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    Bardic Colleges of Oerth
    Posted on Sat, October 26, 2002 by Trickster
    Longetalos writes "Although everyone who has ever walked Oerth knows of bards, few know how they are organized. This article will reveal the beliefs and mores of the largest of the bardic colleges available in the Flanaess.

    Author: Longetalos

    The bardic colleges of Oerth
    By Richard Di Ioia (
    (Used with permission. Do not repost or redistribute without the express permission of the author.)

    The origins of the bard on Oerth are lost in antiquity, yet everyone agrees on their purpose in society. Bards are the holders of the wisdom and history of their people. Throughout the evolution of the races, bards have always been the ones who remember the old tales and the lessons learned by the race's ancestors. Without the teachings of the bards, those that live in the present will forever be cursed to repeat the errors of their forefathers. Thus bards exist to guide the race so that each generation is a little better than the last.

    Bards can be classified according to colleges. These colleges are not physical buildings but a code of conduct or bardic style. Much like fighters can be classified as swashbuckler or brutes, bards are similarly classified among colleges. Each college has a distinct curriculum and outlook on what a bard should aspire to be in society. Of course, as some bards gain in experience and interacts with others they begin to develop deviations from their original college. A select few not only change their style but form new colleges that attract followers who are taught this new style.

    Each race respects their bards to different degrees and this is reflected in the predominant college within that race. For some, the bards are the greatest teachers and the most respected of all the classes. For others, the bard is at a much lower level of respect and treated about as well as a member of the working class. This article will describe how four of the human races (Flan, Oeridian, Suel, Bakluni) treat their bards. It must be noted that this treatment is as of the year 591 CY and for many of the races the treatment has changed over time.

    Flan: The Flan have always relied on bards to be keepers of the old lore and wisdom. This is mostly due to the fact that until recently, apart from a few occasions in their past, the Flan had very little of their knowledge in written form. As such, the Flan bards were always given the greatest respect and well received in Flan villages. The Flan bards are mostly wanderers who spread ancient tales and songs wherever they go as well as speaking to the villagers to find out what is the current news for their region. As wanderers, the Flan bards had to be self-sufficient as well as being able to defend themselves from dangers such as wolves and other less wholesome beasts. Their role has been to give common sense advice in the form of tales to the villagers. Typical tales include stories such as "The ant and the grasshopper" as well as "The turtle and the hare". As a general rule, Flan bards prefer percussion instruments such as the tambourine or tam-tam. The bards who follow this college are referred to being members of the old school or old ways.

    Oeridian: The oeridian bards have two main colleges - Classical and Celestial. In the past, the oeridians were a war-like folk. As such their bards kept a large repertoire of legends of great heroes and histories of conflict. In the distant past, oeridian bards were frequently employed by nobles to act as advisor in times of war. During times of peace, they were employed to spread the fame of their employers. The bards taught in this college are taught the classical oeridian style of being a bard. This college was dedicated to teaching bards the ancient battles and legends before they went off to join with nobles. The greatest ambition of an oeridian bard was to attach himself to an unknown noble and rise with him to greatness. This way he could create the tales first hand and gain fame for himself among the other bards. At the height of the Great Aerdi Kingdom, the requirements from the bards changed. The nobles no longer went to war with each other with blades, but with spurious political maneuvering. The nature of the bards serving those nobles changed along with the times and the teachings began to place emphasis on the honeyed tongue bardic advisors instead of bardic warriors. This new college became known as the Celestial Tune. As the bards infiltrated the noble houses they took on a more political role to protect their own members. It was not unknown for bards of different houses to collude together for their mutual benefit even at the detriment of their own lieges. When the corruption of the Kingdom finally caused the secession of several provinces, the first of those who had their power broken and removed from positions of influence were the bards. Within many of the new states, the members of the Celestial Tune college had their assets seized and were turned out of court. The Celestial Tune college of thought lost much prestige and many of its students left to alternative colleges. Since that time, the oeridian bards have been divided into numerous smaller colleges each with their own agendas and teachings. As a general rule, oeridian bards prefer wind instruments such as the horn or flute.

    Suel: The Suel being steeped in the mysteries of magic and respecting mages before all others had a dim view of bards. The bards were relegated to servants of the masses and treated no better than a common laborer. Rarely was a bard retained as a member of a noble household. The Suel bards were used mostly to uphold the traditions of the Suel people such as overseeing festivals and gathering to ensure that all the proper protocols where followed. The bards were instructed using the teaching of the Fehimar Ohrzan college. This school of thought taught the bards the protocols and class structure of the Suel people. They also learned the traditional songs and proper historical stories to repeat to the masses. The merchant houses would hire a bard to be present during business dealings to handle the pace and speed of the negotiations. They would do this by either leading the conversation or by the tempo of the music played on their instruments during the negotiations. As a general rule the Suel bards prefer the use of stringed instruments such as the lyre. Followers of this college are known as Traditionalist. This was drastically changed after the rain of colorless fire. Much like the Suel people were split into two distinct cultures, so too was the bardic college. A second college emerged among the Thillonrian barbarians known as Jiolik. This college blended many of the teaching of the Flan bards that the Suel encountered in their travels to the north with the traditional teachings of the Fehimar Ohrzan. The Jiolik gave the bards a little more respect among the nobles, yet not as much as among their Flan brethren. The bards following the Jiolik college became the lore keepers of the barbarians but were also expected to fight, and die, with their comrades. They were responsible for entertaining the people with song and stories as well as to incite the warriors to greater ferocity during battle. But they still were those that instructed the nobles in the traditions of the barbarians. When a point of contentions would arise over how a situation should be resolved the noble would call for a bard to recite the traditions and rituals that needed to be followed. Much like their Flan counterparts, the followers of Jiolik preferred percussion instruments - only of a larger size such as drums.

    Bakluni: The Lady of Fate has a large role in the culture of the Bakluni people, and as such directly influences the mentality of how the Bakluni bards operate. Much like the people themselves, the Bakluni bards are separated into two colleges - the city taught and the plains taught. The city taught Bakluni bards, known as the Nalleen, are more scholar in mindset than any other college. They are taught to travel to different cities and to learn and teach as much as they can. Their stories and songs are as historically accurate as possible and are used to impart knowledge - but not necessarily wisdom - to their listeners. Although many would tend to believe this makes the Nalleen college a very dull one, the bards are also taught which stories are best for their audiences. Many of the greatest comedies are stories that are historically correct and a good bard has a large repertoire of these as well. Bakluni bards are well respected, but not as much as a true scholar for their wandering ways tends to put some mistrust into the conservative city-dwelling Bakluni people. The nomadic Bakluni have their own version of bards, known as the Faruum, and they are taught to greatly embellish the truth. A Faruum taught bard believes that the best story is one where the audience is greatly entertained never made aware that the story has not an inch of truth. They are consummate rogues and travel widely throughout the plains, changing from tribe to tribe frequently. Students from both Bakluni bardic colleges prefer stringed instruments such as guitars.

    Oeridian-Flan mix: This racial mix is one of the most common of those in the Flanaess. When two cultures meet such as these two have a new culture emerges, one that blends characteristics of both. As such a new bardic college was also born - the Ciradoc. This college took elements from both the Flan traditions and the Oeridian traditions. The Ciradoc bards retain the Flan respect for nature and down to earth values, yet gained some portions of the Oeridian warlike influences. The Ciradoc bard travels widely among the villagers teaching common sense values while at the same time preaching the importance of learning to fight and defend themselves. The Ciradoc bard will sing songs praising the valor of warriors on a battle field and with a second breath bring tears to the eyes of listeners with his description of a pristine glen in the middle of a forest. Unlike a bard following the Classical college, the Ciradoc bard prefers to sing about a noble spirit instead of one born to nobility. The Ciradoc bard has no preference for musical instrument, although they tend to use percussion or wind instruments for their ability to play loudly on the battlefields.
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