Best AP ever for a Bard?


Skull & Shackles


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Our party finished up this AP not so long ago and I was musing over the effectiveness of our party bard, our captain. She was built as a Sea Singer and was a relative non-combatant - the archetype was well suited to the AP obviously, but the character wasn't what I would call optimized. Nonetheless, she was devastatingly effective for a variety of reasons.

1) She had a crew. I don't see it discussed very often, but having access to a crew is like having access to a mini-army of capable and skilled lackeys. When engaging in piracy, her buffs that affect allies (like Inspire Courage or spells like Good Hope and Haste) generally had a much greater impact due to how many targets that were available. Even when not, it was child's play to gain at least the benefit of Aid Another on a variety of skill checks by drawing on the crew's collective experiences.

2) This AP rewards players with skills. And skills she had. Both as the party's face and as captain of the ship she had a chance to shine as often as the more combat oriented characters.

3) This AP has many opportunities for single battle days. Engaging in piracy on the high seas it was rare that you would see more than a single combat over the course of a day - or several days - which meant that the Bard's limited number of daily spells was rarely an issue. Sure it made a difference in the occasional dungeon crawls, as it should, but those were fewer in number in this AP than others I have seen.

When we engaged another ship, the standard M.O. was to begin Bardic Performance Inspire Courage through exhortation of the crew, cast Good Hope on her fellow PC's and as many of her crew as possible, then cross and use Dazzling Display to demoralize the crew of the other ship. After that it was usually a matter of keeping an eye out for the opposing captain whom the crew had orders not to directly attack for a timely Charm Person spell. She also served as the primary healer for the ship (alongside Sandara Quinn) which further endeared her to the crew.

She actually became something of a legend over time. Her Bardic abilities allowed her to wash away the fatigue of the crew with a word, allowed her to seem to control the wind and waves, and even little things like the fact that she cast Unseen Servant every day upon waking when aboard ship made it seem like the ship itself responded to her whims - knots tied themselves, the spyglass flew to her hand when reached for, hatches closed and locked at a stern look and so on. She even had this great moment in that final sea battle between fleets: she had taken the Eldritch Heritage feats for the Aquatic Bloodline and used Aquatic Telepathy to summon the Dragon Turtle Hirgenzosk (from the Captain's Regatta) to come to our aid. It was epic.

I was curious if other players whom had run Bards in this campaign had similar experiences and had enjoyed as many chances to shine? If so, I'd love to hear about them...


Played through this as a player with a modified Rosie Cusswell bard/fighter (joined slightly late, so I could only pick a char from the ship). Well, not the strongest race, but I could not be helped. At least I could pick the fleet-footed alternate racial trait.

Went down the Street Performer Path (Insults and Verbal Comedy a a performance), which usually helped the other combatants pretty well, either by distracting enemies goig for the casters, turning the group invisible / this got very nasty with our captain using power attack and sneak attacks turning invisible in midfight....nearly at will) or madcapping enemy spellusers.

I missed Bardic Lore (which would have been great to simply dig "through" local legends ) and Inspire Courage/Greatness, but Good Hope (with a rod of extension) worked quite well down that road, since the crew rarely attacked en masse. Single day battles helped, too.
Skill use was.. yeah well...it's the bard's strong suite, especially with the performer's massive extra boni to diplomacy and bluff/intimidate when it comes to crowds (aka the council, crews, tribes and and soldiers. Rosie in the end had around +37 to Diplomacy with crowds, similar values for Gathering Information ). Helped massively in getting people to our side.
Or being able to get useful professions like astronomy (navigation), keeping perception and acrobatics maxed out and still having points to spend

And enchantments, if possible bolstered with persistent spell, are a strong pick for this AP. As is fascinate/suggestion.


Not a bard, but I played an Maestro Sorceress and conned, hypnotized, and charmed my way through most adventures, at least until everything we came across was immune to mind effects or had an ungodly will...


Having not enjoyed bards in other games, it makes me wonder whether sea singer or watersinger would be better.


I am playing a gnome bard. Compared to the players that have min/max'd pirate archetypes, I am struggling early...I read the above as inspiration for how awesome Kryptonite may one day become.


I'm currently in book 4 with a Bard2/Witch8 as captain. I gave her the 2 bard levels at the beginning to jumpstart her social skills via versatile performance etc. Even at 10th level, whenever I think I spoilt my full spell progression for the witch levels, some bard ability is needed all of a sudden.
I think this might be my second favourite character ever, the number one being my first character some 25 years ago.

Shadow Lodge

Story Archer wrote:
Our party finished up this AP not so long ago and I was musing over the effectiveness of our party bard, our captain. She was built as a Sea Singer and was a relative non-combatant - the archetype was well suited to the AP obviously, but the character wasn't what I would call optimized. Nonetheless, she was devastatingly effective for a variety of reasons.

I'm rather curious about the build of this character. Any chance to see it at 1st level and maybe at 10th or so?

Thanks,
John


Since I am running this as a GM now, I'd like to note, that we do once more have a bard in the group (although a "Sandman", background story set him up as a cardshark/fraud ), who despite having a lot of special powers rather unsuitable for the AP, holds his ground pretty well, mostly on the obscenely high amount of skill points (int 14 + extra level skill point) and being the only guy in the group angling for social-situation spells and abilities.

Plus "Sleep" as a spell can be deadly effective in the AP#1 - given the lack of good Will saves on most pirates. Same as Hideous Laughter.


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Harliquinn Whiteshadow wrote:
Story Archer wrote:
Our party finished up this AP not so long ago and I was musing over the effectiveness of our party bard, our captain. She was built as a Sea Singer and was a relative non-combatant - the archetype was well suited to the AP obviously, but the character wasn't what I would call optimized. Nonetheless, she was devastatingly effective for a variety of reasons.

I'm rather curious about the build of this character. Any chance to see it at 1st level and maybe at 10th or so?

Thanks,
John

Not a problem. The archetype can be found here and the build is listed below:

Female Human 15th level Sea-Singer / 2nd level Lore Warden
Human favored class bonus, Focused Study, Heart of the Sea

Attributes: (20 point build)
STR - 10
DEX - 14
CON - 12
INT - 14
WIS - 8
CHA – 16 (+2 racial bonus, +1 @ 4th, 8th, 12th & 16th level)

Traits:
Magical Knack
Reactionary
Barroom Talespinner (campaign trait)

Feats & Abilities:
1st - Lingering Performance
1st - Skill Focus: Intimidate
2nd - Weapon Finesse
3rd - Weapon Focus: Rapier
3rd - Dazzling Display
3rd - Combat Expertise
5th - Spell Focus: Enchantment
7th - Greater Spell Focus: Enchantment
8th - Skill Focus: Swim
9th - Eldritch Heritage: Aquatic (Dehydrating Touch)
11th - Discordant Voice
13th - Improved Eldritch Heritage: Aquatic (Aquatic Telepathy)
15th - Quicken Spell
16th - Skill Focus: Diplomacy
17th - Greater Eldritch Heritage: (Aquatic Adaptation)

Skills:
Appraise - 4-17
Profession: Sailor - 1-17
Knowledge: Geography - odd levels
Knowledge: Local - 1-17
Knowledge: Nature - even levels
Acrobatics - 4-17
Climb - 1
Swim - 1
Diplomacy - 1-17
Intimidate - 1-17
Use Magic Device - 1-17

The two levels of Lore Warden were taken at 2nd and 3rd. We changed the parrot in the second book to a monkey and made that her Familiar. Magical Knack and the favored class bonus for Humans allowed her to remain an effective spellcaster despite the Fighter dip. As a rule, our players try to make 'adventure appropriate' characters but not necessarily 'optimized' characters.

The character herself was a white-haired Tian with eyes that were blue like the sea, the product of a heritage she never fully discovered. She carried a rapier but in the rare instances she actually engaged in melee combat it was to flank or defend herself.

The rest of the group was a female Human Knifemaster, a Human Urban Barbarian/Ivunerable Rager and a Half-elven Master Summoner with a small scout-type eidolon who could both fly and swim underwater. Sandara Quinn (a Human Cleric of Besmara) remained with the group as an NPC/GM's mouthpiece for most of the AP while Rosie Cuswell (Halfling Mobile Fighter/Pirate) and Jabberwok (Tengu Master of Many Styles/Swordmaster) split time with the party as well. Other major NPC's were either non-combatant or were only with the party briefly.

I had begun a thread where I was going to write up some of the more memorable moments of our campaign in narrative form, something I've been meaning to get back to and will soon. Its beginnings can be found here.


My players just finished book 1 a few weeks ago, and one of them is playing a varisian seasinger,Althea Marensca, and her monkey familiar "Monsieur Ragout", a cigar smoking little pest!
And it's been a pleasure all along!
Besides the good oportunities for roleplaying,she's been really hopefl for the party, inspiring courage in her allies,using spells to confuse her enemies and helping the party recover from debilitating conditions!
She's now the master of sails of their boat and things are only getting started!


I can vouch that my party's half-orc sea-singer is a massive boon to the crew (though everyone is, in their own way). He once boarded an enemy ship and insulted the sailors SO HARD that they literally CAUGHT ON FIRE (Boiling Blood is crazy). I know the mass combat is supposed to be glossed over in favor of officer-versus-officer swashbuckling, but after a display like that I decided that the enemy captain would just give up.

Shadow Lodge

Interesting build. Thanks for,posting. It sounds like a fun character.

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