||Harpies combine the head and breast of a woman – usually an ugly, peevish hag – with the lower body and wings of a vulture. Harpies are cruel, pernicious creatures that revel in tormenting and inflicting suffering. It is rare for them to kill a foe outright, preferring instead to snatch, scratch and bite before flying off to a safe distance and shrieking insults.
Vile and twisted beings; hatred tightens the pale asymmetries of a woman’s face and that same hatred gleams from her narrowed eyes. Tension tempers her slender neck and small breasts.
This is reflected in the dirty, blue plumage of her wings and avian body her psyche hungers for violence. Harpies are attracted to areas where evil power has saturated the very air and ground. In these unsavoury areas the Harpy will nest, breeding her young in bare-branched, dead trees, and as often as not slaying the father after the birth of her young to provide the fledglings food. Directed towards all except her own kind and sex, the Harpy’s malice seeks always to bring hurt and misfortune.
Harpies are prone to acts of petty cruelty. A favoured torment is the theft and despoiling of food. Harpies might target an outdoors feast or banquet, or deliberately steal from food stores, setting out to wreck a fine harvest or ruin what meagre supplies a community has managed to put down for the winter months. They rarely take food for their own sustenance: their delight is purely in denying others. They also enjoy contaminating food stocks with their dung– rendering it disease-ridden and inedible. They can do this once per day each. They are also fond of stealing small items of value. If an Adventurer gains the enmity of a harpy (easily done), it will follow them for miles, albeit at a safe distance, indulging itself in whatever torments it can devise.
Harpies typically dive and strike, aiming for the head and upper body, inflicting scratches with their sharp claws. Additionally, they attempt to seize weapons and shields (using the Grip special effect) which they then carry away and drop, well out of reach.
Harpies also fight by dropping stones on their foes. These stones are between 5 and 10 kilograms and inflict 1D6 damage for every three metres the stone falls (to a maximum of 10D6). The harpy’s chance to hit decreases by 5% per three metres of distance the stone falls.
The Harpy’s deadly cries have been known to paralyze foes, increasing the deadliness of her cruel talons. Harpies are also supernaturally adept with learning the ways of random weapons they may have picked up from previous prey in their claws. The favourite tactic of the Harpy is to wait concealed above in the branches of a dead tree by night, then ambush its prey with the aid of a full contingent of its sisters.
Lore: After a lifetime of evil life, filled with the most despicable and unmentionable activities (which were not limited to consorting with both the dead and the demonic), the sorceress Harp the Older became gravid with child. Uncertain as to whom to attribute to event to, she nonetheless brought the child to term, but what a child: a girl’s forebody seemingly melded into the hindquarters of one of the more unsavory birds of prey. Harp raised the child in spite of its disfigurement, obviously mystical in origin; so brought into the world the species known as Harpies.