Suggested Weapons for a Bard?


Advice

Liberty's Edge

Hello,

I'm looking to build a Bard for a PFS game and I'm not sure what weapons are typically best. I'm not sure how I should build a bard with the limited amount of feats they receive and I'll be playing either a half-elf or gnome most likely. I would like to stay away from bows and whips though.


Bards aren't really front line fighters, but tend to work best from a support roll. So get a feat like lingering song and use that to optimize your songs duration. Bardic magic works the same and buufs the party or makes indirect opbstacles that can be used to gain a tactical advantage.
Depending on your strength or dexterity you could choose either a sword or a rapier for melee, but I'd advise to stay clear of melee. The shortbow is your good friend, if you use a rapier as well as they can both get bonuses to attack from dexterity (dextrous build). Use a buckler for a shield as you can wear the buckler without penalty while using a bow and use it normally if you use the rapier. The dex build will let you invest one feat in weapon finesse for you weapon to work with dexterity rather then strength.
A strength build would imply you'd go for a sword + shield and thrown weapons for range weapons (like daggers)

I would advice that you stay away from melee though and concentrate on supporting your party and using your skills in knowledge to find out weaknesses about your enemies. And when you are out of spells you can use a bow or thrown weapons to support the party.

Have fun

Dark Archive

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Bows and whips ARE the best; at low levels it really doesn't matter, but at mid and high you're not going to survive combat or do effective damage very well, especially if you go the "gnome" route.

Concentrate on being a buffer. If you want a really fun bard build, go halfling, take the "helpful" trait (or come from adoption by a family of halflings), and take combat reflexes / bodyguard as your feats. Late get the Benevolent keyword, get arcane strike, and the gloves that let you channel to assist. Use a shield and chain shirt, and keep your dex pretty high. You'll give +6-(eventually) +10 to people for AC about 5 times a round, and have a good AC yourself; in addition to being able to bardsong and cast. It's a fun and useful build.

Straight damage dealing you'll do half-elf with a Dwarven Longhammer and Combat Reflexes with your feat. But trust me, even if you invest in feats for it you'll stop being terribly useful around level 6-7.


Bards are perfectly able to melee. But you have to go hard for it. Do not try do everything. Firstly if you want to melee realize that you will never use a spell with a save. you will be going with the lower Cha you can get away with.

Don't even entertain the idea of DWing. It just won't work. Two handed is pretty much the only viable option. Or a scimitar with a dervish build.

Look through the archetypes. There is a number of them focused on battle bards. See if any of them interest you.

As for the weapons bards can use longspear is the best by default. Reach is very handy. It give you options with banner of the ancient kings + Flagebearer feat. Though even if you don't like that route its still their best option.

BUT if you go half-elf you can use the alternate race trait Ancestral Arms to get EWP. In this case I favor Fauchard though there are plenty of other good options in there as well.


It depends on what you want.

Do you really want to deal damage? Then make a strength build with a twohanded weapon. You will be a glass cannon but you can deal damage. And as some nice bard spells are immediate action you can cast them on top of attacking. Which means good action economy.

Do you want to act as a flanking buddy? Then I'd take a weapon + shield build for more survivability. Dex route gives more AC, strength route more to hit and damage. So it depends.

For damage my suggestion would be: Half-elf with ancestral arms to get an elven curved blade. Ignore the finessable part and go strength.
Other weapons might be stronger but the ECB has lots of flavour, especially for a HE.


For maximum damage, a two-handed weapon is the way to go. However, since the bard also has damage source that don't care for the number of hands (Arcane Strike, Inspire Courage) you can actually become half-decent in melee even if you use a shield. Keep that in mind if you want to melee only occasionaly when you've got nothing better to do. A shield will greatly improve your AC so you don't need to rely on defensive spells all the time.


Bard's can be awesome in melee when built for it... amongst others the Arcane Duelist Archetype is rather similar to Magus: get a Mithral Kikko Armor (or Breastplate) and an Agile Elven Curve Blade (halfelves have the means to get proficiency with it, iirc), pump dex and of course charisma and you'll be fine.
Small races suffer because their damage dices go down... especially at early levels, so you need higher str to make up for it.


Play to your strengths - Specialise in utility: longspear, rapier, bow, bardic performance, spells and something like an intimidate gives you a range of options.

Your party balance is important - ideally you should have a fighter who can take/give lots of damage that you can buff in a number of ways (damage boosts and will saves especially). A rogue could benefit from vanish/invisibility for flanking and will saves again. A Divine Spell User could co-ordinate spells with you as could some Arcane Caster.

In short be useful to everyone in some way and you will always be doing something.

Liberty's Edge

Well, I've narrowed it down some in that I want the following.

Character Info so far:

Race: Gnome
Bard Archetype: ThunderCaller

Lvl1 feat: Improved Initiative
Lvl3 feat: Effortless Trickery
which leaves me with 4 additional feats from levels 4-12. I don't want to be a primary damage dealer but having the ability/option to do some damage would be nice when I'm out of Performances and Spells.

As a gnome I don't want to use the same weapons that 95% of the people in PFS uses. Gnomes like to be entertained and always active which makes a more "unusual" weapon more appropriate for them. That and I want my character to leave an impression on those I'm playing with locally at PFS (instead of being the 5th human ranger in the group that's using a composite longbow with arrows or a greatsword etc)

Two good trait options I see (since I own Varisia, Birthplace of Legends) are:

Shoanti Tatto - Upon reaching adulthood, you received
a tribal tattoo, marking you with the symbols of your
quah and totem spirits (see the inside back cover for
suggestions and designs for Shoanti tattoos). You gain
a +1 trait bonus on saving throws against fear effects.
Additionally, you are proficient with earth breakers,
klars, and Shoanti bolas
.

and Varisian Tatto - You bear the elaborate tattoos of your
people, marking you as a free son or daughter of the road.
You gain a +1 trait bonus on saving throws against charm
and compulsion effects. Additionally, you are proficient
with bladed scarves and starknives
.

Tactics:

So what I'm thinking is a gnome that uses Silent Image (or other illusions) to make an illusionary well for concealment and then using swift actions to maintain concentration with Effortless Trickery throughout combat while being able to still use standard and move actions. By 7th level I can use bardic performance to Thunder Call as a move action, cast a spell or attack as a standard action, and maintain an illusion with a swift action. I'll only be going up to 12th level full Bard so I'll probably never see the 13th lvl swift action Bardic Performances in PFS.

I was thinking a ranged/returning weapon as I REALLY DON'T want to use Bow & arrows. The other alternatives would be burning a feat or taking a level dip into another class to get proficiency with a more unique weapon. I don't want to take any level dips so that's not an option and my feat selection is pretty limited with only 4 free feats left.

Shoanti Bolas vs Starknife:

I'm wondering how the Shoanti Bolas or Starknives are (especially with "Returning") since I can gain proficiency with them for free.

Starknives would be neat as they are both melee and ranged but the damage is a bit low. The Shoanti Bolas deal lethal dmg, also deal 1d3, but are Blunt & Piercing damage at same time. Also with returning on them I could make ranged trip attacks as a decent option?

Shoanti Bolas would also come with Klar and Earth Breaker proficiency whereas the Starknives would come with Bladed Scarf proficiency. I'm not looking at trying to be elite on the damage table but wondering which all would work well. Starknife covers melee and ranged. I assume a Shoanti Bolas and Klar would cover melee and ranged also, but wouldn't that stop me from casting spells or get in the way for a bard?

Not sure what the best option is but the two Tattoo traits seem like great options since it doesn't require a dip or burning a feat. Give me your rundown on these weapons and where I should go with this build. I'm really liking the tribal idea with a curious and unusual gnome thundercaller bard.

Books I own for PFS:

Core
Advanced Players Guide
Advanced Races Guide
Ultimate Combat
Blood of Angels
Varisia, Birthplace of Legends
Sargava, The Lost Colony
Gnomes of Golarion


I had a gnome bard and the weapon I used most was a net. It uses touch AC so it is much easier to hit even if your stats put you elsewhere, and a netted enemy is more manageable than your small stature would suggest. I bought an ioun stone to give me proficiency rather than spend a feat. It was fun to use! (Keep in mind you can only net one size above you though) - so you'll need to enlarge to use you net on large creatures.

If you are going gnome, look at "breadth of experience" - it MADE my character!

Liberty's Edge

I saw breadth of experience but wasn't for sure how great it would be on a bard.

Also, I thought about nets and I don't think carrying a few medium size nets would hurt too much either since a net goes by touch AC. I was a bit worried about my small size though with nets. I love the idea of the Ioun Stone, I'll have to look into that since my available feats are a bit limited.

Anyone have suggestions on the Shaonti and Varisian tattoos? I think picking one of them would fit nicely with my character since the ThunderCaller is tribal/mystical leader type.

Description of ThunderCaller reads: "Among the mystical leaders of the Shoanti are those who speak for the spirits of the land, who bear the knowledge of the ancients, and whose voice ring like thunder, calling the sky's wrath down upon their enemies."

I'm not sure if Varisia is also an option (as I've not read that far into it) but wondering which tattoo for the extra weapon proficiencies would be nice. Anyone know if picking a Varisia tattoo for a ThunderCaller would be contrary to lore?


You don't have to be a glass cannon to deal damage. Even the latest free action FAQ will accommodate quickdraw shield use with a longsword or other non-rapier one handed weapon to deal two handed damage.

1) maintain performance
2) stow quickdraw shield
3) put second hand on longsword
swift action) Arcane Strike
move and standard actions) full attack or move and standard attack
4) remove a hand from longsword
5) wield quickdraw shield

The existence of elven chain (CRB) gives you medium armor AC on true light armor. That gives you AC equal to a similarly statted sword and board ranger, inquisitor, or cleric and you get to stack the mirror image miss chance on top of that. Worst case you can use a visual performance and silence against stuff with mundane forms of blindsight making you the hardest thing on the field to hit for anyone without true seeing or supernatural forms of blindsight. With most of your damage coming from strength, power attack, arcane strike, and inspire courage you do very nearly as much damage as a similarly statted non-fighter martial not expending resources or in a favorable situation. You are expending resources, but your resource pool is larger than a paladin's or cavalier's. With lingering performance it's bigger than a barbarian's, but you lose arcane strike every third round.

Even without the shield (hopefully because you're using a reach weapon or falchion) your defenses match most melee rangers' not counting mirror image and with mirror image you out-perform any reach cleric without heavy armor proficiency.


for the tripping:
don't forget you are small. So you get some hefty malus to your CMB and Bards are 3/4 BAB classes... it'll work so-so for the first ~3 levels... then you'll start failing a lot.

Take Starknives and be a disciple of Desna? :-)

Actually... I haven't seen anyone do a build with a reach weapon... maybe have a look at the various polearms?


I suggest an Axe, steelstring and painted cherry red.


Thalin wrote:

Bows and whips ARE the best; at low levels it really doesn't matter, but at mid and high you're not going to survive combat or do effective damage very well, especially if you go the "gnome" route.

Concentrate on being a buffer. If you want a really fun bard build, go halfling, take the "helpful" trait (or come from adoption by a family of halflings), and take combat reflexes / bodyguard as your feats. Late get the Benevolent keyword, get arcane strike, and the gloves that let you channel to assist. Use a shield and chain shirt, and keep your dex pretty high. You'll give +6-(eventually) +10 to people for AC about 5 times a round, and have a good AC yourself; in addition to being able to bardsong and cast. It's a fun and useful build.

Straight damage dealing you'll do half-elf with a Dwarven Longhammer and Combat Reflexes with your feat. But trust me, even if you invest in feats for it you'll stop being terribly useful around level 6-7.

Gonna hijack this a bit, sorry to the OP.

How would you lay out the feats for this build. Starting at 1st in PFS. I'd like to do ranged and whip/trip when in melee range while being the aid another/buffer type.
FEATS
1. Combat Reflexes
3. Body Guard
5. Weapon Finesse
7. Combat Expertise
9. Improved trip
Wow that just seems like it would take forever to come together for little pay off.

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