Why do people like to play bards?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Not saying I don't. I love playing bards, but I need some inspiration for an up coming character.

So I am wondering why you guys like to play bards.

Thanks!

Sovereign Court

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Jack of all trades / master of none.

Fill in the party's gaps.

Arguably the best buffer in the game. (maybe beaten by Evangelist)

Everyone is always happy to have you in the party!

Multiple significantly different build options.

As the face - you get to be the party's leader.

For character inspiration -

My last bard was a narcissist. He used his jack of all trades status to claim credit for everything the party would did. And he did it during Inspire Courage (Perform: Oratory) so the group couldn't get him to shut up. "Remember when I stopped the orcish horde at the village of Three Bridges. I stood my ground and cast spells upon the onrushing brutes. You guys were there doing... something."


Wait maybe I shouldn't play bard though cause I will be the only spell caster in the group?


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Everyone loves a Bard.

Everyone loves to be loved.

Therefore everyone loves playing a Bard.


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IMO, pathfinder bards are not only one of the best renditions of bards in a d20 based game (until 5e came out- wooo 9th lvl spells), but the bard class also represents the iconic adventurer from many a fantasy or tale. Witty, charismatic, with a variety of skills and abilities. Also, the bard is a team player; he can't always handle the situation at hand, but he can make his friends/allies/etc. do better in order to overcome the obstacle.

Bards also have so much versatility going towards them in choices of spells, skills, and "builds" (hate that term while in play, but this is a gaming forum, so it will have to suffice).

My favorite way to roleplay the bard is to be the smug wandering adventurer/mercenary who leads people in the pursuit of the finer things in life- wealth, wine, and women- without dealing with the minor details. This often makes my bard a bit of a swashbuckler in appearance, but i find it a fun way to play.

Militaristic bards are also really cool if you are so inclined. Gorum bard= metal?

Sovereign Court

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Little to add to Charon's Little Helper's post, but also:

Very versatile spell list, with multiple archetypes that alter it and allow for out of class spells.

Spell list as is and core performances make you a master of enchantment and illusions, with many early access spells.


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Wait maybe I shouldn't play bard though cause I will be the only spell caster in the group?

Depends on what your GM/DM has planned. I am currently in a campaign where I am the only caster as a cleric, and the GM just balances encounters appropriately.

Honestly, if everyone else is going ham in combat, your bard buffs will make them that much more potent.

The cleric archetype Evangelist might also be a better fit if you feel the party needs more raw spell power/buffs in the form of buff spells and not bardic music/oration.


Since I am the only spell caster do you recommend I take an archetype that gives me 9th level spells?


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Since I am the only spell caster do you recommend I take an archetype that gives me 9th level spells?

There is no archetype that gives 9th level spells. Not for the bard, or any other class.

What are the other players in your campaign running? Also, what is the campaign itself going to be like? It's hard to give good advice without knowing both of those.


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Since I am the only spell caster do you recommend I take an archetype that gives me 9th level spells?

See above post.

TBH, play what you want and the GM will tailor to it. Seeing as you stated you are the only caster, it is very likely to be a hack&slash kind of campaign, which is more fun if you can mix it up in combat with the party than sitting back and spamming spells all day (speaking from experience).


Earl of the Malebolge wrote:
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Wait maybe I shouldn't play bard though cause I will be the only spell caster in the group?

Depends on what your GM/DM has planned. I am currently in a campaign where I am the only caster as a cleric, and the GM just balances encounters appropriately.

Honestly, if everyone else is going ham in combat, your bard buffs will make them that much more potent.

The cleric archetype Evangelist might also be a better fit if you feel the party needs more raw spell power/buffs in the form of buff spells and not bardic music/oration.

I have seen evangelist but I am not really a fan of the whole religious classes, just a personal preference. If you think that the cleric would be much better though I will give it a looking into

Btw this is for rotrl. It is not a home brew campaign.


Snowblind wrote:
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Since I am the only spell caster do you recommend I take an archetype that gives me 9th level spells?

There is no archetype that gives 9th level spells. Not for the bard, or any other class.

What are the other players in your campaign running? Also, what is the campaign itself going to be like? It's hard to give good advice without knowing both of those.

1. Sublime archetype gives 9th level spells

2. We are running rotrl

3. I am not really sure what everyone else will be playing, probably a melee focused martial.

Scarab Sages

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I think the popularity of the pathfinder bard has two primary aspects to it: playing against type, and flexibility, as some posters have already stated.

When you play a bard, a well-played/well-made bard SHATTERS the well-known preconception that bards are wimpy, whiny spinsters that pretend to be valuable but really just hold the party back. This idea has been around for a long time, with little basis other than people not knowing how to play a bard.

But bards are FANTASTIC. Bard, especially in Pathfinder, and ESPECIALLY with all of the archetypes at their disposal, can be built to do pretty much anything while maintaining a fair amount of versatility. Want skills? Bard DEFINITELY has you covered. Want to be competent in melee? With the right archetypes or build, bard has you covered. Want to be a solid ranged combatant? The real question is, do you want to use a bow or spell-like abilities? Either way, bard has you covered. Want to be totally focused on support play? Bard DEFINITELY has you covered. And the best part is, save for having to decide between melee/ranged combat, you can pretty much do ALL of those things well.

When you play a bard, you typically choose your focus, but that focus doesn't detract from your ability to participate viably in other aspects of the game. That's what makes bards so special; they always have something to do, and they can almost always be good at that thing. About the ONLY thing the bard can't do is replace a dedicated spellcaster, but various archetypes get you AWFULLY close in that regard, from pulling spells off the druid/ranger list or the sorcerer/wizard list, to getting really great bonuses with UMD, a fully-spellcaster bard relies more on consumable items than most other spellcasters, but has the skills to help walk him through various encounters that spellcasters normally need spells for.

All in all, it's a solid class because it can be great at anything, but never outshines the party, and in fact makes everyone else better. In a recent thread, someone was complaining that the Bard was a subpar melee combatant next to a Barbarian, and for the most part all of us agreed. But, not only did we determine that, under the right conditions (Full-Attacking under Two-Weapon Fighting in that thread), could the bard approach the Barbarians DPR (level 10-ish, both groups relatively unoptimized), but he did this while granting the party an extra +2 to everything they needed, plus throwing out stuff like haste. And that's where the magic lies: just when the bard starts creeping up on the stuff his allies can do, he makes them better at it.


Still is it viable as the only spell caster in an rotrl campaign?


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Still is it viable as the only spell caster in an rotrl campaign?

Maybe? That probably depends on your GM as much as anything. You won't be able to remove ability damage and you can't make people fly, but otherwise you should be okay. Max UMD for wands and scrolls as needed.


What would be the best class to have if you only had one spell caster?

Wizard?

Cleric?


Charon's Little Helper wrote:

Jack of all trades / master of none.

Fill in the party's gaps.

Arguably the best buffer in the game. (maybe beaten by Evangelist)

Everyone is always happy to have you in the party!

Multiple significantly different build options.

As the face - you get to be the party's leader.

For character inspiration -

My last bard was a narcissist. He used his jack of all trades status to claim credit for everything the party would did. And he did it during Inspire Courage (Perform: Oratory) so the group couldn't get him to shut up. "Remember when I stopped the orcish horde at the village of Three Bridges. I stood my ground and cast spells upon the onrushing brutes. You guys were there doing... something."

That isn't inspire courage. That's 'inspire homicidal tendencies'.


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:

What would be the best class to have if you only had one spell caster?

Wizard?

Cleric?

Well, that's just it- there isn't really much that covers everything perfectly, and picking based on spell coverage will be less fun. Play what's fun and don't worry about it, or just talk to the GM directly.


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Snowblind wrote:
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Since I am the only spell caster do you recommend I take an archetype that gives me 9th level spells?

There is no archetype that gives 9th level spells. Not for the bard, or any other class.

What are the other players in your campaign running? Also, what is the campaign itself going to be like? It's hard to give good advice without knowing both of those.

1. Sublime archetype gives 9th level spells

Huh?

That's...a pretty hefty archetype.


Sundakan wrote:
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Snowblind wrote:
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Since I am the only spell caster do you recommend I take an archetype that gives me 9th level spells?

There is no archetype that gives 9th level spells. Not for the bard, or any other class.

What are the other players in your campaign running? Also, what is the campaign itself going to be like? It's hard to give good advice without knowing both of those.

1. Sublime archetype gives 9th level spells

Huh?

That's...a pretty hefty archetype.

?


Changing the spell levels a class gets access to is a huge change.

That's a Paizo archetype?


Sundakan wrote:
Changing the spell levels a class gets access to is a huge change.

Yes it is quite nice

Snowblind I am surprised you have not heard of it before?


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Sundakan wrote:
Changing the spell levels a class gets access to is a huge change.

Yes it is quite nice

Snowblind I am surprised you have not heard of it before?

Sublime isn't a pathfinder prestige class, it's 3.5.


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Sundakan wrote:
Changing the spell levels a class gets access to is a huge change.

Yes it is quite nice

Snowblind I am surprised you have not heard of it before?

I never heard of it. Someone mind telling me the sourcebook and or a link to it? Sounds like the old 3.5 prestige class sublime chord for 3.5 bards.

Scarab Sages

Link? I've never heard of it either. There's the Prestige Class for 3.5, but I think you might be crazy, Yoshu. :P

*Edit: NINJAS, ATTACK!

Sovereign Court

Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:

What would be the best class to have if you only had one spell caster?

Wizard?

Cleric?

There is a lot of Wizard loot in Rise of the Runelords - spellbooks and so forth.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I've got a bard concept kicking around in my head based on the various legends of beating the Devil in a fiddle contest. Basically a bard that goes around betting his soul to outsiders over performance contests. He would take Skill Focus(Perform) and all the masterpieces for his chosen performance so as to be "the best ever."

Yoshu Uhsoy, you might consider a witch or druid if you want to bridge the divine/arcane gap with a 9th level caster. Both of their spell lists bring a little from both sides. Neither is as specialized as the cleric or wizard lists but they might do what you are looking for.


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Davor wrote:

Link? I've never heard of it either. There's the Prestige Class for 3.5, but I think you might be crazy, Yoshu. :P

*Edit: NINJAS, ATTACK!

Yes I mean the 3.5 one. Sry I did not realize, we sometimes use 3.5 stuff in our game.

And how did you know I was crazy :P


ryric wrote:

I've got a bard concept kicking around in my head based on the various legends of beating the Devil in a fiddle contest. Basically a bard that goes around betting his soul to outsiders over performance contests. He would take Skill Focus(Perform) and all the masterpieces for his chosen performance so as to be "the best ever."

Yoshu Uhsoy, you might consider a witch or druid if you want to bridge the divine/arcane gap with a 9th level caster. Both of their spell lists bring a little from both sides. Neither is as specialized as the cleric or wizard lists but they might do what you are looking for.

I like your bard idea it is quite creative

Also I have tried playing a Druid and I absolutely hated it.

Silver Crusade

ryric wrote:

I've got a bard concept kicking around in my head based on the various legends of beating the Devil in a fiddle contest. Basically a bard that goes around betting his soul to outsiders over performance contests. He would take Skill Focus(Perform) and all the masterpieces for his chosen performance so as to be "the best ever."

Yoshu Uhsoy, you might consider a witch or druid if you want to bridge the divine/arcane gap with a 9th level caster. Both of their spell lists bring a little from both sides. Neither is as specialized as the cleric or wizard lists but they might do what you are looking for.

I'd add shaman to that list, but all-in-all, bard will do fine if you want it to.


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:

What would be the best class to have if you only had one spell caster?

Wizard?

Cleric?

If I were playing that lone caster? Bard.

Because I can do some of the Wizards stuff & some of the Clerics stuff.
As opposed to all of one & none of the other.
AND I've got skill points & some fighting ability.

As others have pointed out, a well played Bard is awesome. But it takes some practice.


So a bard is not lacking as the only caster then?

Also thx for all the help


If you are the only caster I would go with Skald. They have the same spell list, but buff better and have access to spell kenning to make up for a lack of other casters.

Sovereign Court

hiiamtom wrote:
If you are the only caster I would go with Skald. They have the same spell list, but buff better and have access to spell kenning to make up for a lack of other casters.

It depends upon the group. Skalds combo really badly with some character builds. (Barbarians/Bloodragers/Dex builds/Gunslingers/Archers etc.)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Urban Skald can work better in many groups. Miss out on the bonus to Will saves and gives a lower bonus, but the bonus can be shifted depending on needs and the group.

Why do you think Bloodragers combo poorly with Skalds? I can see how a Barbarian would miss their rage powers, but seems like a sweet deal for the Bloodrager.

Dark Archive

Bloodragers are stupid good when coupled with a Skald. You get all of your buffs, and don't have to use up your rage rounds. My RoW game has an Arcane Bloodrager and a Skald, and the sheer number of free spells he gets on Bloodraging is just stupid at higher levels.

Liberty's Edge

It is simple you want to kill with the power of ROCK.


Dex builds (like archers) love raging. There is no penalty to Dex, and they get rage powers, HP, and save bonuses. Archers slap adaptive on that composite bow and get bonus damage too.

Classes with rage get to rage for free with all their rage powers and bonuses and may use the Skald rage powers still IIRC.

Raging song was a lot more useful than I thought.

Dark Archive

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I get to make music-based puns. Constantly.

Plus, just look at this face. Who could resist a man like this? I've even got a feather in my hat! And a suave mustache! Clearly the bard is the best class.


Not really into the skald.


Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:

So a bard is not lacking as the only caster then?

Eh, I would have to say they are a bit lacking. Look, at the end of the day, you only have 6 levels of spells from a good list, and Rise of the Runelords can be pretty tough at times. It could work, but it is going to be very hard without at least another 6-level caster in the party.

If you want a bardlike character with 9 levels of casting, there is a sorcerer bloodline (Maestro) that sort of does it. With it, though, you will be a mage with some bardic abilities, rather than a full bard.


LuniasM wrote:

I get to make music-based puns. Constantly.

Plus, just look at this face. Who could resist a man like this? I've even got a feather in my hat! And a suave mustache! Clearly the bard is the best class.

Some would say it's a face only a mother could love.


Shaman is an amazing only caster if played/built well.

Lantern Lodge

Mystic Theurge covers a lot of ground.

Sovereign Court

hiiamtom wrote:
Dex builds (like archers) love raging. There is no penalty to Dex, and they get rage powers, HP, and save bonuses. Archers slap adaptive on that composite bow and get bonus damage too.

They get some benefit out of it past the first few levels when they get Adaptive (the HP only cancels out the AC penalty) but they still gain much less than they get from Inspire Courage.

Dark Archive

Even when under level compared to the rest of the group, a bard can contribute. It might not be an immediately obvious contribution. But heck, last night a level 1 bard (in a group of level 3 through 5 adventurers so APL 4) definitely helped out. Inspire Courage several times made the difference between hitting or missing.


Versatility. And there's nothing quite like whipping out a spell or special ability that forces the GM to scramble a little bit.

In one encounter, I cast Grease, insult a hill giant's mother, then run away to hide behind the paladin.

In the next, I flirt with a trio of hags, then cast Vanish and run like the dickens when they start acting like I'm destined for the stewpot.

In another encounter, an ogre is about to turn me into bardmeat, but I use fascinate (bardic performance) to keep him docile until the rest of the party turns up.

Later on, a sorceress is doing a number on us, so I use Detect Magic. Seems she's got a magic headband. One Pilfering Hand later, and she's just lost her highest-level spells.


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Deadmoon wrote:
Mystic Theurge covers a lot of ground.

1. Read this awesome Mystic Theurge guide.

2. Read this SLA FAQ nerf.

3. Cry a river.

If you want something like a Bard but need 9 level effectively arcane and divine spellcasting (even though your actual spellcasting is one or the other, except in the case of Mystic Theurge) within Pathfinder (not D&D 3.5 and not 3rd party) rules, here are your options, worst listed first:

  • Mystic Theurge VMC Bard -- see above, and you will be seriously feat-starved and action-economy-starved. If the campaign goes seriously Epic (significantly beyond normal Rise of the Runelords levels), this actually can become no longer the worst choice, but the problem is surviving (and keeping the party alive) up to that point.

  • Sorcerer with Maestro Bloodline, and you have to be a Samsaran with the Mystic Past Life alternate racial trait so that you can get spells from the Witch spell list to get the divine spells you want (although your spellcasting is technically all arcane -- note that with this ability you have to pick the same of {arcane/divine/psychic} as your primary spellcasting class); use this to get all the bad status removal spells you can. Your racial ability score modifiers are non-optimal for this, but at least help with the skill starvation problem, although they will make you even more of a wimp than either Cleric choice above (although if you are using a d6, 1/2 BAB class, this is a given anyway -- still, you might want to spend a feat on Toughness at 1st level and on Great Fortitude at 3rd level). You will really have to crank your Charisma hard to get your modifier as high as possible at the start, because it is the starting value (and not any ability score increases you get later) that determines how many spells you get to pick from another list. On the plus side, quasi-Bardic abilities are built into your Bloodline, so you don't have to spend 5 feats on VMC. On the minus side, if you are the only spellcaster in the party, spontaneous spellcasting with a limited number of spells known (as is normally the case) is significantly worse than it would be if you had another spellcaster in the party, and the extra spells you added to your spell list with Mystic Past Life still count against your number of spells known (they are not automatically added). Specialize in summoning (even though the Maestro Bloodline does nothing to help this) to poach more divine spells by way of your summons (this only starts to kick in when you get Summon Monster III).

  • White Mage Arcanist VMC Bard. This gets you hybrid spontaneous/prepared spellcasting (for the most versatile spellcasting), although unfortunately your spells per day will be quite limited; you also get the ability to spontaneously cast Cure-series spells and eventually Breath of Life, although unfortunately you don't get any other divine spells, so you will have to specialize in summoning (for which this archetype is non-optimal) to poach other divine spells by way of your summons, which will be very hard when your feats are so limited by going VMC Bard. At least having Intelligence for your primary spellcasting ability score means that you won't be skill-starved. You will also be MAD, because you will need to have a good Charisma to make use of the Fast Healing Greater Arcane Exploit that you can select at 11th level or later. You will also be feat-starved.

  • Spell Sage Wizard VMC Bard. Spell Study gets you the ability to be able to cast any Bard, Cleric, or Druid spell spontaneously 1 time per day + 1 additional time per 5 levels beyond 2nd level. The problem (in addition to the limited uses per day) is that it is highly inefficient, consuming 2 of your limited spells per day out of your low number (this archetype trades out Arcane School, so no Arcane School spell slot), and slow (casting time is 1 round per level of the spell you cast in this way). This archetype also trades out Arcane Bond, but it is nice to have the ability to increase your caster level by 4 (1 time per day, then 2 times per day at 8th level and 3 times per day at 16th level) might prove to be important if you have to make a caster level check in the course of doing a bad status removal. Another plus is that since your primary spellcasting modifier is Intelligence, you won't be skill-starved. Also, the Wizard Bonus feats help a bit with the feat starvation inherent in VMC. You could also use summoning to poach divine spellcasting by way of summons.

  • Magaambyan Initiate Arcanist VMC Bard into Magaambyan Arcanist prestige class. Both the archetype and the prestige class let you poach divine spells, although the details on which ones you can poach differ (Druid spells for both, and Cleric spells with the [Good] descriptor for the former -- you might be able to get away with NOT specializing in summoning). Again, being Intelligence-based means you won't be skill-starved, but you still have seriously limited spells per day for being the only spellcaster in the party (see the other Arcanist archetype above), and you will be even more feat-starved (although at least this Arcanist archetype gives you Spell Mastery for free at 5th level), but on the other hand it also consumes several Arcane Exploits, which hurts.

  • Evangelist Cleric with Domain (unfortunately you get only one of them) chosen to poach some arcane spells (although your spellcasting is still technically divine) -- you won't get much of the arcane spells, and you will be either skill-starved, a wimp in combat, or seriously MAD, but at least you won't have to spend 5 feats on the VMC, since the Bardic Performance stuff is built into the archetype (at the additional cost of some Channeling dice and converting your spontaneous Cure/Inflict casting into spontaneous casting of certain other stuff, of rather mixed utility).

  • Any 9/9 spellcaster archetype (Occultist Arcanist, Herald Caller Cleric, or Pact Wizard with Conjuration selected for Arcane School) that specializes in summoning, VMC Bard. You go whole hog using summoning to poach divine spells by way of your summons, although unfortunately, this might be not enough. You might be able to do the same thing with Summoner (preferably Master Summoner with your Eidolon built for skills instead of combat), but then you have to poach BOTH arcane and divine spells from your summons.

  • Ecclesitheurge Cleric VMC Bard with deity choice to get you the most Domains that have the arcane spells you want and Scribe Scroll (take this feat at 1st level). You will be REALLY feat-starved, but you will get access to a good variety of spells that you can save as Scrolls, because you get to switch your Secondary Domain bonus spell list every time you prepare spells. See Evangelist Cleric above about Skills/Combat Wimpiness/MAD.

  • Shaman or Spirit Guide Oracle, VMC Bard, using Lore Spirit (can be your Wandering Spirit) with the Arcane Enlightenment Hex to poach arcane spells (specifically, Sorcerer/Wizard). The Intelligence requirement to get good use out of this Hex will make you MAD, but will also help with the skill starvation problem. Shaman will have the disadvantage of highly limited spells per day for being the only spellcaster in the party, whereas Spirit Guide Oracle will have the disadvantage of highly limited spells known (and Lore Mystery with the Arcane Archivist Revelation is pretty much a trap option).

  • Witch (possibly Hedge Witch) with the Healing (or possibly Endurance) Patron, VMC Bard. You will have highly limited spells per day for being the only spellcaster in the party, but you will get a good set of bad status removal spells. Being Intelligence-based will relieve the skill starvation problem, and having a good set of Hexes will make the feat starvation and limited spells per day not hurt so much, although the selection of Hexes for good use isn't as good as the selection of Hexes for evil use. Although Witch spellcasting is technically arcane, the spell list is effectively a hybrid of arcane and divine, especially with the Healing Patron (or to a lesser extent with the Endurance Patron). If you choose Hedge Witch, you even get spontaneous casting of Cure spells (and Empathic Healing, although this is more situational) at the cost of 2 Hexes. You could even add the Hex Channeler archetype (compatible with Hedge Witch if you want both) with Variant Channeling that has a buff or undebuff rider, although I wouldn't recommend consuming additional Hexes to increase the Channeling dice.

Whoa, I didn't realize this was going to turn into a whole mini-proto-guide on how to be the only spellcaster in a party.


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Why to be a bard?
It's because you know everything, about everything.
Because you're magic.
Charismagic.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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I enjoy playing bards because I enjoy the roleplaying aspects the class supports, and because I enjoy bolstering and supporting other players, and because I enjoy the versatility of the class. I can step in to be a healer or a ranged support unit (using spells or magic) or a front line fighter or a skill user or whatever is needed at the time and/or for the campaign.

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