Bards have much to gain from the company of other bards. When bards come together, they can exchange news, stories, and songs, expanding their repertoires and base of knowledge.
The Circle of Song is an informal organization that can be found across Khorvaire. In principle it is open to all bards, but a bard who commits a crime against a fellow bard may be judged and expelled from the Circle. Outposts of the Circle are hidden in most major cities and many smaller communities; these are usually taverns or inns, with concealed areas accessible only to members of the Circle. The locations of these outposts and the passwords required to gain access to them are passed around the bardic community, often cleverly concealed in popular songs. Locating the nearest outpost of the Circle requires a Bardic Knowledge check with a DC of 15; if this roll fails, the bard hasn’t heard of the local outpost.
The Circle does not have any sort of official dues, but bards can expect to make some sort of donation to the local outpost when they make use of its services; this could range from a single copper to a platinum piece or even a valuable gem if fortune has smiled on the bard. The bards look out for those who maintain the Circle, and in exchange the Circle looks out for the bards.
The Circle provides bards with the following benefits:
- A Circle outpost always provides food and shelter for a bard. This may not be comfortable living—a bowl of gruel and a blanket on the floor—but it will stave off storm and starvation. The bard is usually expected to perform for other guests at the outpost (usually the regular customers of the inn or tavern); this serves to prove that the bard truly is a member of the Circle and not a poseur.
- Bards exchange stories and news, and an outpost usually has a small library tucked away. A bard receives a +2 circumstance bonus on any bardic knowledge, Gather Information, or Knowledge check he makes at the outpost.
- Finally, bards are often willing to exchange minor favors: gathering information, creating a distraction, ridiculing a particular noble. Few bards will agree to perform a favor that places them in danger, and bards always expect to have favors repaid in kind (which can form a good basis for an adventure).
- Bards are expected to put aside all personal differences while in a Circle outpost. Mortal enemies can meet and discuss past battles over drinks. Breaking this code of conduct results in immediate blacklisting.
All bards are welcome in the Circle of Song, but not all bards are members; it is up to the DM to decide whether a particular bard has heard of the organization. Likewise, it may be that a PC bard has yet to encounter the Circle and must be inducted by an existing member.