And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…
For as long as there have been people singing off-key and getting the facts wrong in important news stories, there have been bards slowly shaking their heads in frustration. Masters of music, story and magic, bards come from nearly every walk of life and are respected as entertainers, teachers, and reporters of the news of the day, as many remote areas can go months without hearing news of the outside world.
The profession of the bard can be rewarding one, albeit not always in coin; for this reason, teenagers set on becoming bards invariably disappoint their parents, who wanted them to go into carpentry, law, or medicine; something with a future. Nevertheless, the pull of music cannot be denied and there have been many bards whose songs and stories have helped shape the world.
There are two great bardic institutions on the continent of Ardris: The Ber-Zal Conservatory, located in the Duchy of Osapal in Westhame, and The Royal Imperial School of Musicology And Didactics (or RISMAD), which is located in the city of Nabbai in the Imperial Protectorate of Ghal-Nabbar. Of the two, The Ber-Zal Conservatory has a greater reputation for producing well-rounded graduates and blends its instruction in music with a magical curriculum, whereas RISMAD students are taught only the songs and musical theories approved by the Imperial Protectorate and often have difficulty finding work as bards; they tend to work side jobs after graduation, usually involving coffee shops where they can put their artistic skills to work by drawing pictures of leaves, roses and snowflakes in cappuccino foam.
Many bards take up the life of an adventuring bard, going from town to town, performing at local inns and occasionally getting swept up into an adventure of some sort. Along the way, bards learn myriad skills, some of which end up being useful, such as lockpicking, pick-pocketing, forgery and other less savory abilities, such as performing in dinner theatre. As their repertoire and reputations grow, many bards seek out patrons to fund their lifestyle, so as to commit themselves to their music. Some of the more famous of these include Nsoka ManyDrums of Tarokka, Bors Borsheall of the Imperial Protectorate and Aneira Summerleaf, the Royal Bard of Westhame.
The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 2 (Attender, The to Bespectacled Otter), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.