Harn5 1

100 Bushels of Rye (1988)

Once HarnMaster came out, Columbia shifted focus a bit from producing more setting source material to producing adventures. The first was 100 Bushels of Rye (1988), named for the missing feudal obligation that clues the larger world in to the fact that something is wrong in the village of Loban. The result is an understated classic.

First, Rye uses the setting well. The story is very much invested in the workings of the feudal system, its economic pressures and how the people of Loban are in an ongoing culture clash with a nearby tribal group (inspired by Celts and decidedly un-feudal). All these sort of big picture problems and systems conspire to create a situation in which villagers keep winding up dead, likely murdered.

Getting to the bottom of this situation requires investigation. There is very little opportunity to swing a sword. Most of the adventure is going to be spent charting out local economic obligations. When the mystery leads outside the village, it winds up at a nice little adventuring site that combines natural caverns, man made ruins and perhaps a monster. There is definitely a villain of the piece, but they’re spurred on by a series of events that no one could have calculated the consequences of — I find that kind of story satisfying and rare, as they usually result in situations that require difficult decisions. Not bad for a first outing!

The module looks nice, too. I appreciate the general Harn aesthetic and this one embraces it to good effect. Lots of good maps and places that are sort of recognizable without being boring. And, bonus: it is nominally intended for HarnMaster, but recognizing that lots of folks use Harn as a setting for other game systems, it is also designed to be easily adaptable, which I appreciate

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