Roleplaying as a bard in FFXIV can be a lot of fun! For one, you can get away with being a little over the top and eccentric with your character if you choose to be. Bards are, after all, supposed to be masters of performance and drama, right?
One thing I've found when playing a bard is that sooner or later, you'll find yourself in a position where someone is going to ask you to tell a story. Or a joke. Or a riddle.
Then what do you do?
You might be the kind of person who has a million stories they can pull off the cuff. But if you're anything like me, it's better that you prepare for this ahead of time! And that's where the wonderful Internet comes in.
Finding Jokes and Riddles
Jokes are probably the easiest material to work with. If you have a joke book, or just Google up jokes, you can quickly stash away a bunch of funny things in a text document somewhere to reference if needed. If you can, though it's not required, try to change the joke a bit to better fit the context of the FFXIV world.
Riddles are much like jokes with one catch. If you can Google a riddle, so, too, can the people you're telling the riddle to. And the whole point of a riddle is to make people think for themselves. If you are pulling riddles off the Internet, try to switch up the wording to make it a little harder to Google. Even better, if you can find a resource of riddles that aren't online, I would highly suggest you going for it!
Getting together a library of stories is a bit more involved.
I suggest that you keep it simple. Folks might ask for a story in RP, but they don't want to sit there for 15 minutes as you copy-paste text lines at them. So keep it short and sweet - you don't have to recount the Epic of
Gilgamesh Greg to fulfill your bardly duties.
Good resources to pull from include:
- Tall Tales
- Fairy Tales
- Folk Stories
- Traditional Tales (Especially from other countries)
Many of these folk tales are short to tell and end with some kind of moral of the story. While this might not seem as exciting as an epic story filled with battle (feel free to tell those if you have one), there's a reason why these kinds of stories were told and passed around in times of oral storytelling traditions. There's just something satisfying about a story that makes a point and has a solid ending.
If there's any way to adapt the story to have FFXIV lore or context, do re-write it do contain these things.
Here's an example of a story I used in an Google Docs group RP - this one may is probably too long to use for in-game RP, though. I don't remember the exact origin of the tale, and there might be many different re-tellings of it, but I remember it was a folk tale from another country.
I Googled for a folk story, found one I liked, revised it, and added FFXIV elements to it to make this:
A long time ago when the world was young, every type of bird was gray and without color.
One spring day, the king of birds - the Firebird - summoned all the birds together. They gathered, chirping with excitement and flapping with wonder. What did their king have to tell them?
Once all of the birds of the world were there, the Firebird pointed a great wing to the sky. There, for the first time ever, a glorious rainbow stretched overhead.
The birds stared in awe, having never seen anything so beautiful before! There were so many colors and they were all so bright and wonderful!
"Oh," the birds cried wistfully, "If only our feathers were so colorful!"
To this, the Firebird nodded, "I have brought you here to gift each of you one of the colors of the rainbow. Choose the color that you love most, and it shall be yours."
This sent the birds into a frenzy of joy! At once, they began to squawk and flap, trying to get ahead of each other. They were afraid their favorite color would be taken before they could choose it!
"I want green!" cried the apkallu. "Give me green!"
"Pink is most lovely! I want to be pink!" chortled the colibri.
"I must have brown, like the warmth of the earth!" chirped the sparrow.
"Blue! Blue! Blue!" was all the bluebird could trill. (It was later named after the color it chose.)
Only one bird sat quietly waiting her turn. The gentle, noble chocobo.
Finally, all the colors were chosen and given. The rainbow began to fade.
"Now each of you has a color," the Firebird said, his own feathers aglow with the gold of flame. "And just in time, for the rainbow has gone."
As the other birds capered and preened, the Firebird then noticed the gray and colorless chocobo, who still sat quietly in the corner. Awash with pity, the king of birds called to her.
"Why did you not ask for a color?"
The chocobo looked up, full of respect for her king. "Your Majesty, I was waiting my turn."
"I see," said the Firebird sadly. "But now the colors are all gone."
Though noble and strong of spirit, this filled the chocobo with great sorrow. Still, she bore this news with strength, head held high, "Then I'm afraid I shall always have feathers of gray."
"Shall always have feathers of gray? Because you did not push or squawk and instead waited your turn pleasantly? I think not!" the king of birds said with determination.
He then called to the capering flock of colorful birds who looked to be ready to return to their homes, and told them to line up. The Firebird instructed them to walk by the chocobo, one by one, and when they did, he pulled a little color from each, giving it to the chocobo.
"Henceforth, you and your kind shall have the ability to become all the colors of the rainbow! Eat of the fruits of the world to change the color of your plumage, and pick the one you love most!"
That's just one example of what you can do when pulling and revising a story from another source to fit the FFXIV world lore. You can, of course, write your own, but taking inspiration from other tales is no crime!
So go out there, find or write some stories, and make yourself a document that you can proudly pull from anytime someone asks your bard to weave a tale during an RP session!