Frequently Asked Questions
This section is a good starting point for newcomers, but even long-time Hârn fans and gamers may find some new and interesting bits of information here.
If you have a particular question, hopefully it will be answered here in this set of frequently asked questions (FAQ). If you don't find the answer here (or if you should need more detailed or specific information), consider either posting your query in the Forums or contacting Keléstia Productions directly via the Contact Form.
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Hârn is the largest of the Hârnic Isles, a group of islands off the northwest coast of the continent of Lýthia. Northwestern Lýthia is the region known as Venârivè.
Lýthia is the largest of three continents on the World of Kèthîra.
Kèthîra is often called HârnWorld or the World of Hârn.
Kèthîra is one of many worlds in the fantasy multiverse called Keléstia which is the original (copyright) creation of N. Robin Crossby.
The collection of publications that describe Kèthîra are also sometimes called Hârn. Sometimes the separate, role-playing rules system (also created by N. Robin Crossby) called HârnMaster is 'lumped in' with this broad concept of Hârn. We do not have a problem with this, but it does tend to be confusing.
The island of Hârn is a wilderness of forests, rivers and lakes where the weather is so unpredictable that it is said that the Isles do not have a climate, just weather. Tiny feudal kingdoms huddle amidst vast tracts of wilderness populated by nomadic tribesmen, inhuman Gârgún and outlandish fell beasts.
Often called the "Misty Isle", Hârn is a land of strange magicks, unnatural artefacts, ancient legends and storied sites. 'Enlightened' and 'civilised' outsiders tend to fear and avoid the Isles, and might call it a 'nice place to vist, but I wouldn't want to die there'...
Hârn, all derived terms, and all other placenames appearing in this article are trademarks of Keléstia Productions Ltd, and are intellectual creations of N. Robin Crossby and his estate.
HârnMaster (sometimes written Hârn Master) is a comprehensive system of role-playing rules created (and owned) by N. Robin Crossby and compatible with any pre-gunpower role-playing environment.
HârnMaster was written in the mid 1970s. In creating HârnMaster Robin got plenty of help and inspiration from his players, especially from his friends Rob Duff, Ed King, Sharon MacLeod and the late Brad Carter. It was Brad, for example, who used to say things like "I want to breed and train dogs" or "I want to breed and train heirs" who inspired Robin to create hundreds of pages of quite obscure rules on dogs, heredity, ageing, and other things that hardly anyone ever reads.
HârnMaster was always meant to handle a comprehensive range of possibilities (like breeding dogs, entertaining gentleman callers, cutting purses, or throwing eggs at street mimes) and is dedicated to the proposition that the actions of characters in the game may be governed by the laws of physics, the laws of magic or logic or even by Murphy's Law, but should never be limited by arbitrary rules. A GM should manage her/his game using or not using rules as s/he desires. In other words, HârnMaster is intended to help the GM when help would be helpful, never to overrule the GM or dictate the course of play.
So what makes HârnMaster better than any other role-playing rules? There is no single answer. HârnMaster is so radically different from any other major system that it sometimes seems like an alien genre. This seems to have made some people think that HârnMaster is more complicated than it really is.
- A HârnMaster character generates or chooses just over thirty, carefully defined attributes, or more or less if desired. About half the generation process is about social background, an area generally neglected elsewhere, but which is essential for a fully-rounded character intended for more than one expedition. This takes a bit longer, but saves a lot of time later. Most players seem to very much enjoy the HârnMaster character generation routine.
- There are no character classes, experience points or levels in HârnMaster. Instead there is a subtle, and very clean skills system, with more than 120 skills, including psionic talents. (This does not include the thousands of spells and spell effects included in the Shèk-Pvâr book of magic). Affinity for each skill depends on character attributes. The system is open-ended; the GM may expand it at will. There is nothing to prevent a wizard from using a sword, or a warrior from learning a few spells. Everyone decides which skills he will develop and to what level. It is possible for a character to be a mercantyler, a pilot, or practice a vast array of other occupations instead of or in addition to a handful of "classes".
- Except for HârnMaster, all major systems use "hit points", an obtuse abstraction borrowed from miniatures wargaming. Robin decided to generate graphic injuries instead. What do you prefer, a "seven point hit" or a "serious cut to the left thigh"? What about infection, shock, fatigue? These considerations are neglected by every system but HârnMaster.
- Why should armour come in complete suits of leather, mail or plate instead of discrete pieces? How on earth could wearing sixty pounds of armour reduce the chance that an opponent will land a blow? In HârnMaster, an armoured character must sacrifice mobility in proportion to his encumbrance and this generally makes him easier to strike. Armour does not and should not benefit its wearer until an opponent lands a blow. This allows each character to strike a personal balance between armour and mobility, to stress his speed and agility or his strength and endurance.
- HârnMaster offers combatants a wide range of tactical options: "Do I block, counterstrike, grapple, press, or dodge? Shall I engage this opponent or that one? Shall I attack or wait for an opening?" While HârnMaster campaigners do not seem to fight with the same monotonous regularity as is the case in most other systems, when melee is joined, the combatants always feel as if they are in a real fight, with real options and real results. For the fainthearted or hasty, there is also a Quick Combat system.
- Magic in HârnMaster is not a matter of rote-learning. While there are thousands of spells and variants, the system stresses original research. It is a matter of pride for the Shék-Pvâr to develop personal spells, and the research and development system is clearly laid out for players who are interested.
What HârnMaster does is question the falacies in other systems. People who want a somewhat more cerebral game continue to migrate to the latest, 'easiest', and most comprehensive version HârnMaster Gold, which is now the most popular HârnMaster ever.
Important note: While being designed as a rules system to match the great attention to detail of the HârnWorld modules, HârnMaster can actually be used 'out of the box' for play in any pre-gunpower setting. Furthermore, the HârnMaster system can be easily adapted for use in any fantastic, historical, modern or even futuristic environment you might want to game in.
Another important consideration is that HârnMaster is modular. This means that individual modules can be inserted into other systems to replace problem sections. In this sense, HârnMaster can be used as a rules-repair-kit.
N. Robin Crossby was the creator of the fantasy world of Hârn and Keléstia, and the HârnMaster role-playing rules system. He developed the world and rules systems over several decades, and established Kelestia Productions in 2003.
Robin was born in London, UK, of Anglo-Welsh parents, but lived much of his life in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. Robin passed away in 2008, but his legacy is being continued by his family and friends through Kelestia Productions Ltd.
Robin had been writing, mapping and illustrating HârnWorld and HârnMaster since the mid-seventies — but began creating other role-playing material, and using them in games (both 'pen & paper' and 'LARP') in the 1960s while still living in England.
He continued to develop, and re-develop, his vision of Hârn and the world of Kèthîra for many years. Robin left a great deal of uncompleted work and many ideas; the team at Kelestia Productions Ltd are committed to working, as much as they can, to fullfiling Robin's dreams for his created world.
Keléstia Productions Ltd is the company owned by the family and estate of the creator of Hârn, N. Robin Crossby, which is tasked with fulfilling Robin's vision for the world of Hârn, Kèthîra and for the HârnMaster rules system. (On the world of Hârn, "Keléstia" is the scholars' name for the multiverse, the cosmic all containing everything.)
Kelestia Productions is largely a volunteer-run organisation, with many contributors making up the team known as HârnMakers. Some of the key personnel involved are:
Jeremy Baker - Project Director
Ken Snellings - Assistant Director
Rob Duff - Technical Director
Arien Crossby - Family / Estate representative
Jan Schulze Elshoff - Webmaster
The income from sales of Kelestia Productions products goes mainly to cover the costs of production, principally artists, and provide (small) royalty payments to the estate of N. Robin Crossby.
There are two ways to answer that question - one in terms of HârnWorld, the other in terms of HârnMaster:
Our core module for HârnWorld is Venârivè: Northwestern Lýthia. This is supported by two free modules which provide an introduction to Venârivè (the region where the island of Hârn is located):
- Venârivè Player Guide, a 20-page guide for players to the Venârivè region.
- Venârivè Index, a 30-page reference index, included in the main product, but also available as a stand-alone download.
The full world of Kèthîra, including the wider continent of Lýthia, is described in Kèthîra: World of Hârn.
The island kingdom of Chélemby provides an excellent base for Gamemasters and players from which to explore HârnWorld. It is described in a series of publications and free downloads, including a player guide.
Finally, we provide a high quality interactive map of the island of Hârn.
You can use any fantasy role-playing rules system to game using HârnWorld, but obviously HârnMaster is designed specifically for this world.
We provide four products in the HârnMaster range. HârnMaster Gold: Player Edition is the starter product.
Explore our Products section for details of all the modules and rules we have on offer.
Without an account, you can browse everything but not interact with anything.
When you register and log in, you can write forum posts, write comments to news items, chat in our online Tavern, vote in polls, purchase Hârn and HârnMaster products, access free downloads, and more.
Registering an account at Kelestia.com is free and easy.
There are no disadvantages. Using member-authentication keeps the site free of spam and provides you with a more individual community experience. We won't give your information to anyone.
Most of our products are eBooks in PDF format. They are bookmarked to allow for easy navigation. They can be displayed using Adobe Reader, which is freely available.
Our eBooks are also optimised for printing, if you prefer physical books at your gaming table or for reading on your couch.
Important: Official HârnWorld and HârnMaster products are only available from this website.
The advantages of PDF (Portable Document Format) are as follows:
- We can present full colour publications at much lower prices.
- We can present publications of any length at the same consistent quality.
- We can update our publications easily, cheaply and as often as nessessary.
- Customers do not have to pay shipping costs.
- Customers receive their eBooks immediately and do not have to wait for shipping.
- eBooks weigh a lot less than Physical books. (Which means quite a lot to a GM trying to bring 12 books to a gaming session.)
Quite a number of Kelestia Productions products (such as the Harn Regional Interactive map, and the Chelemby Interactive map) include "layered" PDF files, which allow the user to select which layers they wish to display.
A few customers have asked how this function works. Read on to find out more.
In most cases, when each of these files is opened, a given selection of layers is pre-set to display. However, users can select which combination of layers they wish to display, so that, for instance, a GM can produce their own "player" maps without some key information showing.
This functionality is accessed via the "layers" panel in Adobe Acrobat 7 or higher. This is located down the left-hand side of Adobe Acrobat, and can be accessed via the "stack" symbol.
Once the Layers panel is open, users can select which layers are shown by selecting "on" and "off" the "eye" symbols next to each layer.
Attached is an image of the Harn Interactive PDF map with the Layers panel open, which we hope will help users access the function:
A different company published Hârn products before Keléstia Productions became the only official publisher. During the 1980s and 1990s, N. Robin Crossby developed modules describing the Hârnic Isles and various locations therein. Those modules will not be 'returned' to the official Hârn canon until they are re-released by Keléstia Productions.
We are aware however, that many people very much want to see a new official Hârn regional module (Hârn is in the name of both main product lines, after all). It is for this reason that this issue is in our production plan for the near future. We can say this much: Expect a definite treatment of the Hârnic Isles, a truly enlightening module offering the greatest level of detail ever produced.
Until then, we recommend you explore Hârn's neighbour, the important seafaring realm: the kingdom of Chélemby. You can find official, detailed Chélemby modules in our Products section.
HârnMaster has seen several versions:
Version 0 (or the *beta versions*) existed from around 1975 to 1986. Extensive portions were published in Dragon magazine and private circulation, but the whole was never published in one volume.
Version 1 was published in 1986, solid and reliable, but with quite a few rough edges and no few mathematical errors... Nevertheless, a popular system, hailed for its 'realism' and ease of use.
Versions 2 and 3 were essentially the same as each other. Based on HMg2.0, these versions were *supposed* to be streamlined and easier to use, without sacrificing the 'realism' of version 1. They were, in fact an attempt to appeal to a 'younger' audience.
Version 2.0 Gold was published in 1998, Player Edition only. The first real attempt to produce a version that was at the same time more realistic with fewer errors in maths and logic (a better simulation) while at the same time easier to understand and use. Considering that these two objectives (ease of use and realism) are mutually incompatible, the effort was surprisingly successful. This version may be thought of as a the first 'author's cut'.
Version 2.1 - 3.0 Gold, the current version (and the only version currently authorised by the game's creator, N. Robin Crossby) is published in four volumes: Player Edition, GM Edition, Bestiary and Shék-Pvâr (about 450 pages in all).
The Island of Hârn is about three times the size of the United Kingdom, although many people think it's about the same size as England... go figure.
Kèthîra, on the other hand (which is sometimes called HârnWorld) is a bit smaller, a bit denser and a bit colder than Terra.
N. Robin Crossby was born of one Welsh and one (probably, mostly) English parent, on a Wednesday in the Spring of 1954, at the University College Hospital in London, England. Since January 1 2001, we are able to refer to this as the "Old Millennium".
As a child, his hobbies included the study of dinosaurs (which were already extinct by then), the playing of guitars, drawing fictional maps, slot-racing, and the occasional visit to White Hart Lane. Except for the dinosaurs, the slot-racing and the visits to White Hart Lane, he still does all these things...
He attended William Ellis Grammar School in London, but not as often as his masters might have preferred. He once achieved a score of 6% on a Latin exam.
He began role-playing with his brother and sister in the early sixties using a home-made map and history of the lost continent of Atlantis (no you can't buy the map — it's just as lost as the continent) — but lost interest later in the sixties (we all lost interest in a lot of things about then — at least we think we did, probably, we don't really remember it very clearly...)
His parents took him on holidays to France, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany, Austria, Italy and Yugoslavia, but he was much too young and snotty to appreciate it at the time. In retrospect, he feels it would have been better to put him in a kennel... then, at least, his parents could have enjoyed themselves. He hopes to holiday in Europe at some time in the future, and fully expects to put his own children in kennels so that he can properly enjoy himself. He notes that two of the European countries he has visited no longer exist, but disavows any responsibility in connection therewith.
In 1968, his parents moved to Vancouver, British Columbia (that's in Canada, which means "group of mud huts") and, after much argument, agreed to let him come too (rather defeating the object of the emigration actually). After being educated in this and that, here and there, Robin emerged, much to everyone's surprise, with an Associate Degree in Philosophy. His first business venture (a syllogism repair service) sadly failed, so he turned to the much more lucrative fields of music and poetry — alas, the bottom fell out of the wandering skald market.
In 1977, Robin and some of his friends took a trip across Canada to celebrate the confederation's eleventieth birthday. Shortly thereafter, the province of Quebec held a separation referendum.
Finally, completing a lifelong quest to avoid the accumulation of filthy lucre, he designed Hârn, showed it to a games publisher, and his career was launched (funny expression that... ever notice how launching a ship sends it plunging downward into a large body of cold water?) There was no looking back.
There was no stopping him now (perhaps someone should have tried). An expanding line of products brought countless dozens of adoring fans beating a path to his door, (and left him trying to figure out how to convince each one to give him a thousand dollars each — that would have made him a multi-thousandaire).
At some time, or it might have been slightly before the beginning of time — it was a Wednesday anyway — he got married and had a vast multitude of noisy, demanding children (about three he thinks).
He always indicated he had few regrets in life, although they are some very large ones. Perhaps chief among them is the fact that cheese and onion crisps do not appear to be available in Canada. Despite this, he did very much enjoy working hard to make the mortgage payments on his beautiful, sub-rural home in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.
In early 2006, Robin was diagnosed with a liposarcoma (a tumour that arises in the fat cells). He went through a surgery and several chemotherapies that were quite exhausting. They limited greatly the time and power that Robin could dedicate to working on Hârn products over the period 2007 and 2008.
In July 2008, Robin sadly passed on to Yàsháin. He will be sorely missed by all his friends, and of course by his family. His family and estate have, however, established Kelestia Productions Ltd to continue work on his vision for HârnWorld and the HârnMaster rule system.
Creating additional material for your personal gaming needs, filling in gaps, adding detail and plot twists, expanding on the rich environment we publish to personalise your world and create an even more unique experience is something we expect all game masters to do. We go to great lengths to 'leave stuff out' and point out tangents and oddities that any group desirous of adventure might wish to develop; we are not at all surprised when gamers discover aspects to our work that we didn't know were there, and develop those as well. We want to 'partner' with the GM to help him create his own personal version of HârnWorld.
Unfortunately, there can be legal problems when the GM creates something based on our work and wants to share it with more than his players. Many publishers/producers have considerable legal difficulties with 'fanon' (fan-created work based in a copyrighted 'world'). If it is not handled properly, unchecked fanon can challenge copyrights and cost someone, somewhere lots of time and money. For this reason, many publishers/producers simply forbid fanon.
Some publishers/producers allow fanon on the understanding that all the fanon material produced bear their sole copyright, and many (if not most) fanon-writers simply assume that whatever fanon they write belongs entirely to the original copyright holder. Even then, a lot of copyright-holders seem to spend a lot of time sending letters to fanon-writers telling them to stop. Even not-for-profit sharing of other people's work without their permission (this is usually called piracy) can result in fines and incarceration.
Some publishers (including Keléstia Productions) want to encourage fanon; it fosters a sense of community and propagates interest in the original material. Good fanon can expand and enhance the original material and everyone is better off. However, wanting to encourage fanon does not eliminate the legal issues.
To try and solve these issues, we have created a fanon licence. We have written it in plain English to be easily understood, and we encourage anyone who wants to write or publish fanon to read the licence carefully, and abide thereby. Compliance should protect everyone concerned.
- Original Work - Material created by N. Robin Crossby & persons authorised by his estate, or substantially derived therefrom, having to do with (but not necessarily limited to): Keléstia, HârnWorld and/or HârnMaster.
- Publisher - The entity that distributes a work. This can be an individual handing out hardcopies or digital media, or a website from which copies may be downloaded.
- Fanon Author - The person who has created the work of Fanon (insofar as it is not derived from the original work).
- Fanon should be in good taste, free of gratuitous sex or violence. It should not defame any real-world ethnic or religious group. Fanon should avoid, as far as possible, promotion of real-world ideologies.
- Fanon should not supercede or contradict the Original Work. If a writer feels obliged to posit 'alternate versions' of the , s/he should clearly state in any/all descriptions of the fanon, the nature and extent of such contradictions and/or alternate suppositions.
- Fanon should not in any way 'discourage' persons from purchasing the Original work.
- Fanon may cite the Original Work.
- Fanon should be of reasonable quality.
- Fanon should not be a simple copy, paraphrasing or reorganisation the Original Work. Therefore, a reasonable portion should be 'new' in the sense that it is not a copy, paraphrasing or reorganisation of the Original Work. This can be an ambiguous concept since some fanon work will have "value" even if it is more than, for example, 25% derivitive. To be sure whether a given work can reasonably be called 'fair fanon', writers are invited to consult the designated personnel at Keléstia Productions.
Copyright Declarations (Mandatory)
All works of fanon must include an appropriate copyright notice on each page. An appropriate copyright notice may take either of two forms:
- © year, fanon author, Keléstia Productions Ltd, and N. Robin Crossby. or;
- © year, Keléstia Productions Ltd and N. Robin Crossby.
Where © is the international symbol for 'copyright' or (optionally) the word "copyright"; "year" is the year of publication of the work; "fanon author" is the legal name of the creator of the work.
Please note that, by 'claiming' a copyright in one's own name, one is assuming the legal responsibility to police the copyright of the owner of any/all works from which the present work is derived.
Please note that by leaving off one's own copyright claim one is surrendering copyright to other entities cited.
Please also note that having no copyright notice or having a copyright notice other than in the form(s) given above, is a breach of existing copyright(s) and a direct challenge to the rights of the creator of the Original Work.
Declaratons on the Title Page (Optional)
Certain declarations may occur on the title page, or on a special page immediately following the title title page which is reserved for these purposes only. These declarations are included at the option of the publisher of the work of fanon.
In cases of media that do not have appropriate title/special pages, declaration(s) may be displayed in other prominent place(s).
"Hârn" and all compound terms & words containing the word "Hârn", and all major placenames are tradmarks of Keléstia Productions Ltd.
Statement of Derivation
This fanon publicaton is based upon the original copyright work of N. Robin Crossby & Keléstia Productions Ltd. No challenge to such intellectual rights as may pertain is intended or implied.
Statement of Complaince
This publication is in complaiance with the Keléstia Productions Fanon Licence as approved by Keléstia Productions Ltd.
Attachment of Logo
Fanon publications in complaince with the guidelines laid out herein, may include an approved 'fanon logo' to their work(s).
Benefits of Compliance
Authors/publishers of compliant works may
- Attach an approved fanon logo to each publication.
- Gain access to a vast library of relevant, unpublished material.
- Consult with Keléstia Productions about canon and fanon works already in progress. This helps avoid unintentional duplication of effort.
- By mutual agreement, have their fanon 'converted' into canon works, and get paid (at KP's competitive rates) for their efforts.
At this time, the estate of N. Robin Crossby — the original creator of Hârn and HârnMaster — is the sole legal holder of copyright and other intellectual property for all works related to Hârn and HârnMaster. The family and estate of N. Robin Crossby have established Keléstia Productions Ltd, a company incorporated in British Columbia, Canada, to manage the development and publication of works based on the vision and ideas of N. Robin Crossby.
This website (Kelestia.com) is the exclusive source for officially endorsed Hârn and HârnMaster material that support the memory and vision of N. Robin Crossby.
We are always looking for artists, writers, editors, cartographers and interior-planners and we can give a lot of help to those who want to work in any of these areas.
If you are interested in joining the HârnMakers team, then drop us a line, either at firstname.lastname@example.org or using the Contact Us form.
Kelestia Productions and HârnMakers are largely a volunteer-run team producting products in honour of the work of N. Robin Crossby. We do sometimes pay contributors, principally artists and illustrators, but most of us contribute because we enjoy it!
Covers the whole region of northwestern Lýthia, including history, culture, economics, law, military, and religion, as well as descriptions of over 60 realms.
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