DUAL AND MULTIPLE USE EQUIPMENT: MUNDANE AND MAGICAL
A friend of mine and I were having a discussion last night and this morning on primitive bow-making and historical facts. She informed me that ancient men and later frontiersmen used their bow staves as primitive one stringed lyres (or musical bows) and their arrow shafts as primitive bows to play very basic music. See one reference below.
This idea only makes great sense and you can easily see how this would have led to to the development of primitive musical bows and lyres specifically for music.
Anyway this gave me both a gaming and literary idea. In gaming you would have a bow specifically designed for Bards (or that they create themselves as part of their unique gear – like a warrior who forges his own sword) that can easily serve as a modified musical instrument that would allow him to both enchant enemies and opponents and entertain or in some way heal or bless allies and companions. A magical version would then have both combat and Bardic advantages, and it is so very natural since such equipment could easily serve dual or even multiple functions (it might also serve as a 4 to 5 foot pole or as a climbing rod/tool when unbent or in stave form).
As a literary device for my novels it could serve the same basic functions but, of course, would not be described in that way. There is a Welsh bard in one of my novels who would naturally easily employ such a bow.
This is hardly the first device or weapon or piece of gear or equipment I’ve made use of for dual or multiple purposes (either in real life, games, or in literature or poetry) but it is a rather fascinating and new employment for me. Bow staves as musical instruments.
Now all of that being said what items do you use in your games or writings or even in real life as dual-use pieces of equipment or gear?
Further Reference: Work Songs, Plutarch, and the Scythians
The other day someone on a message board asked me what kind of song(s) I would compose for my new Bard (Talisfar) character to use during play. This is the song I wrote – to be played upon the lyre.
A HOARD DID I ENCOUNTER – THE LYRE’S SONG
My gentle lords and ladies fill now up your cups
I’ll sing to you of ransom even as you sup
Far away in foreign lands I chanced upon a hoard
It was buried in the Earth full of rich reward
A cairn did I encounter, eat up now be free!
I’ll tell you of the horror I alone did see
A dreadful restless spirit lingered hard nearby
I sought a way around it, no passage could I find
I sat upon the cold earth pondering my fate
Sleep descended on me even as I ate
Tired I grew unnaturally, close the air did seem
Songs did fill the moonless night, the spirit so did sing
Fatigue did overtake me as the spirit sang
I realized only all too late the spirit’s trap had sprang
I was at her mercy; her cold touch fell on me
To all I was oblivious with no hope to flee
I do not know how I escaped, why she spared me so
She let me keep my breath and life, I was free to go
Yet her touch had spoiled me, all my goods were gone
I awoke with nothing at the coming of the dawn
As you drink and fête yourself now you know my lot
For you are all exhausted but I am fresh and hot
There are hoards of treasure, many things of gold
Some are far way you see and some are close I’m told
My gentle lord and ladies fill now up your dreams
Do not worry for yourselves while this song I sing
Yet, my performance now is ended, I’ve made my last appeal
As you dwell in slumber then away to home I’ll steal…
TALISFAR THE BARD – for background on how Talisfar was developed see this post
Talisfar – Talisfar is a Half-Elven Bard. He grew up as an orphan in a monastery but upon reaching the age of 16 he chafed at the strictly regimented life among the monks and decided to strike out on his own. So one night, not long after his 16th birthday, he ran away from the monastery and travelled for a while doing odd jobs. As a result of this aimless meandering he got the nickname of Wendle (the Wandering One).
Eventually he met up with an old Skald named Verestön who travelled from place to place performing for minor nobility. Talisfar became Verestön’s assistant until the age of almost twenty at which time he had been trained as an apprentice Bard. Talisfar then went off on his own and for a short period of time also earned his living as a Skald performing for minor nobility but he eventually began composing his own poems and lays and writing them down as he had learned to read and write at the monastery.
At the age of 21 Talisfar become nostalgic and went back to the monastery where he was raised but by that time the old monk who had previously been Abbot was dead. Nonetheless several of the other monks recognized him and he stayed two more years with the monks learning religious and choir songs, chant, composing poetry, and learning the healing arts from the monks.
One night the monks rescued a wounded, lordless knight who had been nearly killed in a nearby skirmish. Talisfar helped doctor him back to health and as result they became good friends. So at the age of almost 24 Talisfar left the monastery again to squire for this lordless knight, named Oscaré, and became a wandering adventurer in the knight’s employ. They travelled and adventured together for approximately two years until Oscaré was killed while on guard one night by a poisoned arrow in the neck, possibly murdered by an old enemy named Sebelien.
Talisfar has now become a solo adventurer (though he is not averse to joining a group of like-minded companions) who wanders the land seeking wealth and fame as both an explorer of dangerous ruins and a well-respected poet and songmaster. He is older for a beginning solo adventurer (though he often wandered alone as a boy), being by now 27 years of age, but he is well versed in many forms of music, song, and verse (from romantic and personal works to religious and choral works), he is a very adept healer and physician, and he is very good at single combat having squired for and fought alongside Oscaré for nearly two years. He is also fluent in several different languages, having learned them to master the songs, poetry, and music of various peoples.
Talisfar does not dress as a typical Bard but wears very plain, non-descript workman’s clothing that is all very dark green in color. While wandering on his own as a Bard Talisfar often introduced himself to the nobles he performed for as the Greene Wendler (the Green Wanderer) and this has become shortened to another nickname, Greenwend. So, depending upon who Talisfar is speaking with and how much he trusts them he will often introduce himself as Talisfar, Wendle, or Greenwend. In addition, when needed, Talisfar has adopted several other names as aliases, usually ones taken from his dead companions, such as Verestön, Oscaré, Folles (his former Abbot), or Yarmuse (his dead father’s name).
In personality Talisfar is very loyal to those he befriends. He is also of keen mind and very observant. He has a superb memory, being able to mesmerize and then recite new songs and poems and musical scores almost overnight or by a single hearing. He can speak, read, and write in several different languages. He gets along very well with most people, being by nature relaxed and easy-going. When angered, however, he can hold long grudges and can be quite dangerous.
He lives simply, almost aesthetically. He will feast and dine and drink in company or while performing, if this is expected of him, but otherwise he is very spartan in both dress and behavior. He is athletic and charming and women often admire him and seek his favors but he has of yet formed no permanent attachments and never been in love or sought to be in love, though he is an excellent troubadour and minstrel on the subject of love. Though he forms deep attachments with the few friends he has ever had he is at heart a wandering and restless loner.
He is very generous and although he seeks to be famous as a Bard and wants to be a wealthy and powerful person he is neither attached to nor in love with money. He sees money merely as a tool and a path towards his aims.
Being an orphan from a young age (he lost both his parents to plague at the age of 6) he has always felt alone and unattached even when well cared for by others, such as the monks who raised and educated him. Nevertheless Talisfar still feels (maybe because he was an orphan he especially feels) great loyalty towards and gratitude for those who helped raise, educate, and train him, such as the monks, the skald Verestön, and the knight Oscaré.
Talisfar is very idealistic and takes it very personally if someone he knows or has befriended is harmed or killed. He feels it is his personal responsibility to defend and save those he has befriended and those who have befriended him. He is of an independent and self-reliant nature but he would never abandon a friend in need.
His most obvious flaws are that he will often overlook or excuse bad behavior in his friends and companions because they are his friends and companions, and his long obsessive quest to seek vengeance against the murderer of Oscaré. Even though there is little actual proof that Oscaré was murdered by his old enemy Sebelien, Talisfar is certainly convinced this is the case and has spent much time and treasure in an attempt to track down and enact vengeance against Sebelien as the suspected killer of his friend.
As a result of this obsessive vendetta Talisfar will often place both himself and innocent others in great danger in an attempt to achieve such vengeance, and eliminate the killer of his friend Oscaré.
This week I will be introducing the first three Characters I have decided to create for the new Dungeons and Dragons game. (And hopefully the last characters for a good long while as I intend to build these three individuals up carefully and fully.) If these characters are successful I may also conscript them as minor or secondary characters that will appear in some of my novels.
I developed these characters using the new Character Development Rules, and the Personality and Background suggestions in chapter four of the new Basic Game (Rules). Once I receive my new books I will further modify their development based on the new information available, but these are my initial attempts at character development for the game.
I will also be adding to these characters using rules I have developed such as those regarding Legacies and Heirlooms, but I will discuss those in future posts.
By the way I should add a note at this point that I am very, very pleased with the new Personality and Background guidelines and think that these guidelines have broad applications and implications well beyond D&D. They are simple but very well developed, logical, efficient, and functional guidelines and with just a modicum of effort could easily be adapted towards character development in fiction and literature or any number of other fields (screenwriting, for instance). I will later write an article of my review of how the new D&D approaches character development which is to me the most significant advance this edition makes to the overall game.
The very first two characters are very similar to me (in many ways) in both nature and in background. I haven’t rolled up any statistics for them as of yet but shall after I receive my first copy of the new Player’s Handbook.
As I said using these rules I have developed three new D&D characters – Talisfar the Bard, Okæn the Ranger/Rogue, and Endrêdge the Fighter/Warlock/Cleric.