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Old 11-21-2017, 02:06 PM   #1
PK
 
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Default Not all bards are likable

Back when RPGs first introduced the "adventuring bard" concept, they justified it by pointing primarily to soldiers who used bagpipes and war drums, not only for communication, but as a means to intimidate and confuse the enemy. So here's a bard in that tradition, who doesn't give a damn if you like him or not, and focuses on battlefield control and intimidation instead of charm. (GCA file here.)

Gunther Gruslig
250-point Half-Orc Bard

Like most half-orcs, Gunther grew up with his human mother in a village a modest distance from the Orc Badlands. Fortunately, when he was conscripted by the local baron to deal with a bandit problem, his intelligence and determination caught his commander's eye, and he was kept on as a paid soldier. It was the military that discovered his talent for magic and trained him in spells to break the enemy's morale and ability to communicate. But once the barony became embroiled in a pointless war of attrition with two neighbors, Gunther's life went from "making the world a better place" to "watching my friends die over a plot of land." When an enemy wizard drove a horde of agitated bugbears into their fortifications, Gunther lost his hand, and was able to talk his sympathetic commander into retiring him.

Gunther isn't a front-line fighter, but he certainly comes across as one. Grizzled beyond his years (he's 31 but looks closer to 50) with a hook for a left hand and a perpetual scowl, most people just assume that he'd kick their butt in a fight and back down (effective Intimidation-18 does that). He's fiercely protective of his companions, and takes their safety even more seriously than he does his own. Gunther has seen too many friends die, and won't let it happen again. (War changed him more than he'll admit, making him bitter and angry, and anxious after a fight; today, we'd call it PTSD.)

When out in the field, he practices his Song of Terror in camp until his teammates are used to it; that way, he can open up with it in a fight. His other favorite tricks include Noise to prevent foes from coordinating, Thunderclap on small groups (especially in the next room), and Hush to quell other bards and wizards. If he gets low on FP, he'll use the Song of Humiliation on sapient opponents. (Gunther's bardic singing is best described as "death metal with disturbingly explicit lyrics.") He's good at seeing a fight coming, too, thanks to his Acute Hearing (and spy horn), Observation, and judicious use of Sense Foes and Sense Life. Magic aside, he's also not bad with his falchion and shield (which is strapped to his left arm).

Gunther relies on his Intimidation a lot, though he'll fall back on Fast-Talk or Diplomacy as needed to get him past the town guards. Most civilized folk don't like him, but do respect him; his net reaction modifier (including Callous behavior) is usually +1 (with an extra -2 for friendly Influence skills). However, this drops to -1 (with an extra -4 for Influence and Merchant skills) when trying to buy or sell; ironically, the bard usually asks another delver to act as his "face" with merchants.

Gunther's falchion is a 5 FP power item. His quirks points bought Leadership and Tactics, and raised Intimidation.

ST 11 [10]; DX 12 [40]; IQ 14 [80]; HT 12 [20].
Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs.; HP 12 [2]; Will 14 [0]; Per 14 [0]; FP 12 [0].
Basic Speed 6.00 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0]; Move 4.
Dodge 9 (8); Parry 10 (Shortsword); Block 10.

Advantages
Acute Hearing 1 [2]
Bardic Talent 3 [30]
Charisma 1 [5]
Energy Reserve 3 (Magic) [9]
Night Vision 5 [5]
Penetrating Voice [1]
Rapid Healing [5]
Resistant to Disease 5 [5]
Resistant to Poison 5 [5]
Song of Humiliation [4]
Song of Terror [21]
Voice [10]

Disadvantages and Quirks
Appearance (Unattractive) [-4]
Bad Temper (12) [-10]
Callous [-5]
Code of Honor (Soldier's) [-10]
One Hand [-15]
Post-Combat Shakes (12) [-5]
Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions) [-5]
Social Stigma (Savage) [-10]

Bugbears took his hand; bugbears gotta die [-1]
Considers himself personally responsible for the party's safety [-1]
Embarrassed and in denial about his PTSD [-1]
Lives for saying "I told you so" [-1]
Won't lie needlessly [-1]

Skills
Acting-14 [2]
Carousing-13 [2]
Climbing-11 [1]
Connoisseur (Weapons)-13 [1]
Current Affairs-14 [1]
Detect Lies-12 [1]
Diplomacy-14 [1]*
Fast-Draw (Sword)-12 [1]
Fast-Talk-15 [1]*
First Aid-14 [1]
Heraldry-13 [1]
Hiking-11 [1]
Interrogation-14 [1]†
Intimidation-16/18 [4]†
Knife-11 (default, for hook)
Leadership-14 [1]‡
Merchant-13 [1]
Musical Composition-15 [1]§
Musical Instrument (Drums)-16 [2]§
Observation-13 [1]
Performance-15 [1]*
Poetry-13 [1]
Propaganda-13 [1]
Public Speaking-16 [1]*‡
Savoir-Faire-14 [1]
Scrounging-14 [1]
Shield-14 [4]
Shortsword-14 [8]
Singing-17 [1]*§
Stealth-12 [2]
Streetwise-13 [1]
Tactics-12 [1]
Throwing-12 [2]

Spells
Daze-15 [1]
Detect Magic-15 [1]
Foolishness-15 [1]
Great Voice-15 [1]
Hush-15 [1]
Mage-Stealth-15 [1]
Noise-15 [1]
Sense Emotion-15 [1]
Sense Foes-15 [1]
Sense Life-15 [1]
Silence-15 [1]
Sound-15 [1]
Thunderclap-15 [1]
Voices-15 [1]
Wall of Silence-15 [1]
* Includes +2 for Voice.
† Includes +1 for Callous. Intimidation gets a further +1 from each of Penetrating Voice and his hook hand!
‡ Includes +1 for Charisma.
§ Includes +3 for Bardic Talent.
Equipment
$1,000, 47.91 lbs. (Light encumbrance)
Backpack, small. Holds 40 lbs. $60, 3 lbs.
Clothing. $0, 2 lbs.
Coins. 7 copper, 1 silver. $27, 0.16 lb.
Drum. $40, 2 lbs.
Falchion. 1d+2 cut or 1d-3 imp (reach 1). $400, 3 lbs.
Heavy Cloth Helmet. DR 2. $38, 3 lbs.
Heavy Leather Jacket. DR 2 (torso). $158, 12.6 lbs.
Hook Hand. 1d-1 cut (reach C, 1) or 1d-1 imp (reach C). $40, 1 lb.
Light Leather Limb Armor (with glove, shoes). DR 1. $82, 9.9 lbs.
Personal Basics. $5, 1 lb.
Small Shield. DB 1. $40, 8 lbs.
Spy's Horn. $100, 2 lbs.
Wineskin. $10, 0.25 lb.
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Last edited by PK; 11-21-2017 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 11-22-2017, 07:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Not all bards are likable

Another really fun demonstration of the variety available in these templates. Thanks!
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Old 11-23-2017, 05:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: Not all bards are likable

Me Likey!
Nice to see some atypical types posted in this forum.
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Old 11-24-2017, 12:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: Not all bards are likable

I should point out that, mechanically speaking, it would be far more sensible to build Gunther as a dwarf instead of a half-orc. Same HT and poison resistance; +3 FP and +1 DR are more directly useful than +1 HP and Resistant to Disease; and avoiding that Social Stigma definitely makes life easier. But he just felt like a half-orc to me.
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Old 11-25-2017, 06:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: Not all bards are likable

I like this bard. He's both traditional and a logical outgrowth of the setting. Could we see some other unlikable bards? An Irish Satirist who bullies and backmails those around them, a traditional type and an interesting threat to PCs, might be fun.
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Old 11-25-2017, 09:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Not all bards are likable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post

Could we see some other unlikable bards?
I posted one the other day. The clown, harlequin, jester, zanni . . . these are as much a part of the FPRG bard as are the classic bard, the herald, and the minstrel. The FRPG bard owes its archetype to the wise storyteller (bard), official functionary (herald), musician (minstrel), and physical humorist (our fools) in various proportions. You can emphasize any of these; a stern herald probably wouldn't be all that likeable either.
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