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Treantmonk's Guide to Bards (Optimization)


Advice

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Qadira

Crosswind wrote:

First, I am dumb - I thought you were listing races in order of preference, as opposed to arbitrary. >_<

Agile Maneuvers is nice, but still basically just a 10% increase in success rate on an attack you use maybe twice a combat. I'm not a fan.

How are you going to control a battlefield? Via nets and spells.

And let's talk about the net. First, it costs you a feat to use. Second, at mid to high levels it isn't for disabling spellcasters - 15+spell level is a gimme check at 8+. And you're not going to win an opposed strength roll, so it basically slows creatures down unless they want to break it. Can't they just spend one of their iterative attacks to break the net (5 HP), as opposed to ripping out of it?

I like the idea of a controller bard, but I think you might get better mileage out of spending your extra feats on arcane strike and the archery tree, or on some spell focuses to make your enchantment spells land.

Archer build really dominates the other bard builds. It's such a good use of arcane strike, and it's not MAD-heavy.

-Cross

Just a note on the net.....most people just take the -4 to hit for non-proficiency. It's just a touch attack to hit with it anyway so why spend the feat unless you really plan to use it a lot.


Treantmonk wrote:

Would you? That means you can think of some circumstances where you would be glad your Bard had ventriloquism instead of lowly ghost sound.

Tell us about those circumstances.

If you can't (because you can't think of any), then why 2 stars?

I had a giant post explaining why to use ventriloquism, but it was eaten |:

Highlights:

* Verbal components aren't gibberish, they're intelligible speech. You can't use verbal components with ghost sound. I missed that in your previous post. I posted a bunch of PRD text and logical examples, but again, I lost it q:

* You can also use ventriloquism to activate most magic items (spell completion -- as long as the spell in the scroll has verbal components -- spell trigger, command word), which you can't do with ghost sound. This helps if you're in silence or gagged.

* If you don't agree with my interpretation of the rules, then clearly we can't agree on the effectiveness of this spell. That's fine, it's your review -- which I thought was very good (:


Continued from last post...

j) I'll take a look and consider your points, then post back. I admit to not being all that experienced with sculpt sound.

k) The idea is, if you know who has been affected, they are pretty much an auto-fail on any enchantment you direct at them. Therefore, you hit a group of enemies with this spell, then follow up with the big gun all-or-nothing enchantment on one of the enemies who failed (like a dominate person or the like)...which is a much better effect than confusion.

If you don't know who has been affected, yeah, it's useless.

l) Wait...+4 to save vs. poison??? (*Checks his book*) AHHHH - they nerfed it!!! (Used to be immunity to poison in 3.5). OK, yep, I overrated it (but for different reason than you thought). Though I agree, the best Bard spells for their level are concentrated in the lower level spells...(pre level 5)

Anyways - lowered for stupid nerfing!!!

m) Keep in mind though that all kinds of creatures are immune to this (or anyone with mind blank). As levels increase, your target victim for enchantment reduces. I agree it's a good spell (though the 3.5 version didn't provide a saving throw at all!). I'll have to consider your point.


Draeke Raefel wrote:
@TreantMonk: I don't think you will have time to create another handbook, you'll be too busy answering questions/defending the decisions you made on this one :) Aside from that, good handbook. Gives some ideas and helpful tips. Even if some of the rules are up for interpretation, you explained why you chose to make the judgement calls you did. Which means that players should be able to extrapolate your reasons to other choices and adjust based on errata and rules clarifications. Really the most important thing is to get people thinking about the class in different ways and then let them go on and make decisions as they see fit given their dm and personal play style.

For sure, and I hold no illusions that I'm the ultimate authority, or that my opinions on this stuff is any better than someone elses. I'm just the one who took the time to make a guide.

As for other handbooks - I've already started writing, though responding here does slow it down somewhat, I'm glad this thread is getting attention, and hope it continues (and that my future handbooks do as well). I'm always glad to discuss this stuff, as I often learn more about the subject by doing so (which allows me to improve the handbook).

Ultimately, these handbooks are usually selfish, because I like to use them as a resource for my own characters. Naturally, this handbook sprung up at the same time as I began playing a Bard in a friends campaign...and I'll be referencing this for my own character.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I've cleaned up a few posts in this thread. Seriously folks, be civil to one another.


meabolex wrote:
Treantmonk wrote:

Would you? That means you can think of some circumstances where you would be glad your Bard had ventriloquism instead of lowly ghost sound.

Tell us about those circumstances.

If you can't (because you can't think of any), then why 2 stars?

I had a giant post explaining why to use ventriloquism, but it was eaten |:

Highlights:

* Verbal components aren't gibberish, they're intelligible speech. You can't use verbal components with ghost sound. I missed that in your previous post. I posted a bunch of PRD text and logical examples, but again, I lost it q:

* You can also use ventriloquism to activate most magic items (spell completion -- as long as the spell in the scroll has verbal components -- spell trigger, command word), which you can't do with ghost sound. This helps if you're in silence or gagged.

* If you don't agree with my interpretation of the rules, then clearly we can't agree on the effectiveness of this spell. That's fine, it's your review -- which I thought was very good (:

Sorry about your post :( That does suck!

We do agree on your interpretation of the rules. I agree that verbal components are itellegible speech.

My point is this. Imagine the room you are in, now pretend there are 40 people in the room shouting. Assume you can't understand what they are shouting, but nonetheless, the noise is deafening. Now imagine someone invisible in the room talking at normal volume (speaking verbal components). Will you hear him at all? (nevermind pinpoint the location of the talking).

It's using Ghost Sound in a different way than you were suggesting using ventriloquism, but achieves the same result (your location can't be pinpointed when using verbal components and invisible).

As for the Silence or gagging...if you are gagged or silenced and it's preventing you from casting spells - how are you casting ventriloquism?

I'm not sure from your post if we are miscommunicating? I've mentioned these same points before, and you haven't specifically adressed them...


Crosswind: For the record, I agree that the Archer Bard is probably the most powerful of the three builds. I guess I should mention that in the Guide...done.


Treantmonk wrote:
Crosswind wrote:

3.) Dazzling Display is a full round action - not yet reflected in the guide (says Standard).

Where does it say that? Can't find it. (The Dazzling display entry itself just says it can last multiple rounds if you roll well.)

From http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/feats.html#dazzling-display

"...can perform a bewildering show of prowess as a full-round action."

Treantmonk wrote:


a) Opponents only get a +5 to save if being attacked or threatened by you or your allies. If you win initiative, you can cast this on round 1 and shouldn't have a problem. As for the restriction to humanoids - yes, that does restrict things - however, note that this has a great duration with no HD limit, so it's good forever.

Charm Person is a great precursor to diplomacy. Charm moves their attitude to friendly, which averts combat and gives you the opportunity to use diplomacy to raise their attitude to helpful. Get them to help you during the day, and when they go to sleep...well, I guess it depends how flexible your moral code is...

b) Sleep at level 1 is kickass. At level 2, it's OK, by level 4, it's pretty much useless. However, you are right, it's an excellent choice for a later swap...hmmmm...I was waffling between 2 and 3 stars for Sleep, as I have won many level 1 combats with that spell. OK - you convinced me, I'll make the change, with a warning that the spell should be taken at level 1, and by level 5 it's a 1 star spell, so should be swapped.

c) Is protecting from sneak attack the only side benifit I listed? Check again - I've added something I forgot to mention. Bigger Blur fan now?

d) Hold Person of course has the same limitation you mentioned to Charm Person (humanoid only), and on round 1 (when I recommend casting generally), Charm Person is the better spell since you won't usually have allies adjacent to the enemy to deliver the Coup de Gras on the same round. With Charm Person, coup de gras him in his sleep that night...

e) Hmmmm...I guess I'm too used to actually playing the Wizard, I usually have defenses against silence (My current wizard has written right on the character sheet that his Rod of Silent Spell is normally carried in his left hand). The strategy you mentioned obviously I'm aware of, as I did list it in the spell description. We aren't that far apart on this spell though. I did give it a pretty high recommendation (3 out of 4)

f) Give me some circumstances on how you would use suggestion to good effect in combat (with a reasonable suggestion that might give a penalty to save). Do so and I'll consider changing the rating. For the record, I don't hate suggestion (or it would have gotten a 1 star rating!)

g) I'm not sure of the point of comparing Glibness and Haste, but a 3rd level spell to give a big skill bonus to one skill sounds OK to me, but not amazing. Bluff is a really good skill, but you are pretty good at it already. What am I missing?

h) That's a very interesting point. I guess you are pretty much always "interacting" with a major image. Didn't think of that at the time. I'll lower the rating and put that warning in the description.

i) Sorry, but I have extensive personal experience with Phantom Steed and it is a fantastic spell. No other spell in the game gives you the consistant manouverability of Phantom Steed. I pretty much consider it a "must have" for any spellcaster who can get it. For those who can't get it, beg the party wizard for one - you'll thank me later. Once again, I speak from experience. Phantom steed basically means you can put your figure anywhere on the map every turn without using even a move action.

a.) Didn't consider that winning initiative would make things non-threatening. I guess you're right.

c.) Had to check the rules on your addition. I guess it's true. I might file that under "Your mileage may vary by DM" - my DM would not allow me to be unseen in broad daylight because I had a good stealth check and blur up. Some day we will get a version of the Stealth skill that is well-written. =)

d.) Bards have enough spells to cast a couple of spells per combat. Hold Person is a staple offensive spell for dropping big fighter-types, and is probably most often-used after everybody's in combat (like you said). It's still a terrific option.

e.) You get silence at 4th level. Minus equipment and specific feat choices, this tactic is a huge pain in the ass to get out of. With equipment, it's -still- a pain in the ass to get out of. Unless you want to start equipping villains with Greater rods of silence, a fairly expensive item, this simple spell puts an enormous cramp in every enemy wizard's arsenal. Severely limits what they can cast, and if they're not prepared (which some enemies will not be), they just die.

f.) Sure:

"The people you are fighting are wealthy and capable - joining them would not only spare your life, but net you a decent pay check!"

"If you stay in the back and only appear to attack, you'll be most likely to get out of this alive if it all goes south..."

Or the more hard-to-land ones.

"If you kill the chieftain while he is distracted, -you- will become the new leader of this orc band!"

"Look at their gear, these people are scouts for an advancing army...run for your life!"

These are all reasonably-phrased suggestions. Depending on your DM, you could get bonuses for any of these.

Then there are all the situational ones:
"That princess is too luscious to be sacrificed - you'd best save her!"
etc.

Suggestion is an absolutely kickass battlefield control spell. Used right, it's a 2nd level dominate/sleep/fear/whatever without an HD cap.

g.) I'll concede. Glibness is outrageously useful when it's useful, but you'll only do this a couple of times a campaign, and you can use a scroll of it.

i.) Don't get it. Sure, it gives you great maneuverability, unless somebody wants to spend one of their iterative attacks to put an arrow in it (27 hit points at 20th level). But what's the point of the maneuverability? I get it if you're a mounted combat, archer bard. But most bards want to stay somewhat near the rest of the party. Would you take this before haste, confusion, slow, or Good Hope? When you could get a lot of the benefit by casting Expeditious Retreat?

-Cross


Crosswind wrote:
Treantmonk wrote:
Crosswind wrote:

3.) Dazzling Display is a full round action - not yet reflected in the guide (says Standard).

Where does it say that? Can't find it. (The Dazzling display entry itself just says it can last multiple rounds if you roll well.)

From http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/feats.html#dazzling-display

"...can perform a bewildering show of prowess as a full-round action."

Treantmonk wrote:


a) Opponents only get a +5 to save if being attacked or threatened by you or your allies. If you win initiative, you can cast this on round 1 and shouldn't have a problem. As for the restriction to humanoids - yes, that does restrict things - however, note that this has a great duration with no HD limit, so it's good forever.

Charm Person is a great precursor to diplomacy. Charm moves their attitude to friendly, which averts combat and gives you the opportunity to use diplomacy to raise their attitude to helpful. Get them to help you during the day, and when they go to sleep...well, I guess it depends how flexible your moral code is...

b) Sleep at level 1 is kickass. At level 2, it's OK, by level 4, it's pretty much useless. However, you are right, it's an excellent choice for a later swap...hmmmm...I was waffling between 2 and 3 stars for Sleep, as I have won many level 1 combats with that spell. OK - you convinced me, I'll make the change, with a warning that the spell should be taken at level 1, and by level 5 it's a 1 star spell, so should be swapped.

c) Is protecting from sneak attack the only side benifit I listed? Check again - I've added something I forgot to mention. Bigger Blur fan now?

d) Hold Person of course has the same limitation you mentioned to Charm Person (humanoid only), and on round 1 (when I recommend casting generally), Charm Person is the better spell since you won't usually have allies adjacent to the enemy to deliver the Coup de Gras on the same round. With Charm Person, coup de gras him in his sleep that night...

e)

...

Good ideas. I do disagree on the phantom steed. It is a good spell not when you get it necessarily, but when you're high enough level that it can fly. Look at the duration, it's other downside is the low HP. One full attack can destroy it.


Treantmonk wrote:

k) The idea is, if you know who has been affected, they are pretty much an auto-fail on any enchantment you direct at them. Therefore, you hit a group of enemies with this spell, then follow up with the big gun all-or-nothing enchantment on one of the enemies who failed (like a dominate person or the like)...which is a much better effect than confusion.

If you don't know who has been affected, yeah, it's useless.

Ok. I get how this works. Objection withdrawn!

The real problem with making a control-oriented bard is that there is no feat-cheap way to be good at control in melee. Weapon Focus and Dazzling Display is one way...but it's a full-round action. At 7th level, you could have cast a spell, and activated bardsong using that.

It's very strange. From a character optimization perspective, the bard is able to do so much, in so little time, his first round - cast a spell, activate a huge buff.

And then, for the rest of the combat, he has trouble finding something to repeatedly be useful at.

Another caveat: I'm not sure if you imply in your handbook that, with spring attack, you can move in, cleave, and move out, but you can't. The wording on spring-attack forbids it. You can't Vital Strike either, sadly.

-Cross


Crosswind wrote:

From http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/feats.html#dazzling-display

"...can perform a bewildering show of prowess as a full-round action."

My bad, I meant where did I say it was a standard action? (We agree it is a full round action - I just can't find where I said otherwise)

As for spell discussion

a) I guess it's a GM's call - but I think you've got a pretty strong case if nobody has done anything yet in a potential combat situation...it's the way we've played it in my group anyways.

c) Will he let you get a stealth roll in broad daylight if you have some form of conventional concealment? If so, I would ask him why a spell that duplicates the concealment condition no longer applies? Certainly the rules are pretty clear on the matter, if he doesn't allow it, it's a houserule.

That said, yes, stealth could be worded better...

d) At higher levels you can cast more than once. I'll consider it, but no promises.

e) I think it's important to remember that we really are on the same page with this spell. We agree on when it can be used, and how to use it most effectively. We both highly recommend it. Our opinions have only the most moderate difference in how often we think it will be used I think. No big deal, we agree it is a great spell.

f)Excellent and convincing suggestions. I'm going to steal your ideas!!!! Also, I'm changing the rating right now. Well done!!!

...got to go again. I'll come check again later...


Crosswind wrote:


And then, for the rest of the combat, he has trouble finding something to repeatedly be useful at.

Another caveat: I'm not sure if you imply in your handbook that, with spring attack, you can move in, cleave, and move out, but you can't. The wording on spring-attack forbids it. You can't Vital Strike either, sadly.

-Cross

My wife uses a bard to buff our group and uses a rod of viscid globs to continually keep big enemies out of battle while we kill their friends. +1 frost scorpion whip tends to roll 6's on frost damage as well randomly. Great tactic and don't need the net, more expensive though.

Someone mentioned tearing the 5 hp net, I would suggest if you have that problem a lot magically hardening the net. Enhancements should increase the break/escape artist dc as well. A +5 hardened/returning/self folding net command activation on the return instead of every round could be an awesome unique item.

As for spring attack I believe you can use vital strike with it, but not shot on the run. The wording for spring attack is "single attack" which matches what you can combine with vital strike, the wording of shot on the run is "full round action" I realize this is debateable, but I don't see it being overpowered and it does match raw.

As for silence, I like silencing a tanglefoot bag then sticking the wizard in place. Nothing like being covered in sticky glue and unable to ask for help.

edit: oh and suggestion is a class feature. That's the main reason i would not take it as a spell, that and the class feature DC scales up with bard level so gets better and better.


Treantmonk wrote:
Crosswind wrote:

From http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/feats.html#dazzling-display

"...can perform a bewildering show of prowess as a full-round action."

My bad, I meant where did I say it was a standard action? (We agree it is a full round action - I just can't find where I said otherwise)

As for spell discussion

a) I guess it's a GM's call - but I think you've got a pretty strong case if nobody has done anything yet in a potential combat situation...it's the way we've played it in my group anyways.

c) Will he let you get a stealth roll in broad daylight if you have some form of conventional concealment? If so, I would ask him why a spell that duplicates the concealment condition no longer applies? Certainly the rules are pretty clear on the matter, if he doesn't allow it, it's a houserule.

That said, yes, stealth could be worded better...

d) At higher levels you can cast more than once. I'll consider it, but no promises.

e) I think it's important to remember that we really are on the same page with this spell. We agree on when it can be used, and how to use it most effectively. We both highly recommend it. Our opinions have only the most moderate difference in how often we think it will be used I think. No big deal, we agree it is a great spell.

f)Excellent and convincing suggestions. I'm going to steal your ideas!!!! Also, I'm changing the rating right now. Well done!!!

...got to go again. I'll come check again later...

You're right. I can't find where in the handbook you said it. Apologies!

Glad you like Suggestion. It's one of my favorites.

I'm still trying to come up with something for a controller bard to do in combat that's useful. Is there -any- feat-light way for a bard to spend his actions usefully?

-Cross


I'm kind of busy for the rest of the afternoon - but thanks again Crossfield for the feedback (I don't change spell ratings often - you should feel honoured! Any who witnessed my necromancy handbook would tell you I'm stubborn as a mule on ratings sometimes)


Tanglefoot bags? A wand of something or other?


hogarth wrote:
Tanglefoot bags? A wand of something or other?

Rod of Viscid Globs. 3xday tanglefoot bag 100 ft range, very nice item for a non-melee bard, might be good for the melee bard too using a longspear on a stuck down opponent.


grasshopper_ea wrote:


As for spring attack I believe you can use vital strike with it, but not shot on the run. The wording for spring attack is "single attack" which matches what you can combine with vital strike, the wording of shot on the run is "full round action" I realize this is debateable, but I don't see it being overpowered and it does match raw.
The thought of spring attack is that you can make an attack and move before and after the attack. An attack falls under the subset of attack action. An attack action is a standard action.

Spring attack is either a standard attack or a full attack action.

Either way it can't be used with cleave or vital strike because you can't combine a standard action with a full round action or with another standard action.

As for vital strike here is a quote from another tread.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hey there all,

Couple of notes. Generally speaking, when reading feats, the descriptive sentence at the very beginning is just that, descriptive. It is not generally rules text.

As for the Vital Strike issue... just roll the damage dice for the weapon twice. Everything else is as normal. If you normally deal 1d8+4 with a longsword, you would deal 2d8+4 with a longsword using Vital Strike.

Vital Strike is an attack action, btw, which is a standard action. You cannot use it as part of a full-attack action.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


Looking at your spell list something strike me. It looks a bit like you forgetting the rest of the party.
Greater Invisibility is not great used on the bard, but great used on the rogue. We use it, the rogue loves it and we love when the rogue can sneak attack again and again.
CMW is perhaps not the best healing spell. But sometimes the bard can and need to aid the cleric. The bard got caster level. So 2d8+10 can be a life savior. Perhaps not at level 17 but level 9 to 13 it can be great.

The bard is a jack of all trades and just focusing on the best spells I think you forget the utility benefits of the bard.
Sure you can get a wand of Identify but it's nice to have the spell on your list and it last for 3 round per level. So at level 10 you can identify 30 items using only one spell. Also, identify is very much a bard thing. Same goes for Comprehend Languages and Remove Curse. Yes they are both circumstantial, but when you need them you really do need them.

Heroism vs. Good hope. We use haste + good hope in almost every fight. Everyone loves it. Agree our group rely heavily on weapon damage but combined with inspire courage it is +5 to attack and +4 to weapon damage.
The bonus to saves and skills are very usefull.
Good hope is a bard only spell and you boost the whole party.

Slow. If you cast slow use Dirge of Doom first, The bard is going to have a problem with his DC so I would probably go for Haste since its a autosucces and slow isn't. But a high charisma bard using Dirge of Doom well and foes with bad will saves then slow can work fine.
Also remeber that a lot of monsters have spell resistance yes and / or are immune to mind affecting spells.

Anyway. I'm not saying I'm right and you are wrong. I just wanted to share some of my experiences and thoughts.

And I agree with you: Glitterdust and Grease are two of the best spells on the bard list. Both of them are spell resistance: no.
Also none of them are mind-affecting spells. Yes, glitterdust work on undeads. Be sure to mention these two thing.
From time to time our bard target big foes with bad rexlex saves (ogres etc.) and grease their weapons. They drop them and it's just hilarious.


Zark:

Greater Invisibility would work nicely on the party Rogue. As long as there is a party rogue.

As for CMW, it isn't a bad spell, but you have so few spells to choose from, and in general, I think it's better to use magic to prevent damage than heal it (tends to be more efficient). Naturally sometimes you just have to heal in combat, but, as you point out, the party Cleric (or even Druid) will be a better healer than you. Not to say there won't be times when you want a better healing spell than CLW, but that's pretty much true of most spells. It would be great if you could get them all.

Identify is certainly proper for the flavor of the Bard - though, sometimes you don't need it at all. I think most of the time, you can get by with a wand. Normally, getting 30 items to identify at once isn't going to come up (but when it does, you'll be glad to burn the wand for that!)

The point about circumstantial spells is certainly true (when you need them, you really need them). Unfortunately, this is true of lots of spells - but a few scrolls should serve you in emergency.

As for Heroism vs Good Hope - I am in agreement. Good Hope is a terrific spell, and better than Heroism (it should be, it is higher level). That is why I give it a high rating. My caution in the text is to not take both Heroism and Good Hope because they don't stack with each other. (Or swap out heroism alternatively)

As for Slow - yes, Haste allows you to avoid saving throws, but Slow hurts your enemies more than Haste helps your allies (staggered is a devastating state for many foes to be in - you lose all but one attack, and you can either move or attack - but not both. Painful!) However, your point about mind affecting spells is certainly true. Too many Bard spells are mind affecting - so a careful eye should ensure your spell list is not too full of them.

I'll make that tip in the Guide.

As for the mind-affecting/Spell resistance tips - I agree it deserves a mention - though I think I'll mention looking at these things as general advice at the beginning, to ensure nothing is missed.


Treantmonk wrote:

Zark:

As for CMW, it isn't a bad spell, but you have so few spells to choose from, and in general, I think it's better to use magic to prevent damage than heal it (tends to be more efficient). Naturally sometimes you just have to heal in combat, but, as you point out, the party Cleric (or even Druid) will be a better healer than you. Not to say there won't be times when you want a better healing spell than CLW, but that's pretty much true of most spells. It would be great if you could get them all.

At level 10 a bard will have five second level spells. One of them can easily be CMW.

My point was not that the cleric (or druid or Paladin) is better than the bard. My point is when the cleric can't heal or heal enough then 2d8+10 is very nice, and this happens from time to time.
Cleric, Bard, Monster, Fighter, rogue, etc.
Cleric use CCW on fighter and make a bad roll
Bard heal fighter, 2d8+10.
Moster hit fighter - hard.
Fighter do not die but hit monster hard.
Rogue and fighter flank moster. Rogue sneak attack monster.
Mosnter die.
etc.
The healing may also give the cleric time to cast Flame strike, etc.
And sometimes the cleric can't get to the fighter, rogue or whoever.
The bard can tumble over to fighter and heal.
If you give Cat's Grace 2 stars I think you should give CMW 3 stars.
CMW give the whole party more options.


Oh....especially for later level bards, another awesome suggestion: The joy of wands with/without UMD. I know you list this as a must have skill, but for a lot of chars, its even worth an extra feat (skill focus) for. Reasoning:

Level 10 character with a charisma bonus of +3, 10 ranks of UMD, and Skill focus(UMD) +6 has a +19 bonus on UMD. Natural 1s don't autofail, and only have a penalty IF the 1 _also_ is a failure. So you autosucceed at DC 20 skillchecks...which is the DC to activate a wand. So, just about any bard at level 10 should have (with the feat) the ability to use any wand of any class, absolutely at will. This not only takes care of the "limited uses per day" problem of the bard, but multiplies your flexibility that's the core class feature of bards. So, level 4 or less spells from any class spell list? Especially since PF wands only cost GP to make.....and if you can convince your party of the value of this, you can get your party spellcaster to take the craft wand feat, and contribute out of party gold the making/recharging of these. Hmm....wands of cure serious/cure critical (Cure serious is probably the better cost/benefit choice) on your bard? (hell, that one doesn't even take UMD).

This tactic gets insanely good if you include 3.5 content and can find a high level ranger/pally. (Who's amazing spells are capped at level 4 so can all be wanded). Archer bard with ranger +archery spells, far more than a ranger can do it? But we'll just ignore that for now....(Though who knows if PF will give Rangers those options again...I thought it was a wonderful thing 3.5 did to make ranger/pally spellcasting actually _do_ something for their primary roles)

That's just the use wand (Easiest feature) option. At level 13/14 you're automaking dc25's on a roll of 1 (Activate blindly, whee!). And of course at level 19, the ability to take 10 makes your 'autosucceed' range up to the point where you're autosucceeding on 19+6+ (3-5..c.harisma bonus, lets say 5 at this point with a 16 char +4 item),+10 (taking 10)=40...which is pretty much every UMD roll in existance (Scrolls of up to caster level 20, etc.). Of course, level 19/20 chars all get crazy stuff that's not really worth thinking about....still, its nice to know that your crazy versatility now includes casting any scroll of any class, filling whatever party hole you have.

So, summary: Think about UMD as part of your 'usual combat tactics', with wands, and if going that route, think about the feat Skill Focus for +3/+6 (or possibly Magical aptitude for +2/+4 to UMD and spellcraft...or for the really crazy/dedicated, both). You were already planning on a few feats for "what to do on rounds you're not using bard features" anyways. This also opens up my preferred bard archetype, which is one you didn't really list: The pure charisma/skillmonkey type. Screw stopping at charisma 16, screw feats for combat, etc :).
...

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Added after original post: For the pure spellcaster bard, if you can't get someone else to do the role: Craft wand yourself. No XP cost, 7.5gp*Spell level*spellcaster level per use. Again even better if you can talk your party into taking that out of party gold (Especially since you're using the spells likely to buff the party/battlefield control for the party) and it wipes out the limited spells per day problem


re: CMW = 2 or 3 stars

I think Treant's guide is assuming people will take some "2 star" spells at some point, but if you start calling out every "2 star" spell, the guide quickly gets bloated and less focused.

If secondary healing is an unfilled role in your character's party, CMW may well be attractive. As is, CLW/CMW scrolls are available and fairly economical at mid-levels, so for a large number of groups, that may well be an equal/better option to using a "limited resource" (Bard Spells Known). If people feel their party needs more 2ndary healing, learning CMW seems a fairly obvious option that would occur to them: I don't think it's necessary to point in a guide like this (perhaps more in a general paragraph about the Bard's role(s)/options, rather than a specific treatment of spells).

EDIT: Sorry, misquoted your star rating, Zark (fixed now) :-)


Our bard has skill focus UMD. It's great.
She also have a craft feat. Good but not very fun.


Quandary wrote:

re: CMW = 2 or 4 stars

I think Treant's guide is assuming people will take some "2 star" spells at some point, but if you start calling out every "2 star" spell, the guide quickly gets bloated and less focused.

If secondary healing is an unfilled role in your character's party, CMW may well be attractive. As is, CLW/CMW scrolls are available and fairly economical at mid-levels, so for a large number of groups, that may well be an equal/better option to using a "limited resource" (Bard Spells Known).

I never said it's 4 stars.

Perhaps it's just 2 stars, I just think the guide could point out it's a valid choise in certain groups.
Also it's good vs undeads. The bard really have no weapon vs. undeads.
CMW scrolls is not an option. Too expensive and 2d8+3 is not as good as 2d8+10.


As mentioned - all 2 star spells are those spells you will take "sometimes if right for your group".

My recommendation GENERALLY would be to, in general, use CLW wands to do out of combat healing, and for Bards to normally avoid the healing role in combat.

A CMW scroll, as Zark mentioned, isn't going to do much good. Instead get a CSW scroll, just one or two, for emergency use only. Otherwise, when that fighter is looking to be in trouble, use other defensive spells to keep him going. BACTOE (but of course their are obvious exceptions)

For Zark's earlier situation, if the Bard didn't have CMW, an invisibility spell might have given the fighter the protection needed for him to set up for his killing blow. A blur spell would at least offer a miss chance, or the improved invisibility that Zark suggested for the Rogue earlier, might be the solution. Maybe a dimension door to take the Fighter out of danger is instead the key to eventual victory (regroup and attack again).

My point is that there are often alternatives to healing.

There are often other solutions besides healing - but when all else fails, a CSW scroll will sufficice in emergency.

The exception to the rule of course is when the Party is short on healing. In general, I consider "Cleric" to be an optional class to any party (contrary to popular opinion) since a number of classes can activate CLW wands (which are dirt cheap), and for the most part, healing outside of combat will serve in most situations.

However, in a no Cleric Party, those healing spells all become more valuable, and could all be considered highly recommended spells.

The ratings are all general, and can change based on party makeup, DM style, Player style, and the campaign type.


Zark wrote:
grasshopper_ea wrote:


As for spring attack I believe you can use vital strike with it, but not shot on the run. The wording for spring attack is "single attack" which matches what you can combine with vital strike, the wording of shot on the run is "full round action" I realize this is debateable, but I don't see it being overpowered and it does match raw.
The thought of spring attack is that you can make an attack and move before and after the attack. An attack falls under the subset of attack action. An attack action is a standard action.

Spring attack is either a standard attack or a full attack action.

Either way it can't be used with cleave or vital strike because you can't combine a standard action with a full round action or with another standard action.

As for vital strike here is a quote from another tread.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hey there all,

Couple of notes. Generally speaking, when reading feats, the descriptive sentence at the very beginning is just that, descriptive. It is not generally rules text.

As for the Vital Strike issue... just roll the damage dice for the weapon twice. Everything else is as normal. If you normally deal 1d8+4 with a longsword, you would deal 2d8+4 with a longsword using Vital Strike.

Vital Strike is an attack action, btw, which is a standard action. You cannot use it as part of a full-attack action.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Nowhere in the description of the feat spring attack is the wording standard action or full round, shot on the run specifies full round, cleave specifies standard action. This tells me that it is neither, because other feats are written up with those words. It actually implies you could take a non-move equivalent move action and combine it with spring attack.

Vital strike's feat says single attack, not standard action.


Crosswind will now present some thoughts on Battlefield Control as a Bard:

Treantmonk has espoused the theory that you should cast on the first round, and not really cast afterwards. This is the classical theory of battlefield control, and is important for 2 reasons:

1.) A lot of battlefield control prevents movement. Preventing movement once things are close to you is not as valuable as preventing it from far away.

2.) Most battlefield control isn't selective, so it's best to do it while the enemies are relatively far away.

-----------

The above are true for a wizard. And I loves me some control wizards. They are dramatically less true for a bard. The bard has 3 good control spells that fit into those categories (More, if you count Silent Image): Grease (1,2) , Slow(1) and confusion(2).

None of these spells are actually dramatically worse if you cast them when the enemy is up close. It's tougher to target confusion, and the effects of all 3 are slightly worse when cast on targets already in melee, but they're still excellent.

There's also the fact that if you win initiative, Charm Person works. Agree that if you can, Charm Person should be your first spell of any combat. The risk/reward is fantastic.

Now allow me to present an argument for casting spells on, say, the 2nd round. First, the general arguments:

1.) Buffing and Debuffing is better on the first round than the second, because buffs last all combat. Bard-song, Dazzling Display, Good Hope, Haste, etc, etc.

2.) If you Dazzling Display the first round, your spells have a better shot at landing.

3.) In general, you know more about who is a threat and how the combat's going to shape up the second round.

Specific arguments:

1.) Hold Person is an instakill on the 2nd round, and an inconvenience the first round.

2.) All of the disable spells (Daze, Sleep, Hideous Laughter, Irresistible Dance, etc) work best if you can simultaneously beat the crap out of the victim -as- they lose their turn.

That's about it. A lot of the bard's spellcasting can fall into the save-or-get-mobbed category. As such, casting in late rounds, after you've used Dazzling Display to soften 'em up, is a big plus.

-Cross


Only here so I can get the dot.


wraithstrike wrote:
Only here so I can get the dot.

You are such a smurfing cheat! That is a stolen dot!


Treantmonk, just wanted to say I've been lurking the thread and the google doc. I don't have anything to contribute, but I'm learning a lot. I really like what you're doing here, especially because the tone of the discussion has remained cordial and intelligent. Looking forward to more on bards and future handbooks.


Protection from X now grant a new save and no inmunity. The change was part of the new ¨No spell should grant total inmunity to a lot of things, unless its very high level like Mind Blank¨ philosophy.


Hey I like this guide a lot. Will there be guides for other classes as well???

The other classes are more straightforward, but I would like to see new ideas...


Pavlovian: I'm working on 2 handbooks right now, a Ranger one and a Wizard one. I kind of think the Wizard one will be up next, because I'm a sucker for Wizards - always have been. The style will be a bit different than the Bard guide.

Yawar: Nice to see you here. Checked it out, you are half correct. Got my book in front of me right now, what it says under protection from evil:

"...the subject immediately receives another saving throw (if one was allowed to begin with) against any spells or effects that possess or exercise mental control over the creature (including Enchantment(charm) effects and Enchantment (compulsion) effects). This saving throw is made with a +2 morale bonus, using the same DC as the original effect. If successful, such effects resume when the duration expires. While under the effects of this spell, the target is immune to any new attempts to possess or exercise mental control over the target. "

So extra saving throw at +2 vs. existing mental control, immunity to any new effects.

Bards are still in a lot of trouble against anyone with Protection from X - as long as it is already up.

For the record, I think they should have made it an extra save (like the Rogues slippery mind ability), giving full immunity to the lions share of the enchantment school, right up to dominate monster, seems pretty powerful for spell level 1.


Treantmonk wrote:

" While under the effects of this spell, the target is immune to any new attempts to possess or exercise mental control over the target. "

Ouch! I missed that, but later in that paragraph says: " This second effectonly functions against spells and effects created by evil creatures or objects, subject to GM's discretion. ". So those spells should be added a clause that says: ¨+1 star if your bard is neutral¨. My 2 coppers.

By the way, I am eager to see your Ranger handbook.

Humbly,
Yawar


Popping back in briefly, as I was finally able to obtain a copy of the bestiary from a games store here in the UK.
I feel any guide to bards should take into account nymphs, although pursuing this option is very much within the purview of the GM and likely involves roleplay.

Pathfinder RPG bestiary (Page 217, Nymph) wrote:
Inspiration (Su) A nymph can choose am intelligent creature to inspire and serve as a muse by giving that creature some token of her affection (typically a lock of her hair). As long as the nymph retains her favor for this creature and as long as the creature carries the nymph's token, the creature gains a +4 insight bonus on all Will saving throws, Craft checks, and Perform checks. A bard who has a nymph for a muse in this way can use his bardic performance for an additional number of rounds per day equal to his nymph muse's Charisma modifier. The nymph retains a link to her token and its carrier as if she had cast a status spell on the carrier. The nymph can end this effect at any time as a free action. A single nymph may only inspire one creature at a time in this manner.

The Charisma score given in the bestiary for a nymph is 25, and they are given as CG fey. So of particular interest to the bard that's +4 on perform checks, and seven extra rounds of bardic music a day (maybe more if the nymph muse is presented with a gift that boosts her Charisma that she choose to make use of?).

As a side note, in terms of other 'creatures that can give you boosts independent of spells', so far I have verified that the gold dragon seems to retain the 'luck gem' option for a +1 bonus to saves, and discovered that these days succubi can grant a +2 profane bonus to one ability score - although given that succubi are CE aligned demons and can revoke the bonus at a whim incidentally causing 2d6 Charisma drain to the victim with no save, this seems to me to be a somewhat riskier bonus to go looking to acquire...

Edit:
Okay, off again, though I may report back on any other bard-pertinent things I spot...


Wizard and ranger... Looking forward to it. Your bard guide has inspired me to play one (an archer) in a new campaign i'll be playing in. So tnx.


Pavlovian wrote:
Wizard and ranger... Looking forward to it. Your bard guide has inspired me to play one (an archer) in a new campaign i'll be playing in. So tnx.

Inspired me to do the same :)

(Might be chicken and egg actually)

Ranger Guide is completed, I'll be posting it in the next few minutes.

Also - Everyone, stupid me, I never gave any suggestions for magic items for Bards (other than metamagic rods are a good idea).

Ideas?


Treantmonk wrote:

Also - Everyone, stupid me, I never gave any suggestions for magic items for Bards (other than metamagic rods are a good idea).

Ideas?

Other than the obvious standards like stat-boosters and a bag of holding...

Wand of Cure Light Wounds: 275 hit points in a stick.

Pipes of the Sewer: I haven't seen the Paizo bestiary's changes to the rat swarm yet, but if they have the same abilities as 3.5, they can be some nice battlefield control. The disease effect is useless, and they don't do a whole lot of damage, but 1d3 10x10 nausea effects with a soft cap on uses per day can be a good low-level control effect.

Lyre of Building: This one isn't usually of vast mechanical benefit, and is very expensive, but if you get creative with it, you can do some serious stuff, like wall up the mountain pass to inconvenience the orc horde.

Feather Token- Tree: It's a giant tree on demand. You can't argue with a giant tree on demand, even if it is an expendable.

Boots of Levitation: About the cheapest non-expendable flight effect there is. It can pretty much automatically win some fights for archers, and is generally very useful.

Drums of Panic: The actual effect of these drums is nothing to write home about, particularly with the hefty price tag. The only reason I'm listing it is that it has a pretty massive area; 120'. So you can subject a huge number of enemies to that low save against panic. And even if they make the save, they're shaken for a round. Not something to run out and get immediately, but definitely worth the consideration.

Circlet of Persuasion: +3 to all charisma-based checks. And you're making a lot of charisma-based checks.

Taldor

hmmm I am a bit suprised that you did not include feint and improved feint for the bard.

Feint being based on bluff makes it ideal for a bard.

Also I think its success ration of improved feint will be better than imporved trip.

Improved Feint denies a persons dex bonus for a whole round for all people. This means free sneak attacks for rogues, a lower ac etc. Vs trip which is chancy that it will work at higher levels.

I typically think a bards bluff will be better than their CMB.

I have seen a bard in action with improved trip and improved feint and the feint was often more successful.


Equipment suggestion: Wand of anything. No really, anything. Only DC 20 UMD to activate a wand.


Farabor wrote:

Equipment suggestion: Wand of anything. No really, anything. Only DC 20 UMD to activate a wand.

Though mind, wands can get expensive, and there are a lot of effects you could put on a wand that you could either get in a more cost-effective manner elsewhere or simply aren't worth it. I don't see you getting your money's worth out of a Wand of Hold Portal.


Viletta Vadim wrote:
Farabor wrote:

Equipment suggestion: Wand of anything. No really, anything. Only DC 20 UMD to activate a wand.

Though mind, wands can get expensive, and there are a lot of effects you could put on a wand that you could either get in a more cost-effective manner elsewhere or simply aren't worth it. I don't see you getting your money's worth out of a Wand of Hold Portal.

Ehh, wands are cheaper than scrolls on a per use basis, and as far as I know, are the cheapest 'per use' in the game (15*spell level*caster level). Just with the disad that you have to have 50 uses to start with. And depending on your party, I can easily see a wand of hold portal being useful. (You're a bunch of robbers, lock the doors behind you so the guard can't reach you!)


Doctor Smite wrote:

hmmm I am a bit suprised that you did not include feint and improved feint for the bard.

Feint being based on bluff makes it ideal for a bard.

Also I think its success ration of improved feint will be better than imporved trip.

Improved Feint denies a persons dex bonus for a whole round for all people. This means free sneak attacks for rogues, a lower ac etc. Vs trip which is chancy that it will work at higher levels.

I typically think a bards bluff will be better than their CMB.

I have seen a bard in action with improved trip and improved feint and the feint was often more successful.

You of course mean Greater Improved Feint, and yes, if you have rogues in the party, this may be situationally superior (though I'll pretty much always take Prone over this, the extra chance to succeed is worth nothing). Also take note that there are 3 feats required to do this.

However, a controller Bard could potentially eventually have both, they are taking combat expertise anyways...


Farabor wrote:


Ehh, wands are cheaper than scrolls on a per use basis, and as far as I know, are the cheapest 'per use' in the game (15*spell level*caster level). Just with the disad that you have to have 50 uses to start with. And depending on your party, I can easily see a wand of hold portal being useful. (You're a bunch of robbers, lock the doors behind you so the guard can't reach you!)

Wands may be the cheapest use per charge, but, unless you intend to use it regularly, or at the minimum semi-regularly then a scroll will still be cheaper.

Also, I'm not convinced picking up charged wands of higher than 2nd level is cost-effective, and you would have a hard time convincing me that a Wand of Fireball is a good investment because it is cheaper than 50 scrolls of Fireball :)

For the record, I think I've used Hold Portal 3 or 4 times in 29 years of roleplaying D&D...

All that said, I like low level wands a lot because as long as you use them semi-regularly, they are dirt cheap and useful. An efficient Quiver works very nicely if you have lots of wands to make sure you get the one you want when you need it.

Using UMD in combat isn't a great idea until high level, but out of combat stuff pretty much leaves anything open, as long as you can afford a couple failed attempts.


Treantmonk wrote:
Using UMD in combat isn't a great idea until high level, but out of combat stuff pretty much leaves anything open, as long as you can afford a couple failed attempts.

That depends, really. It's not very hard to get your UMD high enough to make UMD for wands very reasonable at low levels. This is mainly for half-elves, since they can get Skill Focus: Use Magic Device for free. A Circlet of Persuasion by level 4 isn't too terribly unreasonable. By then, you have four ranks, the +3 class skill bonus, and most likely a +3 charisma modifier, as well as the +3 from Skill Focus and the circlet, which comes out to +16. Since wands are usable repeatedly, after your first use, you get an extra +2 bonus bringing it to +18 by level 4, meaning you only fail to use that wand if you roll a 1. A masterwork tool of some sort brings that failure chance to zero.


The problem with the Circlet of Persuasion is that it occupies the same slot as the Headband/Circlet of Alluring Charisma (ie, the new Cloak of Charisma).


That's a point, but the circlet of persuasion is still a good equipment choice at low levels and can compete with the +2 headband quite nicely. If you skip the +2 headband and wait until you can afford the +4, keeping the circlet of persuasion in the interim, then by the time you trade it out, your UMD skill should easily be high enough to make up the difference.


This quote on Vital strike can be found here

James Jacobs wrote:
James Risner wrote:
[...] Was the design goal to allow it during Move->Vital->Move say from Spring Attack?
I'd certainly let my players do that in games I run.


Treantmonk wrote:


Using UMD in combat isn't a great idea until high level, but out of combat stuff pretty much leaves anything open, as long as you can afford a couple failed attempts.

Unless there is a mishap it doesn't cost anything if you use wands except a wasted action

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