hope that something changes to improve your diagnosis.

    I, for one, have purchased many Harn products over the years. They have inspired me and led to endless conversations with friends. And, despite the fact that we all have busy lives and precious little free time, we still talk about Harn today. In some ways Harn seems more real than the real world. Perhaps you have done your work too well. So thank you for that.

    People are always going to complain and argue about small things. You should not let it disappoint you. That means they care. I have had many ideas for Harn adventures, but you have set the bar for quality and realism very high and I can only hope to show them to you and the Harnic community some day. When they are more polished.

    In the mean time, keep writing. We will keep reading. Do the important things. Let us know if we can help.

    Fight the Good Fight,


  • Language and Pronunciation   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Sometimes the criticism one receives is of a very harsh tone, it was of that, rather than of your thoughtful and considerate tone, that I was thinking when I asked for some respect.

    I was probably too dismissive of Option Two when I simply wrote it off as a hodgepodge. I realise that a lot of people 'grew up' on 'hodgepodge' maps. One object of the maps these days is to present a document that 'could be' of entirely local make - having English tends to distort the view. However, with interactive maps, I have invited 'interested parties' to include English Language Layers (and Option 2 seems to be the 'way to go' in their view).

    However, I should point out that 'purging English' from a regional map, for example, does not exactly begin and end with me. Terra's number one mapmaker, the National Geographic Society, in the United States has (almost surprisingly) taken to using the local words for bay, sea, strait etc., on their maps. The only concession to the 'give me English or Give me Death' crowd is that there are glossaries included ;). Interestingly, I think, most of these glossaries are completely unnecessary as there are, at most, a couple of dozen words involved and they can all be gleaned without a moment's thought from the context.

    Of course, my motivation for removing English from a map (and I don't actually completely remove English for any of the maps) is not about my having a liberal view toward the local inhabitants, or even the desire to sell maps to people living in my fantasy world ... (hmmm that might suggest a certain disconnect, the wrong degree of the supension of disbelief even). This may even seem petty, but my sense is that "Rayésha Erd" is simply more convincing than options three or two. Even I need a suspension of disbelief (maybe not to produce the maps, but certainly to 'believe' in them). It is easier for me to 'fool you' into believing that these places are 'real' (even for an evening) if I first fool myself...

    I expect, in this regard, I am something of a mystic. While I am usually willing to get into answer mode and respond to questions like "How did you think up Hârn?" or "What inspired you to create the churches, or the shék-pvâr, or the guilds as they are?", on the whole I like to try and preserve the 'possibility' that I am just copying a reality onto paper. It helps if even I am surprised by the depth and breadth of the vision, or, if you prefer 'it's about the look and feel'.

    It has frequently been suggested that a 'one time' pronunciation guide might suffice to 'teach' standard Harnic etc.

    But the fact of the matter is that a 'one time' list of accent and pronunciation rules (as given in the Penny Arcane above) together with accents and words that follow those rules is the most efficient way to establish a 'standard' pronunciation.

    I know some people don't see the need for standard pronunciation, but a lot of people do. Partly because, in the real world we can actually talk to French folk saying "Paree" while in the fantasy world we rarely meet people from Chélemby saying "Chélemby": except that is for the GM who plays the role.

    Putting a pronunciation guide in every single publication is a horrid waste of space, and could prove as much an imposition as did the previous inclusion of, for example, a full set of D20 stuff with each module. Well, perhaps not that much ;).

    Once you know the four of five 'accent rules', for example, all you need to implement them is an accented word.

    If, for example, we left the accents off in the text, and then put a list of the words with accents in the back somewhere, does anyone really think that would be more convenient? Or that anyone would ever bother to look up the pronunciation.

    My solution is to accent all occurances of the foreign words (as necessary, as I said I have dramatically reduced the number of accents with the introduction of one new rule). That way, if you come across an occurance (whether it is the first middle or last occurance) your accenting information is there if you need it (and hopefully, if you don't need it, you can ignore the tiny little helpful marks).

    An aside: In upcoming products, I am actually able to make plays on words (in Chéler) and puns in long, clever 'Pratchett-like' footnotes. I'm having a lovely time with this sort of thing, but it would not really be possible without using foreign language in moderation...

    Ultimately the accents and pronunciation guide in general are not even necessarily for the players, they are, primarily, for the GM who must play the 'locals' and express a reasonably correct version of local pronunciation.

    As for not changing an Englishman's pronuncaion of even French words, well that's an interesting point. I remember my father trying to get directions off a gendarme to Orleans. The cop had no idea what he was saying until he was shown the map... then he said "Or lee on"... my father said "no! Orleans!" they yelled at each other for nearly five minutes until it finally tumbled. From then on, everyone in our family said or lee on. When the 'if I shout loud enough in English' method fails, some of us actually do learn the local pronunciations.

    As for the popularity of accents which you ask me to substantiate (fair enough) I have run three separate surveys over the past 20 years or so among Harn fans/customers only. Each one came out overwhelmingly in favour of using accents as a pronunciation guide (the smallest margin was 2:1). The most recent survey involved a free download of an article (Port of Káldôr) both with and without accents. The 'project' invited an email response, and I was actually surprised at the hundreds of respondants who actually took the time to write quite detailed responses.

    When asked which version they preferred, they came out 6:1 in favour of the accented version.

    Even then, of course there were maybe a dozen or so, who took a rather extreme view that "not only do I not find them useful, but I refuse to tollerate them in the product!" This is a veiw I have always had difficulty understanding, but I suppose there is always going to be a fraction of any audience who are fundamentally opposed to a plot twist, story arc, layout, or pronunciation guide, and fundamentally hostile to the notion that the 'creator knows best' ;)

    Interestingly, my audience is only about 60% English speaking (as a native language that is, I expect most of them speak English as a second language at least otherwise they'd just be buying the stuff for the look... Half my market is outside Canada and the US, and curiously, I seem to be getting *new* customers every week. These are mostly people who have never bought anything Harnic before... (Very gratifying really). What this makes me wonder is 'if people were *used to* accents in Hârn products from the beginning, would anyone be making a fuss about them now?

  • Language and Pronunciation   6 years 35 weeks ago


    Interesting article. Though I disagree with some of your ideas, at least I can now understand why you do what you do.

    Some observations:
    You suggest that option 2 is a hodgepodge, and wonder why people would use it. I can’t say why, but they do, often.
    I am certainly no language expert, but there is no standard of naming in English, which is the language used to publish HârnWorld materials. It is commonplace to use a ‘local’ name and a ‘home’ descriptor.
    Example: the Mediterranean Sea. We would not look at the derivation of the word Mediterranean and translate it back to it’s original meaning. Most nations use that name. But, whether it is a sea, a see, a mer, a mare, or a hav depends on the language being used by the mapmaker, or article user.

    This is why I (for one) have no problems with Kaldor, Orbaal etc., but dislike Rayesha Erd etc.

    Taking it one step further, I’m lazy! I can’t be bothered to learn the defined use of accents. I, for one would prefer to be told, once, in a glossary, that Melderyn is pronounced mel-der-REEN. Then I can pronounce it properly, but I don’t have to look the word up every time to figure our where the accents should go.

    The Important Notes are useful, and IMO all that is needed for me to produce something approximating correct pronunciation.

    Telling people how to pronounce even a simple word like Paris is of little use. There is little likelihood of any change in the english pronunciation of this city (the same goes for Munich, and many others), though when a Frenchman says Paree everyone knows what he’s talking about.

    Regional accents vary. The city I live closest to is Newcastle. The BBC call it nyew-carsell, the locals call it nyu-cass’l. It seems to me that insisting on one correct pronunciation of a word is unnecessary and, itself, unrealistic.

    You say of accents that ‘to most eyes they make words look more interesting and aesthetic’. First, not to mine they don’t. Second, can you tell me where you’ve got this information from?

    I’m certainly not trying to be disrespectful. As you say, you are the creator, I’m not going to tell you what to write, or how to write it. What concerns me is that, from feedback on the HârnForum it seems to me that most of your customers are neutral toward, or dislike accents. Just go to the forum and do a search on the word accents if you don’t believe me. If one person says (and at least one (not me) has):

    ‘The main reason I don't buy Chelemby and other Kelestia products is because I HATE all the accents. They're everywhere, it seems. It makes the text much harder to read, and doesn't help English-speakers (probably 95% of this market) one bit.’

    Then you’ve lost a sale.

    I don’t see this discussion as me trying to disparage your approach to your creation, I’m not expressing contempt, merely trying to understand why accents, which I and many others dislike, are so important to you. I’m some way towards that now. But I disagree with your reasons and I hope that this explains why.


    - "Pardon me for living, I'm sure."

    -- (Terry Pratchett, Mort)

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