Ideas for a Bard class

 
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:47 am    Post subject: Ideas for a Bard class Reply with quote

Does anybody know of a good way to implement a Bard-type class in a fantasy h&s mud? So far, in every mud I've seen that has a Bard class, the Bard is just a thief/rogue type character who can cast a few minor support spells. You might type 'sing song' or 'play instrument' instead of 'cast spell', but it all boils down to the same mechanics as playing a mage/thief/fighter hybrid. It works, but it's not very exciting or original.

One idea I read about once (probably on these boards, I forget) involved giving the Bard a 'storytelling' skill, which basically drops the storyteller and his listener(s) into a randomly generated instanced zone based on a story from the history of the game world. The listeners and bard then take the roles of the protagonists in the story and try to complete objectives. The story ends if the protagonists are killed or when they fail or succeed at achieving the objective. Afterwards xp is handed out to the participants based on how well they did.

I think this system would work well in games where there are patches of down time between monster encounters. The Bard could be sitting by the camp fire telling stories while the other party members heal up, prepare spells, etc.

So does anybody else have any suggestions on how to make the Bard class stand out a little more? Anything to avoid having him be a slightly wimpy fighter who occasionally whips out a mandolin in mid-combat and plays a song to boost his comrades' morale.
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Alayla



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that forcing bards into a fighter mold is destined to fail and produce sucky fighters (but hey, I can play a violin while I swing a sword at you!).

Not everybody wants to play online games to compete or to kill orcs or go on raids or gather equipment. Some people don't even care to level. (You've seen them, the weird types that always hang out at recall and just get enough levels so that the system does not delete them if they leave for a week.)

Bards, in my mind's eye, have a lot of potential for creativity and socializing - in a game that does not revolve strictly around combat, achievement and competition. Your storytelling idea is an interesting one, but I still find fault with the fact that it, again, revolves around combat situations.

My dream for bards is that one day there will be a game that lets them... sing. And play. Maybe not a mud, who knows.

There's already fun to be had with speech syntethizers, for creative types or just plain tinkerers. People writing short songs to send somebody a message (an audio postcard of sorts), just because it's fun. I'm partial to these two (quoted from http://www.pdaudio.net/dectalk/page/):

Quote:
I really want your clock A file I [Patrick Perdue] wrote for Stephen Clower when I found that he was in possession of a sharp Talking Time I, one of the coolest talking clocks ever made! This was written on my laptop in a doctor's waiting room.

The clock is mine Steve's reply.


I know none of this is helpful for you in your present situation. But if you, or anybody on these forums, ever make it big in the gaming industry... Remember! Very Happy
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Bards, in my mind's eye, have a lot of potential for creativity and socializing - in a game that does not revolve strictly around combat, achievement and competition. Your storytelling idea is an interesting one, but I still find fault with the fact that it, again, revolves around combat situations.


Actually, the stories wouldn't have to be combat-oriented at all. They could be about solving a murder mystery or participating in an archery tournament or political intrigue at the Royal Court. The participants would just take on whatever roles the story created for them.

The song snippets you posted were hmm... interesting. I did kinda play around with an idea for a while that involved the Bard being something of a historian/transcriber of important events. Basically, the idea was that if Joe the Bard happened to be present when Jill the Warrior slays the black dragon, the code would generate a little poem or short story or haiku or whatever, based on the location, what equipment was used, how long the fight lasted, etc.

It think it'd be a cool feature, but I have no idea how the poem would be useful (in game terms) for the Joe or even Jill at a later time. Ideas would be greatly appreciated.

And yes, I think of everything in terms of gameplay mechanics and in-game achievement. There's probably a medical term for it... Smile
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect that D&D is to blame for the warrior/thief style of bard, but I agree it's pretty dull, and hardly touches on the possibilities of such a class. If your mud is focused on combat then the bard is going to need some sort of fighting ability, but even then there's plenty of room for creativity.

I could see a bard's musical abilities being tied into some sort of social combat system, as has been discussed previously. Just as different weapons could be used completely differently in regular combat, so the same logic could be extended to musical instruments - flutes, horns, drums, singing, etc, could each provide different options and effects.

For those with an interest in player-customisable spells, I could see the same system being used for creating music (perhaps with magical affects). The bard could sit around composing songs for different occasions, then play them later. Perhaps some clever text parsing could allow the mud to judge the quality of poems and the like, based on syllable counts and soundex matches, with specific words have different affects rather like the Inquisition's emote-based combat system...
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sloth bards have an important non-combat thing they do: they can, with some effort, learn where items drop. Sloth is a hack-and-slash mud where equipment is very important, so this is a pretty big deal. It is implemented as a song, "Wealth and Glory", that magically elicits gossip from the audience. The results of a successful casting are messages meaning: "not on this continent", "yes on this continent but not in this zone", "yes in this zone", and "yes I drop that", so the bard must pursue the item for a while to track it down. The song can also be used to probe for an unknown item if you can guess part of its name.

Since the bards maintain a central database of the results, I think most of them never use the song, but a few use it extensively.
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Molly O'Hara



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my mind Bard is mostly a non-combatant, social-oriented Class, and as such more suited for a RP environment than Hack'n'slash. I always thought that damaging mobs with singing or playing the flute looks awfully silly. 'Your recital of Longfellow BORES the cityguard to death!'
Still there might be ways to make them advance without having to dirty their slender, white hands with blood. How is it the song goes... 'the hand that holds the trembling bow must be kept soft and fine...'

There are some ways that Bards could have a place even in a competitive Mud, at least as group partners and without taking active part in the fight. They could for instance blow the attack signal on their trumpet, play the battle drum, and sing rousing, encouraging, or soft healing songs for their groupmates during combat, which would result in different group spells.

You could also opt to reward and advance them for things that are different from traditional 'mob grinding', and reward those efforts either with exp or with something more Roleplay oriented.

In our Mud for instance, we have something known as subskills, which is a bit like mini classes, except that any player can learn them. One of these subskills is 'Performer' - not quite a Bard, but similar. It was never fully implemented, so for now there are just a couple of skills in the Performer group; 'juggle', 'recite', 'balance', 'act' and 'sing', and they are all pretty basic. Performing any of these commands starts a script with some room echoes, which, based on skill and chance, will end in a superb, mediocre or totally disastrous performance. For this the performer gets a small amount or exp, plus Award points (the latter can be used to buy RP oriented things like pre-titles, poof-in/outs etc.). It is also possible for players in the same room as the actor to reward the performance by applauding or booing, which will yield a small additional or subtracted reward, based on the outcome. There's even a scene somewhere, where an actor can perform in front of a public, that's sitting in the adjoining body of the theater. (I am not sure if it has been used much however, our mud isn't really big on RP).

Anyhow, I liked the suggestion of bards composing songs based on epic fights. We have a kind of 'parrot' mob, that picks up phrases that are said to him, and then throws them back randomly. I bet this could be expanded to react to actions instead of speech, in which case the song could be based on room echoes of the last rounds of a fight.
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jmurph



Joined: 19 Oct 2006
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Location: Texas

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bards seem like an excellent support class for a H&S mud. Perhaps they can use both mana for magic and stamina for performances. Inspiring songs would increase the abilities of allies, demoralizing taunts could distract and penalize opponents. Lusty ballads and flattering poems might seduce mobs and charm NPCs eliciting everything from reduced prices to outright adoration. While they lack the outright damage potential of many jobs, I picture a bard as being quite adept defensively (mainly through agility and evasion) and also capable of being a dangerous (if frail) archer, swordsmen, or similar (weapons of skill v. brute force).

In non-combat roles, bards could offer abilities ranging from social (persuasion, bartering, information gathering) to lore (bards would likely be able to pick up a bit about everything, though not as specialized as any other class).
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Spazmatic



Joined: 18 May 2005
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go back to the source?

One would think maybe bards could do things related to, say, music? Like, control the tempo, dynamics, accents, even time.

Examples:

Clog - More attacks per second/round or more rounds per second or whatever, but drains everybody's movement points very quickly. Great for racing through monsters in easy areas or dealing with low damage/high hp monsters, or tiring out low movement point monsters.

Pavane - All special moves and spells blocked. Only basic attacks function.

Can-Can - All basic attacks and special moves and spells are blocked. All characters gain kick, kicking is free (no cost). May the best kicker win.

Minuet - Attacks come slower, but are much more likely to hit.

Waltz - Every other round has no attacks, only regeneration and special moves.

Viennese Waltz - Waltz on steroids (waltz + clog).

Saltaerllo - Every fouth attack round features quadruple damage. Land special attacks on this round!

Carole - Healing spells have greater impact. Great if you have healers and you're fighting a dumb orc.

Forced March - No movement point loss while walking in a group.

At any given time, a bard can crescendo or diminuendo, increasing or decreasing the damage multiplier.

You could also separate tempo from the song, I guess, but that's rather unrealistic.

And of course, it goes without saying: one song at a time. Effects could be amplified by skill, modified by instruments, blocked or disrupted by other skills. For example, perhaps it takes time for a song to get going... suddenly, warriors with SHOUT! can really mess you up in the middle of a song, forcing you to restart. Imagine fighting an annoying necromancer, relying on your bard to block his spell casting ability, only to have him use a wand of silence. Uh oh!

Heck, you could have bard on bard action. May the bard with earplugs win!

Yes, these are still spells, but they're spells with specific purposes, designed to change the reality of your combat system to fit the needs of the party.

I actually have a far more intricate, complex system down on paper, designed for something else I was once working on (a mud, actually). It is, however, not a simple plug and chug design, unlike the basic ideas I propose above. So I just extracted some bits, but in theory, you can take into account dance steps, changing tempos, partner pairs, etc.

So, yeah... bards r 4 n00bs.
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ehh. There are some cool sounding ideas in there, don't get me wrong. But we're still back to the old D&D bard archetype where the bard is basically a caster that does "sing song" or "play instrument" in place of "cast spell".


I guess to clarify my original post, what I was looking for was a different role for the Bard class. Maybe something closer to what the actual bards of medieval history were, i.e. travelling poet, entertainer, someone who chronicles great heroic deeds through music. I realize that there might not be much to do for a character like that outside of a purely RP environment, but still it is a fun mental exercise, I suppose.
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Lundgren



Joined: 24 Oct 2006
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Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, either the songs and tales will have a game mechanic that affect things in the world and then they will be "spells with another syntax," or they are only "fluff." Fluff are great from a RP point of view. But I don't think it would go well among the more game oriented players.

But if we leave the normal H&S arena, where you gather a group to bash monsters and collect loot, then the bard could have completely different use. Say that there is a political system, where the players can influence the NPC leaders in the world. If that political power is based on fame and reputation, then bards could be the support class, bosting and destroying the reputaion for the players involved in this political system. After all, a good bard could make a hero out of an outlaw, while making the poor guy trying to upheld the law into the villain Wink
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lundgren wrote:
Well, either the songs and tales will have a game mechanic that affect things in the world and then they will be "spells with another syntax," or they are only "fluff."


Well, yes and no. Let's say you have a Bard class that doesn't earn xp from combat (at least not any significant amount). Instead, to progress in the game, the bard has to follow other heroes into battle, witness their deeds and write songs about it. Or collect ancient scrolls of sheet music which are worthless to other players. Or travel from town to town and challenge the local bards in a music-playing-contest mini-game. Or seek out rare mythical creatures and challenge them in the same mini-game to get them to surrender their mythical instruments or song knowledge. Or hang out in cities and tell interactive stories to other players at the local inn. Or influence the political scene, like you suggested.

Suddenly you have a whole new way of playing the class. Instead of the old standard approach of "play <songname>" to give a stat/health/speed boost to your party or to sleep/charm/fear a monster. We already have Clerics and Mages that can do that.


P.S. I loved you in Rocky IV Wink
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Lundgren



Joined: 24 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL! Not related, despite sharing the same surname and being from the same city.

If there is no ingame reason of having a song written about ones deed, why would other players bring one along. If there is, wouldn't the playing of the new song be "as casting a spell?"

Having something like music, songs or tales influense anything will, from a technical view, be just like magic. It is the same thing with clerics, as they are priests of some sort. But still their powers are usually handled just as magic.

My point is, I think it is great that you are trying to find a new angle on bards. I just think that you are talking about two unrealated problems at the same time. One is what a bard should be able to do (direct combat influense, indirect combat influens, reputational/factional influense, not influens at all, or something entirely else). The other is how does the player control it (just punching in a sing command or a system full of nuances).

I mean, you could have the typical run of the mill fighter/thief/caster bard at the same time as you control the fighting and casting with a system like God Wars II. On the other hand, you could have the non-fighting bard, dueling other bards with music and songs (rap duels or break dance movies form the 80ies comes to mind) while still typing "sing song XYZ."

So if you want to implement a new type of bard into an existing H&S mud, isn't it preferable if the command structure is similar as the commands for fighters, mages, clerics and so on? You will also have other things to think about, as if they are supposed to follow a group to create new songs, why would the group bring them along in the first place. While it doesn't have to be something direct as the common D&D bard, it should be something else than hoping they bring the bard along just for fun (dragon bait maybe? Very Happy).
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lundgren wrote:

If there is no ingame reason of having a song written about ones deed, why would other players bring one along. If there is, wouldn't the playing of the new song be "as casting a spell?"


Good question. I guess the best reason would be if the songs were tied into a glory/reputation system of some kind. Having a bard around to create a song about your deeds would boost the reputation of both the bard and the hero performing the deed. The created songs could then become available for other bards to play in the "song duel" minigame, and each time the song is performed, it would add a little to the reputation of the bard and hero. Over time, older songs would be phased out and forgotten, replaced by newer songs. The reputation system could dictate how NPCs treat a you, what areas you can access, what prices you get at shops, etc.

While technically, you could argue that any command that produces an in-game result is just the same as "casting a spel"l, I'd like to think that a system like this would play slightly different from the standard "play war song"--->"Thor the warrior gainst +5 str" mechanic.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grabnar wrote:
While technically, you could argue that any command that produces an in-game result is just the same as "casting a spel"l, I'd like to think that a system like this would play slightly different from the standard "play war song"--->"Thor the warrior gainst +5 str" mechanic.


Agreed. When a fighter types "kick" and a mage types "cast fireball", the end result is pretty much the same; the enemy takes damage. However you can make them feel different by giving fighters and mages different character options, by requiring different playing styles, by providing different systems for accessing their abilities, and by using lots of cosmetic fluff to make them feel different.

You can make it feel even more different if you provide a separate system mechanic for songs. For example, perhaps songs always benefit everyone in your group, which is something that spells never do. Or maybe something specific to songs is that they provide three "stages" of bonus (during the first minute the inspiring music gives a bonus to attack, during the second minute it becomes more intense, instead giving a bonus to damage, while during the third minute it inspires courage, allowing all party members to ignore pain penalties).
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Spazmatic



Joined: 18 May 2005
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I guess to clarify my original post, what I was looking for was a different role for the Bard class. Maybe something closer to what the actual bards of medieval history were, i.e. travelling poet, entertainer, someone who chronicles great heroic deeds through music. I realize that there might not be much to do for a character like that outside of a purely RP environment, but still it is a fun mental exercise, I suppose.


I have more interesting designs, however, they will not plug in well to a normal (read: real) mud. Basically, on a non-RP-oriented mud, you have a fundamental tension: either your bard can hack'n'slash, or they will feel tacked on. It's the same basic problem with crafting that has no combat impact, or with enchanters that can't fight. They feel like an auxiliary class, and I hate that.

You can certainly create all sorts of little... parallel games... for your bards. Spreading word of good deeds to create reputations, to use an example someone already brought up. You could also walk the razor thin line, offering bards as non-combat regeneration boosters who sing songs around campfires. You could turn them into an explorer class, which has to befriend all your towns and gather their stories in a grand race to the be the biggest, baddest bard around. But, in the end, none of these integrate into the world well.

There are also ways to integrate with combat without directly doing so, but they have problems all their own. For example, you could have bards sit in the back, recording the battle for propserity, and turning it into a device from which the party can train (aka: boosts gains from combat). Or, bards could create records used to compete for the biggest-kill-of-the-month games.

In the end, all of those feel tacked on. You could offer the bard a lot of fully integrated stuff to do, however, if you had a dynamic world with a dynamic NPC social structure, but I consider such prereqs unrealistic for this discussion.
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