Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #7

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. This week, we are taking a look at Lem, the iconic bard.

Male halfling bard 8
CG Small humanoid (halfling)
Init +4; Senses Perception +12
AC 21, touch 17, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +4 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 size)
hp 55 (8d8+16)
Fort +6, Ref +12, Will +7; +4 vs. bardic performance, sonic, and language dependent effects, +2 vs. fear
Speed 20 ft.
Melee +1 short sword +7/+2 (1d4–1/19–20)
Ranged +1 thundering sling +12/+7 (1d3)
Special Attacks bardic performance (28 rounds/day), countersong, distraction, dirge of doom, fascinate (DC 18), inspire competence +3, inspire courage +2, suggestion (DC 18)
Spells Known (CL 8th):
3rd (3/day)—charm monster (DC 17), cure serious wounds, haste
2nd (5/day)—blur, glitterdust (DC 16), minor image (DC 16), sound burst (DC 16)
1st (5/day)—charm person (DC 15), cure light wounds, disguise self, hideous laughter (DC 15), lesser confusion (DC 15)
0 (at will)—detect magic, ghost sound (DC 14), know direction, light, read magic, summon instrument
Str 8, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 18
Base Atk +6; CMB +4; CMD 20
Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Extra Performance, Mobility
Skills Acrobatics +17, Escape Artist +15, Knowledge (local) +16, Perception +12, Perform (comedy) +15, Perform (wind instruments) +19, Stealth +19, Use Magic Device +15
SQ bardic knowledge (+4), lore master (1/day), versatile performance (comedy, wind instruments), well-versed
Languages Common, Elven, Halfling
Combat Gear lesser metamagic rod of extend, wand of cure moderate wounds (CL 3rd, 50 charges); Other Gear +1 shortsword, +1 thundering sling, 20 sling bullets, +2 leather armor, belt of incredible dexterity +2, cloak of resistance +1, mwk flute, ring of protection +1, wind fan

So, a bard, a fighter, a rogue, a cleric, and a wizard walk into a dungeon. The fighter says, "If only someone could give me a bonus to hit and damage against those ogres." The rogue says, "If only someone could give me a bonus to my Disable Device checks to help me disarm this trap." The cleric says, "If only someone could counter the song of the harpy that is luring me to my doom." The wizard says, "If only someone could fascinate these orcs so that I could get away from them." Finally the bard says, "Sorry guys, but I am built using 3.5 and all out of bardic performance for the day. Who wants a ghost sound?"

Don't let this situation happen to you. The Pathfinder bard has a revised mechanic for his Bardic Performance, limiting him to a total number of rounds per day, meaning that he does not have to save his few uses for inspire courage. Bards start out with a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + their Charisma modifier and gain an additional 2 rounds per day for every level beyond first. Lem here also has the Extra Performance feat which grants him an additional 6 rounds per day.

The beta version of the bard also had two paths for his bardic performance, allowing him to gain different abilities depending upon the type of Perform skill he possessed. While it was fun to come up with new abilities, the split caused many to worry that for a bard to reach his full potential, he would have to invest twice the number of ranks into Perform. In the final game, we solidified it back into one progression, but kept many of the new abilities, such as Dirge of Doom that causes all foes within 30 feet to become shaken as long as the bard continues his performance. In addition, the progression for some of the other performance types has been enhanced. Inspire courage increases to +2 at 5th level and continues to increase by +1 for every 6 levels after 5th. Inspire competence also increases by +1 for every 4 levels after 3rd.

We have also made starting and maintaining a bardic performance a bit easier. At 1st level, starting a bardic performance is a standard action, but this changes to a move action at 7th level and a swift action at 13th. Regardless of the action needed to start a performance, maintaining a performance is a free action, meaning that the bard can keep up a performance and still cast spells, move, and make attacks.

Moving on from bardic performance, the bard has received a number of other upgrades as well. Bards no longer have any alignment restrictions and they have d8 hit dice. Their spell progression has been enhanced a bit to remove the "0" listings from their chart, meaning that they get a spell without having to have a Charisma high enough to grant a bonus spell of that level. Bardic Knowledge now grants a bonus to all Knowledge skills equal to 1/2 the bard's level (minimum +1) and allows the bard to make any Knowledge skill check without having ranks in it. Well-versed grants a flat +4 bonus on saves against other bardic performances, as well as sonic and language-based spell effects. Lore master is granted at 5th level and it allows the bard to take 10 on any Knowledge skill check. In addition, once per day he can take 20 on a Knowledge skill check. As he gains levels, he can use this secondary ability multiple times per day as well.

One other class feature was added to the bard that allows him to really maximize his skill points. During the playtest there were a number of concerns about the Perform skill, being that it was required to gain access to specific bardic performance abilities but did little else beyond the roleplaying uses. To solve this we introduced a new bard class feature called versatile performance. This ability is gained at 2nd level and it allows the bard to substitute his Perform bonus for the bonus of two other skills, depending on the type of Perform. For example, Lem has versatile performance for both comedy and wind instruments. This allows him to substitute his bonus in Perform (comedy) for his bonus Bluff and Intimidate. It also allows him to substitute his bonus in Perform (wind instruments) for his bonus in Diplomacy and Handle Animal. With this ability he can use these skills even if he would normally have to be trained. As he gains levels, Lem can add new types of Perform to his list, allowing him to make even more substitutions (such as Perform [dance] for Acrobatics and Fly).

There have been a few changes to the spells on Lem's list as well. Glitterdust, for example, now allows a save each round to negate the blindness (although the creatures affected by it still remain visible for the duration). Hideous laughter now grants an additional save after the first round of laughing to negate the effect. If this second save fails, the target laughs for the entire duration, which remains 1 round per level. Lesser confusion, and by extension, confusion, have been simplified a bit to make them easier to adjudicate. Both of these spells cause the subject to gain the confused condition, which causes them to roll d% each round to determine their actions on the following table.

Confused Condition
01–25 Act Normally
26–50 Do nothing but babble incoherently
51–75 Deal 1d8 points of damage + Str modifier to self with item in hand
76–100 Attack nearest creature

At higher levels the bard gains a few new performance types, allowing him to frighten or even kill his foes (in Lem's case, probably by telling a really bad joke). The bard also gains a performance type that allows him to cast mass cure serous wounds by performing for 4 consecutive rounds. The bard also gains the jack-of-all-trades ability at 10th level which allows him to try any skill untrained and at higher levels allows him to treat all skills like class skills and to take 10 on any skill check.

Well, that is the end of the bard's tale. Tune in next week for a journey into the wild with Lini, the iconic druid.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

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Tags: Bards Halflings Iconics Lem Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wayne Reynolds
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