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The Bard

"The bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. ...If you'd pissed off some witch, then what's she gonna do, she's gonna put a curse on you... no big deal. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you.
"And if he was a skilful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community... and if it's a particularly good bard, and he's written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you're dead, people are still gonna be laughing, at what a twat you were.

Older Than Feudalism, the bard is a character within a story that acts as a poet, Wandering Minstrel, storyteller, and/or source of morale for people around them.

"The Bard" is also commonly used to refer to William Shakespeare. In England, anyway. In Scotland, The Bard is Robert Burns.

In medieval Gaelic and British culture (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Brittany and Cornwall) a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities. The word itself is loaned from Scottish Gaelic, deriving from the Proto-Celtic bardos, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European, which roughly translates as "to raise the voice; praise."

In game cultures such as Dungeons & Dragons, the Bard is a versatile character able to both fight strategically and cast magic through the power of their songs, suggesting them to be magicians who use the power of emotion and creativity to conjure miracles into the world.

Spoony Bard is a subtrope of this, while The Storyteller is a supertrope. See also Wandering Minstrel.


Examples:

Fan Fic

Film

Literature
  • In the Harry Potter series, Beedle the Bard was known for his collection of magical fables.
  • A couple of these in the Deryni works:
    • Kinkellyan, chief bard to the court of Transha, plays a part in the diplomatic welcome Kelson receives in The Bishop's Heir. Kelson's response (joining in a traditional dance) to what Kinkellyan and Dhugal begin seals the deal.
    • Gwydion ap Plenneth, troubadour attached to Duke Alaric Morgan's court, featured in Deryni Checkmate. Aside from providing entertainment, he's quite useful in providing Morgan with public opinion feedback.
  • Mercedes Lackey has an entire series, Bardic Voices, set around the conflict between the Free Bards and the Bardic Guild. Several have Magic Music.
  • The Edema Ruh from The Kingkiller Chronicles seem to be a society of travelling entertainers including many bards.
  • Bards feature in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series, though much less prominently than the Heralds.
  • A bard shows up in The Odyssey. He might even be Homer's Author Avatar.
  • Norna-Gest, the protagonist of "Tale of Norna-Gest", is an accomplished harp-player and singer who knows many ancient songs.
  • It can be argued that Tom Bombadil from Lord of the Rings is indeed a bard, the figure known for singing songs that hold power over not only people, but the more ancient denizens of Middle Earth.

Live-Action TV
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: For a while Gabrielle wanted to be a traveling bard. She also met Homer, who it turns out is called "blind" because he closes his eyes when he recites.

Real Life
  • Historically, William Shakespeare was known for his title as "The Bard of Avon."
  • Skalds were poetic members of a group associated with Viking tradition, and were highly revered for their stories, since individual vikings desired their glory to be remembered through tale and song.

Tabletop Games

Video Games
  • Leliana from the Dragon Age series used to be a traveling Bard (or rather, a spy/assassin who disguised herself as a traveling Bard -Apparently that's pretty common in Orlais). She comes with the Bard specialization and will teach it to other Rogues if her approval rating is high enough. Additionally, much of her dialogue includes stories and songs she learned during her time as a Bard.
  • The Bard's Tale Trilogy has a few with the Magic Music power.
  • The Bard from Shovel Knight will play any song from the game's soundtrack for you if you get him the music sheets. He'll also pay you 500 gold for each music sheet you bring him, which is another incentive to collect them.
  • Jimmy from South Park: The Stick of Truth is a bard who uses Magic Music.

Webcomics
The BarberStock CharactersThe Bartender
Baleful PolymorphOlder Than FeudalismBarrier Maiden

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