Contest of Wills
The Harpers are a semi-secret organization dedicated to promoting good, preserving history (including art and music of old) and maintaining a balance between civilization and nature by keeping kingdoms small and the destruction of plant life to a minimum. They consider the elven empire of Myth Drannor shortly before its fall to be the pinnacle of civilized history and strive to recreate the world in that image.
Those Who Harp are led by a council of seven High Harpers, who are responsible for most of the group’s long-term plans and goals. High Harpers are elected through the means of secret ballots among the other High Harpers, with the criteria being long time service and extreme discretion in the implementation of their plans.
The Harpers have disbanded three times in history, the most recent group is based only in areas in Luruar.
The Harpers were first founded in 324 DR as the Harpers at Twilight. They became the Harpers in 720 DR, disbanded and then were reformed in 1022 DR. The group made their presence felt in the Western Heartlands due to their doings with Baldur’s Gate, though they were also felt in Silverymoon. A schism in the group would form after Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun left the group to form the Moonstars in Waterdeep.
Most members are either good/neutral-aligned rangers or bards, though many wizards and druids are also their willing allies. Five prestige classes are tied to the Harpers including the Harper paragon, Harper mage, Harper priest, Harper agent and Master Harper. It should be noted that this wiki considers Harper agent and Harper scout to be the same prestige class in two different versions of the game (3.5 and 3rd, respectively).
The Harpers operate mainly in the North Faerûn, along the Sword Coast, the Western Heartlands and the Dalelands. The group itself is extremely decentralized and the nearest thing they have to a base of operations is Twilight Hall in Berdusk. An often employed means of achieving their goals is assisting adventurers who are on quests that would further Harper interests.
Due to the influence of the Moonstars, the Harpers have a relatively small amount of influence within the City of Splendors. They have roughly 120 members at any time within the city’s walls.
Many gods support the organization of the Harpers. Azuth, Deneir, Eldath, Lliira, Mielikki, Milil, Mystra, Oghma, Selûne, Shaundakul, Shiallia, Silvanus, Tymora and the entire Seldarine all contribute clerics to become members of the Harpers and many of these also lend divine aid to the members of the group on a regular basis. This can cause tensions between individual clerics of different faiths but never between deities or between the society as a whole and deities.
Powerful individuals support the Harpers, but equally powerful forces oppose them. Among these are the likes of the Dark Dagger, the Malaugrym, the Rundeen, the Eldreth Veluuthra, the Twisted Rune, the Knights of the Shield, the Iron Throne, the Cult of the Dragon, the Red Wizards of Thay, the Zhentarim and many of the churches of dark gods, in particular the revived church of Bane. The Harpers also oppose any who would forge an empire through conquest or use the Weave without thought to the consequences.
Harper code" Harpers work against villainy and wickedness wherever they find it, but they work ever mindful of the consequences of what they do. All beings should walk free of fear, with the right to live their lives as they wish. The rule of law aids peace and fosters freedom, so long as the laws are just and those who enforce them lenient and understanding. No extreme is good. For freedom to flourish, all must be in balance: the powers of realms, the reaches of the cities and the wilderlands into each other, and the influence of one being over another. Whatever it takes, a Harper will do. Pride never rules the deeds of a true Harper. Freedom is a multiversal right, though Harpers can spare themselves less freedom than those they work to protect when the need presents itself. Harpers police their own. A Harper who hears the call of personal power can no longer hear the sweet song of the harp. A Harper who seizes power, and holds it above all else, is a traitor to the harp. Traitors must die for freedom to live. Without a past, no being can appreciate what they have, and where they may be going. ”
“What it is to be a Harper”
Mirt the Moneylender explaining the Harper’s purpose to Shandril:
“ Right, then, good Lady Shandril, I shall try to tell thee something of what it is to be a Harper."
“A Harper holds peaceful sharing of the lands above all other goals.”
“By sharing, we mean all the races living in and under the land, where each prefers to live, trading together where desire and need stir them to, and respecting each other’s holds and ways—without the daily bloodletting that all too often holds sway in the Realms today.”
“True, we must fight, it seems often enough to keep our swords and our tempers both sharp enough. Yet, know ye; all of us fight when we must, or die. Moreover, ye only hear of blades drawn and death and spells hurled, and never know of the many, many times that a quiet word or a skillful deal has turned enemies aside from each other, forced a way clear where none was before, or distracted foes from the eager task of tearing each other’s throats out. That is the true Harper way: subtle and quiet, behind the shouting. Trust and wisdom, and outfoxing others is what we deal in.”
— Mirt the Moneylender in Crown of Fire, pp173-174