The Bard Prince, Prince Orpheus, Lord of Spring, The First Bard
Panther’s Note- In my setting, Orpheus has replaced Corellon as the chief Elven deity. If interested, I may post some variant bits for that.
Panther’s 2nd Note- 5e Eldarin are lame. When I say Eladrin, I mean the 4e Eladrin, not the 5e half-plant Eldarin. If that doesn't jive, call him a High Elf.
Orpheus appears as a youthful Eladrin with red hair, red-brown skin, and bright green eyes. Although he is generally male, he will occasionally appear as a female, or in a more androgynous form. Sandalwood is sacred to Orpheus, as is the cardinal and the reed pipe.
During the golden summers of his childhood, The Prince of the Feywild longed for a companion and playmate. The Queen of the Summer Lands spared nothing in crafting this friend for her most beloved child. His body was carved of fragrant sandalwood, his hair was the feathers of a cardinal, his eyes were blue-green waters of the eternal spring, and his clothes were as the wings of sacred butterflies. Finally, Tatiana set a pipe of reeds in his hand, and gave him a voice like that of her favored songbirds. On the day of the summer solstice, Tatiana bade the boy to live, and commanded him to fulfill his purpose as the companion of The Summer Prince.
For endless summers, The Summer Prince Corellon, and his companion Orpheus, roamed the far reaches of the Fey Lands, learning the secret paths of the beasts and hidden groves of the primal forests. They, above any other of the Seldarine, know the wild and secret places of The Feywild. The boy, kept the wild secrets in his heart, and set them to song for later recounting at the hearths of the Fey Lords.
When they reached the ends of The Feywild, The Summer Prince and his bard found that they were no longer children. They had grown into men, and it was time for their return to The Summer Court. Tatiana welcomed her son home with a lavish feast that lasted a year. Corellon and Orpheus recounted their travels with song and dance. Corellon was given a crown of stars, and dominion over his siblings as First of the Seldarine. Orpheus was given a lyre, and dominion over inspiration and song.
Orpheus, who was the fairest of all the Eladrin that Tatiana had made, began to be called The Bard Prince. When Corellon Larethian left to guard the gates of Arvandor, Orpheus was freed from his charge over him, and taken in as the Lord of Spring. He lived for generations, serving at The Summer Queen’s side during the day and in her bed at night. When the first signs of age, a wrinkle along his laughing eyes, began to mar his face, The Summer Queen blessed The Bard Prince with youth unending, for she could not bear to see his youth fade.
However, even in the Feywild, nothing can last forever. Corellon began to lust for his carefree days of adventure, when he wandered the wilds with Orpheus. Eventually, the capricious nature of The Elven God got the better of him, and Corellon left his divinity behind to walk the mortal world as a man. Orpheus, ever-loyal, went with him. Tatiana, angry that her favorite lover left to wander the mortal realms, cursed Orpheus never to return.
Musical inspiration, especially for Elves. Unwavering friendship. Sexual freedom and passion. Forgotten lore and oral tradition. Exploration.
The Bard Prince’s blesses those who have followed the ways of the first bards. Once a bard has attained the requisite levels in fighter, rogue and druid, Orpheus will personally test that individual. If the bard-to-be is found to be worthy, Orpheus will grant them his blessing, and welcome them into his Orphic college.
A bard who wishes to obtain this blessing and endorsement must begin their training as a fighter, and after achieving 5th level (but before reaching 8th level), they must train as a thief. After training as a thief for 5 levels, they must learn an ancient secret from a circle of druids. If a bard achieves all of these things, The Lord of Spring will contact them (via dream, inspiration for a song, or even a direct letter) and give them the details of the coming trials.
There should be a Trial of the Fighter, Trial of the Rogue, Trial of the Druid and Trial of the Bard.
Generally speaking, the Trial of the Fighter involves beating Orpheus in single combat. Trial of the Rogue involves stealing something precious from Orpheus. Trial of the Druid would involve some great act for the local wilderness. Trial of the Bard involves a performance, or the writing of a great song. However, all of this should be up to DM’s discretion.
Panther’s Note- If a player actually achieves all of these things, they should receive an impressive boon. When one of my players achieved this, I increased his Charisma score from 20 to 22, and gave him a powerful weapon.
Orpheus would do anything for his best friend, Corellon Larethian. He was made to be Corellon’s friend, companion and entertainer. Although Corellon often takes his friend’s loyalty for granted, the affection between them is quite mutual. To say that the church of Corellon is an ally of Orpheus is putting it mildly. Although Orpheus will extend his favor to any who seek inspiration, he does particularly favor elven and half-elven bards.
Orpheus was literally made to be the companion and entertainer of Corellon Larethian. He would do anything for Corellon Larethian. Orpheus will pursue Corellon’s interests even to his own detriment, and even when Corellon is not necessarily of a mind to return the favor.
He considers the other members of The Seldarine to be his friends. Orpheus views himself as a sort of “fun uncle” to deities that are Corellon’s children.
As one who has explored creation quite extensively, Orpheus knows a great deal about the secrets of the wild places, and gets along quite well with many druidic circles and their patron spirits.
Eilistraee is a favorite “niece” of Orpheus’. As she is a warrior and a poet, Orpheus has taken quite a liking to her, and has taught her many of his musical secrets. Drow that follow her worship are exempted from Orpheus’ “inspiration” shadow. Within my own interpretation of The Seldarine, Orpheus is the one who discovered Eilistraee locked away in Lolth’s domain, and brought her before Corellon.
Orpheus is a charming, attractive and insightful individual. He considers most others to be friends he has simply not yet made. However, there are a few deities that will not be swayed towards him, no matter what.
Lolth hates all members of The Seldarine. Orpheus himself is especially blighted, because she always competed with him for Corellon’s affections. Orpheus refuses to allow his inspiring spirit to reach The Drow (except those that follow Eilistraee). He is quite wary of Lolth, and her (frequent) threats to kill him.
The Queen of the Summer Court has banished Orpheus from The Feywild for choosing Corellon over her. She absolutely refuses to lift this band, and becomes quite irate at anyone who suggests it should be done. Orpheus does his best to forget that he can never return home, but it is a great source of pain for him. He cannot bring himself to hate his maker, and former lover, but he does wish that things could have been different between them.
Panther’s Note- In my pantheon, Titania is a fairly complicated deity; Tatiana is one of her aspects, the mother of Corellon, and Queen of The Feywild. Tatiana is the one who banished Orpheus.
Gruumsh One-Eye hates Orpheus, along with all the other elves. For his part, Orpheus is quite guilty of playing quite a few pranks on the battle-scarred Orc. Orpheus respects the warriors of Gruumsh for their strength and ferocity, but he is disdainful of their lack of imagination. When boredom strikes particularly hard, Orpheus may “inspire” (read: demand) his bards to play a dangerous game of pranks on orcish settlements.
In my setting, Orpheus Latonides is the sire of Corsair. Now, they’ve patched things up a bit in the wake of Corellon Larethian’s death, but there is still animosity on Corsair’s side. If Corsair exists in your setting, he should be hostile to Orpheus on principle, since Orpheus is a member of the Elven pantheon.
Temples to Orpheus take the form of outdoor amphitheaters called an Orpheum. THey are especially favored if some aspect of the architecture is naturally occurring. Performances of old, and forgotten skalds as well as new material that has sprung forth as a result of The Bard Prince’s inspiration are both welcome at an Orpheum. A private seating area near the stage is always left empty for Orpheus. Venues often decide to leave alcohol near this seat as an offering, to tempt Orpheus to view the performances. A particularly large Orpheum might also reserve a dressing room For Orpheus, so that he might have somewhere ‘familiar’ to lay his head (since he cannot return to his home in The Feywild).
Cities that do not have the space for an outdoor-style amphitheater may also practice leaving a private box empty for Orpheus to view their performances, but their success (finding the alcohol gone) is far less frequent than a more traditional Orpheum.
The caretakers of any given Orpheum are usually bards who have retired from a life of wandering, and choose to remain in a single place, so as to train the next generation. If they are a true Orphic Bard who has obtained their Lord’s blessing, they will often keep a small and secretive library of ancient works.
The College of Orphic Bards is a very loosely association of bards who have obtained Orpheus’ blessing. As it is a difficult path to walk, there are never more than a dozen or so Orphic Bards at once. They maintain libraries of ancient works of song and poetry, and often spend their time adapting those works to modern sensibilities so that they do not continue to be forgotten. Alternatively, they are more like rangers. They pursue the secret and distant places that their master once explored with Corellon Larethian. An Orphic Bard will often have an encyclopedic knowledge of nature, geography, lore and tradition.
Orpheus will take any excuse to celebrate and surround himself with attractive individuals of his current persuasion. His bard will happily participate and perform at any gathering or feast to any god (this gets especially amusing if these celebrations are conducted by Orpheus’ enemies).
Corellon’s Birthday - Prior to his banishment, Orpheus would spend inordinate amounts of time writing songs to be performed at Corellon’s birthday celebration at Tatiana’s Court. However, now that he is banished from there, he exhorts his bards to journey to the Feywild in his stead, and sneak in to perform a song to honor The Prince of Summer. They should always conclude their performance with a kind of playful slur against Tatiana. Orpheus swears blessings of fame and fortune upon anyone who can accomplish this feat.
Orpheus’ Birthday - Midsummer day is a day of feasting, drink and “companionship” at all Orpheums. It is said that Orpheus himself will join in on the best party, and bring whatever members of his divine entourage with him. This is not necessarily a good thing; there are few who are as self-absorbed and entitled as the gods of beauty, luck and music. The wake of morning-after regret, broken furniture and emptied larders left in the wake of Orpheus’ party is something to behold.
Orpheus is his own avatar upon the mortal realms. He cannot return to The Feywild, so he wanders the mortal world hoping to find some doorway home that Tatiana forgot about. His blessed bards are his champions, and he exhorts them to wander the worlds, experience life and seek adventure. There have been several very famous bards that were part of the Orphis college. You may insert whomever you see fit for your setting into these numbers.
Orpheus, being essentially God of Elven Rock, has quite a few illegitimate children scattered about the planes. As a deity, Orpheus did not think it appropriate for him to stick around and raise a mortal child that would grow old and die before his eyes. Still, he refused to outright abandon his offspring as Corellon often did. Orpheus favors his children, and grants them powerful blessings of wit, fame and beauty. Any offspring of Orpheus would be considered a champion or avatar of his. However, they would not be likely to know of their heritage unless they have walked the path of the old bards, and met Orpheus face to face.
As Orpheus’ church is quite loose, there are a number of reinterpretations of his rules. Orpheus does not care to correct this, unless it becomes harmful to his image. Some sects have become absolute hoarders of ancient art, and do very little to share it with the world. This is directly contrary to Orpheus’ will, and is usually snuffed out by an Orphic bard acting in Orpheus’ name.
Some of the more pro-Elven social circles are “uncomfortable” with certain narratives, and hold to the thought that The Bard Prince has never given his personal blessing to a non-Elf. This is patently false, and does not sit well with most Orphic Bards.
Some bards abuse their magical abilities to make things “a bit less consensual” than they should be. This is an absolute apostasy to Orpheus, and will bring his wrath upon them.
I designed Orpheus as a sort of rockstar deity. He shows up often in my games, as he is a favorite deity of my players. His attitude and mannerisms should be something like Jareth from Labyrinth, or Freddie Mercury. Orpheus oozes charisma and charm. He is a very sexualized deity, with no concrete preference stated. He is not above using his bardic charms to beguile or confuse someone; despite being banished from The Feywild, he IS still a deity from that realm. It should not be forgotten that, although Orpheus is a poet and lover first, he was once an exceptional warrior and essentially Corellon’s bodyguard when they were exploring strange and distant planes of existence.