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BardicLore artwork

Truly, the pen is mightier than the sword. Just think of how many people have been sent to their deaths at the stroke of a pen, how many marriages have crumbled because of a romantic poem, and how many plans have been ruined due to a clever lie. Those who pursue the subtle arts of bardic lore understand the true value of people, wielding inspiration like a blade and intrigue like a shield. With a pen in your hand, a sword on you belt, and a song (or perhaps a maiden) on your lips, how will you write your own legend?

Examples of BardicLore characters include:

Bardic Lore

Boost Morale

(Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • When you rest for the night, you can bolster each of your present allies to do something during the next day. Decide immediately what they're bolstered to do
  • Descriptions
  • exaggerating the day's adventures
  • cracking jokes
  • playing tunes
  • telling a story
  • keeping spirits high
  • Duel

    (Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • You can challenge someone to a duel. Others can't interfere with your duel until one of you wins the duel
  • Descriptions
  • telling them to prepare to die
  • challenging them
  • clashing swords and grinning at each other
  • Feint

    (Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • You can make someone hesitate, flinch, or suffer a moment of doubt
  • Descriptions
  • surprising them with impressive swordplay
  • insulting their mother
  • upstaging them
  • mocking them
  • Flair for the Dramatic

    (Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • Whenever things take a turn for the worse and you're in serious danger, you're bolstered
  • Descriptions
  • spitting out blood and laughing
  • showing your fighting spirit
  • improvising
  • a last-ditch effort
  • Examples
    Serious Danger
  • some of your allies have been defeated
  • you're falling to your doom
  • you're surrounded
  • Inspire

    (Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • You can bolster an ally to fight
  • Descriptions
  • giving a riveting speech
  • encouraging others
  • performing
  • singing a tune
  • playing an instrument
  • Raise Spirits

    (Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • Alcoholic drinks heal you as if they're healing potions (refer to the Alchemy theme), except they give you the condition "Drunk" instead of "Hungry and Tired"
  • Descriptions
  • drinking to dull the pain
  • celebrating with a cold one
  • chugging
  • being a typical adventurer
  • Examples
  • a bottle of wine
  • a massive stein of ale
  • a flask of liquor
  • a line of shots
  • a few mixed drinks
  • Steal the Spotlight

    (Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • Collaborate on how you charge this trait. Spend the charge to steal the GM's Bad Tale and turn it into a Good Tale
  • Descriptions
  • shouting over them
  • ding something dramatic
  • countering them in a spectacular display
  • Examples
  • do something unnecessarily risky
  • gain a crowd's attention
  • steal all the credit
  • gain a reputation
  • Swashbuckler

    (Bardic Lore | Combat)

  • Gain the defense "Swashbuckler ☐☐" Mark it when you suffer a Bad Tale while taking unnecessary risks
  • Descriptions
  • flair and panache
  • leaping head-first into danger
  • your devil-may-care attitude
  • laughing
  • Examples
    Unnecessary Risks
  • swinging over a lava pit
  • fighting on a ledge
  • insulting a deity
  • trying to ride a dragon
  • According to Legend

    (Bardic Lore | Exploration)

  • When you start a quest or enter a new region, tell the GM that according to legend, something powerful exists in the area. The GM will give you a cryptic clue about where to find it. If you find the source of the clue, you locate the legendary power
  • Descriptions
  • sharing a story you heard
  • mentioning a rumor
  • putting together clues from history books
  • Examples
  • where two trees intertwine
  • the deepest and darkest part of the cave
  • surrounded by a thousand corpses
  • Power
  • lost treasure
  • magic shrine
  • portal to another world
  • underground dungeon
  • unhatched dragon eggs
  • Comedy and Tragedy

    (Bardic Lore | Exploration)

  • Show your gaming group a "Comedy and Tragedy" token. At any point, give it to the GM to tell a free Good Tale; take it from the GM to have the GM tell a free Bad Tale. Start each session with the token in your possession
  • Descriptions
  • how your fortune turns
  • an exciting plot twist
  • a shift in tone
  • poetic justice
  • how fate intervenes
  • Dramatic Entry

    (Bardic Lore | Exploration)

  • When you make a dramatic, flashy, or dangerous entrance, you're bolstered to do anything. If a lot of people watched your entrance, you're bolstered again
  • Descriptions
  • swinging in on a rope
  • walking out of an explosion
  • riding in on a unicorn
  • kicking down the doors
  • Jack-of-All-Trades

    (Bardic Lore | Exploration)

  • You can gain any trait as a temporary trait (max 1). Collaborate on how that trait is flawed
  • Descriptions
  • pulling an ace out of your sleeve
  • getting beginner's luck
  • improvising
  • seeing your training pay off
  • Examples
  • it's imprecise and messy
  • it's exhausting
  • it's less potent
  • you need a special tool
  • it's loud and obvious
  • Story Teller

    (Bardic Lore | Exploration)

  • While investigating something, you can announce that you heard an interesting story about it. Everyone at the gaming table quickly decides how much time they want to devote to an interlude (refer to chapter 6). GM an interlude. Whatever happens in the interlude is what actually happened with whatever you were investigating
  • Descriptions
  • telling a story around a campfire
  • recalling a local legend
  • telling your friends a tale at a tavern
  • A Night to Forget

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • Whenever you engage in drunken revelry, you can announce it's a night to forget. The GM tells you where you wake up and gives you 1 condition. Write on your character sheet that you have 1 fuzzy memory (max 5). Cross off a fuzzy memory to suddenly remember what you did that night, and how your actions that night somehow benefit your current situation
  • Descriptions
  • buying drinks for everyone
  • going bar hopping
  • visiting the brothel
  • throwing a wild party
  • Examples
  • you've been here before
  • you seduced the evil villain
  • there's a magic item in your pocket
  • Cameo

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • When you earn an NPC's respect and goodwill, write their name on your character sheet. Cross of their name to have them show up
  • Descriptions
  • bumping into them randomly
  • them saving you in the knick of time
  • spotting them in a crowd
  • Fame and Infamy

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • Collaborate on a reputation for yourself (it doesn't have to be true). Whenever you like, others know your reputation, believe at least part of it, and act accordingly
  • Descriptions
  • showing a signature scar or tattoo
  • giving your full name
  • saying "don't you know who i am?"
  • Examples
  • assassin who never fails
  • magically cursed
  • the land's greatest duelist
  • a legend in the bedroom
  • First Impressions

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • When you first meet someone, the GM must answer 1 question about them
  • Descriptions
  • reading their body language
  • going with your instincts
  • getting a general vibe
  • noticing a detail
  • Honeyed Words

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • You are far more charming and convincing. You can sweet-talk others to do things that they would normally refuse. Collaborate on how your charm exceeds normal limitations
  • Descriptions
  • giving an impassioned speech
  • calling in a favor
  • subtly manipulating someone
  • being charming
  • Rumors

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • At any point, you can have the GM tell you 2 facts and 1 lie about whatever you're investigating
  • Descriptions
  • overhearing gossip
  • trading for information
  • remembering rumors you heard while in town
  • Small World

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • You can recognize an NPC as an old acquaintance. Explain how you know each other and how they feel about you
  • Descriptions
  • recognizing your old stomping grounds
  • looking up an address
  • hearing so-and-so is in town
  • Examples
    Old Acquaintance
  • drinking buddy
  • cousin
  • former adventuring partner
  • old flame
  • business partner
  • Wingman

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • When you enter someone's good graces, bolster an ally to socialize with that person
  • Descriptions
  • chatting up your friend
  • telling them what to say
  • lightening the mood
  • making introductions
  • Villainous Monologue

    (Bardic Lore | Interaction)

  • You can make someone start rambling about whatever's important to them until they reveal too much
  • Descriptions
  • letting them think they've won
  • buying them a drink
  • shouting "you'll never get away with this!"

  • © 2023-2023




    Physical contact and adjacent spaces


    Several steps, or 3 spaces


    A room, or 5 spaces


    A building, or 10 spaces

    Very Far

    Several buildings, or 20+ spaces



    Players can spend their bolsters to increase a related roll. The GM can spend bolsters to make a PC decrease a related roll. Unspent bolsters eventually expire.

    Refer to Chapter 2 of the rules for more about increasing/decreasing rolls


    Traits that tell you to collaborate are intentionally vague and ambiguous. Work with the GM to create a balanced and thematically appropriate effect. Collaborations should be an ongoing process. For example, you may discover that an effect is too strong or weak after a few sessions, so you and the GM should rebalance the effect


    A condition is anything that temporarily affects your capabilities or status.

    Refer to Chapter 3 of the rules for more about conditions


    Defenses make you more resilient during Challenges. Defenses grant one or more boxes, which function the same as Challenge Number boxes. However, defenses have unique requirements that allow you to mark them only in specific situations


    A minion is a creature that serves another creature through a contract.

    Refer to Chapter 7 of the rules for more about minions


    A shrine is a divine conduit that allows a specific deity or set of deities to affect the mortal world.

    Refer to the Faith theme of the rules for more about shrines

    Temporary Item Trait

    A temporary item trait is any item trait that you did not spend XP to acquire. Temporary item traits come from a variety of source: magic items, potions, spells, etc. They're free and don't affect the XP cost of buying other item traits. You can't upgrade temporary item traits

    Temporary Trait

    A temporary trait is any that you did not spend XP to acquire. Temporary traits come from a variety of source: magic items, potions, spells, etc. They're free and don't affect the XP cost of buying other traits. You can't upgrade temporary traits


    Worldbuilding a collaborative process wherin the players and the GM work together to create something about the game world. One person is in charge of the worldbuilding event, and the other players support that player.

    Refer to Chapter 6 of the rules for more about world building


    A zone is an area of effect. If a trait affects a zone, collaborate on logically fitting zones that you can create with that trait, and write them into your trait. Example zones:
    Blast: An explosion that affects one space and adjacent spaces. Blast attacks can be melee or ranged.
    Cone: A 90° cone that extends out to a Close distance. Cone attacks are considered to be melee.
    Line: This is a line of spaces that extends out to a Far distance. Line attacks are considered to be ranged.


    Tavern Tales Toolkit 0.0.1-alpha-5

    Based on the Kickstarter 1.0.1 version of Tavern Tales with minor modifications


    • Metamagic has been renamed Augment and moved from Arcane traits into General traits
    Tavern Tales, the Tavern Tales logo, and any other associated artwork were orginally © 2014-2017 by Dabney Bailey, and has since been released under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license


    Tavern Tales KS 1.0.1 on Fandom Tavern Tales Discord