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    Bards of Oerth
    Posted on Wed, December 03, 2003 by Trickster
    Phoebus writes "Ever wonder what happened to the old bards during translation to 3rd edition Greyhawk? This is the first part in a treatise reconciling the AD&D bard of Greyhawk with 3rd edition as well as giving background on why this shift might have happened. Look for a prestige class, Old Lore Bard, in the future.

    Bards of Oerth
    By: Phoebus
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    The Old Lore Bard

    One might say that a true bard bears only a slight resemblance to the minstrels seen in taverns today. Of course the person making such an observation would have to have either a superior knowledge of Flan tradition or a lifespan and memory rivaling an olve or dwur.

    During the height of the Flan civilization the Old Faith was so ingrained into the average persons daily life it was less of a religion and more of a way of life. The Oerth Mother, or Beory, as she is commonly known today, wasn?t worshipped so much in name, as the gods of the Flanaess are worshipped now, but revered as a spiritual force in every day activity.

    To the druids of the Old Faith, Beory was the embodiment of Nature. Their sacraments and rituals were completely based on the seasons and celestial phenomenon as they related to Oerth. They considered themselves instruments of Balance. They celebrated the growth and vigor of the spring season and yet they also held rituals that embodied the coming of winter?decay and entropy. At any time they could by agents of law and good or perform acts that might seem chaotic or evil to an outsider.

    It was at this time that almost every natural area in the Flanaess had a primary caretaker as well as several lesser druid guardians based on the size and outside influence for that acreage of wilderness. There was also a very strict hierarchy to the druids with only a select few who held the higher positions of authority. At any time there was but one Great Druid who was said to oversee the whole continent of Oerik. The druids of the Old Faith were very much aware of their own political shortcoming, which is why they came to form an order of special agents to promote change, being themselves more suited as watchers and guardians.

    These agents were trained in what was then known as the Bardic Colleges and it was these druidic agents who were the first true Bards. Not just minstrels, but a practitioner of the Old Lore whose knowledge could almost be considered the equal of a sage. As at home in the king?s court as in the secret groves of the Great Druid, the bards of the Old Lore were always chosen from noble blood. As nobles themselves it was hoped that they would be able to influence and advise those in power and to keep a natural balance across the lands of the Flanaess. The Druids of the Old Faith saw a time coming when the dealings of men, and the dwindling power of the olves and dwur, would cause an imbalance of the Oerth Mother.

    By no means were bards of the Old Lore ever common, the requirements for entry into the Colleges and with members only chosen from the ranks of the nobility, membership was always an elite few. A candidate not only needed strength with martial arms but also the low cunning and agility of those who deal in back alley pursuits. Such an agent had to also possess the disposition of the natural order of things and strive for balance over law or chaos neither a champion for good nor evil.

    The rites and sacraments were permitted only for those of human heritage. On occasion there existed an exceptional individual with no more than half olven parentage that came to the Order but in the majority of such cases the rule of nobility was bent because of . The druid?s reasons for this limitation were several but the most often cited was the other races long life spans. As an Order of the Old Faith these bards were meant to embody change just as it exists in nature, it was felt that if the other races were to become bards their natural life spans would allow them to become the primary agents of the Order. This would be detrimental in many respects but primarily when dealing with those human monarchs and rulers of the major countries of the Flanaess.

    Currently the Bardic Colleges as they once existed are no more. During their height one could find a bard at every court and almost every city had several bards as trainers and agents for the Old Faith. Some of the most renowned bards of the time created musical instruments of incredible workmanship, and some say of magical potency. If these artifacts still exist none has been heard about in the last century or more and it is unlikely that a bard without the training of the Old Faith could possess such a potent instrument.

    It is rumored that a few powerful druids of the Old Faith still guard certain ancient forests and other desolate wilderness areas. Although unlikely, the few that remain might still know the teachings of the Bardic Colleges. If such rumors are true, it is likely that agents of the Old Faith might still pursue a balance between the forces of good and evil.

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