April 16, 2022: Bard

Accordion Street Musician by Miguel Angel Castelan from Pixabay

No, I’m not talking about Shakespeare (not today, anyway). I’m back to thinking about fantasy role-playing games, and because of a couple different Twitter threads, I’ve been thinking about my favorite D&D character class, the Bard.

I don’t quite remember when bards became my absolute favorite, although I recall that from the moment I first encountered them in the AD&D Player’s Handbook where they were this complicated mixture of fighter, thief, and druid. I never got to play one of those types of bards, but the class hooked me, especially the (tenuous) in-game connection to the Celtic bard archetype of lore. It wasn’t until D&D 3rd Edition, when bards were made a starting character class, that I got to play one, and I pretty much haven’t looked back.

I love the jack-of-all-trades aspect of the bard class, handy with both sword and spell, with some roguish skills and performance magic all its own. With the use of feats and prestige classes, bards could have a thousand faces that still played on the idea of the performing adventuring talespinner. My favorite bard character, however, was not played in a D&D game, but in a game of Burning Wheel, when I got the chance to play the bard character who was basically my in-game avatar, Hal Whitewyrm. In over 20 years playing role-playing games, that game is easily the best one.

I have yet to play a bard in D&D 5th Edition, but you can be sure that I most certainly will, given the opportunity.