Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

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wererat
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Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#1 Post by wererat » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:51 pm

Hello! To get rid of my suspected scammer status, here a little introduction:

I'm a gamer and mostly gamemaster from Germany who's discovered RPGs sometimes in 1987 with Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye), a game that shares some of it's traits with Hârn (love of detail, mostly low-fantasy, smallish continent) and later branched out to Pendragon, Call of Cthulhu, and GURPS. My only connection with Hârn was the book Castles of Hârn which I picked up in the mixed box at my local game store, sometimes in the early 90s. I mostly did so because I liked the maps and intended to use them in one of my games.

Most of my gamer friends (as well as myself) had to move around in the last years, making it rather impossible to get together around a gaming table more than once or twice a year. The bulk of my gaming is happening in online tabletops today in regular but small installments (of about 2h/week) and we've switched to rules light systems like Savage Worlds (that also has the advantage of being well supported by the tabletop software we're using).

Sometime ago I've picked up digital copies of HârnMaster and HârnWorld and put them away after briefly glancing over the material since it doesn't fit into our gaming routine. But lately I've started to grow really tired of Savage Worlds and when I saw the Hurricane Relief offer for HârnDex, I picked it up and started reading into the books again. By now I'm willing to give system and background a try - but I'm unsure of how I can actually manage to do so in our online group - I will probably test it out in a few days at the annual meeting of my group. I'm thinking of using the quickstart rules and Fields of Daisies.

The forum I've joined mostly so I could use the search function, looking for "Combat Examples" to get a better understanding of the game system. Sadly the search ignores both "Combat" and "Example" as too common and browsing around I could so far only discover examples using the HMG ruleset.

If anyone has any advice for a gamemaster with my background, especially of using HârnMaster online, things to be aware of when starting out, I would be happy to listen to it!

Have a nice day!

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#2 Post by blackhorde » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:13 am

Welcome aboard! I am sure you can find some help with combat examples. Maybe create a post mentioning the rules system you are curious about with an example of the combat round and what points you are wanting more detail about.
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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#3 Post by Rothesay » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:38 am

Welcome!

First, I think starting with something like Field of Daisies and the streamlined HM rules is an excellent idea.

I haven't done any online tabletop gaming, but I have done a play-by-mail, play-by-forum, and I have a regular FtF campaign in which one player uses Skype to join in. In the former two cases, I used a rules-light approach, in which I simply did a lot of the rolling behind the scenes and emphasized the role-playing aspect.

In the case of Skype, the player has a second camera that he can switch to for the 'dicecam' which I find amusing and unnecessary. I would certainly trust him to honestly report his rolls, but he likes the tech drama I guess. There are video options for multiple participants, so depending on your number, that might be a way to go. Dicecam optional. :D

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#4 Post by wererat » Sat Sep 23, 2017 4:59 am

I have been trying to do play-by-mail/play-by-post and text-chat based RPGs before and while I really enjoy the descriptiveness and added immersion of it, I just can't muster the time needed to run a game this way.

So far we have been using Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds as a tabletop and Skype, Hangouts, and Discord for the audio/video. Most of the time we just use audio and don't get into the hassle of setting up video at all. I do like the option of automating repeated dice rolls and rolls on tables that can streamline gaming in these tabletops - if there is a ruleset for the system of your choice - one of the reasons we went Savage Worlds is the ruleset that is available on FG.

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#5 Post by Targan » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:07 am

Hello. I'm still getting my head around PC tools for gaming too.
Sent from my PC using my keyboard

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#6 Post by wererat » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:51 pm

Fantasy Grounds is a very nice looking one. It's easy to get into the mood of the game. But without a specific ruleset it more or less becomes a dice rolling engine with the capability of shared note taking and sharing of images.
I've switched to FG because:
  • no recurring costs
    all my game data is on my own computer and not locked into a cloud
    great support of Savage Worlds with ruleset and scenarios
Roll20 has a more technical look and is very much focussed on the sharing of a grid-map. There are no rulesets, but you can find pre-made character sheets and increase the functionality with macros and api-scripts (if you can - and if you pay for the premium account). All of your stuff stays in the cloud and there is no option to export it. Using the pre-made character sheets poses the risk of losing data when the sheet gets updated. You don't have control over following the update cycle.

Using Roll20 we started to increasingly focus on the map instead of the actual roleplay - the game becoming kind of a board game. FG + ruleset tries to keep all the intricacies of the game system out of your way - if the ruleset works (we are getting used to weekly error messages) and you are able to punch a hole into your firewall (I have to adjust the settings about every week before we play, sometimes twice - I blame my firewall for that).

If you only need to share dice rolls, there is rolz.org and the possibility to get a private dice room. I am seriously contemplating this option and using Discord or Skype to share the images I want to share. But the option of having a shared image you can paint on or move counters around is nice as well - if it doesn't encroach on the game to much.

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#7 Post by Lord Dynel » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:01 am

Welcome wererat!

I started out in RPGs in 1987 also, but I went the Basic D&D and AD&D route. Similar to you, I picked up Hârn at my local game store on it's used shelf (it was a Encyclopedia Harnica 1 and Cities of Harn) sometime in the early 90s. I used them for the maps/locales but didn't give it much thought afterwards. I then started collecting the Hârnworld stuff sometime in the early 2000s and have since got most everything for the setting. The best RPG setting out there, in my opinion. It's been very recently that I've started delving into the Hârnmaster rules and I really like them a lot!

I haven't done any FG/Roll20 stuff yet but as getting players around the table seems to be getting harder I might have to start looking into that option in the near future. Too much adult stuff going on!! :lol:

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#8 Post by Rothesay » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:28 am

I like the avatar. One sees so little of Richard Luschek's early work. :wink:

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#9 Post by wererat » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:40 am

Rothesay wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:28 am
I like the avatar. One sees so little of Richard Luschek's early work. :wink:
I wanted to do one for myself... but I'm just not artistically gifted enough. So I stole one from the internet. :roll:

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#10 Post by wererat » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:46 am

Lord Dynel wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:01 am
Welcome wererat!

I started out in RPGs in 1987 also, but I went the Basic D&D and AD&D route. Similar to you, I picked up Hârn at my local game store on it's used shelf (it was a Encyclopedia Harnica 1 and Cities of Harn) sometime in the early 90s. I used them for the maps/locales but didn't give it much thought afterwards. I then started collecting the Hârnworld stuff sometime in the early 2000s and have since got most everything for the setting. The best RPG setting out there, in my opinion. It's been very recently that I've started delving into the Hârnmaster rules and I really like them a lot!

I haven't done any FG/Roll20 stuff yet but as getting players around the table seems to be getting harder I might have to start looking into that option in the near future. Too much adult stuff going on!! :lol:
The "Das Schwarze Auge" was about as common or even more so than the D&D/AD&D route in 80s Germany. It was published by a book publisher and a mainstream game publisher, bringing it in all the family game areas of department stores and into the shelfs of bookshops. Most of the German gamers I know went this route - besides one of my regular group who grew up with D&D. Funny thing... I did love the Dragonlance novels, but I was never willing to even try D&D.

I gave away my RPG book collection a few years ago and I'm using mostly pdfs nowadays - so I've subscribed to HârnQuest, got the discount and started on my HârnWorld pdf collection. ;)

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#11 Post by Lord Dynel » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:22 am

wererat wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:46 am
Lord Dynel wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:01 am
The "Das Schwarze Auge" was about as common or even more so than the D&D/AD&D route in 80s Germany. It was published by a book publisher and a mainstream game publisher, bringing it in all the family game areas of department stores and into the shelfs of bookshops. Most of the German gamers I know went this route - besides one of my regular group who grew up with D&D. Funny thing... I did love the Dragonlance novels, but I was never willing to even try D&D.

I gave away my RPG book collection a few years ago and I'm using mostly pdfs nowadays - so I've subscribed to HârnQuest, got the discount and started on my HârnWorld pdf collection. ;)
That's what I have heard, wererat. It's recently been widely distributed over here in the States, and I've picked up everything that's been released in English so far. It's really nice. The mechanics are a bit different, and I've yet to get used to them, but the setting is pretty great.

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#12 Post by MDMann » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:51 am

The only thing I'll add is to try out the free fanon on the site, lythia.com it's very good.
I'm using RPoL but not for Harn, so don't know how well it translates.
Per Sir Veer.

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#13 Post by wererat » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:49 am

Lord Dynel wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:22 am
That's what I have heard, wererat. It's recently been widely distributed over here in the States, and I've picked up everything that's been released in English so far. It's really nice. The mechanics are a bit different, and I've yet to get used to them, but the setting is pretty great.
A word of caution: The main reasons for why I've stopped playing "The Dark Eye" were first, the really clunky rules. I only used the rules until the 3rd iteration - when they still had randomly generated characters - and never got into the 4th one - which seemed to me like a half-assed attempt to copy a point-buy-system like GURPS - and I've never read the 5th version, maybe that's great - I don't know. Once I've stopped using the rules, I still used the background and adventures and adapted them to GURPS and later Savage Worlds. But finally the frustration with the background overcame my desire to play in a very well detailed low-fantasy world. Here lies the main difference between "The Dark Eye" and Hârn. All Hârn material seems to describe a status quo and leaves the rest to players and the gamemaster. This is not true with TDE. They are advancing in-game history through adventures, books, computer games, a newspaper, and some kind of play-by-mail game. When they last published the geography books for the 4st version of the rules, the overview book that got published first was completely outdated when the last region finally got published. If you want to use a new adventure, you better have the latest version of the other materials - if you want to use an old one, check in your pile of outdated books. When I was still in school and had the time to keep up with this (and the progression and changes weren't that drastic), this was kind of ok (even though I resented the fact that there was some kind of railroaded history that just expected a specific outcome, no matter what my group of heroes wanted to do) - today I feel like I have to learn a completely new background whenever I open a book and read a few chapters.

My love for the detailed low-fantasy background is rooted in The Dark Eye and my hatred for the ever changing background has brought me here ;)

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Re: Hallo from a Hârn latecomer

#14 Post by Lord Dynel » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:40 am

wererat wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:49 am
Lord Dynel wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:22 am
That's what I have heard, wererat. It's recently been widely distributed over here in the States, and I've picked up everything that's been released in English so far. It's really nice. The mechanics are a bit different, and I've yet to get used to them, but the setting is pretty great.
A word of caution: The main reasons for why I've stopped playing "The Dark Eye" were first, the really clunky rules. I only used the rules until the 3rd iteration - when they still had randomly generated characters - and never got into the 4th one - which seemed to me like a half-assed attempt to copy a point-buy-system like GURPS - and I've never read the 5th version, maybe that's great - I don't know. Once I've stopped using the rules, I still used the background and adventures and adapted them to GURPS and later Savage Worlds. But finally the frustration with the background overcame my desire to play in a very well detailed low-fantasy world. Here lies the main difference between "The Dark Eye" and Hârn. All Hârn material seems to describe a status quo and leaves the rest to players and the gamemaster. This is not true with TDE. They are advancing in-game history through adventures, books, computer games, a newspaper, and some kind of play-by-mail game. When they last published the geography books for the 4st version of the rules, the overview book that got published first was completely outdated when the last region finally got published. If you want to use a new adventure, you better have the latest version of the other materials - if you want to use an old one, check in your pile of outdated books. When I was still in school and had the time to keep up with this (and the progression and changes weren't that drastic), this was kind of ok (even though I resented the fact that there was some kind of railroaded history that just expected a specific outcome, no matter what my group of heroes wanted to do) - today I feel like I have to learn a completely new background whenever I open a book and read a few chapters.

My love for the detailed low-fantasy background is rooted in The Dark Eye and my hatred for the ever changing background has brought me here ;)
Thanks for that description and the info, wererat. I appreciate it. It's interesting to hear where TDE came from. IT sounds like it was really cool back then. I like it now, but I wasn't around with the change that it's undergone. So I can completely understand where you're coming from. For me, it was like that with the Forgotten Realms. I think that the first, "grey box," Forgotten Realms set is one of the best D&D campaigns ever. But as time went on, the setting changed and added tons of stuff (or junk, in my opinion) and the scores and scores of novels contributed, too. Eventually it was a monstrosity of high-magic, superhero level NPCs, with so many world-changing events that it wasn't recognizable anymore from where it started. When I want to run a D&D or D&D like game (usually C&C or LL), I go to the Grey Box and play there.

But I'm with you, sir...I've desired a low-magic, low-fantasy experience which is what brought me here, finally, as well.

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