This is part 3 of 4 in our Bardcore Magic series.
Once upon a time, in a time that once was and has yet to happen still, a bard sat at the edge of the campfire, admiring the flickering flames. The healing warmth, the encouragement to keep going, and the gentle reminder that, uncontrolled, the flames would burn them to ashes if just given the chance.
This is the power of the bard’s story.
We’ve spent generations gathering around the fire and telling stories with each other, but those tales first begin as the stories we tell ourselves.
In D&D and other TTRPGs, bards use the power of stories to buff and inspire their friends as well as debuff and weaken their foes. They might employ some Vicious Mockery or share a Song of Rest. The magic of stories is woven into these acts.
In real life, we also see the power of these stories. Our own narratives instill in us a sense of our strengths and capabilities and the moments when we’ve failed. We create villains just as easily as we can minimize them as nuisances in our adventures. Much like the bards, we are in control of the narrative.
So what stories will you tell? And what stories do you need to invent to shape your reality?
Here are some stories you can try to tell for yourself…
The Tale of Strength - You are capable of incredible feats when your integrity, resolve, and power are in alignment. You can move mountains and stand your ground.
The Creative Yarn - Creativity unfurls from you like a ball of yarn waiting to be spun into something beautiful. Stories of your creativity show all that you can make when you put your mind to it.
The Cliffhanger Chronicle - You are in the middle of your story right now, waiting for the next chapter. The possibilities are endless and everything up to this point has prepared you for what is destined to happen next.
The Home Wayfinder - You lost your way for a while, but you are finding your way back home where you feel restored, clear in purpose, and ready for whatever adventures come your way next. Arriving here has taught you the lessons on how to always find your way back home.
These stories are just a sample of the narratives you can create and explore. Find the ones that frame your present as a place you can learn from and have agency to decide and influence your future. Remember, your story isn’t finished until your last breath – the pen is always in your hand.
Reflect on the stories you find yourself telling over and over again. Are they stuck in the past? Have you invented any new stories at all?
Or perhaps most dangerous, the Catalog of Grievances – the endless list of harms, frustrations, villains, saboteurs, and sources of blame that fuel our vent sessions, our bitter reflections, and leave us feeling worse than before the tale began.
A wise friend offered this wisdom:
You can tell such a tale three times. Then either do something about it, or stop repeating the story.
Just in the same way that stories that affirm who we want to become can buff us, these self-destructive narratives are a self-inflicted debuff. However, if you have experienced injustice from systems of harm - racism, homophobia, white supremacy, capitalism, or colonialism - this advice is not for you. The destructive stories are the ones that enforce these beliefs because they make us feel powerless, small, and as if our stories don’t matter.
Your story does matter. We’re demanding that you tell it for all to hear.
For the same flame that burns can heal. We just have to focus on the hearthfire and the stories born from it.
So when you find yourself facing the same narrative, the same perspective, the same status quo, remember the bard at the fire waiting to tell you a new story they invented just for you.
You might be surprised what lessons you learn or how that story ends.
Wishing you a happily ever after!
Autumn & Jerod