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There are many power groups, big and small, in Faerun. Some aspire to conquest, and others long to defend the weak against such conquest. Of the latter category, I declare that none are as enigmatic (or as frustrating) as the Harpers.
That the Harpers are a force for good, I shall not dispute - In fact, one would find it hard to find any good-hearted souls who would deny this. However, the methods of the Harpers, as well as their definition of good, rankle some and confuse others.
First of all, let me say directly that I am most certainly NOT a Harper. Not everyone with a golden voice is a Harper, and not every Harper has a golden voice, if you grasp my meaning.
Harpers seem to focus their vision on the greater good in the broadest sense of the term. They seem to care little for kings and countries. To them, the defense of the weak and the preservation
Of nature are goals of equal weight. If they need to run afoul of the plans of kings whoare essentially good in their outlook, then so be it.
Harpers rely on secrecy and anonymity to pursue their goals. This causes them to be mistrusted sometimes by well-intentioned folk who value openness and forthrightness in the struggle against evil and oppression. In my humble opinion, you would sooner find a nearsighted beholder than you would a paladin in the Harpers' organization.
People of any race and any profession may be part of the Harpers' organization, though rangers, druids, and bards seem to be the most prominent members. However, these are merely those like-minded folks of particular professions who are of the Harper organization.
There are warriors whose careers are tied only to the Harpers - They are fully dedicated to the Harpers' cause and are trained to fulfill the Harpers' goals. In essence, their adventuring lives are established by and dedicated to this mysterious organization, as opposed to others who establish vocations and become Harpers later.
If you have not yet decided a career for yourself, and the goals and disposition of the Harpers match yours, then read on - You may find the perfect calling within the next few pages! Be warned, though. As a Harper, you cannot run around proclaiming your status to all who would listen - You cannot use your position for excessive personal gain. What's more, you never know when some important elder Harper may summon you on a mission of grave importance, one that you may very well not return from.
Being a Harper is a privilege, but it is a responsibility even more.
Those responsibilities are the reasons why I have not joined, and never would, even if begged. I am accountable only to myself and those comrades with whom I have thrown my lot. However, if you do not shrink from fighting the good fight from the shadows, read on and join up. All I can do is wish the blessings of Tymora's smile upon you, for you shall need them!
-Mendryll Belarod the Halfelven
Ability Requirements: Strength 12, Dexterity 13,
Prime Requisites: Strength, Wisdom Races Allowed: Any
Those Who Harp, or Harpers as they are better known, are a loose-knit band of brave souls who oppose the forces of evil at every opportunity. Whether their actions center on the dark plots of the Zhentarim or on the expansionist plans of a power-hungry king, the Harpers risk their lives-and ofttimes sacrifice them-for the greater good of the people. Despite their activities, however, the life of a Harper is not always played out on the stage of battle.
Stealth and clever thought are as highly prized-nay, more so-as a Harper's strength in battle. Turning an enemy's own machinations against him or simply spreading word of his actions to his enemies have proven far more effective tactics for the Harpers than any martial battles over the last 400 years. There are times when a battle must be fought to stop some horrible plot or foe, times when the best-laid plans of the Harpers have proven ineffective and it comes down simply to strength of arms and convictions. These are the times upon which ballads are based and friends are lost to the uncaring sands of history.
Those who have made the decision to commit their lives to Those Who Harp must agree to abide by the Code of the Harpers. While this reference is not intended to cover every aspect of Harper conduct, the central points are:
For a complete listing, refer to FOR4 The Code of the
All Harpers are of either neutral or good alignment. A Harper who has a score of 16 or more in both Strength and Wisdom gains a 10% bonus on earned experience points.
A Harper makes all saving throws and attack rolls on the warrior charts. The kit's experience point advancement is equivalent to that of a ranger. As a subclass of a warrior, Harpers cannot specialize in a weapon. Harpers are free to wear any armor they choose, but they suffer penalties to their hide in shadows and move silently rolls accordingly. These adjustments are found on Table 2.
At lst level, a Harper does not have her Harper's pin. In fact, many initiates to the organization begin by undertaking a quest or journey for Those Who Harp. She may be followed by a veteran Harper who watches her, observing how she handles the tasks before her and coming to her aid if she gets in over her head. There is no set level at which a pin is given to an initiate; once a newcomer has proven her worth and good intentions to her companion Harper, she may be rewarded by receiving the pin at a special ceremony attended by other Harpers, usually at 2nd or 3rd level.
At 5th level, the Harper gains the ability to pass without trace (as the spell) once per day. Many consider this gift to be a blessing from one of the many powers who sanction the actions of Those Who Harp. For every three levels attained thereafter, the Harper can affect one additional creature (two creatures at levels 8-10, three at levels 11-13, etc.).
All Harpers begin with the following special abilities, detailed below. This table assumes that the character striving to be a Harper has trained for it most of her young life. If a player's pre-existing human character decides to become a Harper (by the Dual-Class rules), the DM is totally within reason to make that character spend time training with another thief, ranger, or Harper in an effort to learn these core abilities before entering the Harper subclass.
Identify Rune: This ability is used primarily to determine the meaning of a particular rune left behind by a fellow Harper. Since most Harpers leave signs as to which trail is safe or the location of a hidden cache of items, the ability to correctly identify the rune is important.
This ability can be used in many ways. It can identify a rune that the character has never seen before-there
is no "Harper Academy" that teaches all the accepted symbols, but there are similarities in how the symbols are formed as well as used. Once a PC has learned a certain rune, there is no need to check each time that rune is found.
A successful identify rune check can also inform the Harper as to who left the rune. This can only be accomplished if the author of the rune has his own distinctive mark, of course. Such a check is never 100% certain, of course, but many Harpers who mark the trails and roads work in a set geographic area.
A successful check also tells whether the rune is true or not. Although many Harpers draw an extra "dot" in the symbol to indicate that it is false, they can leave marks of their own meant to confuse others who learn Harpers'marks. A successful check (with possible DM modifiers) indicates that the Harper sees a flaw with the symbol. "It looks as though this rune has been altered to appear as if it was false, when it is, in fact, true."
Sign Language: Many of the Master Harpers have an ability, similar to the drows' silent language of gestures and expressions, known as harpspeak. Few Harpers ever master this language, and they never teach more than a few gestures to those outside the Harper organization.
In order for a Harper to learn harpspeak, she must select a proficiency in modern languages at 6th level (when all warriors gain a nonweapon proficiency). This ability can be adopted then if they wish to learn it. In game terms, the Harper must be trained by another Harper of at least 9th level who knows the silent language. Finding a Harper to teach harpspeak could be quite a journey in itself.
Unlike standard nonweapon proficiencies, there is no proficiency check for the successful use of harpspeak, and you cannot spend extra proficiency slots to improve the ability. The proficiency slot simply identifies that the Harper character has learned this silent language. The percentile check is made to determine if a person notices the silent communication going on. The check also determines if the communicating Harper conveys her information quickly, clearly, and silently during a crisis. There is no middle ground; a Harper either catches the "knowing wink" by a comrade or else the "speech" is missed altogether.
Each piece of harpspeak builds on the action before it. A wink followed by a frown might indicate "something is wrong-go outside" while a frown followed by a wink might indicate "prepare for battle." Bits and pieces of this silent conversation cannot be discerned with any degree of certainty by anyone without knowledge of harpspeak.
A Harper who fails to catch the communication by rolling 96% or higher has totally misread the missive or missed an important signal earlier in the delivery. The signs might not be comprehensible ("Roll my sister through the mud pits?"), be missing some important information ("Disable those guards" could be interpreted as an attack signal when the message was "Wait silently until I disable those guards."), or be totally catastrophic, such as an indication to kill someone when the real meaning was "That wizard is our friend." Again, this miscommunication only occurs on disastrous proficiency check rolls.
While a Harper is free to take proficiencies like any other warrior, there are a few that all Harpers have in common to one degree or another. Since part of their code deals with preserving history, an understanding of ancient history is essential. Since written history is more reliable than that told by ballads, reading/writing is also required.
Of course, there are as many different types of Harpers as there are stars under a summer sky. Priests, wizards, and rogues of every kind fill their ranks. Harpers of this kit choose proficiencies from the General, Rogue, and Warrior categories.
Weapon Proficiencies: Any
Nonweapon Proficiencies: Required-Ancient History, Reading/Writing. Recommended-Disguise, Etiquette, Heraldry, Musical Instrument, Reading Lips, Religion (Priest; double slots), Singing, Tracking.
There are two means by which a Harper attracts followers. The first is by the construction of a stronghold, while the second deals with a more active role in the Harper organization.
A Harper of 10th level who constructs a stronghold has decided to maintain a base of operations. While many Harpers applaud such a move, many others quickly point out the dangers of setting up a permanent camp. Zhentarim and Red Wizard forces have been quick to attack any Harper strongholds ever erected. By knowing the location of a permanent Harper base, agents of these dark forces can watch the activities of anyone that has contact with the ruler of this stronghold. Still, there arethose who, for one reason or another, advertise their presence to the various dark forces they have opposed over the years (Elminster of Shadowdale is one of them). Once a stronghold has been built, the Harper attracts followers as a fighter would. In addition to those, she also receives an extra unit of elite troops. All of these followers may see a lot of action if the Harpers' enemies attempt to destroy the stronghold. Harpers who do not build a stronghold still attract other creatures with goals similar to their own. These followers are aware of the Harper's status, and they form an elite core of bodyguards and operatives from which the Harper can draw. At 10th level, the Harper attracts 2d6 followers. Roll percentile dice and consult the table below.
Table 3.- Harper Followers
Roll (dlOO) Follower
1-10 5th-level fighter (human)
11-17 4th-level ranger (half-elf)
18-25 4th-level bard (elf)
26-35 5th-levet thief (human)
38-42 4th-level illusionist (human)
43-45 4th-level illusionist/thief (gnome)
46-65 3rd-levet fighter (human)
66-71 5th-level priest (any race)
74-79 5th-level wizard (human)
80-83 5th-level paladin (human)
84-85 Wood Giant*
86-90 7th-level bard (any race)
91 6th-level diviner (human)
92-94 3rd-level fighter/wizard/thief (elf)
95-96 6th-level priest (any race)
99 Infiltration Attempt*
00 Spectral Harpist*
If this result has already been generated, roll again on this table.
Dragons: This is always a metallic dragon of juvenile age (26-50 years old) that has heard of the Harper's deeds and is intrigued enough to want to associate with the Harper on a limited basis. This dragon is not at the Harper's beck and call, but comes and goes as it pleases. In any event, the dragon departs when it becomes an adult (101 years). Regardless of any friendship with the Harpers, few dragons ever leave their lairs once they are established or place them where others, including friendly Harpers, could easily get to them.
Infiltration Attempt: Sometimes tales of a Harper's e ploits spread farther than expected. In this instance, en emies of the Harpers (the Red Wizards, Zhentarim, etc. attempt to plant a spy into the PCs camp. Such traitor ous "followers" are extraordinarily difficult to uncove and could be the driving force behind many adventures Spectral Harpist: The spectral harpist is an undea creature-formerly a Master Harper-who was kille while serving the Harpers. His duty unfulfilled, th harpist roams the land trying to complete its mission Through fate or other powers, his path crosses with tha of the PC.
In order to complete its mission, the harpist needs the assistance of the PC. If the Harper aids the harpist, the undead spirit agrees to stay and aid the Harper for a set period of time, generally no more than a year or two. Once this time has expired, the spectral harpist finally finds peace. These creatures are detailed in The Code of the Harpers.
Like any others, these followers expect to be paid for their efforts. While they stay with the PC through thick and thin, they expect fair shares of treasure based on the amount of danger they are placed in by the hero. Only the spectral harpist requires no monetary reward.
Harpers must never knowingly perform an evil act. If they do, they are immediately stripped of all special abilities and become normal fighters. Only a properly worded wish that negates their evil act, or a suitable quest can restore their status as Harpers.
Harpers under magical control who perform an evil act must atone for their actions. Such atonement could take the form of an NPC priest casting atonement, or it could be as simple as slaying the one responsible for the control.
Foremost in a Harper's mind is the thought that secrecy must be maintained. Only good-aligned persons who have proven their loyalty should know their comrade is a Harper. This knowledge is never given lightly.
A Harper must always work to be sure the greater good is maintained. This can transcend national boundaries and sometimes runs counter to laws or individual choices. A Harper must always be ready to fight for this greater good whenever necessary.
Return from wince ye came.