Class Progression: 3/3 Bards

“The bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. …If you’d pissed off some witch, then what’s she gonna do, she’s gonna put a curse on you… no big deal. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you.
“And if he was a skilful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community… and if it’s a particularly good bard, and he’s written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you’re dead, people are still gonna be laughing, at what a twat you were.”

Alan Moore


At last we come to the third and final of this little series. If you haven’t, check out the first and second posts I wrote leading up to this.

I’ve talked about in my earlier years, I had a preference for paladins, and how that preference evolved into my interest in druids. Today, we’ll talk about what I have come to understand as the player-class that most accurately describes “me,” this evolving collection of cells currently typing these words. It’s all in one’s mindset, I think, more than their physical talent or ability.

As a writer, a nonconformist, an independent thinker, my path throughout life never really had any particular essence of direction. Sure there was “finish highschool,” and not long after, “finish college.” Then there was “get a job.” You are not unfamiliar with this script. Throughout most of this time, I wrote stories, I made art, I underwent a variety of projects and ran with a variety of crowds – these were all things I did that came naturally, things I either enjoyed doing or felt some compulsion to express from within. And yes, wherever I went, whatever I did, whoever I met, I never really identified with something in particular truly being mine, or my place. I have acquired a host of rudimentary skills from a multitude of walks of life, and these days I have embraced part of my unchanged identity as a learning addict.

I have, it seems, become a jack of all trades, but not quite a master of any one particular thing. And I think in this society of hyper-specialization, I think I’m okay with that.

“A jack of all trades, but a master of none” was a phrase I used to despise when I was younger. I used to think that being a jack of all trades was inherently useless, as it meant you were not particularly good at any one thing. In a Head Full of Fantasy, where character class plays a roll in basic thought processes and group settings, I had never truly ascribed much value to rolling mixed or multi-class characters. Well, not until discovering that shapeshifting, slippery druid thing mentioned prior – I have no doubt that playing the “unclassable” druid laid a foundation of thinking for me. Funny, considering I never liked any bard-like characters most games I’ve played, and actually do not have any affinity for “folk music.”

These days, I see things a little differently.

As I have grown and matured, I have learned that my talents are not my strength, though I am not weak. So that rules out warrior – and what is a warrior in today’s modern world? A farmer, perhaps? Or a construction worker, an athlete, maybe even a soldier.

I have intellect at my disposal, but not the sort of memory or desire to spend hours researching something for the sake of knowledge, at the expense of one’s physical health or social skills. I would not make a good wizard/mage; and what are they? In today’s world, they are the programmers, the analysts, the scientists.

No, I am a writer, a storyteller, as might be evidenced by the existence of this blog (and, soon enough, my books). My strength is in my way of words, though not necessarily by way of song; I think many writers make modern-day bards. We collect stories, allocate our knowledge, invent our own. There are writers who travel from place to place, those who stay home and research and read and absorb, or those who put down on paper the experiences that they have simply witnessed. I may not brandish a lute or lyre and provide my allies with stat bonuses, but I wager telling a good story can have the same effect. Or better yet, writing it down for future readage, thus immortalizing the event.

These days, I’m more interested in adaptability, like I was saying in the druid post, than single-function. A bard is someone who is not a master swordsman, but they know how to wield a blade. They can’t cast a plethora of spells, but they have a few tricks at their disposal. A bard may not be able to move unseen or slit throats as quiet as a shadow, but they can pick a few locks/pockets and move about unnoticed when they wish.

I find this fascinating.

But the difference between being a bard and being a druid is that a bard feels real-life-applicable; a bard gets through life on wit and charm, and while I refuse to subject you fine readers as to why I am so witty and charming, I can tell you they’re among my better assets.

Also, they don’t offer shapeshifting courses at the colleges I’ve been to.

The bard is a traveler, a scribe, a storyteller. They have not always been used to great effectiveness in most videogames — often considered more masters of none as opposed to actual jack-of-all-trades. A common fault among the bard class, in terms of game-practicality, is that a bard can often do many things, but none of those things are generally strong enough to be of any real use during the game. One may be better off having a rogue for the sneaking, a mage for the casting, a priest for the healing, and so on.

There’ve been a multitude of attempts at making bards applicable, with varying results. But I’m not gonna get into gaming mechanics here; I’m more interested in the real-world concept, such as folk singers, or travel writers, or photographers for National Geographic. Hell, I distill the concept not so much to include music, but any form of art or creativity that involves charisma (see wit and charm).

Part of me wishes I dug bards before I quit League of Legends…

A wo/man who goes through life traveling from place to place, learning languages and local customs, picking up skills and experiences, discovering the world one village or adventure at a time. Sounds bloody romantic, doesn’t it?

Or, like a lot of people I know, it sounds like something they wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot-pole. “No thanks,” I know some folks think, subconsciously or otherwise. “I’ll take a safe, secure, complacent office job in a cubicle over the risk.”

Tell ya one thing. Having spent time in a cubicle (Where They Used To Think I Work) the life of a bard sounds significantly more appealing to me. Even if I’m not particularly musically inclined. Well, not on the production side anyway…though that, too, may change. Picking up a guitar and playing a few diddies hardly counts as bard-worthy.

But in my current state and life circumstances, I feel the bard truly fits my mindset. Perhaps that too will change in time, as things always do, but it is an oddly comforting, geeky sort of feeling to come to grips with being something of an categorizable enigma.

This is but one journey among billions. What character classes do you identify with? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Today’s music is brought to you by Final Fantasy XI, the first of Square-Enix’s attempts to cash in on the whole Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) genre. If there’s one thing they got right in that game, it was the music. Below you’ll find the theme for the area known as Ronfaure – a place in fact I’ve never been – and rather than throw some folky bardy taverny thing at you today, Ronfaure’s a slower beat that positively drips medieval kingdom. Have at it.








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