the DM: Okay, at the end of the hallway is a stone door with no visible locks, latches, or opening mechanisms. Carved into the stone is an inscription that reads, “What is the sound of silence?”

the bard, instantly:  ♪ Hello darkness my old friend ♪

DM: …………………Oh my god. I forgot-

bard:  ♪ I’ve come to talk with you again ♪

DM: No, that’s not the answer- 

bard:  ♪ Because a vision softly creeping ♪

DM: Here, I’ve got my notes, let me change the riddle-

bard:  ♪ Left its seeds while I was sleeping  ♪

DM: Please-

bard, emphatically now:  ♪ AND THE VISION THAT WAS PLANTED IN MY BRAIN  ♪

DM: IT’S NOT-

bard:  ♪ STILL REMAINS ♪

DM: I’M BEGGING-

bard:  ♪ WITHIN THE SOUND ♪

DM: PLEASE-

bard:  ♪ OF SILENCE ♪

DM, with a visibly broken spirit: …Yeah, okay. The door swings open.

Nouns of Assembly, D&D-style

Sure, when cows get together, it’s a herd.  When geese get together, it’s a gaggle.  But what happens when paladins get together?

A few proposals:

  • A pack of Barbarians
  • A symphony of Bards
  • A congregation of Clerics
  • A grove of Druids
  • A troop of fighters
  • A cloister of Monks
  • A plague of Necromancers
  • A pride of Paladins
  • A quiver of Rangers
  • A murder of Rogues
  • A flock of Sorcerers
  • A school of Wizards
  • A cloud of Warlocks  
  • A coven of Witches.

The “useless bard” meme is so weird to me. In purely game-mechanical terms, the Dungeons & Dragons bard class has ranged from “a solid B tier” to “grotesquely overpowered” throughout the game’s history, but the one thing it’s never been is useless. It’s like its reputation is based on a purely hypothetical version of the class - one that does nothing but stand around singing - that’s never actually existed in any published iteration of the game.

So I had a thought about Necromancers...

Usually, one thinks of the opposite or natural foe of a Necromancer as being some sort of white mage or cleric (or sometimes paladin).

But what if the natural enemy of the Necromancer is the Bard?

In combat there’s no contest, but the secret of bards is they weave the big magic, they weave the story-magic and the song-spell. And when a dwarven mine collapses or a dragon scours a city or the Edmund Fitzgerald wrecks in a storm there’s a bard there to weave a mournful folk-song about the event. 

The bard’s song or tale memorializes the lost but it also binds the event into a tale, the wild chaos of life and death tamed by the structure of narrative and verse. All sealed with an ending and reinforced by the retelling. 

And when the Necromancer pulls forth his scepter of bone and calls to the souls of the lost to rise in his service, he receives no answer. The dead do not rise because that’s not how the story ends. Too many people have heard it. Too many voices have sung it. The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead