Friday, 20 March 2020

Harpies


Creatures combining the heads and breasts of women with the bodies, wings and talons of  vultures. While their claws are dextrous enough to use tools, such things are difficult for them, and they prefer to have others do their work for them.
A harpy is gifted with a preternatural ability to sense the sins and crimes of others, and take a certain cruel delight in using this knowledge to their advantage. Harpies claim to have been created with the purpose of capturing sinners and delivering them to hell. They view their acts as perfectly justified; if their victims didn’t want to suffer so, they should never have sinned in the first place.
Encounters with harpies will vary wildly depending on the moral character of the PCs. The virtuous find the vulture-women pleasant and helpful company, while more weak-willed sinful characters will be tormented and perhaps enslaved, serving as the harpies’ thralls. The greatest sinners are attacked without mercy and with great cunning, so that the harpies might drag their souls off to the pit.

Their Settlements
Harpy settlements are crude affairs, often little more than nests made from sticks and mud. These nests might be made under tree canopies or overhanging cliffs, or else on a commanding position on the harpies’ island.
As well as the harpies’ own nests, there are the homes of their thralls - human sinners whom the harpies control by invoking their sins. These homes tend to be rather better quality than those of their mistresses, simple but fairly comfortable stone or wood huts.
Lastly, at the heart of every harpy colony is a deep crack, from which sulphurous vapours issue. It is into this pit that the harpies cast the souls of sinners. At the bottom of the pit is hell itself; if a PC decides to go down, they probably won’t be coming back.

Stats
  • 3 Hit-dice.
  • 10 HP.
  • Armour as Chain.
  • 2 Claws (+3, d4) and either a command or a shriek.
  • Saves as Fighter 3.
  • Can fly.
  • By concentrating a little, can learn the greatest sin of somebody they observe; ask the player OOC what it is.
  • By naming a victim’s greatest sin, can lay a command upon that victim. Victim has a choice: comply, or resist. Resisting the command deals damage, depending on the sinfulness of the victim; d4 for the mostly innocent, d8 for the moderately sinful, d12 for the truly depraved. No save.
  • A victim killed by a harpy has its soul torn from its body. If the victim was virtuous, the soul dissipates to meet its reward in paradise, but if sinful, the harpy’s claws dig into its intangible form, and can carry it away to the torment that awaits it. Either way, resurrection is prevented.
  • Shrieking at full volume damages the ears and psyches of those able to hear it. Everybody hearing the shriek takes d8 damage. 


Harpy thralls have the stats of Lost Sailors, and don’t live particularly pleasant lives.



2 comments:

  1. What defines the sin in this situation?
    For example, if the spider-like creature kills and eats their mates (as certain spiders do IRL) will this be considered a sin of murder by harpies? Especially if this is possibly avoidable (as with some clever spiders IRL who manage to get away before they are eaten)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is being kept fairly vague; mechanically, each PC's player gets to decide, and how they approach that should make for some interesting discussions. (obviously, the GM may need to call bullshit, eg "Frank, your character burned down an orphanage and ate the survivors, your greatest sin is probably not swearing").
      I figure if a module's gonna seriously engage with sin and morality as a theme, you want to be provoking discussions at the table rather than having it pre-determined.

      Really, my answer to that would be an expression of *my* views on morality, but each group will need to decide how to handle it at their own table.
      Personally, I would argue that if the spider-creature has free will and *could* have chosen not to eat her mate, then not resisting that built-in urge would be sinful, but somewhat less sinful than, like, if a human lady kills and eats her husband. Obviously, if the spider doesn't have the free will to resist the urge, then it can't be held responsible for its actions, any more than a dumb animal can.

      Delete