Bards: In Dire Need of an Overhaul


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I tried to post in this thread yesterday, but I don't know where my post went. So here I go again.

I had the idea that Bards might get a limited amount of sneak attack damage. It does not seem a stretch to me that a Bard might be able to occasionally get in a really good shot despite not being the best of warriors overall.

Also as I suggested earlier I think the Bard aught to be able to use inspire courage, inspire greatness and inspire heroics while attacking him self. That'll probably make them a bit more attractive as a choice and makes the Bard's allies be less annoyed with they're buddy's choice of class.

Liberty's Edge

lordzack wrote:

I tried to post in this thread yesterday, but I don't know where my post went. So here I go again.

I had the idea that Bards might get a limited amount of sneak attack damage. It does not seem a stretch to me that a Bard might be able to occasionally get in a really good shot despite not being the best of warriors overall.

Nah, I don't think sneak damage fits. Makes them too similar to existing classes. They should have their own thing.

lordzack wrote:


Also as I suggested earlier I think the Bard aught to be able to use inspire courage, inspire greatness and inspire heroics while attacking him self. That'll probably make them a bit more attractive as a choice and makes the Bard's allies be less annoyed with they're buddy's choice of class.

I agree that Bardic buffs should be a little more on the fly.


I dunno, sneak attack or something similar seems to fit for me. Hey maybe they could get something like the "Dashing Swordsman" Prestige Class that Elan took in Order of the Stick. They would use they're Charisma to help them in battle.

Liberty's Edge

lordzack wrote:
I dunno, sneak attack or something similar seems to fit for me. Hey maybe they could get something like the "Dashing Swordsman" Prestige Class that Elan took in Order of the Stick. They would use they're Charisma to help them in battle.

Something along those lines might fit.

Again, it seems to depend on whether they'll be song and spell driven, or JOAT skill driven.

Liberty's Edge

I do think we need the bard, but whit ofcourse a lot of changes the original bardsare the celtics ones the dire storytellers or pipe and drums players, they were good as warriors as well, and the other idea of the bard is the romantic idea of the singer, poet, instrument player & even a jester. i do think that the redisign of the class should permit the player custumaized to his onw preferences, something like the packs in 2e, i do reccall:the jester,wich could distrac the enemies and make them lose controll;& the blade,wich wass a fearsome oponent in batle, but his songs do not progress like the bard core class, those are another tipes of bard wich I think, the player may have the choise to build up, as class.
again.. from VENEZUELA to the team paizo, thank you!!

The Exchange

Thinking about it, why not have a bard activate his music abilities has swift actions? That would still allow him to do other things in combat and still help out his party members. If this makes him too powerful, maybe give him the ability to concentrate as a swift action while maintaining his bardic music. Even giving him the ability to quicken his spells once or twice a day will help him a little and not make him overpowered.

Scarab Sages

lordzack wrote:
I dunno, sneak attack or something similar seems to fit for me. Hey maybe they could get something like the "Dashing Swordsman" Prestige Class that Elan took in Order of the Stick. They would use they're Charisma to help them in battle.

I really like the idea of giving them some sort of charisma bonus to their combat skills. It would be really cool. Maybe a class ability that lets them use charisma rather than strength or something?

I've always thought of bards as more of the dashing swordsman/swashbuckler type. The spells were a "neat trick" that they learned to help them survive, but primarily they were freespirited souls that made living by song/poem/story and the speed of their wit.

I love the bard, but i agree it needs little tweaks. My ideas are as follows:

#1. Give the bard more combat friendly abilities. Taunting strike, Kender insults, demoralizing quips. Letting the bard use his abilities to lower the targets AC, "taunt" targets to attack him rather than friends, and/or demoralize opponents.

#2. As previously stated, i like the idea of turning his perform abilities to be "bard abilities" much like the rogue techniques.

#3. I really think more sonic spells should be added to the bard spell list. I like the variety of cleric/wizard spells, but i feel some bard specific sonic spells are in order.

#4. As will already happen, d8 HP to go with the medium attack bonus.


lordzack wrote:
Also as I suggested earlier I think the Bard aught to be able to use inspire courage, inspire greatness and inspire heroics while attacking him self. That'll probably make them a bit more attractive as a choice and makes the Bard's allies be less annoyed with they're buddy's choice of class.

He already can. If you take Perform (Sing, Oratory, Act, or even Comedy) you don't need an instrument and have free hands. Courage, Greatness and Heroics do not require concentration. The only limited ability is his spell casting. The only delay is that it takes a standard action to start the effect. That's not much of an action price to pay for gaining pluses to both attack and damage for basically an entire encounter. Add to the Inspiration the Bard's Whip proficiency and that's another +2 to one person's attack rolls from Aid Another.

There are three areas of a Bards possible performances:
Movement (Comedy, Act, Dance)
Vocal (Sing, Oratory, Act, Comedy)
Instrument (Keyboard, Percussion, String, Wind)

(Probably should clearly break them up with no overlap...)

Each could have a slightly different affect on how various bardic music abilities work.

Liberty's Edge

I agree with much of what people have said about the bard, but I do not think they need a wholesale rewrite. A few minor tweaks would make a lot of sense and make the Bard a much better class.

1) First, make their perform checks = to class level + 3 + Charisma modifier. I hate that they have to spend a skill to get their basic bardic abilities - I feel the same way about ranger and survival.

2) Next allow their inspire courage, competence, greatness, and heroism to be just that. Inspirations that are in effect whenever the bard is nearby. Similar to the Marshall class the bard chooses one of the inspirations to have going at any one time and he can act normally while that inspiration is in effect. All of these inspirations would last 5 rounds after the bard switches and it takes a standard action to change during combat.

3) Next give them songs that they can play, sing, recite, whatever in addition to their inspirations. Add a couple of songs that have appeared as feats in various books, but have fascinate, suggestion, freedom, and mass suggestion at least. They can play these songs 1 time per day per level of the bard. These songs last for a number of rounds equal to the time the bard plays + 5 rounds thereafter.

4) Bards will get d8's so this is a mute point.

5) Add one or two sonic based spells per level that a bard can do damage with. Sound Burst as a 2nd level spell just doesn't cut it.

6) Finally get rid of the 0 spells per day and add 1 to each level and 1 known to each level as well.

Some of these things have been mentioned and people may recognize some from games they have played, but combined I think it would be a fix that would bring it in line with other 3.5 classes. How Pathfinder would tweak this I do not know.


There seem to me to be a lot of ideas flying around as to what people expect and/or would like a bard to do. My suggestion to Jason Buhlman (for the present) is to stick as close to the 3.5 bard as possible (suitable adjusted in terms of power to match the other PFRPG core classes) and to sidebar (or promise to later release) three or four 'prestige class' or other bard variants so that people can build off the core class in whichever direction they want to take a bard.

Dark Archive

Ideally, the 3.5 Bard should be doable pretty much 'as is.'

But I'd like to see some of the ironclad stuff made a little more open. Instead of having the Bard *always* be music-based, one that functions more like a military commander, shouting out encouragements, tactics and warnings, would be mechanically identical, but less 'music' based and more tactically-minded, a student of warfare and the great victories (and spectacular defeats) of history.

Similarly, spontaneous casting is strongly associated to dragon-blood (or fiendish, fey, etc. bloodlines), which might not fit every single wandering minstrel type. Having prepared casting *as an option* would allow for the travelling gatherer of lore who *isn't* descended from dragons, but just has a broad and varied education that includes dabbling in a few spells here and there that he's picked up in his worldly travels.

Combining these two options, a 'Bard' could be mechanically very similar to a core Bard, but have a collection of pages and notes that he's gathered over the years, be somewhat skilled with swordplay, and have an impressive command of tactics, being quite the 'back seat driver' once combat starts, calling out all sorts of tactical advice. Perhaps he's a noble son, and his melange of skills from tactics and leadership to armored swordplay to the arcane arts, come from the expensive tutors his father arranged for him.

The 3.5 Bard, IMO, is too tightly focused. It has the 'jack-of-all-trades' label, but it fits it badly, since it's completely straightjacketed into a lackluster combatant, descended from dragons and with an odd assortment of spells, some related to song and music, who uses his magical music to inspire his allies. It's just a wonky build that doesn't fit anything that I've ever seen as a fantasy archetype. The exclusive focus on song and music, particularly in later sourcebooks that added even more spells related to music or sonic effects, IMO, detracts from the overall utility of the class, and makes it less useful as a 'core' class, when it's so terribly limited in focus.

(I kinda feel the same way about the Monk with it's pseudo-ki-powers / eastern weapons / asian philosophy theme. Ideally, a more open martial artist class should allow for a Capoierista or a Savate practitioner or a Roman boxer, with the pseudo-magical stuff in the current Monk class being 'standard options' that can be swapped out to make more western-style unarmed combatants.)


What about not giving bards a spell list and allowing them to know and spontaneously cast a number of spells they come across (like Eando Kline from the Pathfinder journals)...

So you have a number of "spells known" and you can copy them from the wizard's spellbook temporarily if you have one to borrow, copy some of the cleric's spells, heck if you can find a druid, you might be able to do some animal charming.

Maybe they could swap out known spells at the rate of one per new spell or something? It feels a bit more 'bard-y' to me than having their own spell list, to borrow, beg or steal others'.


Plognark wrote:
Indiana Jones never broke out into song.

And where do you think the "Da da da DAH, duh duh DA!"s came from?

Not only that, I'm pretty suure he tap-danced one some nazis once...


alright let's get some ideas and examples of bards to maybe make it easier to translate from the mechanics.

let's start with the original bards
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/2662/bards.html

you'll notice by the color text that it's more orientated towards intelligence then charisma.

here's what wiki has to say
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bard

now for specific examples:

Taliesin (Welsh mythos)
Homer, (greek mythos)
Alan-a-Dale. (Robin Hood)
Iolo (ultima series)
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Johnny (the devil went down to georgia).
William shakespeare (althought that probably isn't an adventuring type)
El Mariachi (from the trilogy of the same name).
Jim Morrison
John Denver

What I found funny is that Will Scarlet was listed as a bard on the wiki. Truth be told the only way they would be able to do so is in 2nd edition as a blade. opinions on this one?

Any others come to mind?


I prefer the Alternate Bard and Sorcerer classes from the Book of Eldritch Might. I almost completely dismiss the Bardic Lore ability being a valuable asset however, because of the arbitrary nature of it. If the DM wants you to know the info, then he'll give it to you through the bard, or if he doesn't, then the bard has no chance of knowing it.


I really like the bard, and I have to laugh when people say they suck - I have vivid memories of our party's 3rd level bard turning an encounter with a 9-headed pyrohydra in a RPGA game into a cakewalk, for example.

There are two things that bother me about the bard: The bardic knowledge could be much more easily represented as a bonus to Knowledge skills instead of the clunky system it currently uses.

Secondly, bardic music has two problems. By 20th level, you get 20 uses per day of bardic music, and none of the abilities ever use more than one use. What bard is even going to use 10 uses in a single day? Second, nearly all the bardic music abilities could be simply represented as spells, and it seems redundant to have both.

<edit> One more thing - the bard being able to use his Perform check instead of standard saving throw for the DC on several of the abilities is more than a bit broken. By 5th level or so, a bard can have enough points invested in his Perform skill (8 ranks + 3 Cha mod + 3 skill focus = 14, DC 24 - the equivilant of a 9th level spell with a +5 ability modifier!) usually no one can resist his Fascinate ability, just as an example.

I'm not too worried about the self-buffing aspect of bard music - most bardic abilities affect himself and his allies and linger for several rounds after started up. The bard loses one standard action to buff the party (no worse than the cleric casting Bless or the wizard casting Haste), and can then enter the fight. I wouldn't be opposed to giving them d8 hit points though so they could stand up in a fight a bit better (or some ability to give themselves/others temporary hit points, like an aid spell or somesuch.)

P.S.:Have you ever tried statting out an NPC bard? Listing all the bards bardic music abilities takes up almost a page, unless you shorthand to just list the ability, like a spell list. I'd really like to see the bardic music abilities just rolled into spells, which would also give each bard more ability to be unique rather than them all having the same music ability at every level.


Stephen Klauk wrote:


There are two things that bother me about the bard: The bardic knowledge could be much more easily represented as a bonus to Knowledge skills instead of the clunky system it currently uses.

Secondly, bardic music has two problems. By 20th level, you get 20 uses per day of bardic music, and none of the abilities ever use more than one use. What bard is even going to use 10 uses in a single day? Second, nearly all the bardic music abilities could be simply represented as spells, and it seems redundant to have both.

Actually, that's a good point and gives me an idea. What if, in addition to the standard spell slots that the Bard in given, they are also able to tap into the magical nature of their music in a different way? If you had the option of using 1 use of bardic music to cast a first level spell, 2 uses of music to cast a second level one, 3 uses for a third, etc...

Sure, that would mean that a bard of 5th level would be able to cast an additional 5 levels of spells, but he could use them in any way he wanted (2 first level, 1 inspire courage and 1 second level). If the spells he could cast normally were ones that he had to memorize (ala the wizard); well, he could pick those up anywhere (but gets none to start with, nor automatically at every level). Cleric, Druid, Wizard, whatever. He can still only cast like four max (say, plus his Int mod). Then you could have those "music" spells he would typically know be the paltry 2 or something that he gets when he can cast spells of a new level - spontaneously cast through his understanding of the magic of the universe...

Is this too far out there?


Though, given the above, no Bard would ever be without the Extra Music feat...


I would like to bounce off you something.

The bardic lore ability seems like a throwback to 2nd edition.

I've also really enjoyed the skill tricks that were presented in complete scoundral.

I was thinking, instead of bardic knowledge, the bard gets breathe of knowledge.

Breathe of knowledge: for the cost of 2 skill points, the knowledge check the bard uses includes another category. For example, for the cost of 2 skill points, their knowledge(arcana) includes history at the same value. It would make their knowledge more specialized and give them at high levels truely outstanding and quantifyable knowledge that fits better with the 3rd edition mechanics.

Opinions?


Shades of Eternity wrote:
Breathe of knowledge: for the cost of 2 skill points, the knowledge check the bard uses includes another category. For example, for the cost of 2 skill points, their knowledge(arcana) includes history at the same value. It would make their knowledge more specialized and give them at high levels truely outstanding and quantifyable knowledge that fits better with the 3rd edition mechanics.

Or give them a bards-only Versatile Sage feat (add Int bonus to # of Knowledge areas when taking Knowledge skill), exactly analgous to their "Versatile Performer" feat.


Allow me to elaborate a bit on my idea (back on page 2) in its defense (I would have done so long before but my computor has had a hard time reaching this website for some reason).

First of all, I will make the concession that yes, having a tone of skills with huge bonuses may not be the best idea. In that case, at each of those levels, add the +1 bonus to only a single previous choice. This seems somewhat logical and allows the bard to become a master scout, great performer, or even a skilled diplomat, should they choose to become such. If possible, I'll edit my previous post to fit this description.

Secondly, I see nothing wrong with granting access to the sorcerer/wizard list. First of all, we'd be keeping the 6th level spell cap, spells per day, and spells known of the normal bard, which handicaps the bard enough as it is (they only gain 35 spells known [unless we increase the number of cantrips known], period,). Secondly, if we are really so against the idea of bards launching magic missiles or animating the dead, we could, for instance, take away their access to the necromancy and evocation schools (in fact, this would give a great opportunity to later make bard PrCs restoring access to these schools. Yes, I think that far ahead). To top it off, we give the bard access to spells of the healing subschool from the cleric list. Once again, their precious few spells known and delayed access to spell levels would even it out. For example, although the bard would finally gain access to the heal spell, they would be doing so at 16th level, as opposed to 11th level like a normal cleric. If we really want a final nail on the head, something to insure that the bard doesn't gain access to anything too extreme (as some would say raise dead would be), there could always be a clause stating that a bard's imperfect training in the art of magic prevents them from casting spells with costly material components (or foci, if we are really jerks).

The thread, as a total, has described the bard in a way that three blind men may describe an elephant. The first man sees the music, wanting more options. The second man sees might, wanting a more tactical outlook and buffs. The third man sees skills and a massive skill list, wanting a jack of all trades.
Ironically, the fourth, sighted man, who sees the bard as what it is and nothing more, is equally blind in this issue.

In my attempt, I tried to respect the wishes of the wishes of the first three men by making stress possible in whatever direction they do so choose.
However, it is to the fourth man to which I must appeal. I understand that you see, understand, and like your bard just the way that it is. However, if we change nothing, we deny the bard of all futures it may have possessed (at least for the immediate future) and doom it to a life of further obscurity in a time where every other class receives aid. If, on the other hand, you are asking for changes but simply ones that put further emphasis on the bard as it is, it only becomes more difficult for those who revered the bard's potential in other areas to grasp it.
For example, if the only changes that we made was a specific upgrade of bardic knowledge at a later level and a few new performances, those who respected it for its ability to adapt will find themselves doing far more singing than adapting.
On the other hand, I have made a solution with the potential to appeal to you. If the abilities granted by my suggested skill specializations included such things as bardic knowledge for knowledge or bardic music for perform (gaining access to a new ability every time that perform is selected beyond the first), it will be possible for you to play the bard more or less as it currently is while, at the same time, those who respect other aspects of the same class can instead choose to play out those roles (for example, a diplomacy special ability may be a sanctuary effect for those who respect their non-combat abilities while a search special ability may be a slightly weakened trapfinding ability for those that liked its rogueish nature.)


Plognark wrote:

Ok, I'm going to ask this in all seriousness now:

Do we really HAVE to have Bards?

I mean, I understand the whole genre and the inpirational stuff and all that, but even in the most ridiculous circumstances what kind of dolt is going to sit in the middle of battle playing music to inspire and uplift everyone.

Ever see the movie, "The Longest Day"? It's about the invasion of Normandy and at one point of the movie, it shows the Scottish troops invading, complete with bagpipes, and when they're marching inland, the piper is there again, so, I'd say, yes, I can easily see musicians in battle.

The Romns used to have buccinators (horn players)in every legion. They were used to trasnmit orders accross the battlefield, as well as provide the men with inspirational music when marching and in battle.

One of the things I do not like about 4e, and which has made me interested in Pathfinder, is the dropping of things from D&D. I say keep the bard as core. If you do not like it, then don;t use it.

Sovereign Court

The title of this thread has inspired me.

Drop the normal Bard, I want to see the Dire Bard!


gnome dire bard with badgers, badgers, badgers... :D

I kinda like the separation of the bard into two classes that was brought up before.

one more of a spellcaster

one more of a fighting type with certain musical feats to do neato effects.

Sovereign Court

I'm quite interested in this as the bard, for some reason, has always appealed to me. Bard builds are rarely optimal, but I've often found them fun. When there isn't a hole in the party that needs to be filled, I generally gravitate toward bard. I've been a dinosaur riding Bard/Dragonmark Heir of House Jorasco, a young human bard, and most recently an idealistic bard about to become a paladin in Rise of the Runelords. :)

The first question raised is: What do we want a bard to be?

Shall it remain the "fifth wheel" type character, only useful when the group is so small that everyone must multitask or so large that major tasks are already taken care of by dedicated characters? Or should it be a class that is viable in a typical 4 person party?

I personally feel any "jack of all trades" character is relegated to "fifth wheel" status - and don't mind the bard staying there at all. If the bard were redesigned in order to give it a viable role in a 4 person party, it can easily go for any role:

  • Fighter - I think of a bard as going for the swashbuckling type fighter - light and fast, with finesse, not force
  • Rogue - give a bard trapfinding, and they've often got enough skills to make a reasonable skill-monkey
  • Cleric - Buffing and heals. Weaker than a cleric, but morale boosts fit with this sort of role
  • Wizard - Again, weaker (and much more limited) than a wizard, but some abilities along this line exist.
I find it ironic and amusing that an arcane caster could arguably be seen as fitting a Wizard's role least well of the iconic four. :D

I like the idea of a class level based bonus on knowledge checks over a nebulous bard only skill titled "Bardic Knowledge". Simple, easy. Thumbs up!

I like the idea of a small number of spells that can be cast per day - but a large "spell book", whether it be spells known (as in current 3.5, only a greatly enhanced number), all spells on a list (like beguiler), or a spell book (as archivist). I think the idea of having weaker spells and lower DCs, but most probably having the right tool for the situation a small number of times per day fits perfectly with the bard as a jack of all trades. This is also quite backwards compatible.

Speaking of the archivist, I think that's a fun sort of concept to attach to bards. In fact, my Pathfinder adventure path Bard/Paladin is sort of going that route. The eventual plan is to use the "Jack of all Trades" alternative to Bardic Knowledge, a single rank in all monster identification Knowledge skills, the skill trick "Collector of Stories" and "Knowledge Devotion" to get some beefy self bonuses. These won't apply to the party like an Archivist's Dark Knowledge would, but it's conceptually close. Combined with Divine Might, song bonuses, and Power Attack, she'll be pretty nasty in combat, for a bard! These sorts of lore/knowledge based bonuses hearken back to older mythological references to bards, as an added bonus.

Another broad sort of concept that might be fun is weaving buff spells into music to have it affect multiple allies - maybe a sort of "War Weaver Lite".

As a last general little note, the only part of bardic casting that really suffers is offensive spells have very low DCs because of the lower spell level. If bards are to have offensive abilities with their magic, then they'll need a DC boost. If their spell list relegates them almost exclusively to buffing, then leaving the DCs low is probably not going to cause an issue.

Random Thoughts:

Spoiler:
  • I saw a post in another thread that mentioned that in order to foster the typical stereotype of the bard being "in the thick of things", maybe inspire courages should activate when the character is engaged in combat. That comment stuck with me. I could see an "Inspire Combat" type song that increases AC if the bard is outside of combat, and increases attack and damage if the bard is engaging in combat.
  • I really would like more song options. Seeker of the Song is fun, with ongoing buffs punctuated with refrains of enemy pain. :)
  • I don't object to the idea of a small number of songs, like we have, but they increase in effectiveness according to your perform check.
  • I have always disliked Countersong. Changing it to interfere with casting that includes verbal components, or that interferes with another bard's music, or that can twist spells in the process of being cast to change their effect would be a cool different ability that uses the same name.


Jess Door wrote:
Bard builds are rarely optimal, but I've often found them fun... most recently an idealistic bard about to become a paladin in Rise of the Runelords.

I've played a bard/paladin, and it was a blast. I made the mistake of letting one of the players (who had a dead PC) run him in Spire of Long Shadows, however. That adventure is NOT intended for sub-optimal builds!

Sovereign Court

Kirth Gersen wrote:
I've played a bard/paladin, and it was a blast. I made the mistake of letting one of the players (who had a dead PC) run him in Spire of Long Shadows, however. That adventure is NOT intended for sub-optimal builds!

Very cool! I've been leery of Paladins because my take on alignment rarely matches my DMs' - and I didn't want to open myself to alignment traps. I've been playing Crusaders to get my "I'll save you!" Knight in Shining Armor kicks - but I'm <gulp!> giving it a go. :) Hopefully it'll be a positive experience!

(A player I gamed with mentioned a Half-Orc Bard that used "Perform(Stomp)" for inspiration.)


I liked my Half-Orc Bard that performed in Haiku...


The bard has to stay. I'd just like to see more non-musical options for them.

That said, I'm trying to talk the other DM, into running the 3rd AP once it is out, so I can play a dwarven bard. I know it isn't an optimal build with the race/class combo, but I like the idea of wading into battle while singing rowdy fighting songs to encourage my allies. And when the fight is done, we switch to rowdy drinking songs.

Dark Archive

I think that bards represent a classic middle ages characterization which is needed in terms of game mechanics. Bards don't really suck, they just aren't glory characters. They tell tales of glory, not deal the death blow to some monster. For those of you who don't know much about the bard's historical counterpart, take a look at the following link. It is easy to change the names of their abilities to suit your campaign style. I personally like the historical interpretation of bards. I just don't like the naming of their in-game abilitie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bard

"Since we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our minds, our one duty is to furnish it well." -- Peter Ustinov.


I've got to confess: I like bards. The problem is, what I really like is a Bard/Sublime Chord/virtuoso (singing-caster), and the bard/paladin/abjurant champion (gish). Both can handle the social skills and leadership, and the first can really do inspire courage well. The latter can kick butt in combat.

The problem is: in 3.5, a good bard is not really a Bard-20. You have to get out soon, and run toward better classes. The mechanics of giving a scaling bonus to your party is great. A buffing character is really great in D&D, but the way the bard is currently, you really need to know the tips and tricks to do it well.


Zohar wrote:
Chaotic_Blues wrote:
Zohar wrote:


Dances: We could add different kinds of elaborate attacks/defensive abilities that could damage/parry/or disarm foes.

You mean like the Basiran Dancer class from kingdoms of Kalamar?
I'm not familar with that unfortunately.

WOW! never thought I would see any class from kingdoms of kalamar brought up.

i have the book but I don't feel like looking it up. An interesting class to say the least.

As for the bard. He needs a niche I think, personally. And not this buffing thing.


Bards suck? Really? I don't know how people are playing bards, but I totally disagree.

One of my players (my wife) played a female elven bard in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (adapted to 3.5), and ask the rest of players if bards suck... She was a reasonably good archer, boosted the entire party with great effect and managed to pull some amazing stunts in the face of dire defeat: fascinating a green dragon with her music, bravely standing there and allowing the rest of the party to flee for their lives. Unfortunately, the follow-up suggestion failed, but the dragon was amused enough to let her go away with the promise of terrible and painful death if they ever come close to his lair again.

At other times, he charmed nine-headed hydras, bluffed temple guards, and single-handedly slayed a basilisk when the rest of PCs were already petrified...

Now go and tell me bards suck.

By the way, before some starts speaking of favoritism to the bard's player: in fact I almost tend to the opposite...


In my opinion, the bard class was replaced by the PHB2 beguiler. He's the skill monkey/illusionist/enchanter only he actually does it well, unlike the bard.

Sovereign Court

Swordslinger wrote:
In my opinion, the bard class was replaced by the PHB2 beguiler. He's the skill monkey/illusionist/enchanter only he actually does it well, unlike the bard.

I love beguilers too, but while they're the ultimate con men, they're not the "Yeah...I can do that" guys that bards can be. They can't fight, and throw them up against anything resistant or immune to mind affecting and other than a few group buffs, beguilers are in trouble. Also, no healing.

While there are a great many stories about such tricksters, I think bards are distinct common enough in tales that they deserve to keep their place. :) As long as no one forces you to play one when you don't want to, it doesn't hurt anything.

In some ways I think the ubiquitousness of reading and writing hurts bards - many of the greatest uses of bards in stories were as news disseminators, repositories of knowledge and history, etc. An interesting twist might be to see how bards become more important when only wizards, aristocrats and those that sink skill points or a feat into reading can use the written word. That'd be a big change, but I might try that in a campaign sometime as a houserule. :)

Dark Archive

I for one love a well played bard character. Mind you not alot of people can play a bard well, but that just goes to show that the class could use some tweakage, but thats to be expected. What I'd like to see is more bardic music abilities that affect the bard himself. Also they need to get cantrips like wizards so they can have at will uses of ghost sound. Come on, how awesome would that be, a bard that can provide his own back up singers? If not cantrips, just a class ability for at will ghost sound would be enough.

Also, they should change "Bardic Music" to "Performance Ability" so as to not pigeon hole the abilities as musical only. An option for a bonded item, like wizards get would be cool, but a variant option would be needed for those who dont use a musical instrument. I'd also like to see the various "Inspire" abilities retooled to be magical effect boosts, not just "oh hey the bard is singing well, that makes me less afraid..." but you would need to figure out what kind of bonus it would be as enhancement would too often not stack.


Jess Door wrote:

I love beguilers too, but while they're the ultimate con men, they're not the "Yeah...I can do that" guys that bards can be. They can't fight, and throw them up against anything resistant or immune to mind affecting and other than a few group buffs, beguilers are in trouble. Also, no healing.

The main problem bards have is that they don't really have a predefined role. A lot of people want bards to be different things and that runs into many problems.

Are they:

-A buff based fighter/mage, buffing themselves and the party as they charge with a sword
-Arcane tricksters, using spells and skills to be another rogue type class.
-Purely a cheerleader, sitting in the back and helping their companions while not going to the front.
-A non-combat character, good at out of combat stuff, but sucky in combat.
-A rather generic fighter/mage with a splash of rogue abilities.

So what do we even see bards doing in combat with their actions? Are they buffing, are they swinging a sword, are they entrancing people with spells?

Bards fall in the "do everything" role, similar to the druid, only unlike the druid they tend to suck at every role instead of being awesome at everything.


This is a Bard overhaul FrankTrollman posted on a different message board that later moved and has been plagued with poor searchability since, which is why I'm not just linking to it directly.

FrankTrollman wrote:

So lately there's been a lot of interest around here in Bards for some reason. Naturally of course, this is a subject that fills me with great sadness. The Bard is a horribly, yet justifiably maligned class. The goals of the 3.5 Bard are obvious – an attempt to justify taking more than a level in Bard for the occasional build coupled with an attempt to make each bard different from another with distinct musical flavor for each. The results are a catastrophe – there's no longer a reason to dip into Bard, there still isn't any reason to take Bard for the long haul, and most Bardic concepts are so skill point intensive that you can't actually do them even with an Intelligence of 18. So what the heck, we know what's wrong with it, why not remake the Bard into something that has but one ass?

Before that can even be done, Perform needs the following adjustment:

Replace First Paragraph with:

You are trained in several types of artistic expression and know how to put on a show. Possible Perform types include ballad, buffoonery, chant, comedy, dance, drama, drums, epic, flute, harp, juggling, limericks, lute, mandolin, melody, mime, ode, pan pipes, puppetry, recorder, shalm, storytelling, trumpet, and tuba (the DM may authorize other types). You are trained in one form of performance per rank.

The Bard (that doesn't suck)

It is said that music has a special magic, and the bard proves that saying true. Wandering across the land, gathering lore, telling stories, working magic with his music, and living on the gratitude of his audience: such is the life of a bard. When chance or opportunity draws them into a conflict, bards serve as diplomats, negotiators, scouts, and spies.
A bard's magic comes from the heart. If his heart is good, a bard bring brings hope and courage to the downtrodden and uses his tricks, music, and magic to thwart the schemes of evildoers. If the nobles of the land are corrupt, the good bard is an enemy of the state, cunningly evading capture and raising the spirits of the oppressed. But music can spring from an evil heart as well. Evil bards eschew blatant violence in favor of manipulation, holding sway over the hearts and minds of others and taking what enraptured audiences "willingly" provide.

Adventurers: Bards see adventures as opportunities to learn. They practice their many skills and abilities, and they especially relish the opportunity to enter a long forgotten tomb, to discover ancient works of magic, to decipher old tomes, to travel to strange places, to encounter exotic creatures, and most importantly – to learn new songs and stories. Bards love to accompany heroes (and villains), joining their entourage to witness their deeds firsthand – a bard who can tell a marvelous story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. Indeed, after telling so many stories about heroes doing mighty deeds, many bards take these themes to heart and assume the role of hero themselves.

Characteristics: A bard brings forth magic from his soul, not from a book. He can cast only a small number of spells, but he can cast them without selecting or preparing them in advance. Even more than the wizard, bards are adept at learning new magic. A bard's magic emphasizes charms and illusions over the more dramatic evocations that wizards and sorcerers often use.
In addition to spells, a bard works magic with his music and poetry, which can be seamlessly blended with their spellcasting to produce a number of effects.
Bards have some skills that rogues have, though they are not as focused on skill mastery as rogues are. Bards listen to stories as well as tell them, so they have a vast knowledge of local events and noteworthy items.

Alignment: Bards are driven first by music, which can be a powerful spontaneous force as easily as it can be a regimented and exacting science. Bards may be of any alignment.

Religion: Many bards revere Fharlanghn, god of roads. They sometimes camp near his wayside shrines, hoping to earn some coin from the travelers who stop to leave offerings for the god. Some bards, even those without a drop of elvish blood, worship Corellon Larethian, highest god of elves and patron of poetry and music. Good bards are also partial to Pelor, the sun god, believing that he watches over them in their travels. Bards given to chaos and larceny favor Oliadammara, god of thieves. Those who have turned to evil ways are known to worship Erythnul, the god of slaughter, though few will admit to it.

Background: An apprentice bard learns his skills and songs from a single experienced bard, whom he follows and serves until he is ready to strike out on his own. Many bards were once young runaways or orphans, befriended by wandering bards who became their mentors. Since bards occasionally congregate in formal or informal "colleges," the apprentice bard may meet many of the more prominent bards in the area. Still, a bard rarely has any special allegiance to bards as a whole, and many actively avoid contact with other bards for fear of them learning his songs. Some bards take this to an extreme, and become highly competitive with other bards, jealous of their reputation and defensive of their territory.

Races: Bards are commonly human, gnomes, elven, or half-elven. Humans take well to the wandering life and adapt well to new lands and customs. Elves are talented in music and magic, so the career of the bard comes naturally to them. Gnomes are inherently gifted with magic of the bardic sort, and the learning of the songs is a natural step for the young gnome. A bard's wandering ways suit many half-elves, who often feel like strangers even when at home. Half-orcs, even those raised among humans, find themselves ill-suited to the demands of a bardic career. There are no bardic traditions among the dwarves or Halflings, though occasional individuals of those races find teachers to train them in the ways of the bard – especially if they grow up near human settlements.
Bards are exceedingly rare among the savage humanoids except among centaurs and kobolds. Centaur bards sometimes train the children of humans or other humanoids. Kobold bardic traditions are ancient and possessed of a bitter rivalry with those of the gnomes.

Other Classes: A bard works well with the companionship of other classes. He often serves as the spokesman of the party, using his social skills for the party's benefit. In a party without a wizard or a sorcerer, the bard relies on his magic. In a party without a rogue, he uses his skills. A bard is curious about the ways of more focused or dedicated adventurers, often trying to pick up pointers from fighters, sorcerers, and rogues.

Game Rule Information

Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills
The bard’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (n/a), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.
Base Attack Bonus: Medium (3/4)
Saving Throws: Fort Poor; Reflex Good; Willpower Good

Level Benefit:

1st Bardic Knowledge, Performance Trick, Blended Casting.
2nd Bonus Feat
3rd Performance Trick
4th Bonus Feat, Still Spells
5th Performance Trick
6th Bonus Feat, Silent Spells
7th Performance Trick
8th Bonus Feat, Spell Focus: Enchantment
9th Performance Trick
10th Bonus Feat, Focused Skill Mastery
11th Performance Trick
12th Bonus Feat, Spell Focus: Illusion
13th Performance Trick
14th Bonus Feat, Spell Penetration
15th Performance Trick
16th Bonus Feat, Special Ability
17th Performance Trick
18th Bonus Feat
19th Performance Trick
20th Bonus Feat, Special Ability

Spells per Day

Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1st 1 - - - - - - - - -
2nd 2 - - - - - - - - -
3rd 2 0 - - - - - - - -
4th 2 1 - - - - - - - -
5th 2 1 0 - - - - - - -
6th 3 1 1 - - - - - - -
7th 3 2 1 0 - - - - - -
8th 3 2 1 1 - - - - - -
9th 3 2 2 1 0 - - - - -
10th 3 2 2 1 1 - - - - -
11th 4 3 2 2 1 0 - - - -
12th 4 3 2 2 1 1 - - - -
13th 4 3 3 2 2 1 0 - - -
14th 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 - - -
15th 4 3 3 3 2 2 1 0 - -
16th 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 - -
17th 5 4 3 3 3 2 2 1 0 -
18th 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 -
19th 5 4 4 3 3 3 2 2 1 0
20th 5 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the bard:

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A bard is proficient with all simple weapons, plus any five martial weapons of their choice, and the bladed fan, bolas, elven lightblade, and whip. Bards are proficient with light armor and shields (except tower shields). A bard can cast bard spells while wearing any armor he is proficient with without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. However, like any other arcane spellcaster, a bard wearing armor he is not proficient with shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component (most do). A multiclass bard still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.

Spells: A bard casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the bard spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. Every bard spell has a verbal component (singing, reciting, or music), or a somatic component (dancing, puppetry, or mime), and must make a Perform check of an appropriate type with a DC of 5 + Double the Spell Level or the spell fails. To learn or cast a spell, a bard must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a bard’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the bard’s Charisma modifier. Unlike a sorcerer, a bard may know any number of spells, but while he will probably know many spells, he can only cast a small number of them each day.

Learning Songs: A bard begins play knowing 12 0-level bard spells. For each point of Charisma bonus the bard has, he begins playing knowing one additional 0-level spell of your choice. At each new bard level, he gains two new spells of any spell level or levels that he can cast (based on his new bard level). At any time, a bard can also learn spells found in written form or which he perceives being cast by other bards.
If a bard sees another bard casting a bard spell with somatic components, he can make a spot check with a DC of the casting bard's Perform check to immediately learn the spell. If a bard hears another bard casting a bard spell with verbal components, he can make a Listen check with a DC equal to the casting bard's Perform check result to immediately learn the spell. If a bard deciphers arcane magical writing containing a bard spell in written form, he may learn that spell.

Bardic Knowledge: A Bard gains Skill Focus as a bonus feat for any knowledge skill he has at least one rank in. A bard with Knowledge (local) is considered to have local knowledge for any area he has been in for any length of time. When he arrives in a new land, his ranks in Knowledge (local) "catch up" at the rate of one per day as long as he is able to spend at least one hour per day telling stories and listening to gossip.

Performance Trick: At every odd numbered level, a bard gains a specific magical ability that they can use with a type of performance. All of a bard's Performance Tricks can be used at will and are a Supernatural Ability. Activating or maintaining a Performance Trick requires only a Swift Action each round, but the performance always lasts at least an entire round. The Save DC, if any, of a trick is 10 + 1&#8260;2 of the bard's character level + the bard's charisma modifier, or the bard's performance skill check result, whichever is less. Each trick may only be used with one category of performance from the following list (the types of components used are listed in parenthesis): Acting (S, V), Comedy (S, V), Dance (S), Keyboard Instruments (S, F), Oratory (V), Percussion Instruments (S, F), String Instruments (S, F), Wind Instruments (S, V, F), Singing (V). The list here is not intended to be exclusive, and DMs are encouraged to introduce more unique performance powers into his campaign.

Blended Casting: A bard is able to cast and maintain concentration on spells simultaneously with using his bardic performance tricks, provided that the spells in question do not use the same components (verbal or somatic) as the performance type being used requires.

Bonus Feats: At every even numbered level, a bard gains Skill Focus as a bonus feat that may be applied to any skill he has at least one rank in.

Still Spells (Ex): A bard of 4th level or higher may cast his spells without somatic components at will as if using the Still Spell metamagic, though without using up a higher level spell slot. All of a bard's spells must still have Somatic or Verbal components though, so a spell that already has no Verbal components cannot be made Still in this way.

Silent Spells (Ex): A bard of 6th level or higher may cast his spells without verbal components at will as if using the Silent Spell metamagic, though without using up a higher level spell slot. All of a bard's spells must still have Somatic or Verbal components though, so a spell that already has no Somatic components cannot be made Silent in this way.

Spell Focus: A bard of 8th level gains Spell Focus: Enchantment as a bonus feat. If he already has Spell Focus: Enchantment, he gains Greater Spell Focus: Enchantment instead. A bard of 12th level gains Spell Focus: Illusion as a bonus feat. If he already has Spell Focus: Illusion, he gains Greater Spell Focus: Illusion instead. A bard of 14th level gains Spell Penetration as a bonus feat. If he already has Spell Penetration, he gains Greater Spell Penetration instead.

Focused Skill Mastery: At 10th level, a bard is able to perform any tasks he really sets his mind towards. He can take 10 on any skill check for which he has the Skill Focus Feat

Special Ability: At 16th and 20th level, a bard may select a Rogue Special Ability.

The Bard Spell-List:

0th: Addiction, Bless, Create Water, Cure Light Wounds, Dancing Lights, Darkness, Daze, Death Grimace, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Drug Resistance, Flare, Ghost Harp, Ghost Sound, Hypnotism, Insightful Feint, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, Purify Food and Drink, Read Magic, Resistance, Restful Slumber, Silent Image, Silent Portal, Songbird, Stick, Ventriloquism
1st: Accelerated Movement, Alarm, Amplify, Appraising Touch, Blur, Charm Person or Animal, Cheat, Critical Strike, Cure Moderate Wounds, Detect Secret Doors, Disguise Self, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Grease, Greater Dispelling, Hypnotic Pattern, Healthful Rest, Identify, Improvisation, Insidious Rhythm, Joyful Noise, Mage Armor, Magic Weapon, Minor Image, Mirror Image, Phantom Threat, Scare, Serene Visage, Silence, Sticky Fingers, Summon Monster II, Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Unseen Servant
2nd: Animal Trance, Battle Hymn, Bear's Endurance, Blindness/Deafness, Bull's Strength, Cat's Grace, Circle Dance, Cure Serious Wounds, Daylight, Deeper Darkness, Delay Poison, Detect Thoughts, Eagle's Splendor, Entice Gift, Fox's Cunning, Grace, Greater Alarm, Harmonic Chorus, Haunting Tune, Invisibility, Levitate, Locate Object, Major Image, Mindless Rage, Misdirection, Owl's Wisdom, Prayer, Pyrotechnics, See Invisibility, Shatter, Sound Burst, Suggestion, Summon Monster III, Summon Swarm, Suspended Silence, Tactical Precision, Tongues, Undetectable Alignment, War Cry, Wave of Grief, Whispering Wind, Wraithstrike
3rd: Bestow Curse, Blink, Charm Monster, Confusion, Cure Critical Wounds, Dirge of Discord, Dream Walk, Fear, Greater Magic Weapon, Haste, Hymn of Praise, Infernal Threnody, Love's Lament, Magic Circle, Phantom Steed, Puppeteer, Rainbow Pattern, Recitation, Remove Curse, Stunning Screech, Summon Monster IV, Tiny Hut, Voice of the Dragon
4th: Break Enchantment, Cacophonic shield, Celebration, Detect Scrying, Dimension Door, Dismissal, Dominate Person, Dream, Greater Resistance, Hallucinatory Terrain, Hold Monster, Improved Invisibility, Lay of the Land, Legend Lore, Scry, Secure Shelter, Locate Creature, Manifest Desire, Manifest Nightmare, Mirror Sending, Modify Memory, Neutralize Poison, Persistent Image, Pronouncement of Fate, Ruin Delver's Fortune, Sensory Deprivation, Shout, Stop Heart, Sirine's Grace, Summon Monster V
5th: Atonement, Body Harmonic, Cacophonic Burst, Contact Other Planes, Control Water, Dreaming Puppet, False Vision, Hide from Dragons, Illusory Feast, Mind Fog, Mirage Arcana, Mass Reflective Disguise, Mass Suggestion, Mislead, Morality Undone, Nightmare, Permanent Image, Programmed Image, Shadow Form, Summon Monster VI, Wail of Doom
6th: Control Weather, Eyebite, Dirge, Dream Casting, Geas, Greater Scrying, Hindsight, Hiss of Sleep, Illusory Pit, Insanity, Nixie's Grace, Oath of Blood, Plane shift, Project Image, Repulsion, Summon Monster VII, Superior Resistance, Symphonic Nightmare, Veil
7th: Antipathy, Dream Sight, Familial Geas, Greater Planeshift, Greater Teleport, Irresistible Dance, Mass Charm, Mass Modify Memory, Powerword: Stun, Shadow walk, Solipsism, Summon Monster VIII, Sympathy, Transfix
8th: Demand, Dominate Monster, Maddening Whispers, Plague of Nightmares, Powerword: Blind, Shifting Paths, Summon Monster IX, Superior Invisibility, Wrathful Castigation
9th: Gate, Powerword: Kill, Programmed Amnesia, shades, Teleportation, Temporal Stasis, Weird

Performance Tricks:

Countersong:
While the performance is ongoing, the bard can attempt to suppress magical effects with the [Sonic] descriptor and spells with a verbal component. Anyone within medium range of the bard attempting to use or maintain such a spell or ability must make a Willpower save or their spell or ability fizzles.
Allowed Performance Styles: Acting (S, V), Comedy (S, V), Keyboard Instruments (S, F), Oratory (V), Percussion Instruments (S, F), String Instruments (S, F), Wind Instruments (S, V, F), Singing (V)

Inspire Courage:
All allies within close range of the bard who see or hear the performance gain a morale bonus to attack and damage rolls equal to 1/4th of the bard's class level (round up) for as long as the performance continues and they remain in range, and for 1 round per level after they are no longer able to perceive the performance or are no longer in range.
Allowed Performance Styles: Acting (S, V), Comedy (S, V), Dance (S), Keyboard Instruments (S, F), Oratory (V), Percussion Instruments (S, F), String Instruments (S, F), Wind Instruments (S, V, F), Singing (V)

Destructive Cacophony:
Each round that the cacophony is maintained, one additional target within medium range suffers 1d6 of Sonic damage per turn for as long as it remains within range. The bard must select an additional target each round or end the cacophony. The bard may only maintain this effect for a number of subsequent rounds equal to his bard level.
Allowed Performance Styles: Keyboard Instruments (S, F), Percussion Instruments (S, F), String Instruments (S, F), Wind Instruments (S, V, F), Singing (V)

Requiem:
The bard can produce a haunting melody that renders undead very docile, possibly even friendly. For the first 10 rounds an undead creature hears the song (and is within close range), the song acts as a halt undead effect, undead which fail their Will saves are stuck fast for 10 rounds (or until the performance stops or the undead creatures are no longer in range or take damage). If the effect is still going at the end of 10 rounds, the bard may make a Perform check as if it were a diplomacy check to improve the undead creature's disposition. Regardless of the outcome of that check, the undead creatures can again move normally.
Allowed Performance Styles: Keyboard Instruments (S, F), Percussion Instruments (S, F), String Instruments (S, F), Wind Instruments (S, V, F)

Bewilder:
The bard makes a performance so avante guarde, so surprising, that onlookers are left unsure of what to do or say. Audiences within medium range must make a Will save each round or become dazed for one round.
Allowed Performance Styles: Acting (S, V), Comedy (S, V), Dance (S), Keyboard Instruments (S, F), Oratory (V), Percussion Instruments (S, F), String Instruments (S, F), Wind Instruments (S, V, F), Singing (V)

Obviously, it requires enough performance tricks to be available that each Performance style is independently useful and unique enough to matter. Also it wants enough that each bard feels unique and special - so the guy with the tuba who breaks s%&$ is neat enough that people care.

It also wants for there to be techniques that are good for jugglers:

Song of the Weak Mind
While the music plays, the audience suffers a -4 penalty on Will saves vs. spells of the Illusion and Enchantment schools for as long as they remain within medium range. The duration of any stunned or dazed conditions are extended y 1 round if they are applied within medium range of the source of the song.
Allowed Performance Styles: Keyboard Instruments, String Instruments, Wind Instruments, Singing

It wants techniques that are good for a Gish:

Dance of the Seven Swords
As long as the bard continues to dance, he is considered to have a BAB equal to his character level. The bard may make an extra attack of opportunity each round (as per the Combat Reflexes feat) for every 10 full points his Perform check exceeds 10. The bard gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls for every full 20 points his perform check exceeds 10.
Allowed Performance Styles: Dance

It wants techniques for a Diplomancer:

Torrent of Anger
The bard attempts to inflame passions against a target. All audience members find the performance fascinating and are compelled to watch for its duration (or until they are snapped out of it by violent action) if they are within medium range and fail a Willpower save. Creatures who watch for at least 10 minutes become unfriendly to a target of the bard's choosing (unless they were alread hostile), and one step more friendly towards any person or group known to be enemies of the new source of antipathy.
allowed performance styles: Acting, Comedy, Oratory

And here's some relevant discussion from the original thread...

Book wrote:

Your 4 Ranks/Level + Bonus SkFocus Feat mechanic is interesting. Why not just go with 6 Ranks/Level instead? Also, the Swim skill seems a bit inappropriate for someone who will probably be lugging around a mandolin or a flute.

Otherwise, very nice. :smile: There's a whole ton of Bard Song feats out there that could use some conversion to Performance Tricks.

FrankTrollman wrote:

The goal on the skills is to have someone who uses skils differently from the Rogue, not merely worse. By handing out Skill focus and a small amount of skill points, the bard is forced to choose between being more specialized and more diversified than the Rogue. A probable end result is a Bard who dabbles in a lot of knowledge skills and is really good at performances - which is actually the goal.

As for having swim on the list - I just left the bard skill selection alone. Also, the class is supposed to represent people like Giacamo from The Court Jester - and I'm pretty sure he could swim if he wants to. And lastly of course, the class eventually learns Sirine's Grace if it wants, so having Swim be an option is only fair. :wink:

And yes, the goal is to take all the bardic feats crap and fold it into performance tricks. Green Ear, for example, would be a performance trick called Forest Song.

Anyway, I just wanted to add that to the discussion.

Sovereign Court

Swordslinger wrote:

The main problem bards have is that they don't really have a predefined role. A lot of people want bards to be different things and that runs into many problems.

<some snipping for length>

So what do we even see bards doing in combat with their actions? Are they buffing, are they swinging a sword, are they entrancing people with spells?

Bards fall in the "do everything" role, similar to the druid, only unlike the druid they tend to suck at every role instead of being awesome at everything.

See, the "people want bards to be different things" is part of it's appeal to me.

I like to optimize. I'll spend hours combing through books and thinking of all the options, etc. But I optimize for a character concept - and a lot of my character concepts go for the whole "jack of all trades" thing. Factotum kinda fits here too, and I've been playing with trying out one of those someday.

When I go for bards, it's because:

1. the party is so small, we need people to fulfill multiple roles, even if they're not quite as good as a specialist

2. The party is so large that all the basics are covered, and a fifth wheel fill in is useful and appreciated

I would agree that bards aren't as powerful as druids. I agree that bards need some help. I think it's obvious that the initial conception of "partial casting" didn't take into account that the exponential growth in power produced by spells as they increase in level means that 6th level spells pale into insignificance next to 8th and 9th level spells (and 4th level spells might as well not exist at that point).

I just don't particularly want PRPG to choose which role the bard should fill and shove it into that role. Sure, it's an oddball sorta class. I still love it. I'd rather they upped a couple of the things it's particularly weak at to keep pace with the upgrade in power levels across the board and do all they can to maintain the following things:

  • Jack of All Trades concept
  • Music/Performance driven feel
  • Versatility in options over power

I don't want the bard to be another wizard - but if the wizard's out, I'd like the bard to be able to substitute on a temporary basis. Same for the other iconic roles in a party.

I build my bards for versatility in action. Melodic casting to allow casting and singing, basic combat ability so singing and fighting can take place at once. A wide range of skills to allow useful actions in most circumstances. Etc.

Thanks, angel, for the Bard changes posting. It was interesting reading! there's a lot I like about it, though I worry in this case about backwards compatibility. :)

Sovereign Court

Angel, excellent write-up. I personally don't think bards should be casting 9th level spells, but you put down in type some interesting ideas.

Also, you'd have to add a line where bards learn spells from other bards, that the new spell could not be higher level than what the learner already knows. It is also strange to me why this is more successful when your 'teacher' makes a bad performance (low perform check). I'd go with a different DC mechanic for picking up others' spells.

Essentially, I'd like to see the bard stay much as it is, the 5th wheel class, with the following changes:

1. Perhaps a point system for bardic abilities similar to the rage points Barbarians may be acquiring. These could be spent on anything from scaling combat bonuses (and penalties to enemies) to countersongs, movement increases and skill checks. Maybe the categories the bard can use for spending his points should be chosen like rogue talents or dragon shaman auras, creating bards that can specialize.

2. I love many of the bard spells, so I do not want them to have less spells than before. More magic would be workable, especially if given as a choice (similar to the rogue abilities that can grant a spell 1/day).

3. I do think the 3.5 Bard suffers from too many empty levels; I anticipate this is being addressed already by Paizo staff. Adding a few progressing abilities in the same spirit as the fighters' armor proficiency and weapon groups would be suitable, I think. Bard talent categories for their music points (or similar) also work; I would like to see both. My ideal is a bard that can choose as he levels up to increase the magic of his music, focus on knowledge skills, focus on social skills, specialize in combat, or some of each.

4. Bards also suffer from having too many jobs in combat (imo). I think a good change would be to allow a bard to use inspiring or hindering abilities while in melee. I hope this isn't too complex or unfair mechanically compared to a wizard.
edit: On #4 I should have said "make it easier for a bard..."


I'd like to reiterate that the revamp posted above is not my creation. Of course, it also won't be whole-cloth incorporated into PaizoRPG, but I think it has a lot of good material to mine.

On the specific subject of Bards casting 9th-level spells, what's the alternative? Spell levels are almost the definition of what's an appropriate contribution at a particular character level. Restricting Bards to 'in-flavor' spells really does cut their effectiveness down, because a lot of the best stuff is Conjuration effects they'll never access.

The only other variant Bard casting scheme I ever saw that I liked was a Bard whose 3rd level class feature (and only casting) was 'cast spells as a Wizard two levels lower than your Bard level, forever.' That put them pretty squarely in the 'off-caster' position. Of course, it made them feel like a dabbler in the Wizard's domain, instead of a unique expression of their own flavor, but that was the intention.It also didn't multiclass at all well, but casters do that anyway.

Grand Lodge

Loving the movie bard analogies heres another for you...

"Go, Flash, Go! Go, Flash, Go!" :)

back to the thread... I like bards but I do believe they get short changed too often because they are tailored for NPC interaction. A game I'm in has a bard (gnome) and hes done amazing things so far with his small spell list and bardic knowledge, however, the DM is running a basic dungeon crawl type game (The Fane Trilogy). We discovered the information about a white dragon being worshiped by a clan of kobolds and when we finally reached the dragon we where able to prepare, the bard burnt a number of spells to increase his charisma and max out his skills and we hoped he could talk our way through the encounter. But the DM who hasn't got a great head for roleplaying encounters made absolutely no rolls for the encounter and despite some excellent roleplaying from the player, forced the result into a fight.

the end result was a heated discussion with the DM after the session and the guy playing the bard (who is fairly new to 3.5) contacting me with suggestions on what to do with his bard.

Bottom Line, bards excel at roleplaying almost exclusively but suck at filling the 4th role of a party, as a 5th wheel the bard becomes godly but not all groups have that luxury and so often miss out on the roleplaying aspect the bard brings to the table.

What I would like to see is bards gaining something that gives them more effectiveness outside of roleplaying.


The big problem is if the bard does his job well, nobody else really gets to do anything.

get a high enough diplomacy and you'll only get into fights that you choose and the bard is tailored for this.

If I am a 20th level or epic bard, I want to put lower plane creatures to sleep with my music (Orpheus), pull out my custom weapon from hell (el mariachi/iolo), duel with the devil in a music battle and win (johnny), summon and repel rats and people (pied piper), or have a special atunement to nature that compares to a druid (john denver was definately a meistersinger in 2nd edition).

or even just listen to a friend and give advice based on a reading cause he was told to sing (Lorne).

I still say talent trees are the way to go. Basically substitution of abilities that can change the nature of the bard to something other then a cheerleader.

quite a few years ago, there was a bard's challenge for prestige classes on the wizard's forums. What they came up with was truely amazing for concepts and ideas to give a bard different feels. I wish I could find the link (although would definately put any links for prestige bard classes for 3.0/3.5 in the first post).

Adding a couple to my archtype of a bard.
Lorne (Angel) - while based on his own supernatural abilities, he is a bard, true and true.
Johnny Cash - probably the best example of a bad ass bard I can think of.


I personally like the original 1st ed bards premise of being a amalagam of fighter, rogue and druid. I'm eager to see the pathfinder version of the bard, but in the campaign im in now, i am playing a bard on the way to becoming a Fochlucan Lyrist, whic is a bout as close to my vision of the bard as I have found. we have a small party, a druid with a ape for a companion, an elven wizard and myself. so far, we have had a lot of fun, and i really like this character.
as to the pathfinder changed, i like the d8 hp, and going back to ranks with a +3 for class skills works great. The wizard player loves the school power abilities, and the druid player is happy that he doesnt have to change much where his character is concerned.
Great job, Paizo! Keep up the good work!


I'd like to see more musical abilities for the bard, even if that would mean less spells. I never saw the bard as a real spellcaster anyway - the bardic music was the real point of the class to me.

Basically anything has been said by now about if bards suck or not. I like them very much - favorite class and all - and they are a favorite among most of my players too. The basic concept of a bard is IMHO very classic fantasy.

I agree that they need to be re-vamped, but I'd like to see more musical abilities, not less.

For Indiana-Jones-style all-round adventurers, there's the Factotum class. Bard have their special role and its centered around social interaction, music and inspiration. From my experience, they make great party leaders. In the right hands, of course.
I would be disappointed if the Pathfinder Bard would be more jack-of-all-trades and less Minstrel.

Liberty's Edge

Bardic Music should incorporate magic more and heroics a bit less. Doesn't it state in the PHB that all Bardic spells have a Vocal component? I've always played this as playing a soothing tune after battle to cast a healing spell, and yes, healing spells should stay.

Grand Lodge

I like the post with the bard tricks. As a trick I would like to see options for impersionation. Something that allowed the Bard to be ultimate in quick change artist. The ultimate in bluffer. Something that ties into a actor heritage. I want the Bard to aso be a trickster/charlatan.<SP>?

I know I'm late to the conversation. Sorry.


no worries, it's always good to have another person in this thread. :)

but yeah, I never associated bard's with summoning demons, then I saw the animated movie rock and rule, and it definately puts a new spin on an old classic.


After reading the original post and some of the responses, it seems to me that the real problem many players have is not the mechanics of the Bard class so much as it is the flavor text associated with the powers. Some guy merrily prancing and humming tunes doesn’t seem as cool as the proud warrior wading into hordes of orcs, a holy man wielding the powers of the gods to defy the horrors of the undead, or a mysterious wizard raining fire on his foes.

I think all that is needed is a slight change in the portrayal of the class, and it would become much more acceptable. I look for inspiration at two things that originally inspired the class.

The first is the wizard hero Vainamoinen in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. He knew the magical power of words and songs, and was very much a wizard. The idea that songs and harmony have power, and that creation was “sung” into being is a very common element in myths. This is definitely shown in JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth. There is the harmony of Eru that created the world, and the rather low key magic of both Gandalf and Saruman who had uncanny abilities of persuasion and charm using their potent and magical voice. The main difference, is that they did not need to sing and prance to get it done.

The second is the historical basis of the Bard class. Throughout many ancient cultures there is a caste of learned scholars and priests who advised kings, kept laws, and protected the sacred knowledge of their society. This is the basis of the historical druids (who are much more like the Bard class than the Druid class in D&D), skalds, rishis, and the orphic mystery cults.

Therefore, in my campaigns, Bards are those people who have mastered the ancient sacred texts, those stories (usually epic poetry that require a great memory to recite) that were given by the gods and are not of earthly origin. This knowledge, and understanding of the deeper esoteric meaning of the stories, give the Bards their magical abilities. They also learn the lesser stories of their people, and that also forms the basis of Bardic Knowledge. They are a unique class of lorekeepers responsible for advising and protecting kings and warriors, and guarding the ancient customary laws of their people. Their mastery of rhetoric and magic gives their voices mysterious powers. This is the basis for all of their Songs and Countersongs. Often, there are centers of learning where disciples spend many years mastering all the sacred texts and laws, and these are the “Bardic Colleges.” It’s simply another name for ancient sites of learning.

I don’t require Bards to “sing” or “play instruments.” Instead, they simply chant and recite certain portions of the old epic poems, notably those portions that are actually magical and almost always in an archaic and almost forgotten dead language, an uncorrupted language from the days of the first men. I think this is a much cooler alternative than someone playing guitar that somehow becomes magic. I save any actual music for those situations when playing music makes sense. Music, after all, is well known to affect the emotions. When it makes sense for a funeral dirge to bring grief or regret, or merry music to bring joy and confidence, then Bardic Song can actually be songs (although even here they would not be original compositions, but part of the memorized sacred poetry sent to men by the Muses or whatever).

I would say that Bards are the original class of arcane magic users. Wizardry came later as more mysterious and darker powers were contacted and offered to teach men their secrets. As such, Bards are considered much “safer” magic users and are protected and revered in society even in those campaign settings where Wizards and Sorcerers are viewed with a suspicious eye.

To me at least, these distinctions make the Bard much less ridiculous, and giving them a clear role in the setting. I don't change the mechanics at all. As they say, your mileage may vary.

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