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Video Game / The Bard's Tale

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"A quest for coin and cleavage."

Take your standard Heroic Fantasy, except replace that hero with an Anti-Hero Jerkass, "a sardonic and opportunistic musician and adventurer, driven by carnal rather than noble pursuits". The Bard (who is never identified by a specific name) is not interested in saving the world, his humble motivations being strictly "coin and cleavage". Then have his quest narrated by a mocking, biased man who cannot stand him.

Has nothing to do with the games of The Bard's Tale Trilogy (the first game being titled The Bard's Tale [1985]), although it does have a few shout outs to it (and some editions include the earlier games as an extra). To be fair though, this game was supposed to be a remake of the original game, but inXile Entertainment didn't have the rights to the original game as Electronic Arts held the rights to the series. The game was developed by inXile Entertainment, who later developed The Bard's Tale IV, a true sequel to the original trilogy.


The Bard, after getting burned by and subsequently slaying a giant, fire-breathing rat, ends up being recruited by an old man to help free a princess named Caleigh. As a result of this, the Bard finds himself being attacked by an assortment of fanatics from a Druid-like cult, sent to dispatch him by a being called Fionnaoch. On the way to complete his quest, the not so valiant anti-hero will have to overcome the truly terrifying challenges of three monstrous guardians, break-dancing corpses, spontaneously melodious goblins and a giant, fire-breathing rat.


The game provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Fnarf loves to talk like this.
  • Affectionate Parody: While on one hand the game features some nice celtic settings, it doesn't take himself seriously at all.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: In the Starter Inn, being nice to the Innkeeper would get you nothing. Berating her for the huge rat in the basement actually gets the Bard some nookie.
  • All Men Are Perverts: How did Caleigh get the bard to go on the quest when lures of money and power weren't enough? She offered sex. Lots and lots of sex.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
  • Anachronistic Soundtrack: The drunk guys in the first pub can be heard singing a real life drinking song from the 19th century.
  • Ancient Grome: Lugh, his automaton and the tower itself all have a distinctive, graeco-roman look on them.
  • Anti-Hero: Played for laughs in the neutral ending, wherein the Bard leaves and gets drunk with some zombies. As it turns out, The Bard doesn't make to be any sort of hero or villain at all, and the undead apparently make great bar buddies (and definitely good dancers, too).
  • Apologetic Attacker: The Bodyguard actually apologize as he punches enemies in melee.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Though not openly stated, the game has a location based on the Orkney Islands and even cities corresponding to real locations. However, their arrangement differs a little from Real Life, mostly as if they were roughly clustered together in a smaller island.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The consequences of the Nuckelavee's return, according to "The Tale of the Nuckelavee" song:
    The village is burned and the taverns are missed and the beer is all gone and the elders are pissed.
  • Automatic Crossbow: Anachronistically enough, both the Heroine and the old Farmer Bill in Kirkwall have one of these.
  • Back from the Dead: If you befriend him early enough, the dog is eventually killed but then comes back as a zombie. If you didn't, the one coming back is The Nuckelavee.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: The Viking Jarl is struck inside the Frozen Tombs and cannot enter Valhalla. You have to get him angry enough to attack some other respawning Draugrs, allowing him to fight enough people to get his afterlife.
  • Being Good Sucks: The good guys don't quite get the fact that the Bard likes to be paid, and doing the right thing doesn't leave him with anything gained for the adventure.
  • BFS: The Bard can also learn to fight with two-handed weapons, mostly claymores and axes. At high levels they're enchanted with lightning, and he can hit multiple enemies. The two unique weapons (The Shadow Axe and the Ego Sword) share the same animation and techniques.
  • Big Bad: Fionnaoch. He leads the fanatical druids willing to slaughter any who threatens to free Princess Caleigh including The Bard, and he makes contact with all of the guardians of the towers that maintain Princess Caleigh's prison, warning them of The Bard and sending in druids to aid them. Princess Caleigh later reveals that he's also the one behind the Zombie Apocalypse that begins ravaging the land about halfway through the game. This is a lie. Fionnaoch's a Good All Along Hero Antagonist while it's actually the seal weakening on Demon Princess Caleigh's prison that's causing the dead to rise. With that in mind, she could be considered the real Big Bad, manipulating The Bard into going a treacherous quest to free her and plunge the world into chaos though this is averted if he takes her offer to join her and finish off Fionnaoch anyway. They even get a Happy Ending together.
  • The Big Guy: The Bodyguard, The Mercenary, The Knight, and The Brute could all qualify as this, having larger, bulkier builds than most other characters and being useful for providing brute physical support and protecting others from harm. Their personalities also fit too though to varying degrees.
  • Blatant Lies: The Narrator loves to engage in these, to the chagrin of The Bard.
  • Bottomless Magazines: No limit to those arrows!
  • Blood Knight: Lugh, the guardian of the Mountain Tower, is one. He even acknowledge the Bard as a Worthy Opponent before the boss fight.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: At least in the Android version of the game. You have the options of buying packs of items, stat points, talents and in game currency with real currency if you want to. Its all stuff you can acquire in game and its single-player so you're just paying to speed up the game.
  • Chainmail Bikini: The Valkyrie who comes to escort the Jarl to Valhalla and teaches the Fire Elemental Tune to the Bard wears a mail bikini bottom, shoes and a massive iron chestpiece with shoulderguards and helmet.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Jacques and Jean, a pair of French guys, who give you the run around after offering a tune, will accept your challenge to a fight, then surrender as soon as you draw your weapons.
  • Chosen One: Parodied in various ways.
    • The Chosen Wannabe: Throughout your quest, you will encounter many other chosen ones, most of whom are either dead or arrested.
    • The Chosen Zero: Not only is the Bard an unlikely hero (and has this pointed out to him), there are many other "Chosen Ones" (people who think the are, anyway note ) who end up dead or worse. And after you come across them, some trow come out and sing about it! A dialogue between Fionnaoch and Caleigh may subtly imply that Fionnaoch himself started this way.
    • The Chosen Many: At one point you'll even encounter a couple dozen of them. They've all been locked up so they don't hurt themselves.
    • The Unchosen One: Guess who manages to make his way past the challenges and manages to get a chance to confront the Big Bad?
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Old Hatcher, the Butcher, mistakes the Bard for one of his relatives. Which one though, varies from minute to minute, starting with brother, then son, then wife, then granny, then uncle, and finally even father.
  • Continuity Nod: In a conversation early in the game the Bard proclaims that he's had enough adventures, involving, among other things, cities locked in eternal winter. This was the plot of the original 1985 Bard's Tale.
  • Cow Tipping: There are a number of cows in Houton that the Bard can push over and if you tip enough of them, a very angry cow will attack him.
  • Crapsack World: It already began as pretty nasty with murderous Kunal Trow and vicious, wild wolves bigger than men wandering the fields and forests, but at least the towns were safe. After completing the first tower dungeon, the state of the world quickly turns From Bad to Worse mostly due to a Zombie Apocalypse that decimates the majority of the towns in the game.
    • Death World: By the time you're halfway through the game, the safest town in the game is a Dungeon Town filled with murderous Druids that slaughter random civilians. Unless you count the optional Finstown which has been completely conquered by Horny Vikings who have imprisoned all of the townsfolk except for those who have escaped. You can save the townsfolk from the vikings but upon leaving, you're locked out forever for allowing the Vikings to invade in the first place due to past actions involving an imprisoned dragon.
  • Crate Expectations: Parodied. When the bard smashes a barrel early in the game, the barrel maker comes out and chastises him for smashing his barrels. He then offers a deal: smash all other barrels the Bard sees so that the barrel-maker can sell more barrels. Also, the game guide lists that the Bard's previous profession was as an assistant to the barrel maker, however he was fired for producing inferior barrels which "... shattered with a mere whack of a sword." And his mentor chased him out of town for such shoddy work, saying that "A key won't even be safe in these things."
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The Bard is a selfish and sexist jerk more interesting into getting "coins and cleavages" than performing heroic deeds, but that doesn't mean he is not a very competent fighter when he has to.
  • The Dead Can Dance: In a joke cutscene two groups of zombies are seen having a dance-off to the Bard's confusion. This reappears in the Neutral ending where the zombies are seen partying in a bar with the Bard.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The Bard, whenever you go with the snarky option in conversations.
    • The Narrator gets in a few zings.
  • Determinator: In the town of Houton, there is an old man who will demand an apology from you if you bump into him. If you refuse, he'll just keep insisting, even following you into a dungeon full of zombies to do so. Refuse enough times and he'll swear to chase you all the way into hell until you say you're sorry.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The Rogue will use this, although it won't stop the bad guys from attacking, it will just stop them from attacking you. Also, the Bard is so wrapped up in his desire to sleep with Caleigh that he never stops to think about the whole thing.
  • Doomed Hometown: After completing the Plot Tunnel from the the Mountain Pass to Dounby, the First Town Houton is destroyed and overrun by zombies.
  • Dual Wielding: The Bard can learn to dual wield a sword with a dirk in the off-hand. He can't knock down enemies, but he can chain several, damaging strikes in a row.
  • Dungeon Town: The town of Dounby. Justified as the town is also the location of Fionnaoch's Tower so it makes sense that the streets would be swarming with his druids.
    • Kirkwall becomes a downplayed variant when you return after completing the Forest Tower and the town is attacked by the Nuckelavee and several skeletal horses. The only building still intact is the armory owned by the snobby shopkeeper. Kirkwall stays this way for the rest of the game, full of skeletal horses and hysterical civilians.
    • Stromness too though it's so thoroughly destroyed by the infinitely respawning undead vikings that it barely counts as a town by the time you get there. That said there are two buildings still intact albeit on opposite edges of the town. The butcher's house and the shop of Crazy Thorvald on the docks.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: The Bard's modus operandi when in a bar, in order to get at least a free meal. Hilariously enough it works on a gigantic burly viking in Finston and On Lugh's female guards on the second floor.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: Best seen with the Sword line of weapons, going from a shoddy rusty blade to a stylish rapier-like weapon, back to a glowing shortsword, then a glowing broadsword adorned with a fine handguard and finally a massive, wicked-looking black longsword.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Despite being, essentially, an oversized monstrous mosquito, the Gouger is described in this terms by the narrator.
  • Elemental Embodiment: The three guardians of the Towers: Herne is a treant-like vegetable humanoid who can phase through wood and summon plants, Lugh the valiant warrior is a massive armor-clad humanoid seemingly made of metal and rules over clockwork warriors, while Mannanan is an earthen being served by crystal-studded monsters and residing in a Tower mostly made of stone, rocks, dirt and crystals.
  • Escort Mission: The game has a couple: you have to lead Ketill Svart from Neversdale back to Houton, lead the Firbolg explorer out of the mines, escort MacRath back and forth Greenland Plains and finally lead Hatcher across the Draugr-infested city and the zombie-filled farm against the Haggis Monster. If you keep him alive untill the end, he'll reward you with the game's best bow and shield. Luckily enough, the Hag can heal the escortee if they're wounded. Aside from Hatcher, they tend to stay backwards, out of trouble.
  • Evil All Along: Demon Princess Caleigh. As the seal on her prison weakens, the world sinks further and further into a Death World with undead monstrosities and other strange abominations wandering about and causing trouble for The Bard. She claims that it's Fionnaoch's fault, but the reality is that she just wants him dead to undo the last seal on her prison, so she can rule the world. That said she does honor her end of the agreement with The Bard and the two end up ruling the world together, though all The Bard cares about is the sex.
  • Evil Pays Better: Sometimes you're better off being mean. Also, the evil ending has what could be considered the happiest ending for The Bard.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The boss towers.
  • Fetch Quest: In order to reach each tower, the Bard has to undertake one of these, much to his dismay.
  • Face of a Thug: The Crone. Her description points out that she looks like a Wicked Witch but her specialty is healing magic and she's always eager to help out with her powers.
    • Fionnaoch too. He seems to be your typical Evil Sorcerer but he is in fact actually trying to stop the inevitable chaos that would follow the Demon Princess Caleigh's freedom. Fittingly enough, if you ask The Crone for advice at this point she notes how looks can be deceiving and suggests siding with Fionnaoch.
  • Facepalm: The Bard does this a lot when watching other people sing and dance.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three Guardians could be seen as this: Herne is the Thief, being a sneky, resorting to tricks and summoning and moving around the tower a lot during the combat. Lugh is the Fighter, unleashing a powerful assault with flying axes, javelins and blades at the Bard, while Manannan is a sorcerer bombarding the Bard with fireballs, lightning bolts and tornadoes.
  • Fragile Speedster: Outside of being the only party member that doesn't require a summon slot, this is the dog's niche after you gain the Dog Training talent. It doesn't do much damage, and can be knocked out easily, but it's one of the fastest party members in the game.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: Every single Crowd Song in the game.
  • Funny Foreigner: Anybody who doesn't speak with an English accent.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can summon Caleigh to heal you even if you choose to fight against her in the final battle. If you summon the healing spell during said battle, she appears without any transformation.
  • Genre Blind: The Narrator acts like he has never seen a fantasy game before, given his shock at some standard tropes.
  • Genre Savvy: The Bard, mostly from his own past experiences (if you take the word of a self-serving liar and crook like him, anyway).
  • Glass Cannon: The Vorpal Rat. Highest damaging summon, but it only has 11 hit points and no armor. The attack, easily over 110 points, enough to smash all but the most hardy mooks.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Fionnaoch is willing to kill whoever it takes to ensure Caleigh remains sealed.
  • Groin Attack: If you're snarky to one of the women in Finnstown, The Bard will get a knee to the jewels for it, while the Narrator laughs.
  • Guide Dang It!: Almost all the tokens are Missable, and you never know which conversation option will yield the plot.
  • Handsome Lech: The Bard acts as a snarky one, though the Narrator and many other people could make arguments against that...
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Parodied once again. The Bard thinks the guy giving the tutorial is just plain crazy, but plays along, anyway.
    Old Man: Ye've already proven that ye know how to move around and attack with your weapon. Let's talk a wee bit about jumping.
    The Bard: 'Course I know how to walk around! And jumping? Heh, I know how to jump!
    Old Man: Press the Triangle Button.
    The Bard: Wha'? What're you on about? What button? You're completely insane, aren't you? Y'know, I ran into this other guy once; he kept talking about mice I couldn't see!
  • Here We Go Again!: The Good Ending concludes with the Bard summoning the Mouse to scare a barmaid, which is how the whole story started.
  • Heroic Dog: Early on you gain a dog if you're nice to it. Said dog being able to find buried treasure, flush out grouse that you can hunt for silver, and, with the Dog Training talent, acts as a free Fragile Speedster party member that doesn't take on a summoning slot. The heroic part was also emphasized in the trailer, where the dog suggests to the Bard to take the path that involves saving the world.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Yes, 'The Bard' literally is his name.
  • Horny Vikings: They appear, more often than not as enemies, being twice the size of the Bard and wielding swords, throwing axes and hammers. Their leader, Silkbeard, has taken over Finstown. They also come with undead variants known as Draugrs.
  • Howling to the Night: Averted, as the wolves howl to call for more wolves, not to tell time or set the mood.
  • How We Got Here: The game starts outside Fionnach's tower and goes on to a flashback after the druids rush at The Bard's party of summons. And when you get to that point in the game, the narrator tries to tell the tale from the beginning, again. The Bard will have none of it.
  • Impossible Item Drop: The Lemony Narrator expresses incredulity in the early game when a wolf drops a sword. He says he'll skip all such passages from now on, and the bard complains that its his primary source of income.
  • In Name Only: Has no relation to the original Bard's Tale series aside from a few Shout Outs and (in some versions) including them as extras.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Ego Sword, acquired by rescuing some firbolgs trapped behind a cave-in. It's not the most damaging weapon in the game, but you can summon creatures without unequipping it to draw your instrument, and it's got an oddly long reach.
  • Iron Butt-Monkey: The Explorer's primary purpose is to alert the party to traps and then disarm them. It seems that he is incapable of doing this without setting off the trap upon himself in the process though he never complains about it.
  • Insane Proprietor: Crazy Thorvald found in the zombie viking-infested ruins is as crazy as his name says.
  • Javelin Thrower: The Knocker is a lightning-based, elf-like summon who can throw lightning rods to fry enemies with chain lightning. Lugh's Mechanical Centurions attack with spears from afar.
  • Jerkass Victim: People like to mess with the Bard, sending him on goose chases. But he's enough of a Jerkass that he has it coming.
    • The Renard Brothers, especially if you decide to summon the Knocker right in front of them.
  • Jump Scare: Averted when the Bard meet the undead Jarl in his tomb, and is Genre Savvy enough to guess that's going to spring into action as soon as he approaches. Played straight by the hideous spirit in Mac Rath's Dungeon.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: The Knight. An honest, brave, noble fella passionate about fighting evil and delivering justice. His sympathy for Princess Caleigh's imprisonment and insistence that they must do the quest to rescue her no matter what make him rather similar to the many "Chosen Ones" encountered throughout the game.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: The three Towers the Bard has to breach into and conquer in order to release Calaigh are sublty themed after these elements of Celtic folklore: we have the Forest Tower for Land, the Mountain Tower for Sky and the Island Tower for Sea.
  • Large and in Charge: Whereas the druids are about the same height as The Bard, their leader Fionnaoch outright towers over The Bard.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Choose between the demon princess, her druid captor, and yourself.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: As the game progresses he seal containing the demon Caleigh weakens, resulting in zombies overrunning much of the land.
  • Lemony Narrator: Portrayed by Tony Jay, the Narrator would much rather be reading a traditional fairy tale than dealing with this ass of a protagonist. They frequently get into arguments and the Narrator even cuts all the parts regarding animals dropping gold and weapons.
    Narrator: Thus concludes the Bard's Tale. Finally the end... I thought I'd never be rid of him. Never ask me to read this half-wit's story again, please!
  • Lethal Lava Land: Parodied with the Obligatory Lava Level.
  • Kick the Dog: Or stomp on it with a giant flying pterodactyl-like thing.
  • Kill It with Fire: Higher-level bows shoot fire arrows. You also get to summon a fire elemental and a firey exploding triceratops skeleton.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: He's not stealing, he's performing a public service and cleaning the chests out so they won't be cluttered.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: Each Tower holds a flame that must be extinguished by the Bard. Each flame has a Guardian entity summoned by Fionnaoch to deal with intruders.
  • Magic Pants: Caleigh's transformation into her real form shreds her dress but leaves her private bits covered. Fancy that.
  • Male Gaze: The first scene after the introduction shows just the innkeeper's chest, and eventually works up to her face.
  • Money Spider: Parodied. After one straight execution of this trope happens, the narrator says that he'll skip all such passages in the future. The Bard complains, since it was a major source of income. Since the Shop Fodder they do drop is instantly converted to coins it works out the same.
  • Multiple Endings: In the end of the game, you could either help Caleigh and fight Fionnaoch which lets the world be engulfed in evil while the Bard and demon queen Caleigh live Happily Ever After, help Fionnaoch and fight Caleigh which returns the world to normal and the Bard goes back to looking for coin and cleavage again or Take a Third Option and leave them to their squabbles and go party with the undead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Finnstown. You learn what happened as a Noodle Incident with Horny Vikings. Also, the Nuckelavee. Really, the Bard's whole career is built on these, and a good portion of the sidequests involve either making new mistakes or fixing ones you made previously. Ultimately, the last second choice at the end involves wether to actually fix the biggest mistake or to let everything go to hell.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The Bard. He gets oddly aroused by Caleigh's real form.
    "Is it just me, or is she still hot?"
  • No Fourth Wall: The Bard frequently argues with the Narrator (who responds in kind), much to the confusion of anyone nearby.
  • Noble Demon: Fionnaoch shows signs of this, especially after talking to Mannanan about the Bard and promising to avenge him should things go wrong. Justified as he's the good guy.
  • Not Quite Dead: Parodied for all that's worth with Bobd (well... one of them), after he's run through by the Nuckelavee.
  • Nuckelavee: One was imprisoned in the stone circle until you freed it. Woops.
  • Oddly Shaped Sword: The Ego Sword resemble some sort of stout Sinister Scimitar (or, given the setting, a saex or falchion) with three useless metal bars jammed perpendiculary across the blade. Then again, it does attack by manifesting a long, misty aura from the blade itself, so the shape is meaningless.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Beer, Beer, Beer".
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, you'll find five Bodbs. They're all siblings.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Redcaps are feral, thin creatures with long red hair and a taste for corpses, which they can eat to replenish their health. They're mostly found in the grasslands of Greenland.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you run away from a village that ambushes you, all you get is a snarky comment about your reputation preceding you and it is wiped from the map. This means you miss out on the whole viking segment, and all the treasure and new summons that go with it.
  • Pet the Dog: The protagonist is an Anti-Hero Jerkass more interested in, as the game states, "coin and cleavage" than saving the world. He is a compulsive liar and cheat, swindling his way through life and seducing his way through women. However, not only does he pick up a dog companion early in the game, whom he regularly praise when he digs up treasure, but he sheds a genuine tear and vows revenge when the dog is killed by a monstrous minion of the apparent Big Bad, and is genuinely happy if he sees it returning as a ghost.
  • Plot Tunnel: Once you enter the Mountain Pass and get put under a Geas, you won't be able to return to any previous locations until you undo it and reach Dounby 3 Chapters later.
    • A shorter one takes place upon taking riding the raft in Firbolg Mines leading to the Underground River. Even after getting to the end of this Chapter you won't be able to return to previous locations until after completing the following Island Tower Chapter. The town portions of Dounby also become inaccessible, being replaced by Dounby Tower.
  • The Power of Rock: The Shadow Axe is an axe, that has strings tightened on it that enables it to sound like an electric guitar when you summon someone.
  • Precision F-Strike: The Bard lets one loose after being told that some creature that died on his journey wants to see him.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "Beer, Beer, Beer" is a real drinking song from the 19th century.
  • Pun: Plentyful, most notably the self-description of the Ego Sword, which is quite a jerkass... a bastard sword if you will...
  • Raising the Steaks: Breaking the first seal result in skeletal horses roaming the land. Breaking the second will result in undead chicken, sheep and cows attacking. The boss of Hatcher's Farm is even the dreaded Haggis Monster, which can even heal itself by grinding nearby zombie animals to shreds.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: Olav the Viking undergoes one once you talk to him. If you listen to the very end with no interruption, you can get a Lightning Stone for free.
  • Reverse Grip: The dirk in the off-hand when dual-wielding, though some of the later ones avert this.
  • Reverse Shrapnel: Lugh's artifact power, the "Aura of War."
  • Rock Monster: Mannanan is a floating, malformed rock creature covered in crystal spikes. In spite of the usually-associated tropes, it's a powerful Sorcerer.
  • Rule of Funny: The purpose of the snarky option's existence (sometimes being nice gives you better results, and sometimes being snarky does).
  • Running Gag: Each time the Bard discovers the fate of a "chosen one" (usually, the discovery of a corpse, through the dozens of chosen ones held in Dounby's jail for their own protection also count), a trio of Throws appear and sing about the guy's demise.
  • Saying Too Much: A Too Dumb to Live Druid in Greenland actually lets the Bard know that he must go to Stromness in order to reach the Island Towers. His superior promptly kills him when he's about to accidentally spill more info.
  • Scenery Porn: It's based on the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance engine and looks quite nice for its time.
  • Schmuck Bait: A chest in the middle of nowhere is obviously a trap, but the Bard goes "oh, what the hell" and loots it anyway. The dialogue with the two men from Finnstown also makes it quite clear that the town did not bake you a cake. The most literal example, however, would be princess Caleigh herself, and her ready acceptance to give you whatever you want, including money which she shouldn't realistically have, and all the sex you want.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the Neutral Ending, the Bard sides with neither Caleigh or the Druids but flees the tower, then go partying with a group of undead.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Caleigh is revealed to be a hideous demon bound long ago by the Druids. All of the chaos seen throughout the game is due to her can weakening.
    • The Nuckelavee was sealed beneath a ring of standing stone until the Bard kills a horse there, the only way to release it.
  • Secret Level: Four extra dungeons can be unlocked by finding a Trow randomly appearing on the world map and buying his very expensive maps. Each dungeon contains a Token which will permanently improve your stats and tons of loot.
  • Seen It All: The Bard. By the time you get to the last tower, he gets pretty tired of hearing idle threats. Also if you skip a scene, you'll sometimes hear the Bard give a dismissive "Next" or "Heard it already".
  • Shield Bash: A special ability you can obtain: it's either performed after a parry or used as a special attack with the sword equipped. Both stun enemies.
  • Shop Fodder: All sorts of it, among it Wanted Posters of the Bard himself, but thankfully, it's all exchanged for silver as soon as it's acquired.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Side Quest: Mostly of the, "Let's poke around in this old ruin full of monsters and inexplicably well-maintained traps" variety.
  • Stationary Boss: Herne Is confined to the tree stumps, and can occasionally teleport from stump to stump. The Haggis Monster is confined to his hole, and will occasionally sink back inside in order to wait for other zombified animals to come and heal it.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Fnarf had a tendency to speak with alliteration.
    The Bard: "I've had just about enough of these atrocious alliterative announcements... Now I'm doing it!"
  • Summon Magic: A big part of gameplay. Several of the summon spells you get are plot-important.
    • First, you can summon various creatures and warriors to back you up in battle, spending energy out of your Mana Meter. They stay with you until they're killed or banished.
    • Second, you can use magical artifacts in combination with a limited supply of adderstones. These artifacts call Caleigh or one of three tower bosses to cause some instant or temporary effect on the field.
  • Stripperific: The first female summon has an armour of sorts, which of course includes very low neckline, Zettai Ryouiki and Bare Your Midriff. Then you get another female summon, who just has a brown bikini and high-heeled boots. And the outfit on the flighty barmaid McRary is hilariously ridiculous, especially the shoes. It all fits the world, though.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Carsgair and the Shadow Axe. You need the former to escape a Trow's geas (and there's no way to skip it), and the latter to gain entrance to the Island Tower. In a way, some of the summons, such as the Bodyguard, Light Fairy and Flame Elemental are vital to succeed.
  • Take a Third Option: After being offered two choices for every action throughout the game, you are offered a third at the very end, and you have good reason to take it.
  • Theme Naming: Many of the names and characters are influenced by Celtic mythology and the stories of the Orkney Islands.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The Bard has this reaction... well, many times. Most notably in the Farm where, after killing a couple of waves of zombified cattle, hears ominous roaring and rumble coming from the dark pit in which all the unused bodyparts were discarded.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: If you choose to be snarky to Gower in the end of the mountain pass segment, the bard will give the sword to him.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Adderstone powers can feel like this at times.
  • Tranquil Fury: When The Bard's dog was killed, his words 'you're going to pay for that' never sounded more sincere, or more threatening. Considering who we are talking about, that idiot druid pushed the wrong Berserk Button.
  • True Companions: The Brute gets pretty protective of the Bard.
  • Undignified Death: The reason why the Jarl is stuck on earth as a Draugr: when he was getting ready to start the greatest raid of all time, he got so drunk that he fell on his own sword and gutted himself. The Bard finds this hilarious.
  • The Unintelligible: MacRath only speaks an old Scottish dialect so thick the Bard (and the Narrator) cannot make a word out of it.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Enemies drop a variety of weapons that the Bard can't (or would rather not) use. These get converted into silver upon pickup.
  • Updated Re-release: The Bard's Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled, which brought widescreen support and higher resolution options to the game along with availability for 2017-era hardware.
  • Use Your Head: Skinny Zombies will remove their skulls and throw them at the Bard as highly-damaging poisonous projectiles.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Dounby Tower, the head quarters of the druids and Princess Caleigh's prison. It's less of a dungeon and more like 12 floors of combat against enemies battled throughout the game with the 13th floor holding the Final Boss fight.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: The Tale of the Nukleavee and Here's To The Bard (Viking remix). Both about the Bard screwing stuff up. Every song but the one about beer, really.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Oh, plenty—
    • Watching the "Chosen Ones" (a small army of teenagers) get killed in stupid and hilarious ways is one of several running gags.
    • You can also kill chickens and push over cows in Houton. This serves no purpose (the chickens give you minimal experience, and only occasionally drop a nugget worth 1 piece of silver, and the cows getting tipped is only there for poops and giggles) and will get a very angry cow and chicken coming after you if you do it enough times.
    • Count the number of times that you can arbitrarily swindle, abuse, or threaten people to get money or goods. Don't make a drinking game of it though; you'll make yourself very sick.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Averted. You'll run into a guy with a very thick Scottish accent, loves to go to Pubs, but doesn't ever once engage in an act of violence.
  • Wandering Minstrel: The Bard makes his living playing at bars and hustling the barmaids for free drinks and sex.
  • We Can Rule Together: The Evil Ending sees the Bard team up with Caleigh, though it's less ruling and more the sex that appeals to him.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Fionnaoch and his druids spend a good chunk of the game trying to kill The Bard and are even shown to murder random civilians in Dounby. However considering how some of the Dounby townsfolk support the idea of freeing Caleigh when her freedom would unleash hell on Earth, you can at least see why they're so fanatical about making sure no one even thinks about trying to rescue her.
  • Weak Sauce Weakness: The undead cows can be killed in one hit if attacked from the side. This is due to all the times The Bard tipped them over.
  • With Lyrics: The Vikings add lyrics to the game's main theme and use it as a drinking song.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Happens in most of the towns. You cause them all through various blundering means.