Skalds, sometimes called warrior skalds, were warrior bards common in many cultures throughout Faerûn, particularly in the North. They were most common among the Northlanders and Reghedmen, who used the term to refer to bards of the College of Valor.
Skalds traveled and fought alongside great warriors, witnessing their battles and composing epic poems that proclaimed their exploits to all. They were just as renowned for their prowess as combatants as they were for their skill as orators.
Unlike other bards, skalds tended to focus more on the oratory arts rather than music. They believed their greatest contribution to the ages was the composition of an epic poem, detailing epic battles or military skirmishes.
Skalds were viewed with great respect that bordered on reverence in Northlander societies. War parties took great joy in having a skald travel along them, looking forward to having their deeds in battle immortalized in the form of poetry. All warriors treated skalds with the utmost courtesy, also because it was known that treating a skald badly would certainly result in the offender's name being defamed by multiple fast-spreading ballads.
Skalds also had important responsibilities that came with their abilities. Skalds were the primary recorders of their clans' histories and oral traditions. Among the Northmen tribes, which generally had a distrust toward magic, even the most prominent skalds needed to align with the interests of the shamans of their clans, at the risk of being cast out.
In the Feywild, traveling skalds from the Prime Material plane were treated as illustrous guests, granted food and shelter anywhere they went. The fey eladrin treated them as dignitaries and the Summer Queen herself always accepted to give them an audience. They were even more highly respected there than in the Prime, since the fey would never risk having their realm slandered as the result of offending such powerful storytellers.
In battle, rather than sing, warrior skalds would loudly and forcefully recite portions of an epic poem, inspiring their allies and infuriating and frightening their opponents. Enemy combatants were often befuddled and disheartened upon hearing the resonating stanzas of fabled tales brought to life by the warrior skalds.
The recited words of these skalds could bolster their comrades-in-arms, increasing the chance of their blows striking true. They also inspired their allies so that they could power through any fatigue, increase their own endurance, perform heroic feats and even enter into a barbarian-like rage. Additionally, their recitations demoralized their foes, causing them to feel outright fear and panic.
Skalds were also notably competent at merging their bardic magic with their combat skills, which rivaled that of dedicated warriors. Particularly experienced skalds could swiftly cast a spell while performing a physical attack.
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