Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Fossegrim Bard

The fiddler had his chair leaned back against the wall. He was quiet, smoking his pipe and resting. A pair of boys approached tentatively, each pushing the other forward. When the man opened his green eyes, his gaze pinned them both to the floor.

"What would you have of me?" The fiddler asked.

"We were wondering..." the first boy said.

"If you could teach us your magic," the second finished.

The fiddler smiled. It was a small, sad smile. He took his pipe out of his mouth, and when he tapped out the ashes the boys could see the scars across his fingers. Scars that no mortal instrument had left behind.

"If you want to play like I play, boys, you need to find a river, and give it a goat or three," the fiddler said. "But listen to me well. The music may be a gift to give to others, but it's a burden to keep inside yourself."

When she tells you to play, you had better damn well have your tune.

The Fossegrim's Gift

When we hear the phrase spontaneous caster, too often we just assume it's a thing they just discovered they could do one day. Like a natural talent that never really came up until you decided to give it a try. Creating music takes years of training, work, and experience, though. Taking it to the level of magic might take something more.

Something like a fossegrim.

For folks not familiar with the term, a fossegrim is a Scandinavian spirit or troll connected to rivers. Often found near waterfalls and mill races, these spirits played the most beautiful music you'd ever heard as the wind and water blew across their harp or fiddle strings. And, if you gave the fossegrim the right offering (typically mutton, often stolen, left on a Thursday), then the spirit would teach you to play. If your offering was small, it would only teach you to tune the instrument, but if it was satisfactory, it would draw your fingers over the strings until they bled. After that moment, you would play with the skill and supernatural beauty of the water spirit.

Who Put The Music In You?

A bard's music isn't just the talent to play, dance, or sing; it's a supernatural ability to make magic. And there are all kinds of legends about how someone might acquire the gift of music, if they were determined to get it.

Of course I give lessons. The first one's free!
Did your bard make an offering to a forest spirit to sing with the beauty of the birds? Did he beat a devil, and wind up with unexpected consequences? Did she apprentice to a master bard, and learn at the feet of someone who passed on lost songs or forgotten teachings? Or did they go into the depths of a necropolis, and summon the shades of long-dead masters, demanding they share their knowledge with the living?

There are all sorts of different ways this could go. The gist is, though, that your bard didn't just wake up one day with a song in their heart. They worked for it, sacrificed for it, and in some cases didn't realize until too late just what a heavy burden being a music maker can be.

For more advice on bringing a signature touch to this class, check out 5 Tips For Playing Better Bards.

That's all for this installment of Unusual Character Concepts. Hopefully this one gave you something to chew over, whether you're a player, or a dungeon master.

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1 comment:

  1. This is such a cool concept for a bard. I did something similar with a Sandman bard, where the character attempted to take knowledge from the Song of Spheres so they could rally an army against an overwhelmingly powerful conqueror. She failed to learn Desna's heavenly song, but learned how to steal magic. I've played a decent number of bards, but that was by far my favorite