Continuing our series of character ideas created by combining different backgrounds for each class. Last time we did the Barbarian, today, moving along alphabetically, we’re doing the Bard. As always, if you like these ideas feel free to steal them, if you hate these ideas tell me I’m an idiot in the comments, and if nothing else hopefully they’ll inspire you to have some cool character ideas of your own.
Street preacher, true believer. Everyone will assume he’s a charlatan, a fake, a scam artist out to get money, but the character is better if he’s a true believer, if he thinks he’s actually saving souls. And maybe he is. He follows one of the gods of music, and tries to convince people to follow his god by singing/talking/preaching anywhere he can find a group of people to listen.
Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces. A famous actor who can put on different voices. Charlatan background comes with disguise kit proficiency, so imagine using that to run scams on people. Come in as a con-artist and steal people’s money, then get a new face and a new voice and show up as the bounty hunter or lawman looking for the con artist. Get paid again to hunt him down after promising to capture him. I feel like this has a The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly kind of slant to it.
My first instinct was this guy is a distraction, he keeps the guards entertained while his buddies rob things behind them. But then I realized that the character I actually want is a jazz musician who’s also a cat burglar in his spare time. He’s got some cool name like Drake Night, and all the chicks dig him, and he’s funding the nightclub he owns by stealing jewelry from rich widows.
The default. If you can’t make this work, I don’t know what to tell you. Bard may not be for you. But go rock star. Just be like the wackiest, craziest musician you can. It’s all about the music, man. And the chicks (or the dudes) and the money, fame and power that come with it.
Bard Folk Hero
Borrows a little bit from the Hermit idea (see below) but one of the things that Folk Heroes do is stand up to an oppressive tyrant. Imagine this guy as the one who wrote a satirical story about the tyrant that turned the people of the land against him, and helped overthrow him. You didn’t do the actual dirty work yourself, but you sparked the rebellion with your words. What’s more magical than that? Think Kvothe from The Name of the Wind only without the blistering overpoweredness.
Bard Guild Artisan
Stradivarius? Fender? Gibson? Maker of fine lutes and a master player. Why would this guy become an adventurer? For the finest quality materials to make the finest quality lutes are found in the worst dungeons in the world, of course.
You’re like Salman Rushdie, only you’re “The Reclusive Poet”. I like this idea as a guy that either wrote an epic poem about a noble and had to go on the run, or an actor who was in a play that satirized a noble, and, well, he’s been on the run. Gives you a good backstory to bring out people who agreed or disagreed with your work, and might be a good hook to bring a character into a campaign with hidden enemies plotting against him.
What do you do if you have too much time and money on your hands and nothing to do? You learn to play an instrument, of course. And you use it to woo the love of your life. And then she gets murdered by dark forces. Then you discover that your music and your training has given you the skills and abilities to hunt down those dark forces. So you grab your most expensive violin, resin up your bow, and you head out to become an adventurer…
The idea is that you have traveled from strange, exotic lands, bringing news and stories, tales of valor and heroes, and entering a new kingdom, that you don’t know well, but trying to spread word of world events. I almost like this as a combination news reporter/journalist who travels to foreign lands to peddle in gossip and stories, and now he’s in your campaign, he has no idea what the local customs are, but he does know a bunch of good stories…
I’m thinking along the lines of a Beethoven/Tchaikovsky style musician who has studied the theories of music all his life. He’s stumbled upon how to use music to make magic, which is how he became a bard, and now he’s out looking for more, another song or style that will enhance what he’s learned, giving him a reason to go adventuring.
Do you know any sea shanties? Cause this guy does. He knows all of them. And he made up some more. There’s something interesting about the guy that gets to ride along on the ship because he’s keeping morale up. That’s what bards do. They keep the morale up. So this guy became a sailor cause he knew a lot of songs, and now his songs do magic.
You could think of this guy as a fine Scotsman who refuses to stop playing his bagpipes while the battle rages around him, or the little drummer boy who lets bullet’s whiz by his head as he keeps the tempo of the combat, but I like this guy as a war reporter, like one of those guys that used to travel around with groups of soldiers to tell their story, and of course occasionally ends up in dangerous situations. This guy traveled around as a soldier of fortune for a while in order to live the life that would allow him to write an epic story about the life of a soldier, but he’s seen things, man. You don’t know. You weren’t there.
The epitome of the Street Busker, sitting on the street corners with a hat that people are tossing copper coins into, but you’re playing is so good that you gain a patron, who asks you not only to produce music for him, but also sends you out on adventures, with the promise of keeping a roof over your head and warm food in your belly.
Ok, that’s it for today. 13 backgrounds, one class, a bunch of (hopefully useful) ideas. Now go out there and try not to just be Shakespeare.