The Bards of New Tuluk
* Poets' Circle
* Traditions of Poets' Circle
* Bardic Circles
* Arcs of Learning
* Charms

* Back to the Main Index

Poets' Circle

Located in the northern section of the city of New Tuluk, Poets' Circle is sometimes known as New Poets' Circle, a name which reflects the fact that it is a recreation of the original Poets' Circle, destroyed in the Fall of Tuluk in 1450. The Circle houses the majority of the performers of Tuluk, who number around 2000, divided into six Bardic Circles, along with some independents.

Poets Circle is one of the loveliest sections of the city, and a favorite of visitors. Most of the buildings of Poets' Circle were built by bards momentarily flush with wealth from winning a competition or receiving a fat purse from a patron. Accordingly, they tend to be lavish in ornamentation, brightly colored, and often as idiosyncratic as a bard's whim can be. Tiles, a predominant feature of Tuluki architecture, are used freely, and many of the masterpieces of the Tuluki tile artists are showcased in these buildings.

Two of the more notable buildings are the Lucky Ghaati Teahouse and the house of Zelafin, one of the master bards of Circle Rusarla. The Ghaati features extravagant tile-work of unusual style: white-glazed tiles with subtly impressed patterns, seemingly simple from a distance, elaborate close up. Ceramic planters of similar design hold tufts of blood-red gesra grass and crimson cactus blossoms. It serves teas of various types, as well as simple pastries. The wait-staff are all apprentice bards, and more advanced bards serve as nigh constant entertainment for its patrons. The house of Zelafin features a mural by Brocash, a master-tiler, which depicts many of the legends of Tuluki history. Nenyuk owns a series of apartments here, near the southern side of the circle.

In the center of the circle lies Ana's Garden and the Uaptal Theater, the largest theater in New Tuluk. This substantial building holds the theater, an assortment of dressing rooms, a couple of smaller meeting rooms, a shop that sells used clothing from theatrical presentations, and the caretaker's apartment, as well as a couple of apartments used for foreign actors or other theatrical personel involved in a current production. It was funded mainly by the noble house of Uaptal, although some other patrons provided money and are honored in statues and murals in the theater.

Sculptures of various types are scattered through the streets and buildings, many of them commissioned by patrons and depicting past figures of note or incidents related to the freeing of the Northlands. Most notable among these are:

  • The Fall of the Templars by Usukin, done when he was still an apprentice in the year 54 of the 20th Age. Depicted on an immense black pillar of marble, two wizened figures in robes, one clearly female, recoil from a horde of Tuluki soldiers. The female clutches a horn, while behind her, erupting from the earth, a horde of spectral women warriors emerge.
  • Jenki the Folotran by Arami, done as her proof of mastery piece, in the year 58 of the 20th Age. Carved in red granite, an immense muscular women sits atop a collared tembo, clutching an axe in either hand.
  • The Tower of Halflings, carved in wood, by an unknown apprentice sometime in the 19th age. Rescued from the rubble of fallen Tuluk, this piece is carved from a single huge baobab trunk, and shows a tower of life-sized halflings, holding each other aloft in a five-high column.

Traditions of Poets' Circle

Caste markings: As with the rest of Tuluki society, tattoos are used among bards to denote their Circle and status. An apprentice's tattoo may be small and unobtrusive, but as she or he advances in stature in the Circle, the tattoo will be elaborated on and made more pronounced. Caste markings for the major Circles are:

Charmstrings: Charmstrings are traditional to the Bardic Circles of Tuluk, and allow a bard to tell his or her entire history to a fellow bard with a single look. Made of braided, brightly colored cotton, they are attached to a bard's main instrument: the neck of a guitar, the mouthpiece of a flute, or tangled in a drum's cording. Bards collect charms for accomplishments: visiting a far away place, winning a yearly competition, houses that have acted as their patron, number of years as a bard, instruments they've mastered, etc.

Contests: Contests are a weekly event in Poets' Circle, and the more official ones are held either in the Uaptal Theater or one of the smaller Circle theaters. Most of these award the winner a charm for their charm-string, as well as a cash prize, whose amount can vary widely, according to how much cash a patron has provided. Some may award ornate versions of instruments

Street Singing: Street singing is a common occurence in Poets' Circle and certain prime spots for doing so, such as near the entrance of the Lucky Ghaati, are ardently vied for by bards who have passed the apprentice stage but are still studying to become master bards. The practice allows them to perfect performances that they may rely on for coin when favored by patrons: romantic or sentimental favorites, ballads involving specific noble house history, comic pieces, etc, or to practice newly acquired instruments.

Troupes: Members of a Circle may sometimes form a smaller troupe for the purpose of group performances. It is usually a troupe, rather than an individual, that performs at public events, unless the individual is a Master Bard. Typical pay for a troupe is 500 coins per arena game, 1000 coins for a noble's party or fete, 2000 coins for a city festival. The coins are divided among members, although the usual tithe is paid to the Circle.

Bardic Circles

Most bards belong to a formal organization called a Bardic Circle. These Circles are comparable to small merchant's houses. While the majority of its human members are related by blood, a Circle may also include a number of adopted members, including bards of dwarvish or elvish descent. Circle Rusarla has traditionally been more welcoming to non-human musicians, and holds the largest number of such musicians.

A Circle will provide its members with training, contacts for employment, discounted prices on the instruments it provides, and shelter and food for the indigent, although most bards prefer to provide their own. In return, a Circle's member tithes 25-50% of their wages/commissions to the Circle, depending on how much they rely on the Circle for daily sustenance. While small splinter Circles appear and disappear on a regular basis, the Circles which have survived since the Fall of Tuluk are:

Arcs of Learning

Bards achieve the status of Master Bard by mastering what are called the Arcs of Learning. Each Arc represents a basic area of knowledge, and a Master Bard will be skilled in each of the following:

Only Master Bards can take someone into their Circle, contingent upon agreement by a majority of the rest of the Circle's Master Bards, and only Master Bards can formally take on an apprentice.

Written by Sanvean and Yang
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