I was reminded recently of a psionic version of the bard called the Thought Singer for 3.5... and though I cannot find it anymore, the psychic medium over on the pathfinder database has shades of it.
I want something like it, and I do like psionics, but I don't know if I want to swap out casting just yet. I did, however, want to inject a bit of doppelganger, with the ability to read thoughts, short range telepathy (which admitted doppelgangers do not have), and possibly the ability to appear as someone else. I know that alter self and detect thoughts could be picked up by bards at 4th level as spells, but that just seems a little long to wait as sometimes my DMs like to take the slow advancement track or favor 'gritter' campaigns.
I was thinking...
Thought Projection (Su):This ability functions just as the special ability telepathy except the range is limited to 5' per 2 bard levels.
This ability replaces bardic knowledge.
Reading the Crowd (Sp): A bard of 3rd level or higher can use his bardic performance to peer into the minds of the surrounding audience. This ability functions just as the spell detect thoughts with the following changes. It lasts as long as the bard performs. Its range is a 30' radius with the bard at the center, and allows the bard to sense the presence of thoughts, the number of thinking minds in the area of effect and the Intelligence scores of each as the 1st and 2nd round of the spell. The following round, he can sense thoughts as the 3rd round of the spell. For every audience member he reads in this way, he gains a +2 insight bonus to the next bluff, diplomacy, intimidate, or sense motive against the character. This bonus lasts for a number of rounds following the performance equal to the amount of rounds spent performing. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels the bard has attained beyond 3rd (+3 at 7th, +4 at 11th, +5 at 15th, and +6 at 19th).
This ability replaces inspire competence.
...and I don't know if these are good or even balanced... or where to put the rest, so... yeah.
I also was thinking about a Chi Bard archetype. I mean, if rogues can have Ki pools now, why not? Possibly emphasize the serenity aspects of performances somehow, and go from there. I imagine having a ki pool would sub in at 3rd level (I do so love getting rid of inspire competence). Suggestions?