Cities of Hârn (1983)

Cities of Harn (1983) is, well, a book detailing the seven major cities of Harn. Says so right on the cover. The cities are as realistically detailed as everything else in Harn and this is one of the very best city treatments of the 80s, right up there in my book with D&D’s Lankhmar (1985) and Chaosium’s Pavis (1983) and Carse (1986). And honestly, edging them out – none feel quite so complete as the cities of Harn.

The thing about Harn is that no one at this point had gotten a handle on campaign settings yet. Most were really just collections of adventure seeds wrapped in some broad cultural glosses.  From 1983 to 1987, more than 30 supplements for Harn came out. Every kingdom got a book, there is a 16 volume encyclopedia (only totaling like 400 pages, but still). These cities. Religion. Major castles. After Harn was mostly fleshed out, Crossby moved on to the other continents. All of this material is methodical and incredibly internally consistent. Cohesive. Nothing else from that period comes close to the amount of detail in Harn, and a good deal of it after, right up to now. There are like a million Forgotten Realms books and it is still no contest. So much of how game worlds are built comes directly out of Harn.

I should mention that Harn has some of the best looking maps in RPGs. Until I recently got to dig into Harn, I thought MERP ran away with this prize. After soaking in Harn, though, I think Crossby and Garry Steinhilber (who did the floorplans) make that race too close to call.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *