Author Topic: HARP Subterfuge  (Read 2696 times)

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Offline Sai

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HARP Subterfuge
« on: August 03, 2019, 09:33:40 PM »
Hail and Well met!

I am the author of HARP Subterfuge, and like many of you are looking forward to its release. The Iron Crown team and myself thank you for your patience. We know it's not easy waiting, but in the meantime, I thought to start this forum topic to shed some light on this forthcoming title. I am happy to answer questions you may have, so feel free to ask.

Nicholas has in his briefings already mentioned the book's chapters. But as a reminder, they are:
  • Role Playing Thieves, Rogues, Rangers and more (i.e. subterfuge professions including three new ones: Beguiler, Nightblade, and Ninja)
  • Race, Culture, and Social Class
  • Skills and Development
  • Talents and Fate
  • Tricks of the Trade (i.e. subterfuge techniques)
  • Tricks of the Tongue (i.e. influence techniques)
  • Tools of the Trade (i.e. equipment)
  • Poison
  • Deceptive Combat
  • Martial Arts, Subterfuge, and the Ninja
  • Magic and Subterfuge (including spells for the Beguiler and Nightblade professions)
  • The Underworld
  • Orders and Organizations
  • Thieves' Loot
  • The Other Side of the (Stolen) Coin — Getting Caught!
  • Ethics, Morality, and Decision-Making
  • Countermeasures

Offline RandalThor

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2019, 10:49:30 AM »
I am really interested in the Deceptive Combat chapter, because I feel it is not utilized enough in most games.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Scratch that. Power attracts the corruptible.

Rules should not replace the brain and thinking.

Offline Hobo

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2019, 05:50:25 AM »
Just out of curiosity, is there an actual target date for release?

I only ask since I have seen Subterfuge, Something Wicked and the Bestiary mentioned in the forums for the past couple years.

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2019, 10:12:35 PM »
I am really interested in the Deceptive Combat chapter, because I feel it is not utilized enough in most games.

Hi RandalThor. Thank you for your interest. The Deceptive Combat chapter gives an overview of guerrilla fighting tactics (a hallmark of the underhanded) and then focuses on how to leverage the existing defensive and offensive combat options to best effect. The chapter collects ideas that are current scattered across other HARP titles and analyzes their pros and cons in order to provide players insight into how to develop the combat aspects of their characters.

The chapter also reviews ways to get the upper hand (aka situational bonuses like knockdown and surprise) and ends with some additional guidelines to make use of the Brawling skill (e.g. attack-type critical table and a short list of brawling weapons).

I don't have an exact word count right this moment, but this chapter is 22 printed, single-spaced pages, so it's not just a quick overview.

There are also four completely new Talents (in the Talents and Fate chapter) that are designed specifically with deceptive combat in mind. These are: Backstabbing, Flanking, Opportunistic Attacking, and Trickter's Blow. A fifth new Talent—Stunning Strike—could also be used to good effect by subterfuge combatants.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2019, 10:31:23 PM »
Just out of curiosity, is there an actual target date for release?

I only ask since I have seen Subterfuge, Something Wicked and the Bestiary mentioned in the forums for the past couple years.

Hi Hobo. I do not know the production timeline, but Colin replied the following recently.

Hi dranthor,

It's still in production. It is currently with me to sort out the imagery. I'm not sure how long it will take from then, but it is in the pipeline.

Hope that helps

I think we are all anxious to get new HARP material into our hands and campaigns. It's also exciting to know there are several new projects forthcoming. HARP Subterfuge took me over a year to research and write. Since I overshot the word-count goal by quite a bit (165,000+ vs 90,000), Nicholas needed a couple months to review and comment. From Colin's comment, it looks like the artwork process is underway now, but that's the last I heard. Unfortunately, I think it's those pesky day jobs we all seem to have that contribute to the extended waiting period for HARP material.

I for one appreciate your patience and think that this book will be worth the wait (but I wrote it, so I might be slightly biased).

Offline Radimon

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2019, 11:45:39 PM »
Just out of curiosity, is there an actual target date for release?

I only ask since I have seen Subterfuge, Something Wicked and the Bestiary mentioned in the forums for the past couple years.

Wait, only a couple of years?
Murphy's Law says 'Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.'

I think Murphy was an incurable optimist.

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2019, 03:51:15 PM »
Let's talk Nightblade since the profession has garnered interest in other threads.

One of my goals in writing HARP Subterfuge was to avoid the "creep factor" (i.e. adding more and more skills and professions) that eventually unbalances a gaming system. In this book I propose an alternative way for players to create the type of thief or rogue they want to role play (e.g. assassin, burglar, spy, pickpocket, etc.), but even with this method there are still professions that can not be formed using the existing subterfuge archetypes. The Nightblade is one such profession.

For the Nightblade, I wanted to respect the heritage of the profession from Rolemaster but add new value and interest to it. Fundamentally, the Nightblade "...is a master of movement, distraction, disguise, and poison who uses magic to complement and enhance their covert operations." A magic-using spy, to be brief.

So I wondered: how did the profession come to be? Espionage is typically purview of politics—a tool of the nation-state to establish or retain dominance over its enemies. It seemed more likely that the Nightblade was created out of some need rather than morphing from some existing magical profession dabbling in subterfuge.

From this realization I wrote a hypothetical backstory to explain the origins of the profession. This story helped me shape some of the supporting material elsewhere in HARP Subterfuge (e.g. considerations for Stalking & Hiding, details for Disguise and Infiltration), helped expand Poisoning to a full-fledged chapter of its own, and guided the development of the Sphere of Shadows—a list of 29 spells based around the ideas of movement, distraction, disguise, and poison.

Seventeen of the spells in this Sphere are new. At the risk of revealing too much, the spell Contaminate Blade allows the caster to imbue her weapon with caustic magic that can do additional damage, and Dark Poisons allows the caster to create a variety of magically poisonous substances in order to incapacitate targets. Some other new spells are Dark Forms, Leaping, and Phantom Passing.

Overall, with this robust spell sphere and the supporting material, a player can actually create a Nightblade with a specific focus and mastery that fits their roleplaying vision.

Allow me to end this post with an excerpt from my Nightblade origin story.

He screamed for weeks in the depths of the Tower, as sphere after sphere of magic were infused into his blood. Thaumaturgy, Elementalism, Necromancy, Vivamancy, and even Ranger and Harper, were seeped slowly and painfully into his veins. When all was done and the Second recovered from the ordeal, the Grand Magus handed him a black-handled knife and said, "Go forth, our Blade of the Night. See your task done."

Offline Radimon

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2019, 05:33:25 AM »
Umm... I gotta weigh in on something you just barely touched upon. You called the rogue a subterfuge class, and I gotta say... I never saw anything that gave the rogue a roguish feel. They have the widest array of skill categories available (5, plus the two universal skill categories: general and physical), which means it's tied for first place with the seeker from Folkways (which is essentially a bounty hunter). This is a huge selection of skills, spread so thin that nothing stands out as a focal point for the profession. What's more, the only thing they get is a lesser skill bonus (+5% to one skill at level 1, and another +5% every level divisible by 3 - NOT every third level thereafter! Gotta read the fine print! - and it maxes out at only 25%).

There's nothing in a wide array of skills and a tiny non-specific skill bump to suggest that the rogue is, in fact, a subterfuge-based class. They have subterfuge skills, yes. But they also have mystic skills, athletic skills, combat skills, wilderness skills... in fact, they're really more of a 'jack of all trades' class than anything else. If you decided the rogue is subterfuge-based ONLY because of the name of the class, you're not looking at it very well. In my experience, rogue is more of a secondary class. It's added after level 1 to allow members of other classes to access a broader range of skills... such as a magician accessing rogue every 3 or 4 levels to buy weapon, survival, and stealth skills.
Murphy's Law says 'Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.'

I think Murphy was an incurable optimist.

Offline Zhaleskra

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2019, 06:56:31 AM »
I'm beginning to wonder if HARP is going to start heading toward Profession bloat. To start, I look at the Professions more as a skeleton of what the character starts with - your first profession is what you trained your adolescence to do. A friend of mine wondered what the difference was between a Rogue and a Scoundrel  (from Folkways), yes they're both about deception, but the latter is more by mouth while the first is more by action. I'll admit I'm all for options, but I'm also "why do we need a new profession when we can do this by doing N?".
#LotorAllura2020

Offline Radimon

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2019, 05:51:04 PM »
The thing is, even assuming you limit the number of skill categories to between 2 and 5 (not counting the two universal categories), there's literally hundreds of possible skill category combinations. You pick any 3 or 4 categories, and you can probably think up some character concept that fills that niche, possibly one that seems like a pretty cool idea for a character, at least under the right circumstances. But instead of making a generic class like the dilettante from HARP Sci-Fi, they want to showcase certain things that fit in with whatever book they're trying to trick up into purchasing this year.

A book all about cultures and societies and races? Why not gather together a half dozen bland NPCs that you can bet your bottom dollar will show up in any decent-sized town, and stat out professions for them? BOOM! Folkways!

A book about magic and mages? Why not create four extra versions of the mage, each with highly derivative spell lists and one extra Talent or special ability that the basic mage doesn't get, as well as reprinting the original mage with a different name (but no special bonus!), as though it's a new class? BOOM! College of Magic!

A book about thieves, spies, ninjas, and assassins? How about new versions of the thief, including one with Naruto-inspired ninjutsu? BOOM! Subterfuge!




May the Sarcasm be with you.
Murphy's Law says 'Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.'

I think Murphy was an incurable optimist.

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2019, 07:47:42 PM »
I'm beginning to wonder if HARP is going to start heading toward Profession bloat....

I'll admit I'm all for options, but I'm also "why do we need a new profession when we can do this by doing N?".

I gamed through much bloat in the 80s in more than one FRPG system, which is why I took an alternative approach with this title (for professions and skills). But I am only one author of one book, not an official spokesperson for Iron Crown Enterprises.

As one gamer to another though, I suppose providing a menu of professions could help less experienced players. For example, it might take some time playing or studying the rules to realize you can start with Thief and do N then by just picking "Burglar" (if that profession existed, which it doesn't).

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
But wound up in the same place.

(Robert Frost, discarded first draft)

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2019, 07:56:45 PM »
Umm... I gotta weigh in on something you just barely touched upon. You called the rogue a subterfuge class, and I gotta say... I never saw anything that gave the rogue a roguish feel. ...

 In my experience, rogue is more of a secondary class. It's added after level 1 to allow members of other classes to access a broader range of skills... such as a magician accessing rogue every 3 or 4 levels to buy weapon, survival, and stealth skills.

@Radimon,

I hear you. The professions mentioned in this book are those that have Subterfuge as a Favored skill category. That is the essential delineation.

Regarding the Rogue, I think HARP helped that profession out if its fighter/thief hole (as found in the original Rolemaster) by making it more versatile. The HARP rogue can be played as a jack-of-all-trades, or it can be molded towards unique specialties, or a player can opt to go classic with it. If a player wants their rogue to shine at subterfuge, that's where this book comes in. There's no pigeon-holing here.

To touch on your other post, HARP Subterfuge is more a book for thieves et al. than about them. To quote the book's introduction, it is "...for all things sneaky, deceptive, duplicitous, and manipulative in High Adventure Role Playing."

Lastly:
...they want to showcase certain things that fit in with whatever book they're trying to trick up [sic] into purchasing this year.

My presence and purpose here is the opposite of what you assume. I started this thread to help you understand what HARP Subterfuge is all about so you can make an informed decision with how to spend your hard-earned cash; though tricking you would be in the spirit of the material.  ;)

Offline Zhaleskra

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2019, 10:58:10 AM »
I'm neither wholly anti-"class" or pro-"class"; I'm just mentioning as a recovered D&D supremacist that when "classes" don't seem different enough it seems more like a reskin than a new profession. Classes, or Professions, in this case; very much help inexperienced gamers jump into a role they can identify with.

At the other end, "too generalized" and "too class-like" in skill-based systems strike me as "if that's what the player wants to do, let them". The overly generic character will realize its lack of specific strengths quite quickly, and if the other is happy in a class-like role then let them be.

My anecdote was solely to point out where at least one of my friends failed to see a distinct difference.

I am definitely going to purchase Subterfuge, it's just that despite having a unified system, sometimes it's hard to see how all the pieces fit together. Like doing a jigsaw puzzle in the dark with one arm tied behind your back.
#LotorAllura2020

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2019, 10:43:22 AM »
Finally finishing up my busiest period of the work year to pop back here. I thought I would share the first literary quote that appears in the book.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser faced each other across the two thieves sprawled senseless…each discerning something inexplicably familiar in the other. Fafhrd said, “Our motives for being here seem identical.”

“Seem? Surely must be!” The Mouser answered…

“How civilized of you!” Fafhrd commented in pleased tones…he glanced down. His gaze traveled from the belt and pouch of one fallen thief to those of the other. Then he looked up at the Mouser with a broad, ingenious smile.

“Sixty-sixty?” he suggested.


—Fritz Leiber, Swords and Deviltry

Offline RandalThor

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2019, 03:54:26 PM »
Just out of curiosity, is there an actual target date for release?
Ditto, here near the end of the year.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Scratch that. Power attracts the corruptible.

Rules should not replace the brain and thinking.

Offline NicholasHMCaldwell

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2019, 02:46:58 PM »
Artwork in progress for Subterfuge.

Best wishes,
Nicholas
Dr Nicholas HM Caldwell
Director, Iron Crown Enterprises Ltd
Publisher of Rolemaster, Spacemaster, Shadow World, Cyradon, HARP & HARP SF, and Cyberspace, with products available from www.drivethrurpg.com
Author: Mentalism Companion, GURPS Age of Napoleon, Construct Companion, College of Magics, HARP SF/HARP SF Xtreme

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2021, 09:49:24 PM »
Hello Again!

As we eagerly await this new book, I thought I would add that it should include a 7,000+ word addition not listed in the original post -- "The Appendix of the Con." After submitting the main manuscript, I had put the material out of my mind for a while. Then I read some interesting books about confidence games, and lots of typing later I submitted the new work to Nicholas.

This appendix primarily builds on the influence-focused chapter, but also expounds on ideas presented throughout the book (and other HARP titles) and includes a couple of new talents. If you prefer a bit more subterfuge role playing over combat in your game, this appendix will help.

Hopefully we get to see it soon!

Offline RandalThor

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2021, 07:13:26 PM »
Neat.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Scratch that. Power attracts the corruptible.

Rules should not replace the brain and thinking.

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2021, 01:49:42 PM »
Quote
For health reasons, Terry is progressing cautiously on HARP Subterfuge.
https://ironcrown.co.uk/ICEforums/index.php?topic=20242.msg236692#msg236692

Oh no! I hope I haven't hurt Terry too much with this manuscript. I started this topic thinking we wouldn't be too far off from publishing. Oops.

So, to make up for it, here is something practical you can use without needing other parts of the book. Please keep in mind this may or may not appear in the final product, so consider it optional for now. This is for those who use Mundane Lore and/or Mental Focus for bonus maneuvers.

But we also know that sometimes we believe we are correct or believe something to be true when it is not. Thus, we also recommend treating a Mundane Lore or Mental Focus roll of 01–05 as a natural fumble even though there is normally no fumble range associated with a Bonus maneuver. The following fumble tables can be used in such a circumstance.

Mundane Lore Fumble Table
01–25 - Perhaps you should have paid closer attention to your studies. Your mind is a complete blank. Continue with your maneuver without any bonus.
26–50 - You get lost in thought trying to recall this information. Your perception is at -20 for the next 5 rounds while the topic nags at your brain.
51–75 - You are confident of your memory for this topic. But you are wrong in some regard. You proceed with your main maneuver at -50.
76–00 - You are woefully misinformed; however, your spectacular confidence assures you that you have it correct. You instantly fumble your primary maneuver and must add +20 to your fumble roll for that action.

Mental Focus Fumble Table
01–25 - You seem to lack your normal focus today. You are not able to concentrate fully. Continue with your maneuver without any bonus.
26–50 - Something about this situation gives you déjà vu and distracts your mind. You can attempt your maneuver at - 20 or choose to abort the attempt (losing your action for this round).
51–75 - You have a sudden flashback to something completely unrelated and irritating (e.g. a nagging boyfriend) that breaks your concentration before you can stop yourself. Apply a -50 penalty to your primary maneuver roll.
76–00 - You snap out of your daydream just in time to see yourself fail miserably at your primary maneuver. Immediately roll a fumble for that maneuver and hope you live to curse your lack of discipline.



Lastly, maybe we can all beg Colin to post a thumbnail or two of some artwork that might appear in the book??? I know I would love to see a preview.

Offline Sai

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Re: HARP Subterfuge
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2021, 01:03:43 PM »
Alas, it appears Nicholas (and Terry) have been making high open-ended stalking roles and deftly going dark on HARP Subterfuge news. I've also begged Colin on the side for some art previews, but wasn't sure if Charm, Diplomacy, or Duping would influence him most. So in the meantime, here's another snippet of potential book material related to using animals as guards (for their unique perception and behaviors).

Considering Animal Perception and Reactions
The use of animals as guards or alarm systems is fairly common. Dogs may be the most familiar, but any trained animal or beast could be used. Perception stats for creatures are provided in various HARP books, but the following reaction table can help Gamemasters determine how a guard animal will respond if it perceives a threat (i.e. a successful Perception maneuver roll to detect a stalking thief). Reactions can vary based on the relative size of the animal to the threat and also if multiple animals are present (e.g. pack mentality).

Animal Reaction Table
01-10 Alert! — Animal(s) stay where they are but are alert and make nervous noises (growls) perceivable by other within 30’–50’.
11-25 Alarm! — Animal(s) stay where they are but make loud noises (barking) perceivable by others within 300’.
26-50 Aggressive! — Animal(s) make noise and engage threat, but do not attack. They attempt to turn the threat away but will retreat if approached.
51-00 Attack! — Animal(s) make noise and attack aggressively to eliminate the threat.


Modifiers to Animal Reaction Roll
Animal is significantly smaller than the threat: -30
Animal is moderately smaller than threat: -15
Animal is moderately larger or more than threat: +15
Animal has pack mentality and is with other animals: +15 (cumulative with size modifiers)