Romanos was not born with a good singing voice nor was he a talented reader. In fact, on one Christmas Eve during services he read so badly that another reader had to take his place. He was devastated.
The next day, grief-stricken, he went before an icon of the Mother of God. He was then granted a vision, where the Virgin gave him a scroll which he was commanded to eat. Thus, he was given the gift of understanding, composition and hymnography as well as a gorgeous singing voice. That evening he sang his first hymn (called a kontakia, in reference to the Virgin's scroll). We still sing this hymn in the Orthodox Church every Christmas:
On this day the Virgin beareth the Transcendent in Essence; to the Unapproachable, the earth doth offer a small cave; Angels join in choir with shepherds in giving glory; with a star the Magi travel upon their journey; for our sakes is born a young Child, He that existed before the ages as God.
This is a reminder that there is one historical/literary archetype that the three/four core classes of D&D don't necessarily do very well — the bard. One could argue that a bard can be accomplished by simply re-skinning any of those core classes. St. Romanos himself seems to be a model for re-skinning the cleric, for example.
Personally, the bard is one of those class concepts that really intrigues me. There is a lot of potential here — well beyond the poofy-sleeved-lyre-playing-fop. For example, I would argue that King Henry V, as portrayed by Shakespeare, is a bard. His oratory prowess inspires his small, rag-tag band of an army to smash the superior French force despite being vastly outnumbered. I have always been interested in playing a bard in a similar light.
Unfortunately, I have never been satisfied with any version of the bard in any version of D&D or its derivatives. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something in the concept, the mechanics or just the way D&D does combat just doesn't do the bard justice. Rather than have fun with the character (which I have managed to do with virtually every other class in the game), I always seem to feel that something just doesn't work.
Therefore, I am going to end with a pair of questions:
- What is your favorite version of the bard class and why?
- Is there another class concept that you feel D&D has never done justice?