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Red Magic, by Jean Rabe, is the third book of the loosely-related The Harpers series.

The Red Wizards rule Thay, perhaps the most wicked and corrupt land in all the Forgotten Realms. While the evil mage, Zulkir Maligor, builds a net of treachery and deceit, the Harpers seek to uncover his vile schemes. A small band is sent by the Harpers to pose as slaves and slavers to infiltrate the malevolent land. Once inside Thay, they face the undead minions of the Red Wizards and a future far worse than death: becoming the wizards' soulless puppets!


Thay is ruled by a council of eight specialized archmages (zulkirs), one for each school. Maligor, the Zulkir of transmutation, plots to take control of Thay by himself and destroy his nemesis, Szass Tam.

His plan can be said to have three stages:

  1. Take control of Thay's gold production, using his loyal spirit naga (or Shinomen naga) assistant.
  2. Destroy Szass Tam.
  3. Invade Aglarond and conquer the world.

This power battle has raised the attention of the Harpers, who send three of their agents to find a way to stop Maligor's plan: a big city mage from the court of Aglarond, a druid who has never even been to a town, and his slightly more civilized centaur friend who is a fugitive from Thay.


In the Year of the Helm, 1362 DR, Maligor, the Zulkir of Alteration in Thay was plotting a grab for power, his plan was a secret. He has been accumulating and training an army of gnolls openly, making sure the other Zulkirs were aware of the amassing force. In secret from prying eyes, the other agenda Maligor had was tasking his slaves and servants to capture all the critters, small animals, they could find in the region surrounding Amruthar where his tower was located. Maligor was magically transforming the animals into an army of monstrosities called darkenbeasts. His trusted assistant, consort, and lieutenant, a spirit naga named Asp discovered a missing gnoll in the army informing Maligor of a possible defector or a spy. Not to take any chances for his clever plan to get spoiled he created a new darkenbeast and sent it to track the deserter.[2]

The missing gnoll was Mudwort. He has been an informant for the Harpers in Thay and he was about to meet the harper druid Galvin on the shores of Lake Umber. The druid arrived in his Amnian hawk beast shape. Mudwort gave the harper agent very basic information that was common knowledge in Amruthar, the name of the Zulkir assembling the gnoll army. The informant was hesitant to disclose more fearing the druid being an agent of the Red Mage testing Mudwort's loyalty. Galvin in frustration reached out to stop gnoll from leaving and provoked a savage attack. Taking a cave bear wild shape, the druid ended up killing Mudwort, the act he deeply regretted. In the battle, Galvin was badly hurt and made his way towards the harper camp not far off. Meanwhile, the darkenbeast sent to retrieve the deserter witnessed the fight and decided to follow the wounded druid.[2]

The druid made way to the camp and met up with a centaur friend and a fellow Harper agent - Wynter, and a city council member Brenna Graycloak of Aglarond. The harpers were contacted by the city's rulers to investigate the rumors of an amassing force in case it was targeting the peaceful city. The darkenbeast that followed Galvin attacked the camp and was destroyed by Brenna's lightning bolt. Upon its death, the creature dissolved back to its harmless original small critter form. The harpers were perplexed with the transformation never seeing anything like it before. Galvin used his druid magic to restore his health overnight, and in the morning the trio made plans to travel to Amruthar and covertly investigate the looming danger.[3]

The harper battle with Maligor's darkenbeast alerted the mage to the unknown party with a magic user in tow, entering the play and possibly becoming an obstacle in the future.[4]

Galvin, Brenna, and Wynter traveling to Thay.

Traveling further up the River Umber the harpers scaled the First Escarpment and entered Thay. The luscious greenery of a slave citrus plantation was located on top of the cliff. The spies ran into an orc squad led by an ex-pirate Elwin. Galvin used entangle to restrain the orcs and Brenna cast the charm spell on the leader, turning Elwin into a more than willing guide.[5]

Back at the Maligor's Tower Willeth Lionson, the tharchion of Thaymount and the gold mines found himself in the red wizard's prison. Maligor's forced abducted the tharchion as he was on his way to Tantras to purchase new mining equipment. The mage knew that Willeth's disappearance would be unnoticed for a couple of weeks because of the travel which was the part of the red wizard's scheme. Maligor tortured Willeth and extracted the information about the Thayvian gold mines' defenses, and newly uncovered abundant gold veins. The dying tharchion drew a detailed map on the mines for the wizard. As the interrogation was over, Maligor fed him to his gnoll guards. The bones and rippled cloth was all that was left of the tharchion, and they were scattered around the escarpment by Maligor's apprentice Jutta, using thering of flying that was gifted to her. To make sure no one knew of his plans, he disposed of the gnoll guards that witnessed the whole interrogation by feeding them to his darkenbeasts.[6]

The guide was not able to lead the harpers far, as the group stopped for a night's rest, away from the bustling of slaves, and guard patrols, they ended up facing a group of ghouls, patrolling Thay on behalf of the Zulkir of Necromancy - lich Szass Tam. Galvin and his group managed to defend themselves and retreated but Elwin was killed by the undead turning him into one of the ghouls.[7]

Surviving ghouls informed their master of the Harpers entering Thay. The lich was scrying on both groups: Maligor's gnolls, and the new players - the meddling Harpers, trying to unravel the mystery of his opponent's plot. Szass Tam connected with Maligor and confronted him about the army. Maligor very obviously lied to the undead lord claiming that his plan was attacking a young red mage - Rembert Wellford and taking over his lands. Szass Tam agreed to not interfere with the plan in exchange for half the land. The necromancer knew it was a lie and decided to focus his attention on the harper spies knowing they were likely there because of Maligor.[8]

The next day Harpers reached their destination - Amruthar. In order to blend in with the Thayans, Brenna was forced to shave her beautiful locks and decorate her skull with intricate and fashionable designs, appearing to be a noblewoman and a red mage. Galvin kept his hair long, pretending to be a slave, and Wynter - a slave trader for a plantation in search of more workers. The group combined shopping with finding information on the amassing army, the red mage Maligor, and his possible plans. People of Amruthar gossiped plenty. The centaur used his money to purchase a group of slave dwarves for cheap planning on releasing them later but they did not speak common and the harpers could not communicate with them.[9] The harpers made a stop at the Gold Dragon Inn is search of information and a meal. Afterward, they headed out to the tent city outside Amruthar's walls.[10]

Same evening Asp attempted to replicate Maligor's create darkenbeast spell outside of the tower using a charmed weasel. The spell failed creating a disfigured monstrosity, the naga got rid of it by ordering the ugly creature to slaughter the peasants. That command brought the imperfect darkenbeasts to attacks the same tent city where the harpers stayed overnight. In the short battle, the darkenbeast fell to the city guard arrows, the dwarven slaves fled in the chaos and Galvin recognized the monster to looks like the darkenbeast that attacked the group a few days ago. Soon after the beast's attack, the evening was disturbed by screams of the traders and peasants. A group of juju zombies was shuffling through the tent city looking for something. The harpers jumped into battle attempting to protect the folk, only to get overpowered by another wave of undead. The reinforcements included vampires. It was clear that the undead came for the harper spies. Mesmerized by the vampires' hypnotic abilities, the harpers fell. The undead dragged their victims to Szass Tam.[10]

The lich threatened Brenna, Wynter, and Galvin with visions of their deaths, being brought back as undead and seizing Aglarond with his undead hordes, enlisting their unwilling help to foil Maligor's grab for power. At the same time, Maligor himself was finishing preparations, instructed the gnoll army to march on Rembert Wellford's land, and ordered the darkenbeast horde to fly towards the mines cloaked by night, and magic.[10]

Wrapped in black robes and armed with Szass Tam's magical weapons, the trio of harpers marched towards the Maligor's tower leading an army of Zombies, Skeletons, Wraiths, and Musk Creeper husks. On the way, Wynter was attacked by a discarded wild Yellow Musk creeper, saving the centaur at the last possible moment, Brenna and Galvin could not protect their friend from harm. The creeper's poison was injected into the centaur's brain rendering him feebleminded, in a child-like state.[11]

It was time for Maligor to let Asp in on the plan, she was to use her shapeshifting magic to take the place of Willeth Lionson in the mines allowing the red mage to start siphoning the gold into his own pockets. With time Asp would lie to the council of Zulkirs telling them the mines have run out of gold, and Maligor would lie about being able to magically create gold, taking over the country's economy.[11]

The undead army reached Maligor's tower late, missing both its master, and the army of gnolls. Searching through the tower the Harpers freed the red mage's slaves and destroyed the guards and gnolls left behind to guard the building. Galvin was able to find a few starved surviving critters in Maligor's laboratory. He learned about the darkenbeast army from the critters' minds via his druidic magic. Using his ability to commune with the stone they discovered the secret entrance to the tower's lower levels. Maligor left the crude map drawn by dying tharchion in the prison and the harpers found it deducting that the wizard's true goal was the miens.[12]

Days after Maligor reached his goal, the undead army arrived at the mines. At the entrance, the harpers were met by Willeth Lionson, secretly shapeshifter Asp. Brenna used detect thoughts spell to detect the naga's lies starting the battle for the Thayvian gold mines. Asp activated the mine's magical guardians, two Galeb Duhrs that thinned the undead army with avalanches aimed at the attackers. Along with the undead, Asp was one of the casualties, seemingly perishing. Galvin was able to communicate with the stone guardians using his druid magic and the harpers were allowed entrance into the immense mining complex.[13]

Making their way through countless tunnels, traps, and fighting off flocks of darkenbeasts they found Maligor deep inside the mines. The red wizard was infuriated that his plan was exposed, completely destroying any chance he had taking over the gold production. Maligor decided that if he can't have the mines, no one can. Preparing to collapse the tunnels he was stopped by Galvin that shapeshifted into a darkenbeast and followed the mage undetected. Using more of his spells he collapsed the mines trapping Maligor and likely killing him. The loss of mines was temporary and once the Zulkird were able to excavate them the economy of the country would be restored but for a short time, Thay was crippled.[14]

Overlooking Aglarond from the top of First Escarpment Brenna and Galvin said their goodbyes to each other still sharing deep affection, love, and friendship born during the adventure. Galvin stayed behind to reside in the woods, Brenna headed back to Aglarond to resume her city council duties and Wynter - back to his farm.[15]


Click here for page index


AspBrenna GraycloakCharmaineElwinGalvinJuttaMaligorMudwortSzass TamWilleth LionsonWynter
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Blackland IronhoofRembert WellfordSimbul


AmrutharEltabbarFirst EscarpmentGold Dragon InnLake UmberMaligor's TowerPriadorRiver UmberThayThayvian gold mines
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AglarondAgri PlantationAmnGlarondarKara-TurMoonshaeMulhorandNine HellsOrlumborRavens BluffSea of Fallen StarsShou LungTantrasTheskTsurlagolYuirwood


antelopebanderhobbcave bearcentaurdogdarkenbeastfyreflygaleb duhrgnollghoulhawkhill giant zombie • hobgoblinhorseimpjuju zombielichmummyowlspirit nagaorcshadowskeletontigervampireweaselwraithyellow musk creeperzombie
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batclay golemdrowghastcobrastone golemwightwolfwyvern


HarpersRed Wizards


burning handscall lightningcharmcone of coldcreate darkenbeastdetect thoughtsdisguise selfdispel magicentangleerupting earthfriendsgaseous formgoodberryhealing wordknocklightning boltmagic missilescryingspeak with animalsspeak with plantsstone shapetonguesweb
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Wondrous Items[]

crystal ballpotion of longevityring of flying


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  1. Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Steven E. Schend (2000). Presenting...Seven Millennia of Realms Fiction. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2003-06-21. Retrieved on 2015-08-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 1. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  3. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 2. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  4. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 3. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  5. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 4. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  6. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 5. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  7. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 6. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  8. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 7. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  9. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 8. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 9. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 10. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  12. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 13. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  13. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 14. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  14. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 15. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.
  15. Jean Rabe (December 1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 16. ISBN 1-56076-118-0.