[NOTE: This post sat in my drafts folder for over a year. No, I don’t know why.]
There are two things I like to do when developing RPG settings:
First, I love to populate settings with rumours and local legends. These give a feel of being living places, and also you never know when a rumour will spark a plot hook that leads to a fun new adventure.
The second thing I love to do is crowd source ideas so that a) I don’t have to do all the work and b) I end up with a more varied and interesting range of possibilities to work with.
This post contains a series of ideas shared on twitter in response to this post:
#DnD5e brainstorm: A city in my current game will have an underground fighting circuit (barefist brawling, MMA) that is the talk of the seedier parts of town.
Hit me with some NPC fighter names, and one of their legendary exploits.
Having not written any fiction for some time, this year I entered the NYC Midnight short fiction competition to kick myself into gear.
My prompts were: Fantasy, A picnic, a single mother.
As a result I produced “Uphill Battle”.
Enjoy, critique, ignore at will.
UPDATE: I received an Honourable Mention for this story, being one of the three stories in the heat to receive a commendation but not make it through to the next round. I’m pretty happy with that result, and am currently working with the feedback provided to produce a second draft (which is unbound by the competition’s word limit!)
This Bard is the leader of a religious rite or congregation. Their songs are drawn from the myths, legends, and rituals of a particular god or gods and their chants are part poetry, part prayer or mythic storytelling.
As a First Singer, the bard might be a part of a temple, leading worship and rites for the crowds, or they might be a wandering preacher, carrying the word and songs of their gods across the land. They are adept at engaging a large audience, and capturing a crowd with their mythic storytelling and song.
A First Singer is different to a Cleric, in that they find their inspiration in the stories and music, rather than more devout forms of worship. A First Singer need not even be a true believer, and may find religious songs a helpful ruse as they ply their crowds for donations and rumours.
Inspiration for a First Singer bard can be found in many cultures and times. The ancient greek chorus used to chant and sing and dance their epic tales as part of grand religious festivals, wearing masks and using small drums, cymbals and beat sticks. Among the many variation of Christianity you will find the Cantor, who leads a congregation in prayer. A similar role is played by the Jewish Hazzan, while the Muslim Muezzin leads the call to prayer to bring people to the mosque for worship.
Alignment: A First Singer’s alignment will usually partially align with the god whose stories they tell, or the temple in which they lead.
Instruments: Instruments that keep rhythm, like tambourines, drums, prayer cymbals or bells are very common among First Singers. Some may have stringed instruments, though would favour those like a lute that have a chamber for resonance and can be heard over a larger area.
College of Lore: A First Singer who joins the College of Lore may pursue the greater truth of the universe beyond the teachings of a particular god or belief. They may become mystics or gnostics who recognise a greater mystery of the world beyond a single deity.
Their spell choices will likely favour detection and dispelling, and the ability to perceive and cross into the meta-planes in pursuit of the ultimate, world-creating song.
College of Valor: It’s an easy step to go from leading a choir in song to inspiring an army with a battle hymn. First Singers who walk the path of valor may become the heart and soul of a fighting unit, crying inspirational charges and rallying songs, and soothing soldiers during brief respite.
Spell choices will favour those that inspire others to greater feats of heroism, heal the wounded and aid the Bard’s own fighting skills.
College of Whispers: These First Singers use their knowledge of ancient tales to invoke holy terror in their enemies in order to seek out heresy. Their chants and songs take on a darker tone as they seek out enemies of their god and deliver appropriate punishment. These questioners are not well liked, because they are often the vanguard of a full blown inquisition, and sometimes even their very presence, if known, is enough to create a religious panic and invite all manner of accusations between neighbours.
Questioners learn spells that distract and terrify their targets, compel truth or otherwise give the Bard an advantage in squeezing confessions – true or otherwise – from the subject of their investigation.