Dungeons and Dragons – Mystara
Organisations – The Harpers
- Source Material: Princes of the Apocalypse (pota15), Sword Coast Adventures Guide (scag), Out of the Abyss (oota127)
- Who are The Harpers
- Background – Faction Agent
- Mystara Adventure Hooks
- Harpers in Mystara
- Harpers in Other Settings
- Further Information
- Content Updates
This is a post relating to the migration of The Harpers as an organisation linked Rheddrian’s Investigation Bureau into my Mystara setting so when I reference them in sourcebooks I know who I have adapted them to and why.
Who are The Harpers
The Harpers are an organisation set in the Forgotten Realm Campaign Setting.
Harpers try to keep out of the public eye, preferring secrecy to fame and using knowledge to win the day over brute force.
A scattered network of spellcasters and spies, the Harpers advocate equality and covertly oppose the abuse of power, magical or otherwise. Agents operate in secret and emphasize stealth and subtlety, or at the very least discretion. Bards and wizards are their most prominent members.
A splinter organisation known as the Moonstars exists. Although the Moonstars worked in concert at times with the Harpers, they also worked at cross purposes, and the Moonstars membership included many whom the Harpers considered too evil, such as a vampire. The Moonstars performed many good deeds, but their methods were often more brutal and pragmatic than the Harpers’ lofty ideals allowed.
Bards and The Harpers
Bards in the North and the Dalelands benefit from the existence of the Harpers, that legendary society recruiting bards and other independent agents to struggle against the forces of evil. Even though most bards in the region aren’t Harpers (and many who are don’t advertise that fact), common folk in the North often behave as if all bards are legendary wandering heroes, and are as likely to ask a bard for the solution to a problem troubling their community as they are a wandering fighter or wizard. This reputation cuts both ways, however, as some enemies of the Harpers suspiciously assume any humble minstrel might secretly be a Harper agent.
Druids and the Harpers
Druid circles in the North are often allied with the Harpers, as they have common purpose, with bards and rangers serving as go-betweens. Individual Harpers can usually expect a circle to at least grant them food and shelter, and an opportunity to attend a gathering and speak, if they wish.
Still, the Harpers aren’t a druidic organisation and, despite what some common folk might believe, not every druid or druid circle is allied with, or even friendly toward, the Harpers and their cause. Indeed, some druids consider the Harpers busybodies who threaten the natural balance almost as much as the evils that they fight against.
Background – Faction Agent
Founded more than a millennium ago, disbanded and reorganized several times, the Harpers remain a powerful, behind-the-scenes agency, which acts to thwart evil and promote fairness through knowledge, rather than brute force. Harper agents are often proficient in Investigation, enabling them to be adept at snooping and spying. They often seek aid from other Harpers, sympathetic bards and innkeepers, rangers, and the clergy of gods that are aligned with the Harpers’ ideals.
Harper agents operate most effectively alone or in small groups, much like adventurers. When on a mission, they are independent and self-reliant. The ideal Harper is a keen observer, persuasive, and able to go almost anywhere without arousing suspicion.
Mystara Adventure Hooks
Harpers in Mystara
In my version of Mystara I have the Rheddrian’s Investigation Bureau doing the same job as what The Harpers would normally be doing. So I have his agents calling themselves RIB Agents as an optional replacement for references to The Harpers a way of linking to this setting without having to rewrite the existing adventures I have been bringing in.
Harpers in Darokin
Remallia Haventree (Chaotic good female moon elf fighter) The elf noble Remallia-“Remi” to her friends-is the Harper’s leading delegate to the Council of Darokin. She is quiet, speaking only after others have had their turn, and is content to let events unfold until she feels a need to offer intervention and guidance.
Harpers in Shadowlands
Harper scouts engaged in charting and blocking off Underdark passages leading to the surface world have recently brought back the terrifying news of the demon lords incursion into the Underdark. Word has spread quickly through their network, and the finest mages in their ranks are researching how to defeat the demon lords and their kind.
For long years, the Harpers have sworn to put an end to unbridled evil in all its forms – especially evil that wields dark magic. They know the demon lords seek to prey on the weak and corrupt the innocent. The Harpers feel this is the moment they have trained for, and their conscience now calls them to act
Harpers in Vestland
These are notes from Princes of the Apocalypse and Apply to the Red Larch region in the Dessian Valley connecting Vestland to the Ethengarian Steppes.
Harpers operate in small cells throughout the North. One is based in Triboar: Darathra Shendrel, the Lord Protector, belongs to the faction, and Harper agents can find welcome at the Home of the Boars.
Another cell in the prosperous trade center of Yartar monitors traffic in the Dessarin Valley and the actions and policies of the city’s Waterbaron. The Harpers work to maintain the balance of power between the various groups competing to influence the city.
In the Sumber Hills, the Harpers warn travelers and adventurers to stay clear of Rundreth Manor and the Dark Lady who dwells there. Harpers also watch the ruined Halls of the Hunting Axe.
Harpers in Other Settings
Dark Sun – Athas
The Veiled Alliance (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
The Veiled Alliance is a secret society dedicated to the overthrow of the evil sorcerer-kings who dominate the Tyr Region. Like the Harpers, its ranks include a number of rogues, spellcasters, and spies. Few organizations or movements in Athas operate across multiple city-states, but the Veiled Alliance is one of them. Heroes who give their allegiance to the Veiled Alliance would primarily be interested in stopping the defilers who serve the elemental cults and making sure the sorcerer-kings do not get their hands on the secrets of elemental power.
Dragonlance – Krynn
Benevolent locals (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
There is no clear match for this world-spanning organization in Krynn. Instead of an established faction, treat the various Harper contacts in the adventure as friendly NPCs who are willing to help the characters along, so long as they appear to be working for the forces of good.
Greyhawk – Oerth
The Circle of Eight (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
The closest equivalent to the Harpers is the Circle of Eight. Although membership in the circle itself is restricted to the most powerful wizards, the group employs many agents and spies to look after its interests. The Circle of Eight is much less benevolent than the Harpers: its wizards are not particularly concerned about tyranny and are more interested in preserving a balance of power throughout the Flanaess. However, major magical threats (such as the rise of Elemental Evil) are very much within the circle’s purview.
The Library of Korranberg or Morgrave or House Lyrander or House Tharashk (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
It’s a bit of a stretch, but consider using one of Eberron’s academic organizations – the Library of Korranberg or Morgrave University – as the equivalent of the Harpers. Their purpose is less political, but they’re still altruistic and stand largely outside existing power structures. And with so many mysteries of Eberron waiting to be discovered, those organizations are out in the dangerous places of the world quite a bit—just like the Harpers.
Further Information for The Dungeon Master
- Tyranny of Dragons (tod14)
- 2021-08-24 – Added in adventure hooks.
- 2021-08-18 – Update to the menu.
- 2020-09-19 – Added information relating to Out of the Abyss.
- 2020-08-30 – Added information relating to Tyranny of Dragons.
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