Created By: louistherogue on August 1, 2010

Wandering Minstrel (Do We Have This?)

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I've looked and have yet to find an article dealing with a timeless trope; the Wandering Minstrel (also known as the Bard). This goes easily back to Alan-a-Dale (of Robin Hood's Merry Men) and likely a lot farther. I'm sure an article must exist by now. Has anyone seen it?
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • August 1, 2010
    You know, I don't think we do. Closest I can think is Spoony Bard, but that's actually about classes, not bards. (In the future, if you have a question about whether we have a trope, ask at Lost And Found.)

    Some of these guys use Magic Music.

  • August 1, 2010
    The main character of Dragon Quest IX poses as one/becomes one near the beginning of the game.
  • August 1, 2010
    The main character of The Bards Tale spoofs this character type.
  • August 1, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Cantus in Fraggle Rock is a mystical example.
  • August 2, 2010
    Thom from The Wheel Of Time.
  • August 2, 2010
    • Leliana from Dragon Age, at least in her life before the Chanry.
  • August 2, 2010
    • The nameless bard in The Last Hero. It's not clear whether he was one before he got shanghai'd by the Grey Horde, but at the end of the story it's implied that he'd be singing their saga all over the Disc.
    • In Shelters Of Stone, there's a class of traveling story-tellers and musicians whose visits are higly anticipated in a world without TV or internet.
  • August 2, 2010
    A Knights Tale's plot hinges on the fact that the protagonists meet a bard (and Comic Relief) who can help forge the documents they need to "prove" that The Hero's of noble birth. Did I mention he just happens to be Geoffrey Chaucer?
  • August 2, 2010
  • August 2, 2010
    Literature: Phyllis Eisenstein's Alaric the Minstrel fits the bill perfectly. (He can teleport back to any place he's ever been, but not anywhere he hasn't, so wandering widens his teleport range.)
  • August 2, 2010
    Brave, brave Sir Robin of Camelot from Monty Python And The Holy Grail, and again in the Broadway theatrical adaptation Spamalot, has an entire band of minstrels follow him wherever he goes until the rest of the party eats them during the winter.
  • August 2, 2010
    • Gabrielle from Xena becomes a wandering Bard for a while, before becoming Action Girl Jr.
  • August 2, 2010
    Jon Tom from Spellsinger is this plus Magic Music.
  • August 2, 2010
    Bondel the minstel, in the 13th century legend of King Richard The Lion Heart, went from castle to castle in Europe, trying to discover where his master was being held, by singing a song they had composed together, until he heard the king singing the refrain from his cell. (Note that this is pure fable; at no time was Richard's location unknown, as his captors wanted everyone to know they were holding him.)

    The word "minstrel," by the way, comes from Latin ministerialis -- "a functionary living as a member of the knightly class, with either a lordship of their own or one delegated from a higher lord." Very often these fiefs were not self-supporting, and these poor knights were forced to supplement their income by other means, e.g., traveling from court to court to offer services (of one kind or another) to various patrons.
  • August 8, 2010
    No one's commented on this in a few days; d'you think it's fair to call it Up For Grabs yet?

    Regardless, here's a suggested description: "The wandering minstrel, also called the bard, is a classic fantasy character and a frequent feature in many Ensembles. He wanders the land, making music for money; generally carries a lute, and always has a song in his heart.

    In a Five Man Band, this guy is The Chick and rarely has any fighting ability. Occasionally, he will have Magic Music that makes him slightly more capable in battle.

    The trope goes back at least to Alan-a-Dale, the minstrel friend of Robin Hood. The word "minstrel" comes from Latin ministerialis-- "a functionary living as a member of the knightly class, with either a lordship of their own or one delegated from a higher lord." Fiefs were very often not self-supporting, and poor knights were forced to supplement their income by other means, such as traveling from court to court to offer services to various patrons-- one of which was entertainment.

    Not to be confused with Spoony Bard or The Bard."
  • August 8, 2010
    In Kings Quest IV, Rosella encounters a wandering minstrel who is terrible at making music. She helps him by giving him a book of Shakespeare, which leads him to decide he wants to be an actor instead.
  • August 8, 2010
    On Gor the Caste of Poets (or Singers) is basically this. They can go from town to town and spread news as well as poetry/songs, despite the normally xenophobic nature of many City-States.
  • August 8, 2010
    This is Naki-Poo's disguise in The Mikado
    A wandering minstrel I -
    A thing of shreds and patches,
    Of ballads, songs and snatches,
    And dreamy lullaby!
    My catalogue is long,
    Through every passion ranging,
    And to your humours changing
    I tune my supple song!
  • August 8, 2010
    In the Dragaera novel Athyra, Vlad encounters a female one of these from the house of Issola (Issola are often courtiers, but it's suggested that this would be the typical job of a lower ranking Issola), and a later novel, Iorich, suggests he might have had an affair with her at some point.

    Also, kind of related to this topic, I think that a lot of the stock character types for five man fantasy bands deserve their own pages, because they are quite common.