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The Harbinger is a formidably strong hostile mob, presumably designed after the Grim Reaper with a Soul Reaper in its hand.
The Harbinger is exceedingly strong, having 160 health and plenty of offensive and defensive abilities. It has a move speed roughly equal to the player's walk speed, but cannot sprint.
Despite having an appearance similar to the Grim Reaper, the Harbinger is not considered Undead.
Against unarmored opponents, the Harbinger does 10 points (5 hearts) of damage, and drops the souls of the mobs it kills (including the player).
The Harbinger will quickly despawn under the open sky once morning comes (even if a rainstorm is active) while emitting a Zombie Villager cure sound and broken Eye of Ender particles. Thus, it is advisable to watch the sky or bring a Clock to determine how much longer the night will last to avoid losing progress.
The Harbinger follows X phases of combat, where its behavior changes markedly. Abilities have been given unofficial names below, for easy reference.
- Soulsteal: Kills made by the Harbinger drop Souls
- Arrow Deflect: Arrows that strike the Harbinger gently bounce off as it teleports a short distance away.
- Revival: The Harbinger revives a nearby soul as a Spectral Mob if it is closer than the player, giving itself Regeneration I for 5 seconds. Note that if it kills the player, it will revive their soul as a Spectral Miner. Collecting souls with an Essence Keeper or Essence Vessel is an effective way to counter this
The Harbinger fight can be divided into 4 phases, where it will act differently depending on its current health point total.
- Rush Phase (160 HP to 81 HP) The Harbinger repeatedly runs towards the player and attacks them, occasionally stopping to revive any nearby loose souls to fight alongside it.
- Dodge Phase (80 HP to 41 HP) In addition to the above, the Harbinger now teleports frequently to dodge sword blows similar to an Enderman. Because the Harbinger is putting more distance between itself and the player, it is more likely to revive any loose souls along its path.
- Soul Phase (40 to 31 HP) The Harbinger plays the same sound as a Zombie Villager being cured, and drops four souls in a square formation belonging to random Minecraft mobs (passive and hostile). The Harbinger will attempt to revive the souls to fight for it unless the player attacks the Harbinger, drawing their attention. Once all souls are revived, the Harbinger will resume its Phase 2 attack pattern.
- Sneak Phase (30 HP to 1 HP) Finally, the Harbinger gains the Invisibility potion effect and continues its Phase 2 attack pattern. Its Soul Reaper is still visible during this phase, making it easier to find the Harbinger. It will continue reviving any souls available to it, though it will not spawn more souls as in Phase 3.
When killed, the Harbinger drops at least one Abyss Fragment. On rare occasions it drops a Soul Reaper (rare) or Essence Vessel (very rare). It can also drop "Green Soul" if killed with a Soulsteal enchanted weapon or a Scythe special attack, which fills an Essence Keeper or Essence Vessel for 10 souls instead of the typical 1.
- The Smite enchantment does not deal additional damage to Harbingers.
- Very Rarely, Harbingers may spawn or gather in groups of three.
- Harbingers have a chance of spawning in full or partial armor. Harbingers wearing a helmet will not despawn during the day.
- Because they are the only hostile mob that spawns in Mushroom Island biomes, Harbinger(s) spawn rate is greatly elevated there.
- Harbingers will attempt to revive Green Souls, but no mob will spawn. Thus, it is recommended to pick up Green Souls as soon as possible when fighting multiple Harbingers to avoid losing them. They still gain Regeneration I for 5 seconds afterwards, despite no mob spawning.
- Don't try to attack Harbinger for too long, it might try to summon an entity that will make your world keep crashing, in other words, it will become unplayable!
- It is most likely based on the personification of Death, also known as the Grim Reaper.