Hail, Bard Triumphant! and some care bestow On us, the Poets Militant Below!

The design of musical classes in several MMOs has often bugged me; I wrote about it back in 2007 with respect to LotRO’s Minstrel, and later I found Rift’s Bard to be of a similar nature.

“[…] The Minstrel, could work very well: I like playing support and healing classes, and this was a strong consideration for a while, but I’ve played healing classes to death in WoW, and the whole Minstrel ‘strumming his instrument in the middle of battle’, if you know what I mean, just seems a bit weird.

“Hey guys, here’s a little number I wrote the other day.”
“Die! Die! Die! You Orc bastards!”
“Thank you. Thank you. I’ll be here until the end of the battle. Try the salmon it’s delicious.”

This morning my brain peeled open like a xenomorph’s egg, and an idea slowly felt its way out with probing, grasping legs. So I thought I’d release it into the wild, in the hope that it will lay its own eggs within the chest cavity of a suitable host, where the essence of the idea can gestate, and burst forth in gory glory one day.

Google Search tells me that it’s not an entirely original idea. Google Search is an arse. “Oh, you thought you had an original idea, did you? Well, here are 52,300 results that I think you’ll find are of a similar vein. And I found them in but a little over 0.15 seconds. Mweh, mweh, mweh!” Oh shush, you.

Regardless, the simple idea was to have a special sword with which the Bard/Minstrel attacks. The blade of the sword has been masterfully crafted with holes along the length of the blade, as well as a myriad of tiny tubes which run from the hilt down most of the length of the blade. The grip of the sword has keywork similar to a clarinet. As such, the Bard/Minstrel’s weapon ‘sings’ as it is swung through the air, and the art of the class comes from channelling their magical song through carefully practised sword strokes. Thus the class attacks in melee and sings at the same time, accompanied by the music of their weapon. Out of combat buffs, healing and the like, would still come from a natural musical instrument, but I liked the idea of a musical MMO class that could stand in the midst of battle and channel their songs and chants, while not having to whip out a delicate lute and carefully strum ‘I care not for these ladies’ towards a rapidly approaching enormous armoured ogre crotch.

13 thoughts on “Hail, Bard Triumphant! and some care bestow On us, the Poets Militant Below!

  1. Syl

    I absolutely adore bards – it is my favorite class ever and the lack thereof subject of much grief. I’ve wrote about this some time ago (post title: you had me at bard) when Rift introduced the class and I have been incredibly disappointed there.
    to me, FF11 is still the MMO that featured the most interesting interpretation of bards, neither healers nor dps “shooting notes” (/eyeroll); but an incredibly powerful and diverse asset revolving around the principle of area effects, running back and forth between different camps, playing different tunes for different classes and always being very mobile.
    too bad the game is so dated and not widely known outside the asian market.

  2. Melmoth Post author

    I’m slowly growing to like the bard as a class concept, although it’s more the roguish troubadour style I enjoy. A sort of Kvothe type, if you’ve read the first books in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles.

    Dark Age of Camelot had a range of bard classes, at least one for each realm, and I liked the idea of Midgard’s Skald a lot, a sort of warrior poet.

    The actual function of Rift’s Bard was enjoyable for me, with a lot of utility, buffing and healing, but I just can’t get into the idea of ‘casting’ musical notes at monsters.

  3. Klepsacovic

    That is an amazing idea. I think we can expand on it. Bows are harps. Pick a string, string an arrow, and there’s the note. Guns could use the suppressor to make the shot more musical. There are easy things to do as well, such as cover everything with bells. Everyone loves the sound of bells jingling non-stop for hours at a time.

  4. Syl

    ‘casting’ musical notes at monsters.’

    that was my issue exactly.
    besides this, call me romantic, I want bards to play music, real music, nice tunes – even be able to play own compositions (outside battle).

    And I’ve read both books by Rothfuss, enjoyed them very much. :) that would work for me too on a theme level, it’s just that I am not fond of playing melee in general. that means most MMOs make a priest out of the bard though, which is why I liked them in FF11 (they also had very powerful offensive tunes besides all the support). and lots of instruments to choose from, total must!

    and the Kleps is totally trolling, by the way.

  5. Melmoth Post author

    “even be able to play own compositions (outside battle).”

    LotRO does at least let you get close to this with its built-in music system, but I must confess to simply abusing it to play the A-Team theme tune before boss fights.

    “and the Kleps is totally trolling, by the way.”

    With all the talk of bells I simply thought he was volunteering to model for the first morris dancing based MMO class.

  6. John Andrew

    Raid Leader: “Ok, does everyone know this next fight?”


    Raid Leader: “Well its the first of Turbine’s new music battles … get our Minstrels to the front asap!”

    *the devil went down to geogia starts to play in the background*

    Raid Leader: “WTF!!! Don’t enter the room until we have our Minstrels to the front!! Ok, we can recover, pull out the cowbells.”

    *boss finishes his opening riff*


    Raid Leader: “Oh .. My .. God … None of you Minstrels know the cowbell??? L2Play noobs. I’m out”

  7. Attic Lion


    How can you read this post, talk about FFXI, and then fail to mention how Bards in that game would often times confuse their sword with their flute, proceed to stab themselves in the lower jaw and still try to whistle a jaunty tune?

    That was always one of my favorite graphical bugs.

  8. Bronte

    You just blew my mindhole. But I think at the end of the day, button mashing to play a song that drives your sword would not be much different than button mashing to drive your sword without all the goddamn singing.

    Captcha word: Quincunx. There is a joke in there somewhere, I can feel it…

  9. flosch

    @Syl: I never looked much into FFXI, but I also love bard as a concept, especially when it comes to buffer/debuffer bards. And as such, I have to mention Vanguard every time it comes to bards. This horribly tanked game (for a good bunch of reasons) had several incredibly great class concepts.

    Among them a bard that actually allowed you to write your own buff/debuff songs from “mini buff” blocks that corresponded to musical parts such as chorus or coda. Construct your own buff from mini buffs by creating your own song. You could even give it a personal name which would show up as the buff name for everybody in your group. Now that was nice for creativity’s sake. :)

    So as not to totally hijack the post: The original idea (sword/instrument crossover) sounds interesting. But I just can’t get the image out of my head of a blood-smeared sword-flute, that would sound horrible because some of the holes are clogged with orc tissue, and that is overall out of tune because the caked blood has changed the resonance. Such an instrument might at least make other enemies flee when they hear it, though!

  10. Syl

    I didn’t know that about Vanguard – sounds lovely. =) I would actually try the game just for that, if it didn’t still come with a sub. I’ve seen it up on Steam and I could use something to play around with this winter, but I’m not sure I am up to pay for the game plus subs when it’s otherwise so underwhelming.

  11. flosch

    @ Syl: Yeah, the subscription is definitely a put-off if you’re not already on Station Access anyway. I personally play the SOE games in waves, so I’m on and off SA, and I generally check out Vanguard in the process. It’s one of these games I stay attached to, because I loved the idea (and some of the classes!), but neither the game, nor me inside the game, got far in the last four years.

    If you just want to try it out though, don’t they still have a 14 day trial?

  12. pkudude99

    An IRL example: Bill Millin, Bagpipe Warrior

    He ordered his piper, Bill Millin, to go ashore on one of the main landing points for the invasion of Normandy and wail on a set of bagpipes. Once on the beach, Millin calmly walked up and down at the water’s edge, playing while carnage exploded and people died all around him.

    With other soldiers frantically gesturing at him to find some cover, Millin walked slowly and bolt upright, playing “Blue Bonnets Over the Border.” Millin later talked to some of the Germans who had been captured to ask why they never shot him, and discovered it was because they thought he had gone mad.

Comments are closed.