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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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Cantriped wrote:
On the topic of Powers... I have seen several developer statements now that seem to indicate that Powers aren't just Spell-Like Abilities; but that they are actually Uncommon spells too. By which I mean that they can be learned and cast exactly like any other spells, but that most casters simply never learn how to do so (because the spell-versions are Uncommon). It could just be wishful thinking, of course.

No, that has been stated by a developer to be incorrect. You can't cast powers with spell slots, they're a different kind of spell (and furthermore they wouldn't appear on the spell list).

Liberty's Edge

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QuidEst wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
On the topic of Powers... I have seen several developer statements now that seem to indicate that Powers aren't just Spell-Like Abilities; but that they are actually Uncommon spells too. By which I mean that they can be learned and cast exactly like any other spells, but that most casters simply never learn how to do so (because the spell-versions are Uncommon). It could just be wishful thinking, of course.
No, that has been stated by a developer to be incorrect. You can't cast powers with spell slots, they're a different kind of spell.

Right. They're also Uncommon in many cases, but that's not what's preventing you from using spell slots to cast them.


Was never really a fan of Bards as casters, but it sounds like the Rogue can fill their old niche pretty well so it's no great loss.


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QuidEst wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
On the topic of Powers... I have seen several developer statements now that seem to indicate that Powers aren't just Spell-Like Abilities; but that they are actually Uncommon spells too. By which I mean that they can be learned and cast exactly like any other spells, but that most casters simply never learn how to do so (because the spell-versions are Uncommon). It could just be wishful thinking, of course.
No, that has been stated by a developer to be incorrect. You can't cast powers with spell slots, they're a different kind of spell (and furthermore they wouldn't appear on the spell list).

I'm not saying you are wrong... but the quote doesn't actually disprove my proposition. All Mark actually said was that:

A) Powers have their own rules, so learning a power doesn't mean you can cast it as a spell too.
B) That a clerical domain power isn't going to be found on the wizard's spell list (aka the Arcane Tradition)

He did not explicitly state (there, he might have elsewhere) that a clerical power cannot be found as an Uncommon Divine Spell (which is what I was proposing is a possibility). Conversely the impression I have is that all powers are Uncommon Spells of their tradition. Which still prevents clerics and druids from preparing them unless otherwise noted.


Cantriped wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
On the topic of Powers... I have seen several developer statements now that seem to indicate that Powers aren't just Spell-Like Abilities; but that they are actually Uncommon spells too. By which I mean that they can be learned and cast exactly like any other spells, but that most casters simply never learn how to do so (because the spell-versions are Uncommon). It could just be wishful thinking, of course.
No, that has been stated by a developer to be incorrect. You can't cast powers with spell slots, they're a different kind of spell (and furthermore they wouldn't appear on the spell list).

I'm not saying you are wrong... but the quote doesn't actually disprove my proposition. All Mark actually said was that:

A) Powers have their own rules, so learning a power doesn't mean you can cast it as a spell too.
B) That a clerical domain power isn't going to be found on the wizard's spell list (aka the Arcane Tradition)

He did not explicitly state (there, he might have elsewhere) that a clerical power cannot be found as an Uncommon Divine Spell (which is what I was proposing is a possibility). Conversely the impression I have is that all powers are Uncommon Spells of their tradition. Which still prevents clerics and druids from preparing them unless otherwise noted.

Pretty sure that mark said elsewhere (it may have been the discussion on the 4 essences, but I don't recall exactly) that these were rare spells from a tradition other than the 4 we have available (speculation was it was from spiritual/material I believe).

But don't quote me on that. I don't particularly have a desire to scan hundreds of posts to find the relevant one right now, and I am working from a (sometimes faulty) memory.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:

They are mechanically spells in every sense. They have components which work the same, they count as Arcane or Divine (or Primal or Occult), they provoke AoO under the same circumstances, they can be counterspelled under the same circumstances, and so on and so forth. In every way that matters in terms of interacting with the rest of the game system, they are spells.

The only way in which they aren't spells is if you define spells as 'the things I cast with spell slots'. That's a specific definition and not actually a very useful one. It's the one PF1 uses in some ways, sure, but that in no way makes it a good definition.

Great points. It's definitely simpler that the interactions of these abilities (with the rest of the game rules) are all the same as spells where they weren't in PF1. These were the tricky edge cases that were most likely to result in confusion or rules mistakes. I certainly understand that the term "spell points" initially leaves the impression that they might be used to pay for traditional spells for spellcasters, but martial characters don't have that confusion, and spellcasters will still benefit from knowing that the abilities interact with the rest of the rules the same way as their traditional spells.

It's probably worth adding that there is a good reason for distinguishing between spells paid for with spell slots and those paid with spell points. Spell points coming from a separate pool means you're not sacrificing your spellcasting for other core class abilities. And unlike cantrips, you still have a limited number of uses. They also work for classes that don't get spells normally. I disagree that there will be a lot of confusion (after learning how these work) because it's just not that complicated in practice, and these rules will be used the same way for the entire life of a character.

In other words, the rules are simplified where the complications were worst, without losing the ability to have alternate cost structures for spellcasters and non-casters alike.


Gavmania wrote:
I am working from a (sometimes faulty) memory.

You and me both! That might be the statement I was thinking of, and Rare makes more sense as that is deep into the "ask your GM" territory anyway.

Either way... just 16 more days til we have all of the confirmation... I sometimes wish humans hibernated.


Brock Landers wrote:
Crayon wrote:
Was never really a fan of Bards as casters, but it sounds like the Rogue can fill their old niche pretty well so it's no great loss.
They have been casters since their very inception in D&D/PF, why would you not want them to be a caster, what would you prefer?

I would argue, however, that they were not primarily spellcasters until 3e and personally preferred their more rogue-like iterations.


How would you handle a singing bard or an orator bard? It's one of my greatest concerns about the class after for D&D 5e handled them. In that system, while there aren't any rules against singing or giving speeches for bardic performances, the fact that all 5e bards learn to play 3 instruments and start with "a lute or other musical instrument" certainly doesn't encourage things like a bard as a military commander whose performances are rousing speeches.


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Xenocrat wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

Mark,

How do Bards provide material spell components?

Like how clerics can present a deific symbol, bards can play an instrument as the Material Casting as well, if they want. Or just provide the materials as normal.

Oh, I thought each class had a unique and fixed method: arcane focus, holy symbol, or blood. So these are optional replacements for the old goofy dad joke components?

Bards need a helmet mounted harmonica.

My bard is totally sporting one of those one man band outfits. I will maintain all of the buffs!


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Crayon wrote:
I would argue, however, that they were not primarily spellcasters until 3e and personally preferred their more rogue-like iterations.

I could counter-argue that bards were originally a prestige class (that required you have levels in Druid, Thief, and Mage IIRC). Meaning most of your Experience Points were spent in spell-casting classes. So a more accurate homage would be to axe the Bard as a class and make them a prestige archetype instead. WoTC did actually write several interesting versions of the 'prestige bard' for 3.5; most notably in Unearthed Arcana.

However that sounds a lot less fun than keeping around something like the 'iconic minstrel' we've had like three decades to get used to.


Cantriped wrote:
Crayon wrote:
I would argue, however, that they were not primarily spellcasters until 3e and personally preferred their more rogue-like iterations.
I could counter-argue that bards were originally a prestige class (that required you have levels in Druid, Thief, and Mage IIRC). Meaning most of your Experience Points were spent in spell-casting classes. So a more accurate homage would be to axe the Bard as a class and make them a prestige archetype instead.

Fighter - Thief - Druid were the three classes.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I need you two to pick icons if you're going to argue; I can't tell who is talking.

Edit: Just to be clear, I'm joking, but I did have a moment where I thought the same person was arguing with themselves.


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Bards started in original d&d, in The Strategic Review - Volume 2, Number 1. They treated 1/2 their levels as thieves and could cast up to 7th level magic user spells.

First World Bard wrote:


We know that Staves exist, have low level versions, and can do this with a bit of Resonance cost (which to a Bard, is not as painful as it might be for non-CHA casters).

We've been told that you don't really need the casting stat to make an effective character so what options does the dwarf polymath with limited Cha have? You can't make the assumption that the class will have more or less Resonance. I don't see Resonance as the universal cure-all to fix any problem when I don't even know if I'll have enough to use the items I want or need.


Question. Can bards use types of performance other than instrument playing in place of somatic/verbal components? Comedy, sock puppetry, a cappella, dance, oratory, miming, etc.

Silver Crusade

RazarTuk wrote:
How would you handle a singing bard or an orator bard? It's one of my greatest concerns about the class after for D&D 5e handled them. In that system, while there aren't any rules against singing or giving speeches for bardic performances, the fact that all 5e bards learn to play 3 instruments and start with "a lute or other musical instrument" certainly doesn't encourage things like a bard as a military commander whose performances are rousing speeches.

Upthread:

Mark Seifter wrote:
Quote:
P.S. Really appreciate the way you're not tying it just to more traditional modes of performance! Lots of room for a battle-dancer or storyteller. Anyone with art in their soul and soul in their 'art should be able to be a Bard.
This part is really important to us. Bards aren't just musicians, they are just as you describe, and the soul in the art is a strong part of what ties them to the spiritual essence as well as mental!

And:

Blog wrote:

You inspire your allies with words or tunes of encouragement.

...
Choose an auditory performance if the trigger was auditory or a visual performance if it was visual,

But:

Blog wrote:
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!


Long John wrote:

So I have two questions. One, is Long John Silver a bard or a rogue?

And the second, and I understand perfectly if this can't be answered... but... can a Bard counter perform a dragons frightful presence?

Neither. He's an alchemist because their food is poison.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
dragonhunterq wrote:
I'm curious about composition and how some people are reacting to it. I never associated it in particular with the scale of the work - it's simply a piece of music. I wonder if that impression of scale is regional or occupation based or specific to musicians, or whether it's just me?

I use it the same way: a "composition" doesn't imply length to me. Her writings, and her compositions both imply creative works of varying lengths, one with words and the other with musical notes.


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I really think Spell Points should be called Power Points or Talent Points or something. Not only is there a lot of possibility of confusion between 'Spell' Points and actual spells but it feels a bit off for martial characters to have a magicky 'spell point' resource.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I now want to test how PF2 allows for creating a multiclass fighter/rogue/sorcerer who specializes in enchantments ;-P

Liberty's Edge

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Azih wrote:
I really think Spell Points should be called Power Points or Talent Points or something. Not only is there a lot of possibility of confusion between 'Spell' Points and actual spells but it feels a bit off for martial characters to have a magicky 'spell point' resource.

Strictly martial characters don't get Spell Points. They are an explicitly magical resource. Some Classes no magic other than spell points but they still enable actual, overtly magical, spells. Monk spells are subtle, but they are still magical.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Azih wrote:
I really think Spell Points should be called Power Points or Talent Points or something. Not only is there a lot of possibility of confusion between 'Spell' Points and actual spells but it feels a bit off for martial characters to have a magicky 'spell point' resource.
Strictly martial characters don't get Spell Points. They are an explicitly magical resource. Some Classes no magic other than spell points but they still enable actual, overtly magical, spells. Monk spells are subtle, but they are still magical.

Well, that's just needlessly shackling yourself, for no reason. Also, when you look at the abilities powered by Spell Points, does the header say Spell X? No, it doesn't, it says Power X. So just call them Power Points.

It's better, it's distinct and I guarantee nobody will be confused asking "Wait, can I use Spell Points to cast spells?" "No, you use them for your Powers". You use your Spell slots to cast spells, and your Power Points to use Powers. Easy as it comes.


Ironically in 3.5 psionics you used Power Points to cast spells (well technically "manifest"...)


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Azih wrote:
I really think Spell Points should be called Power Points or Talent Points or something. Not only is there a lot of possibility of confusion between 'Spell' Points and actual spells but it feels a bit off for martial characters to have a magicky 'spell point' resource.
Strictly martial characters don't get Spell Points. They are an explicitly magical resource. Some Classes no magic other than spell points but they still enable actual, overtly magical, spells. Monk spells are subtle, but they are still magical.

They should be called Level Points or Feat Points.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Talent Points.
Or even Ability Points.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Interesting take, and I am glad to see the design impetus to give Bard a more defined role.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Cantriped wrote:
On the topic of Powers... I have seen several developer statements now that seem to indicate that Powers aren't just Spell-Like Abilities; but that they are actually Uncommon spells too. By which I mean that they can be learned and cast exactly like any other spells, but that most casters simply never learn how to do so (because the spell-versions are Uncommon). It could just be wishful thinking, of course.

They are also not on any spell list, so they can't be learned as a non-power without significant fiat for that reason.

Liberty's Edge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
On the topic of Powers... I have seen several developer statements now that seem to indicate that Powers aren't just Spell-Like Abilities; but that they are actually Uncommon spells too. By which I mean that they can be learned and cast exactly like any other spells, but that most casters simply never learn how to do so (because the spell-versions are Uncommon). It could just be wishful thinking, of course.
They are also not on any spell list, so they can't be learned as a non-power without significant fiat for that reason.

An interesting question got brought up in another thread: Can someone who has a Power make a Wand or Scroll of it?


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I personally like Power Points. Then your Powers use Power Points. Would there be something wrong with this that I'm missing?


TheFinish wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Azih wrote:
I really think Spell Points should be called Power Points or Talent Points or something. Not only is there a lot of possibility of confusion between 'Spell' Points and actual spells but it feels a bit off for martial characters to have a magicky 'spell point' resource.
Strictly martial characters don't get Spell Points. They are an explicitly magical resource. Some Classes no magic other than spell points but they still enable actual, overtly magical, spells. Monk spells are subtle, but they are still magical.

Well, that's just needlessly shackling yourself, for no reason. Also, when you look at the abilities powered by Spell Points, does the header say Spell X? No, it doesn't, it says Power X. So just call them Power Points.

It's better, it's distinct and I guarantee nobody will be confused asking "Wait, can I use Spell Points to cast spells?" "No, you use them for your Powers". You use your Spell slots to cast spells, and your Power Points to use Powers. Easy as it comes.

We have entire lists of alternative names for "spell points" in the thread Spell Points - Less gamey name please from April 2018.

Though we did not know as much about PF2 then. For example, I made the mistaken post:

Mathmuse wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
(2) The things for which Spell Points are used are not called spells, but powers (even if they technically are spells). The things commonly called spells are not powered by Spell Points. That's just a really awkward disconnect.
I think they are called spells rather than powers. Back in comment #82, Mark Seifter said, "Spell Points are used for (certain types of) spells."


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I wish it was more clear that powers are a type of spell so people stopped arguing over spell points/power points/why don't martials get powers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Mark, I have a question for you and the other designers.

How much intermix do the spells from Occult, Arcane, Divine, and Primal have? I mean, I'm not alone in wanting to have fairly unique spell lists for each of these. It's one thing that really turned me off of Occult Adventures that so many 'psychic' abilities were just "reskinned" spells that Wizards and other classes already had.

Each of the four spell categories should have its own distinct flavour and be distinct unto itself. And if that means the Wizard class ends up losing certain spells and the Cleric class loses others, then that's a good thing. It means there is actual choice involved in each class. When you choose Bard, you are getting spells that you don't get with the Wizard class, and Wizards can't just slowly accumulate everyone else's spells with future books.

This should also be set in stone with the Spell Research. Wizards should not be researching Occult spells because someone feels Charm Person or Suggestion should be an Arcane spell instead of an Occult spell (if, for instance, those spells were Occult only).

And thank you again for all your hard work and in spending time to expand on the blog in the forum posts :)


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Cantriped wrote:
Ironically in 3.5 psionics you used Power Points to cast spells (well technically "manifest"...)

You didn't though. You used Power Points to manifest Psionic Powers. Did the Powers have the same format as spells? Yes. Did they follow most of the same rules? Yes. Were they actually spells? No, they weren't, that's why you had quite a few rules about how they interacted with each other.

What is interesting is that 5th Edition has a variant that uses Spell Points to cast Spells, much like psionics used Power Points to manifest powers.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Tangent101 wrote:
How much intermix do the spells from Occult, Arcane, Divine, and Primal have? I mean, I'm not alone in wanting to have fairly unique spell lists for each of these. It's one thing that really turned me off of Occult Adventures that so many 'psychic' abilities were just "reskinned" spells that Wizards and other classes already had.

Tangent, read up on Magical Traditions (specifically the four "essences") from the blog post here, and search that thread / other places for e.g. Mark's commentary on the subject. As further reference, the Primal List is Vital/Material, while the Occult list is Mental/Spiritual.


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Bard being an occult caster makes a lot more sense when you think "Occult magic is the magic that affects the head and the heart" than "Shoggoths."

I wonder how we're going to deal with that sort of paired, opposing connotations within the game. I mean, it's there, since the playtest occult sorcerer is an aberrant bloodline. I guess eldritch horrors tend to drive you mad rather than blasting you with rays and stuff, so it may be that shoggoths and their like are naturally adept with occult magic.

Paizo Employee Designer

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

Bard being an occult caster makes a lot more sense when you think "Occult magic is the magic that affects the head and the heart" than "Shoggoths."

I wonder how we're going to deal with that sort of paired, opposing connotations within the game. I mean, it's there, since the playtest occult sorcerer is an aberrant bloodline. I guess eldritch horrors tend to drive you mad rather than blasting you with rays and stuff, so it may be that shoggoths and their like are naturally adept with occult magic.

In some ways, they're like two sides of the coin. Fiends represent the dark side of divine magic, while paladins and goodly clerics use divine magic to heal and protect you from those creatures and are a great counter to fiends (not that antipaladins and evil clerics can't be just as bad as the fiends!). Similarly, horrible sanity-warping nightmares are the dark side of what occult can do to your mind and spirit, while goodly bards can protect you and uplift you, through inspiration, counter performance to avoid the shoggoth's cacophony or the maddening appearance of certain creatures and are generally a great counter to those creatures (not that you couldn't make some kind of maddening bard focused on the flip side as well!)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
First World Bard wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
How much intermix do the spells from Occult, Arcane, Divine, and Primal have? I mean, I'm not alone in wanting to have fairly unique spell lists for each of these. It's one thing that really turned me off of Occult Adventures that so many 'psychic' abilities were just "reskinned" spells that Wizards and other classes already had.

Tangent, read up on Magical Traditions (specifically the four "essences") from the blog post here, and search that thread / other places for e.g. Mark's commentary on the subject. As further reference, the Primal List is Vital/Material, while the Occult list is Mental/Spiritual.

Yes, I understand about spell essences.

What I'm asking about are the spells themselves. I heard about Bards getting Magic Missile potentially and that seems... well, it feels a little off, especially seeing Bardic spells are mental and spiritual in nature.

Having an underlying foundation for spells is a good thing, but only if the building you put on top of it sets firmly on that foundation. Otherwise the building risks falling off the foundation and you end up with a right mess. :/


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Bard being an occult caster makes a lot more sense when you think "Occult magic is the magic that affects the head and the heart" than "Shoggoths."

I wonder how we're going to deal with that sort of paired, opposing connotations within the game. I mean, it's there, since the playtest occult sorcerer is an aberrant bloodline. I guess eldritch horrors tend to drive you mad rather than blasting you with rays and stuff, so it may be that shoggoths and their like are naturally adept with occult magic.

Combine the two with an Erich Zann theme.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
They are also not on any spell list, so they can't be learned as a non-power without significant fiat for that reason.

A wasted opportunity... Rare spells are already only available by significant GM fiat, researching or finding the spell-variant of a power is unlikely to break the game if having the power itself didn't (considering the Power scales automatically and the spell does not). I don't see any harm in letting Kyra prepare Fire Bolt as a 1st level spell for example

I fail to comprehend what in-world justification there could possibly be for making all 'powers' impossible to replicate as 'spells' when they function exactly like spells in every relevent way, and as powers are reasonably Common.

Thankfully even the playtest document appears to provide enough information regarding the use of a power as a spell to correct that design flaw with house rules. Regardless, thank you for the clarification.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Tangent101 wrote:
First World Bard wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
How much intermix do the spells from Occult, Arcane, Divine, and Primal have? I mean, I'm not alone in wanting to have fairly unique spell lists for each of these. It's one thing that really turned me off of Occult Adventures that so many 'psychic' abilities were just "reskinned" spells that Wizards and other classes already had.

Tangent, read up on Magical Traditions (specifically the four "essences") from the blog post here, and search that thread / other places for e.g. Mark's commentary on the subject. As further reference, the Primal List is Vital/Material, while the Occult list is Mental/Spiritual.

Yes, I understand about spell essences.

What I'm asking about are the spells themselves. I heard about Bards getting Magic Missile potentially and that seems... well, it feels a little off, especially seeing Bardic spells are mental and spiritual in nature.

Having an underlying foundation for spells is a good thing, but only if the building you put on top of it sets firmly on that foundation. Otherwise the building risks falling off the foundation and you end up with a right mess. :/

The spiritual essence is connected to souls, spirits, and the Ethereal Plane, and therefore is more associated with force damage. That's why you'll see spells like spiritual weapon and blade barrier on a cleric's divine tradition, which is vital and spiritual. Magic missile has some mental elements of it that keep it in arcane.


Mark Seifter wrote:
brad2411 wrote:
Bard looks very strong from its roots. Bard was a good class before now it looks like it just got a huge buff. This is also leading me to be concerned about the balance of PF2.
It got many big (or even huge, as you say) improvements, but also the way the system works is different, so you're not going to having a bard drop +6 to hit and damage (2 of which is also to pretty much all other checks from good hope) to everyone on round 1, a game-altering amount even in PF1 where a party with a bard suddenly wouldn't even notice the issues with accuracy-starved classes like chained rogue and monk. This bard is stronger and more versatile at many things you can choose to do with it, but in part that is possible because the proud nail obvious most powerful option is less better than everything else (like how inspire courage blocked the other base performances in PF1 from being used until you could get up multiple and had an oversized effect on archetypes based on whether or not it was replaced).

Truth be told Inspire Courage is such a boring ability that I'm surprised you didn't just replace it with something else. Even in Pathfinder 1 the more useful buffing abilities that you could gain access from classes to usually did something more than just add static modifiers to attack, damage, and saves.


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Tangent101 wrote:
First World Bard wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
How much intermix do the spells from Occult, Arcane, Divine, and Primal have? I mean, I'm not alone in wanting to have fairly unique spell lists for each of these. It's one thing that really turned me off of Occult Adventures that so many 'psychic' abilities were just "reskinned" spells that Wizards and other classes already had.

Tangent, read up on Magical Traditions (specifically the four "essences") from the blog post here, and search that thread / other places for e.g. Mark's commentary on the subject. As further reference, the Primal List is Vital/Material, while the Occult list is Mental/Spiritual.

Yes, I understand about spell essences.

What I'm asking about are the spells themselves. I heard about Bards getting Magic Missile potentially and that seems... well, it feels a little off, especially seeing Bardic spells are mental and spiritual in nature.

Having an underlying foundation for spells is a good thing, but only if the building you put on top of it sets firmly on that foundation. Otherwise the building risks falling off the foundation and you end up with a right mess. :/

Force/telekinesis effects match up with Spiritual essence. They affect spirits/ghosts, can be used by them, and resemble movement by poltergeists. Is force physical? Well, maybe when combined with the mental essence, using mind to move/act upon the physical world. But you can't weigh or taste or smell a force effect, so pure physical essence without mental combination (like the Primal list) doesn't get force spells. And maybe spiritual/mental is also needed in combo to get the most out of force (mentally compelling ethereal movement) to get the full range that Occult caster get, while spiritual essence alone (Divine) doesn't give you the same access.

Spiritual likely also matches up with the Ethereal Plane and the Outer Planes, while Mental is direct mind affects but also stuff like the Astral Plane (if Wizards keep undead animation, as seems likely, it'll be justified by combining physical animation with mental/Astral links to the spirits traveling through the Astral). Mental is also going to cover illusions.


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Overall, I like it... I'm a big fan of "Bard: the Musical," and this teaser seems to make the classic "Elan-Bard" work better. If you want a bard that walks into a dungeon and sings at things, this is definitely the way to go. Kudos!

However... I was hoping for the Bard becoming a gateway to the long-awaited Rogue-Sorcerer gish. At present Bards are great for caster-rogues IF you like the performance aspect. But there seems to be no option for a classic AD&D-themed Rogue/Wizard who amplifies his stealth, thievery and subterfuge with spellcasting. So unless you want a bard who sings, dances, or tells jokes to activate his powers, there is still no avenue for creating a spell-using thief. It's my only critique so far. I know PF didn't have it before, but as an old Grognard, I've been hoping for a class that would enable creating this character concept for some time. (Before you all start suggesting it, obviously multiclass rogue/sorcerers don't work very well, as multiclass sorcerers lack any real spellcasting power, and multiclass rogues give up far too many skill points). So unless PF2 includes some really kick-ass multiclassing options, this desired concept is still un-achievable.

So... to sum up. Want a singing Bard who uses some aspect of music or artsy-performance to do his thing? This is it. You want a rogue-y caster who uses magic to do his sneaking and stealing without singing or dancing his way into your hearts? ... This ain't it.

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