A culture in which printed materials are expensive and difficult to produce will develop societies dedicated to the preservation of oral history, literature, and mythology. The Tongue Dancer's Guild is a loosely allied organization filling this need in the Crescent Lands.
The Dancers have two main groups specializing in this cause minstrels and bards. Minstrels comprise approximately 95% of the Guild. They are the branch primarily engaged in the acquisition and dissemination of common stories, history, news, and current events. They can be found in any city, town, and hamlet in the Crescent Lands. All minstrels, unless engaged in activities considered heinous by all civilized men, are sacrosanct. They may be banished or expelled from an area, but not attacked or harmed. Any town or country failing to punish perpetrators of such actions may be proscribed by the Guild for various lengths of time. In effect, this will cut the area off from contact and news with most other areas. Many traders and civilized countries will refuse to deal with an area under proscription.
Bards are the elite arm of the Guild. They are rigorously trained and specially selected to gather information under potentially arduous, even hazardous, conditions.
After passing a battery of tests, applicants start Bardic training at the age of eight years. Only 20% of applicants are accepted; 10% of these graduate their training as bards. Bards are taught the standard minstrel skills—reading, writing, voice, music, foreign languages, memory training, swimming, and riding—along with special bard skills. The specialized Bardic training is in fighting, magical runes, spell casting, ancient human and non human history, thieving and Wyrding. Training is usually complete by a person's eighteenth year.
For the next 10 years, a bard is a journeyman. After the 10 years of travel, a bard may return for a review by the Bardic Council to see if he can gain Master status. If he does not receive Master status, he cannot petition for another 5 years. Few bards become Masters before their late 30's or early 40's.
Bards should have these minimum characteristic scores:
There are three types of bards: Warrior Bards, Mage Bards, and Thief Bards. All three types of bard know Wyrding and are trained in the thief skill Memorize. Fighting and Thief Bards gain spell points as any other non mage. Thief and Mage Bards fight on the Thieves' Combat Table and get the hit and evasion points of thieves.
Warrior Bards get the hit points of fighters and the evasion points of clerics and fight on the Fighter's Combat Table.
Thief Bards receive three thieving skills, besides Memorize, and all other thief skills and talents including increased back stab damage. Thief bards divide up 25% points among their Thief skills at first level. These three skills increase at 30 point per level till sixth, 21 points from sixth to tenth, and 15 points per level there after.
|Level Increase Table|
|Experience Points||Experience Level|
|0 – 2,000||1|
|2,001 – 4,000||2|
|4,001 – 8,000||3|
|8,001 – 14,000||4|
|14,001 – 30,000||5|
|30,001 – 50,000||6|
|50,001 – 85,000||7|
|85,001 – 135,000||8|
|135,001 – 205,000||9|
|205,001 – 305,000||10|
|305,001 – 430,000||11|
|+250,000 experience points/level after 11th|
Mage Bards' spell training automatically gives them the spell points of a non mage, and they automatically increase in their points each time they increase in level. At 1st level, they automatically receive one spell. They cast spells at a half their experience level rounded down. They do not have spell books and therefore cannot know more spells than their intelligence would allow. If they can get a mage staff, they may use one as a mage. They can cast spells from a scroll, but they are unable to learn spells from a scroll.
Bardic Institutes are located in most of the major cities in the Crescent Lands (The primary one being in Aereolus and the oldest in SpireWall), and they will teach spells to bards deemed worthy. The Institutes choose the spells. Mage Guilds are less adverse to teaching spells to Mage Bards than to other non mages, and charge 3/4 the cost non-mages pay. Mage Bards learn spells automatically
For skill percents, they use the table of their bardic subclass and add 20% to ride and swim, +2 to voice, 30% to music, and 25% to history.
Bards increase morale saving throws for NPCs by 15% when playing. Bard singing can negate any song cast spell or glamour and soothe a Shrieker is she saves.
Finally, Bards have been trained to use the unique ability WyrdeSong. This talent enables a bard to channel Power through her instrument or voice and shape it by the manipulation of musical notes into a spell.
The WyrdeSong is a unique and closely guarded secret of the Tongue Dancers' Guild. Unlike clerics who draw upon an external source for their miracles or mages who channel the energy liberated by planar fault slippage through their mind, Wyrding is solely internal. This internalized shaping of power allows a bard to escape all planar or metal based limitations on spell casting. Clerics often lose their powers if they are too far removed from their deity, and mages find spells unusable in the presence of iron. Bards have no such difficulty.
A bard draws the power, which she channels through voice or instrument, directly from within. Wyrding physically exhausts a bard. A profligate or desperate over use of Wyrding can kill a bard. When using Wyrding, the points of a WyrdeSong are drawn against a bard's Health Quota (which equals the Bard’s Health plus any additional points for level acquisition).
When a bard uses 50% or more of her Health Quota, she loses 25% of her evasion points until enough H.Q. points have recovered to bring her back to 75% of her H.Q., then she recovers evasion points as normal. Heal spells will return lost evasion points even if the Health Quota is below 75%, but, if a bard is re-injured, the last 25% cannot recover unless another heal is cast or the health is back to 75%. At 75%,and 100%, the system is the same.
If a bard uses more than 75% of her Health quota, besides losing evasion points, she can slip into unconsciousness. If 75% of the Health Quota is used, a bard must roll less than her Resistance on 3d6 to stay conscious, at 100%, 4d6, and at 150%, 5d6. A bard who loses more evasion points than they have left would lose hit points. The percent of excess points versus the total initial points lost must be computed, with a comparable percent of hit points lost, i.e. if a bard were to lose 10 evasion points, but could only lose seven, than the three excess points would be 30% of the total points to be lost and therefore the bard would lose 30% of her hit points. A save on 3d6 versus Resistance must be made to stay conscious. Location of the damage is rolled randomly on a point basis.
To determine the rate at which H.Q. points return, divide a bard's H.Q. into 48 hours.
A bard does not automatically cast WyrdeSong. To determine chance of success, divide the multiple of the bard's Int. and level by the WyrdeSong difficulty score, i.e., a first level bard with 15 Int. has a 50% of casting Tranquil 'Song (30)—(15 Int x 1 lvl)/30 = 50%. Failure to cast a WyrdeSong costs a bard half the H.Q. points required to cast the 'Song.
The first time a bard tries to sing a WyrdeSong and is unsuccessful, she cannot attempt it again until achieving the next level, but, once successfully sung, she may then use it as frequently as she wishes regardless of future success. A bard at first level may choose one 'Song to which this rule does not apply (this assumes special training in this 'Song). A bard is limited to 1/2 his Int. in 'Songs per level that she may attempt.
All bards, except those with an 18 Voice, require a musical instrument to cast a 'Song without penalty. If not using an instrument, the 'Song costs an additional 50% H.Q. and is at twice the difficulty score.
A good voice score will give a bonus to 'Song success by adding points to Int, as follows:
Voice of 15 +1 Int, 16 17 +2 Int, 18 +3 Int.
At Second Level, a bard adds +1 to her H.Q. Every subsequent level, a bard adds, alternating, +2 and +1 to H.Q.
Most bard 'Songs activate at the end of a melee and are subject to the same disruption in case of attack as are mage spell.