Author Topic: Some Thoughts on Bards  (Read 710 times)


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Some Thoughts on Bards
« on: February 16, 2005, 06:38:21 PM »
Note: Derailments, attempts to relate this thread to one's current character, and prescriptions for how people should correct their roleplay will be ruthlessly excised.  This is an attempt to clear up some misconceptions I've seen elsewhere, and if people want to ask questions or talk about bardic roleplay in general, that's fine.

My credentials: ran one of the earliest Tuluki bards, who had a house on Poets' Circle.  Ran a number of bards throughout the years on the game, and contributed many of the folksongs on the documentation page.  Compiled the current bard documentation from a variety of sources.  Currently one of the staff members, along with Qetesh and Mekeda, handling Poets' Circle.  Accordingly, I'd like to think this is about as close to the definitive word as you're going to come.  I've had a pretty clear vision of the current implementation of the clan since its first implementation, which was inspired by several PCs who were playing bards in a way that seemed to me to contradict how they should be run.  

The Bards of Poets' Circle are indeed the rock stars of their age.  A skilled bard can command high fees for themself, and wield considerable political power in the form of information gathering and brokering, as well as shaping public opinion through their art.  In Tuluk, where the government prefers subtlety to force, don't underestimate the esteem in which a possible vehicle of propaganda is held by the Templarate.

Are there independent bards who don't belong to Poets' Circle?  Sure.  But any bard worthy of the name (barring some edge case like "a bard killed my parents") -wants- desperately to get into that establishment, which will provide them with the access to knowledge, training, and contacts that will help them succeed.  Independent bards know that most noble houses will view them as untrained barbarians, and generally a non-Poet's Circle bard would be, at best, a curiosity or intended for entertaining house employees.  Houses may pick up bards with talent and sponsor them for inclusion in the Circle, but sponsor them they usually will, in order to make sure their new hireling is the best that she or he can be.  Nobles want the best, and they know that being in Poets Circle is the brand label of bards.

Poets' Circle watches for independent bards of talent and will bring them in as fresh blood.  A number of independent bards have turned up for bardic competitions in the past, as a way to get themselves noticed and join the circle.  Aside from these competitions, though, most independent bards are considered unworthy of notice.  An independent who posed a significant threat to the status of Poet's Circle might meet with an unfortunate accident, but such occurences are few and far between, since it's much easier to simply co-opt them.  Bakha's point about the Tuluki respect for the "Way Things Have Always Been Done" is a good one; an independent bard who declines joining the Circle should be aware of what an anomaly they would be.  

Apprentice bards are the lowest rank in the house, working on building the incredible wealth of knowledge and musical lore that is required of them.  At this point, they're usually taught by journeymen or regular bards.  It's not until someone is at least a journeyman (and I don't like the term, since I try for ungendered language in documentation, but it conveys the status I'm thinking of) that they might have interactions with a Master Bard.  I think there is some confusion in the documentation, because of the word apprentice, but only Master Bards can allow someone into the Circle as an apprentice  -- they are not taught directly by the MasterBard her or himself at that point though, but begin lessons with the rest of the students there.  I'll make a note to myself to clarify that, and apologize for the misleading language.

If you're playing a bard, it's a lot more interesting to roleplay out becoming better than to be flawless from day one.  I find the bards who are constantly hammering home their virtuosity by inserting "masterful", "skillful", "enchanting" or similar words in their emotes pretty bland and boring.  I'd rather see the loveliness of the song and the emotes speak for themselves rather than hitting the viewer over the head with it.  Let your character progress from being all thumbs on the lute, rather than starting him or her off as a musical genius.

I'm delighted by the people skillful at running bards, who use the position to enhance roleplay for those around them, and we've had some tremendous ones since the Circle first got implemented. It's a demanding, challenging role and a joy to watch when well-played.  It's a role that also dovetails with that of the nobility well, and I urge them to take advantage of that where they can.