Harpy Song Rules?


Rules Questions

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-lists-and-details/-h/harpy

When I was looking at this, I was kind of confused.

1. Is it a cone effect, or a burst radius?
2. What is the requirement to maintain, per Bard PF Rules (Free/Round), or Standard Action?


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Imper1um wrote:

When I was looking at this, I was kind of confused.

1. Is it a cone effect, or a burst radius?
2. What is the requirement to maintain, per Bard PF Rules (Free/Round), or Standard Action?

Linkified.

Now to answer you:

1. It's a 300' spread. From the magic chapter:

Pthfinder Core Rules, Magic Chapter wrote:

A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures that you can't see. It can't affect creatures with total cover from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don't extend around corners). The default shape for a burst effect is a sphere, but some burst spells are specifically described as cone-shaped. A burst's area defines how far from the point of origin the spell's effect extends.

An emanation spell functions like a burst spell, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin for the duration of the spell. Most emanations are cones or spheres.

A spread spell extends out like a burst but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the spell spreads out a given distance in all directions. Figure the area the spell effect fills by taking into account any turns the spell effect takes.

So while a burst might be a cone, if the specific effect says so, spreads are never cones.

2. This is not a bardic song. Bard rules don't apply. It is a Supernatural (Su) ability, so those rules apply instead:

Pthfinder Core Rules, Combat, Actions wrote:
Supernatural Abilities (Su): Using a supernatural ability is usually a standard action (unless defined otherwise by the ability's description). Its use cannot be disrupted, does not require concentration, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

The harpy's song lasts for the round she sings + the next round after. If she wishes it to last longer, she must spend more rounds singing. Each time she does so, it's a standard action. If she's smart (it's her power, she should know exactly how to use it the best way possible), she would sing for 1 round to get two rounds of effect, but she can do something else on the second round since she doesn't need to sing. Then on the third round she would sing for 1 round to get two more rounds of effect, but she can do something else on round four. Etc.

However, that trick won't work once she "captivates" a victim. The victim only gets one saving throw (at the start) or extra saving throws if she makes him do dangerous stuff like walk off a cliff or through fire. So if he is quite some distance away, she may need to sing for several consecutive rounds to get him to her side.

Regardless, if she wants to attack him while he is "captivated" and cannot fight back, she must do that instead of singing, since she cannot use her standard action to sing during the same round she makes any kind of attack. Next round he will wake up. She can, of course, start singing again to hopefully "captivate" her victim again (and therefore get a second round of attacks without her victim fighting back. She can do this until she kills him or until he makes a successful save, granting him immunity for 24 hours.

Liberty's Edge

DM_Blake wrote:
Regardless, if she wants to attack him while he is "captivated" and cannot fight back, she must do that instead of singing, since she cannot use her standard action to sing during the same round she makes any kind of attack. Next round he will wake up. She can, of course, start singing again to hopefully "captivate" her victim again (and therefore get a second round of attacks without her victim fighting back. She can do this until she kills him or until he makes a successful save, granting him immunity for 24 hours.

Thank you, DM Blake, for this explanation. Just to be crystal clear, however, if a player fails a will save and is brought to the Harpy, you would give the Harpy one free round of attack after which the player can attack back, no new save required. The Harpy can sign again but the player gets a new save.

Does it matter who has the initiative? If it's the Harpy would that mean she sings in round 1 (player fails), attacks in round 2 and then sings again in round 3 requiring another will save before the player can counter-attack? If the player has the initiative would that mean player attacks (or moves) in round 1 before she sings (player then fails), she attacks in round 2 and then the player gets to attack again in round 3 before she can try singing again? In the former it would seem that the Harpy can attack without counter-attack as long as the player continues to fail saves while in the latter it would seem that the player will get the counter-attacks even when failing saves.

Liberty's Edge

Ignore the questions about initiative - I got it.

In summary, it would seem as though the Song enables the Harpy to bring her prey to her and get one free attack. After that she can sing again, get another free attack and repeat as long as the player continues to fail saves. Please let me know if I've got this wrong.


Two things:

(1) It's more than one free vanilla attack when the victim is in range...or rather, it *can* be more than that, if you want to play the harpy as she would operate herself. She has the time and the opportunity to coup-de-grace. Whether you want to do that to a player is another matter.

(2) Once a player saves against a specific harpy's song, that PC is immune for a day. So the stop-start thing isn't so great, actually, assuming you get a new save each time. You've got this right, though - the harpy could keep trying for as long as the victim keeps failing each and all saves.


I've always assumed that it doesn't take any action for a harpy to continue singing. Otherwise the phrase "offers no resistance to the monster’s attacks" doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

And yes, that interpretation makes harpies very dangerous. Otherwise, they're pretty crappy.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

hogarth wrote:

I've always assumed that it doesn't take any action for a harpy to continue singing. Otherwise the phrase "offers no resistance to the monster’s attacks" doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

And yes, that interpretation makes harpies very dangerous. Otherwise, they're pretty crappy.

I agree.

I see the harpies song like bardic song, standard to begin and free action to continue each round.

Once a harpy has you captivated there are only a few ways to get out: given another save due to hazards, unable to hear the harpy anymore (silence, deafness, etc.), bardic counter song, or somone else kills the harpy.

Harpies with some illusionary floors over pits of green slime are very nasty. Since the illusionary floor is not a deadly hazard until you step into it, no extra save.

Liberty's Edge

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porpentine wrote:
It's more than one free vanilla attack when the victim is in range...or rather, it *can* be more than that, if you want to play the harpy as she would operate herself. She has the time and the opportunity to coup-de-grace. Whether you want to do that to a player is another matter.

Coup de grace? Ouch! I'm not sure if I would consider a Captivated player to be "Helpless" (Helpless: A helpless character is paralyzed, held, bound, sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise completely at an opponent’s mercy) for the simple reason that the character is not "completely" at the Harpy's mercy. Captivated creature can "defend" themselves.

On the other hand, these two sentences seem to conflict:

Quote:
Captivated creatures can take no actions other than to defend themselves. A victim within 5 feet of the harpy simply stands and offers no resistance to the harpy's attacks.

Would you assume that this means that Captivated creatures defend themselves against everything but the Harpy? If that's the case, I'm guessing that you would assume that the Captivated creature is indeed Helpless.

What do you think?

Liberty's Edge

OgeXam wrote:

I see the harpies song like bardic song, standard to begin and free action to continue each round.

Once a harpy has you captivated there are only a few ways to get out: given another save due to hazards, unable to hear the harpy anymore (silence, deafness, etc.), bardic counter song, or someone else kills the harpy.

I think DM Blake made a pretty convincing argument that it is in fact not like a Bardic song. The Harpy description does say that it's a Supernatural Ability which, as pointed out by DM Blake, requires a Standard Action unless specified otherwise, which is not the case here.

The phrase "this effect continues for as long as the harpy sings and for 1 round thereafter" also doesn't make sense otherwise, because why would a Harpy ever stop singing if it wasn't a Standard Action? This is not inconsistent with the phrase "offers no resistance to the monster’s attacks" when you consider that the effect last an additional round after singing stops.

It seems like it's a question of how tough are these mobs. In the worst-case scenario (which I don't quite agree with) it seems like Will Save or die. If everyone in the party fails the Will Save, it's a wipe. The next worse case (which perhaps makes sense) is Will Save or survive a coup de grace. The best case (which depends on whether or not you consider the victim to be "Helpless") is Will Save or submit to one free round of attack.

I'd love to get more feedback on this. Thanks!


Moriquende wrote:
The phrase "this effect continues for as long as the harpy sings and for 1 round thereafter" also doesn't make sense otherwise, because why would a Harpy ever stop singing if it wasn't a Standard Action?

To sneak up on someone?

To get a drink of water?

She feels like beat-boxing instead, for a change?

Liberty's Edge

hogarth wrote:
Moriquende wrote:
The phrase "this effect continues for as long as the harpy sings and for 1 round thereafter" also doesn't make sense otherwise, because why would a Harpy ever stop singing if it wasn't a Standard Action?

To sneak up on someone?

To get a drink of water?

She feels like beat-boxing instead, for a change?

Hmmm... Well, it say that it's a Supernatural Ability and that requires a Standard Action, so I'm going with she has to stop singing to attack.

Dark Archive

On the subject of if it is a standard action or not to maintain the song, lets look at the CR of the Harpy. They are a CR 4 and the song DC is 16/will. Considering that in a level 4 party, those with a good will save will need to make a base of 12 on their will save, and the low will save characters would need to make a 15 base will save.

Based on the CR and DC, I am good with making it a standard action to maintain the song. To make it free (like a bard song) I would lower the DC a bit, or raise the CR of the harpy.

Also, is it not common to find more than 1 harpy at a time? If that is the case, then 1 harpy could sing, and the other attack...


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To Moriquende:

It's your call (and it is a Dm's call, since the wording isn't absolute), but yes, I'd say that once a victim is within 5', the wording suggests the victim will stand there, at the harpy's mercy, for a round. The victim isn't helpless beyond 5', certainly, but face to face, the song appears to be overwhelming...at least for one full-round attack.

The victim 'simply stands and offers no resistance to the harpy's attacks' once it's within 5'. I would say that allows for a coup de grace.

Now, the harpy as presented isn't armed with a really nasty coup de grace weapon. It's still likely to kill a low or low-mid level PC; above that, and it's just a big chunk of dangerous damage.

There are simple ways of making the situation more spicy. Harpies don't strike me as loners: present the party with three of them, and that's three separate saves for each PC to pass (and for you to keep track of, of course). Once the victim gets close, one harpy can stop singing and coup de grace, while the others continue to sing. It's quite possible that a PC will break free of the first attacking harpy's song, only to wander over to her abruptly more desirable sister for a second helping. Or the harpies can fly, dragging the victims through various nastinesses - but their ultimate goal, logically, should be a coup de grace, so fresh saves are undesirable. It just makes good business sense.

Or, you can re-arm the harpy. A spear instead of the statted weapon (a morningstar? haven't checked) and things instantly get nastier. A pick or greataxe is a PC killer at most of the most often played levels...but only if the poor PC gets to 5', unrestrained by comrades.

Liberty's Edge

porpentine wrote:
Now, the harpy as presented isn't armed with a really nasty coup de grace weapon. It's still likely to kill a low or low-mid level PC; above that, and it's just a big chunk of dangerous damage.

Thank you, Porpentine, for the input, and the ideas on the extra nastiness. That being said, they already seem pretty nasty, especially if you include the coup de grace. A low level character will probably survive the damage from the blow (1d8+1 x 2 = 11 on average), but DC 21 (= 10 + 11 on average) fortitude save is going to be a doozy! For most characters that's going to be less than a 50/50 chance of survival, and if the Harpy gets in a good coup de grace blow (maximum damage is 18, which would be a DC 28!), things are going to get even dicier.

Multiple Harpies could easily spell party disaster. As an aside, I'd only allow a coup de grace attempt from a Harpy that currently has the character enchanted. It seems like characters can defend themselves from all other attackers, meaning just normal attacks. Still, that makes them very tough.

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
porpentine wrote:
The victim 'simply stands and offers no resistance to the harpy's attacks' once it's within 5'. I would say that allows for a coup de grace.

We've obviously already talked a lot about this, however, someone brought up an interesting point today. Players attacked by invisible creatures don't offer any resistance to the attack (by virtue of the fact they can't see the attacker) but aren't treated as "helpless." Therefore, it was suggested that "offering no resistance to attack" isn't the equivalent of being "helpless" and thus there's no coup de grâce opportunity.

Any thoughts on this?

Liberty's Edge

I FAQ'ed this.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremiziah wrote:
I FAQ'ed this.

Can you share the link?


As I sit here with my captivated character I come back here almost a year later to find this unanswered by the staff when there are multiple PFS mods out there with multiple harpies. Fortunately this time we have a rational GM who understands a bad reading of this is an automatic TPK when there are multiple harpies. Thanks so much Paizo.


I agree with 'simply stands and offers no resistance to the harpy's attacks' sure as hell sounds like the victim would let the harpy CDG them. I also agree with the notion that it is bad idea to actually rule it that way.

Moriquende wrote:
Players attacked by invisible creatures don't offer any resistance to the attack (by virtue of the fact they can't see the attacker)

Not so. The character still moves, tries to bring the shield to bear and tries to minimize vulnerability. If an invisible creature starts reaching under your chainmail coif to get to your neck, you pull back, twist and otherwise stop the likely harmful action. The victim of a harpy doesn't for one round, just long enough for the CDG.

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