Into the Breach: The Bard (PFRPG) PDF

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In this installment of Into the Breach we tighten our strings and keep the rhythm even tighter with everyone’s favorite crooner, the bard. With 12 new archetypes covering themes from the sword focused and elf only chronicler of blades to the outrageous prop comic and his schticks. Also featuring a new bard alternate class, the silent and mysterious mime, a new bard/paladin prestige class (thanks to Lyric the singing paladin), new magical instruments, and a new magic item type, fairy plays, you are sure to find a new way to entertain your traveling companions or rend foes with words and whit.

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The Bard in the Breach


Into the Breach – The Bard
Once more we venture into the Breach with the latest offering from Flying Pincushion games with their latest installment focusing on the bard. I did receive a complimentary copy of the PDF in exchange for a review.
The PDF is 41 pages long, with 5 pages being devoted to Cover, Table of Contents, Credits, OGL and a back of the front cover page with a Bob Marley quote.
The PDF delivers a dozen new archetypes, a new prestige class, and a new alternate base class, a new mechanic called Fairy Plays and a seven new instruments for the bard lover.
Virtually all of these new archetypes are flavorful and interesting and for some reason, many put me in mind of either classic and current movies or old fairy tales.

New Archetypes
1) Chronicler of Blades – This bard archetype reminds me of feats of daring-do, where the bard is the master of the fencing blades. I have visions of an elven version of Douglas Fairbanks running around, assuming Douglas was an elf as this has limited availability to elves, which both limits it’s utility and doesn’t do a lot for the elf as a whole.
2) Courtless Marvel – This bard archetype dances the dangerous line of interacting with the fey courts while not being sucked into the courts themselves. Tweaking their nose at them and leveraging what they are capable of and summoning the fey to do the bards bidding with modified summon natures ally spells. Good for campaigns where fey have a heavy presence.
3) Fabulist – The fabulist is the teller of tales that impart a moral lesson. I have visions of Aesop and his fables.
4) Grotesque – If you want to run a carnival for players with a traveling troupe, then this is the bard you need for your ringmaster. A master of the sideshow.
5) Jester – The jester is the master of the court, turning the sly remark into the thing that stops the subject of the remark in their tracks.
6) Lifeweaver – The life weaver is, I think, one of the more interesting archetypes presented here. It’s a solid mixture of the cleric and the bard, using music to provide healing and protection to the PC’s through use of modified cleric abilities including Channel Energy.
7) Matchmaker – Again another interesting archetype that helps others find their potential soul mates. A mixture of Sebastian from Little Mermaid (Kiss the Girl) and Will Smith as Hitch. Within a party, maybe not so much, but depending upon the campaign could be interesting as an NPC option.
8) Prop Comic – The prop comic takes the fine art of humor and makes it his own, to poke fun at, and distract his enemies. At once the stage magician and the comic relief. I mean where else can you find a clever use for a whoopee cushion. It’s all the Bugs Bunny cartoons where he uses props to distract his opponents.
9) Rookery Master – The rookery master gains a bird familiar and comes to know birds so well that he crafts wondrous items from their feathers and sees the future in the flight of birds.
10) Skirling Adept – The skirling adept is both a master of weather, able to whistle up a storm and using the effects of storm sounds as sonic damage against his foes. Sonic damage is always interesting because not many creatures have resistance to sonic effects.
11) Song Bow – The song bow becomes a master archer, imbuing his arrows or bolts with his bardic performance ability to affect creatures at a greater distance with ranged attacks. Nice way to translate a close bardic ability to long range.
12) Squad Leader – The squad leader reminds me a drill instructor. This archetype positions the bard as the party leader/battle coordinator, giving him the ability to effectively manage attacks against the parties’ foes. It would also be an interesting addition to a city guard unit when defending a city, or potentially dealing with civil unrest. It also provides a way to use Teamwork feats without every member of a party needing to take the feats.
Prestige Class
1) Holy Rhapsodist – A five level prestige class of the Holy Rhapsodist is a fine mix of the Paladin and the Bard, providing equal faculty to be both support and front line combatant. Another example of utilizing the sonic capabilities of the bard to change the smite evil to a sound based ability.
New Alternate Base Class
1) The Mime – The mime is a new alternate base class based around the bard which has no real unique abilities but rather acts as a mirror to the actions going on around him. Using the copycat ability, the mime mimics the attacks and actions of his allies, be it spell casting, melee based actions or feats. All this is done silently so they can make for an excellent scout.
Fairy Plays
Fairy plays function as a single use scroll. They are fun and entertaining and all designed around a group of PC’s creating the play and executing it. Each one provided gives examples of various levels of success. In some respects functions a bit like the Skill challenge from 4th edition, the more successes the cooler the results.
The PDF provides seven new instruments to add to the bard’s list of available items. All well considered and designed, but the two stand outs for me was the Hurdy Gurdy (I actually had to go look this instrument up. I’d heard of it from the Donovan song, but never knew what it was), and the Siege Carillon. Bottom line, a musical instrument as a siege weapon. How cool is that? Others include the Flying Lion Gong, Mask of Cowardly Courage, Moonlight Strings, Peddler's Charumera, and the Sylph's Slippers.

Overall a fun and interesting take on combining bard abilities into other classes and turning them into something new and because of the imagery it evoked for me, I’d give it a solid 4 stars, due to some limited usability of some items.

Some underwhelming options, lots of amazing ones


Dislcaimer: I received a free PDF of this product in exchange for an honest review. I am otherwise unaffiliated with Flying Pincushion Games.

As a music fan, I was excited to start playing bards in Pathfinder. The 3.5 class never felt satisfying, and Paizo really made the class interesting and appealing again. Since then, I’ve eagerly devoured every bard archetype and masterpiece I’ve come across, and while it’s taken me a while to write this (life happens, games start, summer hits), I finally sat down to write out the thoughts I had about this product.

I’ll be honest here, folks: I love it. Almost every archetype is mechanically solid and thematically inspiring. The first piece of content in the book, the Chronicler of Blades archetype, is the weakest point for me – available only to elves, it swaps out all spellcasting for bonus combat feats from a restricted list, allows full BAB to be used for swords for which the bard has Weapon Focus, replaces versatile performance with a +4 bonus on skill checks to learn or remember the features of swords, and replaces Versatile Performance with the ability to add half the result of a Knowledge check to an attack roll or combat maneuver check a limited number of times per day. It strips all versatility from the class, and plays into the hackneyed trope of elves being, like, just the best at swordplay, you know?

Thankfully, once the product moves past this weak point, everything is far more interesting. The Courtless Marvel, dancing on the edge of the fey courts, can mimic summon nature’s ally (scaling with level) with his performance, grant allies the speed of quicklings, and mimic the stunning glance of a nymph. He gains wild empathy, druid or ranger spells as spells known, and an expanded summon nature’s ally list. The Fabulist changes his casting stat to Wisdom, chooses an archetypal animal and can form a bond with it as a familiar (just don’t choose the wolf as your animal, because you get nothing in exchange), and learns spells from a domain, automatically gaining them instead of choosing his first spell known of each level. (Note: the four alignment domains are available, but without the expected caveat about the character’s alignment matching.) He can allow allies to use his own Wisdom bonus on Will saves, call extraplanar allies using a limited planar ally, and offer atonement to people with his fables.

The Grotesque was the first archetype that not only intrigued me but really won me over for sheer cool factor. Based on the idea of carnival “freaks and geeks”, he is less knowledgeable overall than the vanilla bard, having fewer spells known (but not spells per day), no lore master, and no bardic knowledge. Instead of inspiring his allies, he disturbs his foes, through a modified “reversed” inspire courage, two new performances that can sicken and nauseate (without replacing any other performances, it should be noted), and his unique Disturbing Acts – sideshow performances that grant him a bite attack, use his extensive body modifications to distract foes, vomit the contents of his stomach, or cover himself in swarms of vermin that attack indiscriminately. While this archetype is hilarious and awesome, it needs clarification – do disturbing acts count as bardic performances? Some allow him to start a performance as part of a special action linked to the act, others don’t, and one seems to imply that it is its own performance. The product would benefit from this clarification.

The Jester gains Antagonize for free and adds half his level to select Perform skills, as well as the ability to substitute them for social skills. Giving up spellcasting for evasion, improved evasion, and half-progression sneak attack, he plays very differently to your average performer. Thankfully, he can cause foes to become flat-footed by hurling japes at them, ensuring he’ll have plenty of chances to deal that sneak attack. Next, the Lifeweaver is a healer bard, adding restorative and raising spells to his spell list (not spells known), granting allies fast healing (capping out at fast healing 6), dividing all damage and healing received between bonded creatures, granting energy resistance and DR/-, and gaining the ability to channel energy. It’s a simple but neat archetype.

I’ll be honest about the Matchmaker: I don’t know what to do with it. While the increased save DCs on emotion spells and the (Ex) charm person-esque Serenade ability are cool, the archetype seems for NPCs only. I’m not against the idea, but I’m not sure how I can use this (as a player or a GM). The Prop Comic is an entirely different matter – a master of slapstick performance. Ever wanted to force an enemy’s allies to move away from them, provoking attacks of opportunity? Stick an exploding cigar in someone’s mouth? Deal damage to swarms with a comically-oversized mallet? Convince an injured foe to open what looks like a healing potion, but actually contains a snake swarm? Two bonus feats (Catch Off-Guard and Throw Anything) and a scaling bonus to attack and damage rolls on improvised weapons are icing on the cake. This archetype had me literally laughing as I read it!

The Rookery Master replaces bardic knowledge, well-versed, loremaster, and two versatile performances to gain a total of four bird familiars, which can (one at a time) share his bardic performances. He can always speak with birds, use feathers from these familiars to craft magic items, and (my favourite) use augury by interpreting the flights of birds. The Skirling Adept focuses on the oft-ignored totem spear, allowing him to deal large amounts of sonic damage to enemies, deafening and dazing them, gaining a unique familiar, and gaining the ability to use call lightning and wind wall at higher levels.

The Song Bow is proficient with all bows and slings and treats them as musical instruments, using whistling arrows and groaning bullets as the designated originators of his performances. He can deal extra sonic damage with his shots, grant bonus damage to allies, and knock enemies prone with the sonic force of his arrows, even gaining the ability to create earthquakes at high levels. The last archetype is the exhaustive Squad Leader, who gains Urgent Commands instead of bardic performance. These commands include Move Out (allies can immediately move a short distance), Hunker Down (gain bonuses to AC), Suck It Up and Get Over It (make an additional save against some conditions), and the delightfully-named Do I Have to Do Everything Myself? (gain the Solo Tactics class feature).

While that’s it for archetypes, the product contains many more class options: next is the Holy Rhapsodist, a 5-level prestige class for paladin/bards. It gets 4 + Int skills per level, good Fortitude and Reflex saves, and four levels of spellcasting. They can turn their untyped damage from smite evil into sonic damage, heal a number of allies by expending Lay on Hands (which seems to work out to be less healing than channelling energy, oddly), apply mercies by expending rounds of performance, grant fear immunity to allies, cause her bonus damage from smite to strike an opponent at range for as long as a performance persist (awesome!), cast searing light, summon choral angels, and grant extra damage to allies striking the target of her smite. While it’s a decent and evocative prestige class, I’m underwhelmed by the Psalm of Healing class feature – allies up to your charisma modifier, for half the healing of a lay on hands, is worse than affecting all of them for the full amount, for the exact same cost. The only way I can see this edging out is if you didn’t take selective channel.

The Mime, an alternate class for the bard, is an interesting beast. Limited to humanoids and native outsiders, he gains no proficiencies, and the ability to cast arcane spells, but only by using performance rounds to mimic what he sees other creatures doing. This is the mime in a nutshell: he has no unique class features, but can mimic his allies to become a hyper-versatile member of a large party. His copycat performance allows him to duplicate the actions of allies – if a fighter ally attacks an enemy with a +1 flaming longsword, the mime can also attack that ally with an invisible +1 flaming longsword, using his own modifiers. He also gains the Mimic class feature, which he can use to conjure his own copies of other people’s armor, emulate class features such as bombs or sneak attack, gain the use of feats, or copy the effects of wands and potions. The mime seems to be at his best when part of a large party, and near-useless in a small one. Still, it’s certainly fun, and I’d like to be able to try one out with a permissive GM.

Next are the rules for fairy plays, single-use magic items that require the performance of a short and whimsical play to activate. The rules for creating your own are included alongside three examples – my personal favourite is “The Haunted Dooryard”, which grows and animates spooky, glowing pumpkins!

Finishing off the product are 6 new wondrous items, each of which functions as a masterwork instrument for a different Perform skill. For example, the mask of cowardly courage renders a performing wearer immune to fear, “as long as he incorporates theatrical, buffoonish cowardice into the performance”! And my favourite of the items, the Hell’s hurdy-gurdy, can cause devils to summon their allies, before engaging in randomized acts of debauchery (a handy d% table is provided).

In short, this is a very fun product with some very cool options, plenty of solid ones, and a few underwhelming ones. I’d appreciate it further if there was a consistent two-column layout throughout – the class options all follow two-columns, but the rules for fairy plays and the new magic items are single-column, which isn’t as friendly on the eyes. This is, ultimately, a minor quibble, and won’t subtract from my final verdict of a healthy four stars. Great job, pincushions!

An review


This installment of the "Into the Breach"-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

We begin, as often, with a variety of new archetypes, the first of which would be the chronicler of blades, who gains a modified proficiency list that includes all the dueling weapons and at 1st level, they get Weapon Focus in their choice of short sword, longsword or rapier - which is a bit odd: Why include exotic weapons in the proficiency-array and then don't allow for their choice via this class ability? 2nd level yields Dazzling Display and every 4 levels thereafter yield a bonus feat, chosen from a generally well-selected array, and uses class level as BAB for the prerequisite purposes. At first level, he similarly uses class level instead of his BAB when making an attack or combat maneuver attempt with a sword for which the archetype has Weapon Focus while wearing light armor and no shield heavier than a buckler. You have guessed where this goes by now, right? Yep, this guy is basically a spell-less bard. Instead of well-versed, the archetype gets +4 (untyped) to learn or remember features of blades, which is pretty circumstantial. Instead of versatile performance, the archetype receives venerable gambit, which is usable 1/day, +1/day at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter. A venerable gambit is a Knowledge (history, nobility or local) check - 1/2 the result is added as a competence bonus to atk or CMB when using a sword. The definition could be a bit clearer here and while the skill-check can be boosted very high, the daily limit keeps this in check - combined with the lack of spellcasting, I can see this work. All in all, a martial bard, most suitable for lower powered games (or even magic-less ones!).

The courtless marvel replaces inspire courage with summon nature's ally, increasing the spell that's duplicated iteration by +1 at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter - 5th level would allow for summon nature's ally III, for example. Speaking of which - at 5th level, several fey are added to the potentially called creatures, replacing lore master. And yes, the ability does have a caveat that prevents spamming it or stacking it via dismissing - no performance/summon-cycling and maintaining the creatures requires maintaining the performance. This is pretty interesting and even takes the item interaction into account. Instead of inspire greatness, 9th level provides the option to grant an ally the speed of a quickling, +1 ally affected for every 4 levels thereafter. Rules-wise, this increases all movements speeds and provides concealment.

No complaints. 12th level provides a stunning glance performance, including a caveat that prevents spamming it and a proper range and codification. At 15th level, inspire heroics is replaced with dance of fate: Choose an ally and a hostile creature within 60 ft of each other - if one is affected, so is the other. This is strategically interesting and pretty potent. Versatile performance is replaced with the fey theme, granting at 2nd and every 4 levels after that a spell known from the druid or ranger list. While the ranger-list is potent, it's the only thing I'd consider a bit wonky here. Well-versed is replaced by wild empathy at full level at 2nd level and 10th level provides a massive DC-improvement (1/4 class level, rounded down) to enchantment spells, but also makes the character more susceptible to the tricks of the fey. I really like this one. It has a strong theme, is pretty creative and while it *is* possible to poke small holes in some aspects of it, these won't usually come up in most games and are more something to be aware for the rules-savvy crowd. Still, really like this!

The fabulist employs Wisdom as the governing spellcasting attribute and gains an arcane bond with an animal as well as a domain from a limited list - and yes, they're cast as arcane spells, but loses countersong and well-versed. The "darker" performances are replaced with new ones - unfortunately, e.g. morsel of Wisdom is pretty nasty, allowing the fabulist to make an ally use his Wisdom modifier for all saves, ability checks and skill checks. while the performance is maintained...but the balance here would be that the performance cannot be started quickly and the fabulist can only grant one such bonus per performance, thus requiring cycling and a lot of action economy investment, rendering the power more moderate. Higher levels yield a performance-based planar ally and a capstone atonement, which is relatively fitting. Something that felt a bit weird: The archetype RAW gets a domain, but only specifies getting domain spells, which makes me think that the other crunchy bits are not gained...but I'm not sure there. The ability could be read either way.

The grotesque gets diminished spellcasting and replaces inspire courage with a powerful debuff. Dirge of doom can additionally be used as a variant that causes the sickened condition, rather than the shaken one, and similarly, 14th level yields a variant of frightening tune that can nauseate. The true unique selling point of the archetype, however, would be the disturbing acts - one is gained at 1st level and another one at 5th level and every 5 thereafter, excluding 20th, replacing bardic knowledge and well-versed. These take basically the classic Freakshow tropes and represent them as rules - and they are pretty potent: DR for being pierced by knives is solid, but the more intriguing ones would be the option to eat objects and regurgitate them, being able to initiate bardic performances as a free action after being hurt (and choosing to bleed profusely), the tricks are cool. Not all are perfect or equally potent or well-codified. The bite attack, I assume, would be primary as per default. Fire-spitting lacks a range and compared to it, the option to switch between multiple rings is much more potent. Similarly, the rules-language oscillates a bit, stumbling at basics, while getting, surprisingly, the option to be able to wear swarms and have them as unreliable quasi-pets pretty well done. I have a soft spot for the outcasts and this resonated very much with me - while not perfect, its blemishes can be easily fixed by a competent GM.

The jester is basically an Antagonize specialist who can use Perform (Dance) instead of Acrobatics for movement-related tricks and he also gets sneak attack and the evasions at higher levels instead of spellcasting. The option to use japes to render targets flat-footed on a failed save for multiple rounds needs some nerfing and an activation action, though. The lifeweaver, if the name was not ample indicator, would be the healing bard, who adds some condition-healing spells to his arsenal, while also gaining Lingering Performance (with a cap). The performances the archetype gains center on granting healing tricks to the performances -as well as the option to evenly divide damage among limited allies - which is very potent, but also cool. While the rules-language is very precise, it lies in the nature of this type of ability that it may present some issues to some groups...but at the same, it can make for a great "united we stand"-feeling among PCs and players, but also vastly enhances the value of DR and resistances. Pure amazing for some groups, broken for others...I'm divided on this one. Compared to that. the resistance-granting is less precise and fails to clarify the energies that qualify - does force count? Sonic? Channel energy at 1/2 class level can also be found. I like this archetype, but wish it was slightly more polished.

The matchmaker is really cool: He can choose and coach clients, use serenades to cause infatuation and use bardic performance to maintain matches between unlike beings. Very interesting and flavorful choice! The prop comic can only use Perform (comedy)-based masterpieces and gets diminished spellcasting...but at higher levels, he can designate targets as "lovely assistants", making them the butt of the joke (i.e. the one on the receiving end). At 2nd level and 5th, as well as every 3 levels thereafter, the archetype gets a schtick, which use Perform (Comedy) instead of CMB and have their saves governed by Cha ( 10 + 1/2 class level + Cha-mod), if applicable. Props need to be crafted, have a cost and a limited number of uses. They use bardic performance as a resource and are REALLY COOL. Use Battle Flatus, to force enemies to use immediate actions to move away from the fart-noise, interrupting combos. Use big-wig cigars to cloud yourself in smoke...or stick it in a foe's mouth and have it explode, using dirty tricks. These are creative, cool and really fun - and they include forcing pious characters to attack irreverent symbols. I love these. I seriously do. As an avid Joker-fan, I really want to see MORE of these. For me, this may well be the best archetype the Flying Pincushion crew has crafted so far. Complex, unique, cool. Seriously, one amazing archetype.

The rookery master gains a familiar (thrush or raven) which shares the performance round pool with the character - basically a pet-performance archetype. Simple, yet elegant. The Skirling Adept can use bardic performance to inflict low-range sonic damage via lethal whistles, gaining a familiar as well as the option to use totem spears more effectively and later shatter things or call lightning/wind wall - the archetype may not be as mechanically interesting, but its strong theme makes it a fun and flavorful option. The song bow is a sling specialist who can use slings as wind instruments, bows as fiddles. He can imbue sonic damage in his ammunition and may also fire ammo at empty squares and use it as origin of his performance. Big plus: The rules-language of the complex concept hits home. Sorry, I'll punch myself for that lame joke later...) At higher levels, allies share bonuses against targets hit by rallying shots and higher level options, we have sonic AoE-blasts - and yes, all of this is balanced and the archetype gets some custom spells added. Powerful, but damn cool option. The Squad Leader, finally, would be one of the more complex archetypes - he gets a tactician-like network of allies, the bound squad, and may use his urgent commands to allow for bonuses, teamwork feat sharing, grant additional AoOs - basically, this fellow represents a battle lord-ish commander. Potent and solid.

Now each of the Into the Breach-books has a PrC that aims to make a subpar class-combo worthwhile - this time around, the 5-level Holy Rhapsodist, with d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-Progression as well as 5/5th spellcasting progression does just that for the paladin and bard classes. The class enhances sonic damage of weapons wielded and smite may be turned into sonic damage that is more potent against evil targets. The PrC counts as paladin levels and bard levels for the purpose of lay on hands/mercy and bardic performance-progressions. These guys may expend lay on hands while performing to AoE heal and later even apply mercies and add buffs to allies. The 4th level ability should refer to character level, not class level, though - it's clear from context, but still a bit confusing. Oh, and woe to those that are on the receiving end of the smite of these guys...allies also get a damage boost...Powerful and interesting hybrid fusion PrC.

The mime is an alternate bard class that must be humanoid or a native outsider. The mime gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves. They do not get weapon proficiencies, but don't take penalties from using improvised weaponry. Their spellcasting is governed by Cha and something special...much like the whole class. Remember Final Fantasy 5 and 6? You see, the basic bardic performance of this class deals with just that: Copying the tricks of nearby allies. Attacks. Defense. Feints....a LOT of tricks can be used this way and the class manages to codify the tricks rather well. I do have a couple of questions here, though: The copycat performance is a standard action, but can be used on e.g. an ally full-attacking a foe - does this also grant a full attack to the mimic? If so, does it have to be executed against the same target as the copied action, if any? Apart from this ambiguity, the class feature is clear, which is pretty impressive. Beyond this copying of targets, the class gets a limited resource 3/day, +1/day at 3rd level and every 2 levels beyond 3rd. These allow for the emulation of class features, feats and even limited item use!! Interesting from an RPG point of view: Mimes have a vow of silence that can be a detriment and roleplaying challenge, but that also has its perks - mimic'd spells are Silent sans spell-level increase, for example. While not perfect (it also has e.g. a non-capitalized skill-reference), the mime is still by far the coolest and most creative alternate class the FPG-crew has made - I really like it. Unique, interesting and well worth making the GM-call regarding copycat.

The pdf then introduces us to fairy plays -these are basically single-use scrolls...but in awesome and fun. Each play has a variety of roles. Within 10 minutes, all roles (each of which must be filled by a different character) must try their task (usually, one has a high DC, the others lower DCs) - the fairy play then takes effect, depending on the number of successes. And yes, these make traveling troupes of even low-level actors potentially a threat. They have a tactical dimension and the more successes you can garner, the better the effects...or, well, actually, the effects differ in creative ways: 1 success: Rain of frogs (poisonous); 2: Make the frog's croaking hypnotic. 3: Veil the performers. Glowing, creepy pumpkins that can float and duplicate dancing lights (not italicized), an alarm-version (they shout "BEWARE!") and the option to detonate them in blinding bursts make this one rather interesting. While guidelines for more are provided, I wish we got more than the 3 provided - somewhere between quirky magic item and skill challenge, these are fun for the group and feel very much magical. I like them!

The pdf concludes with 7 magic items - the flying lion gong can accompany the character and rewards readied strikes for coordinated attacks. Hell's hurdy-gurdy brings out the debauchery in devils, while a mask can fortify against fear while using bardic performance, as long as the character incorporates buffoonish fear in the performance. Moonlight strings heal, while peddler's charumeras can instill hunger or thirst and sylph slippers enhance dances and may carry the dancer across pressure plates and even water. the star here, though, would be the siege carillon. Think Skaven bell. Think war organ. Smack in the middle between instrument and magical siege engine, this apocalyptic device can vastly enhance the power of the bard, his range and durations, charm targets and emit devastating bursts of apocalyptic sonic damage after tolling no less than 23 bells - 1 or 2 may be sounded per round as a move action. This is basically an amazing fight and had me come up with numerous scenarios on how I'll use this monster. It's basically a bardic fantasy tank!! Come on! How cool is that??


Editing and formatting have significantly improved over earlier installments in the series - they're now what I#d call good, bordering on very good. While some unfortunate hiccups and omissions can be found herein, the most significant improvement pertains rules-language, which now tackles significantly more complex concepts than ever before in the series, with greater precision than ever before in the series. Whatever the Flying Pincushion crew did here, I hope they'll continue to do it! Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard with really nice, well-chosen pictures, which I have not seen previously in other supplements. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I couldn't have asked for a more rewarding review to write after my real life-related, brief hiatus. Benjamin Wilkins,

An Ehn's Gaming Foundry Review


An Ehn’s Gaming Foundry review:

Today’s book is Into the Breach: The Bard, a mechanics book for the class that seeks to expand its options. First impressions are that the art and layout are sound; not amazing, but pretty nice for the cost of the book, which is always nice to see. We’re looking at about 40 pages of content here, so let’s get into it.

We start off with the chronicler of blades, which while a cool name, isn’t really my favorite archetype. We get some slightly different weapon proficiencies, bonus feats, but we lose all spellcasting, and that’s just…that’s no good. There’s no class feature here which really draws me back in after such a hard loss, so this definitely doesn’t work for me.

The courtless bard on the other hand has a very interesting mechanic of summoning a creature as per summon nature’s ally in place of inspire courage, with the creature lasting as long as you perform. Shimmering speed in place of inspire greatness is interesting too, giving a decent miss chance to allies. Stunning glance probably lasts a tad longer than I’d like (2d4 rounds), but with all the caveats and tags it has, it’s probably fine. As a whole, this is a very fun fey themed archetype.

Fabulist is our next archetype, and while the ability to get a familiar is nice, it’s odd that there would be options for non-familiar creatures, an oversight I don’t really like. Getting access to some domain spells is huge though, easily worth the trade here. Morsel of Wisdom is odd though, as it’s just a modifier swap, not really a huge deal here. Fabled Friend has a lot of potential to be busted, as it’s a planar ally effect that can be done quite a bit, and its capstone is highly situational.

Grotesque is an odd name for an archetype, and it’s already starting with reduced casting, along with a debuff to enemy attacks in place of a buff to your allies attacks. You’d need at least as many enemies as allies to make this a fair swap, at least to me. Sickening stunt and twisted masterpiece are fun additions though, and most of the disturbing acts are very flavorful and decently powerful as well. The flavor really sells this archetype, making it a favorite.

But Jester…is bad. Capering and cavorting is NOT worth losing spellcasting, and nothing in the archetype comes close to validating that. It even replaces casting at 2nd level, so do I get casting at 1st level, and just lose it the next?

Now lifeweaver starts hard, getting some new spells added to their list and free lingering performance with a bonus to it. As a whole, it’s a solid white mage archetype with altered performances to make sure that everyone stays on their feet, done in a way that’s thematically satisfying. While it might be a touch too good at its job, when it’s support, I can give it a pass.

The matchmaker is…very NPC-y. Like reading through its features, it’d make a great NPC, but as a player archetype, it’s far too specific in what it does. I really don’t think it needed to lose armor and weapon proficiencies though, but I guess that helps it fit its NPC role.

With prop comic, we have an interesting tone shift, and while I think using your perform (comedy) bonus in place of BAB (maybe ranks would be more fair), this is a very interesting archetype. With the amount of time and effort that goes into schticks, this feels more NPC-y, but at the same time, as a one shot character, this would be a blast.

Rookery Master is pretty standard, but the ability to start a bardic performance with a familiar while already doing so yourself is crazy powerful. It’s a pretty okay archetype aside from that, but getting extra familiars too is really pushing things.

Things that made unique weapons good are my jam, and skirling adept does that. Easy sonic damage for a round of bardic performance isn’t bad, and audimancy is an appreciable damage boost to both the few sonic spells there are as well, but dulcet duelist isn’t explained very clearly (it’s not a great ability, so it’s not a huge issue). Shattering resonance is another nice flavorful ability though, and windstorm whistle is just cool, definitely an archetype I enjoy.

Now song bow starts by giving us some utility with bows and slings (and proficiency with them), but singing arrow (or somewhere later in the book) should give stats for singing arrows or groaning bullets if they’re going to be required for a class feature. Aural shot feels like it should have more limitations, especially with being able to use it with lingering performance. With Rallying shot, the daily limit feels fair, but I’m still not in love here, and I really wish concussive shot had a ceiling for the damage, although the possible free trip is probably the better ability here. I do like tremor shot and the added spells though, so as a whole, I’m a fan.

We start off squad leader with weaker spellcasting and the ability to form squads, as well as the explanation of how commands work. Personally, with all the commands here, I’d say I like this better than the base bard, as it gives a lot of tactical options that really drive home the theme in a solid and mechanical fashion. Really, this is just a great archetype that I’m probably going to adopt into my games.

And here we get to the prestige class, the holy rhapsodist, which is intended for bard/paladin multiclasses. The prereqs are easy enough to meet, and it’s a d8 3/4th BAB class with a good fort and reflex save, getting 4 skill ranks per level. The class thankfully progresses casting, although you’ll be hurting from the 2 paladin levels needed to get in this prestige class. We start with holy resonance, which isn’t really great, as deafened is pretty weak, and it’s adding a second damage type, so not a huge fan here. Voice of the divine though is nice, as it keeps lay on hands and bardic performance from dropping off.

For needing to pay two uses of lay on hands, psalm of healing feels too weak to me, especially with that half healing caveat. Psalm of mercy would be better if you had enough paladin levels to get mercies, but bard levels are more important to keep your casting strong beforehand. Clarion call feels like it’s intended to only work with bardic performances that give bonuses to to saving throws, but even without that, it’s pretty meh. The entire prestige feels very unnecessary, like it was an afterthought.

Finally, we end with the mime alternative class, which has the same basic chassis as the bard, so we’re going to skip to class features…so, no armor or weapon proficiencies…cool. Spells are…confusing. Copycat is…okay, it’s interesting, and I hate to call back to non tabletop related things, but this feels like a conversion of the Mime class from Final Fantasy Tactics. Copycat makes casting really clunky, and as far as I can tell, you get a free round’s worth of actions. Distraction is just really situation, and the mimic ability feels gameable, especially with wand/potion mimic, which doesn’t take into account expensive material components. The code of silence is flavorful enough, little annoying, but nothing too bad. Also there’s a ton of dead levels here, like way more than should be considered okay for a product being released in 2017. As a whole, I feel there’s too many mechanics that are just gameable or too complex to make this worth using.

The fairy plays though, those are a lot of fun. An interesting new concept for a magic item that are performance based, these give reason to actually spread out your performance ranks. Both the sample plays given and the possibilities from them are pretty great, definitely a cool way to help make performances unique. There was nothing that felt truly stand out from the magical items to end the book, but they’re small fun diversions none the less.

Mechanics: 3/5

If not for the holy rhapsodist and mime class, this could have gone to a 4 easily, maybe a 4.5. But both of those drag this down significantly, making for either a tepid prestige class or an overly complex alternative class. The archetypes that were bad here were just bad, while the ones that were good were pretty awesome, and fairy plays are a great way to build magic item that’s just painfully flavorful. I appreciate the effort that went into everything, but some of the execution was just lacking.

Thematics: 4/5

The stronger suit of the book is that it really does a great job of making you feel the design goal of each piece of content, which is something that drew me in. While some pieces are weaker than others, the flavor of this book is definitely a large selling point, and there’s quite a few pieces of content in here that you can really feel the care that was taken in making them interesting.

Final Thoughts: 4/5

David S. Macrae along with Benjamin Wilkins, David S. McCrae, Frank Gori, Jeff Harris, and Kris Newton give us a nice group of archetypes with some less than stellar additional content, but when thinking if I would round up or down here, it’s fairy plays that managed to shift my opinion. The entire book has a lot of promise to it, and while there are some parts that I wish were more refined, as a whole this book gives enough value to make it a good purchase if you’re looking to vary your bards and their performances.

Like a True Medieval Court


Of the "Breach" series, this is the book I liked most till now. Many archetypes inside are inspired by true types of bards and minstrels that one could expect to meet in a medieval world- and I hadn't seen some of them since the Complete Bard's handbook, one of my favourite 2E manuals. Others are more classical fantasy, and each fills a much-needed niche.
The concept of fairy plays -dramas treated as something in between masterpieces and magical items- was a nice surprise. The holy rhapsodist too, a prestige class for bards/paladins, was much needed.
Many things from this book I will use. Many of them can be useful for any campaign out there!

As with all of our books, The Flying Pincushion is offering free copies to those willing to write an honest review of our work. Going to offer up four copies for the moment, so get 'em while they are hot off the E-presses!

Just PM me your email or post to the thread if you would like a chance to be like Thilo (AKA Endzietgiest) and get your voice out there in the world of PRG review.

And just because this IS the sure to turn it up to 11, cause if it is too loud, you're too old!

Excellent, we have our first taker, but never fear, there are more free products for the low cost of an honest review?

I know there have to be some folks out there, come one now, don't be shy, let your opinions be heard!

Three copies still up for grabs!

Thanks to the man who need not be named (Ok, its N.Jolly) for taking the point on reviewing!

I've done a few reviews, I'll give it a whirl.

Count me in for the review.:) I think the Into the Breach series is an excellent resource and definitely worth checking out.


Excellent, thank you for the kind offers folks, expect copies shortly, sent yours Vol to the same email as previous books. Sethvir, I don't think I actually have an email you use for PDF deliveries, feel free to PM me your preferred email delivery address.

Flying Pincushion Games wrote:
Excellent, thank you for the kind offers folks, expect copies shortly, sent yours Vol to the same email as previous books. Sethvir, I don't think I actually have an email you use for PDF deliveries, feel free to PM me your preferred email delivery address.


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I can try to review it. This interests me.

Sent to your primary email Sethvir, Bardess, feel free to PM me the email you wish me to send the complimentary PDF to.

Bardess makes our four, however, if others would like a shot at review, I am happy to make that happen, just leave a message here, or PM me.

Your copy is in the ether of the webz as we speak Bardess, enjoy!

Sovereign Court

Woohoo! Excited!!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Thank you in advance for all the reviewers

Thank you for the swift and kind review Bardess, everyone that had a hand in ItB: The Bard appreciates it very much!

::casts shameless keep this thread visible spell::

What, our logo is a wizard full of is completely in the scope of my job title to do such things ;)

Still taking requests for reviewer copies, even if you have not reviewed our stuff before, or never done a review before, I humbly suggest giving it a shot if you remotely interested, all it takes is a PM of your email address and a bit of honest writing!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Thanks Bardess, I mean if a book about Bards failed to appeal to someone with that handle we would have needed to get back to the drawing board for sure. I'm glad someone caught my nods to a certain 2E splatbook. are showing our age ;)

::casts shameless keep this thread visible spell::

Cause wizards...

If you can wait a short while (trying to make my way through the Exalted CRB for an upcoming game) I can try to give this a short but honest review! Still need one?

El Ronza

Patience is a virtue ;).

Copy sent to the email you asked me to use in the past, if that has changed, PM me and I will send a copy to whatever new email you have. Same for ToW: Bard/x Feats

Silver Crusade

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And posted the foundry's review.

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Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.

Sovereign Court

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Endzeitgeist wrote:

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.

Thank you so much for the reviews, Bardess, Jolly and Endzie! I'm seriously overjoyed by all of this. Everyone worked hard on this, and I'm happy to see everyone's hard work paying off with these glowing responses!

As far as the Mime being modeled after the Final Fantasy Mimes, the both of you are absolutely correct! Though, they were modeled more after the Mimes from Tactics, as Jolly stated. I should have specified that the attacks can be designated against any target, whatever the mime can target.

Endzie, your praise for the Prop Comic brought a tear to my eye, seriously. Like I did with the Trickster Chef Rogue, I put a lot of thought and effort into it.

Again, thank you all so much!

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A huge pincushioned wizard thank you to our outstanding reviewers N. Jolly and Endzie! Thanks for the hard work and insight, the entire staff really appreciates it, and to be honest, it is part of what keeps us going. Cause lets be truthful here, game design is a tough biz, but you guys are a big part of why we do this, and your advice and insights have been invaluable in making us better.

You gents are truly gaming scholars and honorable men of words and whit!

Oh, and of course, another thank you to Bardess for her enthusiasm and kind words, we are quite glad you noticed that we at TFPG have a decided love of 2nd Ed. The Complete Bard's Handbook (along with all the others in that line). We look forward to hearing what you have to say about our future work!

Flying Wizard...away...!

My review is still a work in progress unfortunately. I haven't forgotten. Unfortunately RL sadly trumps gaming.

No worries man...tis true RL has to come first (as much as we wish it didn't)

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

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I read these reviews with my Monday morning coffee, it was the highlight of what was otherwise kind of a crap day. We put a lot of work into making these, in that we recruit, develop, and wrangle mostly new writers. We've given a few their first shot at being the developer (David did great here) and the profit margin has not really been there. We ultimately break even. We dot his because we love the hobby and love to watch people flourish into design.

Thank you again to EndZ and NJolly, Sethvir & El Ronza I look forward to seeing your reviews. To those that have purchased our work thank you, I hope you enjoy. We have an open door if any of you ever have questions or would like to talk shop.

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Review posted. I'm very sorry it took so long; life just kept throwing other things at me. I enjoyed the product greatly!

Tomorrow I'll start banging out Bard/X feats.

Sovereign Court

Thanks so much El Ronza! I look forward to Bard/x Review, too! ^.^

Thanks to Sethvir and El Ronza for the excellent and insightful reviews!

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Flying Pincushion Games wrote:
Thanks to Sethvir and El Ronza for the excellent and insightful reviews!

Sorry for the long delay and you are welcome. Bard X Feats is up next. Hopefully before year end on this one.

No worries...the entire staff is looking forward to Bard/x thoughts and impressions.

Sovereign Court

And thank you also, for the review, Sethvir! ^.^

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