Saturday, 8 February 2014

city of arts

Continuing the examination of spell casters ruling cities, drilling down by class we start off with the bard.  Bards have Charisma and may charm or inspire.  A versatile mix of magic can influence, heal, reveal or destroy.  Yet the lute-toting troubadour is not the only role.  Some are orators of superlative skill. Others are inspiring actors and patrons.  Even a clown may secretly command an empire.  Yet the bard is counter-intuitive as a city founder.  A second-line spell caster who performs for coins is hardly leadership material right?

As people who know a lot and communicate more, bards are social creatures.  They form a nexus for community.  If this sounds unlikely consider the share of spells that involve enchanting someone.  Bards make fearsome diplomats when combining charm, glibness and suggestion. Repeated exposure to 'really good ideas' may shape relationships and trade deals.  Add a little divination and bardic knowledge.  Of course there are other professions, some don't even need street corners.  The smart ones find lucrative gigs.  .

So you're a singer but don't want many more tavern brawls or carousing rolls?  The foundation of many universities is the chantry.  Here, songs and prayers were sung for dead soldiers.  Nobility encourage this kind of thing, can't think why…  To sing the songs, you need to know the words which means one of two things.  Either hours of drill-like rehearsals or write the words down, teach people to read then rehearsals… Which one is easier I wonder?  Incidentally, if you're good, you'll shape noble and commoner minds and foster alchemists, sages, wizards and even bards.  You may still have to carouse though.

So you're a rebellious orator in need of money?  Consider a career of political demagoguery.  Use inspiring speeches and stage-managed appearances to bring people to your cause and leave a little money.  If you're principled, you'll make the changes happen.  If you're good, you'll lead an army to Count Dunderhead's castle and replace him.  If you're really good, you'll represent for a huge stipend by odd appearances.

Perhaps all this responsibility is a bit much.  Maybe you prefer to work behind the scenes.  Play the trumpet or gong, enjoy feudal courts and have a memory for faces and names?  Court herald is for you.  You'll find out who's coming or going - and you tell everyone else!  You control access to the big parties and help the aristocracy keep score.  Has to beat hanging around prosperous cities for a handful of silver a day doesn't it?

On that point, consider the following bardic professions.  Why have silver when you can have gold?
  • Bardic curing magic can quell infant or mother mortality.  A midwife bard may use spells to calm fears or lullaby entire families to slumber.  
  • Patronage of the arts is another option.  Being a muse to artists also has benefits.  Just ask the Borgia and Medici how they gained from it.
  • Scribes or clerks with Scribe Scroll and seed capital can sell scrolls to arcane spellcasters.  Healing scrolls may be stockpiled for times of emergency or war.
  • Showy festivals with spectacle, illusions and fireworks can alleviate toil, reinvigorate community and promote culture.  Mystery plays were vital in ancient and medieval times.  
  • Stable masters or shepherds break the first rule.  Yet their flocks and stables may breed wondrous beasts for nobles or patrons, earning them great fame.
The bard's city is a bustling yet cultured, cosmopolitan place, drama and diplomacy it's toybox.  Subtle hands and showy spectacle work together here.  From such roots can renaissances be born.

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