Bard

Origional concept by Troll_Mage. Also published in Crawl! Fanzine.

Please see the Mercurial Bard Performance Table by G.M. and Bard Songs for some musical inspiration when roleplaying your Bard. Thanks!

You are a jack-of-all-trades, but a master-of-none, a storyteller, a jester, a clown, an orator, a singer, ultimately these roles are all performances, performed by that greatest of all performers a bard!

From your humble roots in a typical peasant village, you were that special person that brightens up the room, that lifts up the heart, that gives hope to the hopeless, that brings a smile to the heartbroken, and comfort to the bereaved. You may have sought to be humble and yet always reveled in the audience’s adulation of your acts. Your acts, your songs, that masterful and natural talent you delivered brought a wide range of emotions to your audience, that some described as true laughter and ultimate suffering.

Historians say a bard’s words whether by song or oration, carries the feeling and sentiment of generations past, you live for it. As you travel you realize that no society or culture is complete without its bards or whatever they may call their storytellers, their oral historians, their societies’ keepers of tales and beliefs. You are that one person that records and carries forward the great events and tragedies, that incite us to greatness and lets us remember the fallen and lost causes.

Hit Points: A bard gains 1d6 hit points at each level.

Weapon Training: A bard is trained in the following melee weapons: club, dagger, quarterstaff, hand axe, and spear. A bard is also trained in the following ranged weapons: spear, dagger, shortbow, crossbow, and sling. At each level increase a bard may add one weapon to his list that he is not already proficient with. Choose from long sword, two-handed sword, battle axe, etc. A bard is proficient in any armor and shield. Though they suffer the normal penalties to spellcasting, performance rolls (acrobatics), and skill checks.

Alignment:
Chaotic bards revel in challenging performances, especially performances where you dance on the edge of a cliff, or on a tightrope over a pit of alligators. They may operate as spies, infiltrators, and saboteurs as they search for that ultimate performance. They may be con-men, shysters, tricksters, and other chaotic performers seeking gold as well as fame.

Neutral bards are fairly common and most often found in taverns and inns. They travel to learn new tales and spread their specially crafted versions, singing songs of love won and lost. Actors and performers of traveling troupes and circuses are often neutral bards. Those less focused on themselves become scholarly historians, seeking to retain history and ensure it’s not lost, whether it’s good or bad, doesn’t matter. Others that are more self-indulgent seek fame and fortune, via good or bad means to get into the history books.

Lawful bards are the type commonly found in most villages and towns. They fill the role of entertainer and historian for the village. In peasant villages, the bard is also likely the only person that can read and write. Lawful bards tend to be more exact in their collecting and retelling, preferring the truth be told as is, as gritting and horrid as it may be. High level bards may become heralds for kings and emperors, acting as emissaries to rivals and handling treaties, where the proper etiquette and performance among such noble peers is always required.

Magic: Unlike wizards, bards are only dabblers in the arcane art, their inquisitive nature and tendency to collect odd bits of lore and old tales exposes them to arcane lore and a few display some small measure of skill and successful application of such knowledge.

Acquiring Spells: Bards acquire spells completely randomly, even if they find a complete recipe/formulae of a spell, chances are almost nil that they can master it. Bards lack the formal training and natural aptitude to the mystic arts, its more by luck and overlap with the musical/audio field that bards are able to grasp, let alone master spellcasting. At the appropriate level the player rolls to determine which spell the bard is able to cast. Re-roll if the bard already has the spell.

Performance Deeds: a bard is able to perform a variety of performance types. Each bard may choose one performance type at level one and at odd level increases gain another performance type. A bard’s performance is auditory or visual. Auditory performances (singing, oration, shouts, etc.) must be heard by the target to take effect else the result is always negated. Visual performances (acting, juggling, card tricks, etc.) require the audience to be able to see it, else the result is negated on the target.

A bard can use his talents to fool his enemies/audience in or out of combat. Results on the performance table state the failure or success of the die roll, some will be modified by whether the target is the same alignment, neutral, or opposed.

See Mercurial Bard Performance Table.

Performance Types
Type Auditory or Visual Examples Ability Mod
Slight-of-Hand Visual juggling, pick pocket, card tricks Agility
Actor Visual masquerade, meme, clown, disguise Personality
Orator Auditory story teller, con man, singing Personality
Acrobat Visual dancing, tight-rope walking Agility
Trickster Visual fire-breatding, sword swallowing, escape artist Agility, Stamina or Personality
Musician Auditory lute, harp, tamborine Intelligence
Charmer Auditory mesmerizer, con-man, animal-tamer Personality

Fame: The one vice that all bard’s share is “fame”, the notoriety of their name and performances, they live for it! The bard does not survive on small audiences, he needs larger, the bigger the better, for how else to spread his fame and gain reputation among his peers? From level two and up, in major towns/cities, the bard may make his opening act/performance die roll. The die roll result determines whether his fame climbs or falls, and the affect it has on those of his alignment, neutral and opposed. The judge should not allow more than one per week.

Lore: A bard is always learning, always seeking that one kernel of knowledge that will lead to the next great story, the next catchy song or tune. Thus as bards advance in level they become fountains of knowledge. The bard uses his lore die type, as he advances his type increases per table 1 as he collects greater bits of knowledge. A lore roll is for knowledge checks outside the bard’s existing skill sets, background story (if any), and not for common knowledge the judge determines the bard should already know. The die roll is “Lore Die + Luck + Bard Level”.

Languages: At 1st level, a bard automatically knows Common. A bard knows one additional language for every point of Intelligence modifier. In addition, should his intelligence go up a bard is able to pick up new languages as he adventures.

Luck: At first level, a bard’s Luck modifier applies to rolls on the performance, skill, and magic rolls. This modifier remains fixed over time, even if the bard’s Luck score changes.

Action dice: A bard can use his action dice for attack rolls, spell checks, and performance checks.

Table 1: Bard Base Attributes
Level Attack Crit Die / Table Action Die Lore Die Ref Fort Will
1 0 1d6 / I 1d20 1d14 +1 0 +1
2 +1 1d8 / I 1d20 1d14 +1 0 +1
3 +1 1d8 / II 1d20 1d16 +2 +1 +2
4 +2 1d10 / II 1d20 1d16 +2 +1 +2
5 +2 1d12 / II 1d20 1d20 +2 +1 +3
6 +3 1d14 / II 1d20+1d14 1d24 +3 +2 +4
7 +4 1d16 / II 1d20+1d16 1d30 +3 +2 +4
8 +5 1d20 / II 1d20+1d20 1d30+1 +3 +2 +5
9 +6 1d24 / II 1d20+1d20 1d30+2 +4 +2 +5
10 +7 1d30 / II 1d20+1d20 1d30+3 +4 +3 +6
Table 2: Bard Spell List
Level Max Spell Level Max spells Bard Spell Selection
1 1 1 1) Animal Summoning, 2) Charm Person, 3) Color Spray, 4) Detect Magic, 5) Ekim’s Mystical Mask, 6) Ventriloquism
2 1 2
3 1 2
4 2 3 1) Detect Evil, 2) Detect Invisible, 3) ESP, 4) Forget, 5) Magic Mouth, 6) Scare
5 2 3
6 2 4
7 3 4 1) Dispel Magic, 2) Haste, 3) Slow, 4) Runic Alphabet – Fey, 5) Write Magic
8 3 5
9 3 5
10 4 6 1) Lokerimon’s Orderly Assistance, 2) Wizard Sense

Performance Deeds:
A performance is always an action. A performance must be seen or heard (both in some cases) to be applicable to target. Creatures blind and/or deaf may be automatically immune to the bard’s performance. Substantial cultural differences, outer planes creatures, aberrations (beholders), and special creatures (oozes, molds, zombies) may incur a bonus to oppose the performance result or be completely immune.

To initiate a Performance Deed, the Bard declares the type of performance deed he is trying to achieve then rolls “action die + appropriate ability modifier + luck” and checks result against Table 3.

Duration
Combat: performance effects last bard level + personality modifier + luck bonus in combat rounds.
Non combat: performance effects last bard level + personality modifier + luck bonus in minutes.

Preformance Effects
Call to Arms: Through oration or song, the bard can inspire his audience to greater deeds and supplant fears. A successful performance roll can negate a morale failure check of henchmen or allies. Higher results can provide greater boons to his audience’s morale. Does not affect oozes, undead, and audiences with less than 3 intelligence. Other modifiers: Same alignment, no save, adjacent alignment (Will Save versus DC performance roll), opposing alignment, (Will Save versus DC performance roll -2).

Duelist: With a successful performance roll, the bard gains his bard level to his attack roll and AC bonus versus melee/range attacks, as his sword performance is expertly performed for his audience/opponent.

The Mark: Upon a successful performance check and attack result (melee or range), the bard’s damage result is reduced by ½ (round down), but leaves a boldly stated mark on his opponent. This performance is partly intimidation and partly it identifies weaknesses in his opponent’s defense. Henceforth the bard gains +1 to attack rolls and an extra 1d4 to damage rolls against this opponent, modified by alignment per table. Does not work against undead, oozes, and other creatures of less than three intelligence.

Dancing Blade: An acrobat skilled or other agility focused bard, may make a dancing blade performance roll. If successful the bard dances, jumps, rolls, tumbles, cartwheels, etc. through his audience/opponents. Depending on the level of success, he may just move through them or have opportunities for attack. Dancing blade is not affected by alignment.

Charmer: Whether performed by act, song, oration, or instrument, the bard can change the emotions of his target. The type, species, size, alignment, and other factors (per the judge) of the target audience may apply a penalty or bonus to the die roll. Other modifiers: Same alignment, no save, adjacent alignment (Will Save versus DC performance roll), opposing alignment, (Will Save versus DC performance roll -2).

Instigator/Tamer: The bard through act, song, oration, or instrument is able to lead or control his target’s rage and attacks. His successful performance die roll sets the opposing will save DC the target must make or attack the target determined by the bard. In addition, animals, audiences with intelligence lower than 3 can be tamed, commanded to stop attacking or just be less threatening, the save Will DC is the successful performance die roll result. Other modifiers: Same alignment, no save, adjacent alignment (Will Save versus DC performance roll-2), opposing alignment, (Will Save versus DC performance roll -4).
Tears & Laughter: With tears & laughter, the bard’s performance can trap an audience in a mesmerizing act, which will last 1d4 + bard’s level after the act ends. The target DC is modified by the size of the audience, -1 per 4 target audience, and requires some knowledge of the target language or culture. Does not affect oozes, undead, and audiences with less than 3 intelligence. Any hostile action will break the effect instantly. Other modifiers: Same alignment, no save, adjacent alignment (Will Save versus DC performance roll-2), opposing alignment, (Will Save versus DC performance roll -4).

Table 3: Performance Deeds
Preformance Roll Description
1
Critical Failure
You are so terrible the complete opposite of the desired result occurs, -2 to performance rolls versus this crowd hereafter.
Fame: Lose 3 fame point
2-7
Boo, hiss
You are terrible, negative reaction from crowd, -1 to performance rolls versus this crowd hereafter.
Fame: Lose 1 fame point
8-11
Passable performance
Average performance
12-15
Successful Performance
Call to Arms:1 (Auditory or Visual): Negate morale failure in all henchmen and allies within 20’.
Duelist (Visual): +1 to attack rolls and AC versus target
The Mark (Visual): +1 to attack rolls and an extra 1d4 to damage rolls.
Dancing Blade (Visual): Bard cannot attack, his performance die results becomes his AC if its better, can enter and leave through threatened squares without provoking attacks, moves up to his base movement.
Charmer1 (Auditory): Target moved one level of emotion, happy to neutral, neutral to mad.2
Instigator/Tamer2 (Auditory or Visual): Target, will save DC versus bard performance result, if failed they must attack target determined by bard. Target must have an intelligence of 3 or higher.
Tamer: Will save DC versus performance result, target small game (under 50 lb, 3 intelligence) become tame and friendly to bard.
Tears & Laughter2 (Auditory or Visual): Targets not in combat and within 20’ radius may be enthralled into profound sorrow or gut wrenching laughter (Will save versus performance result). Target may not attack, though they may defend themselves normally.
Fame: Gain 1 fame point
16-17
A great performance
Call to Arms1 (Auditory or Visual): Negate morale failure in all henchmen and allies, within 40’, allies and henchmen gain +1 to all will saves
Duelist (Visual): +1 to attack rolls and AC versus all targets in 10’ radius
The Mark (Visual): +2 to attack rolls and an extra 1d6 to damage rolls.
Dancing Blade (Visual): Bard can make one attack, his performance die results becomes his AC if its better, can enter and leave through threatened squares without provoking attacks, moves up to his base movement.
Charmer1 (Auditory): Target moved two levels of emotion, happy to neutral, neutral to mad.
Instigator/Tamer2 (Auditory or Visual): Targets (up to 2), will save DC versus bard performance result, if failed they must attack targets determined by bard. Target must have an intelligence of 3 or higher.
Tamer: Will save DC versus performance result, target small game (under 75 lb, 3 intelligence) become tame and friendly to bard.
Tears & Laughter2 (Auditory or Visual): Targets not in combat and within 30’ radius may be enthralled into profound sorrow or gut wrenching laughter (Will save versus performance result). Targets may not attack, though they may defend themselves normally.
Fame: Gain 1 fame
18-19
A phenomenal performance
Call to Arms1 (Auditory or Visual): Negate morale failure in all henchmen and allies, within 40’, allies and henchmen gain +1 to all will saves, +1 to attack and spell casting rolls.
Duelist (Visual): +2 to attack rolls and AC versus all targets in 20’ radius
The Mark (Visual): +2 to attack rolls and an extra 1d8 to damage rolls.
Dancing Blade (Visual): Bard can make one attack, his performance die results becomes his AC if its better, can enter and leave through threatened squares without provoking attacks, and move through target squares as well, moves up to his base movement.
Charmer1 (Auditory): Target moved three level of emotion, happy to neutral, neutral to mad, happy to love.
Instigator/Tamer2 (Auditory or Visual): Target (up to 3), will save DC versus bard performance result, if failed they must attack target determined by bard. Target must have an intelligence of 3 or higher.
Tamer: Will save DC versus performance result, target wild game (under 100 lb, 3 intelligence) become tame and friendly to bard.
Tears & Laughter2 (Auditory or Visual): Targets not in combat and within 40’ radius may be enthralled into profound sorrow or gut wrenching laughter (Will save versus performance result). Targets may not attack, though they may defend themselves normally.
Fame: Gain 2 fame point
20-21
The noble’s bard
Call to Arms1 (Auditory or Visual): Negate morale failure in all henchmen and allies, within 40’, allies and henchmen gain +1 to all will saves, +2 to attack and spell casting rolls.
Duelist (Visual): +2 to attack rolls and AC versus all targets in 30’ radius
The Mark (Visual): +3 to attack rolls and an extra 1d8 to damage rolls.
Dancing Blade (Visual): Bard can perform his maximum number of attacks, his performance die results becomes his AC if its better, can enter and leave through threatened squares without provoking attacks, and move through target squares as well, moves up to his base movement.
Charmer1 (Auditory): Target moved four levels of emotion, happy to neutral, neutral to mad, happy to love,…(act as charm spell result 12-13)
Instigator/Tamer2 (Auditory or Visual): Target Will save DC versus bard performance result, if failed they must attack target determined by bard. Target must have an intelligence of 3 or higher.
Tamer: Will save DC versus performance result, target small game (under 75 lb, 3 intelligence) become tame and friendly to bard.
Tears & Laughter2 (Auditory or Visual): Targets not in combat and within 50’ radius may be enthralled into profound sorrow or gut wrenching laughter (Will save versus performance result). Targets may not attack, though they may defend themselves normally.
Fame: Gain 2 fame point
22-24
The king’s show
Call to Arms1 (Auditory or Visual): Negate morale failure in all henchmen and allies, within 50’, allies and henchmen gain +2 to all will saves, +2 to attack and spell casting rolls.
Duelist (Visual): +3 to attack rolls and AC versus all targets in 30’ radius
The Mark (Visual): +3 to attack rolls and an extra 2d4 to damage rolls.
Dancing Blade (Visual): Bard can perform his maximum number of attacks, his performance die results becomes his AC if its better, can enter and leave through threatened squares without provoking attacks, and move through target squares as well, moves up to his base movement.
Charmer1 (Auditory): Target moved four levels of emotion, happy to neutral, neutral to mad, happy to love,…(act as charm spell result 14—15)
Instigator/Tamer2 (Auditory or Visual): Target Will save DC versus bard performance result, if failed they must attack target determined by bard. Target must have an intelligence of 3 or higher.
Tamer: Will save DC versus performance result, target small game (under 75 lb, 3 intelligence) become tame and friendly to bard.
Tears & Laughter2 (Auditory or Visual): Targets not in combat and within 50’ radius may be enthralled into profound sorrow or gut wrenching laughter (Will save versus performance result). Targets may not attack, though they may defend themselves normally.
Fame: Gain 2 fame point

1Same alignment, no save, adjacent alignment (Will Save versus DC performance roll), opposing alignment, (Will Save versus DC performance roll -2).
2Same alignment, no save, adjacent alignment (Will Save versus DC performance roll-2), opposing alignment, (Will Save versus DC performance roll -4).

Table 4: Bard Fame Level
Fame Level Result
1-6 Who?
7-11 He’s ok, maybe he will get better. The bard pays for his own room, drinks and food, he earns his performance die roll in copper every night.
12-14 He’s good, Always guaranteed a place to perform in town. Often offered the best room free or half-price. He earns his performance die roll in silver every night.
15-18 The Minstrel, Always guaranteed a place to perform in town. Often offered the best room free. He earns his performance die roll in gold every night. His henchmen (4-6) are more like groupies, and include a few aspiring bards looking for tips.
19-21 The Actor, Always guaranteed a place to perform in town. Local lords call him to perform at the castle. Towns may provide a house/hut while he stays in town, while inns and taverns compete for his services. He earns his performance die roll in gold every night. His henchmen (8-12) are groupies, and include aspiring bards looking for tips, and troupe or band members.
22-23 The Renowned… Always guaranteed a place to perform in town. Local lords and the king call him to perform at the castle. Towns may provide a house/hut while he stays in town, inns and tavern compete for his services. He earns double his performance die roll in gold every night. His henchmen (13-20) are groupies, and include aspiring bards looking for tips, bouncer types, and troupe or band members.
24-25 King’s Bard At a certain level, fame almost becomes a prison, but the harem is tough to turn down.

Bard

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