An Introduction to Hârn
Welcome to Hârn! Hârn is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game set on the world of Kèthîra. It is named after the island of Hârn which was the first location on Kèthîra that was described in considerable detail. Over the 40 years of the Hârn game's existence, several other fascinating areas of the world have been explored and presented as exciting settings for role-playing campaigns.
Hârn products come in one of two categories: HârnMaster rules products and HârnWorld setting products. While both are designed to be used together, it is possible to use HârnMaster with a different setting and HârnWorld with a different system. As both HârnMaster and HârnWorld are practically unrivaled in terms of realism, consistency, and attention to detail, however, we recommend to play with the full range of Hârn products.
A good place to start
We created this article to give you an impression of what makes the Hârn role-playing game special and what makes it stand out from other games. If you decide that Hârn is the right choice for you, we also suggest a couple of products to purchase in order to get started. This article is written with an experienced role-player in mind who is interested in Hârn as a new game to discover.
If you are completely new to role-playing, we recommend you start out with a general introduction to the hobby -- like this Wikipedia article. Also, watching a couple of videos of people actually playing a role-playing game can be very helpful (there are lots to be found on video platforms like YouTube). After you've familiarized yourself with the basics, you can return to this article and learn more about Hârn and what makes it special.
Hârn: where fantasy becomes real
Our aim in creating Hârn has always been to make it the most immersive role-playing game on the market. Both in terms of rules and world detail, our goal is to create the feeling of "being really there". To achieve this, our HârnMaster rules fully consist of sophisticated realistic considerations, and our HârnWorld sourcebooks and maps are based on extensive geographical, geological, and historical research.
If you want a fantasy role-playing game that feels "real", operates on common sense rather than on abstract strategic mechanisms, and whose supernatural and fantastic elements are convincing rather than flashy, Hârn is definitely the game for you! Hârn has been called a low-fantasy game, and while it's true that parts of the world of Kèthîra are reminiscent of the European middle-ages, the world also knows a lot of wonders, fantastic creatures like dragons, orcs, trolls, and undead as well as powerful magic.
Here are a couple of important differences between HârnMaster and most other systems.
• Character creation: Characters in Hârn don't have classes or similar categories that dictate their development. Instead, players generate a believable biography for their characters where skills and other features are assigned organically. While there are random elements involved, there are also a lot of choices and opportunities (just like in real life).
• Skills: HârnMaster is a skill-based system that uses a skill span of 1-100 and a d100 for making skill tests. It offers a selection of around 90 skills, all with clear and to-the-point descriptions and instructions for their use in play. Besides physical and combat skills, there are plenty of lore skills like Heraldry, Herblore, and Astrology as well as various craft skills like Alchemy, Metalcraft, and Carpentry -- which all tie into a fast, versatile, and realistic system for creating or repairing items.
• Learning-by-doing advancement: Instead of experience points or similar abstract resources, characters in HârnMaster improve their skills through use, training, and study. The learning-by-doing advancement system allows players to make Development Rolls during play to realistically improve their skills whenever their application provides opportunities for learning or further insight.
• Combat: One of the most popular and well-known aspects of HârnMaster is its exceptionally realistic combat system. HârnMaster uses no abstract hit points but instead works with a sophisticated wound system that takes into account body location and damage type. Based on where and how they were hit, characters can be affected both by short-term and long-term wound effects. While trained warriors have plenty of opportunity to survive in battles, it is always possible for a single blow to be life-threatening. Besides combat training, wearing armor can significantly reduce the likelihood of being critically or mortally wounded. Armor in HârnMaster can be realistically layered and fine-tuned to find the best balance between protection and encumbrance. Also characters' combat options of acting and reacting reflect the dynamics and details of real battles.
• Travel and Adventuring: The HârnMaster rules comprehensively cover all typical role-playing situation and offer realistic simulations for adventureous and day-to-day activity alike. You'll find logical and elegant rules for everything ranging from travelling, wildeneress survival, and exploration to social interactions with NPCs and crafting your own weapons and armor.
• Magic: While HârnMaster's magic can be at least as powerful, devastating, and effective as in other fantasy games, it is at the same time a lot more coherently and convincingly designed. The flavor of medieval esoterics and occultism has been carefully combined with unique and fantastic aspects to result in a magic system that feels like a believable part of the world. While beginning sorcerers start out with the spells learned from their mentors, more experienced mages can create their own spells, using intuitive and open-ended spell creation rules.
• Religion: While the true nature of gods and other divine and supernatural beings ultimately remains mysterious, the prayers and invocations of priests in HârnMaster can nevertheless produce actual and remarkable effects. Furthermore, a unique Divine Intervention system potentially allows any character of sufficient faith to call upon their deity in times of need -- and possibly receive its blessing. Unlike in most other role-playing games, priests, druids, shamans, and similar characters are not just a different type of magic-user who relies on spells, but work completely differently, based on aspects like piety and divine grace. Similar to ideas of real-world mysticism, religion in Hârn is far more than a "game function", but has a spiritual and realistic touch to it.
Here is what sets HârnWorld apart from other role-playing settings.
• Believable cultures and history: Our familiarity with real-world history and especially the European middle-ages has enabled us to create a rich and detailed world lore for Kèthîra that feels organic and realistic. Both Kèthîra's human and non-human societies were so carefully designed that they seem naturally developed rather than artificially forced into place.
• Highly detailed maps and realistic geography: There is a reason our Hârn maps count among the best in the RPG industry: They are highly detailed, follow scientifically correct principles, and at the same time feature great usability. Our digital maps allow you to activate various thematic layers in order to show (and print) a region exactly the way you need it for your game. The planet Kèthîra's geography and geology is so realistic that it could actually exist.
• Carefully blended-in fantasy elements: Kèthîra has many fantastic elements -- like magic, a multitude of creatures, and the workings of gods and other supernatural beings -- that are carefully combined with the mundane aspects to result in a fantasy experience that is more deeply convincing than any other we know.
• Exceptional scope and depth of information: Our HârnWorld modules are all filled to the brim with useful information for gamemasters, to allow them to create all kinds of exciting, epic, and immersive adventures and campaigns set on Kèthîra. Such details as language, weather and climate, flora and fauna, religious beliefs and practices, and folklore can all be found for any given region of the world.
To start playing the Hârn RPG, the essential products are the HârnMaster Gold: Player Edition and the Venârivè: Northwestern Lýthia setting module, available from the Products section of this website. "Venârivè" is the name given to the western part of the world's largest continent of Lýthia (which also includes the island of Hârn), and the Venârivè module provides important geographical and cultural facts for this entire region.
Depending on where in Venârivè you wish to play, we also recommend one of the following kingdom modules: Kingdom of Emélrenè, Kingdom of Chélemby, or Hârbáaler Kingdom of Lédenheim. Very useful setting information and rules material can also be found in Kèthîra: World of Hârn, HârnMaster Gold: Gamemaster Edition, and HârnMaster Gold: Bestiary.
With this choice of Hârn modules, you are already equipped with a sheer endless supply of material, information, and inspiration to play countless campaigns and adventures. Still, there is more to discover as Keléstia Productions offers a growing list of HârnWorld products covering various additional places on the world of Kèthîra -- from the more familiar to the more exotic.
Come to Kèthîra, come to the world of Hârn -- where the fantasy is real!