Written by: James S.
A Harpy is a creature with the body of a woman and the wings and lower body of a bird, typically featuring large, powerful talons. They possess a haunting and seductive beauty that masks their predatory nature. Their hypnotic songs and dulcet voices can enchant and lure unsuspecting victims into their grasp. Prepare for an engaging and airborne encounter with these captivating creatures using the "Colossus - Construction Site Day" Czepeku battlemap, and consider the following encounter elements:
- Harpies have nested atop the Colossus, attacking ships and disrupting trade.
- Abducted, enchanted sailors fight on their behalf.
- Narrow platforms and the Harpies’ luring siren ability make combat perilous.
- The Harpies keep their distance, attacking from the safety of the air.
- Harpies will attempt to grapple players off the edge, dropping them to their deaths below.
- With a threat to their nest, the Harpies will become frenzied and throw caution to the wind.
Once a proud and gleaming symbol of the city’s prosperity, the Colossus now stands encrusted with chalky droppings and vivid fungal growth. Patinated streaks of green run in rivulets down its cheeks. Trade in the harbour has dwindled to a mere trickle while sailors, fearing for their lives, linger overlong on land. Sea winds carry acrid dust and black feathers; Harpies roost above.
The city constructed wooden scaffolds around the Colossus some months ago to carry out cleaning and repairs, but during the work, a flock of Harpies descended upon it. They made a nest and abducted the work crew, along with sailors, from passing vessels. Their fate is yet unknown.
Entice the players up there however you like. Perhaps the city council is desperate, offering the last of their gold reserves as a reward for clearing the Harpies’ nest and allowing trade to flow again. Perhaps the players know one of the abductees. In any case, the players must understand that destroying the nest is the priority. The eggs must not hatch. If they do, generations of Harpies will return year after year.
They will soon find that the wooden scaffolding has not endured well. Seaspray, Harpy droppings, and a rash of strange fungal growth have all weakened the wooden structure, which creaks and sags under the players’ weight. The wind squalls ominously—a sudden gust could pull them all to a watery grave. If they had the foresight to bring rope and other climbing gear, reward them by pointing out rows of pitons built into the Colossus for safety. They could attach themselves and make the journey upwards less dangerous.
Once the Harpies notice the players, they will try several different tactics:
- Lure them off the edge of the platform with their song.
- Send captives from the nest to fight for them.
- Harass the players from afar.
- Directly try to grapple players into the air, dropping them onto the rocks below.
As the Harpies sing, describe how their appearance changes and shifts. One moment, they seem to be the greasy, loathsome vultures that they are, and the next, they seem to become graceful, serene creatures. Their song is at once piercingly shrill and beguilingly beautiful.
The Harpies’ captives are filthy, disheveled, and starving, but they fight viciously, and although weakened, they are utterly in the Harpies’ thrall. The men fling themselves at the players with little regard for their own safety, though their terrified eyes say otherwise.
As well as spears and rocks, the harpies employ ropes, grappling hooks, and sheets of ragged canvas from ships they have ruined. Their weapons are designed to throw players off balance, attack from afar, incapacitate, and drag them off the scaffold.
The Harpies will not immediately commit to a prolonged fight. They will strike and retreat repeatedly, hoping that the players will give up and turn back. However, if the players reach the nest, the Harpies will attack without reservation.
The nest itself is a grim sight. Unwashed prisoners huddle amidst a mass of ship timbers and bones perched upon the sculpted hair of the Colossus. Each of them cradles a large egg. It is the heat from their bodies that the Harpies use to incubate their children and the blood in their veins that will serve as a first meal. The smell is obscene. The prisoners’ mouths are stained with blood as if they themselves have been feeding. You could go all-out disgusting and suggest that the Harpies have been feeding these prisoners like baby birds… but perhaps some things are best left to the imagination.
It is up to you whether the Harpies’ deaths release the captives from their enchanted state. Perhaps it is the eggs they are bonded to, and only by destroying the eggs will they be free. Perhaps even then, they do not wish to leave. Each one weeps and mourns as if for the passing of their beloved.
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