Hârnic Characters

It is certainly easiest to play human characters, and trying to get into the head of a human born and raised in a quite different culture from one's own can be difficult enough -- never mind the nonhumans. However, both Khuzdul (dwarven) and Sindarin (elven) characters are, I suppose, possible, although in particular Sindarin might be difficult to build on a "standard" allotment of points. Gargun characters (Hârn's equivalent of orcs and goblins and that sort of thing) might be possible, but probably only in an all-Gargun group, since the other races tend to kill Gargun on sight.

Wealth and Status

Hârn's socioeconomic system mostly belongs in the earlier part of the Middle Ages, although there are deliberate anachronisms aplenty. The vast majority of trade happens by barter, and most people will only rarely use coins (though most urban people live in a monetary economy, the vast majority of Hârn's population are rural peasants); the only coins that are in common circulation are silver pennies (abbreviated "d") and farthings (abbreviated "f"), but a farthing is actually one-quarter of a penny (literally; you break the penny in four pieces and each piece is a farthing) rather than a real coin of its own. The "pound" is also sometimes used to denote large sums; one pound equals 240 silver pennies and is so called because of its weight, but there is no "pound" coin. Gold coins of huge value exist (many hundred pennies), but these are only minted by the dwarves and are not in general circulation among humans. Standard starting wealth should be about 2 pounds of silver, say 500d for the sake of getting a nice, round number. Almost all of this should be sunk into material possessions rather than carried as cash; there are some very comprehensive Hârnic price lists in the HârnPage archives. When using GURPS Vehicles to design ships etc. for use in Hârn, I stick to the rule-of-thumb that $2 (GURPS) = 1d; this gives the best fit for ships, at least, and it's a tolerable fit for most everyday prices.

As far as status goes, Hârnic society is generally quite medieval, but I feel the table in the GURPS Basic Set isn't quite appropriate. In particular, serfs shouldn't be Status -4; they're actually Status -2 to Status 0 people with a Duty which reduces their freedom of movement; the majority of the Hârnic population are serfs, and most of them are quite respectable. Status and Wealth are more closely linked in Hârnic society than in many others, at least for regular people like farmers, for whom Wealth is a matter of how large your field is and how many sheep you have. PCs, of course, have a tendency to fall outside mainstream society (they're not staying put and working the land, for starters). Slaves and thralls only exist in a few of Hârn's cultures. Particularly respected members of a profession might be a level of Status higher than listed, and being closely associated with very high-Status persons should be worth a level or two of extra Status (a Knight-Bachelor in the household troops of the King would more probably be Status 3 than Status 1). The Hârnic feudal nations are quite small and poor by medieval European standards, and a Hârnic King's holdings and standing is generally equivalent to the standard high-level noble in most other campaigns, basically only justifying Status 6. The table below is rather tentative, and only applies to the feudal kingdoms of the southern and eastern parts of Hârn.

Status Living Expenses Examples
+7 5,000d King of Trierzon, Triadic Pontiff
+6 2,500d King of a Hârnic country, Archbishop
+5 1,000d Earl, bishop.
+4 500d Baron
+3 250d Landed Knight or Lord
+2 150d Knight-Bachelor, City Alderman
+1 75d Squire, Guild Master, Merchant
0 50d Villein, Guild Journeyman
-1 40d Half-Villein, Guild Apprentice
-2 30d Cottar, Unskilled Laborer
-3 20d Beggar
-4 None Slave or Thrall
As far as jobs are concerned, there is a fairly extensive listing of typical incomes in several Hârn products (the most easily found one these days is probably HârnPlayer, which is a must for any serious Hârnic RPG group and doesn't contain any non-GURPS stats, only world background). In short, most working people will be making from 20d to 90d per month, and you can assume that all of this is usually swallowed by the living expenses. Most of it is never seen in the form of cash at hand anyway; a farmer, for instance, will not be earning money but will instead be growing food (which is certainly more valuable than money -- can't eat money, can you), some of which is eaten by himself and his family (living expenses), some of which is paid as taxes, and if there's any surplus it'll probably be bartered for a new hoe at market (living expenses again). A lot of "salaried" workers get most of their "salary" in the form of room and board, eliminating the middleman as it were. There's probably less than 10 actual silver pennies for each person on Hârn, and they're not exactly evenly distributed.


Disease-Resistant: This has got to be one of the most useful advantages for a Hârnic campaign, considering the rather pitiful standards in hygiene and medicine. Immunity to Disease is even nicer, of course, but I feel it's just a tad cinematic for the "baseline" Hârnic campaign.

Literacy: This is a 10-point advantage, illiteracy is by far the norm. A fair number of Hârnians are Semi-Literate, though, at a cost of 5 points. Also, there exist several different scripts; my rule on different scripts is that Literacy gives you one "native" script at IQ level (which can be increased at 1 pt per level, like a native language); other scripts may then be learned as extra skills, with varying difficulty (though most are Average skills).

Magery: Some degree of attunement to the magical forces exists among perhaps 1% of the population, but most of these only have "level zero" Magery, which I allow at 5 pts. This effectively turns the character into a wandering personal "high-mana zone", allowing the character to cast spells that do not specifically require Magery. Of course, the vast majority of these people don't know any spells in the sense of GURPS Magic; see the section on Magical Traditons.

Patron: There's a large number of different individuals and organizations which could work as Patrons. In the feudal kingdoms, of course, most Knights have a Patron in (and a Duty to) their liege-lord. In the Thardic Republic, powerful political and/or landowning clans serve a similar purpose. In Orbaal, warriors (or anyone else) might have a Patron in any one of the various lords/petty kings. Across most of the island's civilized lands, much of the economy is partially controlled by the powerful guilds; while the guilds are, on paper, international organizations, communications and organiziation aren't really good enough so that a whole guild can be treated as a Patron, but a local chapter might. The Lia-Kavair or so-called "thieves' guild" is really a sporadically cooperating collection of local crime organizations; only individuals in this "organization" are suitable as Patrons (they spend as much time struggling internally as they do cooperating).

Rank: There are several "subcultures" with their own Rank systems. The only truly organized military forces on Hârn are the legions of the Thardic Republic; other countries mostly have feudal systems where you're either arrowfodder, a guy set to shout orders at the arrowfodder, or a knight doing knight things. Most of the Guilds can be considered to have three levels of Rank -- assuming that simply being an Apprentice isn't worth any Rank, but that a Journeyman is Rank 1, a Master is Rank 2, and a Master who sits on the local guild council is Rank 3. There are also Rank systems within the various churches.


Code of Honor: While a set of Chivalric ideals fairly similar to the Chivalric Code of Honor has been introduced and gained a fair amount of popularity among Hârnic Knights, it is definitely not a requirement nor even the norm for Knights to have it. Most Hârnic Knights are far too practical, being rarely more than one generation removed from having seized or defended their position by force of arms; most of Hârnic nobility more closely resembles unusually well-organized brigands, than the sort of dandies that got their heads cut off in France near the end of the 18th Century, or the romantic inhabitants of mythic Camelot.

Duty: A Knight (except for those Knight-Bachelors with no feudal liege) or Yeoman will have a Duty to his liege. Serfs may also be considered to have a version of this disadvantage; although it rarely exposes them to personal danger, it does severely restrict their freedom of movement.

Enemy: As one might expect, just about any person or organization that would work as a Patron would also work as an Enemy. Perhaps Sir Bluto's clan and yours have a decades-old dispute over some pasturelands in the hills, and people have killed each other for less.


Combat skills: Of course, the necessary skills to use the available weapons are also available. Bear in mind the character's social status; it is rather unlikely that a law-abiding peasant will have any skill at Broadsword or Lance, for instance. Fencing is unknown (indeed, the era of truly heavy armor has not yet come to Hârn, much less gone again) except possibly to the Sindarin. As for unarmed combat, the skills of Judo and Karate should not be allowed to PCs without a serious Unusual Background (such arts may be known in countries so far away that practically nobody on Hârn has ever heard of them, and possibly within the Church of Naveh). Brawling, Boxing, and Wrestling will have to do.

Craft skills: Many Craft skills are "protected" by some guild or other. What this means is that you can't legally make a living using that skill unless you're a member of the appropriate guild, and you can't reasonably learn the skill to any really professional degree except by apprenticing within that guild (not that most reasonable people would want to learn guilded skills illegally, but PCs are often less than reasonable).

Science skills: Hârnian science is at early TL 3, and consequently a lot of these skills haven't been invented. Those "scientist" types who exist are mostly either religious scholars, or arcanists (Shek-Pvar and/or alchemists).

Language Skills

A variety of languages exist on Hârn; most are Average skills.

The most common ones are Hârnic and Corani, which are spoken in the southeast and southwest, respectively; they are quite closely related, defaulting at -3. Hârnic is basically a creole of Old Jarinese and the Atani dialects of ur-Pharic, while Corani again is a creole of (several hundred years old dialects of) Hârnic and Azeryani, although it is a lot closer to modern Hârnic than to modern Azeryani; it's not close enough to allow defaulting between Corani and Azeryani.
Note: The existence of the Corani language is an unofficial feature of Hârn; it's a consequence of my own unofficial work on the religious history of Hârn and surroundings. The Hârnic language is called such mostly because it is the language of Melderyn, which has more contact with the outside world than all the other Hârnic nations put together.

Orbaalese is a more recent pidgin or creole spoken in Orbaal; it is a bastard child of Ivinian and Jarinese, and defaults mutually to either at -4 (although there is no default between Ivinian and Jarinese).

Ivinian is spoken by a few thousand Hârnians of Ivinian descent, as well as by hundreds of thousands of Ivinians living in Ivinia and in various scattered colonies all the way down into the Venarian Sea. It defaults to Orbaalese at -4, but is only distantly related to any of the other languages spoken locally.

Modern Jarinese is spoken by some tens of thousands in Orbaal, defaulting either way to Hârnic at -6 or to Orbaalese at -4. It would probably default to Old Jarinese at -3, if anyone still spoke Old Jarinese.

Emela isn't a language native to Hârn as such, but it's spoken in Emelrene on the Lythian mainland, which is the one country which probably has most contact with Hârn. It is descended from a close relative of Old Jarinese, and defaults mutually to Jarinese at -5.

Shorka isn't spoken much on Hârn either, but it's one of Hârn's most important "neighboring" languages, and is related to Hârnic and Ivinian -- say, a -8 default between Shorka and Hârnic, and a -6 default with Ivinian.

Trierzi has a similar relationship with Hârnic as Shorka does; it has a slightly higher proportion of Jarind components than Shorka, so allow a -7 default between Trierzi and Hârnic. Trierzi and Shorka default to each other at about -5.

Azeryani is mainly spoken in the huge Empire of Azeryan, and in some of its former provinces around the Venarian Sea. It is also one of the source languages for Corani, but they're too distantly related to allow a default. There are basically two types of Azeryani; the one which is actually used by most people is "low" or "common" Azeryani, while "classical" or "high" Azeryani is the ancient language of scholars (with a literary tradition stretching over two millennia into the past); classical Azeryani is a Hard language due to its insanely complicated grammar. The two versions of the Azeryani language default to each other at -3; practically nobody speaks classical Azeryani as their native tongue.

Karejian is spoken in the Karejian islands, and by Karejian traders wherever they go. It is related to Azeryani, and defaults at -4 to common Azeryani. A somewhat archaic and formal dialect of Karejian is the ceremonial language of Haleans everywhere, it isn't sufficiently different from modern Karejian to bother with a penalty, but someone who only knows "temple Karejian" cannot pass for a native speaker of ordinary Karejian without a good bit of practice.

The various barbarian languages, mostly spoken only by the members of the barbarian tribes themselves, are mostly descendants of either Old Jarinese or of a mixture of Old Jarinese and ur-Pharic much like the Hârnic language. Tulwyn, Kath, Pagaelin, and Hodiri are essentially weird dialects of Hârnic, and default mutually to each other and to Hârnic at -3; Gozyda and Chelni are essentially not so weird dialects of Hârnic, and don't warrant status as a separate language at all. Adaenum, Kubora, Urdu, Equani, Ymodi, Anoa, and Taelda have developed from Old Jarinese; these default to each other and to modern Jarinese at -3. Chymak and Bujoc are related to Emela, and default to it at -6. Solori is a tiny language descended in near-isolation from Old Jarinese; it defaults to modern Jarinese at -5. Kamaki is a strange and old creole of Old Jarinese and a couple of languages from very far away, and has no default to any other currently spoken language. (This paragraph was based on a longer article by Monte Bohna; it can be found in the HârnPage archives).

Khuzan and Sindarin should both be considered Hard for humans, and very few humans speak them; they are not related, but most Sindarin speak Khuzan (except for those who have forgotten, or those who are less than 14 centuries old) and there might possibly be some Khuzdul who have learned Sindarin (they all used to learn it in the old days).

Gargun may either be one language with separate dialects for each subspecies, or separate languages altogether. It is unlikely that any human will ever learn enough about them to find out; prolonged conversation with Gargun are not common.

Ilme may or may not exist as a recognizable language, no PCs are likely to know it anyway.


Different Scripts, or alphabets, are treated as languages. The Literacy advantage is a prerequisite for learning any Scripts, and it gives the character one selected Script as a "native Script" just like everyone has a native language; skill level at one's native Script generally begins at IQ and may be improved at 1 pt per level. Other Scripts may be learned as standard skills. The most common script among the civilized nations of Hârn is Lakise, which is an alphabet with twenty-odd letters (and a somewhat wavy look in most representations, as if painted with a brush, which it often is). The second most common script is Runic, an angular script which was originally only "written" by carving the runes into wood or rock. Actually, Runic exists in two somewhat different versions -- the one seen most commonly is the Ivinian version, which is apparently a direct descendant from the Khuzan runes which it closely resembles. Allow a default between Ivinian Runic and Khuzan Runic at -2.

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Last modified: Mon Apr 14 14:32:43 MET DST 1997