Bards can be fascinating characters to write or read about. One of my current projects tells the story of Edson Pye. At the start of the tale, Edson is a beginning bard, having recently finished an apprenticeship. By instinct, I went directly to the musical part of his performances. In truth, a bard should offer more than that.
Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series featured a unique type of bard, known as a gleeman. They would travel about, and entertain people with songs, stories, juggling, and more. Thom Merrilin was an incredible character. Not only was he a gleeman, he was also a former court bard (and much more). His knowledge of history and of the world were a true representation of what an accomplished bard, or gleeman in this case, should possess.
Another of my favorite fictional bards came from Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb’s Finder’s Stone trilogy. Olive Ruskettle was a hafling (similar to a hobbit for those unfamiliar with the term) thief. She won her name from Olav Ruskettle, who was a well-known, true bard, in a game of dice. She tries to be a bard and live up to the name. Sometimes she comes close.
Without bards, much of our own history and fiction would be greatly different. In ‘Lackland’, which is another of my projects, I explore the Robin Hood legend from the perspective of Prince John. The first recorded versions of this legend were in poetry, written by the bards of the time. These were the seed for the later May Day festivals, during which bards would entertain audiences with tales and songs of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Alan a’Dale is a wandering minstrel (or bard) in the legends, and plays a part in my retelling.
Bards are fun for gaming too. We’ve had a few through the years in my Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. They add something to the group that no other character can. They can also be great non-player characters. I once, in my teen years, used the band Iron Maiden as a group of traveling minstrels in one gaming campaign. The singer had the ability to call Ed the Head (better known as Eddie) to help them in fights. Our group of wizards, rogues, and warriors shared a swashbuckling adventure with the band in what was a fun night of gaming.Share on Facebook