The savage warrior whose warcries and fury inspire his allies to great deeds. The respected keeper of epics and histories of a bloody and glorious past. Even before the Advanced Class Guide, the skald lurked in our collective fantasies, though he often manifested in different ways. A multiclass character here, an archetype there. But there was never really a dedicated class that captured the fury and power of the skald, until now. The skald was an easy fit for Golarion. I mean, we have the Ulfen, whose very language is called Skald, and there's plenty of other cultures where it's easy to see these fearsome and mighty battle leaders replacing the more refined and classical bard of the Lem variety.
So the first playtest version unleashed the skald to all of you (and me!) to test out in your games. Right from the start, the skald was able to cast bard spells, wield any weapon he wants, and inspire a barbarian rage in his allies, even giving them the exciting boost of all the skald's rage powers. Visions of entire parties surrounded by spirit totems or clawed and pouncing soared through our collective heads, and the playtest began! But right away, all the playtesters started running into the same problem—the number of characters who desired the rage's advantages enough to be willing to risk the fatigue at the end were often too few, especially compared to how many could benefit from the bard. Not only the spellcasters, who couldn't cast their spells, were balking at the invitation to a rage-filled bloodbath. The archers, who needed adaptive bows to gain anything from the Strength but feared the -3 penalty to hit they would take from fatigue, were also quick to pass.
So the skald went back to the forge and began hammering himself a new set of tools while singing epics sadly to himself. And he emerged for round 2 of the playtest with a shiny new way to give out rage. Now party members could accept the rage on a round by round basis, with no commitment to staying enraged the entire song and without the fear of fatigue when the rage ends. Suddenly, the siren's call of fury became too much, and there were tales of archers (and even occasionally primary spellcasters eager for the rage powers' benefits) accepting the skald's offer to lose themselves to their primal instincts for a while. But still, the playtesters forged onward, providing feedback on the versatility of the skald and asking for more variety in the skald's song choices.
And the final version delivers! When it comes to both performances and skills, he is more versatile than ever before. He has three new song choices, the most metal of which is clearly his 14th level song of the fallen. You see, the trouble with being the support character is that sometimes the bad guys decide to kill your allies and you don't really have anyone to support. Too often inconvenienced by the deaths of his comrades, the skald has come up with a workaround, powered by the sheer fury of his raging song. He can revive any number of allies with this song, though if he's keeping the entire alive as deathless einherjar, he's going to run out of rounds of performance fairly quickly (since it costs a number of rounds of performance equal to the number of revived allies). And the allies are staggered, so they're not at their peak performance—but hey, it's a better way of killing time than waiting in line in the Boneyard!
But that's not the end of the skald's drum solo! Have you ever thought that it wasn't fair how linnorms have death curses but not your character. I mean, you put lots of time into building that character. That darn NPC deserves to suffer for killing Lord Kickass III. With the new skald rage powers (which anyone with rage powers can select), you too can bestow a horrific death curse on your enemies.
And there's archetypes too. The fated champion stares down the future without fear for what it might hold, with fate-twisting powers and supernatural insights. The herald of the horn forms an arcane bond with a horn (potentially an enormous horn nearly as big as his own body, according to the art). He doesn't compose elaborate kennings; he blows that sucker and crazy things happen! The spell warrior sends his rage into your weapon instead of your head, and his very spells are a weapon with which to do battle with those of enemy spellcasters. And the totemic skald channels the power of a totem animal into himself and his allies; you want to put the "bear" in ber-serker? Play this guy!
So to recap: If bards are your classical virtuosos who channel the tales of the mythical Orpheus, skalds are their metal cousins who channel the tales of poets with attitudes more like the Norse Bragi, who threatens to decapitate people who insult his courage. If that's what you've been waiting for since forever, once you get your hands on the book, roar in visceral triumph as you paw your way immediately to page 49 and feast upon the skald in all his glory.