Harnmaster Manager


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What is it

HARNManager is an application that should help the game master to manage his player group and all the material that he needs for an exciting campaign.

It is originally intended for the RPG "Harnmaster". This game is published by Comlumbis Games Inc. It is from the fantasy branch of RPGs and has as a background the fantasy world of "Harn". It is perhaps not one of the most known systems but those who know and love it are very busy and there are a lot of wonderful websites out there which also supply scenarios, locations and other stuff to use freely.


Way back in the 80s when I baught a new Computer (an Atari ST!!!) I wanted to learn the programming language C. So the best way to learn a language is to use it (same with human laguages). So what should I develop? Some years before I found Harn in a local game shop and liked it. When some years later the role playing game Harnmaster was released I got very exited. At least a very detailed RPG which is nearly a simulation. But this had a price to pay the rules were quite complex and needed a lot of bookkeeping and calculation. So I decided to write a program which should help me to manage my gaming sessions. At first it started as a tool to keep book about the items/attributes/skills each character has. And then it grew: If I have allready the skills and the items why not doing combat for me? Why not create NPCs for me? Why not print the players a printout of there character? Why not keep track of the game time and random encounters? I even met Tom Dalglish from Columbia Games on a fair in Germany and told him of my tool (I still have his bussines card somewhere!).

But at that time computers don't were a mass market product and I had other things to do. So some years later I switched to a PC with Windows and I had to learn C++ / MFC and so on. And of couse I started all over to write my tool for the Windows PC. But I never reached the mass of features I had for the Atari version. I even did not use it for gamemastering. But now I had kind of habit: Everytime I had to learn a new computer language or system I started do write my Harn management tool.

Christmas 2001/2002 I started to program it in C# with .NET. I got along pretty fast but stopped to work on it in february. In November Colubia Games announced the 3rd edition of there rules. I got quite excited and and so I continued with my program (which is still based on the first edition rules as I like them more than the second edition. Still don't know about the third one). Actually it needs perhaps one man month more work until it is in a version to give it away.


As I mentioned: the intention to write the program is more focused on learning .NET and to test new software architecture ideas. One of the ideas I had in mind was a generic architecture and frame so that I can write AddOns without redoing other modules. Up to now it worked quite well but I still have to expand the basic frame for some features.

An other focus was the usability. It should be easy,intuitivly and fast use.
The third main point was flexibility: Role playing never follows strict rules. Players are human beings and tend to have there own mind (they realy dare!) :-) So the use ways nobody has foreseen. The program should not force the game master to follow the rules to the letter. He should have the possibility not only to always enter special situation modifiers but also to even change the sequence of actions.

An other problem with putting it up on this web page (despite it is not "finished" yet) is the legal issue. I do not want to release modules which base mainly on the written rules from Columbia Games. Not only because they could sue me for their copyright but also to urge you to buy the rules yourself. Most of the modules are provided without data. So you can use the mechanisms but you must enter the data form the Columbia Games Products by your own. Nevertheless I think there is enough left which I can dare to share and which could assist you as a game master.

This sample picture should give you a short impression about the user interface. But don't take it for granted as I will quite likely change it as the program evolves:


I will now give you a list of all the modules I am working on or which I have in mind. Each module is provided with state and availability. Availability will tell you wether I intend to release this module to the public or keep it for myself (the licensy issue). The state describes how much is finished. So a high percentage here gives good chances to have it finished soon. But you should keep in mind that:
  1. Software is never finished. It escapes!
  2. I do this in my spars free time besides my other hobbys. So I will spend only time depending on the mood I am in.
% A measure of completeness. But it ist still possible to give away a module below 90% when it has enough features so that it makes sense.
as needed Theoretically it has all in it which is needed. So it will only change if another module requires it.
planned Concepts and ideas for this module exist and perhaps will be implemented some day
idea Currently only idea but could be developed and would make sense to have it

Workbench as needed public This is 'only' computer related stuff. Here is the generic framework I developed and the interfaces to make module plug in tecnology work. Also included are some assemblies from the net which supply new/better controls.
HarnMaster as needed public This customizes the generic framework to tailore it for HARNManager.
Items 80 % public All the datastoring, property dialogs, databases for the items. All items of the game ere devided in several types like weapons, armor, food, simple things, containers, ... Each with its special attributes.
Skills as needed public The same as with items. Here is only the data handling stuff. No implementation how to use the skills beside a simple skill test.
Characters as needed public The datahandling stuff for characters. Saving/Loading, changing attributes, skills, items and wounds. Prining is not implemented yet.
Combat 60 % private The first private module which I will keep to myself. Here is a kind of wizard to guide you step by step through the combat procedure. Currently only close combat is working.
Magic planned private The same as combat but for casting spells.
Religion planned private Again same as combat but doing religios acts. Perhaps I will include psionics.
Psionics not planned private As I do not like psychic abalities in my world of Harn I do not intend to include support into my manager.
Action1 .. planned public / protected Several modules will cover the use of special actions in the combat like wizard manner. Examples are hunting, swimming, klimbing, ... Because soke of these rules are inveted/published by harn fans on their own I could make these parts public.
Mapper 60 % public A very useful tool to manage journeys through the country. You can import a scanned map and define locations and groups on this map. You define the kind of movement of the groups and enter their waypoints and when you progress the game time (via the toolbar) then the groups are moved on the map acording to the terrain and weather. An alert is raised if they reach their destination, an random encounter happens or they enter a location. As you have to supply the maps by yourself I can make it public. Only regional maps are finished yet. I work on the interior maps a bit more because I intend to use them for combat also.
Rooms 50 % public An other (simple) datamanagement module. You can prepare the rooms of your campaign. I use it to prepare shops of the local city or I store the relevant NPSs for intended or random encounters here.
NPCWizard idea public? A kind of tool to generate NPCs on the fly by selecting some key elements (profession/race/...).
CharacterGenerator idea public? Something like the one above but with the ful detail of the rule system. There are already some nice tools for this kind of work out there. Perhaps I could use one of them if it produces a XML output I can convert.
ShopWizard idea public Need a weaponcrafters shop? Enter the rating (quality/price/specialities) of the weaponcrafter and you get a room filled with NPCs and customized items to buy. OK its a dream I know.
Encyclopedia as needed public In Harn you have to keep a lot of information in mind. So why not create some kind of database to store the names and background of the NPCs your player characters stumbled about. Or pictures and info about certain locations. This tool will only store and search the data and has no data from Columbia Games with it. So it would be available for the public.
Remote Player Client idea (public) A not so crazy idea nowadays. Why not give players access to their character via LAN and supply them with their own PC at the gaming table? It would save the game master some time, could provide the player with graphics and maps (even perhaps 3D graphics like 'Web of the Widdow'). But currently I think it would more distract the players then help to create a tighter athmosphere.

If you think I am a megalomainiac then you are perhaps right. But I know that I can finish the modules I have started and also do the planned ones. I already have done it for the Atari ST (OK, at that time I had a lot of more spare time then now). It is a metter of time and willpower. Of couse are the chances to do one of the 'idea' modules very small. But what would be mankind without visions and dreams?


Here is the bad news if you liked the short summary above: It will take quite a while until you can use the stuff I have described above. Perhaps I will take the parts which are quite stable and release so you can play around with it a little bit. But be aware: The program is done with C# and only works on .NET. You can download the .NET framework for most Windows computers for free at Microsoft. Perhaps some day the people working on the MONO project will release .NET for Unix (i.e. Linux) then these machines will be supported too.