I was 38 years old when I realised I was a bard. I shouldn’t really have been surprised – I was Danny Zuko in my high school production of Grease after all, and then I was Frank n’ Furter in stockings and suspenders. But the realisation vexed me, because until that point I’d never had much time for bards. They were, as far as I was concerned – and I can barely bring myself to write it now – padding. Oh the hollowness! Oh the shame! How could I ever have been so empty? Yet, perhaps the fault was not entirely my own.
You see, I grew up on bards as interpreted by computer games, and to me, there, they were a forgettable class. They were there only to serve others. In Dark Age of Camelot, which I spent a long time playing, the bard-likes were the speed buff your group needed to get around quickly – that was their purpose. They could do a few other things but none as well as the other classes could. And in World of Warcraft, another game I put a lot of time into, bards weren’t a playable class at all.
Look across RPGs and it’s a similar story. There’s no bard class in the Divinity: Original Sin series, and in Dragon Age, the whole series, the bard only crops up as playable in Origins as a rogue subclass. Those series couldn’t be more heavily inspired by Dungeons & Dragons and yet, the poor old bard doesn’t get a look-in. And it leaves you wondering why. Or, it reinforces a belief somewhere in your head that bards aren’t good enough to make the cut.