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Charles Phipps
Master of Realmslore

1144 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  06:13:12  Show Profile  Visit Charles Phipps's Homepage Send Charles Phipps a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Which do you like more?

Which would you like to see a return to the Forgotten Realms by and in what form?

Tell us why!

My Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/

Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6618 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  06:29:47  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From those choices, the lesser evil (er, meddling good) would be the Moonstars. The Harpers were nauseatingly and invariably ubiquitous, prominent, heroic, and successful in virtually every FR product. And where the Harpers failed the Chosen would step in. Sick of 'em all. The Moonstars might have similar methods and agendas, but at least they haven't been forcibly saturated to the point of loathing, so I vote for them.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 31 Dec 2011 06:30:06
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Charles Phipps
Master of Realmslore

1144 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  07:27:13  Show Profile  Visit Charles Phipps's Homepage Send Charles Phipps a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I had the opposite feeling.

The Moonstars had almost all of the recognizable NPCs. The Chosen all seemed to back Khelben.

Basically, it seemed like the Harpers were meant to be in the wrong.

Which, to me, was silly since it was the first time moral ambiguity had been introduced into the Realms. Yeah, Khelben managed to kill a Pit Fiend AND destroy a major artifact plus get Fzoul to agree to a compact to limit his expansion. However, what he did was UNITE the Zhents together while also splitting the Harpers.

My Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/
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crazedventurers
Master of Realmslore

United Kingdom
1073 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  13:06:54  Show Profile  Visit crazedventurers's Homepage Send crazedventurers a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

From those choices, the lesser evil (er, meddling good) would be the Moonstars. The Harpers were nauseatingly and invariably ubiquitous, prominent, heroic, and successful in virtually every FR product.


Just checking the entry on the Harpers from the OGBS


The following is taken from the Druid Briadorn of the Circle of Shadowdale, quoted by the ranger Florin Falconhand thusly:

Rangers and bards of great power are rare, Florin. Aside from the famous few; the bard Mintiper, for example, or the rangers Thulraven and Estulphore; most are members of that mysterious group known as the Harpers. Storm Silverhand may be one of them, but I wish you luck finding out...I tell you this now because all of us, and of the bards, must consider and respect whatever aims the Harpers have: they strike down or turn aside activities that do not fit with their wants, and so your own causes will be advanced or damaged accordingly. They seem to operate only in the North, and there is little else I can tell you of them. If you see the device of a silver moon and a silver harp, you face a Harper..


So it seems fairly clear that they are neither prominent or heroic or chock full of famous NPC's, of course for a truer picture of the Harpers the excellent Code of the Harpers sourcebook needs to be read to find out the real aims, truths and motives of the Harpers and see what true harpers do every day (i.e. chop wood for their neighbours, help others in need, ensure facts and truths are known and not hidden away etc).

Just my thoughts

Damian

So saith Ed. I've never said he was sane, have I?
Gods, all this writing and he's running a constant fantasy version of Coronation Street in his head, too. .
shudder,
love to all,
THO
Candlekeep Forum 7 May 2005
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  14:02:52  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote

None. Toril's a better place without them.

Every beginning has an end.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31231 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  16:18:09  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I liked both, but I preferred the Moonstars. Harpers have their uses, but it's the Moonstars that are willing to get their hands dirty, if necessary.

I also thought it interesting that a Harper who becomes a Moonstar does not lose his Harper abilities.

I do see a need for both groups in the Realms. Both groups exist as a foil for the many evil organizations of the Realms, and aside from some churchs, there really isn't a Realms-wide good organization. Realms-wide evil organizations, on the other hand, are far more numerous.

Of course, the Harpers weren't meant to be a force for good, so much as a force that opposed some of the goals of evil -- which isn't the same thing. Even though the Harpers were used as a sort of Justice League, that isn't the intent behind the group. Naetheless, I still like the fact that they serve in this function, since there would otherwise be no organized resistance to groups like the Zhents, the Cult of the Dragon, the ubiquitous Shades, and so on.

The Moonstars are closer to the original intent behind the Harpers, which is one reason I like them. The fact that they are willing to work in the grey areas and don't come across as the goody-goodies the Harpers were sometimes depicted as was a huge plus to me, as well. And the fact they were formed to counter a mysterious, unspecified threat is also much cooler than the generic mandate of the Harpers.

I cannot stand the 4E version of the Harpers. First of all, I do not find it likely that the Harpers of earlier editions (Harpers 2.0, since the original group was pretty much destroyed) would have disbanded for any reason. Second, the Harpers 3.0 were dedicated to fighting one enemy, and one enemy only -- the Shades. Not only do I think this doesn't match the original intent of the prior Harpers, it also makes the Shades -- already nauseatingly prominent -- even more prominent.

So me, I will keep my gone astray but still needed Harpers 2.0, and their successors, the Tel'Teukiira, around.

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Trixie
Acolyte

13 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  17:04:30  Show Profile Send Trixie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Harpers were interesting.
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  18:43:00  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As organiztions, I 'might' lean toward the Moonstars, because of their looser morality.

However, I REALLY hate the name, so I find it impossible to to go against the Harpers, who were the original (Ed-created).

I also don't understand it - the Harpers were always a very loosely organized group, if you could call them organized at all. Why a group who are practically anarchists would argue over the best way to do things is completely beyond me. The schism goes against everything they stand for (freedom, above all else).

Strangely, although I know many people loved it, I found Cloak & Dagger was one of my least favorite products. The organizations went from mysterious to silly, in most cases (for me, anyway).

BTW, were there two different covers for that product?

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 31 Dec 2011 18:45:02
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4586 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2011 :  19:09:10  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I made sure the Harpers were still around in the Realms with the NWCS, and they aren't limited in vision to repelling the Shades. At this point, it is canonically established that the Harpers were NOT disbanded (though they may have let that information circulate for their own obvious reasons), and while there IS a wing of the Harpers dedicated to taking out the Shades (which makes sense, as they're basically evil spies), that's hardly their only goal or activity.

It's Realms spy vs. spy.

The 4e Moonstars are much more circumspect.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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The Sage
Procrastinator Most High
Moderator

Australia
31691 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2012 :  01:02:10  Show Profile  Send The Sage an AOL message  Click to see The Sage's MSN Messenger address  Send The Sage a Yahoo! Message Send The Sage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't generally find myself liking one organisation over the other. I've used both to intriguing effect in my games, and have also played up variants of the Schism that originally led to the creation of the Moonstars.

I still keep the Moonstars as the more pro-active organisation -- willing to operate on the large and move elaborate schemes threatening the Realms as a whole. But the Harpers, at their core, have returned pretty much to what both both Erik just outlined above, and what Ed has said in the past about the Harpers in the post-Spelllplague period.

In the Realms, they never went away, they've just returned to the ideal of their primary philosophy. Down at the local level, Harpers went on being Harpers and helping other Harpers [and Moonstars].

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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6618 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2012 :  01:12:55  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hmmm, I suppose I'm a little behind on my Realmslore. Back in the day, however, Harpers were found skulking around almost every village and every novel ... ye could hardly heft a halberd without bumping it into a Harper on the backswing.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 01 Jan 2012 01:13:17
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MalariaMoon
Learned Scribe

324 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2012 :  03:33:04  Show Profile  Visit MalariaMoon's Homepage Send MalariaMoon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik
[br ye could hardly heft a halberd without bumping it into a Harper on the backswing.



Nicely put!('')

That being said, I've always been a big fan of both organizations.
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althen artren
Senior Scribe

USA
778 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2012 :  04:03:50  Show Profile Send althen artren a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I desire the Moonstars to continue do to a desire to
see the further developement of what Khelben was preparing
for with them, with all his visions and whatnot. You know:
defending us against the 3 in Darkness,
whatever else, and ourselves.
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Quale
Master of Realmslore

1757 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2012 :  10:04:47  Show Profile Send Quale a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like both, the Moonstars win cause of the prophecies.
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Yoss
Learned Scribe

USA
259 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2012 :  12:21:41  Show Profile Send Yoss a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hmm. I don't know. I like Khelben.
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2012 :  13:22:00  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Frankly, I got sick and tired of Harpers, specially the ones who were given glaring novel time. Covert agents should remain out of the picture. Covert operation should be just that exactly...covert.

Every beginning has an end.
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4586 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2012 :  18:11:22  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dennis


Frankly, I got sick and tired of Harpers, specially the ones who were given glaring novel time. Covert agents should remain out of the picture. Covert operation should be just that exactly...covert.

IMO, that's exactly what they HAVE been doing for a century now.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2012 :  20:42:21  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I love the Harpers as a romantic vision of a CG secret organization, and as a rather original attempt by Ed at a heroic-fantasy societal conception based on neither hierarchical government or individualistic selfishness. I don't recognize Ayrik's picture in the sources at all -- but TSR's decision to foreground the Harpers in their own novel series was typical of the 'too much of a good thing' approach taken with other artificially 'iconic' elements of the published Realms (though it gave us the Songs and Swords books and Crown of Fire along with the schedule-fillers).

I thought the Moonstars were an interesting derivative twist for a campaign with established Harper involvement, but was never quite convinced by the story, rather like Markus, and never invested in them imaginatively as by then I'd parted with the ongoing timeline.

Edited by - Faraer on 02 Jan 2012 21:08:36
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2012 :  23:13:39  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I always assumed both the Zhents and the Harpers operated with the same recruitment procedures - those who kept their head low, kept their head.

In other words, at low levels, you would find Harpers and Zhent Agents all over the place, even bragging about their affiliations when they were 'in their cups'. Because of this stupidity, most of the dross would be weeded-out. At the highest levels, you would find the cleverest, and most discreet members.

Respect and discipline are not something you can 'pin' to your chest, like some sort of badge. They are earned. The 'newb' tier of both organizations (and probably others, like the Red Wizards) draw all the fire from others, so it is quite literally a 'baptism of fire' - only the strongest - and smartest - live long enough to actually have any impact on The Realms.

And if I hadn't made it clear in my last post, I never used the schism - I use the Harper name and the Moonstar ethics, and each 'cell' operates independently of the others, with varying degrees of morality (and occasionally, they even come into conflict with each other). This is how I think Ed meant it to be, but I don't run it that way for that reason - it is the way most RW clandestine groups operate, for security reasons. It just makes sense, IMHO.

If I ever did use the schism, I would just have it be a 'red herring' for other groups to seize upon, in order for the Harpers to route them out better. The best way to get your enemies to make a stupid move is to feign weakness.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 02 Jan 2012 23:14:59
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The Sage
Procrastinator Most High
Moderator

Australia
31691 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2012 :  00:38:02  Show Profile  Send The Sage an AOL message  Click to see The Sage's MSN Messenger address  Send The Sage a Yahoo! Message Send The Sage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Faraer

I love the Harpers as a romantic vision of a CG secret organization, and as a rather original attempt by Ed at a heroic-fantasy societal conception based on neither hierarchical government or individualistic selfishness.
It's really a setting element that could be used to greater effect in the 4e Realms, now, given the increased divisions of power between rulers and their peoples, as well as nations, states, and cities. The chasm for the abuse of power, that the Harpers always sought to close up with their good deeds, has only widened in the post-Spellplague.

The Harpers are, truly, needed now more than ever.

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Edited by - The Sage on 03 Jan 2012 03:15:40
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Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2012 :  01:09:53  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can well believe that. They're a balancing force to the power of kingdoms and priesthoods and rising merchants, somewhat as unions, fraternal societies, educational institutions and so on are and have been in our world. A Realms where the Harpers, Heralds and like-minded folk had been wiped out or never been would be a dystopia I'd not be keen to play in.
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2012 :  03:39:57  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
But in 4e, the Harpers can become what they were meant to be, rather then what they became from 1e-3e. They can be the 'Heroes of Legend', come to life.

Which means if you use them, your characters should BE them. Part of the 4e philosophy is that the PCs should be in the limelight, and I agree with that.

How about this - have the PCs in a 4e campaign start using the name 'Harpers', in honor of the 'Harpers of old', and as the campaign progresses, they are eventually contacted by real Harpers, to their surprise (and delight).

Thats how I would use them - in fact, that would make for a great novel. Screw Archwizards, how about Return of the Harpers?

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 03 Jan 2012 03:42:20
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31231 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2012 :  04:28:14  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

But in 4e, the Harpers can become what they were meant to be, rather then what they became from 1e-3e. They can be the 'Heroes of Legend', come to life.


I don't see why they couldn't do the same in prior editions. Outside of the novels -- heck, even in a small portion of the novels -- Harpers acted in small and unobstrusive ways, as was intended.

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The Sage
Procrastinator Most High
Moderator

Australia
31691 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2012 :  04:36:16  Show Profile  Send The Sage an AOL message  Click to see The Sage's MSN Messenger address  Send The Sage a Yahoo! Message Send The Sage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

But in 4e, the Harpers can become what they were meant to be, rather then what they became from 1e-3e. They can be the 'Heroes of Legend', come to life.
I don't see the conduct and mandate of the Harpers being all that different in either the pre- or post-Spellplague eras. Simply that the 4e Realms offers plenty more opportunities for the Harpers to remain as the unheralded agents of positive change... because there is so much more darkness and evil running rampant now, than in recent ages past.

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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2012 :  04:53:35  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Right. Both of you.

But this attitude became prevalent -
quote:
Originally posted by Dennis

Frankly, I got sick and tired of Harpers, specially the ones who were given glaring novel time. Covert agents should remain out of the picture. Covert operation should be just that exactly...covert.
Whereas I know how the Harpers were meant to be portrayed (IMHO), they became rather commonplace, like the difference between old-school (silver age) Justice League, with its rather elite and limited membership, and the post-Crisis JLA, where every hero on the planet - including a rather long list of low-powered and uninteresting ones - became part of the group.

They went from 'legends', to commonplace, which made them loose their luster. Harpers, thanks to novels, became like a universal 'police force' - a monolithic group that was everywhere at once. What the source books said was very different from what was portrayed in the stories (I mean, C'mon... we had a very long Harpers series!)

Thats why I think 4e has a chance to make the Harpers what they were supposed to be all along - and what the sourcebooks said they were - rather then a rag-tag uber-group of ne'er-do-wells (which is the impression I get when I read a Harper-novel). They just lost some of their mystery along the way. The 4e 'rumor' that they disbanded helps to recover some of that.

Thats all I am saying. The Harpers didn't really change, just people's perceptions of them... and as we know, perceptions can be a very dangerous thing (to a setting).

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 03 Jan 2012 04:57:23
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Therise
Master of Realmslore

1265 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2012 :  05:07:10  Show Profile Send Therise a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I preferred the original Harpers, and didn't care for the introduction of the Moonstars.

Just my personal take, in the late 80s it seemed like people were begging for Harper novels. They delivered, and honestly some of those were excellent novels (remember Danilo and his trusty half-moon elf companion?). The problem, I think, was in giving players a somewhat one-sided view of the Harpers without painting the true villany and underhanded evil of groups they were meant to stand against, like the Zhentarim. That's more a problem of the era, and policy at the time, where true evil wasn't ever really seen - and bad guys (by company policy) were always soundly defeated.

If we had seen in novels some of the bad-guy groups winning from time to time, the existence and purpose of the Harpers would have been better. In turn, people wouldn't have come to think "oh they always win, they're MarySues", etc...). People had the same exact problem with the Seven Sisters (never seeing real evil oppose them, or sometimes win), and frankly it's also true with Elminster and Mystra.

So, the combination of company policy (at that time) and the clamor by fans for novels featuring the Sisters, or the Harpers, or even Khelben, etc... that was the real problem. If you used both the Harpers and the Zhents as originally intended per 1E, there was no problem.

What we see in 4E, unfortunately (in my view), is that they do have better "counterpart" enemies but they're not enemies I really like. I've never liked the Shades, or the shadowvar, so the fact that a splinter group of Harpers oppose them is rather irrelevant for me.

If they really want to do the Harpers justice, and this is true for ANY character not just groups, they need a complex and devious enemy that can match them. Politically, not just in spells and swords, because that's how they were intended originally.


4E Realms was awful, but it's water under the Boareskyr Bridge. Let's make 5E Realms truly shine!

Edited by - Therise on 03 Jan 2012 05:19:25
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