What’s HARP? (28 characters)

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HARP is a flexible tabletop RPG system produced by Iron Crown Enterprises. It allows for customization within professions and uses percentile rolls. HARP is praised for its balance of high definition and ease of character creation, making it a compromise for those who find the Rolemaster system too complex. It encourages high adventure storytelling.

High Adventure Role Playing, more commonly known as HARP, is a tabletop role-playing game system. HARP distinguishes itself from other popular games, such as d20, by its flexibility in character creation and a fairly light-hearted approach.

HARP is produced by Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE), a game company founded in the 1980s. Although ICE started out by creating supplements for other popular games, they eventually released their own gaming system: the Rolemaster system. Rolemaster was quite popular, but ICE still remained a lesser-known company until they acquired the license to produce an RPG based directly on Tolkien’s Middle-earth. This game, Middle Earth Role Playing, was at one point second only to TSR’s Dungeons and Dragons in popularity.

Unfortunately, ICE ran into serious financial problems in the late 1990s, due to distributor bankruptcies. Finally, in 2000, ICE was forced to file for bankruptcy, in the process losing its license to produce Middle Earth Role Playing. In late 2001, ICE was purchased and reactivated. They immediately focused on rebuilding their existing system, the Rolemaster system, and in 2003 released a simpler version of that system: HARP.

HARP makes use of Professions – which are roughly equivalent to Classes in many RPGs – to paint a big picture of what a character can do, but within Professions there is plenty of room for customization. The races are similar to those in many fantasy games and include the traditional humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes, as well as a unique orc-like race. The mechanics of the game are based on percentile rolls, with base attributes ranging from 1 to 105.

HARP has received a lot of critical praise since its release, largely due to the incredible amount of customization that is possible. Additionally, the game is known for its strong balance of high definition and ease of character creation, allowing new players to get into the game in less than an hour.

Many people who value the Rolemaster system for its depth and scope, but find it overloaded with rules and graphics, find HARP to be the ideal compromise. Games that use the HARP system tend to be smooth and easy, and one benefit fans often praise is the ability to run interesting and engaging combat scenarios at a pace that makes them fun and more suited to the action taking place. At its core, as the name suggests, HARP is about High Adventure, and the rules and mechanics seem to genuinely encourage this level of epic storytelling, rather than hinder it in the name of balance or detail.

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