Bards character concepts (that don't suck)

Homebrew and House Rules

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I'm looking for some bard character concepts that don't fall into the classic character with the musical instrument that buffs the party over and over and over and over again.

Hoping for cool outside the box traditional bard concepts.

Looking for build suggestions.

New spells/homebrew spells. Good lord are there some better unique spell suggestions.

Looking for suggestions on how to play the bard as something other than a support character.

Blow away my misconception of what a bard is and can do.

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Build a Sound Striker who strides through combat exploding enemies with sounds that just should not be.

Build a Thundercaller who exhorts the heavens to strike down their enemies with the wrath of thunder and lightning.

Build an Archaeologist, who has all of the tricksiness and trap expertise of a Rogue while bringing some serious bardic knowledge to the table.

Build a Savage Skald who through the sagas of their people exhorts their allies into acts of greater rage and valor.

Build a Dervish-dancing menace who dances through combat, slicing enemies up along the way.

Or know, actually take a look at the class.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I've played in 3 different games with bards.

The one bard was the classic viking skald.

The other two were the classic elven bard with string instrument and rapier.

I'd like to hear about someone putting an interesting twist on a bard they have played, and unusual ways they have used them in role-playing and combat situations.


Archivist archetype. The Bard is an elderly academic who's adventuring because he lost his tenure position (Why? Did he cheat? Does he have enemies? Plot hooks!). He's got tons of Knowledge skills and diplomacy, but not much else. Super high charisma for his spell save DCs, and his specialty is Perform (Oratory) and the Lamentable Belaborment bardic performance.

Silver Crusade

Blistering Invictive is an awesome bard spell for level 2. You use Intimidate to demoralize opponents, anyone demoralized takes fire damage and has the possibility of bursting into flames. Pretty cool for the use of the intimidate skill and fits perfectly for damage dealing bard.

Race: Undine

1 level of Lore Oracle for Sidestep Secret, take Extra Revelations for Lore Keeper. Scion of War lets you use Cha for Initiative. Then, focus on Str and Cha and you're a hard-hitting attacker and use Bardic Knowledge based on Cha instead of Int and your defenses are primarily based on Cha rather than Dex (except for CMD but that gets a bonus from Str anyway). Take Nereid's Grace (from bard spell list) to get a Deflection bonus to AC equal to your Cha modifier (while unarmored or when armor is hidden). Naturally, take a 2-h weapon to emphasize your Strength. Sing war chants into battle as you dismember your foes.

20 pt buy:
Str 14- (10), +1 @lvls 8 and up
Dex 10+ (-2)
Con 14 (5)
Int 10 (0)
Wis 12+ (0)
Cha 15 (7), +1 @lvl 4

1) Lore Oracle 1: BAB +0, Revelation; Sidestep, Extra Revelation; Lore Keeper (lvl 1)
2) Bard 1: BAB +0,
3) Bard 2: BAB +1, Weapon Focus (Longspear) (lvl 3)
4) Bard 3: BAB +2, +1 Cha
5) Bard 4: BAB +3, Power Attack (lvl 5)
6) Bard 5: BAB +3
7) Bard 6: BAB +4, Extra Performance (lvl 7)
8) Bard 7: BAB +5, +1 Str
9) Bard 8: BAB +6, Intimidating Prowess
10) Bard 9: BAB +6
11) Bard 10: BAB +7, Discordant Voice (lvl 11)
12) Bard 11: BAB +8, +1 Str

Wired Words? Are they 1/ round or can you do all 10 at 10th level in a single round? Do they penetrate DR?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Anyone built a sound sculpting bard, or an origami paper folding type bard?

It seems like a bard could really be interesting if they had an NPC entourage traveling with them.

Anyone play a heavy metal or death metal type bard?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Anyone created a kind of bard that uses puppets, marionettes or dolls?

Seems like it could be an interesting angle of a bard with an entertainment/stage background.

The marionette could be used like a voodoo doll to control NPCs or creatures.

The dolls could be used like minions.

I would be curious if anyone has combined Words of Power with a core bard since the bard favors the use of words, knowledge and writing.

I definitely see the possibilities of what a bard can be now.

kid america wrote:
Anyone created a kind of bard that uses puppets, marionettes or dolls?

I had an idea once for a Human with Racial Heritage: Orc who goes Scarred Witch Doctor/Bard and uses his witch mask for ventriloquism but seriously acts as if the "mask" has a completely different personality, even to the point that the mask understands and speaks a language that the character insists that he doesn't know (he does, mechanically, know it, but only uses it for the mask personality). He's a spiritual liason between an Orc tribe and local human settlement due to his mixed heritage and also does children's birthday parties.

kid america wrote:

I'm looking for some bard character concepts that don't fall into the classic character with the musical instrument that buffs the party over and over and over and over again.

Hoping for cool outside the box traditional bard concepts.

I know exactly how you feel, I really like the bard as concept, but do not like to play one with D&D3/Pathfinder rules. In combat you stand around a lot while the other do the cool stuff, your AC and attack and damage is just not up there with the others. So you feel like a bigmouth who needs others to back him up, which is not that heroic.

In my case, I circumvented the problem by playing a different character class entirely as a bard. I have a monk/magus with high skills in diplomacy, bluff, intimidate and perform, carrying a lute and behaving like a bard role-play-wise, but having different combat skills.
You have to realize that bizarrely, the Pathfinder bard isn't all that superior at being 'bardic'. Sure, he can do magic by singing, but he neither sings better than other (no special bonus to perform) nor does he get a lot of bonus on his social skills. His music has magic effects, but it is not better than other music. So if you want to play a musician, you do not have to be a bard, you music will be just as good.

If you are playing a bard, you can do a lot with feat selection be get an edge in combat:
- Maneuvers are cool, if you specialize in them you can get a decent maneuver check. Trip with the whip mastery feats is nice, as you trip opponents before they reach you. Problem is that at higher levels, opponents CMDs tend to grow rapidly, and almost everybody flies or has a hundred legs. Personally I like Dirty Tricks, as they really are fun describing.
- Improved Unarmed Strike and Snake Style are good ways to get better defensively, if you can move away from opponents to avoid full attacks.
- As was said, the sound striker archetype actually deals quite some damage.

I played a dwarf fighter/bard that I described as giving tactical advice and inspiring speeches, rather than singing. He had Perform (Oratory) maxed out, and was a deacon in his church, so considered himself closer to a priest than an arcane spellcaster. Most of his spells were buffs - he would wade into combat himself, and was the party's second-line melee guy. He had maxed out inspire courage, so by the end of the game he's handing out a +4 bonus to attack and damage, haste, and a pile of temporary hit points with inspire greatness. He was a very effective force multiplier in the party.

Roleplaying wise, he was a heroic sort of guy, who was on a quest to find his grandfather so that he could get permission to get married - I decided that his clan required the approval of all living relatives for a marriage, and Bannon was enough of a traditionalist that he went off to find his great-grandfather, an azer slave in the City of Brass. Along the way he freed the azer and killed the Sultan of the City of Brass.

Grand Lodge

I have always wanted to play a bard that was part of a band. We had a metal concept for a bard with the greataxe proficiency. The axe was supposed to be a stringed instrument as well. :p

You could make a bard that is a dancer, like stomp the yard, making acrobatic dance moves. If you take the Dance of 23 Steps masterpiece, your AC will get a much needed boost, even moreso if you have the ability to use better armors (such as the arcane duelist.)

I played an arcane duelist for the Jade Regent Adventure Path. He could hold his own, though he couldn't keep up with the others in terms of damage, he made everyone better. In combat he moved into flanking positions, and at higher levels started to ignore certain amounts of DR, because of Penetrating Strike. The highlight was doing a "USO tour"-style performance with my followers (Leadership) for the army when we marched on the capital.

Arcane Duelist with Perform (oratory). You have yourself a warrior poet. And if you say warrior poets suck, I'll punch you in the neck.

My girlfriend plays an half-orc bard (sea singer)7/urban barbarian 2(controlled rage = perform + casting) that lands buff (haste, inspire courage, good hope) then rage and charge into melee wielding a greataxe. She is a very strong front liner (stronger than the fighter because of self buff) and a good force multiplier in the party.

She is as badass as she can, drinking, brawling and landing devastating mockery to inspire her team and demoralize opponents (she maxed perform comedy). The character is a former slave, now pirate, and has a great use of all the utility/ knowledge power of the bard in the house campaign I am running.

you could spin the somatic and verbal displays of Dance (as performance) into a strange form of martial arts with explosive exhalations or penetrating hums, calling yourself a 'monk' or 'mystic warrior'

go human or half-elf, keep the minimum CHA to acquire your spells (you only need to get to 16 eventually - 14 is a good starting place), focus the rest on physical stats, choose buff spells over opposed spells, grab Improved Unarmed Strike and Skill Focus - Dance (which at 2nd level can substitute your Acrobatics skill checks!), maybe Combat Reflexes and a longspear (if your DEX is good), and dance your way into a fight.

Grand Lodge

Reposting something from an old thread with some revisions:

I made an NPC gnome bard once that was a Pathfinder Captain/mentor. His bardic performance was based off the oratory skill. In combat his performance took the form of "teaching." For example during combat he wouldn't really fight. He would use Aid Another every round and Inspire Courage while saying something to the effect of: "See how he parried to the left? That's an old Broken Spine trick to keep you off-balance, press your attack on the right." (ie. +1 to attack) He was always overly level headed, he saw combat as nothing more than a field trip learning experience.

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