The Bard's Tale

Video game serie

An RPG series reminiscent of AD&D and inspired by the Wizardry series. Originally by Michael Cranford, passed to Interplay.


The first video game about The Bard's Tale was released in 1985.

Electronic Arts, Pony Canyon and Interplay has published most of these games

This was a planned trilogy from the start. Originally the names where planned to be "Tales of the Unknown: The Bard's Tale", "Tales of the Unknown: The Archmage's Tale", and "Tales of the Unknown: The Thief's Tale". But the first game was too popular and so many people called it "The Bard's Tale", that the marketing people at Interplay were afraid "Tales of the Unknown: The Archmage's Tale" would not be widely perceived as a sequel to "The Bard's Tale".

The name spawned a brand that was carried over into some novels:
Series 1
Castle of Deception, Mercedes Lackey and Josepha Sherman
The Chaos Gate, Josepha Sherman
Series 2
Prison of Souls, Mercedes Lackey and Mark Shepherd
Escape from Roksamur, Mark Shepherd
Series 3
Thunder of the Captains, Holly Lisle and Aaron Allston
Wrath of the Princes, Holly Lisle and Aaron Allston
Fortress of Frost and Fire, Mercedes Lackey and Ru Emerson
Curse of the Black Heron, Holly Lisle
The story lines of these books are only loosely related to the games.

Maze Master by Michael, can be considered the predecessor of The Bard's Tale. Though the have no design, story, engine, gaiden, or ~quel relationship.

Brian Fargo was a map designer for the Bard Tale series. He went on to found his own company, InXile Entertainment. "The Bard's Tale" published by InXile Entertainment is unrelated to the original Bard Tale series, except perhaps in parody of it and attempting to cash in on the name. A legal loophole allowed the use of "The Bard's Tale" but all other trademarks, characters, places, etc, of the original series are owned by Interplay and are not used by InXile.

Michael Cranford was never actually an employee of Electronic Arts or Interplay Productions. He was sub-sub-contracted from another unrelated company outside of the game industry. Because of this, he developed from home occasionally for Bard's Tale and nearly exclusively for Bard's Tale II. Blessed are the few designers of Electronic Arts' games that never have to actually suffer the fate of working for them.

Michael Cranford, who is a devout Christian, backed out of authoring The Bard's Tale III to spend more time study philosophy and theology. He was not involved with the design of The Bard's Tale III. Nor was he involved in Dragon Wars, which was the only game outside the the Bard's Tale series to use The Bard's Tale Engine. He eventually went into ministry and among other things created a website called, [[link: Sundoulos]].


NEC PC9801 3
Amiga 3
C64 3
Apple II E 3
Apple IIGS 2
Mac OS Classic 1
Windows 1
ZX Spectrum 1
Atari ST 1
Amstrad CPC 1

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