Bardic Character Concepts

To Bard
gray line
Theodoor Rombouts (1597–1637) Title: The Lute Player Date ca. 1620
Theodoor Rombouts (1597–1637) Title: The Lute Player Date ca. 1620

Alderman

The Quintessential Bard
Author Shannon Kalvar
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2003
OGL Section 15 qbrd

Netbook can be found on the following website

The Grand OGL Wiki

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

In every society there are people who want to help others. Those who spend their off time working for the benefit of their fellow citizens. These individuals become involved in local politics, act as patrons for small arts and assist with the day-to-day running of the local communities.

These people are called aldermen. They hail from all walks of life; merchants and bakers, poets and priests. Of them all though only the bard brings his unique brand of social skills, variable abilities and gifts to the role. A bard alderman can converse easily with labourers, then go and sit at the table of the king to discuss the issues of the day. He can discuss magical theory with the local street magician, have a drink with the Thieves Guild front man and spend the afternoon chatting up a barmaid without breaking stride.

An alderman is defined by his involvement with his community. His leadership (formally recognised or not) guides the community in times of peace and war. In return for his effort he can expect support from his people and assistance in times of need.

Adventuring: The adventuring alderman is not a contradiction in terms. These strongly community focused bards find adventure waiting for them in every challenge their homes face. When there is a need to pick up sword and spell they do so. An alderman’s adventurous activities focus on solving problems for his people. As such, they make some of the most effective urban adventurers.

Role-Playing: Aldermen have two primary traits: an insatiable interest in the affairs of others and an ability to communicate that interest in such as way as to avoid offending their constituents. In some this comes across as a kind of ‘busy body’ mentality. Others manage to project confidence and caring so well that people flock to them just to talk.

Benefits: Each alderman selects one ‘home-town’, which may be an area, city, town, village, or even hamlet. Aldermen receive a +4 circumstance bonus to Diplomacy, Gather Information, Bardic Lore and Knowledge (Area) skill checks when dealing with people in their home or attempting to remember facts about it. Additionally they may take 10 on a Profession or Perform roll in their home to determine how much income they have over a given week.

Penalties: Aldermen must take responsibility for the goings on in their communities. If they are gone for more than one month, or for more than five months of any given year, they lose the benefits of being an alderman until they regain the trust of their friends.

Nicolas Mignard Title Portrait of Molière as Julius Cesar Date 1658 Nicolas Mignard Title Portrait of Molière as Julius Cesar Date 1658

Ambassador

The Quintessential Bard
Author Shannon Kalvar
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2003
OGL Section 15 qbrd

Netbook can be found on the following website

The Grand OGL Wiki

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

When nations tremble at the brink of war, or famine strikes a kingdom down the leaders of the world turn to their ambassadors to try to sort things out before things unravel. These remarkably talented men and women use charm, persuasion, threats and shear will to keep the gears of the world moving smoothly. They stride the halls of power brokering the deals that make or break borders.

Bardic Ambassadors excel at their calling. Their naturally high Charisma combined with their broad selection of skills enables them to mingle with the elite. Their magical talents give them an edge in bargaining. Ambassadors are also targets; nothing ends a negotiation more quickly that the death of one of the participants. Yet bards are not easy targets. They are skilled fighters as well as magicians, more than a match for most assassins.

Bardic Lore also servers an ambassador well. He has a chance to know just about any given piece of information. Things that seem trivial to others are of vital importance in negotiations. For example, if a Bard knows that a particular kingdom had poor rainfall this year, he then knows that the nation will most likely need grain. That is information he can use to leverage either the ambassador of the kingdom in question or one of that kingdom’s rivals.

Adventuring: Although it might not seem like it ambassadors are one of the most adventurous of the bard concepts. No other archetype is thrown into the same level of intrigue, danger and drama as these brave souls. Whether they are ‘troubleshooters’ who are sent to difficult spots or long-term liaisons with established allies ambassadors find themselves in the thick of things. Sometimes their ‘diplomatic’ efforts include activities like spying, corrupting officials, infiltrating secured areas and even slipping into the occasional dungeon to see what kind of opposition the local government faces.

Role-Playing: All ambassadors know the value of connections. They make contacts as quickly as most people have meals. Ambassadors also routinely expect to enter situations that are charged with tension and turn them to their favour. Living up to those expectation leads most ambassadors to serene confidence bordering on arrogance. They have succeeded at some of the most difficult tasks imaginable already; what could possibly be worse?

Benefits: Ambassadors gain a +4 skill bonus to all Diplomacy, Innuendo and Sense Motive checks. When on missions for their patron they receive a salary sufficient to support a minor noble (typically 200 gold per month, but it could be more in some areas).

Penalties: Ambassadors must choose one patron. This patron can be any established and large organisation or nation. The patron may command the Bard to service at any time, and reasonably expect the Bard to obey. If he fails to do so, he loses the respect of his peers and his skill bonuses. The bonuses may be regained by spending six months in service to the patron. Respect can only be earned though role-playing.

A late self protrait by Rembrandt, from a period when he had lost most of his fortune. This painting currently hangs in Kenwood House, London. A late self protrait by Rembrandt, from a period when he had lost most of his fortune. This painting currently hangs in Kenwood House, London.

Artist

The Quintessential Bard
Author Shannon Kalvar
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2003
OGL Section 15 qbrd

Netbook can be found on the following website

The Grand OGL Wiki

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

The setting sun. The blinding rain. The flickering flames of a campfire. The babble of a brook. All of these things and more inspire the Artist. They see beauty everywhere. Furthermore they translate that beauty into a form that others can understand.

Artists possess the unique ability to express beauty in a myriad of forms. They see into the heart of the world, understand it and put forth that understanding in a way that others can appreciate. How they do it differs from Artist to Artist. No two have the same style, even if they share a common medium.

Most artists choose a handful of mediums to express their vision. These differ from Artist to Artist. Some choose music. Some choose poetry and language. Others seek out the beauty of painting, stone, or wood. Bardic artists typically chose a performance art, like theatre or music but sometimes dabble in the other creative formats.

Adventuring: Artists tend towards an exploration model of adventuring. They seek out new experiences to further their artistic vision. Most treat their adventuring skills as secondary to their true calling. However, their ability to function as backup for any of the primary roles in an adventuring party makes them a strong group contributor.

Role-Playing: Artists come in two basic types: social and anti-social. Social artists see a benefit to themselves and their art in interacting with other people. They try to reach out to others so they can better express their vision. Anti-social artists are exactly the opposite. In their minds other people distract them from the important business of experiencing the world. Interactions with others sully their vision of the ‘real world’.

Benefits: Artists may select one ‘method’ of expression at 1st level, and an additional one every two levels thereafter (3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.). They gain a +2 circumstance bonus to any skill roll involving that method. Available methods include anything within the Performance skill, as well as sculpture, painting, calligraphy and various visual arts.

Penalties: Artists are by their very nature open to the world and its sensations. They also have trouble staying focused on anything that does not attract their attention. As such, they are –1 on all Will checks to resist enchantments and charms, and it takes them 12x (as opposed to 10x) as long to perform a skill when ‘taking ten’.

Gustave Doré - Miguel de Cervantes - Don Quixote - Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Plate 1 "A world of disorderly notions, picked out of his books, crowded into his imagination"Originally published 1863; This edition 1906 Gustave Doré - Miguel de Cervantes - Don Quixote - Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Plate 1 "A world of disorderly notions, picked out of his books, crowded into his imagination"Originally published 1863; This edition 1906

Aspirant

The Quintessential Bard
Author Shannon Kalvar
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2003
OGL Section 15 qbrd

Netbook can be found on the following website

The Grand OGL Wiki

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

Everyone listens to the legends told by their elders. Sitting around the heart with the grandfather of your family telling of the heroes of old is the most common form of entertainment in a pre-literate society. These stories thrill the children and amuse the elder. Children hear them and hope for a brighter, heroic future when they can be as great as the legends themselves. When they grow up they put them aside though, living their day-to-day lives until their own children are ready to wonder.

In a few cases those stories light a fire within the child’s heart. Those children grow up to be aspirants, men and women who strive to re-enact the legends of their people. They aspire to become like the greatest heroes and villains. Whatever their heroes did the Aspirant attempts, be it fair or foul.

In their quest, the aspirant may acquire fame and glory, wealth and power. All of these things are simply by-products of their true mission. They live for the moments when they can most fully realise their heroic dreams, becoming if only for an instant the heroes that they idolise and adore. Many become legends in their own right, their deeds passed down to light a fire in the hearts of a new generation.

Adventuring: An aspirant brings a great deal to an adventuring party. As a team member he has Bardic abilities, as well as an unflagging zeal for adventure. As a leader he can ferret out the most difficult and horrendous quests to accomplish and launch the party towards them. When out on his own, the Aspirant is a knight-errant, seeking out villainy and evil wherever he can find it.

Role-Playing: Aspirants make up the bulk of what one would think of as the ‘classic’ Bardic adventurers. Daring, foolish, heroic and courageous, these Bards take to the road to right wrongs and do great things. They have stars in their eyes and music in their hearts. For them the trials of the journey mark their progress along their path. They savour obstacles, comparing them to the difficulties faced by various legendary heroes.

Benefits: In keeping with their preoccupation with myths and legends all aspirants receive a +2 knowledge bonus to their Bardic Lore rolls to recognise references to mythic places, items and people. Additionally once per day the Aspirant may call upon his fervent belief in heroics to grant himself a +2 morale bonus to any one roll. This is a free action, but must be declared before the player makes the roll.

Penalties: Most aspirants are a bit naive. They learned about the world from epic stories, not harsh experience. Therefore they have a –2 circumstance penalty on any attempt to Sense Motive, and generally are likely to believe anything that someone tells them.

Bacchic Concert, Date c. 1625–1630 Pietro Paolini (1603–1681)

Bacchic Concert, Date c. 1625–1630 Pietro Paolini (1603–1681)

Cantor

The Quintessential Bard
Author Shannon Kalvar
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2003
OGL Section 15 qbrd

Netbook can be found on the following website

The Grand OGL Wiki

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

Not all bards draw their powers from arcane sources. Some use song to bridge the gap between the mundane and the divine. For them making music becomes a form of worship as powerful as any prayer. They serve their gods almost like priests, carrying the truth of their belief in their hearts and voices.

Bards who draw power from divine sources call themselves cantors. They may be associated with a formal religious organisation. If they are then they most likely do not rise very high in the temple hierarchy. Their sacrifice of song is more valuable to the temple out among the people, where it can inspire others. Trapping a cantor’s voice in the dusty halls of church politics seems almost impious.

Most cantors content themselves with working in small congregations or as part of a larger choral organisation. The intensely personal nature of their worship allows them to largely ignore the social aspect of their faith. A rare few even break with their temples entirely, pursing their personal faith at odds with the establishment.

Adventuring: Cantors adventure for many reasons. They might be fleeing from a misunderstanding with their home church. Some travel from temple to temple, spreading the joy of their music wherever they go. Cantors also sometimes take long pilgrimages, relying on their native wits and musical abilities to see them to the many holy sites scattered though out the land. In a party the cantor functions like other bards although his magic sometimes differs in its effect.

Role Playing: Cantors possess a deep and abiding faith in a god or an entire pantheon. Every song they sing or spell they cast represents a prayer to their patron figure. This faith forms the core of their outlook on life. It also provides them with solace in times of trouble. A cantor knows without a doubt that his gods hear and answer his prayers.

Benefits: Cantors are divine spell casters. They do not have to make a spell failure check when wearing armour.

Penalties: Cantors must pray for spells like other divine spell casters. The Games Master selects the time of prayer based on the god or pantheon worshiped. Additionally a cantor who displeases his patron may lose his magical abilities until he undergoes Atonement.

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830) Portrait of Elizabeth Farren (1759-1829)

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830) Portrait of Elizabeth Farren (1759-1829)

Explorer

The Quintessential Bard
Author Shannon Kalvar
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2003
OGL Section 15 qbrd

Netbook can be found on the following website

The Grand OGL Wiki

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

Not all Bard are eager singers making their way thought the world with silver tongues. There are those who spend their entire lives out exploring the world, seeking out adventure and newness for their own sake. These fellows rely on their wits to keep them alive. A healthy dose of magic and bladework never hurts either.

Explorers search out new places and things for the joy of discovery. They constantly search for rumours, myths and legends to lead them to their next adventure. Some are scholars, questing for obscure truths. Others come from more colourful backgrounds, drawn into the world by their love of adventure and an insatiable wanderlust.

Bards are uniquely well suited for exploration no matter what their background. Their diverse skills give them an edge that other classes simply do not enjoy. By combining solid combat skills with appropriate exploration abilities plus healing and minor magic a Bard can deal with just about anything his travels might throw at him. Add to that his Bardic Lore ability (representing either long scholarly study or the practical Wisdom of the road) and the Bard becomes a one-man exploratory party.

Adventuring: Explorers are adventurers in the truest sense of the word. They seek out and explore anything new that thing they can find. They boldly go where angels and demons both fear to tread. If there is an ancient ruin, a forgotten city, or a cryptic map you can pretty much bet that an explorer is going to make a direct path to it. In a party, he brings diverse talents and a strong focus on practical adventuring skills that can only be matched by a Rogue.

Role-Playing: Explorers are typically daring, confident and very bold. They view life as a constant series of challenges to overcome, each one more exciting than the last. Every day becomes another chance to learn something new. Every night is a chance to talk to other people and learn their stories. Every inn is a wellspring of new places to go and new rumours to track down.

Benefits: Bardic explorers have a lot in common with their Roguish cousins. As such, Rogue is always considered a favoured class for them. This counted as an additional favoured class and does not affect the base favoured class of their race.

Penalties: Explorers are less well-versed in music than their compatriots. Perform is always a cross-class skill for them even if they multi-class or join a prestige class with Perform as a class skill.

grey line

To Bard

The Worlds of Mankind is owned and created by Mark John Goodwin

The text on this page is Open Game Content, and is licensed for public use under the terms of the Open Game License v1.0a.

‘d20 System’ and the ‘d20 System’ logo are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
and are used according to the terms of the d20 System License version 6.0.
A copy of this License can be found at www.wizards.com/d20.