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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #79: The Bard's Tale

In 1985, there was no greater computer fantasy game than The Bard's Tale. This was just an absolute enormity of an experience for the D&D set, a video game that faithfully and awesomely replicated the feel of rolling dice, exploring catacombs, and vanquishing monsters. Build your party of paladins and rogues, conjurers and clerics...and of course, a bard. The music that accompanied The Bard's Tale was both part of gameplay and part of the atmospheric charm of the thing, immersing eyes and ears in a dungeon crawl almost impossible to tear yourself away from.

This was one of those games that I watched far more than I played, riding shotgun as my brother navigated Skara Brae and its undercity. I built a lexicon of monsters as we went, recording their metrics and powers in a dog-eared notebook (in my ten-year-old scrawl), ostensibly as a helpful reference for my brother. It was really an excuse to hang out and experience the game even as an observer, it was so novel and exciting.

If I close my eyes now, I can still see El Cid and his merry band, lost in the sewers, hustling back to town for healing, fighting their way past skeletons and goblins. Tuna sandwiches or Campbell's chicken noodle soup for lunch with iced tea, maybe a good episode of original Star Trek on local cable after. Then, of course, more of The Bard's Tale.

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