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Currently, I am trying to make a text adventure rpg in Harlowe and I want to add special features to combat to make it lively and exciting. This is not necessary for the game, but I was wondering if this could be done.

I want to be able to use an interactive animation or flash to deal damage (i.e. interact with variables.) Can I do that, and if so, how?

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Why would you want your animations to act on variables?  Shouldn't they be acting on events instead?  I.e., the player got hit -> animation, rather than HP is reduced -> animation.

I don't imagine you'll really need to access anything inside Harlowe's engine, just pile on CSS and JS when the things happen.