The Yazirian Warrior Bard

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by Tom Verreault

Origins of the Warrior Bard & Mercenary Minstrel

It is believed that the bard/minstrel of yazirian society dates back to Stone Hunter Age. The first bards may have been clan outcasts who made their way in yazirian society by musical talent. During this age, trespassing in a clan's territory could have dire consequences. However, a yazirian who announced his presence in a clan's territory by music and song would, often as not, be invited to entertain and receive a share in the meat at a clan gathering.  Yazirians with skill in song, poetry and music became an important institution performing important functions.

While each clan had keepers of the clan wisdom, it was the traveling bards that kept alive racial wisdom. As they traveled they gathered poetry, stories, and songs from the width and breadth of their society.  Passing it on orally, they preserved a vast anthology of material that would have been lost long before the development of writing and printing. They also served as emissaries, diplomats, and mail carriers as they were able to pass the boundaries of clan territories almost at will.

As yazirian society matured and evolved into its Metal Hunting Age and beyond, these bards and minstrels became so valued that a clan would adopt one, giving him a permanent home and treating him like a beloved clan elder. Usually this was an older, well-traveled bard with great status. It may also have been that the older bards needed to settle down feeling the effects of old age. A clan could gain great status by landing a famous bard in this way. During this period, bards became the councilors, advisers, and sages of yazirian society.

During the Stone and Metal Hunting Ages, clan wars would be more properly described as clan feuds. The ancient mythic ballads suggest that it was a bard that brought about the first clan war. With rising populations and improvements in science, clan war may have been inevitable but the female bard Callistra is universally credited with igniting the first true clan war.

Callistra, an unjustly disinherited yazirian, became a highly sought after bard even in her youth. Using both her feminine wiles and a prodigious talent to sing, she discovered she could move and influence warriors and hunters with ease. She even discovered methods and techniques to bring out the battle rage that lay dormant in even the most placid of yazirian. For some reason, be it revenge, jealousy, or spite, she stirred animosity for the clan of her youth amongst several neighboring clans. Eventually, at a clan gathering she whipped the hunters and warriors into a raging furry and ignited the first clan war. Other bards became involved and clans began to formally form alliances as distrust and suspicion spread. During this time, several clans ceased to exist, including Callistra's. She became an outcast of outcasts. She was reviled universally but still possessed the ability to beguile and influence. She spent the rest of her life traveling and stirring up strife. After her death she was viewed as a demi-goddess of war, spite, and revenge. Today she is a metaphor for viciousness, spite, envy, and revenge.

During the centuries of clan war, the yazirian bard evolved into the warrior bard or mercenary minstrel. Bards, being travelers, often had to rely on their own skill to eat and typically they were well skilled with a zamira or other weapons. Sometimes, in order to ingratiate themselves to a clan, they had to demonstrate their hunting skill. These bards came under pressure from clan leaders to stir the battle fury in the clan's hunters and warriors. What emerged from the clan wars was a bard that led in battle and could draw forth the battle fury of a clan's warriors. Eventually, there evolved a class of mercenary minstrels known as "sell song", who would be hired for specific campaigns and battles but with little connection or loyalty to the hiring clan.

In some regions warrior bards morphed into priests and shamans with several religious sects emerging as well. Unsurprisingly, in these religious sects Callistra was portrayed as a semi-demonic temptress.

The Yazirian Minstrel Tradition

Any Yazirian can take Minstrel Tradition Skill. It is treated as being part of the Biosocial PSA for purposes of determining EXP cost. A yazirian always pays the “in PSA” rate regardless of his actual PSA.

Minstrel Tradition Skill

This skill encompasses an encyclopedic knowledge of yazirian poetry, literature, and song, the ability to play musical instruments and sing, skill with the zamira, and comprehension of social dynamics.

Subskills
Knowledge of Yazirian history

(1/2 LOG + 10% per level)

Since yazirian history is encapsulated in song, poetry, and in latter times, literature, a yazirian bard has a chance to remember significant details and important pieces from any age up to and including the history of yazirians in the Frontier.

Musical instruments and singing

(+5% per level)

Yazirian minstrels are adept at playing musical instruments and singing and can use this subskill to enhance racial reaction or other skills. This skill can be used to prep other yazirians to enter battle rage by consciously singing songs of valor, honor, and battle prior to combat and throughout the day and at the moment of combat giving a stirring shout echoing a line from a song previously sung. Other yazirians gain a +5% per level of the bard as a bonus to their battle rage roll.

A bard with psycho-social skill can use music and song as part of his attempt to hypnotize gaining +5% per level of skill. Other social interactions that involve a skill or ability check can receive this bonus as long as it’s appropriate to include music and song.

A yazirian bard knows how to sing automatically as well as play a number of instruments determined by his level; level 1-2 is 1 instrument, level 3-4 is 2 instruments, and levels 5-6 is 3 instruments. After 6th level a bard may learn more instruments for 4 EXP each.

Racial Weapon skill

(1/2 DEX + 10% per level)

Yazirian minstrels all carry the traditional weapon, the zamira (note a referee may allow the other fan created racial weapon, the kha’dan). The use of racial weapons is rooted in tradition and expected of them.

Comprehension

(1/2 LOG + 10% per level)

Same as the vrusk racial ability but only works with yazirians. A yazirian bard observing a social interaction between two or more yazirians has a chance to understand what is going on between them.

Craft Traditional Yazirian Equipment

Much like the ability to craft tools of the AD Environmentalist Skill, the yazirian minstrel can craft traditional yazirian equipment and musical instruments depending on availability of materials.

 

Traditional Yazirian Equipment

Bower Tent

The bower tent is a temporary tent-like shelter that can be mounted on the side of a giant tree. Traditionally, it's made from wood poles, vine ropes, and hides but modern versions are light-weight and water-proof. The tent can be mounted above or beneath a large branch for extra stability. A yazirian with skills that allow him to craft items in survival situation can make one automatically depending on the availability of materials. Any yazirian without such a skill can make a LOG check to see if he remembers enough to attempt to make one and then must make a LOG check to succeed at doing it. The primitive version can be water-proofed with animal fat or plant oils but it’s not permanent nor 100% successful in a torrential downpour.

Primitive Bower Tent: 5kg, Approx. 10 Cr.

Modern Bower Tent: 1kg, 45 Cr.

Kesheck Ol-Tor

The ancient name is kesheck o-tor which is literally “kesheck tooth” since this war club is made from the teeth of that giant carnivore. The modern usage is o-tor. Modern versions of this weapon usually have a metal head since the kesheck is an endangered species. It is effectively a primitive mace.

Originally the weapon was made from a hardwood handle with kesheck teeth set into the club by drilling holes with a stone drill tip and a bow drill. The teeth were secured with a tough animal blood glue and thin leather wrap. The pattern for setting the teeth varied by region and clan but a common pattern was four set at 90 degrees from each other at the end of the club. Sometimes one was mounted on the end of the club if the owner desired to be able to throw it. The handle had a leather wrap and a loop for gripping or hanging it from an equipment harness. This facilitated climbing or secured the club during combat with a loop over the wrist.

This weapon was a status symbol for only the greatest hunters and warriors since tradition held that a warrior must kill the dangerous kesheck by himself. Once a warrior died who owned a kesheck the weapon became a ceremonial item for his clan. In ancient times it was believed that the spirit of both the kesheck and the warrior that made the weapon were imbued in the weapon.

A yazirian able to craft items can make similar weapons with claws or teeth from a suitable animal. This weapon conforms to the statistics for a club except the damage is 2d10 instead.

Kesheck Ol-Tor: 1kg, Considered priceless by the clan it belongs to but valued at 40,000 Cr by the CFM.
Modern Ol-Tor: 1kg, 30 Cr.

Brak'dan

The brak’dan is an ancient weapon made using similar construction techniques as the kesheck ol-tor. A straight or curved length of wood has a lengthwise groove carved into it and micro blades of obsidian or flint were glued in place with strong blood glue. Prone to dulling, the weapon was abandoned, once metal working was developed. A traditional brak’dan will dull on any attack roll of 95-00 or doubles and will lose 1d10 of damage. Modern names for the weapon are bakdan or kha’dan depending on dialect, region, or clan. The ancient form, brak-dan, derived from the root word dan, meaning blade. Modern bakdan are often simply referred to by their Pan Gal name: sword. Some very rare and ancient examples of this weapon used flat sharp aquatic carnivore teeth and were less prone to the dulling problem.

Tradional Brak’dan: 1kg, 75 Cr.

Modern Sword: 2kg, 30 Cr.

Olt'dan

The olt’dan derived from the root words for tooth and blade. In antiquity, when suitable teeth were available, ceremonial knives were carved from these teeth with micro blades of obsidian or flint glued into a carved groove. Many were made from kesheck teeth if the beast was killed by group effort. Ceremonial knives are still made in this fashion in modern times but kesheck teeth only become available as these animals die from natural causes. The Family of One tightly controls the availability of these teeth, favoring clans according to its own agenda.

Traditional Kesheck Olt’dan ceremonial blade: Considered priceless by its clan but valued by the CFM at 15,000 Cr.

Tradional Olt’dan (non-kesheck tooth): Considered priceless by its clan but valued by the CFM at 1,000 Cr.

Weapon

Damage

Mod

Defense

Mass

Cost

Traditional Kesheck Ol-Tor

2d10

+5

Inertia

1 kg

20,000

Modern

Ol-Tor

2d10

+5

Inertia

1 kg

30

Traditional Brak-dan

3d10

+10

Inertia

1 kg

75 (new)

Modern Bak’dan

3d10

+10

Inertia

2 kg

30

Olt’dan

1d10

+5

Inertia

n/a

20 (new)

Other Traditional Equipment

Ropes, waterskins, spears, fire starting bows, clay pots, inks, dyes, and paints from plant and mineral sources as well as hand crafted paint brushes.

Yazirian Musical Instruments

The Dumra (drum)

Dumra vary in size from small to huge two meter cylinders. The Great Dumra (2m diameter by 1m) is a staple for clan celebrations and saw military use toward the end of the Clan Wars. Traveling bards favored a bongo like dumra of 4 drums of decreasing size mounted in a curved shape that matched the contour of the waist called the singer's dumra. A singer's dumra usually comes with an attached bandolier to allow the bard to climb and glide with it securely attached to his back.

Another type of druma was the Ranga. It was 60 to 90 cm long and 20 cm wide and carried on a bandolier. It was played by beating the ends and the cylinder with the hands.

Great Druma: 30 kg, 500 Cr.

Ranga Druma: 1 kg, 30 Cr.

Other Druma: 1 kg, 20-40 Cr.

The Bollu (flutes)

A popular minstrel bollu is the sek bollu, literally 3 flute. The sek bollu is 3 flutes of decreasing size bound together with an ingenious mouth piece that allows the musician to redirect the air flow between the 3 flutes or into any combination of the 3 at the same time. This instrument is near impossible for any other race to master as it takes the long fingers of a yazirian with its extra knuckles to wrap around the instrument and properly play it. In the hands of a skilled yazirian, the sek bollu produces beautiful and even haunting melodies evoking battle and hunting.

Sek Bollu: n/a kg, 45 Cr.

Other Bollu: n/a kg, 25-35 Cr.

The Shem Dura (ukulele)

Literally, a stringed dumra, the shem dura is a small stringed instrument that has been compared to the human ukulele. It was developed by yazirian bards to be carried strapped across the back. After contact with humanity some musicians began using the bow from violins to play the shem dura.

Shem Dura: n/a kg, 75 Cr.

Horns

A wide variety of animal horns were used as horns, largely for martial accompaniment.

Traditional Yazirian Horns: n/a to 1 kg, 25-35 Cr.