Hârn Settlement Generator
April 3, 2015
The “Harn Settlement Generator” is a Java-based application that allows you to generate settlements based on the Columbia Games Inc. product HârnManor and the free HârnTown article. You can generate one of three types of settlements (a MANOR, a KEEP, or a CASTLE) by entering the information, or randomly by selecting the type you want to create. Check out the README file for more info. Don’t forget the free HârnSettlement and IviniaThran for some additional settlement generation options.
by Gary Morris
The Philosophy of Pvârism
October 21, 2009
One of the things I miss now that Robin has left us are the long conversations we had about the world of Hârn and all its wonderful and intricate details. One of the most vivid of those conversations ocurred when I asked him why there was a restriction on the importation of technology in Mèlderýn. While this led to a long and involved discussion that crossed many boundaries, the part I’m going to discuss here is what I recall he told me about Pvârism, the philosophy at the heart of things.
Before I continue, I have to warn you that I am operating from my memory of the conversation, and my own personal interpretation of what Robin told me…or that I remember that Robin told me (which you’ll appreciate may not be the same thing). So, my memory might be faulty, or my interpretation, or both. Or neither! Your mileage may vary, as they say.
— • • • —
What is the Pvâric Philosophy? From Hârndex, it is “essentially a way of perceiving Kelestia (the cosmic all) in terms of key elemental principles”. In HârnMaster Gold, The Shèk-Pvâr, Robin states in part “…it is more a style of enlightenment that must be embraced by the whole being.”
But what does that all mean??
Adhering to the Pvâric Philosophy and learning to manipulate the elemental principles (that is, casting spells) is a method of improving one’s self. It has exactly the same goal as alchemy and religion; a means of achieving enlightenment, or moving one’s soul (for want of a better term) to the next higher plane of existence. In other words, obtaining eternal life. On Earth, Buddhism has a similar goal; enlightenment, achievement of nirvana. Heck, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all have Heaven or Paradise (eternal life) as a basic tenet.
As an aside; the primary difference between Earthly religions and philosophies and Pvârism is that the former all allow one to learn from the lessons of others (indeed many use parables as a teaching tool), while the latter requires you to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
Learning to cast spells is not the goal of a shèk-pvâr. In fact, thinking that way is dangerously close to being heretical; power for the sake of power. That goes against the Shèk-Pvâr Code. No, learning to cast spells is merely a step on the path. The goal of a true shèk-pvâr is to understand and manipulate the fundamental elements of nature so as to achieve enlightenment. And with enlightenment comes eternal life, or so goes the thinking.
So there you have it. Priests, alchemists and shèk-pvâr all have the same purpose, struggle to achieve the same goal. They just do it in different ways.
- Priests try to achieve piety so they gain the favour of a higher power, and thus be granted eternal life.
- Alchemists attempt to understand and manipulate physical properties of matter so they can construct the elixir of life (ie, the Philosopher’s Stone) and thus gain eternal life.
- Shèk-pvâr attempt to understand and manipulate the fundamental elemental forces of the cosmic all so they can create and cast the ultimate incantation and thus gain eternal life.
For me, this made the whole idea of the shèk-pvâr real. It meant that they are struggling in isolation, each man or women bending all their effort into understanding something that is inherently beyond normal understanding as we know it. It screams of utter devotion, of a mindset and outlook that is totally different to the ordinary Hârnic dweller. It also implies failure, greed, avarice, subtle bending of the rules, desperation,and all the base human emotions as these highly individualistic people try to force their minds into different paths to gain just a little bit more understanding. Which makes for more fodder for gaming, of course.
And once in perhaps a millennium, a shèk-pvâr disappears from his study leaving no trace. Did he just walk out, disillusioned and empty? Was he abducted? Was he obliterated by a rival? Did a casting go horribly wrong? Or did he achieve enlightenment? The rest of his chantry will probably never know.
And so the shèk-pvâr’s struggle to understand continues…
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Feel free to leave a comment about the article or about how you play mages.
The Salt Route Moves
June 29, 2008
In the first part of this “what-if…” series, I looked at Tashal as the home of the Great Summer Fair, and why I think it needs to establish a port capable of handling ocean-going vessels if it is to keep its pre-eminent position in the economic life of Hârn. Now it’s time to look at the consequences of that necessary decision. The following assumes a port has been established at Tuleme Island, and that you have read An Ocean Port for Kaldor.
In all commerce, the driving factor of the price of goods is cost. Well, it could be argued the driving factor is greed, but let’s assume that greed is simply another cost. Let’s try to itemise the cost of a thing:
- raw material
- greed (profit), and
Raw materials are seldom free; there are licensing charges, taxes, bribes, and finder’s fees to pay even before you extract the materials. Then you have to pay the labour charges to mine or harvest the materials, and transport them to a market. There are the tools that have to be bought and replaced (wear) and then even these raw materials are usually transformed in some way (smelting, sawing timber into lumber). Secondary industries take these raw materials and transform them further; grass becomes wool becomes cloth, iron ore becomes pig iron becomes a sword or plough, and so on.
All along the way, people are taking their cut (profits, taxes), and so the cost goes up as time goes on. One of the greatest costs is getting the materials from one place to another. It’s one reason that mines usually incorporate a smelter; it’s far cheaper to smelt on-site than transport all that base ore to another place1. The same for timber; transporting cut lumber means that only the valuable material is moved.
The Salt Route and the Rise of Jedes
If transport is a major factor in cost, reducing the cost of transport can mean greater profits…until a competitor undercuts in order to steal a sale. 🙂 Now, let’s assume you are a merchant in Kanday with a load of salt bound for Tashal. You have several dozen mules, many with heavy bags of salt, and the rest with feed for all those mules, muleteers and guards. All of those animals and people are driving up to cost of getting the salt to market, and hence reducing the amount of profit you, as the salt merchant, can make. But there’s this new port in Kaldor and there’s barge traffic going up and down the Kald River all the time. If only you could get your salt onto a barge heading up to Tashal, think of all the savings you could make! You could put the mules out to pasture (no more feed costs! or less, anyway), you could pay off most of the guards, and probably most of the muleteers, too. You’d save thousands! And get to market just as quickly, or even more quickly.
Well, that’s the logic I’m using anyway.
It strikes me that, with an established port at Tuleme Island, there would be an increased flow of river traffic, because barges, like ships, can carry a lot of cargo with very little in the way of labour required. This reduces the cost of transportation enormously, making for greater potential profits. Salt, and especially wool, are very bulky, but low value products. The more you can move with the fewest people doing the moving, the better.
The Salt Route approaches the Kald River before it turns north and heads for the bridge (and safety) at Tashal. In fact, according to the maps, at it’s closest point, it’s only about 10 miles west of Jedes. That’s not very far; about half a day’s travel for a mule train, perhaps. What-if…
What-if is the name of the game in this series, so what if an enterprising merchant decides to split off from the main caravan and head to Jedes to hail one of those passing barges? Or what if an enterprising Kaldoran barge owner hacks a route through the wilderness and sets up a sign on the Salt route itself, and wait for caravans to come on passed, offering cheap barge transportation for their goods from Jedes. “I’m sure you’ll find it cheaper than continuing on up through the Kath-infested wilderness for another tenday, Master Merchant!” 🙂
Pretty quickly (I’d say in no more than five years), the Salt Route would terminate at Jedes and all goods from western Hârn would be barged up to Tashal. Efficient and frequent barge travel along the Kald River could transform the communities all along the river, not just Jedes. But that settlement would see a huge growth.
Exactly what kind of growth would Jedes see? That’s the subject of my next post in this series. Hopefully a bit sooner than I was with this one!
What do you think? Is my vision possible? Or can you see flaws in my argument? Have you got an alternative? Then feel free to post a comment!
- This is something the availability of ridiculously cheap energy in to form of fossil fuels has turned upside down in the modern world. Australian iron ore is transported in enormous ships all the way to Japan and China, and the resulting metal goods are shipped back in other enormous ships [↩]
The Case for a Kaldoran Ocean Port
February 16, 2008
You know, since I first picked up Encyclopedia Harnica No. 1 way back in 1984 in a small Queensland country city, I’ve always loved Kaldor. But one thing has always bugged me about the kingdom; it has this commercial fair that goes on for over two months. I mean, a fair might take three or four days of trading, perhaps even a week, but two months? Sure, there’s the annual caravans that arrived from the four cardinal points of the compass, but seriously, who thinks mere caravans can transport enough cargo to keep a commercial fair going for over 2 months!
Before you go on, this post—in fact, the entire series—assumes that you have read An Ocean Port for Kaldor, and that you are somewhat familiar with the world of Hârn in general, and the Kingdom of Kaldor in particular. If not, then you probably won’t make a great deal of sense out of it.
The Great Summer Fair
It wasn’t until I read Life In A Medieval City, by Joseph & Frances Gies that I realised that it was possible. In that book, the Gies discuss the city of Troyes, located in the heart of the Champagne region of central France. It had two fairs a year, one July to August (the “Hot” Fair or Fair of St-Jean), and one November to December (the “Cold” Fair or Fair of St-Rémi). In 1250, the population of Troyes was roughly the same as Tashal (~10,000), but there were some significant differences which meant that Troyes could support two big fairs every year.
The area around Troyes is a broad and fertile plain. Well populated even in the early Middle Ages, the Champagne region was wealthy and easily accessible from Italy, Germany, Spain and the Low Countries. Well-heeled and well stocked with goods, the merchants of Europe descended on Troyes and other major centres in Champagne to trade almost all year round. For it’s time, Troyes was very advanced, had a stable government and, because of its location, there were few wars that bothered the city.
Tashal Isn’t Troyes
But Tashal presents a few problems for merchants that Troyes didn’t have:
- it’s far away, and made to seem even further by the ocean gap between the continent and the island;
- you have to deal with creepy wizard-enforced embargoes;
- there’s an arduous trek through wilderness teeming with ghastly barbarians and horrible monsters; and
- you have deal with semi-civilised kingdoms and primitive conditions.
So there are lots of reasons to think that the Great Summer Fair, as written, is not so great or so full of cool stuff that it could go on for two months. I mean, how many times could bags of salt, bales of fur, or a few Khuzan trinkets really change hands? As for wool, does anyone seriously believe anyone at the fair actually sees more than a few bales of wool? Don’t forget that wool is Hârn’s major export, but why would you transport it to Tashal from Vemionshire (let alone Kanday) only to transport it pretty much all the way back again on the way to Thay? Wouldn’t you be better off to bring a couple of bales of your finest to Tashal, and ship the rest directly to, say, Kobing? Or, if you are a Kandian merchant, ship it directly to Cherafir or Thay by sea?
It just doesn’t make sense to transport a whole bunch of luxury goods overland from Thay when the pulling power of your goods could easily force the Hârnic merchants to come to Thay. After all, it’s only a few more leagues in an already long journey from Kanday/Tharda, and little less convenient from Azadmere or Leriel/Lorkin. No, if Tashal is to keep its place as a central point of commerce for the island, and all the wealth that implies is brought into the kingdom, Kaldor must develop a port capable of taking ocean-going vessels. Only by eliminating the expense and danger of the overland trek can you convince foreign merchants to continue to arrive in Tashal.
More Positive Reasons
There are two more really good reasons to develop a port for Kaldor.
The first is that a Kaldoran port becomes an alternative to Cherafir and Thay, both controlled by Melderyn and the aforementioned creepy wizard-enforced embargo. A bit of adroit marketing, spreading the word in the inns, taverns and coffee houses of the continent, and soon the Larun are bypassing Melderyn altogether, for a more friendly haven (with appropriate bribes….I mean, bonding house rebates, of course!)
The second reason is that any ship offloading good in a Kaldoran port will want to load up with more goods, even if it’s only wool (high volume, low value goods). An empty ship earns her owners nothing; in fact it costs them money (in wages and upkeep). A central point to ship bulky goods like wool means that all those Hârnic goods will be coming through a Kaldoran port instead of a Melderyni port. That has to be good for the Treasury coffers!
But where is a good location for a Kaldoran port? How will you decide? Never fear, this question was raised a few years ago, and Robin Crossby and I batted it about for a couple of months. At the end of that, I wrote an article that many of you have probably already downloaded and read. If you haven’t, then click here to go get it right now. Of course, it’s completely unofficial because as of 720TR, there is no port or even any serious plans for a port. At least, not in official, or canon, HârnWorld material.
Once you’ve read (or re-read) the article, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. And next time, I’ll discuss why the saving of Tashal as a commercial hub by building a port is also its death knell.
Tahnaryn: The Black Magic of Kethira
February 12, 2008
Learned colleagues and fellow practitioners,
I do present to you at long last a summary of my findings on that obscure force I have narcissistically named Tahnaryn. It is my hope that you will finally accept that this basic and fundamental force of Kelestia does indeed exist, can be harnessed and deserves a comprehensive study by our organization. I cannot be reached through the normal means as certain members of the Morgathian church are interested in my whereabouts, but I will be present at the chantry for the winter’s solstice gathering. I will be demonstrating what mastery I have of these exciting forces for all.
Yours in service, Urbanal Tahnaryn
Morgat 14, TR 538
A while back I began developing another form of magic for use in the Hârn setting. The notion came about from me wondering just what “witchcraft”, as mentioned in the Law article, means. My definition of witchcraft usually involves evil magic and association with demons and the like. On Hârn that just means the divine servants of a banned god. I wanted magic, not religion or divinity and the convocations of the Shek-P’var didn’t really cover it.
Well, maybe witchcraft on Hârn doesn’t mean demon magic. Necromancy is another stereotypically evil magic form and it’s one that appeals to me. Yeah, I wanted necromancy, but Kethira already has it in the form of the Morgathian church and the morvra. I actually like the Hârnic take on undead, but I felt it could be expanded and here was the way to do it. The Morgathians might claim propriety over the undead, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so.
Now the trick was to fit my necromancy into the overall Hârn system, mechanically and philosophically. I really didn’t like the way CGI represented elven magic as simply a reorganizing of the Shek-P’var convocations. I wanted a new system. Likewise, I really do like the uniqueness of the Hârn setting and I wanted to fold this new magic into that setting as gently as possible.
What follows then is a set of design notes outlining the general concepts of the Hârnic necromantic discipline. While I have many more details written out, my intention is to complete the work, balance it out, and have it published in an upcoming Kelestia Productions rule book. Here’s hoping.
As the Principles of the Shek-P’var are described as the forces binding Kethira together, Anti-Principle is a force of entropy that tears it apart, that perverts the natural cycles of Kethira. It pulls at the very fabric of existence. Where it came from and where it exists natively is unknown. In the Kethiran planes of existence however, this force cannot exist unshielded. Direct contact between Principle and Anti-Principle is violently destructive.
Anti-Principle can exist on Kethira so long as it is shielded by an aura. It does however degrade the aura containing it over time.
Anti-Principle is the force behind Tahnaryn and is also the force behind the Shadow of Bukrai.
Bukrai is an entity that has an immensely powerful ego/aura. This aura is filled with Anti-Principle.
Bukrai has the ability to extend it’s aura into Kethira (generally through the use of artifacts and other beings) and infest other auras with it. This phenomena is known as the Shadow Of Bukrai.
Utilizing the power of Anti-Principle is the goal of the Tahnarist. To do so, he must either wrest a portion of the shadow away from Bukrai, or find a Jorum of the power. Either prospect is extremely difficult.
Once the power source has been acquired, the mage must absorb an amount of Anti-Principle into his aura and erect an internal barrier between it and the regular Principle already present. This barrier is difficult to maintain.
As Anti-Principle is not something freely available throughout Kethira, the process must be repeated on a regular basis. Otherwise, the actual manipulation of the force is very similar to the techniques employed by the Shek-P’var.
Tahnarism can accomplish many things: The animation of once living vessels (and projection one’s will upon them), disrupting active magics, utterly destroying objects and entities, and shielding oneself from other forms of magic are just a few.