The Let's Play Archive

The Bard's Tale

by Stabbey_the_Clown

Part 1: Introduction

Hello, I'm Stabbey the Clown, and welcome to the LP of "The Bard's Tale." I'm sure some of you immediately saw the title "The Bard's Tale" and jumped in expecting to see an LP of one of your favorite classics from the 1980's. This is not an LP of any of those games, Suzbotq is doing those. This is an LP of the 2005 release, starring Cary Elwes as The Bard, and Tony Jay as the Narrator.

Official Website
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It's a comedic game that parodies many common elements of RPG games, although it itself follows the conventions it mocks at times. I'll be doing this LP in-character as the Narrator, and I'll also add lines by the Bard and some of his companions from time-to time. I'll also occasionally make up some entirely non-existent scenes in the game for narrative purposes. My out-of-character comments will be in italics, but those will probably be rare, unless people request more information. Lines spoken by the Narrator and Bard will usually be preceded with the Book emoticon () and Bard Icon () respectively. (Thanks to Mr. Swoon and Schizoguy for making the emoticons).

This is an action RPG played from the third-person top-down perspective. We play The Bard (he has no other name), a traveling musician and scoundrel. He's not on a quest to save the world, he's on a quest for coin and cleavage.

Every second time we level up, we get a Talent. Talents are useful skills that typically increase the Bard's proficiency in combat - Some weapons require you to have learned a Talent, and others give you special moves, like area attacks or retaliating right after blocking. We'll get enough Talents to learn all the skills for up to three different weapons.

The weapons he can wield include a sword and shield, a 2-handed sword, a bow and a flail (and shield), as well as a dirk for dual-wielding. Each has an advantage of some kind: But it's best to only focus on two weapons. You can block almost any attack from any angle with any of your weapons (except an instrument), but you can only block for a second or two, so timing when to block is critical. Pick two weapons for the Bard to use:

Bow - Advantage:  You can shoot enemies off the screen 
- Disadvantage: No area effect attack. I'll be taking this anyway because it's needed in some missions.
Sword + Shield - Advantage:   Late-game shields have chances to heal the player when struck, late-game swords have special damage effects 
- Disadvantage: Lowest damage.
Sword + Dirk - Advantage: Fastest attacking speed,  Late-game weapons poison the enemies over time 
- Disadvantage:  Poison damage may not work on all enemies, poison takes time to kill 
Two-handed weapon - Advantage:  Two late-game special weapons are classified as Two-handed and use Two-Handed special attack Talents 
- Disadvantage: Slower attacks.
Flail + Shield - Advantage:  Enemies cannot block your attacks. Has a built-in chance to stun. 
- Disadvantage: Long wind-up time. Weak against lone wolves and anything that bashes the Bard.

Two-Handed weapons had the most votes at 8, followed by the Bow at 5, and Sword + Dirk at 4.

The Bard's main skill however, is with a musical instrument. With it, he can summon from one to four companions at a time to assist him in battle. The amount of companions he has, as well as his mana, is determined by the instrument he has.

This will be mainly a screenshot LP, but I'll include the cutscenes and an overly generous portion of dialogue in separate videos, including the alternate dialogue, because the voice-acting and comedy is probably the best part of the game. I will transcribe the dialogue in the thread, though, so the videos are entirely optional.

For this LP, I'll be accepting limited input about what to do and where to go, but I've recently replayed this game, and I'm using a walkthrough to make sure we don't miss anything, so I won't heed all the requests. You, the reader, will occasionally (but not always) get to choose whether to be snarky or nice to people in dialogue. These points will be marked with a screenshot with the two face icons greyed out, at which point I'll pause and wait for a few votes before posting the rest of the update.

The catch is that you don't know what the Bard will say. It doesn't always pay to be nice - some characters respond favorably if you're a jerk. Other times being snarky can cost you later. I'll show the option you chose as the "real" option with screenshots, and include videos of the options you didn't choose. I'll indicate the chosen "real" option by a screenshot where one of the face icons is golden.

Now, on with the show:


Welcome, children, to the Great Library. This is a very special library, I dare say you do not realize the privilege it is being here. There are thousands of books here, tales of terror and triumph, horror and heroism, danger and daring. If you'd like, I shall read you one, just one, mind you, if you can all agree on it.


What's that you found? ... Where did you find this book? I could have sworn I threw it in the rubbish. Look, you don't want me to read you that book, believe me. It's not... it's not appropriate for children. ... What do you mean 'good'? Look here, honestly, it's not a very good story. Are you sure you wouldn't rather read about the valiant knight Sir Alfred and his Quest to recover the Silver Sword? I quite like that one, you know.

What do you mean you all want to read this book? I must insist you choose something else. I'm putting my foot down. ... What's that you have in your hand? ... Where did you get those pictures? ... You shouldn't have gone into my office, you should know better. I am very cross with you.
What do you mean what am I doing? I'm ... I'm ... I'm HUGGING the sheep, yes, yes that's right. ... Because ... I just had a bath, that's why.

I'll - I'll tell you what children. If you hand those pictures over and promise to never talk about them to anyone, I'll read you the book you wanted. Let's begin...

The Bard was born to a working class family in a small country village one year after the new millennium had turned. His parents, Edmund and Adelaide, had married two years earlier, while Edmund was suffering from an ailment that was spreading throughout the globe like a plague. Many believed this "plague" was the means to the end of the world because of the new millennium approaching, but as it turns out, everyone just had a touch of the flu. Later, doctors would refer to this flu as The Millennium Virus.

The Bard was a good baby, but had an unusual infatuation with rattles. Because of this, he developed quite the knack of conning other babies out of their rattles. "It was amusing." His mother would say. "Every week he would have upwards of twenty rattles in his possession." He spend his formative years attending school and working on his parents' Grub Farm, neither of which seemed to inspire him, although it did inspire townsfolk to stay downwind.

A turning point in the Bard's life was his first exposure to music at age 12. While on an errand to fetch a bucket of lard for the week's meals, he was lured to the pub by the melodic sounds of plucked strings. He watched wide-eyed through the pub window for a good hour before a barmaid yelled, "Get away from my dressing room window, boy!" He then moved down to the window the music was coming from and listened with rapt attention while the band played to an appreciative audience. Periodically patrons would toss coins into a worn hat at the foot of the stage, and the Bard couldn't help but notice that the lute player's hands were actually clean, unlike his which were the color of grub excrement. That alone was incentive enough for the Bard to become a musician. As the band stopped playing to enjoy a round of ale, the Bard's eyes locked on the beautiful Isabel, the daughter of a nearby farmer, who was now the bar's serving wench.

It was at this time the Bard understood his true calling, prompting him to run back to the window of the barmaid's dressing room. The very next day, a black-eyed Bard rummaged through some wood scraps and constructed a crude, one-stringed instrument and learned to play the big hit of the time, "It's Bad Luck To Be You." To earn money and to gain a musical education, he performed odd jobs at the pub, such as killing rats in the cellar (or the barmaid's dressing room), and made friends with the traveling musicians who filled its stage.

Near the conclusion of his schooling, the bard felt he had no choice but to leave his school and his village. This was of course because the school and village asked him to leave. It seems the Bard had made a pass at every lassie in town and actually was in the process of starting the second pass. Also, his past caught up with him when classmates in his Warlocks & Witches class (the first year the class went co-ed) conjured up a spell to release blocked childhood memories. One by one, many of the Bard's classmates began remembering being conned out of their rattles when they were small children. The Bard barely escaped with his own rattles that day.

On the outside, the Bard's parents were bitterly disappointed in their son, but deep down, well... they were bitterly disappointed in their son. "I don't know what is worse," his father complained. "that he is so incompetent that he can't even take over the family grub farm, or the sounds that come out of that blasted lute of his!" His first journey took him to a neighboring village where be became apprentice to a barrel maker, enabling him to earn some money to pursue his music career at night. While making barrels, his mind drifted off to thoughts of music making and women, or was that music and woman-making? At any rate, this lack of focus at work resulted in some shoddy barrel making which would soon come back to haunt him. His nights were filled with visits to the town pub, plying his preferred trade of music for a flagon of ale and hopefully the favor of any lasses who might be within earshot.

His tenure as a barrel maker came to an abrupt end when his barrel mentor Henry, the proprietor of The Barrel Barn, ran him out of town for producing barrels that shattered with a mere whack of a sword. "A key won't even be safe in these things!" Henry screamed while chasing the Bard down the street with his sword drawn. Out of money and out of women, the Bard officially entered his career as a roaming musician and adventurer by wandering the land, every day looking for a way to secure a bed and a plate of food. His progress took him northward hoping to find new pawns in new towns, those unfamiliar with his trickery of separating them from their silver. With all the Bard's wits and all the Bard's talents, he was able to get by. He couldn't eat, and had to go to sleep on the ground, but he got by. Just when he was about to give up and head back to the grub farm, fate stepped in...or actually kind of slithered in.

During an extermination session, to the Bard's amazement, a rat spoke to him in an elegant English tongue and pleaded for his life. He wasn't really amazed that the rat was speaking to him, but that it was speaking to him after only two mugs of ale. The rat eloquently told his story - he had been a talented bard himself once, a refined gentleman actually, and a bit of a gold-digger, when one of his conquests, a disgruntled mistress, turned out to be a sorceress. She enacted her revenge by relegating him to life as a rat - a permanent reminder of his true nature. After the Bard heard this, he had only one question. "Her name wasn't Sheila, was it?" After being relieved his previous night's conquest wasn't the same woman, he then questioned the speaking rat as to why he should spare his life. The rat explained that he could teach the Bard a tune that, when played, would magically summon him out of midair, a talent he once had when in human form. He then went on to explain that only the most talented musicians can work such magic, and that he had witnessed the Bard's talented play. "Who knows," he said to the Bard, "you may be able to use me as a ruse to earn a few coins." With the thought of riches rushing to the Bard's head, a beautiful partnership was born between the rat...and the little rodent creature. The Bard had one simple request of his new friend the talkative rat: speak again, and he'd die before he could finish the sentence. "I agre..." responded the rat.

The Bard continued his trek through the countryside, using his now-silent rat to disturb patrons at local taverns and pubs and subsequently dissipating him for a modest reward. Searching for new towns to ply his trade took the Bard across the sea northward to the Orcades Islands, a mystical land storied for its unusual creatures and potent brew. After touring several settlements the Bard found himself in the village of Houton, outside the local watering hole "The Drunken Rat", and that is where our story begins.