Introducing the Last Dragon Slayer

In a hamlet far from any major city called Karlovice, a dozen men drank ale as they chatted about the harvest, about the weather and their families. The same scene was repeated most every night. This evening, a bard dressed in bright cloth clothes with long wavy hair and bright blue eyes pushed through the doors causing the conversations to pause and all eyes to study the stranger. The bard smiled and then strolled up to the bar where a round man with a thick beard stood eyes locked on the newcomer.

“Can I help you stranger?” the barkeep asked in a booming voice for all to hear.

“Mind if I play for your customers tonight?” the bard beamed.

“Not at all unless you’re expecting some coin for the effort.”

“Of course not my good man!” the bard announced in his singsong clear voice. “I am merely a traveler and enjoy performing. Perhaps an ale is worth my efforts?”

“Depends on how much we enjoy your efforts doesn’t it?”

“Naturally!” agreed the bard. “My name is Firestone and I’ll not disappoint, friend.”

The barkeep snorted. “Let us be the judge of that!” he challenged.

Firestone smiled and bowed low while snatching a wide brimmed hat from his head and waving it high above him before returning to his head with a wink and turning toward a corner of the keep cleared from tables save one.

The bard pulled a rucksack from his back and placed it gently on a chair by the corner table. He untied it and reach inside pulling from its mouth a lute made of wood no one there could recognize and strings that glowed in the lanter light. The instrument was inlaid with materials no one in the simple village had seen before and they exuded magical energy that the men in the keep could feel. Their eyes were drawn to the bard and his instrument and they waited for the notes to soothe their ears.

Firestone knew they wanted him to play but he enjoyed teasing them and he was intentionally slow as he sat on the table and carefully tuned his lute. No one spoke. All eyes were on the man silently begging for his performance. All eyes that is except the grey haired, grey bearded man in the opposite corner. He merely drank his ale and searched his stein for comfort when not sipping from it. Firestone glanced in his direction and grinned then strummed the first cord on his lute.

The group inhaled a breath of joy as the music began and at last they were getting what they wanted.

The bard began, “This is the Ode to the Last Dragon Slayer.” Then he played.

Have a seat and fill your flaggons
The world was once filled with dragons

They flew the skies and lived in caves
Sending many to early graves

Some breathed fire others poison
Melted some left others frozen

Came in many shapes and sizes
Most have met their own demises

The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall
The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall

They say that he went on a quest
But was defeated like the rest

Like so many held in bondage
Just another slave is hostage

Kept for years a dragon’s captive
By an ice drake cold and massive

In a frozen cave far away
He just waited for the right day

The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall
The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall

At last he knew his chance had come
To slay the beast the battle won

Sprung his cage no longer interred
He found an enchanted halberd

Stalked his captor found him sleeping
His eyes closed with frozen breathing

The weapon thrust deep in his hide
The battle raged the dragon died

The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall
The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall

Firestone paused and the townsfolk cheered. The barkeep poured the bard an ale and brought it to him begging him to play more. Firestone agreed to continue but drank deeply from the stein first. As he did he gazed long in the direction of the old, grey-haired man in the corner. The old man squinted sharply at the bard hands gripping the stein tightly sore muscles tight and strained against his tunic. Firestone chuckled and then struck another chord to sing more praises of the last dragon slayer.

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Bards

My absolute favorite class to play in a non computer version of DnD is the bard. It has the most character by nature. I have more fun playing a bard than any other character. Typically I enjoy the role playing aspect of…well…role playing, so the bard is perfect. Bards have high charisma which is useful for plenty of mostly useless tasks like lying or negotiating, yet I never get enough. If the DM does not supply me with ample opportunity to use my skills I usually invent one like trying to woo a drow mage during combat and declaring to her my true love and undying devotion up to the point when the party kills her. Love is fleeting.

In forth edition there are some more useful things that bards can do but remain the “jack of all trades” they were designed to be. Personally I enjoy the lying, cheating, and negotiating the bard is capable of. I regularly enjoy telling the party to engage in something everyone knows isn’t a good idea and then when they disagree rolling a “diplomacy” check. It usually sounds something like this:

Me: “Hey everyone, let’s go ask the leader of the evil guild if he knows anything about the noble’s daughter disappearing”

Party member: “That’s dumb. If it was him why would he tell us?”

Me (roll diplomacy 1d20+17) 17+17=34

party member: (rolls insight 1d20+5) 15+5=20

Party member: “You’re right, good idea”

I love it. Way more fun than asking the super nice priest about it.

I also enjoy making my characters after an actual musician. The most recent was Rick James. The DM suggested that I make it a bit more “DnD” and spell it “Rhyk Jaimes” or something but that never really took hold. Instead I ran around saying “Rick James Bitch!,” and singing “Superfreak” whenever the party needed and inspirational song. It was great. I loved every minute.

I also really enjoyed the optional “at will power” available to bards, “vicious mockery.” I decided that my character would say a “your momma” joke every time he used the attack. It was a lot of fun to tell an ogre “Your momma so fat that even Dora couldn’t explore her.” It turns out that many creatures one might encounter in DnD are sensitive about their mommas. It was a blast. I love bards so much that I have to be discouraged from playing one every time. Apparently too much of a good thing is bad. That or everyone was tired of the momma jokes. Oh well, guess I’ll have to play a boring ole elf wizard. No fun at all.

bard