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spoony \SPOO-nee\, adjective:

1. Foolish; silly; excessively sentimental.

2. Foolishly or sentimentally in love.
Dictionary.com

Ah, the much-maligned bard class... For some reason, bards are very frequently unable to ever become anything useful. They are the butt of jokes, they are often beaten by old men with canes, and sometimes their friends use a mountain of bard corpses as convenient cover.

If you have any experience with your typical fantasy RPG whatsoever, you know the basic roles by heart. RPG games are made so that characters are specialized, but rather than crippling characters for their specialization, they are actually more powerful the more they specialize thanks to the fact that party members can rely on their comrades-in-arms whenever the challenge the heroes face plays to one party member's weakness, it will be playing to another party member's strength.

But then, while the dedicated RPG gamers will always beeline for the characters with the best damage-dealing potential or who do the best in their party role, if only because they are so ingrained into the minds of RPG players that they would reject anything else, many game makers also want to cater to players who want to see something a little different, and which makes the game something more than just a matter of the same four basic characters. Even when there are other classes, they really only fill the same roles that those major four pillars of RPG-dom dictate, but with an added gimmick.

Enter the bard! (or sometimes "dancer" or "cheerleader") For some reason, when game makers want more splats, bards are the way that everyone tries to make their game "different." Bards provide an entirely new role that falls outside of those standard four roles, which lets players who want to try something different have a way to support the party in a way that is (questionably) new and (possibly) unique.

It rarely works as intended. Bards usually become spoony when they run into one of two major problems:

  • Alternately, bards can be built to specialize in status effect abilities. This can often be a wonderful way to add a new role to the game, it's in An Adventurer Is You as "Buffers" and "Mezzers" for a reason. In games where enemies can have powers that disable your own characters, having a character that can disable them first, or provide your teammates immunity to their tricks is a great boon. This often falls flat, however, because the status effects in many games are actually Useless Useful Spells. This problem is often exacerbated by having fairly short fights in many games where the standard Mook enemies you mow through are only meant to turn the game into an endurance match, anyway. A spell or song that gives a +30% attack bonus is only a useful bonus if you are actually going to attack at least four times with that status effect on - if not, congratulations, you just wasted a turn. Even if boss fights are fairly long, if the bard specializes in nothing but debuff spells, the enemy may be immune, and the buff spells may simply not be useful enough to justify using a bard instead of another character.

It is worth noting that oftentimes, bard-type characters are Spoony Bards because the game makers simply didn't think things through when they made the class and didn't do proper balancing. Typically, when a class is "weak and worthless," especially in MMORPGs, other classes will be nerfed, or the bards will get additional beneficial gimmicks to make them useful and avoid an inevitable revolt by the players.

On the other hand not everyone plays just for the thrill of the kill and some gamers want to avoid Complacent Gaming Syndrome, so the ability to play with a "fun" mechanic or to try something new is sometimes worth the loss of effectiveness.

The term "Spoony Bard" itself, incidentally, comes from Final Fantasy IV - it was originally used as a Woolseyism insult at Edward (a bard), but so many fans of the game saw him as a useless waste of a party slot, thanks to being a status-effect character in a Useless Useful Spell game, and even worse, having the command "Hide" that does Exactly What It Says on the Tin, (making him not just weak, but a Dirty Coward to boot,) that the players themselves took up the amusing insult to Edward, and the bard class in general.

Keep in mind that simply having a "Bard" class is not sufficient - they have to be spoony bards - that is, if bards are powerful and useful, and virtually all parties will want one, then they aren't really a spoony bard. If a bard is a generalist with magic, but is actually powerful at spellcasting, they may instead be The Red Mage. Also, the class doesn't have to have anything to do with music or bards to be a spoony bard, they simply have to try to perform the same function that most spoony bards do, which is messing with status effects in a game where status effects are useless or giving ability point bonuses or penalties that are too minor to make up for not simply making another fighter.

See also What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? and Master of None. Contrast Game Breaker, Lethal Joke Character, and the occasional Heart Is an Awesome Power.

Not to be confused with a different Spoony (though he got his name from the Trope Namer), or the midwest-based music group, The Spoony Bards.

If you're looking for actual bards, see Wandering Minstrel and The Bard. If you're looking for the Bard, see William Shakespeare.

Not to be confused with Funny Spoon.

Examples of Spoony Bard include:


Tabletop Games Edit

  • Varies in the RPG Dungeons & Dragons, depending on edition and campaign. There are a lot of "trap" classes in almost all editions. This is where Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards came from after all.
    • First edition bards were an odd class that required several levels in 3 different classes before you could begin taking levels in bard, and even then the abilities were of questionable use at best.
    • Interestingly enough, the second edition bard was just the Jack of All Stats. However, at a certain range of experience (party average around 3 to 12) this trope was inverted, making bards curiously but non-obviously overpowered during this common range of play. Due to their being on the Thief experience table, they gained levels much faster than their wizard buddies, which allowed them to outperform wizards in their area of expertise for a good portion of the game due to their nukes being stronger--not to mention the Thief skills, the weapon proficiencies, the improved THAC 0 table, and bardic music. Unfortunately, the straight use of this trope comes into play after the middle levels, as they hit a hard limit on their spells and wizard-classes's advancement scheme became less stingy.
    • Third edition bards are typically a 5th wheel in parties with their jack abilites not really doing well enough to sub for a proper member. Thankfully as a core class they get tons of splat support that makes them quite effective ... if they specialize.
      • Third edition also had the beguiler class, which was very solidly this trope. It was essentially a bard with fewer skill points, lower attack bonuses, and only illusion and enchantment spells (as opposed to the bard's mostly illusion and enchantment selection). In comparison, the bard suddenly became a very viable option. They are more or less Final Fantasy IV's Edward as a class given that the only things they are good at is messing with enemies without directly hurting them, and hiding (either through invisibility, disguises or what-have-you).
      • The Factotum is divisive. Certain players love its "versatility" while others deride it for being too absurdly weak to actually contribute meaningfully no matter how "versatile" it professes to be. Likewise, the Chameleon prestige class.
    • Mostly averted in fourth edition. Bards are a "leader" class (healer/buffer/debuffer) like Clerics and Warlords, and are neither conspicuously better nor conspicuously worse at that role than those classes; they'll be solid contributors to any party that isn't overloaded with such characters. Bards tend to focus more on debuffs than the others, which have their own specialties too. In a nod to their "jack of all trades" style in previous editions, they are the only class that can take multiclass feats corresponding to more than one other class.
      • In 4th Edition, the Cleric class of all people very easily led to this trope--especially before the lion's share of the Splatbooks came out. The class was (and is) the most eclectic in the game, with a lot of powers bordering on useless and/or counterproductive to the role. Fortunately, due to the lowered ability density of 4th Edition they still retain(ed) their Game Breaker status (as least before the errata onslaught anyway) to a player who knows what they're doing. To one that doesn't, they're this trope.
  • And then there was Pathfinder. The Bard now supplies large bonuses to his party without it taking up his actions and has class features which grant him "virtual" skills by allowing Perform to double up for two more skills. In addition, the Bard is able to use all Knowledges without training, and half his level is added as a bonus. You have a class which buffs his whole team, is a skill monkey, and without spending a single skill point is likely to know more about everything than the rest of the party combined, plus serves as a natural face for the group. Sure, the Bard is still not a powerhouse in combat, but in any but the most hack-n-slash campaigns, it's a solid, non-spoony choice.
  • The Returners Final Fantasy Roleplaying Game practically inverts this trope, especially in relation to the Trope Namer. They can endlessly throw around group affecting buffs and debuffs for free while still doing decent magical damage and they can use Hide to avoid predictable attacks making them very valuable against both tough mobs and bosses. Their main weakness, just to further separate them from Edward, is a tendency to go last.
  • Warhammer 40000 has the iconic Tactical Squad, which can be given a Missile Launcher (with two types of ammo, one for anti-tank and one for anti-horde), a flame thrower for close ranged combat, the sergeant being tooled up for actual close combat, and can be split into two squads so that the close combat half can move and cap objectives while the heavy weapon guy can sit back and shoot. They can also take a Razorback Transport, which can bring the Close combat half up to the enemy while providing another heavy weapon, which is mobile. To top it off, they're pretty cheap for what you pay for. This all looks good on paper, as they can theoretically take on any threat they see, it's actually horrifying bad, as they cannot put enough shots/attacks to kill whatever threat they see. Especially glaring is the Missile launcher, whose anti-horde firing mode in theory can hit multiple targets, but because of coherency rules, it'll likely hit no more than 2, and that's if it's lucky (and on top of that, there's roughly a 75% chance of the target in question surviving anyways). The only reason they are still widely used is because the only alternative to fill the standard marine's troop choice is the badly-priced Scouts, which are roughly the same cost as marines, but lack their stats and survivability in lieu of other rules. In armies that gives the player another choice for troops, Tactical Marines are almost universally passed up in favor of those.
  • Magic: The Gathering gave us kobolds, a tribe as weak as physically possible without going straight to the graveyard, but cost nothing to play. They can be upgraded with other kobolds, but these tend to come out on turn three or later, and the bonus isn't that much. And they're all in red, a color known for winning fast, or not at all.


Video Games Edit

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons based game Baldur's Gate, bards tend to be bad fighters and bad magic users, but get more bonuses toward identifying items through the "Lore" statistic than any other class. If your party loadout includes a specialist wizard who can't cast the Identify spell on an item, having a bard can help avert spending large amounts of money identifying the magic items you frequently encounter but their utility usually stopped there.
    • The sequel, Baldur's Gate II, introduced class kits that would allow bards to beef up aspects of the class. Picking a Blade, one of the DPS oriented kits, and combining it with some defensive mage spells potentially made characters which could outpace other fighters in terms of armor and damage output.
  • The Trope Namer is Prince Edward Chris von Muir from Final Fantasy IV. After the death of an otherwise plot-unimportant daughter, the party's sage Tellah rails against the unfortunate lute player with a stream of insults and threats including "You spoony bard!", a somewhat Bowdlerised translation that became popular and was retained when the game was re-translated for the GBA version (though in the DS game the retranslator NPC found in the dwarven kingdom's Developer's Room states, "The bard is spoony. We checked!", see page quote.). Edward himself is singularly useless, employing a harp as a weapon and possessing the special ability of "singing" at enemies -- a skill that's supposed to inflict status ailments but which frequently does nothing at all. Edward's other special ability, unsurprisingly, is to run away and hide for a turn. In "hard-type", though, he's slightly more useful because he can also spread potions amongst the whole party. Slightly.
  • As Game Informer so aptly summarized, "His special command is Hide, which allows him to run away and leave a twelve year old girl to take his lumps for him. Classy, Edward."
    • The DS version buffed him considerably, and his Bardsong became far more useful. You can pick the song you want, and one Edward learns actually heals your party while he isn't interrupted. And then you can give Bardsong to someone that isn't Edward...
      • The DS version doesn't fix his other problem though, his crappy availability. He joins right after the second dungeon, which happens to be one of the longer dungeons of the first segment of the game. After that, you get to do the Antlion Den, where he is somewhat useful due to the fact that he can heal better than Rydia with his Salve ability, allowhing her to concentrate on DPS like she should be. One problem, all the enemies in the cave barring perhaps goblins can 2-shot him, and the boss can and probabally will one shot him. So right when could have had a legitimate use, he will likely get one shotted in a turn or two. Of course, the bosses attacks hurt quite a bit, so that may be a use in of itself. Then Rosa comes in, who is superior to him in every way possible, but don't worry, she'll only overshadow him for one reletivly breif dungeon, and then he leaves your party forever. So that means, at best, he is useful for one rather short dungeon, even Fusoya had better availability than that!
    • Late in the GBA version of the game, Edward becomes one of the fastest characters in the game. Equip him with the Apollo Harp, and he can easily dish out 2000+ damage every few seconds. And woe unto any dragon-type enemies you run into, as Edward will regularly dole out anywhere from 8000+ to max damage per hit. Then he gets his ultimate weapon Loki's Lute which does that much damage to ANY creature that has a racial flag. (like dragon, demon or giant) His only glaring weaknesses are his defense and lack of hit points, making him more of a Glass Cannon -- but even then, he deals full damage from the back row, so defence is less important for him. There was also an accessory that changes his useless sing command to a Mighty Guard Spell. There was also his other much-upgraded ability, Salve: in previous versions, all it did was to take a potion and split it between the party members for a whopping 25 HP of healing. In the DS remake, it instead allows you to take any item and use it on the entire party at once with full effect, although it does use up as many of the said item as there are party members. Like the previous skill, it can also be later given to another character as well.
    • Edward indirectly contributes towards making Edge a lot more useful than he normally would be: Throw can be used while Hiding, and thus he can throw stuff at enemies while being completely unhittable, although hidden characters have a tendency to return on their own after a set amount of time has passed. Aim is also usable when hiding, but it's not nearly as useful or damaging as Throw.
    • All this said, the famous line that named this trope doesn't appear in the original Japanese version. In its place is Tellah screaming "You bastard! How dare you!"; one way or another, it's not nearly as memorable as the line that took its place.
      • Seems like poor Edward just can't seem to catch a break. While he's shown to be much less wimpier storywise and he still retains his Salve ability in After Years, his Bardsong is again randomized. At very least you can still choose whether you want to target your party or enemies with it, including being able to choose from a single/all party members/enemies and the negative statuses it can cause have potential to at least be useful this time around since the game follows the DS version trend of making Useless Useful Spells less useless. While he's not the Glass Cannon he was in the GBA version anymore, his damage output isn't that far behind from the other characters, he's still decently fast, the aforementioned Salve can be even more useful than the White Mages' healing spells both because of the buyable X-Potions and Elixirs and an item that doubles the effectiveness of items in battle and his ability to hide can still be useful against enemies who telegraph their Total Party Kill attacks.
      • And seeing how Edward is still moping over his beloved Anna 17 years after her death, such that his kingdom is without an heir, he apparently still fits the literal definition as well. That said, he's much more confident and assertive now, and is one of the only heroes to get the better of the villains, if temporarily, so far.
  • The Dancer and Bard classes in Final Fantasy Tactics. Dancers can use their weakest dance to enormously powerful effect in a properly tweaked party (three Dancers and two Mimes with strength boosted as high as possible). This is generally the second most powerful party possible in the game. Without this strategy, however, the Dancer class was mostly useless (which theoretically makes it a Magikarp).
    • The Dancer being mostly useless is wrong. The rate of status effects from the various dances varies. The damage both to HP and MP effects were guaranteed, but it also had the ability damage enemy speed, attack and magic attack, as well as inflict statuses, or even reduce it's position in the turn roster to last. Spooniness varied as more powerful effects were attempted.
    • Bards at the same time, also had varying spooniness. The HP and MP regenerating abilities were guaranteed, but it could also raise the speed of your units (One Bard Raising and one Dancer Lowering could tip the scales very quickly), increase they're attack and magic attack, as well as dish out random beneficial status effects. The real magikarp effect is because each class relied on the stat that gender was weaker in. Dancer used Physical Attack to determine damage effects, and Bards used Magic Attack. Since the abilities could be passed off to other classes though, a singing Black Mage could restore many HP, and a Dancing Knight could whittle down enemies in no time flat.
    • Tactics also has two characters, a brother and sister named Rafa and Malak. Their unique ability hits 2-5 random squares in a 5 square, cross shaped area, making their attacks frequently do nothing at all. And while Rafa's spells does a fixed damage depending on her stats (as opposed to the usual Faith-based magic system of the game), Malak's functions better if he has a very low Faith; Rafa is almost useful if you train her as a white mage due to her high Faith, or as a move-find-item holder due to her low Brave, Malak can do excellent magic damage while being almost immune to magic himself, making him an excellent faith-based magic counter if used right.
      • The FFT remake for the PSP has been more forgiving for the siblings, as it made their spells more reliable, upping the number of times it can theoretically hit to nine, and raising the chance it can hit the center tile target, so that one can center the spell on an enemy and expect it to hit at least once.
    • I'm sorry, I must have come in late in the discussion. Did you just say the second most powerful party in the game was composed of three dancers and two mimes?
  • Final Fantasy Tactics a 2 has an actual bard as a unique character ... and he's quite spoony, since unlike Final Fantasy Tactics unique characters, FFTA2 has absolutely terrible stat growth in unique classes. His bard songs aren't of much help, since only his MP boosting power offers something another class can't already do with a better range of alternate actions, and dedicating a unit to boosting MP would only be of use if you had multiple mages trading out Halve MP or Blood Price for Geomancy or Magic UP while staying in formation. Fortunately, he can learn from other classes, like Juggler or Time Mage, but depending on what level you were when you recruited him, his low stats will ensure he never can quite compete with a generic specifically leveled for certain stats.
    • He does make up for it with two songs. Undead Requiem does massive damage to zombie type monsters at long range and can remove multiple tombstones at once (the tombstones revert back to the zombie monster after a set amount of turns have passed). Nameless Song gives multiple units random buffs (Ranging from Haste, Reflect, Reraise, Shell, Protect, and Regen) without costing any MP at all. This is an improved version of the same ability Nu Mou Scholars can do, which only affects one person and costs MP to use.
      • And the strategy of multiple mages in formation works relatively well with Illusionists who have the High Magic second ability for the Magic Frenzy attack and the Dual Wield support ability-- a strategy that allows a character two make one magic attack and two physical attacks against every enemy on the screen but consumes MP at a prodigious rate.
    • The game also uses the Spoony Bard thing as an insult; in one of the Bonga Bugle missions, one of the enemy units calls the Head Editor a "spoony seeq".
  • In Final Fantasy XI the Bard is an example of the Gamebreaker side, it is so popular (due to its completely free buffs) that most people say that you can get offers for Level Grinding parties without raising your invite flag (to signify that you are looking for a party); this gets to the point to which some people have to go into anonymous mode (which hides what job and level your character is) to avoid getting invites. Though this has happened with other jobs, bards are pretty much the only one that has always been like this. Summoners, traditionally the most powerful job in Final Fantasy games, fits this trope on the other side due to being able to do useful things less frequently than any other job.
    • Unless you get the right gear to reduce the mana upkeep to zero, then you can kick some serious ass. ESPECIALLY if you fire off the Avatars and get a decent subjob attached. Your DPS can go through the roof.
  • Final Fantasy III had a nice variety of classes, but there were several that were either only useful once in the game or were so useless that they could be totally overlooked. Its version of the Bard class is even worse than FFIV's Edward, with little attack power or defense and only one command ("Cheer") that has any use whatsoever. The Scholar, similarly, has little attack or defensive power, but has the "Scan" command which is vital in exactly one battle in the game, against Hyne. The DS remake, however, did make the Bard at least marginally useful. If you got Bard's Job levels high enough and equipped them with correct harp, they could restore at least 1000 HP to everyone instantly.
    • Scholars also double the effectiveness of any items that they use. This includes the items that give you a free cast of high-level offensive magic like Blizzaga. Pair them up with a Thief (to ensure a steady supply of items) and you've got a small nuke with no reliance on MP.
    • A number of the more useless jobs in III had their Spoony Bard status almost completely reversed in the DS remake, turning into Lethal Joke Characters if you get enough job levels in them. Particular notes are the aforementioned Scholar (on top of the weapon effectiveness boost gets a lot of charges for low-levelled spells, and when dual-wielding the higher-leveled books can output insane damage given they're a support class) and the Geomancer (stick with the class for long enough and you'll start cursing when you get the rare high-damage single-target Shadowflare, because you hit the damage cap anyway).
  • In the first ~Baldur's Gate~, the bard class was pretty much tragically underpowered compared to the others -- there was no good reason to choose a bard over a rogue. Things got better with the sequel and with Icewind Dale.
    • Bards are actually one of the easier classes to solo the first game with, thanks to the ability to use wands and backstab while invisible.
  • Any of the Bards of the Romancing SaGa trilogy. The first was actually the Crystal Dragon Jesus in disguise as the bard. The second one retold the tales of your empire at the start of the game, and had 5 important instruments needed to acquire a character class, and the last was recruitable and was pretty decent in all stats, only problem was that you could only ditch him after clearing one of the Abyss Lords.
  • Final Fantasy X 2 has the Songstress dressphere (class), which, despite being plot-important, is almost completely useless. There are some redeeming features to the Songstress, such as the MP Mambo (which causes all spells to have 0 MP cost) and Magical Masque (which causes all magical attacks to your party to be 0). Though, both dances can only be gotten late in the game, and neither one can come even close to touching the Cat Nip.
  • Ironically, Bards in Final Fantasy V are a subversion, as they are Not Completely Useless. However, the Berserker class plays this straight, what with its lack of control and low speed. The Oracle from the Advance version fits this, except for its very high magic stat.
    • Actually, Oracles can be rather nifty if you're willing to use 'em a bit. Two of their later support abilities are Double AP and Double EXP, both of which are obviously useful. Use Double AP to help mastering jobs lime Mime, Red Mage, Ranger, Gladiator, etc., and then use Double EXP to accelerate your level-grinding.
    • With the above skills, one could combine the Double AP skill with the Bard's Requiem for extremely fast and easy job grinding. There is a zone featuring nothing but undead Eldritch Abominations that drop a good count of AP per battle. Requiem is a bard song that damages all undead for no MP cost, and does more damage the higher a character's magic stat is. So equipping a single bard with mage gear produced a fighter that could easily dish out 7000 damage to every enemy onscreen with a single attack that cost no MP. By running around to enter battles and simply holding the 'A' button (provided the Bard acted first and the player had the 'Memory' option selected for remembering the cursor's position in the battle menu), a player could max out every single job in the game within two hours. Even if a single Bard couldn't defeat all the enemies in one hit (perhaps they lacked any magical stat training or were low level), it wasn't hard to simply have a second Bard follow up with another Requiem. The other two characters didn't have to do a thing. Once those two characters were maxed out, they could switch places with the Bards (turning into Bards themselves) and let the remaining two characters get their skills! Unfortunately, these enemy groups, while entirely useful for AP grinding, did not give out much in EXP. So you'd have characters that had almost every skill in the game, but were still reasonably leveled. Just make sure you don't fall asleep from holding down one button, because one type of these undead horrors just LOVES to hit your party with Doom. Which one of the monsters was it? Oh, the ones that look like a grotesque skeleton sans legs, hanging from the ceiling on some undefined cord that might have been its spleen.
  • Averted in the remake of Tales of Destiny. Players will probably tell you not to simply disregard Johnny as a Spoony Bard, due to being able to buff and heal the party very effectively with his songs, and being able to combo enemies into oblivion with ease using his various musical attacks. His Maware Rondo, in particular, can be spammed for an easy infinite combo, and is so good that the developers actually gave the true final boss a deadly counterattack designed solelyto keep himself from getting murdered by it.
  • The Bard/Clown/Minstrel (for Males) and Dancer/Gypsy/Wanderer (for Females) Classes from Ragnarok Online. While they come from the Archer Class tree and can use bows and all their Archer Skills, they're more often equipped with a Musical Instrument or Whip (depending on the character's gender) in order to allow them to preform songs or dances to buff allies or debuff enemies. They also work best when paired with the opposite gender equivalent as this allows them to preform Duets with improved abilities. Their songs/dances are near useless without a party to protect them as well.
    • Not so, as their buffs are still in effect 20 seconds after canceling the skill / dying, provided that their party / guildmates are within the field.
    • And some of those buffs/debuff are REALLY good. Slow grace is the best slow in the game, and Poem of Bragi is just... lest say it turns your Squishy Wizard into a Person of Mass Destruction.Also Dazzler/Scream makes squishies cry. So pretty much averted as the performers are really usefull
  • The Bard Class in Ever Quest is stated as a "Jack of All Trades, Master To None" in that it's sort of like multiple classes combined together. Unlike normal buff spells, the bard had to constantly keep "singing" almost non-stop and keep refreshing the songs over and over again every few SECONDS. Most players can successfully juggle 4 song buffs up at once. They can also wear Plate armor, and dual wield weapons (but not Double Attack.) Among the song types they have, they can increase run speed to being the fastest in the game (faster than the most powerful mounts), charm enemies, stun them, deal damage over time, and heal over time.
    • Bards have been changed in Ever Quest. They no longer have to press the singing keys every few seconds (this led to wrist problems for some players). They also have some pretty awesome abilities. A well played bard can be one of the most powerful classes, they can solo many mobs at once and in groups they can boost damage output by a huge amount. They also can single mobs from a pack of them with ease.
    • The Bard classes in Ever Quest 2 are broken down into "Orderly" and "Chaotic" versions. The Troubadour and Dirge, respectively. Each class has different types of buffs. The Troubador focuses more on defensive buffs such as raising defense and health, while the Dirge class is more offensive, who's buffs enhance attack speed and double attack damage, among others. Due to the game's Archetype system, both bards are classified as Scout classes, who are restricted to wearing Chain armor (unlike plate in the first game), but are designed to deal significant damage when facing behind an opponent. Literally backstabbing them. Also unlike the first game, however, they don't need to constantly "sing" their buffs for the group. Once you activate them, they stay that way until canceled.
      • Dirges are considered especially useful, as their ability to increase melee attack speed and power, which half the classes in the game and all of the pets benefit from, guarantees them a slot on almost any raid or group. When there are 24 different classes in the game and the largest raids in the game have 24 people with typically a few repeating classes, being pretty much guaranteed a slot is a big deal.
      • Among the 6 scout classes (Ranger, Assassin, Swashbuckler, Brigand, Troubadour, Dirge), the two bard classes are supposedly the "weakest" of the 6 in terms of sheer damage output, but when comparing the bards to classes outside the Scout archetype, that's not saying much. They still do more damage than most fighter, priest, and a couple of mage classes.
  • Accordion Thieves are probably the weakest class in Kingdom of Loathing. They have the least number of combat skills, meaning you mostly just hit them with music, where a muscle class does a better job of basic weapon attacks. They mainly rely on buffing themselves with some marginally useful songs. As a plus, they can sneak into the League of Chef-Magi and the Brotherhood of the Smackdown, letting you shop at all 3 guild shops and, if you have permed the skill, let you use the Wok of Ages and Malus of Forethought.
  • Dungeon Explorer has a bard class which is considered one of the most useless classes in the game.
  • Many, many, many Pokémon fall into this category. Because any player can choose from all of them, many tend to get ignored completely. This tends to lead to Magikarp Power when you realize that damn near any Pokémon can be used effectively if you raise them right and throw on some T Ms...Okay, ASIDE from Magikarp.
    • In a more bardly example, Chatot basically exists for its one unique move[1], is only catchable near the end of the games it debuted in, never evolves, and is generally useless.
    • When the Double Battle mode was just introduced, several gimmicks for showing off its capabilities have been added. Most glaring example: Plusle and Minun. They have an ability that increases their special attack when they battle together... but their movepool sucks, their stats suck, no sane man would ever use them both in one team. In short, they are a bit less useless in double battles. A bit.
    • Ditto in the original game, before breeding was introduced, had horrible stats, five shots of any skill your opponent used, and let your opponent go first by definition.
  • Averted in Puzzle Quest where the Bard's Inspire spell allows them to gain a boost to ALL stats, stacks with itself and lasts all fight. This is not considered a spell effect for the purpose of cleansing and cannot be removed once used, giving the Bard the potential for all their stats to reach over a hundred, even at level one!
  • Averted in Mardek: Chapter 3 whose 'Siren' Elwyen has to be one of the least spoony bards of all time. She has powerful party buffs that stack with all other buff abilities (and are better than most of them), a decent group heal, the strongest anti-undead spell in the game, and a couple weird abilities that no other character can duplicate. Her songs also cost no MP, and the offensive ones never miss...which is very useful against fairy-type enemies, who with high magic resistance and insane physical evasion are usually considered the Demonic Spiders of this game.
  • Averted in Dragon Age Origins where Leliana is a highly competent addition to the party, bringing deadly rogue skills to the table. If you follow her dialogue trees, you learn that the bards of Orlais are in fact spies and assassins, masters of intrigue and deception.
    • The Bard specialization, which Leliana starts with and any Rogue can take after you get her approval high enough, offers several buff and debuff skills to the normally DPS class. It also helps that multiple bard songs of the same type stack, and that their effectiveness is based on the cunning stat, which with the right talent is also largely responsible for damage potential. In short, bards are effective because they don't need to sacrifice their damage potential to be good bards--their buffs actually complement their damage output rather then trading in for it.
    • 'Enemy' bards manage to be incredibly dangerous. High-leveled ones can set up Captivating Song, stunlocking anyone within a fair-sized radius of themselves. They're immobilized while doing this, but so is everyone else. It's telling that bard is among the rarest enemy classes.
    • Also averted in Dragon Age II, as all of Varric's music-themed skills (he hums to his weapon) are either permanent upgrades or direct damage dealers.
  • Brutally averted in the Wizardry series, as bards are decent characters with good lockpicking skills, but more importantly, the ability to play a wide variety of instruments that replicate various magical spells, up to and including the most powerful damage dealing spell in the game, all for no MP and a bit of energy.
  • These types of characters have appeared in various Dragon Quest games.
    • Dragon Quest III featured the Gadabout/Goof-off/Jester, who is either a clown (male) or a bunnygirl (female). An NPC will outright tell you that they're useless. Their stats are below average all across the board (except luck), and they will often waste a turn doing something silly rather than attacking. On the other hand, Gadabouts are the only class that could become a Sage without the use of a special item.
      The SNES and GBC remake made them a little better, giving them the Whistle ability that calls a random battle, saving some time when level grinding.
    • Dragon Quest IV had Torneko. Once you got him in Chapter 5, he started goofing off just like the Gadabouts in III. He's something of a subversion, though, because while he's an underwhelming fighter, he isn't useless, and unlike the Gadabouts of III, his goofing off will almost always result in something useful. He's still more useful for what he can do outside your party rather than in, though.
    • Gadabouts made a return in Dragon Quest VI, and are given a few more abilities to make them more useful, but remain below average. There are also Dancers, who can use a variety of dances to do bad things to the enemy for no MP, up to and including instant death, although you don't get the good abilities until you've mastered the class. Both of these classes, however, must be mastered in order to get the much more useful Luminary class which does not follow this trope, as it gains very useful abilities, including Hustle Dance which can heal the entire party for no MP!
    • In addition to Gadabouts and Dancers, Dragon Quest VII includes an actual Minstrel/Bard class that, while not totally useless, deals mostly in status and curing songs, and is an underwhelming fighter. As before, you need to master this class (as well as the Gadabout and Dancer classes) in order to get the Luminary/TeenIdol class.
    • Averted in Dragon Quest IX, as the Minstrel plays more along the lines of the Jack of All Stats and is a decent fighter and spellcaster all around, which is a good thing, because you start out as one!
      And then played straight with the Luminary (Dancer). Not only is it a pain to unlock (the quest requires finding a random dungeon with a specific Mook in it, which is a pain if you do not even know what type and what level dungeons they're even found in), which can take hours or even days if you're particularly unlucky with the random dungeons. Upon finally unlocking the Luminary, you are treated to a class with terrible stats(baring speed and charm, they're among the worst of all the available classes in the game), useless abilities, and awful equip options. And if that weren't enough, you don't even get to unlock the class until you beat the main story and start doing postgame content; making the effort put into getting the class that much more obnoxious.
  • The MMO Eden Eternal has an interesting take on Bards. They are a support class with powerful but short lived multi-target buffs and heals, as well as an Ao E damage-over-time debuff. Bards hunt by using their speed buff on themselves, splashing a group of enemies with the Do T and running until everything drops. Thematically this fits the stereotype of Bards as untalented hacks that no one wants to hear and who have to flee when their impromptu audience starts throwing produce but functionally the trope is fully averted, at least for most of the game.
  • Averted in Heroes of Might and Magic 4, more notably, the Gathering Storm expansion pack. The bard has maximum positive morale and top speed, that allows her to act before everyone else in battle, and possesses the mass fervor spell that provides maximum positive morale to every allied hero and creature. This becomes vital towards the end of the game when all the player has at their disposal are five heroes, each of a different alignment, meaning that they have maximum negative morale by default - a critical disadvantage.
  • Averted in The Sims Medieval, where the Hero Sims' professions are mostly equal in how awesome they can be (though different players might like different professions better.) The Bard is useful to the kingdom and has several good quests, including one territory conquest. No Bard who helps his king conquer territory (territory owned by pirates at that) is spoony.
  • The Bard follower Sven in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim isn't very useful, mostly being good for being a meat shield. However, it's actually justifiable - he's a Bard. He makes his money by standing in an inn and entertaining people, what combat proficiency does he have?
    • The Bard's College is also rather spoony compared to the other factions you can join, like the Companions, the College of Winterhold, or the Thieves Guild. They only have one trainer (for Speech) and three quests other than the initial quest to join up. In exchange, however, each quest gives you a substantial increase in skill points, so it's not entirely pointless to join up.
  • Ricardo in Shadow Hearts From the New World is a bard but is far from spoony. Not only does he have ballistics inside his guitar, but he is one of the best mages in the game and plays a great support since he plays songs that buff allies. (Sadly, he is near-useless against the Final Boss due to its ability to instantly dispel any buffs and get a free turn when it does so.)
    • His spiritual predecessor, Lucia in Shadow Hearts Covenant is the same, substituting songs for aromatherapy. However she also has a tarot card system as she's a fortune teller.
  • The Bard-like class in Guild Wars is actually far from Spoony. They may not play music so much, but they shout and support allies (or debuff enemies) while putting pressure on enemies with their ranged weaponry. They have about as much armour as a warrior (And by default use shields) so they can certainly take several hits.
    • They tend to be...different when it comes to PvP though. People often ignore paragons and save them for last in Random Arenas, but in different PvP modes (such as alliance battles) Paragons are much better.
  • Inazuma Eleven gives us Handa Shinichi, a Jack of All Stats. In a really negative way.
  • Fire Emblem has Dancers, Bards and, in the Gamecube and Wii games the Heron Tribe, whose main purpose is to refresh units that have already taken their turns and have no offensive capabilities. However, the SNES and DS games subvert this hard; Dancers can use Swords in both of these subseries, and Bards are capable of using magic in the SNES games and are often among the best in their game, at the cost of being unable to refresh others (they don't even exist in the DS games).


Web Comics Edit

  • Gildward, the bard from the webcomic Adventurers, is a parody of the original Spoony Bard from Final Fantasy IV. His name is even a combination of "Edward" and "Gilbert", Edward's Japanese name. In this strip, he almost gets called a Spoony Bard after demonstrating the utterly ineffectual powers of his magic harp.
  • Elan from Order of the Stick is as spoony as they come. His bard songs are pretty much useless, his motivational speeches have a tendency to horribly backfire, and the only weapons he can use can be Sundered by someone cursing too loud. However, his real talent is a result of his bardic training: he's as Genre Savvy as they come, and sees damn near everything coming. Whenever he works close enough with Genius Bruiser Roy, he becomes Dangerously Genre Savvy. And that training perfectly synergizes with the Dashing Swordsman Prestige Class he literally took a level in - which turns entertaining quips and drama into Bad Assery - turning him into a One-Man Army.
    • Notable in that his leveling up hasn't drowned out the endearing aspects of his character: optimism, extraordinary loyalty to his friends, and a certain bumbling charm that makes him what he is. Elan's progression from a simple Spoony Bard to Dashing Swordsman isn't just about getting more/useful class powers, but him developing the chops to be a genuine Big Damn Hero. As part of this growth he also is slowly shown to be learning how to properly use his regular bardic spells.
  • Julie, the protagonist of Our Little Adventure. She's good with a bow and she's the only group member with any sort of healing powers but seldom ever kicks ass and takes names. Julie's dislike of fighting might play into it, but she's got no problem with boosting her groupmates' killing skills using silly musical numbers.
  • Gamzee of Homestuck subverts this. Despite being a Stoner Love Freak and having the title of Bard of... Something (exactly what it is, he forgot), he takes down the Black King of the Trolls' session with frightening efficency and brutality. Subverted even harder when we find out that he's actually the Bard of Rage.
    • Turns out that all Sburb bards are a subversion of this. The Bard class is described as one that allows others to destroy their Aspect or one who invites destruction through their Aspect, as if by the will of the Aspect. (e.g. Rage) Seems unintuitive from the name, but useful.
    • However, this makes the Bard class a Wild Card who often single-handedly causes improbable victory or spectacular downfall (or both), so it's played straight in that the person who tells us all of this is of the opinion that the kids are probably better off without a Bard.
  • Captain SNES features Edward himself, being a bitter and angry soul after being tormented by the player, who hated Edward so much that he would go out of his way to make Edward die in battle immediately every time (because this would allow other characters to get more EXP), and to top it all off, he changed his name to Spoony. Alex is the player. Cut to the Veldt and "Quief want to know, what Quief's name mean?"

Notes

  1. Which is a recorded message that has a chance to confuse which is higher the louder the message.