The upper body, torso and head of the harpy resembles that of a human, but their lower legs are talons like those of an eagle, and their upper limbs are feathered wings. Their appearance is relatively diverse: some may have scales or feathers on their legs, while others appear entirely human until below the knee. Some have claws on the end of their wings, while a few even have tails. Their skin is pale and their hair and feathers usually brightly-coloured, although all hair colours have been seen.
Harpies tend to be lean and wiry, with relatively little fat. Their legs and chests are very heavily muscled, with male harpies invariably having barrel chests and females having the appearance of a large bosom, though most of this is down to the chest muscles rather than mammary tissue. Their shoulders and hips are more articulated than those of other humanoids, allowing harpies to rest their wings in a vertical position, while the elbow joint is reversed and slightly more limited, as it needs to be locked in order to hold the harpy aloft.
Since they have no hands, harpies are obliged to perform any tasks that require manipulation with their talons and jaws. Although they are surprisingly good at this, and are experts in cooperating to perform tasks they could not manage alone, many skills that the be-handed, as the harpies refer to them, take for granted are extremely difficult if not impossible for harpies. They can fashion rudimentary clothing from hide and leather but tend to wear only enough for purposes of warmth, hygiene and, occasionally, modesty. They are largely incapable of growing crops, and their diet is as a consequence almost entirely carnivorous, although they will eat fruit if the opportunity arises.
For centuries the harpies of Farridon raided human and goblin villages for livestock and it was not uncommon for young goblins to be carried off and eaten too. Harpies maintained a more respectful distance from humans but would kill any who threatened their roosts in the mountains. This gave them a reputation as savage beasts, one which was exacerbated by their appearance, lack of clothing and inability to write recognisably, although they appear to have a system of cuneiform used occasionally and scratched into trees and rocks with their talons.
In fact harpies are highly intelligent, and are believed to be rather moreso than humans. Despite their lack of written record, they have a highly-developed oral history even without a dedicated class of bards or priests to maintain it: each harpy is expected to learn the greater proportion of their peoples' history, poetry, songs and stories. Their language is thought to be a direct descendant of Old Fae, although to those unfamiliar with it it may sound like random screeching. An increasing number of harpies learn the trade tongue, though they speak in a thick accent and often in slightly archaic formations.
It seems likely they are themselves some form of fae. Their predation of the goblins was - reportedly - based on a misunderstanding: the harpies did not recognise goblin speech as language and regarded them as dumb beasts sufficiently different from humans and fae as to be acceptable to eat. Study of the goblin language has broadly changed attitudes among the harpies, although the goblins remain wary of them and some older harpies have been heard to express regret that they may no longer eat the goblins, for they were delicious.
The harpies have a long tradition of body art, and it is perhaps their most expressive visual medium. This may take the form of body paint or in some cases ritual scarring. Although tattooing is hard for the harpies to perform themselves, they have taken to it enthusiastically upon seeing it on humans, and many also make use of Jarrland dyes to colour their hair and feathers.
Although the harpies are fierce fighters they had little in the way of weapons beyind rudimentary, though effective, stone tools, no real ability with metallurgy, and due to their nature relatively little experience in pitched battle with ground troops. Since their adoption into the Kingdom of the Carmine Sea, many harpies have received military training to enable them to coordinate effectively with regular troops. Their keen eyes and sharp minds have all but revolutionised military reconnaissance, and their ability to redeploy quickly is thought to be invaluable in battle. By 465 armourers had also perfected equipment for them: a form of plate armour with enough articulation to allow the wings and talons freedom of movement, light enough to fly while still providing protection (mithril is instrumental for this) and weapons of which they can make use, including larger metallic talons.