Harpy, Variant (3.5e Race)

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Date Created: 24 July 2015
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Harpy, Variant[edit]

Harpies are hybrid creatures with humanoid heads and bodies with bird legs and wings for arms. They are usually less evil than their SRD relatives.


The harpy is the magical hybrid offspring between an avian race and a humanoid race. Though once mono-gendered, male harpies now exist, usually referred to as boreadors. Harpies are inquisitive and bright creatures, though they tend to have short attention spans. They appreciate song and beauty, and have a penchant for shiny objects, which in some more evil harpies can become an almost draconic level obsession with accumulation and hoarding of glittering treasure. Harpies tend to forget all but the most severe slights against them as quickly as they lose focus on other things, so most are fairly easy to get along with. Harpies like excitement and interesting new things, so adventuring or just traveling is not at all uncommon once a harpy reaches sufficient age.

Harpies sing frequently, and often whistle like birds when happy.

Physical Description[edit]

Harpies have the head and upper body of a humanoid, usually resembling a human or elf, with narrow faces and sharply pointed chins. Their eyes are larger than a normal human's, and their hair becomes thin, delicate feathers which grow from the base of the neck down the length of their backs, terminating in a birdlike feathered tail. Their incisors and canines are sharp, with flat teeth further back for chewing nuts and seeds. Their "arms" are bird-like wings, capable of gliding at a young age and eventual flight as the harpy matures. Their scaly legs resemble those of a digitigrade bird, with shorter femurs and tibias and a long tarsometatarsus, which terminates in five long, clawed toes, three facing out and two facing back. The toes are capable of fine manipulation, and can be used for almost any task normally requiring hands. A keen sense of balance lets most harpies stand on one leg while using the other is such a manner. While standing on the ground harpies have to struggle to use both claws at once for fine manipulation of objects. Most harpies understand that the world of the land-dwelling races was not designed with harpies in mind, and accept such drawbacks with a pragmatic, sometimes even humorous attitude.

Harpies have hollow bones, and are light for their size. Despite this, Harpies can deliver powerful kicks with their clawed feet and punishing slam attacks with the leading edges of their wings. Harpies usually prefer to attack with a kick or use specially designed manufactured weapons held in a clawed foot before attacking with (and potentially damaging) their wings.

Most harpies stand a little under five feet in height. Their wingspan is usually roughly twice their height and similar in construction to a blackbird's wings: good for maneuvering and brief bursts of high speed. Their skin and feathers come in a wide variety of colors, usually patterned after a certain kind of bird. Although their feathers keep them warm even in cold weather or at high altitudes, many harpies wear some form of clothing: usually a vest on the upper body and breeches on the lower body with allowances made for the tail feathers. Their clothing is often of bright and flashy colors and material unless hunting prey, and is worn more for visual appeal and flair than out of a desire for physical modesty.

Harpies are primarily carnivores and prey on small animals in the wild, including other birds. They can also eat seeds, nuts and berries when prey is scarce, though without any meat in their diet they will eventually weaken and become sick. More civilized harpies cook their food, though their sharp teeth and ripping talons are perfectly suited for grabbing, killing and ripping apart their prey before eating it raw.


Harpies feel most comfortable with the more chaotic races and races that dwell in the wild. Since large communities of harpies are very rare, other races seldom find themselves in competition with harpies for resources, keeping tensions at a minimum. They are often hired as scouts due to their keep eyesight and flight capabilities. Many a general has kept a harpy scout happy by paying her in inexpensive shiny baubles, though harpies of above average intelligence will not let themselves be cheated in such a manner. Some harpies become fascinated with cities and take up residence there, often renting space on rooftops to live. Most harpies wear cloaks when walking among the other races to better disguise their bird-like features, though their avian legs are obvious giveaways. Many civilized races regard harpies as friendly but unsophisticated or simple-minded, and condition the welcome of harpies into their communities with admonitions to not causing undue disturbance.


Most harpies in the wild tend towards the chaotic if alone, or neutral alignments if many harpies have formed a community. Harpies have no particular inclination along the good/evil axis, though communities tend to be of similar alignment (birds of a feather, etc.).


Harpies who settle in one location favor higher areas that are difficult to access to those incapable of flight. They often seek out caves in cliffs and mountains, though some make their homes in trees, if the tree is large enough. Harpies who live in forests tend to be more comfortable where the trees are more sparse, as their wingspan makes flight in dense forest difficult at best.


Most harpies are not drawn to religious worship, but those who do tend to worship deities of nature and the hunt.


Harpies speak Trill, a language comprised of whistles, chirps and sung words. Most also speak Common.


Upon hatching, each harpy is given an "egg name," which they use throughout their childhood. Upon gaining the ability to fly, a harpy chooses a "wing name" for herself. Egg names are usually bright and cheerful sounding, and may be the name of an object, creature, or just nonsensical syllables that sound pleasing to the ear. Wing names are usually reflective of the harpy's outlook on life or chosen career path, something of personal meaning to the Harpy. Harpies may use either of their names when interacting with others, but most harpies take pride in their wing names and use them if they have one.

Racial Traits[edit]

  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma: Harpies are quick and often beautiful, majestic creatures.
  • Monstrous Humanoid (Augmented Humanoid): As hybrid creatures, harpies count as monstrous humanoids for all purposes, but also count as humanoid for the purposes of spells and magical effects which only target humanoids, such as hold person or charm person. 
  • Medium: As a Medium creature, a harpy has no special bonuses or penalties due to its size.
  • Harpy base land speed is 30 feet.  
  • Low-Light Vision: A harpy can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions. 
  • Gliding (Ex): All harpies can use their wings to glide a few months after hatching. They can stay aloft using thermal updrafts, but otherwise descend 1 foot for every 5 feet of horizontal distance traveled. If falling, a harpy's wings snap open reflexively, slowing their rate of descent enough to negate all damage from falling distance. A paralyzed or unconsciousness harpy does not benefit from this reflex. 
  • Flight (Ex): At 4HD the harpy gains a fly speed of 30 feet with a maneuverability of average. A harpy cannot fly while carrying a medium or heavy load, or while fatigued or exhausted. At 8 HD the harpy's fly speed increases by 10 feet, and her maneuverability improves to good. At 12 HD and every 4 HD beyond, her fly speed increases by another 10 feet. At 16 HD her maneuverability increases one more step to perfect maneuverability. A flying or gliding harpy can make a diving attack, which functions like a charge except the harpy must move at least 30 feet and descend at least 10 feet before the attack. She can also use the run action while flying, providing she only flies in a straight line. 
  • Crane Kick (Ex): As a standard action, a harpy on the ground can make a hopping kick against an opponent they threaten in melee, striking with tremendous force. The kick deals double damage, as if making a dive attack. Unfortunately the power of the kick can leave a harpy off balance for a moment: after a successful crane kick a harpy must succeed on a balance check with a DC equal 5 + ½ damage dealt or be flat-footed until the start of her next turn, even if she normally could not be treated as such. 
  • Hollow Bones: Harpies take an extra point of damage per damage die of bludgeoning damage dealt due to their lighter, more fragile skeletons. They also take a -4 penalty on opposed rolls against being bull-rushed as though they were one size smaller due to their light frames. 
  • Monstrous Anatomy: Armor made for harpies costs twice the normal amount, and a harpy cannot fly or glide in armor heavier than light armor. Harpies wear magic rings on their toes and fit bracers around their lower legs. They can wear gloves/gauntlets or boots adapted for their clawed feet, but cannot wear both types of items at once. However, magic item enhancements usually restricted to either gloves or boots can be combined together into such items, and without the usual 1.5x enhancement cost increase. 
  • Natural Weapons: A harpy's clawed legs give them two claw attacks that deal 1d6 damage as feral strikes
  • Nightingale Song (Su): All harpies can produce a hauntingly beautiful mixture of human singing and birdsong, producing an effect identical to the bard's fascinate ability, using their HD as their bard level for determining length and number of creatures affected. 
  • Ooh, shiny!: Harpies take a -2 racial penalty to saves against illusions, as their instincts tell them to accept what they see without question. 
  • Racial Hit Dice: A harpy begins play with 1 level in Monstrous Humanoid, which gives it a d8 HD, a Base Attack Bonus of +1, a +2 to Reflex and Will saves, one feat, and skill points equal to 2+Int modifier (usually x4 for the Harpy's 1st level). A harpy's class skills are Balance (Dex), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Jump Str/Dex, Knowledge (Geography) (Int), Knowledge (Nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Singing) (Cha), Spot (Int), Survival (Wis), and Tumble (Dex)
  • Racial Feats: A harpy's claws are extremely sharp and their leg muscles are very powerful. A harpy gains Improved Natural Attack (Claw) as a bonus feat at 1st level even though they do not meet the prerequisites. This increase is factored into to the claw damage listed above. 
  • Racial Skills: A harpy receives a +4 racial bonus to balance checks, and a +6 racial bonus on jump checks (a harpy is always treated as having a running start). A harpy's large eyes are far sharper than most races, and do not take the usual -1 penalty per 10 feet of distance for any object within 200 feet. Lastly, a harpy receives a racial bonus equal to 2 + ½HD on all Perform (singing) checks. 
  • Bird Affinity (Su): Harpies can communicate with birds and bird-like magical beasts as the speak with animals spell. They also gain the wild empathy ability with birds and bird-like magical beasts.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Trill
  • Bonus Languages: Elven, Sylvan
  • Favored Class: Any
  • Level Adjustment: +0
  • Effective Character Level: 1

Vital Statistics[edit]

Table: Harpy Random Starting Ages
Adulthood Simple Moderate Complex
15 years +d3 +d8 +2d4
Table: Harpy Aging Effects
Middle Age1 Old2 Venerable3 Maximum Age
25 years 50 years 80 years +3d6 years
  1. At middle age, −1 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
  2. At old age, −2 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
  3. At venerable age, −3 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
Table: Harpy Random Height and Weight
Gender Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight Weight Modifier
Male 4'10" +2d6" 65 lb. × (3d6) lb.
Female 4'7" +2d4 50 lb. × (2d6) lb.

Back to Main Page3.5e HomebrewRaces

AuthorSpanambula +
Effective Character Level1 +
Favored ClassAny +
Identifier3.5e Race +
Level Adjustment0 +
Racial Ability Adjustments+2 Dexterity + and +2 Charisma +
RatingUndiscussed +
SizeMedium +
SubtypeAugmented Humanoid +
SummaryHarpies are hybrid creatures with humanoid heads and bodies with bird legs and wings for arms. They are usually less evil than their SRD relatives. +
TitleHarpy, Variant +
TypeMonstrous Humanoid +