Organizations of Faerûn


Those Who Harp believe in the power of individuals, the balance between the wilderness and civilization, and the good of humankind and its allied creatures. They preserve the tales of the past so that others may remember its lessons when dealing with the present. Powerful individuals such as Elminster, Alustriel Silverhand, Dove Falconhand, and Storm Silverhand support the Harpers.

The Harpers usually operate in secret, alone or in small groups traveling throughout the North and the Western Heartlands. Many members are elves, rangers, or bards. While they lack a main base of operations, Harpers are common in Berdusk (in Twilight Hall, a building complex associated with the temple of Deneir) and Shadowdale (often sheltered by Elminster or other powerful allies).

The Harpers are opposed by evil organizations such as the Cult of the Dragon, the Iron Throne, the Red Wizards, the Zhentarim and in particular the resurgent church of Bane. Harpers identified by their enemies risk torture and death, making it essential that the Harpers protect their identities from all who might reveal their allegiance. Despite these dangers, Harpers are brave folk, facing dire perils with little more than their hearts and their hands.

Harpers have no standard equipment, although most are familiar with the use of magic items, and powerful members tend to have a large number of such items. A Harper agent might be an elf Warrior in mithral full plate or a penniless human ranger in leather. Harpers spread knowledge, aid common folk in small ways, thwart the schemes of villains, and manipulate the affairs of civilized races in order to preserve their idea of balance. In addition to these active Harpers, many folk serve as their spies, give them shelter when in trouble, watch for enemies, or report unusual occurrences.

Harpers often secretly aid adventurers and other groups that promote good causes, whether this aid consists of a pointer to a friendly innkeeper in a hostile town, a traveling cleric appearing just when the group is hurt or a surprise attack against a common foe.

The highest-ranked Harpers are called the High Harpers, and they are responsible for most of the long-term planning for the organization. The High Harpers are voted into their position by a secret-ballot among the other High Harpers, with the criteria being experience, exceptional service, and discretion in implementing the Harpers' plans. Some of the High Harpers gain the favor of deities that support the Harpers, achieving special powers and status much like the Chosen of a deity. (Chosen are characters specially selected by deities to serve them at particularly dangerous tasks and who are therefore given special powers.)

The Meaning of the Pin

Some members of Those Who Harp can be identified by the magical silver crescent moon-and-harp pins they bear, but a Harper otherwise be just about anyone from any walk of life They're disorganized, secretive, and tend to have many lone wolves in their ranks. Most work informally as solo agents who never band together. Elminster (a founder of the Harpers) once differentiated the Harpers from other secret societies as the only such group that "habitually worries about the effect of their actions on others." Senior Harpers tend to be cautious and careful, whereas younger Harpers tend to want to change the world personally, immediately if not sooner.

Others have called them "the meddlers of Faerûn," and the comment is largely correct. All work for what they see as good (though individual Harpers often sharply disagree on just what "good" is), and most, do so in a style that involves deception, misdirection, and covert action rather than open conflict.

The Harper Code is simply stated but hard to follow: to work against villainy and wickedness, to keep folk free of fear and tyranny, to support law and order, to gain peace wherever laws are just and fairly enforced, and to prevent extremes of power and influence and imbalances of wealth and opportunity.

In following these aims, Harpers do whatever must be done without thought of personal pride or comfort. They police themselves (traitor Harpers must die), are free to rebuke and disagree with other Harpers, aid other Harpers without hesitation or thought of cost (or expectation of payment); and try to record and preserve the past, accumulating written lore for all.

Some Harpers prefer to work actively in cooperation with other Harpers, following a hierarchy and long-range plans. That faction is based in Twilight Hall, in Berdusk and led by the half-elf bard Lady Cylyria. Others prefer to subtly manipulate events behind the scenes, practicing politics amid great secrecy. Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun is the most powerful of these, and he and his followers are often abrasively at odds with the other Harper branches. (In fact, Khelben's "Moonstars" have fallen out with Cylyria's followers altogether and no longer consider themselves part of the same organization.) The third sort of Harper prizes independent adventurers acting more or less as secret agents. These agents are led by Storm Silverhand in Shadowdale, aided her sister Dove Falconhand and Elminster.

In the Sword Coast, North, Cormyr, and the Dales, most common folk see Harpers as heroes; in Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan, they're considered no better than the Zhentarim and other sinister cabals.

Organizations of Faerûn
Lands of Faerûn