The Melderyn Campaign
The Origins of the Melderyn Campaign
In the summer of 1983 I found myself shopping at the Compleat Strategist in Montclair, NJ (long since closed) when a new product caught my eye. Picking it up off the shelf, I stood amazed at the cover which depicted the most amazing map I’d ever seen on a gaming product - detailed, colorful, compelling. It looked like this:

It was only after studying the map for a while that I noticed the name: Hârn. At $20 it was sold the moment I picked it up.

At that time I was looking forward to college in the fall, and wasn’t sure I’d still be gaming. I had wound up my previous campaign which had been a garden-variety AD&D World of Greyhawk slaughterfest. But the moment I got Hârn home, I began planning a new campaign set in that amazingly detailed world. From the start, however, I knew there were things I wanted to change. Mind you I had no idea then that this world would still be going strong more than two decades later, and that it would have literally millions of words in print from two companies and countless fans. My eye did catch the phrase in the Harnview that the creators would not be upset even if I only used 10% of it, and I took them up on that, although it is something more like 90%. Still, the changes I did make were fairly major. The rules at the time were still 2nd Ed. AD&D but I had replaced the combat system with ICE’s Arms/Claw Law and later adapted Spell Law as well. In 1987, I adopted Harnmaster and converted all the existing characters.

For those of you familiar with the setting, you will know that one of the major kingdoms of Hârn is Melderyn, and I immediately set to rewriting the family and politics of that land. (I might not have been so drastic had I known how much material was to follow, but at the time all I had was the setting and no indication that anything else would ever be published.) The Toron Dynasty became the Parkhurst Dynasty, and were members of a magical race of sorcerers. I have always enjoyed Katherine Kurtz’s novels of the Deryni in concept, although I find her style a bit too akin to ‘romance novels’ for my taste. I borrowed her idea of the Deryni though none of her characters or places. Besides, Melderyn - Deryni - it all seemed to fit and I’ve often wondered if Robin Crossby wasn’t influenced by her as well. The Deryni in my campaign were rare, powerful, and tended to congregate at the highest levels of society, but they did not have a monopoly on magic as the Shek Pvar existed even then. I postulated that Deryni magic was from within (like psionics) and Shek Pvar magic from without (more traditional FRP wizards).

The theme behind the campaign was the career of an ambitious younger son of the King of Melderyn, chafing at having to bow to his brother all his life, starting at the moment he launched a coup d’etat to seize a crown for himself. A similar coup occurred in history in one of the Deryni novels, and I cannot say at this remove if I wasn’t influenced by that at the time. As one of my long-term players has noted, I’ve always been interested in the urbane, polished villain, and so this prince was. Known primarily as Arren of Melderyn, he is normally in the background, but occasionally makes an appearance. He is yet, a colossus who bestrides Hârn, never far from the minds of the players and rarely from events. The campaign itself began on the night of the coup, in the very city of the coup, with the players unwittingly involved in one of the minor activities that night involving an NPC who is still active.

Since then, more than ten years of game history has elapsed, and I’ve occasionally wondered if it wasn’t time to start fresh. But the story still interests me and apparently the players, and it has become almost an ‘unfolding history’ of sorts. Naturally I have a broad idea of the sequence of events but the actual progress of time still provides new material. I am on my third major player group, although some have been there since the beginning, and have had many characters over the years. Many of the retired PCs still exist as NPCs, and the stock of people and events has grown over the years to the point where I’d be loath to give them all up and start from scratch.

So far so good.

The Melderyn Campaign is an ongoing gaming experience now in its 34th year. It is based on the RPG environment known as Harn which was created by N. Robin Crossby.

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When & Where
The party is presently in Tashal, the Gray Lady of the Kald.

Current date: 5 Nuzyael 733 TR

Campaign Origin

Harn Forum
Melderyn Forum

Publishers & Fanon Resources:
Harn Religion Team
Knights of Kaldor
Pax Tharda
Sophia’s Harn Page
Tower Hills

Campaign Resources
Player Calendars