D&D 5E On the Necessity for More Bard Threads

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Honestly, the closest thing to a classic D&D bard (for those poor people who need to wallow in the filth) would be something akin to an Arcane Trickster base with Charisma-casting and a bard spell list.
Yeah, that would work. I could also see a Skald type as Eldritch Knight with the same caveats.
 

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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
The Irish Filí were elite (very high social rank) poets, historians and philosophers to kings. They recorded history and great deeds, recounted major tales and poetic epics, performed before feasts and battles, and also acted as seers, having magically prophetic visions. Musicians were a somewhat related but lesser-ranked profession. Later, perhaps after Christianity took firm hold and kings were spending to support Bishops rather than high-ranking magical poets, the functions seem to have merged a bit.

Literary and historic examples of bards or bard-like figures include Taliesen from the Welsh tradition, Amergin from the Irish, Poul Anderson's Cappen Varra, Manly Wade Wellman's Kardios the Atlantean, and for the "incompetent but good-hearted" trope, Fflewddur Fflam from Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. And trumping Cappen Varra and Kardios, I would say the most prominent example from pulp fiction that Gary was probably thinking of when he included Wellman in Appendix N of the 1E DMG, Silver John aka John the Balladeer.

Taliesen and Amergin are famously poets and their magic is connected to or invoked by their poetry. Morgan Llywelyn did a fun book about Amergin in '84, Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish.

Cappen Varra and Kardios are generally non-magical swords & sorcery protagonists, solving their issues with their wits and their swords, though using music and song as well to win friends or antagonize enemies.

Here's a short Cappen Varra story from 1957. CV is possibly the original lothario bard and is almost the archetype of the D&D-style rogue bard. A charming scoundrel, carrying a light blade and decent with it, a romantic with a list of former loves as long as your arm.
The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Valor of Cappen Varra, by Poul Anderson

Fflewdur Fflam is nonmagical himself, a poor king of a tiny kingdom one can walk across in a day, who dreamed to be a bard and went to the bardic council to become one. This being a fantasy quasi-Wales, these "real" bards are implied to be powerful, wise and magical, and they gift him The Truthful Harp. Which magically plays well despite his lack of talent, but snaps a string every time he speaks an untruth, which is a great frustration to him as he's a born storyteller and exaggerator.

John the Balladeer is a bit of an outlier, his stories being set in the Appalachian Mountains of the US, sometime after WW2 or the Korean War, one of which John's a veteran of. But these are horror/fantasy stories nonetheless, and Goodman Games has taken inspiration from them for a recent DCC campaign setting (The Shudder Mountains) and series of modules.

John is a wandering musician and historian, a writer and collector of songs and folktales. He's in some ways the opposite of Cappen Varra- humble, devout, confident but pretty quiet about it. Restrained around women. A crack shot (though that latter rarely comes up), good with his fists as well as his silver-stringed guitar. In each story he usually comes up against some supernatural menace, and resolves it using folklore, faith, quick wits and bravery. He performs songs in pretty much every story, and often employs them in defeating evil.

Here is a compilation of John the Balladeer stories, starting with an intro to the writer and the character. The first story is O Ugly Bird! (1951), and I recommend them all. They're quick reads, too. :)
John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman - Baen Books
 
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Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer stories are top notch. It is absolutely criminal that they're out-of-print, but they're worth picking up.

Heck, the bard has more Appendix N cred than the cleric class.

John the Balladeer is a bit of an outlier, his stories being set in the Appalachian Mountains of the US, sometime after WW2 or the Korean War, one of which John's a veteran of. But these are horror/fantasy stories nonetheless, and Goodman Games has taken inspiration from them for a recent DCC campaign setting (The Shudder Mountains) and series of modules.

Bards are cool. Artificers are cool.

Sometimes I suspect that the ill-will people have towards bards just comes from being salty about how hard it was to become one back in 1e. Getting to play a bard was like the triathlon of AD&D.
 



Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Snarf, your shtick is getting old. Find some new material.

Now, I'd be interested in actual discussion of bards. I could never understand what's their deal. Like, what's their theme, especially in 5E? Lute-wizard doesn't seem to be different enough from, y'know, wizard and all these different colleges make my brain hurt (or maybe that's because I drink too much?)

Could somebody enlighten me? It's not like I hate'em, I just can't comprehend the concept of a fantasy bard.
I actually have a thread about this. It's about how the theme of Bards is a bit disjointed and how I think they'd work better as a half-caster.
 




Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
I dunno. Without a Bard in the party, it can be hard to sneak around a crowd. They just draw attention to themselves - all that talking and singing and music.
 


see

Pedantic Grognard
But the Lions? No one even cares enough about them to realize how bad they suck. That's right. Sit back for a second, because I'm about to drop some knowledge on you- the Detroit Lions have won one (1) playoff game since ... 1957. Once. They went an entire season without winning a single game. But not only are they terrible, no one even bothers to mention them as cursed, or unlucky, or even give them a nickname like, "The Factory of Sadness."
Which is weird, because it's really easy to work out what the curse on the Lions is. The last time the franchise was sold was on November 22, 1963.

There are, of course, two things that can break the curse. The first is the Ford family selling the Lions. The second is a subsequent US president dying in office (on the condition that the Lions aren't sold that day, too). Until then, not only is America doomed to have a lousy team playing football every Thanksgiving, but the City of Detroit, by transference, is cursed as well.

Now, you might ask, what, exactly, does any of that have to do with D&D? Well, first, if you can't figure out how to use a curse like that in a game, you're not even trying.

Second, there were two things Detroit was known for in 1963; auto manufacturing, and Motown Records. Both have fled the city limits since, but the Curse of JFK follows them into their D&D class representatives, artificers and bards.
 


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