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Review: Harnmaster

Subjects: arithmetic, categorization, economics, history, mental organization, probability, problem solving, reading, simulation, social skills, spatial thinking, storytelling, strategy, vocabulary, and writing

Age Range: 10 and up

Time: 30 minutes or more

Harnmaster is an intensive, detailed role-playing system, written for play in the land of Harn, a medieval setting also of great detail. Neither rules nor setting are required to use the other, but they work well together. Unlike most rule systems in print today, Harnmaster is detailed down to hand, even finger, armor and different species of dogs. In an era of storytelling and helpful generalities, this may seem to all be unnecessary, but many students love this level of detail. It appeals to the rules-sense and fairness enthusiasm of older children and many adolescents.

Harnmaster has rules and systems for describing almost any situation that might arise, but these are impeccably organized and color-coded, making them easy to use. Character creation is plenty detailed, but it goes step by step, leading to elaborate and colorful characters and interplay. There are rules for magic and divine intervention, but if you want to have a purely realistic game, just ignore them. Skills, combat, and healing each have their own section.

Harnmaster is not a rule system to be chosen lightly. It does have lots of details and will take a while to become familiar, but it is so well written and provides great support for a game group.

Both the Harnmaster rules and Harn setting materials are available at the Columbia Games web site (external link). Many of the Harn supplements have helpful rules for horses, manors, and other common features of medieval life. Most of these products can also be had as downloads.

David Millians

Created by: WJWalton4831 points . Last Modification: Thursday 08 of May, 2014 14:00:34 PDT by dmillians13 points .

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