Thursday, July 11, 2013
Swords and Songs
Very early in my roleplaying days, I read the Songs and Swords books by Elaine Cunningham. Those books really set the mood of Forgotten Realms for me. I've been re-reading them recently and they are a bit of fresh air. I've been delving into a lot of modern fantasy that seems to be moving in a very "grim dark" direction lately, with a lot of authors exploring Fantasy Noir and ultra violence.
At times, I don't want my fantasy to be grim dark. I've always liked forgotten realms because it is a pretty balanced game/novel world. There is darkness and light, and a sense that while some parts of the realms are beset with turmoil and disaster, there are parts where people could live out good (maybe a bit boring) lives in the dales and villages and keeps. I've always enjoyed the descriptions of the elves drinking their Elverquist, the amazing Aurora's whole realms catalog with an entire selection of cheese! It really does give it a sense of place.
Anyway, as I re-read the books, Elaine touches quite a bit on Song Magic. This was echoed by my reading of descriptions of Illefarn, which is the background for my current game. I really liked the concept of poet-mages who could create "song path" gates between places in Faerun and portals to other places.
Song magic in D&D never really got a fair shake. There have been various incarnations of "bards" in AD&D, none of which I've ever really been a fan of. They typically are given a handful of morale boosting powers, and charming style magic along with mediocre fighting (and/or thieving) ability. I think that really is just the tip of the iceberg of what could be done. What about using spellsong to heal, or call forth the elements, or alter time, or create portals?
I'm really thinking about working on a ODD bard with some new abilities, but I'm not sure how to handle them yet. I think they shouldn't be vancian in nature, but a Bard or Spell Singer shouldn't be able to keep doing all of the different effects over and over continuously... I'm thinking about some kind of fatigue system if you call forth powerful effects maybe.