Magic Books of Faerun
A Harper's Companion, Volume III
A Collection of Bard Songs, with a
Touch of Magic for Ease in Use

By Sean K Reynolds

This leatherbound book has its title burnt into it, and its title uses an old Cormyrian dialect of the Common tongue. Glued to the front cover are five parallel harp strings running left to right, like the lines of a musical staff.

Last Record: Halarim Threesilver, the Thunder Peaks of Cormyr.

Description: The book's soft cow leather cover is protected with some sort of alchemical hardener to prevent scratching from day-to-day wear. The title was burned into the cover using a set of small hot wires shaped into Thorass characters, which resulted in black marks that stand out well from the tan-colored leather. The five harp strings crossing the cover are from some kind of handharp in common use around 150 years ago. The steady-handed inscriptions on the vellum interior pages were made with fine black ink, and the text is easily readable at arm's length due to the large script used. The book radiates magic (moderate transmutation).

History:A Harper's Companion is a series of songbooks assembled by Cressaed Wood, a skilled Cormyrian bard who lived around 1200 DR. Though talented in magic, his interests were more in music and teaching than adventuring, and after he made a name for himself he founded a small school in Arabel to teach music and magic to persons of talent. He wrote A Harper's Companion as a teaching tool for his students, and he presented each one with a copy of the first volume upon graduation. Wood gave out later volumes to students as they proved themselves of sufficient skill. Each volume is presented as a songbook with notes on how to derive bard spells or musical magic from the song, and each covers a different level of power (Volume I contains cantrips, Volume II has 1st-level spells, and Volume III has 2nd-level spells).

Because he preferred smaller groups to large classrooms, he taught only about a dozen students before he was found dead in his bed, a victim of poison. Some suspect that an evil group had him killed because they suspected he was a Harper, though no known Harper has declared whether he was or not. Most of the dozen finished copies of Volume I have been located and exist in various private libraries (including Candlekeep), and of the five presumed copies of Volume II, three are known (one in Candlekeep, one in the hands of a Master Harper, and the third in a private collection in Waterdeep). Some believe that Wood finished only two copies of Volume III; one of those disappeared with its owner shortly after it was presented, the other became a family heirloom to the Ironclaw family of bards in Suzail.

Scholars think that Halarim Threesilver found the missing copy of Volume III in 1371 DR, for he hinted as much in a letter home dated 21 Eleint of that year. In his letter he mentioned returning home after a planned short foray against an orc tribe in the Thunder Peaks of Cormyr. Since that time he and his companions (a half-orc, dwarf, and Waterdhavian wizard, according to previous letters) have not been seen and are presumed dead at the hands of the orcs; many assume that their belongings, including the copy of A Harper's Companion, now are with the orcs.

Contents:A Harper's Companion contains seven folk songs that were well-known at the time Wood wrote the book, and all have notations on how each can be used as a bard spell or as part of bardic music. They are presented for singing or playing on a handharp, though transposing the notes allows each piece to be played on most other instruments. The first few pages are a brief introduction to the subject matter, and Wood wrote this text for readers with some skill in music. The appendix explains how the secondary power of the book is activated (see below). The book is not trapped.

The book's songs (and the spells they represent) are as follows.

  • Arveene the Suspicious Wife (invisibility)
  • Ballad of the Mad King (rage)
  • The Doom of Steddman Dunn (nightmare lullaby from Magic of Faerūn)
  • Hastel's Drinking Song (delay poison)
  • O, Were that I a Bird (animal messenger)
  • Rand the Auspicious Beggar (tongues)
  • Take My Hand, My Love (cure moderate wounds)

These songs are not scrolls, but rather something similar to the magical notations in a wizard's spellbook. Wood wrote this book as a primer that included low-level bardic music he thought useful. He intended to have it work as a guide for young bards by steering their spell selection in a way he felt was appropriate. If a bard gains a level that allows him to learn a new 2nd-level spell, he can learn any of the listed spells. (Though most of them are common spells, nightmare lullaby is uncommon enough that some bards might not know about its existence until seeing the book). Spellcasters who do not possess the ability to gain bard spells cannot use the spells, though the spells in this book may serve as inspiration for spell research.

The secondary power of the book is available only to bards. If the book is held in hand and opened to the song "The Doom of Steddman Dunn," a bard can expend an available spell slot of 2nd-level or higher to cast the nightmare lullaby spell as if it was on his spells known list. For example, Lithuila is a 5th-level moon elf bard who doesn't know the spell nightmare lullaby. With the book in hand and opened to the right song, she can expend an available 2nd-level (or higher) spell slot to cast nightmare lullaby as if she did know it. She can continue to do this as long as she holds the book open to that page and has spell slots available. She can apply metamagic feats and other feats (such as Spell Focus) as normal, just as if she were casting a spell she actually knew. There is no limit to the number of times per day the book can be used in this fashion, since its magic merely provides the knowledge of the spell rather than the ability to cast it or the power of magic. Removing the pages containing the nightmare lullaby song from the book destroys the secondary magic of those pages.

Price: 5,000 gp. This includes the book's secondary ability; if those pages were removed, it would be worth approximately 100 gp per spell remaining, similar to a wizard's spellbook. The Threesilver family would be willing to pay slightly more for the book if proof of Halarim's death can be verified to their satisfaction (otherwise they are mostly uninterested in the book). Candlekeep would pay about 10,000 gp to complete their collection or would accept it as a payment for the library's entrance fee. Certain Cormyrian scholars and bards might pay around 6,000 gp for the book due to its historical significance.

Last Known Bearer: Halarim Threesilver, Sembian bard.

Halarim, the fourth child of six, comes from a moderately wealthy family that owns several Sembian jewelry shops. The youngest son in the family, he knew his older brothers would inherit the family business. As a result, he had little drive to learn much about business and instead focused his efforts on music and telling grand stories so that he could entertain women. He has little natural talent for music but works hard to maintain his skill with the harp. He fell into adventuring after meeting a beautiful young wizard from Waterdeep, who rebuffed his advances but intrigued him enough to join her friends (a dwarf and a half-orc) on various trips. He and his new companions worked as mercenaries in Sembia, Cormyr, and the Western Heartlands, which he wrote about in letters home to his family. According to his letters, the team took on several scouting missions in Cormyr and western Sembia so that they could give reports regarding the aftermath of the war against the Devil Dragon and the ghazneths. Presumably it was on one of these forays that he acquired A Harper's Companion, possibly from one of the gangs of orcs fleeing to the Thunder Peaks. The last letter from Halarim describes their intent to find the lair of those orcs and shows how they hoped to find similar items of interest. (Though the tribe is not mentioned in the letter, Halarim's half-orc ally probably knew where to find them.)

Halarim Threesilver: Male human bard 5; CR 5; Medium humanoid; HD 5d6+5; hp 22; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +3; Grp +3; Atk +6 melee (1d6+1/18-20, +1 rapier); Full Atk +6 melee (1d6+1/18-20, +1 rapier); SQ bardic knowledge +6, bardic music (countersong, fascinate, inspire competence, inspire courage) 5/day; AL N; SV Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +5; Str 11, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 12.

Skills and Feats: Appraise +3, Balance +3, Bluff +11, Concentration +6, Diplomacy +5, Gather Information +5, Intimidate +4, Jump +1, Knowledge (local -- Sembia) +9, Listen +8, Move Silently +3, Perform (string instruments) +11, Sense Motive +2, Sleight of Hand +4, Spot +3, Tumble +5, Use Magic Device +5; Dodge, Silver Palm, Weapon Finesse.

Bardic Music: Halarim can use his song or poetics to produce magical effects on those around him.

Countersong (Su): Halarim can counter magical effects that depend on sound by making a Perform check for each round of countersong. Any creature within 30 feet of him that is affected by a sonic or language-dependent magical attack can use Halarim's Perform check result in place of his or her saving throw if desired. Countersong lasts for 10 rounds.

Fascinate (Sp): Halarim can cause a single creature within 90 feet that can see and hear him to become fascinated with him. Halarim's Perform check result is the DC for the opponent's Will save. Any obvious threat breaks the effect. Fascination lasts 5 rounds.

Inspire Competence (Su): Halarim can use his music or poetics to aid an ally with a task. The ally must be within 30 feet and able to see and hear him, and he must be able to see the ally. The ally gets a +2 competence bonus on skill checks with a particular skill as long as he or she can hear Halarim's music. The effect lasts as long as Haralim concentrates, up to a maximum of 2 minutes. Haralim can't inspire competence in himself. Inspire competence is a mind-affecting ability.

Inspire Courage (Su): Any ally who can hear Halarim receives a +1 morale bonus on saves against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. The effect lasts for 5 rounds after the ally can no longer hear him.

Bardic Knowledge: Halarim can make a bardic knowledge check with a bonus of +6 to see whether he knows some relevant information about local notable people, legendary items, or noteworthy places.

Bard Spells Known (3/4/1; save DC 11 + spell level; 0% chance of arcane spell failure): 0 -- daze, detect magic, ghostharp (Magic of Faerūn), light, message, prestidigitation; 1st -- charm person, cure light wounds, harmony (Magic of Faerūn), herald's call (Magic of Faerūn); 2nd -- heroism, invisibility, nightmare lullaby (Magic of Faerūn).

Possessions: Masterwork chain shirt, +1 rapier, cloak of resistance +1, masterwork handharp, elixir of love, oil of bless weapon, potion of cure light wounds, potion of eagle's splendor, potion of shield of faith +2, 275 gp worth of coin and small gems.

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About the Author

Sean K Reynolds lives in Encinitas, California, and works for a video game company. His D&D credits include the Monster Manual, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, and Savage Species. He'd like to thank Brian Cortijo for his advice in this article series. You can find more game material at Sean's website.

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