Bard optimization for a high stat campaign.


The group i'm in consists of a Ninja, Cavalier, gunslinger and cleric/inquisitor. The GM is somewhat insane and has a roll system that results in stats between 60-100 point buys.

I've been allowed to take Suli as a race (part genie +2str/Cha and -2 int) so long as I pick one of the nerfs from the ARG that puts the race more in line with core. I was thinking Fire.

With 18,18,16,16,14,14 as stats I've decided to play a ninja flanking buddy/ skirmisher bard with the intention of maxing inspire courage modifiers to make everyone more awesome.
Outside of combat I plan to roll as Knowledge monkey/ Party face what with no one else really being interested in either job.

Character is currently L2 as a Vanilla bard, thinking
20 st (racial+)
14 dx
16 cn
14 in (racial-)
14 Wi
20 Ch (racial+)

Feat: Flagbearer (using a longspear to capitalize on it)

Considering taking a level of Lore oracle to get Cha to AC. The concept of deflecting blows with my force of personality as a bard is quite amusing.

I've read treantmonk's bard guide but it does not have the newer books included. Anything absolutely required for a Melee/ buff focused bard such as myself?

An idea comes to mind:

First, rather than a dip into Oracle, why not a dip into Monk? I only suggest this for the main reason that if you go Oracle, you get a curse...and a 1-level dip will mean that curse never gets better. Now with the Monk you can't wear armor, but if you were to switch your stats around (perhaps throwing the 16 in WIS and the 14 --> 12 into INT) that would give you an extra +3 to your touch AC and an increase in your WILL save. If you were to do this, I would suggest going the Flowing Monk archetype to switch out your Stunning Fist/Flurry of Blows. Gives you a free trip attempt 1/day if you are attacked and it opens up feats like Improved Trip/Improved Redirection without the need for Combat Expertise.
Also, though it may not have the flavor of deflection with force of personality, you can still be smug about it as you dodge and weave attacks you saw "coming from a mile away".

Second, if you were to go this route, might I suggest a different race which gives you a penalty to your STR and ups your DEX and (CHA/WIS)? Examples would include the Undine (still medium size with a pretty cool Bard archetype in the ARG, I might add), Halfling (if you don't mind playing a small size creature...20 ft speed, but +1 ATT/AC), and Kitsune (another medium size, but with a +1 caster level to all enchantment spells and a cool feat chain in the ARG). There are also choices like Merfolk and Drow, but these three are examples of races that knock STR. Why, you ask? Because if your DM allows it, might I point you in the direction of the Agile weapon property which allows you to add your DEX modifier to damage to any weapon which can be used with the Weapon Finesse Feat. It would cost 6,000 gold to get the +1 and the Agile property, but it allows you to keep up your damage and also enables you to make sure your AC and REF saves are high.

This bit of advice, however, would change your character a great deal and may not be where you want to go with him/her. I am merely throwing out options that are not explicitly mentioned in Treatmonk's guide.

As for your actual question, Treatmonk pretty much hit the head on what you NEED and what most people on this board would suggest. The rest is flavor (which you seem to be filling in nicely by yourself). Sorry that I cannot be of much assistance on this facet of your post.

"An oracle’s curse is based on her oracle level plus one for every two levels or Hit Dice other than oracle."

His curse would get better...

Oracle is a very nice dip. You can always pick one of the least annoying curses, it's not a big deal. Loracle can give you both Cha to AC and Cha to knowledge skills, it's really a dream come true as far as Bard dips are concerned.

Liberty's Edge

Don't dip. Losing out on spell and performance progression isn't worth it for a curse and a minor AC bonus.

Other than that, there are a few individual spels that are really neat (Bladed Dash is cool, for example) but the basic strategies hgaven't really changed much.

Wow, thanks for the feedback. I wasn't expecting much in the way of response due to the holiday but I not only got some, the responses were useful.

I could definitely see the dexterous master of the intercepting fist with a talent for inspiring others. The MAD in such a character as a bard is fairly severe but it is really fun to think about.
As cool as it is though, that is not how I see this particular character. I'm definitely keeping that concept for later though. A flowing Monk/evangelist Cleric would fit that excellently.

I'm not particularly sure on which curse I would take for oracle. My immediate thought was tongues as that is what I always seem to end up picking for that class but that presents some serious problems what with a bards list of Language dependent spells and abilities.
Legalistic looks stupendously easy to abuse.
The thought of having a bard that drops into obscure Ye olde English and bard cant to the point of being unintelligible to the unlearned during combat is quite amusing. Bardic music can be based off of dance and most bard spells that are language dependent are situational anyway.

I can definitely see the value in staying the course on straight Bard as spells and such are quite useful plus versatile performance is something I do not desire to delay as pulling double duty as Social fighter/Knowledge lord is Skill point heavy even for a bard such as I.
The Oracle dip would not be as arduous as you think though.Best case is Legalistic curse which gives you penalties for breaking a promise, so just avoiding promises makes it very little hassle.

in additon to +cha to AC as lore oracle I can grab Focused trance with my L3 feat. The +20 to knowledge checks may be a bit situational but it means I become quite good at out of combat monster identification and any lore check below 35 becomes trivial. Lore master at L6 with this set up just makes me even better.
The Seeker Oracle Archetype nets me Trapfinding as a rogue for trading out skills I already gained as a bard, so no loss and a +1 perception to spot traps.

So for one level and a feat slot I can grab Cha=dex for AC, +20 knowledge boost Cha/day and the ability to disable magic traps. I think I'm cool with this for the cost of having to be cautious with my words and losing a level of progression for bardic spells/ music. Bladed Dash is awesome though, so I will miss not having it for an extra level.

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