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Bard's Tale

The Bard's Tale is a fantasy role-playing game by Interplay Productions and distributed by Electronic Arts. It was written by Michael Cranford and was released in 1985, the first in an eventual series of three. It was originally released for the Apple II, but was eventually ported to the MS-DOS, Apple IIgs, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, and Amiga platforms. The game featured a game style similar to Dungeons and Dragons and most of its game play was based on the earlier computer game Wizardry, but The Bard's Tale was notable for its unprecendented pseudo-3D graphics and animation. It was so successful and popular that it inspired several knock-offs and imitations.

The name The Bard's Tale became the calling card of the series, though it was not meant to. The original planned name for the series was Tales of the Unknown. Even though the games album cover clearly stated Tales of the Unknown, Volume I: The Bard's Tale, the words 'The Bard's Tale' were overpowering compared to the prefix, which was muted and blended in with the background. So, 'The Bard's Tale' is what stuck in players' minds. As a result, all the sequels to the game were called The Bard's Tale suffixed with a number (e.g. Bard's Tale II).

The Game

The background story for The Bard's Tale is unremarkable compared to the effect it had on the game industry. In a nutshell, the player's home town, Skara Brae, has been taken over by the wizard Mangar and his evil minions. He has frozen the surrounding countryside with a spell of Eternal Winter. The goal is to build a party of adventurers to eventually destroy Mangar and free the town from his grasp.

The player begins in the town at the Adventurers Guild. From there, the player recruits adventurers and otherwise manages his party and can save the game. From there, the player can lead his party through the city to one of the dungeons where most of the game's action takes place. Like many games in the genre, "dungeon" was used as a generic term meaning any of the indoor game areas. In this game, each dungeon level was a fixed 22x22 grid.

Adventurers can be one of a few types typical for this genre: monk, paladin, hunter, warrior, rogue (thief), magic-user or conjurer.


Despite its age, The Bard's Tale still has a large following on the Internet. There are several web rings dedicated to it as well as several stand-alone fan sites.

Most notably, however, is a group which is attempting to remake the series. Originally titled The Bard's Legacy, the group has renamed their project Devil Whiskey.

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