Bianka the Ratter Hârn-hammer Session 1


  • Flee Westemhofen
  • Exact Revenge

So now Bianka has gathered her belongings and is at full health (finally!) and she can start on her path to revenge.
The first thread is closed and we have the second thread as main thread.
She wants to exact revenge in a more brutal way, as the corruption of chaos is slowly seeping in her psyche.
I need to ask a few questions to gather the necessary information about this ratter that she’s so bent on destroying.

Donjon: Mare. Male Dwarf Craftsman, Neutral. Mare is overweight, with brown hair and light amber eyes. He wears worn clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
Okay, so it’s a dwarf ratter!

What was the town where they met?
Donjon: Lenebruck. Population: 330, mostly human, some dwarf. The village sits in the shadows of a ruined castle. It is governed by the priests of the village temple.

So why would such a small village have a rat problem? maybe something else is stirring the rats? Maybe there’s something in the ruined castle? I don’t know if I’ll find out, since Bianka is bent on revenge.

Now, I think that mapping the distances arbitrarily would be too biased. So I’m going to use In the heart of the unknown for mapping and weather. I’m going to use its encounters generator and complement it with Hârn.
I will be rolling on the engine for every league travelled, which is approximately one watch walking distance.

I also need a resource mechanic. I really liked the downgrading die, but I already have one random factor (the random map generator), so I won’t introduce another one. I’ll declare Bianka has gathered one week’s worth of food, and if necessary she will forage.

Finally, since I’m going too focused in on Bianka, I will use the Background Surprise Events Oracle. If I find that the whole session is too heavy, at the end of the one week I will not use the background events.

Day 1, 3rd Watch.
Encounter Engine: 6: X. Reroll: 5: Nudged 1 HF towards the Destination: River.
Terrain Engine: 10: Nudged 1 HF towards the mountains. Plains.
Weather Engine: 7: X: Reroll: 8: Slight rain.
Hârn Encounters: (Highway): 10/17: No encounter.

Day 1, 4th Watch.
Encounter Engine: 8: Nudged 1 HF towards the Destination: Wandering Monster: 12: Goblins.
Terrain Engine: 4: Plains.
Weather Engine: 4: Sunny.
Hârn Encounters: (Highway): 19/17: Encounter: Cleric/etc: Temple Priest: Seeking Victims for Rituals/etc. Friendliness: 88.

I was thinking the cleric could have been a goblin shaman, but since the Cleric’s friendliness is 88 I deem that they are instead hunting the goblins. The goblins most likely are strugglers from the disbanded horde.

Donjon: Hancho: Male Dwarf Cleric, Evil. Hancho has a long face, with long gray hair and gray eyes. He wears splint mail and wields a hammer.

Some metagaming here: Hancho is a dwarf cleric of Ulric who hunts down goblins to kill them and sacrifice them to his patron deity.

There are 1d3+2 = 4 goblins.
I’ll equip them based on the respective Treasure tables of Hârn. Whatever doesn’t make sense, I’ll modify or reroll.
G1: Leather Vest, Club, Handaxe, Dagger, Roundshield.
G2: Spear, Roundshield, Dagger
G3: Shortbow, 5 Arrows, Club
G4: Spear, Scimitar

Some Awareness rolls to see who notices whom.

Bianka: Awareness (52): 34: MS
Goblin1: Awareness (52): 92: MF
Goblin2: Awareness (52): 58: MF
Goblin3: Awareness (52): 69: MF
Goblin4: Awareness (52): 65: CF
Hancho: Awareness (49): 95: CF

After a few hours of walking, past a bridge over the river, Bianka comes upon the sounds of struggle.
Closing, she hears the war cry of an armored short stout dwarf, locked in combat with four goblins. Three of them are armed with hand weapons while the fourth sports a short bow and tries to get a clear shot.
Bianka considers the situation. She cannot get past them to continue on her journey, and it’s most likely that the dwarf will lose against so many odds. Better to face them now, that the numbers may be better. She arms her hatchet and joins the combat.
She tries to make a stealthy approach.

Bianka: Stealth (35): 43: MF

Bianka steps on a branch, trying to close in on the greenskins, but the goblins are too focused on their fight to mind her. She manages to get in engagement range without being detected.

So I need to calculate a few more things before combat is joined.
Endurance: 13
Dodge: 70
Weight: 20,2 ~ 24
Encumbrance Penalty: 2

I’m running this in theater of the mind.
So I tried to find a few generators or to create a dwarf NPC on the fly. Huh that was tough. Therefore I found an already created dwarf NPC in an aide in lythia and used their stats instead.

Round 1.

Hancho attacks first.
Hancho attacks G1: (102): 94: MS
G1 blocks: (55): 64: MF
He performs an A1 strike.
Hit Location: Left Knee
Damage: 9-4: 5: S2 (Fractured Knee).
G1: Shock Roll: 2d6: 9/10: Unaffected.
G1: Stumble Roll: 3d6+2: 15/11: He falls down.

G1 has two Injury levels. Initiative reduced 2 steps. Will attack after Bianka.

G2 attacks Hancho: Spear (60): 42: MS
Hancho blocks: (72): 20: CS: Defender Tactical Advantage (DTA)
Hancho attacks G1: (122): 57: MS
G1 blocks (45): 73: MF
He performs an A1 strike.
Hit Location: Left Thigh.
Damage: 9-4: 5: S2 (Fractured Thigh).
G1: Shock Roll: 4d6: 12/10: Shocked.

G4 attacks Hancho: Spear (70): 70: CS
Hancho blocks: (72): 11: MS: Hancho receives A1 Strike Impact.
Hit Location: Left Calf.
Damage: 10-1: 9: S2 (Stabbed Calf).
Hancho: Shock Roll: 2d6: 4/15: Unaffected.
Hancho: Stumble Roll: 9/15: He stands.

G3 will try to get an opening and shoot the bow into the melee.
I need to see if Hancho is aware of the attack: Awareness (39): 65: MF
G3 attacks Hancho: Shortbow (50): 31: Hancho receives an M2 Strike Impact.
Hit Location: Skull.
Damage: 14-12: 2: M1: Minor Stab to the skull.
Hancho: Shock Roll: 3d6: 10/15: Unaffected.

Bianka attacks G3: Hatchet (37): 68: MF
G3 is unaware of Bianka’s attack and Ignores it: He receives an A1 Strike Impact.
Hit Location: Right Shoulder.
Damage: 5-3: 2: M1: Minor Cut to the right shoulder.
G3: Fumble Roll: 10/11: No Fumble

The dwarf moves with skill and swings his hammer with great strength, crushing one goblin’s knee, which stumbles and falls. Another greenskin tries to make a jab with its spear, but it misses and the dwarf rotates around the extended arm, and follows with another strike at the prone goblin’s thigh, crushing it and knocking it out in pain.
This has left him vulnerable to a spear thrust from another goblin who uses it with both hands and pierces through the dwarfs’s unarmed calf. The goblin bowman rotates around the fight and finally gets an opening shooting straight at the head. At such close range, the missile pierces through the pot helmet, the quil cowl, and scratches the skull underneath.
Bianka finds the opportunity and attacks the goblin archer from behind, hacking at its shoulder with her hatchet.

Round 2:

Hancho attacks G4: (87): 33: MS
G4 blocks: (60): 50: CS: G4 wins a DTA.
G4 attacks Hancho: Spear (70): 11: MS
Hancho blocks: (67): 57: MS: Blocks.

G2 attacks Hancho: Spear (60): 36: MS
Hancho blocks: (67): 60: CS: Defender Tactical Advantage (DTA)
Hancho attacks G4: (87): 81: MS
G4 blocks (60): 13: MS: Blocks

G4 attacks Hancho: Spear (70): 48: MS
Hancho blocks: (67): 95: CF: The goblin performs an A2 strike.
Hit Location: Thorax
Damage: 17-10: 7: S2 (Stabbed Chest).
Hancho: Shock Roll: 5d6: 19/15: He falls down.

G1: Shock Recovery: 4d6: 11/10: Doesn’t Recover

G3: Draws club. Grope Action.

Bianka attacks G3 Hatchet (37): 28: MS
G3 tries to dodge: (50): 24: MS: Dodged successfully

After a few exchanges of strikes back and forth between the dwarf and the goblins, a goblin spearman gets a clean thrust with his spear. It pushes with both hands and pierces the Edward’s chest through. The heavy armor isn’t enough and the dwarf falls, still clutching his attacker’s spear.
Bianka tries unsuccessfully to attack the goblin archer who has switched to a club.

Round 3:

Things look dire for Bianka now that Hancho is down.

G2 attacks Bianka: Spear (60): 81: MF
Bianka blocks: (37): 80: CF: Defender Fumble (DF)
Bianka Fumble: 3d6: 6/12: No Fumble

G3 attacks Bianka: Club (60): 89: MF
Bianka blocks: (27): 25: CS: DTA
Bianka attacks G3 Hatchet (37): 60: CF
G3 blocks: (55): 91: MF: Attacker Fumble (AF)
Bianka Fumble: 3d6: 16/12: She drops her hatchet!

G4 attacks Bianka: Spear (70): 69: MS
Bianka dodges: (50): 87: MF: The goblin performs an A1 strike.
Hit Location: Abdomen
Damage: 12-1: 11: S3 (Stabbed Abdomen).
Bianka: Shock Roll: 3d6: 13/13: She holds firm.

G1: Shock Recovery: 4d6: 13/10: Doesn’t Recover

Bianka withdraws and attempts to run away. I can’t find any rules for turning and fleeing so I will just rule that each goblin gains a DTA.

G2 attacks Bianka: Spear (60): 59: MS
Bianka dodges: (35): 90: CF: The goblin performs an A2 strike.
Hit Location: Left Upper Arm
Damage: 14-1: 13: S3 (Stabbed Left Upper arm).
Bianka: Shock Roll: 6d6: 28/13: She falls unconscious.

Now Bianka faces off three goblins alone. She tries to hold them off, but facing three adversaries at the same time is too much for the rather, and she drops her hatchet. The goblin spearman who wounded the dwarf jabs at her abdomen, severely wounding her. She holds on and tries to run away but the other goblin spearman thrusts through her shoulder. The pain is excruciating and Bianka falls quickly. Everything turns black.

Session Background

Okay, Hârnmaster isn’t pulp at all.
But that isn’t the only issue with my utter failure.

  • I miscalculated encounter size. There should be just two goblins. The number of opponents is very important as every single strike could bring you down. Maybe three would be challenging considering the armor and skill of the dwarf, but four were just too much.
  • Bianka was too weak and unarmored. In comparison the pregens of dead weight wore armor and had about double Bianka’s combat skills or more!

Now a breakdown of the system. Hârnmaster is definitely old school. Not old school renaissance, mind you.
As I played, to me it felt like a mix of MERP/Rolemaster and Runequest/Mythras, both in terms of character generation and skill and combat resolution.
What I disliked: The modifiers. This was MERP all over again. A simple example: for attack, I need to factor in the mastery level, the encumbrance penalty, the injury penalty and the weapon’s attack bonus. For defense you have a different weapon bonus, outnumbering modifiers and you need to calculate this as well. As combat progresses these change… oh and some weapons have a 1h mode modifier as well. This is a bookkeeping pain.
What I liked: The detail in combat. Almost every part of the human body is detailed. You could get a hit in the eye, the ear or the groin. Also the wound levels and shock rules. Combine this with the ebb and flow of the differential combat rules this was like Mythras mixed with the MERP criticals and the wound levels of Savage Worlds/OpenD6. Absolutely stunning.
What could be better: Character generation. It’s ok for PCs when you want to put detail in your character. But when you need NPCs on the fly… it’s really problematic without resorting to pregenerated characters.
What I enjoyed: The campaign section. Encounter tables with activities. Detailed treasure tables. Very similar to MERP but better in many regards.
Minor qualms: I had to go back and forth many times to find where a specific rule was described.
I also didn’t like how strength and toughness didn’t impact combat damage directly, even to a small degree. It didn’t matter if you were a well trained weakling or a brute, you could deliver the same damage with the same weapon. Also no matter how tough you are if you are unarmored the injury will be the same. Endurance only affects how you react to the injury.
A luck points mechanic is necessary for gritty games, but as I said, Harnmaster is old-school, not OSR.
Interesting but untested: Hârnmaster has amounted Combat, Jousting and Psionics! I’d love to see them at work.

Overall I liked Hàrnmaster, even though Bianka was casualty of the experiment.
I’ll be returning to it in the future, as I have something in mind.
Also, I may be homebrewing other systems to use the combat mechanics I found here.
I’ll be definitely keeping the encounter tables for other low fantasy campaigns.