A lot of people use their bard characters' high charisma to win the hands of maidens and work their way into friendships with higher powers. As much as I respect these players' rights to play how they have fun in a game, I see this as a waste.
The concept of a bard for me is a storyteller. Someone who passes on a legend, perhaps participating in one or two in their time but mostly being there to witness and assist. This story is one of my favourites out of any great feats that one of my bards or probably any of my characters have accomplished, and one he will likely tell in taverns for years to come.
At the moment I'm playing in a campaign that focuses on fighting off a horde, mostly comprised of orcs, and their dark wizard leader Milgrim. My character is a dwarf bard who works as an ambassador for the king and is admittedly all-around unsuited for this type of hack-and-slash campaign, but to be fair we made our characters with no details provided as to the story.
As a result, last session I found myself face to face with an invasion force of Orcs and their chieftain. Alone. Our dragonborn barbarian Kar-Drac had been captured by the horde and our aarakocra monk Aliza was flying around, circling and waiting for the right time to rescue him. The right time would not come. The party agreed that we needed a distraction.
Now, while bards are typically used well for distractions, this time we had a half-orc fighter who his pc had named Steve and we almost all agreed that this would be a job best suited for him.
Unfortunately for me, Steve's pc was… That guy. He'd been dealt a couple really bad stealth rolls that session and refused to move from standing in his one spot in the forest, claiming that at least he couldn't mess that up! So, reluctantly, it was down to me. Aliza had scouteded the area from above, and to my dismay I realised that I, a level 3 dwarf bard, had to occupy over 100 orc soldiers and their commanders.
Bob blew on an orc chieftain's horn we'd gained from a previous orc base assassination. (For the record, Steve was pretty much useless in that one too, leaving all the work to Bob, Aliza and Kar-Drac the second he got a bad roll and complaining at us when we rolled a fail for anything. Steve kinda sucked that session but we know him in real life so if we said anything it'd be far more trouble than it was worth.)
At the sound, a swarm of startled orcs rushed out of their camp, only to see a funny-looking little man singing, dancing and playing the lute. Thankfully, I rolled high on a performance check and after a moment of realisation and laughter, the horde was pleased enough to keep Bob alive for entertainment.
See, the original plan was to try to roll persuasion to win them over and stop the invasion altogether. However, the dm told me that a roll like that would come with a disadvantage. Thankfully though, Bob had earned a ring in a side quest that allowed him to summon backup dancers of his choice once per long rest, so in this case he had some orc girls in skimpy clothes adding another +2 onto his performance rolls. Easily enough for the guards by Kar-Drac's cage to come and check what the fuss was about.
It was at this point that I'd amused both the orcs and the dm enough for him to offer me a proposition. If Bob gave a good enough speech to the orcs and I roleplayed it well enough, I could roll persuasion without the disadvantage. I grinned. I'd had to barter for my character's life with many an orc in this campaign, especially when Steve was involved. Bob had also already smuggled an orc child out of the horde-hating city of Londinium after gaining its trust and recruited 5 orc scouts who were beating Steve to a pulp at the time, so I was pretty accustomed to roleplaying my way out of bad situations by now.
Still playing his lute, Bob now addressed the crowd.
"WHO HERE LIKES FUNNY LITTLE MEN?" He roared, earning a chuckle from the dm and a cheer from the orcs. "Alright… WHO HERE LIKES WOMEN IN SKIMPY CLOTHES?" He continued, earning a far larger roar of approval from the crowd.
"Well let me tell you, what don't you get in the horde, fair gentlemen? Funny little men and orc girls with skimpy clothes." A murmur of agreement. These were all long-serving soldiers who had likely not seen an orc woman in months, so needles to say my backup dancers were helping my cause greatly.
"But do you know where you can get ALL of those things? My hometown, gentlemen! FULL to the brim of men as little and as funny as I in every bar with a barmaid as scantily clad as the dancers you see here today! So I say no more invasions! I say we lay down our axes and our warhorns and we stop following the orders of pompous magicians that hide in the shadows like cowardly children and we go drink the night away!" Bob shouted, all eyes in the crowd turning to the orc chieftain and all eyes around the table on our DM.
The orc captain raised his fist, putting his thumb out to the side. I'd rolled a solid 17 persuasion but with a crowd this big it was anyone's guess what would happen. It all rode on this orc chief's decision: thumbs down or thumbs up.
There was an audible sigh or relief around the table. The chieftain approved. The orc crowd roared in delight as I rolled a history check to get them directions to the land Bob had spoke of. As the invasion force left merrily, Bob sighed in relief. The first wave of the invasion had been delayed, Kar-Drac had been safely rescued and Bob the Bard was off home to Londinium for a quiet drink. He'd tell the story another night after reporting to the king. Tonight, the people would rest easy without any knowledge of the avoided attack.
Of course, Milgrim of the Horde wasn't the only one after the king's spot. Bob would sit that night, chuckling at the new pawns beginning their movement. But that story hasn't quite started yet.