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What do Harpies do and how do they do it?

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  • What do Harpies do and how do they do it?

    As the title implies I'm trying to got an understanding of how Harpies operate. As far as I can tell they function as a sort of news service/credit check for kindred society and I would assume that they gather the inforfation themselves too, that said I can find very little about how they do this and even this guess comes from trying to piece together from NPC entries and refrences rather than any definition given in a book.

  • #2
    From Vampire the Requiem for Dummies, p191
    'The Harpy is a member of the Kindred elite. Harpies are the celebrities and fad-starters of Kindred society. Other Kindred look to Harpies to see who’s in and who’s out and what positions and opinions are popular this season. A well-known Harpy can sway public opinion faster than some Princes.
    Harpies who attained their influence and position unofficially through nothing more than personal power and charisma are often more respected than those who are appointed by Prince or Primogen.'

    From Damnation City, p48
    'Harpy: Since feudalism is a non-democratic form of government, it doesn’t really matter what a king’s subjects think about their liege. Neo-feudalism, though, is a government principle grafted to a social contract, so the people’s opinion does indeed matter. A Prince with no popular support — whether engendered by respect or fear — is often a usurped Prince in short order. Thus, the public-relations and spin-doctoring efforts of social luminaries such as the Harpies are paramount to effective rule. The difficulty is that the Harpies aren’t official offices themselves, and those who are often reek of the propaganda for which they’re designed. Therefore, nobles of the neo-feudal system actually need to curry favor with Harpies in order to procure their patronage. Kickbacks are the order of the night when dealing with the Harpies, but they need to be substantial and discreet enough to seem like something other than what they are.'


    • #3
      Taken from this lovely blog:

      "It would probably not surprise the readers of this blog that both the people in charge here have served as Harpy at one point or another, and we do absolutely have some tips for succeeding in the post that we’re happy to share.

      So, some people may tell you that being Harpy is about keeping track of status and boons. They’re wrong. Being Harpy is about sick burns and making people love you for those sick burns. Okay, well, it is kind of about keeping track of some stuff, but the point is, if you want people to actually respect you as a Harpy and care about your status calls, you have to assert yourself as a social bellwether. Which means, on some level, honing your bitchcraft.

      This doesn’t mean you have to be mean all the time (after all, True Scorn means more if you reserve it for only deserving occasions), but you should absolutely cultivate a streak of being judgmental about other characters. You also should be willing to stick to your guns about your judgments—change them in the face of overwhelming evidence, sure, but be confident otherwise in expressing what you think about other characters. Toward that end, it’s also a good idea to try and chat up all kinds of characters, just to be able to develop those opinions and have a good sense for the big picture. You don’t have to be best buddies with everyone or know all their secrets, but it’s helpful to be informed.

      Also, never give status to yourself. Arrange other people giving it to you via backroom deals, sure, but never from yourself to yourself. That’s just tacky."

      In other words, it's Mean Girls cranked up to 11


      • #4
        One of my characters sort of became an unofficial harpy (as in, she wasn't appointed by the prince, primogen, or regents) by making anonymous satirical comic strips summarizing activities at official court functions. She even made fun of herself. Her drawings pissed off all the covenants and clans at some point but nobody ever figured out it was her. She would also "advertise" for kindred functions who aren't as well known or popular (and satirize/summarize them) or prop up alternate venues in order to deliberately stymie the popularity of events held by "mainstream" kindred who controlled the elysiums and racks or boost publicity for mortal events with kindred sponsors. (Gather the Herd is a great Gilded Cage ritual for that.)


        • #5
          Thanks for the answers. Looks like they're about what I expected but it's good to have conformation.


          • #6
            hurt locker has rules for harmful use of a lot of abilitys including Doxing... dont remember the rest.


            • #7
              I'd forgotten that, thanks.


              • #8
                I have also had some issues with understanding the harpy function. Or maybe not as much understanding it, as portraying it in the game. Unlike Shawarbaaz, I don't fully buy it is simply Mean girls cranked to 11. There has to be different ways to approach the function. It is by far the trickiest function to me. I think the trickiest thing is how to make the PCs naturally fall for the harpy's words. Not to mention the worldbuilding required to give the harpy plenty of people to trash-talk with the PCs.


                • #9
                  Could one model a harpy on a political whip? Or is that too top down?


                  • #10
                    If harpies are just mouthpieces for a covenant or the prince and his regime you certainly could.


                    • #11
                      So the harpy could be the very formal whip, telling you who and what matter so you can avoid misstep, the mean girl who disses on the rejects and leaves the ladder an implicit understanding, or a barman with their ear to the ground and story to tell.

                      What else?


                      • #12
                        It's interesting, because in first edition there's actually a few mentions of a whip, but as a separate position. They are more clan-oriented, and would be the one extolling of the virtues of their clan (to you providing you were also a member) and trying to get you to know more about it and be more loyal.

                        For those who want more of a clan influence, the priscus (as informal 'leader' of a clan in an area) and whip (as networker) are ways to go. They also have sections in the Dummies and Damnation City books.

                        Damnation City, page something I'm tired, 'Whip: The Whip is an odd position, as no Kindred can say for certain when it actually evolved or where. This title obviously has its analogues in legislative political systems, and its duties correspond rough to those, in that the Whip ensures members of clans present a unified face to opposition. They fit imperfectly into the neo-feudal model, as the position is another informal one and thus not directly subject to the relationship of lord and vassal. They’re more like union bosses or other organized figures. That’s not to say they don’t have their place in neo-feudal society, though, as a Whip inciting his clan to rebellion is something no Prince wishes to face. Indeed, many Princes try to keep local Whips in their favor, as those Whips can ostensibly incite their clans to heights of pro-Prince fervor when necessary. In some domains, parallels to Whips have arisen within covenants, but this is another informal development, as covenants have hierarchies that implicitly suggest party-line adherence, so the job may just fall to a suitable ranking member of that covenant as an extant duty.'

                        As for what else, simply the Queen Bee. She knows all the gossip, she knows what's in, who's in, and who's out. She's a fantastic character to meet and all neonates should meet her. If you've ever seen a high school movie, they would be that friend character who introduces the groups to everyone and tells the main character the gossip, 'She broke up with him, so he Embraced her grandson, that's why they're glaring at each other from across the cafeteria.'

                        Here's one harpy.

                        It's a poor example, because he's clearly low on the totem pole, but like he says, they'll pay, Alternatively maybe his covenant is weak or his clan is looked down upon, whatever. He knows who's who and can tell you what you need to get started swimming in the shark tank of politics. Or just a nice place to find some blood dolls. Teenage drama is really easy to translate to vampire life.
                        Last edited by nofather; Yesterday, 06:23 AM.


                        • #13
                          I always think of it as... the Harpy is popular, but in my mind has to have at least a vestige of the apolitical, otherwise they're more of a Herald. A Herald would go around town making sure everyone knows the latest decree from the Prince, on the Prince's orders. A Harpy I see as more of the figure that either a) COULD be a political power but chooses not to be, or b) IS a political power, but prefers to stay out of the official ranks so as not to be a target. In either case, the Prince doesn't grant the Harpy power; in my mind, the Harpy is granted power by the populace, the only (non-Carthian) plebeian position, because it's not an official position, but simply a recognition of popularity and influence. A Prince might recognize a Harpy, or a Harpy might owe their allegiance to the Prince. But they're dangerous, because their power is popularity.

                          Either way, the Harpy has a subtle influence. When they say someone is rising or falling in society, everyone BELIEVES it. Sometimes, the person rises or falls BECAUSE the Harpy said they would, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, for the most powerful of Harpies.

                          Another branch of Harpy is the Mortal-Whisperer Harpy. Whereas the quasi-political harpy is the Popular Kid, the Mortal-Whisperer is the Cool Kid. They have to be. Someone has to make sure that the Kindred keep up with the styles, and the easiest way to do that is to SHOW everyone how it's done. People, even Kindred, emulate Cool. The Elders know they do it to hide amongst the Kine, the Neophytes probably think they do it to fit in with the Kindred, the fools. The Cool Harpy probably has high turnover; it's exhausting to be on the cutting edge of everything for decades