With recent events having set the future stage for its release, I am pleased to announce our next class: Bard! By now I'm sure plenty of you may have figured out that this is the new neutral class I promised in my end of year post, so we've decided to reveal some of the details of it in advance. Obviously the class is still in development, so some specifics may change between now and the release.
To begin with, here is what HELP BARD will look like!
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Performers and assassins both, the Bards of Djeir operate openly out of their historical sanctuary, the Theater of Shadows. Their origins lay within the founding years of Undercity of Djeir, arising as a theater that showcased a gruesome - yet celebrated - blend of traditional drama and bloodsport. As the Undercity became embroiled within the throes of civil war following the death of Jy'rilia Garilicci, First Empress of Djeir, the Bards emerged as an unexpected power.
As all the major and minor noble houses warred for the throne, opportunities for public theater spread thin as the safety of a manor's walls grew more attractive. Still craving entertainment, the nobles began instead to invite the Theater to their estates to host their dramas for them and their allies. This provided many opportunities for a Bard to glean the secrets and plans of each house in order to sell the information to enemy factions. It did not take long for the first hired kills to follow that, starting the Bards' long, storied tradition in aristocratic assassination.
The Theater of Shadows grew powerful with alarming haste, eventually turning the nobility against them. As most houses established a tenuous ceasefire in order to slaughter the Theater, a fabled hero-bard would pen his name into the history books using a blood-stained falchion: Vascsce, of common birth. A talented actor and lead performer in the Theater, Vascsce was already owed fame, yet the events the eve before the Bards' planned demise would elevate him to legendary status.
Vascsce was lover to one Nueciale Garilicci, a minor noble within her family line with little prospects, that had accidentally become privy to her elders' scheme. Learning of the plans through her, Vascsce sought to bring an end to the civil war and secure a future for him and his colleagues. Humming a tune, he set off to the noble quarters and demonstrated his other talent.
One by one, Vascsce felled the heads of each house in a deadly performance, the intensity of his humming growing as he continued manor to manor, deeper into the noble quarters of the city. Resistance mounted to levels impossible for him to overcome and Vascsce bared all he had as the tune reached a fevered pitch. Prepared for death, he was stunned instead to see a path cleared before him as guard turned upon guard in defiance of reason. He had poured every inch of his being into his work during the frenzied encounter - including his soul - heightening his tune to magical levels to discover the art of Songcalling.
By the time the morrow had arrived, any noble that had a stronger claim to the throne than Nueciale was dead. She was coronated as Empress, ending the brutal civil war and solidifying the Garilicci family's position as the royal line. One of her first decrees was to grant Vascsce "attro ca pa'sa" - the Grace of the Empress - forgiving him of any crimes committed under Djeirani law. Her next ruling act was to establish a relationship with the Theater of Shadows, enacting an accord that lasts even today.
In short, the accord established that the sitting Empress of Djeir would be patron to the Theater of Shadows, and in exchange, the Empress would be immune to any assassination or attack from them. Should a Bard carry out an assassination, they must perform certain ceremonial steps during the deed in order to be able to invoke attro ca pa'sa and be forgiven of any crime. Failure to complete the proper ceremony would find them instead subject to Djeirani justice.
And so it remains a rare affair for a Bard to carry out a cloak and dagger assassination. Those still happen, when the need is high and pay is higher still, but it carries great risk to the Bard. Without a public audience to witness their kill, they would be beholden to honesty of the victim's family that the ceremony was completed properly. The theater of bloodsport was reborn under the royal accord and the Bards leaned into their performance. With each hired kill, a Bard tried to out-do prior spectacles to gain fame and notoriety, and to stretch towards the legend of Vascsce. And with each kill, the Djeirani cheered and reveled.
Defined by their three skills of Performance, Weaving and Songcalling, the Bards use each one for both theater and killing. With Performance, the Bards utilise their falchion with flair while finding ways to throw off an opponent's pace. Through Songcalling, a Bard can sing forth songs of legend to affect their audience in a powerful manner that can be beneficial or harmful. And finally, the traditional Djeirani art of Weaving is used to conjure items of light to pin a target down.
Bards first came to the spotlight of wider Sapience during the events of the Grand Tragedie in the month of Lleian, 501 MA. Ostensibly, the play was put on as an offering to Nalibhtavi, the Replete in an attempt to entertain and please the hedonist Goddess. In reality, the drama was the front for a spectacle assassination, masterminded by the Bard Teclah Neri against the two Ash'aji noblemen invited to act the lead roles. Hoping to create her best performance, she instead horribly miscalculated the reaction of the Elder Goddess. Rather than being pleased at the bloodshed, She grew outraged at the desecration of theater. In Her final acts of existence, the Full One slaughtered almost every single of the Djeirani Bards.
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We'll have a bunch more of these snippets for you to feast on as we approach the release ready state!
I'm going to keep this thread locked so we can keep adding to it more easily, but I'll create a separate thread for comments and reactions.