Biology · Races

Harpy

 

Overview

Harpies are sapient female only species of extraterrestrials that originated from Kaf. They resemble attractive humanoid women with modified forelimbs as feathered wings in place of arms and bird talons for feet, who have the ability to fly like birds.

Quick Species Profile
Avesfata homogene “All-female bird faye”
Life Expectancy
Average: 60 years
Max: 450+ years
Average Height: 140 to 152.4 cm (4’6″ to 5’0″)
Average Weight: 21 to 39 kg (46 to 86lb)
Average Wingspan: 3.65 to 7m (12 to 23ft)
Creature Type: Faye Demihumanoid

Biology

Appearance

Hair: Black, Brown, Blonde, Green, Blue, Red, Pink, Violet
Eyes: Brown, Amber, Blue, Gray

The dimensions of a Harpy are roughly similar to humans, but they possess huge wings in place of arms and long, scaly legs ending in razor-sharp talons. Their leg-claws have four talon-tipped toes, the three toes face forward and one opposite in direction.
Harpies only have hair on top of their heads, eyebrows, and thin hair on bare patches of skin. For the rest of its body, a harpy will have long, downy feathers growing from her most notably on their wings. Some also have them on their thighs and a set of tail feathers near their buttocks, though it varies between individuals. Most often the feathers and hair are brown, but can be white, red, green or even blue. Similarly, although the majority of harpies seem to borrow their avian features from birds of prey such as eagles, hawks and buzzards, some species take after other birds, such as crows, gulls, and even hummingbirds, creating an amazing variety of them.

Physiological Traits

Wing-digits: The digits of their wings are somewhat more finger-like, allowing her to hold certain objects in them. However, a harpy’s wing is not as dexterous or coordinated as a species with hands due to being suited for flight.
Sharp Claws: Because of their avian legs, Harpies possesses claws instead of feet. Her claws appear to be very sharp. Like those of a bird, they are also quite dexterous, and can hold onto objects or people with them.
Avian Skeleton: Harpies possess a lightweight skeleton highly adapted for flight. Many of their bones are thin and hollow with crisscrossing internal struts and trusses that make them strong enough to withstand the stresses of taking off, flying and landing. They have a keel extending from their sternum to which their powerful flight muscles are attached.
Avian Respiratory System: Harpies possess a complex set of lungs adapted for their high metabolic rate and oxygen demand in flight. Unlike humans, they do not possess a diaphragm and their lungs are proportionally small. Instead, harpies have roughly eight or nine air sacs that store and pump air through their lungs. This allows for a unidirectional flow of air, which allows them to extract a higher concentration of oxygen, and even take in oxygen during exhalation. Thanks to this, a harpy is able to breathe at much higher elevations than other races could. This efficient lung structure is not without its faults, however. Because the sternum must move during respiration, holding a harpy too tightly around the chest can easily cause her to suffocate. Moreover, because they transfer more oxygen with each breath, airborne toxins are more efficiently transferred as well.
Light build: Harpies have a very light weight, when compared to creatures of similar size and stature. The body structure of a harpy is geared towards lean muscle and minimizing weight in order to better maintain an airborne existence. Most harpies have small breasts since they make less fatty tissue than a human’s while maintaining the mammary gland sizes. Hips are one attribute that harpies have in excess. Since they lay large eggs, their hips are very wide to allow the egg to pass more easily.
Keen Vision: The most important sense for a harpy is her vision and they are known far and wide for their phenomenal visual acuity over other races. From high up in the sky, they are able to spot tiny animals all the way down on the ground with near perfect clarity. This is thanks in part to their lens being able change shape more quickly and to a greater extent than a human, allowing them to better focus on an object. Moreover, harpies developed a pecten oculi, a comb-like structure of blood vessels in the back of their eyes. With this structure, far fewer blood vessels are located in front of the retina that would normally partially obscure perceived images. However, because a harpy’s eyes are optimized for maximum spatial resolution rather than light perception, they typically see very poorly in low light. With the exception of owl like harpies, whose eyes are better suited to function in poor lighting, most harpies are forced to adopt a diurnal schedule. Though harpies possess fully functional human eyelids, they still boast an almost transparent and thin protective membrane to ward off their eyes in flight while maintaining visibility. Harpies also have a fourth UV sensitive cone (in addition to red, green, and blue) to perceive ultraviolet light.

Flight: Harpy wings allow them to fly, although they will be unable to if their wings get wet. The exception to this are sea harpy who have adapted waterproof oils on their wings.

Biomagical Abilities

Regeneration Factor: Harpies wounds will passively heal in a short time via biomagical reactions speeding up the process. The extent of this regeneration can prevent the development of scar tissue and even regrow entire limbs within a few minutes to hours however these actions do not set any broken bones on its own. In addition, this trait is significantly slowed when the subject is increasingly exhausted.

Negligible Senescence: Harpies lack any measurable deterioration from aging due to their cells high regenerative properties. They do not have any reduction in functional or reproductive capabilities past maturity. The rate of mortality doesn’t increase past old age either, meaning that most can live for centuries and are biologically immortal or ageless. Harpies however are not deathless and still get ill or injured enough to die.

Siren Song: Harpies can sing musical notes infused with enough magic to affect the minds of typical sapient beings. Originally a defense mechanism, their sounds induce sleep or disorientation. Harpies have discovered that they can produce other intentional effects with their songs such as fear or even hypnotic infatuation, though like hypnosis it can’t force the affected to do something they would never do and can be resisted.

General Diet

Harpies are often opportunistic omnivores who can consume a variety of plant matter and meat. The type of food a harpy of will likely partake is manly dependent on their environment and the culture they were raised in. Raptor harpies generally form a hunter culture and thus most of their food consists of meat or carrion. Sea harpies eat many animals that live in the water or various fruits that grow on trees near the shoreline. Paradise Harpies are more likely to vary their diets focusing more on eating plants like fruits, nuts and seeds along with smaller animals sources like insects.

Reproduction

Harpies have a ovulation cycle and instead of shedding their lining, they lay two unfertilized eggs every month, sometimes three. When an egg is fertilized, they must keep them warm until they are ready to hatch. Due to the baby mostly developing in the egg, the mother hardly shows a baby bump before laying the egg.
They are an all female species, mating with males from other humanoid races to reproduce. A baby harpy inherits a small amount of genetic material from her father, but otherwise, the offspring of a harpy mother is always born a harpy. The paternal genes only affect minor traits, such as hair and eye color, and to an extent, feather coloration, though it may also affect things like facial structure and body shape.
Due to being reliant on male humanoids of other species, harpies have adapted to produce a large amount of offspring after fertilization. Typically after copulation, a harpy will lay 1 or 2 fertilized eggs that are incubated to hatch harpy chicks. They feed off their mother’s milk from her 2 breasts on her chest for the first year of life.

Lifespan and Growth

Harpy babies, known as chicks or nestlings, are born with down instead of flight feathers, and are entirely dependent on their mother for sustenance and protection. Until they grow old enough to develop their flying feathers, the mother is responsible for teaching everything to her chicks, from how to eat, and how to care for themselves. Once old enough, the mother then teaches them how to fly. Although her friends and sisters might taunt the nestlings, they’ll of course catch them safely until they master the art of flying. After they prove they are ready to leave the nest and hunt without help, they are considered full-fledged adults and are thus treated the same way older harpies typically treat one another.

Subspecies

  • Raptor
  • Sea
  • Harpy of Paradise

History

From the beginning, Harpies lacked their own general civilization and were not allowed to take part in civilized life. Before the Ghulat Wars, most species of harpies had the body shape of birds with only a few humanoid features such as a human head or chest. As such most of the dominant species considered them more akin to magical beasts or monsters. Often viewed as vicious and corrupted creatures, most villages filled the ears of their young males with horror stories of winged monsters that ate men. The truth is that there are no male harpies, so they rely on male humanoids to breed, often done via kidnappings and rape so the fears weren’t exactly unfounded. In times where males where scarce due to fear/hate, during their breeding period they become more aggressive towards passersby, capturing the men. Over a period of weeks all members of the flock take turns forcibly mating with their captives, then either dumping them a considerable distance or the most savage eating them.
Change came after the Ghulat Cataclysm where the reduction of lifeforms led to a small number of species that were very humanoid in body shape but had a wide range of features from various birds. In the Guilded Age, naturalists observing them suspected that despite their feral nature, some possessed the potential for advanced problem solving skill. With the psychological schools gaining steam in the mainstream, studies were made with abandoned harpy chicks raised in the lab to see whether or not the habits that made them seen as monsters in society were a product of nature or nurture.
Results showed that the amount of empathy and intelligence that harpies showed were depend on nurture and nature, they could understand civil concepts and decide for themselves whether to see humanoids as food/breeding material or friends/lifelong mates. This began a shift from looking at harpies as monsters and slowly settlements began allowing harpies that didn’t have those wild motives. It also led to similar tests being done with similar monstrous humanoids like lamia and a change in popular culture of humanoids necessarily being “monstrous”.

Culture

Architecture

Due to their forelimbs being built for flight, they don’t have much dexterity to build objects. Instead they can gather various plant matter or rocks for nests like birds to settle. Some are simple mats but others can be large multiple housing shelters of twigs and straw.

Spirituality

For most of their history, harpies were feral and thus lacked followings. Those exposed to or raised in settlements/civilization may adopt a larger belief system.

Gender/Family

As harpies can only exist as females, girls are heads of their households and naturally want to direct the socialization of their children. Harpies that mate with a male and leave to raise children on their own have the easiest time of this. Those in a committed relationship obviously have to share responsibility but many want more dominance in the areas of lovemaking and child rearing.

Dress/Modesty

Harpies are comfortable with the view of other female creatures breasts and sometimes fully nude. Many harpies that live outside of civilization are perfectly fine with wearing no clothes. Some may be a bit more reserved depending on the culture they are born.
Due to their wings and scaled shins, harpies are incapable of or uncomfortable with wearing tops with sleeves and trousers longer than the knees.

Socialization

Most harpy mothers want to personally teach their children making them less likely to choose formal education for them. Exceptions include those who live in countries with mandatory education or genuinely believe formal schooling will give their children a better life. In a similar vein, harpies that are not mothers may choose the formal or informal education depending on whether they want to join the world economy or live out with their traditional groups.

Magic Use

Wild or rural Harpies almost exclusively use sorcery in the form of their siren song or discovered endowments, that often revolve around enhancing their natural or biomagical abilities, like flying or amplify the effects of their siren songs. Harpy form of preparing ordered spellcraft often revolves more around the motion of their wings. Often harpies will use magic that augments the wind from their wings or the blows from their talons. Many harpies also use spells that give songs that they sing a specific mental effect to those who hear it, commonly captivation.

Science and Technology

Transportation

Obviously harpies will fly to places under their own power. Most won’t have a problem riding another species vehicle though if they are tired.

Weaponry

A harpy’s talons are natural weapons that can deal piercing and slashing damage. Some harpy disciplined in martial arts can also use their wings to parry as well.

More organized harpy may manufacture polearms like spears or lances that they can manipulate with their talons and give them an extended range of attack.

Communications

Many harpies have special songs or calls that are used to convey a wide range of massages. These calls inspired nature watchers to develop more advanced and precise recording equipment.

Medical Treatment

Early on Harpies simply rely on their regenerative capabilities for almost every ailment. Anything that this ability can’t take care of, a harpy would change her habits to forage for herbs rich in phytochemicals that act as antimicrobials, such as purging intestinal parasites.

Manufacturing

Harpies don’t really construct objects due to a lack of arms and their talons lacking fine control. The strong grip they have can allow them to construct crude simple objects at best so most are traded/imported by other races.

Author’s Notes

Harpies are a later race I decided to add to the world. After doing some research on various bird species, I found out about different types. In addition their is a narrative that gave to the race, mainly how they lead to the potential intelligence of demihumaoid races being discovered and embraced.

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