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Tagalong Chronicler

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Geoffrey Chaucer: I'm going to have to write some of this story down.
Wat: The part about the prince and the knights?
Chaucer: No, all of it. All human activity lies within the artist's scope.

A character who accompanies the other characters with the stated purpose to document, chronicle, compose songs about, or otherwise immortalize the adventures that they have.

Their motivation for this may vary from trying to make a name as a famous storyteller, through insatiable curiosity, to coercion by other characters. It may also simply be their job. In Heroic Fantasy, the chronicler is often a Bard, a Wandering Minstrel, a scholar, etc. Professional journalists fall under the Tagalong Reporter subtrope.

The chronicler's relationship with other characters can also vary: they might be The Load, a Non-Action Guy, or of limited use as The Social Expert. But they can also be or develop into a full-fledged adventurer and peer to the other characters. The key part is what motivates them to go on the adventure in the first place—namely, the desire to tell others about it later on.

Sometimes overlaps with Narrator All Along and In Defence of Storytelling. Out of universe, it can be a manifestation of Most Writers Are Writers and Write What You Know.

Supertrope to Tagalong Reporter. Compare I Should Write a Book About This, The Storyteller, and First-Person Peripheral Narrator. If this character is a Fourth-Wall Observer, then he's an All-Knowing Singing Narrator.

Very much Truth in Television. Virtually every major expedition since the invention of writing had to have someone keeping track of events, so it was this whenever the leader himself wasn't the one taking notes. Very often, a priest/missionary took the role thanks to being the only literate fellow around — which cemented the image of a chronicler as a non-combat type.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • While he is in more of an administrative position, the (ex-)journalist Diethard Reid from Code Geass is essentially this. He didn't need to join the Black Knights, as he was already in a high ranking media position, but upon seeing Zero for the first time, he was immediately enthralled and impressed and wanted to see how far Zero would go in his plans and did everything to make them reality. Upon the betrayal of the Black Knights, Diethard switched sides to work with Schneizel to see how far he'd go and was killed by a Geassed Schneizel.
  • In the anime adaptation of Tears to Tiara, Taliesin joins Arthur and Co. after they prove themselves to him, and then serves as a rather competent Spoony Bard, whose skills with the sword match Arthur and whose discovery and usage of Song Of Creation is pivotal in proceeding to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon for the finale.

    Comic Books 
  • G.I. Joe (IDW): Hashtag was a blogger and social media guru studying journalism at Fordhaam University through ROTC. General Colton assigned her to be embedded with the Joes for PR purposes once they went public.

    Fan Works 
  • Sun from Kyoshi Rising is a Wandering Minstrel whose life long dream is to write the Avatar's biography. He's the first member of Kyoshi's group, meeting her six days into her journey to master the Elements, and grows to being something of a Confidant and morality chain in case Kyoshi gets too stressed or slips into being a Knight Templar.
  • Father Constantin becomes this in Pagan Vengeance, a Christian priest kept by Juvage after he witnessed Constantin trying to save civilians from slaughter, and eventually entrusted with safeguarding Juvage's daughter after his suicide.
  • Hurdy in The Tainted Grimoire joined Clan Gully so he can base his next masterpiece on them.
  • The narrator in The Black Company in Middle Earth is the Annalist, whose job it is to record the history of the Black Company.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Gilbert of Glockenspur carries quills and parchments galore like a Medieval serial Tweeter in Dragonheart as he chronicles the heroics of Knight Errant Sir Bowen and his Enemy Mine dragon, Draco.
  • In A Knight's Tale, William Thatcher and his sidekick, Roland, come across the naked and penniless Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer accompanies them to their next joust, and delivers a lengthy (if fictional) reading of Thatcher's pedigree to allow him to enter the competition.
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Sir Robin's minstrels, who follow him around and make up impromptu songs about him. However, since he's a chronic coward, their task often proves quite difficult.
    Brave Sir Robin ran away.
    Bravely ran away, away!
    When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled!
    Yes Brave Sir Robin turned about, and gallantly he chickened out!
    Bravely taking to his feet, he beat a very brave retreat,
    Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!
  • In Unforgiven, English Bob has a dime novelist following him around chronicling his exploits for the folks back east. When Bob is thrown out of town by sheriff Little Bill, the novelist chooses to stay in order to write about him instead.
  • Young Guns II. Pat Garrett recruits a chronicler for his pursuit of Billy the Kid, despite the man admitting he's unsuitable due to his poor physical condition. He does come in useful however during a sticky situation due his ability to speak the native languages. In a Brick Joke, it's mentioned at the end that the book he wrote was a dismal failure.

  • Inverted in Ciaphas Cain: While Cain has official memoirs, the novels are presented as Cain's reminiscing during his retirement, and they're actually put together (with chpaters from additional sources to provide more context) by his lover and employer Inquisitor Vail, who interjects with footnotes either to clarify a point of detail, to claim that Cain's interpretation of her actions was incorrect, or make catty comments when he goes into too much detail regarding his female conquests.
  • Lampshaded and Played for Laughs in Forward the Mage. The book is ostensibly put together by the Alfredae, chronicling lice who live in the hair of the protagonist Shelyid. They are frequently disdainful of everyone else and extremely snobbish, die quite frequently causing shifts in how they narrate, and complement their own narrative with other sources (which they often think are untrustworthy and biased). They are very much an Unreliable Narrator, but so is everyone else.
  • Played With in the Gotrek & Felix novels. Both are adventurers Walking the Earth, and both keep getting drawn into events which has the fight for their lives. The entire journey is nominally about Gotrek, a dwarven Slayer looking for something to kill him to atone for past sins, while Felix is an amateur playwright chronicling their adventures in song to keep a record of the Gotrek's end of life. In the later part of the series after a Time Skip they get in a lot of trouble because Felix's brother missed the point of the notes he'd been storing for him and had them published as fiction.
    • Several other rememberers are met along the course of the series. One of them had finally had enough of his Slayer failing to die (which, as per their contract, would get the rememberer a large sum of money) and tried to arrange for his death.
  • The Horus Heresy novels mention that the Legiones Astartes were accompanied by remembrancers, scribes whose duty was to write down the battle reports chronicle the legions' conquests. Some of the books feature them quite prominently.
  • In The Last Hero, the Silver Horde abducts a minstrel to follow them as they assault the Gods, so he can create a saga about their glorious deaths. He is unnamed through the entire tale, and ends calling himself "The Singer".
  • Matthew in The Last Temptation of Christ. Subverted in that most of what Matthew writes down was dictated to him by an angel.
  • In Mountains Beyond Mountains, the author, Tracy Kidder, met Paul Farmer early in the novel and wrote about things that happened during his time with Farmer.
  • In the novel Prince Ombra by Roderick MacLeish, the forces of Good fight the forces of Evil every generation or so, and every Eternal Hero has a "Rememberer", whose job it is to tell the story afterward.
  • Red Country has the infamous mercenary Cosca encountered by a dime novelist, in a Shout-Out to Unforgiven (the novel is a Fantasy Western). As in the film, the novelist gets caught up in his subject's nasty behavior although unlike the film, the novelist here eventually has enough and kills Cosca, and at the end of the book, is about to start chronicling a famous Mountain Man who has been built up as a larger-than-life hero throughout the book.
  • Dr. Watson chronicles the cases of Sherlock Holmes in-universe, even though he is not a professional writer from the start.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Vows and Honor series, Tarma and Kethry have a bard called Leslac following them around, who keeps, ahem, "embellishing" the details of their adventures, much to their irritation.
  • In The Wheel of Time, after running into Rand and the others, Loial continues to follow them around at least in part so he can gather material for the book he plans to write about the time of the Dragon Reborn. Of course, given the many main characters and diverging plotlines he quickly loses track of key groups and has a lot of catching up to do whenever they meet.
  • Dandelion the Bard is Geralt's best friend and more or less personal chronicler in The Witcher novel series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Generation Kill: Evan Wright is a reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine who embedded with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the United States Marine Corps during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Both the book and the TV miniseries are based on his experiences during the invasion.
  • Father Blaise in Kaamelott is Kaamelott's priest, archivist and scribe, so it's his job to write down the epic quests of the Knights of the Round Table. Quite a few episodes show just how hard that job is when the knights keep remembering stuff just after he wrote down something else, weren't aware the stories had to be true, or most commonly, are an exercice in failure from beginning to end.
  • Sherlock is a Setting Update of Sherlock Holmes, and John Watson still chronicles Sherlock's cases but now does so through his blog.
  • Jaskier the bard is this for Geralt in The Witcher (2019), just like he is in the books and the video games (in which he's called Dandelion).
  • Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess starts off as this, she goes on to become Xena's almost equal throughout the series.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is usually the role of the bard class in Dungeons & Dragons player parties.
  • Members of the Great Society of the Trouping Jays in Ehdrigohr are this, since their mission is to compose and perform songs that inspire others and they often join groups of warriors (e.g. the Crows) on their travels.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Dwarf Slayers are dwarves for whom Death Equals Redemption for some sin they committed. However, to ensure their sin is actually cleared away once they're dead, they bring along someone to witness their death, known as a rememberer. And because dwarfs are very, very bad at the "mutual" part of Mutual Kill, they're often in it for the long haul (one rememberer even tried to set up an ambush for his charge as it was likely he'd die of old age before the dwarf would die of violence).
  • In Warhammer 40,000, this was the purpose of Remembrancers during the Great Crusade.

    • This is played with in the earlier arcs with Takua, whose job literally is being the Chronicler. Although he plays a role as a major protagonist, this role is still somewhat relegated to side-character since he is a mere villager. The Mask of Light movie plays with this further when he and Jaller were called the heralds of the seventh Toa, and the switching of responsibilities between who is the herald between the Chronicler and the Captain of the Guard. This ultimately comes to an end when Takua puts on the Mask of Light and becomes the Seventh Toa. From this point on, he is no longer referred to as the Chronicler.
    • Hahli took on this role briefly to accompany Takanuva. However, soon after she too became a Toa, and the Chronicler title was assigned to Kopeke. So far, he hasn't done any tagging-along.
  • This was the function of the G.I. Joe character Scoop. Originally a reporter, he joined the Joes to get access to stories as they were happening instead of just seeing after-action reports. His bio said that many of his teammates were rather annoyed by his presence but admitted he made a good field communications officer.

    Video Games 
  • Downplayed in A Dance with Rogues with Pia, a bard who joins the Princess on her travels (particularly in part two) mainly to protect her—but her professional pride still shines through from time to time, such as when she suddenly starts composing a song after a Boss Battle to immortalize their victories.
  • Leliana in Dragon Age: Origins is ultimately revealed to have been a bard before becoming a nun. Of course, in this setting, bards are just as much assassins/burglars for hire as they are Wandering Minstrels, so she is definitely not the Girly Girl.
  • Varric Tethras from Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition is both The Spymaster and The Storyteller; he talks for a living as well as to entertain. In II, he provides the Framing Device, having turned the controversial events around Hawke into a world-famous tale.
  • Tag in the 1989 Interactive Fiction game Journey is nominally the merchant of the group, but acts more as a chronicler for the adventure. He survives every Game Over and records your Have a Nice Death as his reminiscing, which also includes hints on how to win next time (framed as his thoughts in hindsight).
  • In the Kingdom Hearts series, Jiminy Cricket chronicles Sora's journeys across the series in Jiminy's Journal. In later games, he also provides hints as to where to go or what to do in the story. Since he's an actual cricket, he mostly hides in Sora's hoodie.
  • In the first Neverwinter Nights expansion pack Shadows of Undrentide, you can recruit a kobold bard named Deekin Scalesinger as a henchman. The second expansion Hordes of the Underdark reveals that Deekin wrote a book about your character's exploits in Undrentide, leading to both him and your character becoming minor celebrities in the realms.
  • In Pathfinder: Kingmaker, Linzi the bard joins up with the Stolen Lands expedition because she wants to write a book about a hero's adventure. All the narrative aspects of the game are told from her POV.
  • After the intro missions of Romancing SaGa 3, you stumble upon a Minstrel in a bar, who recites a poem and proclaims that he feels that you inspire him to write a new one, joining your party.
  • Perjour from RuneScape chronicled everything he saw, heard or thought in a book he was magically bound to before his death.
  • Lantry the Sage in Tyranny is The Quisling to the Villain Protagonist Fatebinder. He happily jots down the player's atrocities (or avoidance thereof) in exchange only for the Fatebinder's protection, the opportunity to witness history, and being allowed to not actively participate in anything truly awful so he can carry on his order's claim to being a Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction.
  • The bard Iolo FitzOwen was one of the mainstays of the Ultima series, although he could first be recruited into the Avatar's party in Ultima IV. In the same game, however, the Avatar could be a bard himself (combining both roles), in which case Iolo never joined him.
  • Dandelion reprises his role as Geralt's chronicler in The Witcher video game adaptation.

  • Jaine from MeatShield joined Dhur in order to chronicle his exploits, basically as a school project for the bardic conservatory she was attending. In a twist, she's easily the smartest character in the party, and quite useful in a fight as well.

    Web Original 
  • The Adventure Zone: Before founding the Bureau of Balance, Lucretia was the official chronicler of the IPRE crew, though she became a fully-fledged member of the team after the destruction of their homeworld.
  • Fire Emblem On Forums: Enchanters according to the class lore, who turn their experiences into songs and stories to tell later.
    • Lost Lands: Johan is a very violent and bloodthirsty version of this; he wants to follow the party around to watch them kill people so he can sing about it later, due to not being able to do it himself.
  • This is Wren's job in JourneyQuest. In a slight variation, she is tasked with following the questing party rather than actually joining it; indeed rule number one is observation only, and no interfering with the story.
  • WarpZone Project has Comic Books Are Real as part of the setting, which makes authors fall into this trope. Despite them being an important part of the setting, only Death Toy's has been shown so far.
  • In SERA 00, main character Evie starts off as this, tagging along to write about the A-ranks when she's a C-rank. Later, she is no longer a tagalong, though the "chronicler" part still applies.

Alternative Title(s): Tagalong Bard