Debuff bard


Advice

Silver Crusade

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I'm thinking of building a debuff bard. This would be for Pathfinder Society (20 point buy, Paizo only sources).

I have a few ideas about how to do this. For starters, I don't want to take an archetype that modifies the core bard class too much. I was actually looking at the Prankster archetype for gnomes from Advanced Race Guide. I'm not totally married to the idea of playing a gnome or a Prankster, but it seems like a fun possibility that picks up some entertaining debuff-specific performances in exchange for the usual Fascinate and Suggestion performances.

For stats, unlike a lot of bards built for martial prowess, I'll stick to charisma as my highest stat. This will boost save DCs for my spells and bardic abilities, and give me extra rounds per day of bardic performance. After that, my next highest stats (not necessarily in order) will be con and dex for survival, and the occasional ranged weapon use, along with int for bardic knowledge and generally being a skill monkey. Str may be useful, but I'm not a focused damage dealer, so racial average should be good enough. Wisdom is my dump stat. Low wisdom also seems to go well RP-wise with the immature gnome prankster, if I go that route.

So what will I do in battle?

Demoralizing enemies to leave them shaken is something anyone can do all day long, and I'll certainly have the charisma and skills for it. If I go with a small race, I'd probably want the Taunt feat to be able to demoralize people without the -4 penalty to intimidate enemies for being smaller than them.

There's also the Antagonize feat. I'm not sure if I want to make a target of myself that way, though. I have a friend with a paladin who made great use of this, but her AC and HP were much better than I can get with a bard. I'd have the same issue with the Mock ability of the Prankster archetype, but that isn't quite as extreme about forcing the foes to attack me.

I'm thinking Daze cantrip and Hideous Laughter are obvious choices for initial spells known, trading out Daze at higher levels when it's no longer useful. There are other possible debuff spells, but I'm noticing most of them only work on stuff with minds. Besides, bards don't get enough spells per day to act like full casters.

So what do non-weapon focused bards do in combat against animals, undead, and other enemies that are immune to mind affecting spells and abilities? I suppose a crossbow and alchemist's fire are reasonable backup weapons for such situations, though I won't have the stats, feats, and BAB to be very good with them. That's also why I don't want to take an archetype that gives up the traditional Inspire Courage - it gives me something useful to contribute in any fight.

Any suggestions?

Liberty's Edge

Take a look at the Court Bard. It is a debuffer instead of a buffer. It does change your Inspired Courage ability, though.

Silver Crusade

The debuff stuff in the Court Bard archetype is ok, but I don't think I'd want to give up Inspire Courage, Inspire Competence, and Bardic Knowledge for it.

I really want to stick with a mostly "normal" bard, and just find ways to utilize the spells, feats, etc to be a decent debuffer within that context, and also figure out what I can be doing while not debuffing in combat. I'm not totally opposed to using an archetype, but I'd prefer one that doesn't redefine all the "classic" class features. That's why I'm considering the gnomish Prankster archetype - it only gives up some of the lesser used non-combat bardic powers, in exchange for some extra debuffing that can be used in battle. Or I might just skip archetypes altogether.


Blistering Invective (level 2 spell) would be a must for this type of bard. Area of effect Intimidation plus a little damage makes it much better than demoralizing only one enemy at a time.

Silver Crusade

magikot wrote:
Blistering Invective (level 2 spell) would be a must for this type of bard. Area of effect Intimidation plus a little damage makes it much better than demoralizing only one enemy at a time.

Very cool. Hadn't noticed that one before. Do you have to roll to intimidate each enemy separately, or one roll for all of them? From the wording, I'm guessing separate rolls.

This makes me want to take Skill Focus: Perform (Comedy) to be REALLY good at intimidating with Versatile Performance. Per discussion in another thread, the Taunt skill will be unnecessary, even if I'm small. This would also rock day jobs for PFS.

It shows as language dependent, though, so it still leaves me with the issue of what to do against mindless foes, which is my biggest concern with this build. I'm thinking Grease as a starting level 1 spell, but what else? Probably some weapons that I'm not very good with.


My group had me just rolling once for the intimidation check.

Debuff bards have a lot of trouble against mindless creatures.

Sczarni

I kind of searched for similar answer, but there is no direct help against mindless or creatures immune to enchantments, only small pieces which might be helpful.

Basically, when you can't kill them, let other's do it. Buffing, Aiding, doing minor damage and maybe stoping their progress with Grease. That's about it.

Other than that is if you focus on archetypes. Dirge bard archetype somewhat solves the problem against undead. Lotus Geisha (I think) grant's better bonuses through Inspire Courage and your damage can skyrocket (dart doing 1d4+6 damage with inspire courage)

Undead, animals and vermin are generally vulnerable to some sorts of elemental damage, maybe you should search there?

Check out masterpieces, they are legit in PFS.

Taking Point Blank and Precise Shot with Inspire Courage is also a good way to go.


If you don't mind running an evil character, or you can get DM permission for a variant, dipping 3 levels into Antipaladin gives you the ability to break through enemy immunity to Fear effects. Unfortunately it doesn't do anything to break through mind-affecting effects though.


He's playing in PFS so Antipaladin isn't an option.

Blistering Invective is a great spell, too. You could perhaps take a level of Sorcerer (Undead) to get by the immunity to mind-affecting many undead have, and Grave Touch is a nifty debuff to boot.


IF you can hit an AC 10, you can aid another. A Helpful Halfling would seem ideal for this kind of build.

For feats, you might look at Arcane Strike. Str penalties don't matter as much when you can just get additional magic damage, and you'll have full CL, so it will advance regularly.


There is one Bard Archetype and four Sorcerer bloodlines that can help you overcome the Mind-Affecting and Language Dependent requirements of spells. Unfortunately, that means you can't overcome all immunities, but you can get most of them.

A Dirge Bard with a single level dip in Crossblooded Sorecerer with the Pestilence and Serpentine bloodlines would be able to bypass the immunity of undead and vermin, as well as treating vermin, animals, magical beasts, and monstrous humanoids as if they understood your language.

If you'd prefer to mix and match, you can bypass plant immunities with the Groveborn bloodline, and if you don't want to be a Dirge Bard, you can take the Undead bloodline to fill a similar function.


To really maximize intimidate play a half-orc and don't use versatile performance for it. And take the skill focus. Also get exotic proficiency: net and carry several. You'll need a little more strength, but it gives you another cheap, easy, mundane debuff.

You probably won't meet nasty undead before level 4. Blindness/Deafness is a second level necromancy and should work on most undead. Slow is a transmutation and should have a chance to work on anything without spell immunity except naturally staggered zombies. If you expect to need higher level non-mind effecting debuffs you might invest in heighten metamagic and keep relying on those. I think there are some sonics with debuffs as well.


Consider Dazzling Display. It's another way to demoralize all your foes at once, just like Dirge of Doom and Blistering Invective. The advantage compared to the other two is that it doesn't use any limited resources (like spells) and it can be combined with Inspire Courage (unlike Dirge of Doom). You can literally do this all day long.

Here's how they compare:

Dirge of Doom:
+ works automatically; no roll needed
+ move action
+ combines very well with spells like Fear (everybody runs away, whether they make the save or not)
- level 8
- can't use Inspire Courage
Best use when you need your enemies Shaken to prep them for a spell

Dazzling Display
+ you can do this all day long
+ can use Inspire Courage
+ level 5 (if you really want it, you could get it sooner by taking a level of Fighter)
- takes two feats
- full round action
- requires check
Best use as simple debuff in regular combat

Blistering Invective
+ does damage
+ level 4
- spell
- standard action
- requires check
Like Dazzling Display, but costlier to use, and cheaper to get. Get it if you don't want to spend two feats on Dazzling Display. Damage is a nice bonus.

If you want to be able to debuff in any circumstance, in any possible combination of abilities, you might simply want to get all three. But if you don't, any regular Bard will still get Dirge of Doom at level 8, which is still great for anyone, because it combines so well with spells.


Dazzling Display costs two feats. You get 10 ever, 11 if you're human or half-elf. You get a whole lot more than 11 spells known.

Dazzling Display IS NOT a standard action. It's a full round action. A 30' radius is not really very far when you can't move to position it over multiple enemies. You'll frequently find yourself in situations with enemies between 30' and 60' away that you want to intimidate before they close to melee because 60' is charge distance. When your enemies are within 30' you may want your move action to start your bardic performance because you've been ambushed or to move away from the fight after intimidating.

Also, you can use Blistering Invective as a swift action with a metamagic rod.

No sense investing in both and Blistering Invective is just better when unlimited single target demoralize requires no additional investment in either case.

Sczarni

Just small correction: "Blindness/Deafness is a second level necromancy and should work on most undead." - Undead are immune to Fort based saves, so that spell wouldn't work on undead.


Atarlost wrote:
Dazzling Display costs two feats. You get 10 ever, 11 if you're human or half-elf. You get a whole lot more than 11 spells known.

Yeah, but a spell known doesn't do you any good if you don't cast it. Once you've got the feat, you can use it all day long at no cost. It's exactly like I said: Dazzling Display has the higher purchase price, the spell has the higher use price.

Atarlost wrote:
Dazzling Display IS NOT a standard action. It's a full round action.

You're correct. I've fixed this.

Atarlost wrote:
A 30' radius is not really very far when you can't move to position it over multiple enemies. You'll frequently find yourself in situations with enemies between 30' and 60' away that you want to intimidate before they close to melee because 60' is charge distance. When your enemies are within 30' you may want your move action to start your bardic performance because you've been ambushed or to move away from the fight after intimidating.

It depends entirely on the encounter of course. If you're attacked from a distance, you may have to close with them first. Different encounters require different tools. That's why I'm pointing out the differences between these seemingly identical abilities.

The single biggest advantage of Dazzling Display is that it will never run out. That's worth something. Without that, it would absolutely be a crap option compared to the others. But if you want to be able to debuff all day long while also having room to Inspire Courage and cast spells in between, Dazzling Display is a viable option.

Atarlost wrote:
Also, you can use Blistering Invective as a swift action with a metamagic rod.

Yes, but not at level 5. If you want to demoralize faster than a standard action, Dirge of Doom is probably the earliest way to do that. Though it's quite possible that Blistering Invective wins out at higher levels.

Atarlost wrote:
No sense investing in both and Blistering Invective is just better when unlimited single target demoralize requires no additional investment in either case.

Again, it depends on the encounters. If multiple opponents is rare, then Dazzling Display is useless. If it's common, it might be a good choice.

Silver Crusade

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. Keep them coming!

Just to be clear, I'm not insisting that all my bard ever do in combat is debuff enemies. I just want to make a bard who focuses on the bard's core competencies, rather than going the stereotypical route of putting most of your stat/feat resources into weapon combat and treating bard specific stuff as almost secondary. And if I'm going for a high charisma to be good at spellcasting and bardic performances and stuff, I'll use that to focus on offensive spells and performances, which are mostly debuffs. He'll end up being mostly a debuff bard by default, thus the title of the thread.

So I'm not against weapon combat or buffing, I just consider them secondary for this build. So I won't be committing the stats and feats to being really good with weapons, and I'll focus on more directly offensive spells/abilities more than buffing. And that leaves me wondering what to do in combat against stuff that can't be debuffed by typical bardic stuff, which is most enemies who don't have minds.

Like I said earlier, I may still fall back on a crossbow, and maybe even pick up a feat or two for it, if I feel I have enough feats to spare.

Actually, I realized that I will have a nice bardly resource for dealing with undead that hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread - a wand of Cure Light Wounds! I may even pick up scrolls of better Cure spells as I level up. A metamagic Reach wand could work well with a known Cure spell to keep me out of melee, though I might be reluctant to invest a known spell on that.


Is putting everything into combat the stereotypical route? I thought the stereotype was putting everything in Cha and social skills, and then realizing you're useless in combat.

There are different viable options for Bard, but the thing it excels at it definitely buffing and debuffing. And if you want high Cha, then offensive spells are definitely good. Against mindless enemies, there are lots of other useful spells that you can use. Grease can be absolutely fantastic against anything that moves, for example.

Silver Crusade

mcv wrote:
Is putting everything into combat the stereotypical route? I thought the stereotype was putting everything in Cha and social skills, and then realizing you're useless in combat.

I can imagine beginners to the game might do this. Come to think of it, the first Pathfinder character I ever created was like this, though I only played him once before that campaign fell apart. But playing Pathfinder Society very regularly with a wide variety of players since then, I really haven't seen this problem come up.

Most people who make bards for Society play (myself included) start with the question "What will this PC do in combat?" and build from there. Usually, this leads to some sort of weapon focused build, like the stereotypical archer bard from Treantmonk's optimization guide, or the scimitar focused Dervish archetype builds (both of which I've personally done already).

They put their stats in physical abilities for combat. Not having high enough charisma to be really good at the offensive bard spells/abilities, they mostly stick to buffing with their bardic spells and performances. They also don't have high enough intelligence to be really good with the Bardic Knowledge, so they end up with a bunch of knowledge skills that are not bad, but not great, if they didn't take an archetype that gives up BK altogether.

There's nothing wrong with going that route. As I said, I've done it myself. But this time around, I want to shoot for a bard that's more like what most people envision when they first hear/read about the class, and less like what it usually turns into once people start optimizing. So the focus will be on charisma based offense, bardic knowledge, and a little bit of buffing, rather than the "optimized for weapon use" route. I just want to make sure I don't run into the problem you mentioned of being worthless in combat, so I'm planning ahead.

Sczarni

@Fromper, you actually don't need high Cha for bard. That's why people take some combat route in the first place, besides, taking some small combat route is easier way to counter everything else then to strain yourself trying to charm or manipulate that undead zombie.

Even with 18 Cha, you might feel a bit short on spells.

Liberty's Edge

I'm actually really happy with the bard I'm running in PFS right now, though he is a bit of a "stereotypical archer bard," as I did draw on Treantmonk's guide pretty heavily. I don't know what you consider "high enough" Charisma to be good at offensive bard spells, but with 16 Cha (18 now that he has a headband) he has been quite effective, shutting down whole combats with glitterdust, grease, silence and the occasional hideous laughter. The save-or-sucks don't work *all* the time, of course, but I usually feel like I have something to contribute to combat, and with an Int of 14 I've been able to cover Knowledge checks for pretty much the entire party.

For reference, I didn't take any archetypes and it's fairly rare for my character to use Bardic Performance at all (though that's likely to change once its no longer a standard action to start). One thing I'm seriously considering, and you might want to look at as well, is a Persistent Metamagic Rod. At 9,000 GP it may take a while to afford one, but forcing targets to roll two saves against your debuffs seems really handy, since success or failure so frequently seems to come down to (un)lucky rolls.

Silver Crusade

And again, I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with going the weapon route with a bard. I've done it myself. But my archer bard started with good enough dex and str to actually be a good archer, combined with putting all his feats in archery. This left me with 14 cha and 10 int, which makes for spellcasting and bardic knowledge that are nothing special. So I go with buff spells and settle for knowledge skills that ok, but not great.

This time around, I want to actually be really good at spellcasting and knowledge skills, even though I know those are things that I won't be doing 100% of the time. That's why I'm looking for other stuff like demoralizing and variant performances (such as the gnome Prankster archetype's Mock) that get good mileage out of the high cha. And I'll put feats into this stuff - like taking Persistent Metamagic as a feat instead of a rod, which was already on my list. I was thinking maybe Magical Lineage: Hideous Laughter as a starting trait, so Persistent will be easier to use.

Like I said, I'll probably just end up with a crossbow and one or two combat feats to go with it. I just won't be nearly as effective at damage dealing as a real archer bard, but I'll be doing other things that my archer bard can't do.

Sczarni

I support ya all the way really. I love when player's build different stuff.

A few also small tricks which might help on low level:
- Acid flask as power component combined with Grease grant's you Acidic Grease which does 1 acid damage per round.
- Simple Marbles can shut down mindless undead and heavy armor wearing undead or similar enemies. They have poor skills.
- Tanglefoot bags are also okay, if touch AC is low.
- There is Animal Speaker Bard archetype. It get's summons. Having backup summon spells might very useful. Summons are always good thing even if you don't take the archetype.
- There is Touch of Gracelessness, but you have to get into melee range.

Tsk, I am out of ideas for the moment.


As it happens, I'm currently playing a level 1 Bard with Charisma 19 in a Kingmaker campaign. Because it's Kingmaker, we don't have a lot of combats per day, and I don't feel so short on spells. But the high DC on my Grease has saved our group's life twice already.

We don't have any big damage dealers, so everybody appreciates the bonus my Inspire Courage brings. With Focused Study providing Skill Focus on my Performance skills, and Versatile Performance transferring that bonus to other skills, I get some insane skill levels. And some of those can be used in combat (Intimidate and Bluff).

I don't deal much damage, but I make everybody else deal more damage and take less damage. But I should really shine out of combat. It's practically a classic bard, except that I don't sing and dance. I use Oratory at the moment.

Although to be honest, I think I should have focused on a different Perform skill first. I think stuff like Intimidate, Bluff and even Handle Animal are more useful at the start of that campaign than Diplomacy and Sense Motive. So now I'm wondering if I should take Versatile Performance on Percussion instead, which would spoil my first Skill Focus.

The one thing I regret is that my Str is higher than my Dex (14 vs 12). I did that because Treeantmonk recommended it for the controller Bard, who'd use whip to trip and maybe net. But it turns out tripping is just way too expensive. Maybe I'll still get a net, but otherwise, Dex would have been the better option for AC and ranged attacks.


My favorite Bard debuff spells are Blistering Invective (already mentioned) and Pugwampi's Grace. If the enemy fails their Will save, they have to take the lower of any d20 roll for the duration of the spell (round/level). It's actually too good, I think.

I also like Mad Monkeys, although with the 1 round casting time it's sometimes hard to justify.


Quote:
It shows as language dependent, though, so it still leaves me with the issue of what to do against mindless foes, which is my biggest concern with this build. I'm thinking Grease as a starting level 1 spell, but what else? Probably some weapons that I'm not very good with.

Mindless creatures aren't immune to figments, so you could use Silent Image.

Liberty's Edge

Aside from Grease and Silent Image, you might want to look into one of the utility or buff spells Bards get at level 1. Unseen Servant can come in handy in any number of situations. Summon Monster I is unlikely to be terribly useful in combat for the most part, but you can find all kinds of creative uses for it if you try. Saving Finale can be a life saver. Liberating Command can too, though its a bit more situational and becomes more useful at higher levels. Any of those could come in handy even if you're dealing with nothing but undead and constructs all day. :)

Silver Crusade

Some good suggestions there. I'm trying not to focus too much on buffing, because that's what my other bard characters do, and I'm trying not to be redundant.

As for Summon Monster 1, you'd be amazed how useful that is. The low duration makes it useless at level 1 or 2, but I have a sorcerer who took it at level 3, and it's been my "go to" spell for that PC through levels 3 and 4. But again, I want to do something different with my different PCs, so I probably won't go that route again with this one.

I'm definitely thinking Hideous Laughter and Grease for my first two level 1 spells. Silent Image and the spells Redward mentioned are all on my list to consider, too. I had forgotten about Mad Monkeys - definitely the type of thing I would take for a Prankster gnome, which I'm also leaning towards more and more.

I should post a partial build when I have more time later and see what the rest of you think.


Dot.


For in combat, if you're willing to be more of a enabler then a damage dealer. I've seen someone as a Bard use a Whip and a Net very effectively.

Start out tossing a net at the target. Doable unskilled as you're just targeting their touch AC. Then following up with the whip. Using Aid other or trying to trip targets.

If you're looking at using Intimidate a lot. Suggest you take a good look at the trait: Unnatural Presence - Your Intimidate skill works on animals and vermin.

Silver Crusade

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Here's what I've got so far. Comments/suggestions welcome!

Gnome Bard (Prankster archetype)

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Alternative Race Traits:

Academician (maybe Knowledge: Local, but haven't decided for sure yet)
Gift of Tongues (keep Linguistics maxed out so he can insult people in more languages)
Magical Linguist (maybe - need to look through the spells to see if I'll be using more illusions or language dependent spells, since there are plenty of both on the bard spell list)

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Str 8 (-2 racial)
Dex 12 (2)
Con 14 (2 +2 racial)
Int 14 (5)
Wis 8 (-2)
Cha 19 (13 +2 racial)

Obviously, Cha is his key stat. Con is cheap for a gnome and good for survivability. Int is good for the +2 to knowledge skills on top of the Bardic Knowledge, and I like the idea of having lots of skill ranks to make him a skill monkey. Dex is good for defense and when I use a ranged weapon. I thought about switching those dex and int scores, or maybe settling for 18 cha to get 14 dex. Wis and Str are dumpable, though I don't want to dump them too low. I still need Will saves and good enough carrying capacity to wear armor. But a low wisdom does go well with the immature prankster personality. ;)

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Traits:

Here's a few I was looking at, but haven't made any decisions yet. I'm open to suggestions, or if there's other good ones I'm missing.

Magical Lineage - I was thinking of taking Persistent and/or Piercing Metamagic. Hideous Laughter seems like a good spell for this, though I'm open to other suggestions.
Collector - +2 on a Perform skill is nice for Versatile Performance, and day job checks. I was already planning to really go nuts on Perform (Comedy), and this might let me overkill it without using a feat on Skill Focus.
Excitable - Same as Reactionary, but with gnomish flavor. +2 Initiative is never a bad thing.
Rapscallion - +1 Init, +1 Escape Artist. Probably not as good as Excitable, but an interesting variation.
Maestro of the Society - 3 extra rounds of bardic performance can be useful at low levels, but it'll go to waste later in life.
Etymologist - Bonus language known to start. Again, more languages known means more people I can insult.

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Versatile Performance:

Definitely have to go with Perform (Comedy) at level 2, to replace Bluff and Intimidate. That will let me demoralize enemies without the -4 size penalty, using the same skill that I use for my Day Job rolls. And it obviously goes well with the fluff of the Prankster archetype.

After that, I'm thinking probably Perform (Oratory) at level 6 for Diplomacy and Sense Motive, and not sure beyond that.

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Feats:

Not sure what exactly I'm doing here, though I like the idea of taking Skill Focus on Perform (Comedy) right away, to be awesome at demoralizing enemies and Day Job rolls, though it could end up being overkill. I've definitely got too many worthwhile options for a build that only gets 6 feats through then end of Pathfinder Society play at level 12. The weapon combat feats are the most likely to get dropped in favor of other stuff.

Generally useful:
Improved Initiative - Never a bad thing
Lingering Performance - Good at low levels, but would go to waste later.

Spellcasting:
Combat Casting - Always a good choice for a spellcaster
Spell Focus (and Greater) - Probably unnecessary if I go with Persistent Metamagic
Spell Penetration (and Greater) - SR comes up a lot in higher level PFS scenarios (above level 7 or so)
Persistent Spell - Force the enemies to make two saving throws instead of just one. Very cool.
Piercing Spell - Helps with SR on a single spell, but Spell Penetration may be the better route
Quicken Spell - Good at high level

Skills: Skill Focus (Perform (Comedy)), Breadth of Experience - Not sure if I'll need these

Crossbow: Rapid Reload, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Arcane Strike - Only useful if I feel the need to use a weapon a lot in combat, because I'm out of other stuff to do. This might be a "wait and see how he plays" decision.

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Spells:

Listing out spells I'm interested in by spell level, though I haven't decided on exactly which ones I'll pick up in which order yet. I'll probably end up with more than I can actually take and have to narrow the list down. Or add to the list if others have good suggestions, or I notice additional appropriate spells while looking through the books.

Level 0:
Daze - This is an easy choice for level 1, then trade it out later.
Detect Magic and Read Magic - Isn't it against the rules of the game to make a spellcaster that doesn't have both of these?
Mending - First rule of pranking: Be ready to apologize and fix the damage you caused. :P
Ghost Sound - Good for the practical joker.
Light, Mage Hand, Message, Prestidigitation - All decent cantrips worth considering.

Level 1:
Hideous Laughter - He's a comedy based debuff bard. This is mandatory.
Grease - My probable other starting level 1 spell, because it works on undead and other mindless foes. Also works with the prankster fluff - it's the banana peel of bard spells.
Silent Image - Always worth considering, and good for pranks.
Expeditious Retreat - Compensate for those short gnome legs. Good for running away from angry prank victims, and also enemies of the Pathfinder Society.

Charm Person - Good for apologizing after pranking. I should be good enough with social skills not to need it very often, though.
Beguiling Gift - Jokey Smurf? This is worth considering for the fluff, but what gift would I be giving out? Bottles of poison?
Chord of Shards, Ear-Piercing Scream - Two direct damage spells that work on mindless enemies. Worth considering, but do they really fit the prankster personality?
Fumbletongue - Fits for a prankster, and gives spellcasters 20% chance of failure. But it's mind-affecting with a Will save, so when would I ever cast this instead of the more versatile Hideous Laughter that affects the same targets and has the same saving throw?

Cure Light Wounds and Comprehend Languages - both good spells that are better as wands or scrolls than known.
Magic Mouth - Good for pranks, but just as good on a scroll.
Summon Monster 1, Unseen Servant - Get others to do stuff for me. I already have a summoning sorcerer, so that could be redundant to me, and Unseen Servant works just as well as a scroll, so I probably won't take these as known spells.

Level 2:
Blistering Invective - As discussed earlier, this fits very well.
Pugwampi’s Grace - Thanks for the suggestin, redward. I hadn't noticed this before.
Silence - Great against spellcasters.
Blindness/Deafness - I like that this is a Fortitude save, instead of the normal Will save for most bard spells.
Glitterdust, Invisibility, Hold Person, Pyrotechnics, Summon Monster II - Useful spells that are always worth considering

Pilfering Hand - I wonder if the Abrupt Maneuver portion of this to remotely do a steal combat maneuver can work with the Prankster archetype's Swap ability. This could be entertaining, if not always particularly useful. Would it work for stealing a spellcaster's component pouch?
Distracting Cacophony - Fits the fluff, but silence seems better.

Honeyed Tongue - I should have good enough social skills not to need it, and it would be just as good on a scroll.
Cure Moderate, stat boosters, Blur, Mirror Image - Good as scrolls or wands

Level 3:
Mad Monkeys - Definitely a good fit for a prankster. I've actually been looking for an excuse to make a character with this spell since I first found out about it.

I'll look through the rest of the level 3+ spells later.


You could invest in some alchemical items. Depending on if your GM listens to WBL, anything you spend should be made up.

Tanglefoot bags are nice because they cause entangle no matter what, IIRC. UE added a ton more alchemical items too. With your high int, you could spare a point to Craft Alchemy to eventually be able to make some, although it takes an extremely long time to make even one.

If the prankster didn't replace the same things, soundstriker is an option to always have something to do...

Silver Crusade

This is for PFS, so there's no crafting, but stuff like tanglefoot bags, acid, and alch fire are readily available. For a gnome with 8 str, encumbrance could be an issue, until I can afford a Handy Haversack around level 4 or 5.

Heh. I forget that the avatar pictures get changed on this board if you mention the little blue guys. I just brought up Jokey, because being a Prankster with Beguiling Gift as a spell would really remind me of him. I just have to figure out what gifts to give, as that really would fit well with an immature Prankster personality.


Fromper wrote:

Heh. I forget that the avatar pictures get changed on this board if you mention the little blue guys. I just brought up Jokey, because being a Prankster with Beguiling Gift as a spell would really remind me of him. I just have to figure out what gifts to give, as that really would fit well with an immature Prankster personality.

Most frequent use of I've seen of it is Inflict potions and this.

Scarab Sages

Here are a few more useful bard debuff spells:

Level 2:
Oppressive boredom
Pyrotechnics

Level 3:
Confusion
Slow

Silver Crusade

redward wrote:
Fromper wrote:

Heh. I forget that the avatar pictures get changed on this board if you mention the little blue guys. I just brought up Jokey, because being a Prankster with Beguiling Gift as a spell would really remind me of him. I just have to figure out what gifts to give, as that really would fit well with an immature Prankster personality.

Most frequent use of I've seen of it is Inflict potions and this.

That apple looks awesome. Expensive at low level, but that could be a fun trick at mid-high levels.

Just thinking about the damage, I don't think inflict potions are going to do enough damage to be worth the cost. I'd almost rather buy an empty potion vial for 1 gp, fill it with water, and just use that to make them drop what they were previously holding and spend their next standard action provoking AoO's from the rest of my party.

But my biggest concern with Beguiling Gift is the 5 foot range. This isn't a character who's going to want to walk up to the bad guys in a fight, especially with short little gnome legs making it hard to run away.

So looking at all the enchantments, I'm trying to figure out what my "go to" spell should be, which is the one I'd use with Magical Lineage if I do decide to take that. Hideous Laughter is the obvious choice, but it's really only good on humanoids. And the fact that it's level 1 will keep the save DC down, so I'll probably want to replace it with another "save or suck" at higher levels.

Liberty's Edge

I've gotten a lot of use out of Hideous Laughter, myself; most of the enemies I've run up against have been living humanoids, and the big bruiser types tend to have poor will saves. Cacophonous Call, a second level spell, is pretty much just as effective for knocking someone out of a fight, only allows one save, and works the same against anything with a mind, so you can probably drop Hideous Laughter at level 5 and replace it with something else.

Charm Person is another spell I've used a lot; it's not super effective in a fight, but it can be great at stopping one before it starts. Really handy for interrogating survivers too, as well as opening doors, getting past guards, finding a guide, getting free drinks in bars...

Oh! Also, you might want to look into a Scroll of Share Language. It's almost as handy as having Tongues, since it allows your target to both understand you and reply in a language you'll understand, and it lasts for 24 hours, regardless of caster level. Pretty good for 25gp!

Edit: Oh wow, I'll need to point this out to a GM and get my chronical sheet changed; only Bards get Share Language as a 1st level spell, so a scroll is actually 150 gp in PFS. x_x


Fromper wrote:


Chord of Shards, Ear-Piercing Scream - Two direct damage spells that work on mindless enemies. Worth considering, but do they really fit the prankster personality?

I can see an ornery prankster casting Ear-Piercing Scream to make people jump in response to a sound no one else can hear. It'd be almost as fun as sneaking into someone's room and tapping them on the shoulder or hiding behind a doorway and jumping out at passerby to startle them. If the prankster has a mean streak, he could also use the spell to embarrass people. For example, he might cast it to disrupt a speech by an unpopular teacher or politician.

Ear-piercing scream deals damage, so at first glance, the prankster might be reluctant to use it. However, you can choose to cast spells at a lower caster level. The spell deals 1d6 damage every two caster levels, so if you always cast it at level 1, it won't deal any damage and should be safe.

To me, ear-piercing scream is a worthwhile spell because it targets fortitude. However, if you're taking it primarily to affect undead, keep in mind that they are immune to any effect that requires a fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. Since ear-piercing scream depends on the subjects' hearing, I doubt it works on objects. If that's true, undead should be immune to it.

Silver Crusade

So I just downloaded the spell database from the SRD and searched it in Excel to see if I was better off taking the Magical Linguist racial trait or not. Much to my surprise, bards really don't get that many language dependent spells. I'm better off sticking to the normal gnome bonus for illusions, which will be nice for stuff like Silent Image and Silence.

Maybe later today or tomorrow, I'll get around to actually putting this PC down on paper, since I'm off from work. But I'm also GMing a Pathfinder Society game on Thursday that I need to prepare for, so that'll take up some of my free time.


Fromper wrote:
So looking at all the enchantments, I'm trying to figure out what my "go to" spell should be, which is the one I'd use with Magical Lineage if I do decide to take that. Hideous Laughter is the obvious choice, but it's really only good on humanoids. And the fact that it's level 1 will keep the save DC down, so I'll probably want to replace it with another "save or suck" at higher levels.

Cacophonous Call is a really good spell when it lands. Blindness/Deafness is also useful: Blindness for the bruisers, Deafness for the casters (20% failure for spells with verbal components).

If you're looking for more versatility out of your spells, you could pick up Threnodic Spell, but it's pricey once you factor in the extra Feat burned for Spell Focus (Necromancy) (although that would tie in nicely if you did choose Blindness/Deafness for Magical Lineage).

Silver Crusade

So I'm assigning this PC a GM credit for Pathfinder Society. I like using GM credits to skip 1st level, especially for this character, who relies so much on Versatile Performance that he won't get until 2nd. This led me to realize that I don't have a faction or personality for this guy yet.

I know I want him to be a Prankster, and he'll have a "wacky" gnome personality. But what else? Why is he an adventurer? Why's he in the Pathfinder Society?

And this is where I decided to go against type with this one. I'm making him chaotic good, and putting him in the Silver Crusade. He joined the Society out of a desire to make the world a better place. Mostly, he wants to travel around, spreading laughter to the world, but he'll help with more serious issues when he can. I just really like the idea of a prankster who's not only not mean, but actually NICE, just really appeals to me.


Is Chelish Deva allowed in PFS? And if so, did they nerf their no-save frightening effect? If they have not and it's allowed, it's probably the best debuffer bard archetype for that fear ability and the ability to sink an extra round of performance to buff the save DC of some other bardic performances.

Otherwise, Dirge Bard like others said. Necro spells are good for debuffing, and being able to use mind-affecting on undead is very nice.

Silver Crusade

So I just applied another GM credit to my prankster bard, which brings him to level 2. I'm using PFS rebuild rules to make sure I've got everything right, despite kinda throwing some details together on the fly earlier.

I still haven't decided what my primary "go to" spell should be. Since I'm thinking of getting Magical Lineage as a trait, probably to combine with Persistent Spell metamagic, I really need to decide this now. I know Hideous Laughter is the most thematic choice, but the +4 that non-humanoids get on the saving throw makes it tough. At higher levels, most of the BBEGs aren't humanoid. There are a lot of devils, demons, and dragons in higher level PFS adventures.

So what would be a good spell to get Magical Lineage on? Or should I skip that and just rely on Spell Focus, Greater Spell Focus, and demoralizing enemies for the shaken condition (-2 on saves, among other things) to make my spells work, rather than metamagic?


A lot of the best bard offensive spells have SR and save negates, which would be rough against outsiders, given the all good saves and frequent SR.

For spell options, I mean, there's Confusion, Fear, and a bunch more mind-affecting spells you probably don't want. There is Slow, but IMO that's really overrated.

If you can have access to fire sources to target regularly (a shot flaming arrow?) and enough distance to not catch allies in the 120 ft radius (!!!) or the Selective Spell feat/rod, Pyrotechnics might be a good choice.

Persistent Spell is definitely a good choice, as are others depending on the spell you go with.

Silver Crusade

My gnome prankster bard just hit level 3 after last night's adventure. So it's time to pick another level 1 spell and a feat. And a cantrip, but that's not as big a decision.

So far, I've got Hideous Laughter, Grease, and Liberating Command as level 1 spells. My first feat was Skill Focus: Perform (Comedy), believe it or not. At level 2, I was at +14 to bluff and intimidate using it with Versatile Performance, so I had no problem making any enemy shaken that wasn't immune to it. And the day job rolls were awesome, too. :)

Stuff like Saving Finale and Timely Inspiration are great level 1 bard spells. My only complaint about going with these immediate action spells is that I've already got an archer bard who uses these same spells, and I'm trying to avoid making redundant characters.

I'm seriously tempted to go with Beguiling Gift. I know it's not as generically useful as Saving Finale, but it really fits the fluff of my prankster character. My biggest problem with it is the 5 foot range. This guy isn't really designed to stand right next to a bad guy, from either an AC or concentration perspective, though I've got pretty good HP for a bard (14 Con).

If I want to use it, I'm almost obligated to take Combat Casting at the same time or I'll fail to cast it half the time. Right now, my concentration checks are at +9 (+3 CL, +4 cha, +2 trait from Focused Mind), and casting a level 1 spell defensively is DC 17. At level 4, I'll boost my cha from 19 to 20, and that's probably the level when I'll be able to afford a headband to boost cha another 2 points to 22. Come to think of it, a Circlet of Persuasion (which I should be able to afford by level 5, after the cha headband) will help with my concentration checks, too. So by level 5, my concentration checks will be +5 CL +6 Cha +2 trait +3 competence = +16.

Hmm... that's enough to succeed at casting Beguiling Gift every time without even rolling, and without needing Combat Casting. So perhaps that particular concern about taking that spell isn't worth worrying about, after all. I just won't use the spell much at levels 3 and 4, or at the very least, it'll be a calculated risk on the concentration checks. I'm still a little worried about being next to the bad guys with bard AC, but hopefully I won't need to spend much time next to them.

That brings me to the question of feats. Spell Focus: Enchantment is tempting, for the Hideous Laughter, Beguiling Gift, and Pugwampi’s Grace that I'll pick up at level 4, and maybe additional spells later. Improved Initiative might be nice, too. I only have a +1 dex bonus, so I keep going last, which means less rounds that the enemies are debuffed while hitting my friends.


beguiling gift is great for passing out notes (the wizard cast explosive runes on them, for reference).

Silver Crusade

AndIMustMask wrote:
beguiling gift is great for passing out notes (the wizard cast explosive runes on them, for reference).

Jokey Smurf!!!

That one could quickly backfire. Explosive Runes has a radius, and the prankster is likely to be in the area of effect when it's read.


then drink a potion of fire resistance (or have that same wizard buff you with energy resistance (fire)) beforehand.


Explosive Runes is force damage.

Anyway, Beguiling Gift I most enjoy w/ Robe of Powerlessness. It's fairly cheap to craft (intentionally botch a robe of useful items), re-useable, and has a strong, immediate effect.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You can make a Halfling Jinx (see Halflings of Golarion) - the DC is charisma-based.

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