Rules Clarification: Bardic Performance


Rules Questions


Page 35 : "Starting a bardic performance is a standard action,
but it can be maintained each round as a free action."
I have got two questions :
- Knowing that a bardic performance is a free action, does it means that if the bard is an actor, singer he can use his bardic performance + move of 30 feet + make an attack ?
_ What is th DC to maintain a bardic performance ? Because if I well read the rule about Concentration (page 206) to cast a spell you must succeed a concentration check which is equal to D20+Caster level+ability modifier and the DC is different as follows circumstances. But what about the DC to maintain a bardic performance ?


Maintaining a performance requires practically no effort from the bard, which is why it is a free action. The bard needs no concentration check, and can take actions as normal.
If the text of the performance calls for it, he does need to make a performace check (e.g. Countersong), but even a bad roll on such a check doesn't end the performance or eat up an action.

Scarab Sages

sempai33 wrote:

Page 35 : "Starting a bardic performance is a standard action,

but it can be maintained each round as a free action."
I have got two questions :
- Knowing that a bardic performance is a free action, does it means that if the bard is an actor, singer he can use his bardic performance + move of 30 feet + make an attack ?
_ What is th DC to maintain a bardic performance ? Because if I well read the rule about Concentration (page 206) to cast a spell you must succeed a concentration check which is equal to D20+Caster level+ability modifier and the DC is different as follows circumstances. But what about the DC to maintain a bardic performance ?

All bard songs use to be supernatural in 3.5 but the pathfinder book does not state their effective type.


Alceste007 wrote:


All bard songs use to be supernatural in 3.5 but the pathfinder book does not state their effective type.

OK, so no check to make but the effect ends at the moment when the bard stops singing and so on (not like in 3.5 which lasts 5 rounds). Thanks !

The Exchange

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Where does the book say the bardic performance ends when a standard action is taken? The combat chapter regarding actions appears to be silent on the bardic performance as a free action. It does not appear in table 8-2. They way I read the description of the bardic performance ability, maintaining the performance is a free action that is only disrupted by the inability to take a free action or willfully stopping the performance. There is no text that I see that says the performance stops to take another standard action (like a melee attack).

HOWEVER, it would really help me understand this if there were some text saying the performance ends - it doesn't make any sence for Bard playing a two handed instrument (free action) as their bardic performance to be able to use a shield to get AC bonus while pulling out their rapier (move action) to make an attack (standard action). If this isn't forbidden in the book, how do you explain this?

Also while playing said flute, how does the bard even do other free actions, like talking or other standard actions that require speaking or using a hand like casting a spell???

Dark Archive

Phil Renfroe wrote:

Where does the book say the bardic performance ends when a standard action is taken? The combat chapter regarding actions appears to be silent on the bardic performance as a free action. It does not appear in table 8-2. They way I read the description of the bardic performance ability, maintaining the performance is a free action that is only disrupted by the inability to take a free action or willfully stopping the performance. There is no text that I see that says the performance stops to take another standard action (like a melee attack).

HOWEVER, it would really help me understand this if there were some text saying the performance ends - it doesn't make any sence for Bard playing a two handed instrument (free action) as their bardic performance to be able to use a shield to get AC bonus while pulling out their rapier (move action) to make an attack (standard action). If this isn't forbidden in the book, how do you explain this?

Also while playing said flute, how does the bard even do other free actions, like talking or other standard actions that require speaking or using a hand like casting a spell???

In the rules for spells you see that after resting a bard and sorceror must take fifteen minutes to ready spells for the day. The bard must be playing an instrument or singing, otherwise practicing their performance.

This leads me to believe that bards got melodic casting as a free feat essentially.

As for attacking, as a musician i can tell you, there are breaks in songs when you don't have to play. It could easily be an attack during one of those breaks.

This of course works better for sing where your hands are open, or dance, where you can use it for acrobatics, but thats just fluff at this point.

Scarab Sages

Phil Renfroe wrote:

HOWEVER, it would really help me understand this if there were some text saying the performance ends - it doesn't make any sence for Bard playing a two handed instrument (free action) as their bardic performance to be able to use a shield to get AC bonus while pulling out their rapier (move action) to make an attack (standard action). If this isn't forbidden in the book, how do you explain this?

Also while playing said flute, how does the bard even do other free actions, like talking or other standard actions that require speaking or using a hand like casting a spell???

Hey, it's a Fantasy Game - Lem the Bard can keep tooting out notes on his halfling flute while brandishing a scimitar. Trying to apply real-world logic here would mean no one would ever take anything but Singing or Oratory as bardic performance skills.

There's no point in restricting continuance of bardic music. The instruments just kind of appear when needed and manage not to get crushed in combat. That's why it's magic!


What follows is just my opinion, based on what I can find by digging through rulebooks and FAQs. This got a bit lengthy, sorry folks.

sempai33 wrote:

Page 35 : "Starting a bardic performance is a standard action, but it can be maintained each round as a free action."

I have got two questions :
- Knowing that a bardic performance is a free action, does it means that if the bard is an actor, singer he can use his bardic performance + move of 30 feet + make an attack?

From what I find, the general answer is a solid "maybe." It depends upon which bardic performance ability is under discussion. This also presumes that the bard does not move so far that the target of a given ability is out of the effect's range.

Countersong (Su) — Audible components (keyboard, percussion, wind, string, or sing). For this ability, I'd say no. Each round requires a Perform check, which is usually a standard action.
Distraction (Sp) — Visual components (act, comedy, dance, or oratory). For this one, I'd say yes. It only requires the initial Perform check.
Fascinate (Su) — Audible and visual components (none specified). This one would probably be no. Since even someone drawing a weapon automatically breaks the effect, the bard attacking anyone will likely do the same.
Inspire Courage (Su) — Audible or visual components (none specified). This one is easily a yes, when the audible component is chosen. If a visual component is chosen this would be a maybe, depending upon the exact visual component.
Inspire Comptetence (Su) — Audible components (none specified). This is another one that would be a yes, as it only requires the initial Perform check.
Suggestion (Sp) — Audible components (none specified). This one is a no. It requires a standard action to use in addition to the free action to maintain the fascinate effect.
Dirge of Doom (Su) — Audible and visual components (none specified). This is another one I'd put as a maybe, depending upon just which components are used.
Inspire Greatness (Su) — Audible and visual components (none specified). I'd also put this one as a maybe, depending upon the exact components used.
Soothing Performance (Su) — Audible and visual components (none specified). This one is a little tricky. I'd probably make it a no, as it requires four (4) rounds of performing for the effect.
Frightening Tune (Sp) — Audible components (none specified). I would also call this one a yes, as only the initial Perform check is required.
Inspire Heroics (Su) — Audible and visual components (none specified). This is another one I'd class as a maybe, depending upon which componets are used.
Mass Suggestion (Sp) — Audible components (none specified). This one would also be a no. Like suggestion, it requires a standard action in addition to the free action used to maintain the fascinate effect.
Deadly Performance (Su) — Audible and visual components (none specified). I would call this one a no. Based upon the ability's description it would seem to effectively require a full-round action to use.

sempai33 wrote:
- What is th DC to maintain a bardic performance ? Because if I well read the rule about Concentration (page 206) to cast a spell you must succeed a concentration check which is equal to D20+Caster level+ability modifier and the DC is different as follows circumstances. But what about the DC to maintain a bardic performance?

There is no DC for maintaining a bardic performance. Only the countersong ability actually states that a Perform skill check is required for each round of use.

Alceste007 wrote:
All bard songs use to be supernatural in 3.5 but the pathfinder book does not state their effective type.

In D&D 3.5 as in Pathfinder, the abilities are a mix of spell-like and supernatural abilities.

Countersong, fascinate, inspire courage, inspire competence, dirge of doom, inspire greatness, soothing performance, inspire heroics, and deadly performance are Supernatural (Su) abilities.
Distraction, suggestion, frightening tune, and mass suggestion are Spell-Like (Sp) abilities.

Phil Renfroe wrote:
Where does the book say the bardic performance ends when a standard action is taken? The combat chapter regarding actions appears to be silent on the bardic performance as a free action. It does not appear in table 8-2. They way I read the description of the bardic performance ability, maintaining the performance is a free action that is only disrupted by the inability to take a free action or willfully stopping the performance. There is no text that I see that says the performance stops to take another standard action (like a melee attack).

In the Pathfinder RPG, a standard action does not end a bardic music effect—though as mentioned above a given effect might not permit a bard to take a standard action while performing. Other than stopping the effect or changing to a different one, the conditions that will cancel a bardic performance are as shown:

PRD wrote:
A bardic performance cannot be disrupted, but it ends immediately if the bard is killed, paralyzed, stunned, knocked unconscious, or otherwise prevented from taking a free action to maintain it each round.

Four abilities are spell-like. As spell-like abilites usually provoke attacks of opportunity (AoO), the results may create one of the condiitons noted in the PRD quote above.

Phil Renfroe wrote:
HOWEVER, it would really help me understand this if there were some text saying the performance ends - it doesn't make any sence for Bard playing a two handed instrument (free action) as their bardic performance to be able to use a shield to get AC bonus while pulling out their rapier (move action) to make an attack (standard action). If this isn't forbidden in the book, how do you explain this?

This would seem to be variable, based upon the exact audible and/or visual components that are being used for any given bardic performance. That means liberal use of 'common sense' along GM rulings on a case-by-case basis.

References:
Pathfinder RPG, pages 35-38, 102 & 103, 180, and 183.
Pathfinder RPG PRD, Bard, Perform, and Combat.

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