Bard Class Preview

Monday, July 16, 2018

The bard—it's arguably the most iconic support character. For some reason, bards are often the butt of goofy jokes, even though they're powerful force multipliers who can contribute to just about every aspect of play. Bard is one of my favorite classes in Pathfinder, and it has some of the most exciting changes of any of the classes in the Pathfinder Playtest, but I'm going to start you with a big one first. Are you sitting down yet? OK, good:

Bards are full 10-level spellcasters.

Spellcasting

As before, bards are spontaneous spellcasters who make up for having not quite as many spells as the other spontaneous caster, the sorcerer, by having special bardic performances. But this time around, bards don't have a delayed spellcasting progression. Instead, they have one fewer spell in their repertoire and one fewer spell slot per day at each spell level, compared to the sorcerer. That's pretty awesome already, but here's the even cooler part: bards have collected all sorts of esoteric bardic knowledge since forever, right? With an offbeat spell list that combines mental magic, a handful of unique additions, and a little bit of healing, bards are the primary occult spellcasters, blending mental and spiritual essences. That brings bards, whose spell list has grown with far less than that of wizards, to the forefront among the other primary spellcasters. This has given us the opportunity to create a bunch of cool never-before-seen bard spells for the playtest. Also, as I mentioned in the spells blog, bards can replace the Somatic Casting and Verbal Casting components of spellcasting by playing a musical instrument, in case you want a bard who plays the violin to cast his spells! But what about their performances? How do those come into play?

Compositions

Compositions are a special type of spell that only bards gain. You might be thinking these are probably powers like other classes, right? Not so! In exchange for their slightly lower number of spells bards get, most of their compositions are cantrips, usable at will, meaning you no longer need to worry about running out of bardic performance rounds per day. Not only that, they're often cast with a single action. They start out with a composition that will likely look familiar.

Inspire Courage Cantrip

Cantrip, Composition, Emotion, Enchantment, Mental
Casting [[A]] Verbal Casting
Area 60-foot aura
Duration 1 round

You inspire your allies with words or tunes of encouragement. You and all allies in the aura gain a +1 conditional bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves against fear.

Usually, a bard can cast only one composition per turn and have only one active at a time.

Bards have powers and Spell Points in addition to their compositions. Many bard powers allow you to manipulate and customize your performances as you desire, including increasing the duration, granting a more significant bonus (an extremely powerful benefit), or having multiple compositions active at a time. Typically, these extra benefits require a successful Performance check to activate and provide an even more powerful effect on a critical success. Take for example, lingering composition.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Lingering Composition Power 1

Enchantment, Power
Casting [[F]] Verbal Casting; Trigger You finish casting a cantrip composition with a duration of 1 round.

You attempt to add a flourish to your composition to extend its benefits. Attempt a Performance check. The DC is usually a high-difficulty DC of a level equal to the highest-level target of your composition, but the GM can assign a different DC based on the circumstances. The effect depends on the result of your check.

Success The composition lasts 2 rounds.
Critical Success The composition lasts 3 rounds.
Failure The composition lasts 1 round.

But altering your performances with special modifications like this is just one of several paths represented by a new bardic class feature…

Muses

A bard's inspiration comes from a unique place—his muse. There are three muses in the Pathfinder Playtest. The first is maestro, focused on powers that alter compositions. Next is lore, focused on Occultism, willpower, and unusual knowledge. The third is polymath, focused on being a jack of all trades with increased skills and ability to handle unexpected situations, including the ability to keep a spellbook to prepare a small number of new spells to add to your repertoire each day. As befits the individualistic nature of a performer's muse, none of the initial muse abilities are exclusive, so you can use your feats to traverse as deeply as you want into the abilities from each path; your muse merely represents a starting point on your bardic journey.

For example, if you select the maestro muse at 1st level, you gain the Lingering Composition bard feat (granting you the lingering composition power detailed above) and add soothe to your spell repertoire, but any bard can take this feat or learn this spell—selecting the maestro muse just grants them as a default.

Bard Features

As a bard, you gain spellcasting and occult spell proficiency at the same levels as the other spellcasters, new spell levels at every odd level except 19, expert proficiency in occult spells at 12th level, master proficiency at 16th level, and legendary proficiency at 19th level. You also have the most trained skills at 1st level except for rogues, just barely edging out rangers. Finally, you begin play at 1st level with two compositions, the inspire courage cantrip (which has been detailed above) and the counter performance power.

Counter Performance Power 1

Composition, Enchantment, Fortune, Mental, Power
Casting [[R]] Verbal Casting or [[R]] Somatic Casting; Trigger You or an ally within 60 feet must roll a saving throw against an auditory or visual effect.
Area 60-foot aura

You protect yourself and allies through performance. Choose an auditory performance if the trigger was auditory or a visual performance if it was visual, then roll a Performance check for the chosen performance. You and allies in the area can use the higher result of your Performance check or their saving throws.

Since you need to use only a reaction to cast counter performance, rather than needing to activate it ahead of time like in Pathfinder First Edition, creatures that rely on visual or auditory effects will have a really hard time messing with you!

Bard Feats

Bard feats tend to fall in two categories: feats associated that are loosely associated with one of the three muses, and those that grant you a new composition.

For instance, the Cantrip Expansion feat at 4th level allows you to add two cantrips from the occult spell list to your spell repertoire, which can come in handy for those bards with the lore or the polymath muses. The powerful 14th-level Allegro feat, on the other hand, grants you the following cantrip to add a spring to an ally's step.

Allegro Cantrip

Cantrip, Composition, Emotion, Enchantment, Mental
Casting [[A]] Verbal Casting
Range 30 feet; Targets one ally
Duration 1 round

You perform rapidly, speeding your ally. The ally is quick and can use the action to Strike, Stride, or Step.

There's plenty of favorites in there from among bardic masterpieces from Ultimate Magic too, like house of imaginary walls, which Cosmo used with his goblin bard to mime a box around my ranger, trapping me with a dangerous enemy while Cosmo remained safe and sound.

In a nutshell, bards now have a vast number of quality-of-life improvements, while fundamentally staying true to the way they worked before. Fellow bard fans, what do you think?

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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I can't say much about this. Don't have that much experience with Bards outside of the meme of "Well Half-Everything has to come from somewhere" and everyone turns to the Bard. Well I mean I can bring some things up but this is more questions than speaking from concern, worry, or railing against something.

1) So they get a spell(s?) at the same rate the others do. They learn them the same way? Wizards and Sorcerers seem to still have a bit of difference between how they pick up stuff, how do bards do it?

2) I think the changes will kick Bards further into the magic/support section. Good to some but others that liked switch hitting as a Bard might be out of luck until Skald comes along. We'll have to see how it looks with the feats/abilities and data though.

3)"The ally is quick and can use the action to Strike, Stride, or Step." So... attack, move, or 5 foot step? Move can maybe be run? That's what we're going with? If so I missed that, and I think might cause a bit of a speed bump when it comes to relearning. No seriously, another system called Move, or move like actions, Shifts. And it took my group awhile to wrap around that 1 change in a sea of new terms we had to deal with.

So yeah. Can't really get worked up about this one. Only reason I have some bard knowledge is because I tried looking into the Bard Channel archetype. Hope the changes are good enough to make them not be discount Rogue. Oh, well, in most community causes; Upgraded Rogue.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

Mark,

Xenocrat wrote:

Ctrl-F: "Charisma"

[No results found]

Is it feasible to make a Bard that doesn't pump Charisma? (I'd really prefer an Int based Occult caster). I'm sure Charisma is the Bard's casting stat, but I'm guessing that unless you insist on mind controlling people with your spells you've got enough utility/buffs that you might get by without worrying about your DCs too much.
If you didn't use the maestro stuff or rely overly much on spell rolls and DCs, I feel like you could do pretty reasonably, particularly in some of the "Bardic Knowledge" type stuff.

I really want to build a scholar character now as a bard with 10 Charisma, high Int lore muse. To add to that ...

Bard Class Preview wrote:

Finally, you begin play at 1st level with two compositions, the inspire courage cantrip (which has been detailed above) and the counter performance power.

For how diverse the bard seems to able to built (between compositions, spell cantrips, spell powers, class feats and spell repertoire), the 1st level seems uncharacteristically forced into taking inspire courage and counter performance. If I wanted to build a reclusive scholar, it seems unfitting for her to have inspire confidence. Is this something that all bards must take and if so, is there hope of us dropping it in the future?

In all honesty it would pretty appropriate for someone self-centered with minimum Charisma to have the ability to buff their teammates, and just choose never to do it in favor of anything else more pragmatic.

Really, really (really) love the changes to bard. You can see in Wayne's art that Lem knows good things are on the horizon for him.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
kaid wrote:
Voss wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Stone Dog wrote:

So Muses are an alternate way of saying "your characters passion" and that passion can be hung on whatever sort of narrative hook that you like. I like it.

As for what makes martials stand out in combat, while all characters share the same progression bonuses to dice rills, it feels like PF2 is focusing more on breadth of ability rather than just big numbers. At a range the elf wizard and the human fighter might be hitting the target roughly equally,but the fighter will have more tricks up their sleeve in actual adventuring conditions.

Which combined with getting more proficiencies on leveling is why I'm not bothered if fighters don't get as many proficiency ranks in skills at level one, at least if their weapon skills feel like actual skills in play.

Not only will the fighter have more tricks, but even the differences they have can lead to some pretty significant results.

For instance, suppose the elf wizard is pretty tooled up on Dexterity and his bow and can hit a solid challenging opponent on a 10 (pretty good for a wizard!) and the fighter is ahead by +3 on accuracy. The wizard is going to do pretty well on that arrow (especially since he can cast a spell and then shoot each round as sort of a freebie). But that fighter is going to do 50% more damage on average just from the accuracy, without any of his tricks.

Why +3? Can't the wizard just prioritize dex over int to close that gap(since stats don't give bonus spells and its presumably possible to just avoid save based spells)?

Are buff spells eliminated in PF2 that a spellcaster can't boost rolls/give higher bonuses? It would seem odd if all of those old personal buffs are missing (especially since bless isn't missing...)

I am pretty sure that extra +3 comes from weapon proficiency. Fighters get their ranked up proficiencies for weapons incredibly fast compared to others. So basically if the ability stats are equal then the fighter is going to...

This and the wizard will never have an ability score that matches a fighter in its specialized stat, assuming both are keeping it maxed. The two have an equal modifier from ability scores from level 5-9 and 15-19, otherwise the fighter will be ahead on the ability score, and then you can account for proficiency. And fighters have a lot of tricks that we don't really have a full picture on yet.


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Will Spell Kenning still potentially be a thing? That was my favourite addition to the Skald. It felt like something Bards should have had from the start.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Voss wrote:
Why is the lingering composition performance check expressed so oddly? Why not X+level rather than the ' convoluted high difficulty based on highest level or GM messing with you?'
I think it is so that the GM can actually make it easier rather than harder. If the Bard opts to use an incredibly appropriate piece of performance for the composition the effect would have an easier time lingering.

Yes, it's mostly to make it easier. In theory I guess if you sing an "inspiring" song to the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains about the glory of Taldor's Fourth Army of Exploration (which attacked the dwarves) or something contrived like that, you might make it tougher on yourself.

Dark Archive

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Huh interesting what they have done with 1e core book casters. Seems like previous martial casters(paladins and rangers) are now just martials, even alchemist(not from 1e core) got turned into its own thing rather than being weird pseudo caster. Meanwhile the five original core casters seem to now follow this pattern: four of them have spell list unique to their theme(arcane = wizard, cleric = divine, bard = occult and druid = primal) and fifth one is generalist that can use any of them depending on bloodline.

It makes sense to make bards level 10 casters if they are now the "occult" rather than "just" funny magical music men

That said, Bard Supremacy(which has always been a thing) is now official :D


Cantriped wrote:

I think I love everything about this new bard. Yup. Everything.

I can live without having there be multiple casting progressions, and Bards drawing from the occult tradition works as well as any other if it lets them have spells that fit them.

Although from a design standpoint, it seems odd that Occult is the only tradition that isn't practiced by a prepared spellcaster by default. I think I could have totally accepted bards as charisma-based prepared spellcasters (especially with unlimited performances in the form of exclusive cantrips already baked into the class either way).

Otherwise I'll just have to wait for Paizo to publish four more primary spellcasting classes... one occult prepared, and one spontaneous caster of each of the other three traditions (no more, no less in order to satisfy my obsession with symetry in design). Sorcerers don't count because they pop up in every magical tradition (like lazy, superhuman roaches).

I am pretty sure that occultists or possibly known by another name would be the prepared occult spell casting class. Bard is a good choice though to show off the occult spell list until the other classes are added in the future.


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kaid wrote:
The Sarcastic Sage wrote:
RiverMesa wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
Disk Elemental wrote:
Can we take this as an indication that the 6th level caster doesn't exist in 2e?
All the classes in the playtest have been previewed now and no half-casters to be seen so there will not be any the playtest and probably none in the PF2 CRB. Doesn't mean that there isn't room for them in future PF2 books but probably not till 2020.

There is still a chance for Druid being a half-caster! (...Probably not, though.)

What about Paladin, though?
Take a look at their preview. Paladins lost all spell slots, and now use spell points.

That does seem like the pattern. You are either a full caster with 10 levels of spells or you are not. But some classes like paladin and ranger have or can acquire the ability to cast stuff using their power points.

It likely makes it a bit easier for them to balance power wise when your casters all have similar types of access to stuff.

Given the way spell lists work a 6th level caster would be destined to suck in PF2, I think. Bards, Magi, etc. worked in PF1 because they had early access to spells that fit their theme or were otherwise important for the class to have "on curve". Given the standardization of spell lists (a positive change IMO, since it prevents the list clutter that PF1 ended up having) you wouldn't have the room to make the same exceptions.


MusicAddict wrote:
kaid wrote:
Voss wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Stone Dog wrote:

So Muses are an alternate way of saying "your characters passion" and that passion can be hung on whatever sort of narrative hook that you like. I like it.

As for what makes martials stand out in combat, while all characters share the same progression bonuses to dice rills, it feels like PF2 is focusing more on breadth of ability rather than just big numbers. At a range the elf wizard and the human fighter might be hitting the target roughly equally,but the fighter will have more tricks up their sleeve in actual adventuring conditions.

Which combined with getting more proficiencies on leveling is why I'm not bothered if fighters don't get as many proficiency ranks in skills at level one, at least if their weapon skills feel like actual skills in play.

Not only will the fighter have more tricks, but even the differences they have can lead to some pretty significant results.

For instance, suppose the elf wizard is pretty tooled up on Dexterity and his bow and can hit a solid challenging opponent on a 10 (pretty good for a wizard!) and the fighter is ahead by +3 on accuracy. The wizard is going to do pretty well on that arrow (especially since he can cast a spell and then shoot each round as sort of a freebie). But that fighter is going to do 50% more damage on average just from the accuracy, without any of his tricks.

Why +3? Can't the wizard just prioritize dex over int to close that gap(since stats don't give bonus spells and its presumably possible to just avoid save based spells)?

Are buff spells eliminated in PF2 that a spellcaster can't boost rolls/give higher bonuses? It would seem odd if all of those old personal buffs are missing (especially since bless isn't missing...)

I am pretty sure that extra +3 comes from weapon proficiency. Fighters get their ranked up proficiencies for weapons incredibly fast compared to others. So basically if the ability stats are equal then
...

The argument is going to however be at the end of the day; "Is this equal to or not, Magic".

If with a simple spell, maybe two, a Muscle Wizard can tie or surpass Fighter while still having access to extra casting and other abilites that are better than "Walk up and hit things" than Fight will still get kicked down to the useless bin. Even more so if God Wizard is still a thing.

This is, however, something we have to wait and see. The Stamina system was something they tried to do to help Martials out so the Tricks Fighters get can build off of that.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Voss wrote:
Why is the lingering composition performance check expressed so oddly? Why not X+level rather than the ' convoluted high difficulty based on highest level or GM messing with you?'
I think it is so that the GM can actually make it easier rather than harder. If the Bard opts to use an incredibly appropriate piece of performance for the composition the effect would have an easier time lingering.
Yes, it's mostly to make it easier. In theory I guess if you sing an "inspiring" song to the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains about the glory of Taldor's Fourth Army of Exploration (which attacked the dwarves) or something contrived like that, you might make it tougher on yourself.

It's another one of those open ended written tools that lets GMs do GM things. Good and bad.

Though I do recall earlier this year or late last year a topic about GMs giving bonuses for good role playing. That topic saw mixed stances, so I wonder how this will go over.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Arachnofiend wrote:
kaid wrote:
The Sarcastic Sage wrote:
RiverMesa wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
Disk Elemental wrote:
Can we take this as an indication that the 6th level caster doesn't exist in 2e?
All the classes in the playtest have been previewed now and no half-casters to be seen so there will not be any the playtest and probably none in the PF2 CRB. Doesn't mean that there isn't room for them in future PF2 books but probably not till 2020.

There is still a chance for Druid being a half-caster! (...Probably not, though.)

What about Paladin, though?
Take a look at their preview. Paladins lost all spell slots, and now use spell points.

That does seem like the pattern. You are either a full caster with 10 levels of spells or you are not. But some classes like paladin and ranger have or can acquire the ability to cast stuff using their power points.

It likely makes it a bit easier for them to balance power wise when your casters all have similar types of access to stuff.

Given the way spell lists work a 6th level caster would be destined to suck in PF2, I think. Bards, Magi, etc. worked in PF1 because they had early access to spells that fit their theme or were otherwise important for the class to have "on curve". Given the standardization of spell lists (a positive change IMO, since it prevents the list clutter that PF1 ended up having) you wouldn't have the room to make the same exceptions.

Magi actually had few early-access spells on their list (barring a few weird places that didn't get the memo that they aren't usually early access), but they had incredibly action economy advantages, which is also very useful. This is very true for every other 6-level caster in PF1 though.

Dark Archive

Mark, I remember one of you guys saying that there wasn't arcane spell failure chance for armor in 2e. Can you please confirm or deny? If it helps I even remember the dev going on to say that they'd actually like to see if arcane casters will grab the proficiency feats and find them worth it.


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This is hands down one of the best previews in my opinion. The bard is one of my favorite P1e classes, so reading that not only are they now full casters, but they also have a specifically defined spell list and are tied to occult themes? At that point, everything else is just a lot of icing on the perfectly moist cake.

I must ask, though, especially since the Occult spell list is also going to be accessible to the Sorcerer and presumably other classes in the future, what are the combat options like for the spell list? Are they particularly limited, or are they just more focused on mind-affecting effects?


MerlinCross wrote:
MusicAddict wrote:
kaid wrote:
Voss wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Stone Dog wrote:

So Muses are an alternate way of saying "your characters passion" and that passion can be hung on whatever sort of narrative hook that you like. I like it.

As for what makes martials stand out in combat, while all characters share the same progression bonuses to dice rills, it feels like PF2 is focusing more on breadth of ability rather than just big numbers. At a range the elf wizard and the human fighter might be hitting the target roughly equally,but the fighter will have more tricks up their sleeve in actual adventuring conditions.

Which combined with getting more proficiencies on leveling is why I'm not bothered if fighters don't get as many proficiency ranks in skills at level one, at least if their weapon skills feel like actual skills in play.

Not only will the fighter have more tricks, but even the differences they have can lead to some pretty significant results.

For instance, suppose the elf wizard is pretty tooled up on Dexterity and his bow and can hit a solid challenging opponent on a 10 (pretty good for a wizard!) and the fighter is ahead by +3 on accuracy. The wizard is going to do pretty well on that arrow (especially since he can cast a spell and then shoot each round as sort of a freebie). But that fighter is going to do 50% more damage on average just from the accuracy, without any of his tricks.

Why +3? Can't the wizard just prioritize dex over int to close that gap(since stats don't give bonus spells and its presumably possible to just avoid save based spells)?

Are buff spells eliminated in PF2 that a spellcaster can't boost rolls/give higher bonuses? It would seem odd if all of those old personal buffs are missing (especially since bless isn't missing...)

I am pretty sure that extra +3 comes from weapon proficiency. Fighters get their ranked up proficiencies for weapons incredibly fast compared to others. So basically if the
...

I think we won't know that for sure until we see the weapon/martial class feats that get unlocked are. It is not just that being a higher proficiency is a flat bonus better but it also opens the door to taking feats/abilities that require that level of proficiency and that should be the real differentiation point between casters who dabble in combat to those martials fully focused on it.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Voss wrote:
Why is the lingering composition performance check expressed so oddly? Why not X+level rather than the ' convoluted high difficulty based on highest level or GM messing with you?'
I think it is so that the GM can actually make it easier rather than harder. If the Bard opts to use an incredibly appropriate piece of performance for the composition the effect would have an easier time lingering.
Yes, it's mostly to make it easier. In theory I guess if you sing an "inspiring" song to the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains about the glory of Taldor's Fourth Army of Exploration (which attacked the dwarves) or something contrived like that, you might make it tougher on yourself.

On this topic, I assume "high-level DC" both has a specific meaning, and is used elsewhere in the rules (enough that you won't have to go digging through the books to find out what exactly the DC should be or just winging it).

Because if the rules are essentially "A high level DC of a given level is 15+level" or something like that I can see some justification for not repeating it, but I could also see it being just easier saying "The DC for this performance is 15 + the level of the highest level target of this spell" and rely on circumstance bonuses or penalties to apply as with other things.


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Aiken Frost wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Aiken Frost wrote:
Can we *please* don't let spellcasters have more skills than the Fighter? Please?
I mostly agree here, but think an exception can be made for Bard, as the 'high skill' caster Class just as Rogue is the 'high skill' martial one.

My only problem with that is the fact that the Bard already is a full caster and I bet his spells are going to give him absurd levels of versatility. And having that many skills alongside full 10 levels of spells will certainly just make the Rogue cry in a corner.

But if there must be an exception about skilled casters, I agree that the Bard should be it.

Spells that duplicate skills now generally either give a decent bonus to the target's own skill check, or give you a bonus a bit worse than a true specialist. You either make your skill guy really, really, good, or the spell lets someone untrained act as a decent second best alternative. There's no more of the spell in isolation beating a skilled PC and rendering his talent obsolete.

Plus, the Occult list likely won't be able to do as much skill wise as the Wizard list, lacking physical essence.


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Meh.

I'm sure bards will be viable under the new system. But I'm not particularly excited about all spellcasters being 9th level spellcasters or simply having powers that aren't spells but work like spells. 6th level casters were some of the most fun classes in PF1e.

I don't mind that their performances are now spells (or powers? which are pretend spells?). But we've got everyone is now a full BAB class (with different degrees of the fighter's weapon training being the only differentiation) and if you're a caster you must be a 9th level caster. The level of homogenisation isn't to the degree of 4th ed. But it's still too damn high for my enjoyment. PF2e has some great ideas in it, and a lot of "bleuch" ideas for me.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Vessa wrote:
Mark, I remember one of you guys saying that there wasn't arcane spell failure chance for armor in 2e. Can you please confirm or deny? If it helps I even remember the dev going on to say that they'd actually like to see if arcane casters will grab the proficiency feats and find them worth it.

I remember that too but not who said it. Whoever said it was right.


Classes like bard used to need to get certain spells at lower spell-levels just to still get them at an actual level that was useful to them. Now our design space doesn't need that by default. Where we do occasionally need add a spell to a casters list at a particular spell level, we can still do so explicitly through a feat, feature, etc.


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From my read of this, Mark, doesn't this essentially lock in the monk-bard as the ultimate multi-class build?

[/onlyhalfserious]


Xenocrat wrote:
Aiken Frost wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Aiken Frost wrote:
Can we *please* don't let spellcasters have more skills than the Fighter? Please?
I mostly agree here, but think an exception can be made for Bard, as the 'high skill' caster Class just as Rogue is the 'high skill' martial one.

My only problem with that is the fact that the Bard already is a full caster and I bet his spells are going to give him absurd levels of versatility. And having that many skills alongside full 10 levels of spells will certainly just make the Rogue cry in a corner.

But if there must be an exception about skilled casters, I agree that the Bard should be it.

Spells that duplicate skills now generally either give a decent bonus to the target's own skill check, or give you a bonus a bit worse than a true specialist. You either make your skill guy really, really, good, or the spell lets someone untrained act as a decent second best alternative. There's no more of the spell in isolation beating a skilled PC and rendering his talent obsolete.

Plus, the Occult list likely won't be able to do as much skill wise as the Wizard list, lacking physical essence.

Debatable. We'll have to see what the spells look like at the end of the day, but this is a stance that might loosen by mistake when they're up to splat book 10 or something.

Yeah it's not a worry now but Paizo better make sure to not just invent spells/feats/things in isolation if they want to keep it that way.


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The homoginization of spell lists will also do wonders for magic items like scrolls and wands and potions. A paladin helping to make a wand of Greater angelic aspect always felt off.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Vessa wrote:
Mark, I remember one of you guys saying that there wasn't arcane spell failure chance for armor in 2e. Can you please confirm or deny? If it helps I even remember the dev going on to say that they'd actually like to see if arcane casters will grab the proficiency feats and find them worth it.
I remember that too but not who said it. Whoever said it was right.

Wow great news

Paizo Employee Designer

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Friendly Rogue wrote:

This is hands down one of the best previews in my opinion. The bard is one of my favorite P1e classes, so reading that not only are they now full casters, but they also have a specifically defined spell list and are tied to occult themes? At that point, everything else is just a lot of icing on the perfectly moist cake.

I must ask, though, especially since the Occult spell list is also going to be accessible to the Sorcerer and presumably other classes in the future, what are the combat options like for the spell list? Are they particularly limited, or are they just more focused on mind-affecting effects?

You mean in-battle options or specifically damaging/offensive options? The influence from the spiritual focuses on force and sonic damage spells, combined with mental attacks like phantasmal killer and so on.

Grand Lodge

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Bard looks awesome! I think this is a great improvement over the PF 1.0 Bard. So far, Bard looks to be far more than the support class it was for 1.0.


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It's a shame we can't mark blog entries as favourite, as this one would be a shoo-in :-)

Bravo, Paizo - and encore!

Sovereign Court

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LoreKeeper wrote:

From my read of this, Mark, doesn't this essentially lock in the monk-bard as the ultimate multi-class build?

[/onlyhalfserious]

I like ranger-bard, personally.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Tholomyes wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Voss wrote:
Why is the lingering composition performance check expressed so oddly? Why not X+level rather than the ' convoluted high difficulty based on highest level or GM messing with you?'
I think it is so that the GM can actually make it easier rather than harder. If the Bard opts to use an incredibly appropriate piece of performance for the composition the effect would have an easier time lingering.
Yes, it's mostly to make it easier. In theory I guess if you sing an "inspiring" song to the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains about the glory of Taldor's Fourth Army of Exploration (which attacked the dwarves) or something contrived like that, you might make it tougher on yourself.

On this topic, I assume "high-level DC" both has a specific meaning, and is used elsewhere in the rules (enough that you won't have to go digging through the books to find out what exactly the DC should be or just winging it).

Because if the rules are essentially "A high level DC of a given level is 15+level" or something like that I can see some justification for not repeating it, but I could also see it being just easier saying "The DC for this performance is 15 + the level of the highest level target of this spell" and rely on circumstance bonuses or penalties to apply as with other things.

It has a specific meaning and should be easy to find, the best way to describe from a PF1/other RPG perspective is something like "On a GM screen this would be a chart in a prominent position."

Paizo Employee Designer

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Wandering Wastrel wrote:

It's a shame we can't mark blog entries as favourite, as this one would be a shoo-in :-)

Bravo, Paizo - and encore!

If you're looking for an encore, I'll be on Know Direction talking about the bard (and other stuff but I think the episode has the bard in the title) this Wednesday!


Mark Seifter wrote:
Friendly Rogue wrote:

This is hands down one of the best previews in my opinion. The bard is one of my favorite P1e classes, so reading that not only are they now full casters, but they also have a specifically defined spell list and are tied to occult themes? At that point, everything else is just a lot of icing on the perfectly moist cake.

I must ask, though, especially since the Occult spell list is also going to be accessible to the Sorcerer and presumably other classes in the future, what are the combat options like for the spell list? Are they particularly limited, or are they just more focused on mind-affecting effects?

You mean in-battle options or specifically damaging/offensive options? The influence from the spiritual focuses on force and sonic damage spells, combined with mental attacks like phantasmal killer and so on.

I was thinking of damaging/offensive options specifically, such as Ear-Piercing Scream or Chord of Shards from the Bard spell list in P1e, but if the Occult spell list has a focus on force effects due to the spiritual influence, does that mean spells like Magic Missile could also appear on it?

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LoreKeeper wrote:

From my read of this, Mark, doesn't this essentially lock in the monk-bard as the ultimate multi-class build?

[/onlyhalfserious]

Oh in what way? It could be pretty effective, if also pretty MAD.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Friendly Rogue wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Friendly Rogue wrote:

This is hands down one of the best previews in my opinion. The bard is one of my favorite P1e classes, so reading that not only are they now full casters, but they also have a specifically defined spell list and are tied to occult themes? At that point, everything else is just a lot of icing on the perfectly moist cake.

I must ask, though, especially since the Occult spell list is also going to be accessible to the Sorcerer and presumably other classes in the future, what are the combat options like for the spell list? Are they particularly limited, or are they just more focused on mind-affecting effects?

You mean in-battle options or specifically damaging/offensive options? The influence from the spiritual focuses on force and sonic damage spells, combined with mental attacks like phantasmal killer and so on.
I was thinking of damaging/offensive options specifically, such as Ear-Piercing Scream or Chord of Shards from the Bard spell list in P1e, but if the Occult spell list has a focus on force effects due to the spiritual influence, does that mean spells like Magic Missile could also appear on it?

Sure, why not? I could totally see a bard playing the violin at a frenzied pace and releasing three missiles of force, and it fits with the spiritual focus.


Wow, bards look great! I like that performing is more active now, and that Countersong works on visual effects too! Agree that the Lingering Composition wording is weird, though, and that status effects like quick should probably be capitalized or something to set them off.

I also notice, between this and the character sheets being released at ENWorld, that most buff effects seem to be conditional bonuses now? Which presumably means they don't stack. Bless in particular is looking kinda sad next to Inspire Courage! (Sure, it lasts longer, but it doesn't affect damage, lost its bonus on saving throws against fear, had its AoE reduced, AND still eats a spell slot while IC now consumes no resources besides actions...) As someone who's been playing a support oracle in RoW, I can appreciate not having to spend multiple rounds casting nearly-identical buffs like Bless and Prayer (I hope the former scales into the latter, now?), but it would still be nice if different classes' support abilities played well together.

Also, if we're renaming the occultist somewhere down the line (please do bring him back! he was a cool concept, if over-complicated), my vote is for "ritualist." And that's only 60% because I spent all my teen years playing one in Guild Wars...


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Bailey Allen wrote:

For how diverse the bard seems to able to built (between compositions, spell cantrips, spell powers, class feats and spell repertoire), the 1st level seems uncharacteristically forced into taking inspire courage and counter performance. If I wanted to build a reclusive scholar, it seems unfitting for her to have inspire confidence. Is this something that all bards must take and if so, is there hope of us dropping it in the future?

You could flavour it as instead rattling off handy knowledge based fighting tips to your allies.

"If you can, the chitin under it's mandibles is thinner than anywhere else on the beast."

"According to Malthar's Tome of Unearthly Horrors, you really shouldn't be listening to the gibberring."

"Did you know that most monsters have testicles? Kick them for fascinating results!"


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KingOfAnything wrote:
LoreKeeper wrote:

From my read of this, Mark, doesn't this essentially lock in the monk-bard as the ultimate multi-class build?

[/onlyhalfserious]

I like ranger-bard, personally.

I fully intend to go druid-bard at some point during the playtest, to see how that behaves.

Paizo Employee Designer

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worldhopper wrote:

Wow, bards look great! I like that performing is more active now, and that Countersong works on visual effects too! Agree that the Lingering Composition wording is weird, though, and that status effects like quick should probably be capitalized or something to set them off.

I also notice, between this and the character sheets being released at ENWorld, that most buff effects seem to be conditional bonuses now? Which presumably means they don't stack. Bless in particular is looking kinda sad next to Inspire Courage! (Sure, it lasts longer, but it doesn't affect damage, lost its bonus on saving throws against fear, had its AoE reduced, AND still eats a spell slot while IC now consumes no resources besides actions...) As someone who's been playing a support oracle in RoW, I can appreciate not having to spend multiple rounds casting nearly-identical buffs like Bless and Prayer (I hope the former scales into the latter, now?), but it would still be nice if different classes' support abilities played well together.

Also, if we're renaming the occultist somewhere down the line (please do bring him back! he was a cool concept, if over-complicated), my vote is for "ritualist." And that's only 60% because I spent all my teen years playing one in Guild Wars...

Inspire courage is a key ability for the bard, and so bless is very intentionally not as good as having a bard around due to the slot cost, but it's a good spell to use if you don't have one. And if you do, the cleric is freed up for other options (or the cleric sticks with bless and frees the bard up to use a different composition!).


Mark Seifter wrote:
LoreKeeper wrote:

From my read of this, Mark, doesn't this essentially lock in the monk-bard as the ultimate multi-class build?

[/onlyhalfserious]

Oh in what way? It could be pretty effective, if also pretty MAD.

One action to inspire courage (wise sensei's advice), one action to flurry, one action to do whatever is required in the current situation.

This is obviously not for a caster-centric build, but for a battle-bard the two classes seem to compliment each other mechanically nicely. The monk part solidifies the bard as a melee combatant; the bard part escalates the combat effectiveness and significantly increases out-of-combat options.

Not to mention that "occult" seems a natural thematic fit for a monk.

I picture a monk 8 / bard 2 kind of split.


I've generally enjoyed the class previews thus far and this was no exception. Looking forward to the full reveal when the pdf drops.

Sovereign Court

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Quick question...

Does Counter Performance count in the 1 composition/turn limit? Ex: if you cast inspire courage on your turn, you cannot react with Counter Performance since you already have an active performance

I sure hope it does not, otherwise it's still really limited... (even if that would make sense)


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

I see that the word "occult" is changing its meaning between PF1 and PF2. In PF2, there seems to be no connection between "occult" and "psychic" -- in fact, I suspect that "psychic" spellcasters may end up using all of the existing spell lists but with a slightly different casting method.

Disagree. The PF2 occult list mixes mental/spiritual essences, skipping physical and vital, and most of the PF1 psychic/occult spell lists (certainly the Psychic, Mesmerist, and Spiritualist) had a similar theme.
I half wonder if the PF2 Occultist won't even be a spellcaster, instead being a resonance focused class with spell points, just because "Occult" is right in the name but the Occultist is eminently a "stuff" focused concept.

I'd think the occultist would make for a simple archetype for alchemist. Sub out alchemy/bombs for wonderous items/trinkets, give them a boost to rituals, add some spell point casting and you're good to go. When it comes down to it, they're the same sort of class with a focus on magic items rather than alchemical items.

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Darkorin wrote:
Does Counter Performance count in the 1 composition/turn limit? Ex: if you cast inspire courage on your turn, you cannot react with Counter Performance since you already have an active performance

I wondered about that interaction as well.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ErichAD wrote:
I'd think the occultist would make for a simple archetype for alchemist. Sub out alchemy/bombs for wonderous items/trinkets, give them a boost to rituals, add some spell point casting and you're good to go. When it comes down to it, they're the same sort of class with a focus on magic items rather than alchemical items.

Sub out bombs and alchemy. I mean, sure, but since "alchemy" includes basically all class abilities and related feats I'm not certain that it is as minor a swap as you're thinking.

Although I do agree that the class when it arrives will likely focus around trinkets, spell point powers, and have the same increased resonance that alchemists have (possibly even more). Hey, maybe they can call it a hedge mage.


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Depending on how rituals work, I can see an Indiana Jones type archaeologist being a rogue who took the ritual skills.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
Aiken Frost wrote:
Quote:
You also have the most trained skills at 1st level except for rogues, just barely edging out rangers. Finally, you begin play at 1st level with two compositions, the inspire courage cantrip (which has been detailed above) and the counter performance power.

Can we *please* don't let spellcasters have more skills than the Fighter? Please?

Also:

Quote:
You perform rapidly, speeding your ally. The ally is quick and can use the action to Strike, Stride, or Step.

The Allegro wording is terrible. It would be better like this:

Quote:
You perform rapidly, speeding your ally. The ally gets one action he can use only to Strike, Stride, or Step.
The wording is the way it is because Quick is a status effect that doesn't stack with other abilities that give Quick and can be countered by Slow.

So in a counterspell battle, it would go SLOW, SLOW, QUICK, QUICK, SLOW...

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Darkorin wrote:

Quick question...

Does Counter Performance count in the 1 composition/turn limit? Ex: if you cast inspire courage on your turn, you cannot react with Counter Performance since you already have an active performance

I sure hope it does not, otherwise it's still really limited... (even if that would make sense)

It's off your turn so you can use it; I worded very very carefully to make sure it didn't block reactions. However, without some of the crazy maestro mix-and-match stuff, it will end any current effects of inspire courage when you use it (this may not matter if the monster goes right before you though).


Sounds like pretty much every class can pick every feat from each of their subclasses without picking the subclass. True? Can I pick a divination school (which I assume is not just a specialization option but a subclass thing) then get all the feats from the necromancy school?


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
I'd think the occultist would make for a simple archetype for alchemist. Sub out alchemy/bombs for wonderous items/trinkets, give them a boost to rituals, add some spell point casting and you're good to go. When it comes down to it, they're the same sort of class with a focus on magic items rather than alchemical items.

Sub out bombs and alchemy. I mean, sure, but since "alchemy" includes basically all class abilities I'm not certain that it is as minor a swap as you're thinking.

Although I do agree that the class when it arrives will likely focus around trinkets, spell point powers, and have the same increased resonance that alchemists have (possibly even more). Hey, maybe they can call it a hedge mage.

Honestly, while I don't think making it an archetype would be either simple or practical, I feel that basing the Occultist pretty heavily off of the Alchemist (no spellcasting, but a lot of neat tricks involving magic items and class abilities that focus in on these abilities) would be a really smart way to approach it, especially now that 6th level casters are somewhat being phased out in favor of default full casters (and this is assuming this doesn't change in the future, or that it's easy for classes like the fighter to invest into spellcasting and get partial magic).


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Malk_Content wrote:
Bailey Allen wrote:

For how diverse the bard seems to able to built (between compositions, spell cantrips, spell powers, class feats and spell repertoire), the 1st level seems uncharacteristically forced into taking inspire courage and counter performance. If I wanted to build a reclusive scholar, it seems unfitting for her to have inspire confidence. Is this something that all bards must take and if so, is there hope of us dropping it in the future?

You could flavour it as instead rattling off handy knowledge based fighting tips to your allies.

"If you can, the chitin under it's mandibles is thinner than anywhere else on the beast."

"According to Malthar's Tome of Unearthly Horrors, you really shouldn't be listening to the gibberring."

"Did you know that most monsters have testicles? Kick them for fascinating results!"

This is why Malthar's Tome of Unearthly Horrors should be required reading. They always underestimate the gibbering...

Paizo Employee Designer

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LoreKeeper wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
LoreKeeper wrote:

From my read of this, Mark, doesn't this essentially lock in the monk-bard as the ultimate multi-class build?

[/onlyhalfserious]

Oh in what way? It could be pretty effective, if also pretty MAD.

One action to inspire courage (wise sensei's advice), one action to flurry, one action to do whatever is required in the current situation.

This is obviously not for a caster-centric build, but for a battle-bard the two classes seem to compliment each other mechanically nicely. The monk part solidifies the bard as a melee combatant; the bard part escalates the combat effectiveness and significantly increases out-of-combat options.

Not to mention that "occult" seems a natural thematic fit for a monk.

I picture a monk 8 / bard 2 kind of split.

I thought it might be that; flurry+performance is indeed a potent combination. It's also pretty solid for other situations like fist ranger with pet (as someone else mentioned upthread).


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I like moving the songs over to spells. Much slicker. I wonder though, since we have inspire courage as an occult cantrip, does that mean a sorcerer with the occult spell list has access to it, or are cantrips class locked rather than spell list locked?

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