Retired: Harp

Art by Charlie Bowater
Character: Harp
Game: Fall of Magic
Episodes Played: 5
Final Song: If It Be Your Will by Leonard Cohen covered by Denmark + Winter
Keywords: Fierce, Fated, Wild

When last we left Harp, magic was still dying and she had not figured out how to save it. The interesting thing about Fall of Magic is how blind you go in. By episode 5, which we knew would be the conclusion, I had learned so much about Harp that I wanted to know her fate. When you play the game, you put your token on a prompt and work with the prompt. So in the beginning, when I put Harp on the menagerie of Ravenhall and was prompted with "the first time you saw real magic" I got to narrate, as Harp, that memory.

This means, when you're sitting there, you're reflecting a lot on the past that forms your character as you go. You don't get to come in with a full sense of someone. All I knew was that Harp was a swineherd from Barleytown. I knew she was she/her. This is all.

Since then, Harp had become the daughter of the Magus, the lover of Torbor (the warlord mage), mother of one of the most powerful people in the land in the future, granddaughter of the matron of Utopia, and the only one of the group of travellers who had done magic. She killed her last pig to bring back Torbor from half-life. At the time, she did it because she felt he would be needed, that the world needed his magic.

Why that was truly done though, I wasn't sure. I just did it. It's still not clear why she needed to bring him back. Torbor killed Fawn, her travelling companion and perhaps the slaughter was needed to keep magic alive. There was definitely conversations about it before hand, but nothing is possible to predict in that game.

Harp found herself walking her father, the Magus, to his final journey to Umbra. She held his hand and guided him towards the pouring light of where magic came into the world. Then Caspian transferred the magic of one Magus to the new Magus and Harp no longer was Harp the swineherd. She was Harp the Magus.

It was a great ending for her and not one I had expected at all. The game had gotten grim dark and we weren't holding back from going further. But there was something about that moment of standing there with her father that made the scene suddenly more gentle and lovely. It was a happy ending. A new Magus took control and magic didn't die, it was reborn with her.

Overall Harp had an interesting storyline. Initially she was brash and impetuous, much like her daughter. By the end, Harp had given up on saving magic. There was a hopelessness in her speech, in the way she spoke to Fawn and Caspian. She was willing to do anything to save magic, and thought it would mean her death. In a way, it did, but not as she expected.

Harp was beautiful and sturdy. There was a confidence and purpose in her I haven't seen in a lot of my other characters. Maybe Donahue. But I loved her solidness. She was the earth of farming, someone oddly resilient. It was heartbreaking to feel her slowly succumb to feeling whelmed and overrun by the final breaking of the world. She found out she didn't trust her companions, and that was unusual for me, as my characters often emotionally latch on to others really quickly. I dig the drama.

I didn't do that with Harp. I left her isolated, her own source of power and confidence, and let that crumble and then renew. It isn't often I see a happy ending with a character, and I was thrilled it was this one.

My challenge with Harp was to play a character so resilient the world didn't destroy her, that the journey didn't end her capacity for self. I think I succeeded at that. Harp stood just more powerful and more alive and more herself at the end. She was ready to turn and face the world once more, and save it. I think Harp was a successful character. I'm sad to see her go, but I love that final moment in my mind where the sun hits her face, renewed with magic, and she smiles.


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