Harath is a role-playing game in which you become a hardy adventurer, either because you were born that way, or because Fate placed you in a situation where you had to become one. Your home is Harath, a world in which magic is alive and well, where trolls and elves live, and where death always lurks just around the corner.
Players that have role-played before are likely to find familiar elements, as material for this game was pulled for many sources, most notably GURPS(tm), ShadowRun(tm), Advanced Dungeons and Dragons(tm), and RuneQuest(tm). Harath is none of these, or perhaps it is all of them. I combined what I feel are the best aspects of all these systems, and then modified the results in ways that make (I hope) a coherent and sensible whole.
What follows is a quick look at the basic rules that guide the players through my gaming world. Harath is a ShadowRun(tm)-type skill-based game-system, which means that characters’ abilities are defined by the skills they choose to learn. They are free to claim whatever title they wish. Here a character can pick pockets or steal, but not have to call himself a thief, or save the town and rescue the maiden without having to call himself a hero. A player can alternately learn to swing a sword, cast magic, and pick a lock, with no penalty. In every sense, players create their own reality, with rules to support their choices rather than inhibit them.
Attribute and Skill Rolls
Every character has six primary attributes that determine how physically and mentally tough, resilient, and agile they are (more on these later), as well as skills that define what they have been trained to do. When the character encounters a situation in which the Game Master (GM) determines that an attribute or skill will be called into play, the player will roll a number of 6-sided dice equal to the level at which they possess the attribute or skill in question.
One very important rule is that whenever a character rolls a 6, they are entitled to roll an extra die, meaning that even minimally trained characters can achieve success if they are very lucky.
Jeremy has learned to use a short sword at level 4. One day the time finally comes for him to use his sword for the purpose for which it was created. The player rolls four 6-sided dice to determine Jeremy’s degree of success. On this occasion, he rolls very well, getting a 3, 4, 6, 6. Because of the two 6’s, he gets to roll two extra dice, getting 2 and 6. The new 6 again entitles him to an extra die roll, which nets him another 4. The final result of his roll is 2, 3, 4, 4, 6, 6, 6. Not bad for only having 4 dice to roll!
Bonus and Penalty Dice
Sometimes the character knows a skill sufficiently well or the the task is so easy, that the GM will award one or more bonus dice. On the other hand, if a character knows a skill poorly, or if the task is very hard, the GM may assign penalty dice. Both bonus and penalty dice are extra dice that are added to the roll in question. The difference between the two is that for each bonus die that roll, you get to remove the lowest number that you rolled. Penalty dice work the other way around; you must remove the highest die that you rolled. Sometimes a situation may exist in which bonus dice and penalty dice are both rolled at the same time. This will have the effect of subtracting both high and low rolls.
A bandit jumps Jeremy in an alleyway. Jeremy must use his short sword to defend himself! As mentioned earlier, Jeremy’s Short Sword skill level is 4, but because he is has recently been ill, the GM has assigned 2 penalty dice to all physical rolls, and combat certainly qualifies as physical. The player therefore rolls 6 dice (4 for his skill + 2 penalty dice), and gets 1, 2, 3, 5, 5, 6. Unfortunately, because of the 2 penalty dice, he must ignore the two highest rolls (5, 6), so the result of his skill roll is 1, 2, 3, 5. He does not get to add a die for the 6 he rolled. In this case, Jeremy’s weakness prevented him from achieving that extra level of success.
Target Numbers and Successes
The target number (TN) is the minimum number you must roll on a die to record a Success (S). Attribute rolls always have a TN of 4. Skill rolls are a little different. Each skill has its own TN, depending on the complexity of the skill. These TNs can be anywhere between 3 and 6. The general rule of thumb here is that the higher the TN and more Ss that are required, the harder a task is to accomplish. Achieving a single Success indicates that you have accomplished the task you were attempting.
Some actions are resisted by an opposing force of some type. The amount of resistance depends on what is doing the resisting. The GM can set a resistance number for the task, or a character might resist with a particular attribute or skill. The number of Ss achieved by the resister are subtracted from the number of Ss achieved by the actor.
A thug (actor) tries to push Jeremy (resister) out of the way. The GM determines that the thug will use a Strength roll (Str=6, TN=4) to try to move Jeremy. The GM rolls 1, 1, 2, 4, 6, 6 for the thug, and the 6’s get him two extra die rolls, which are 3 and 5. In all, the thug gets 4 Ss.Now, since Jeremy is aware that the thug is trying to push him out of the way and has decided that he doesn’t want to be moved, the GM determines that he can resist with his own Strength (Str=5, TN=4). The player rolls 2, 2, 4, 5, 6. The 6 gets him an extra die roll, which is a 5, giving him 4 Ss.Since the actor’s 4 Ss minus the resister’s 4 Ss equals a net 0 Ss, the thug has failed. On this occasion, Jeremy doesn’t budge. What will the thug do next?
Extra Ss are Ss that are gained above the requirements for the task. Thus if a task requires 5 Ss, and you roll 10 Ss, you have achieved five extra Ss. Extra Ss generally indicate a better effect, a quicker result, or both.
Jeremy examines the lock. “Hmmph,” he thinks, “That’s a good lock. This could be difficult.” Undeterred, his deft fingers find his pick set, and he begins to deftly manipulate the slight pieces of iron.Jeremy has a skill of 10 in lock picking, which is a hard skill (TN=5). The player rolls 10 dice, getting 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6. He his two 6’s get him two more die rolls. He gets 5, 5 with those. In all, he has achieved 6 Ss. Since the GM had determined that the lock was a complicated one that needed 4 Ss to open, Jeremy is successful, and since he achieved 2 more Ss than the minimum required, he succeeds quickly and with relative ease.“Yeah, whoever made this lock was good,” mumbles Jeremy to himself, but as the lock pops open, Jeremy smiles and amends, “But not nearly good enough.”