Making a bard good at fighting, is this possible?


Advice


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Im helping a friend who is new to pathfinder make a character. After going over some things, he said he wants a character that is good at social skills, knowledge, and combat.

I suggested:

Alchemist
Oracle
Sorcerer
Bard
Investigator
(Lemme know if you have other suggestions)

He decided he liked bards, but then I realized im super un-knowledgeable in bards. (hehe, get it?) I see people often say that bards make good combatants but I just cant see what they mean. If you weigh pros and cons, I see.....

Pros: bardic performance, arcane strike, a few buff spells

Cons: poor weapon and armor choices, 3/4 BAB, no feats, and general lack of help from their class.

What am I missing about the bard that makes most people call them a combat-ready class?

Thanks!


Archetypes. Bards have a few archetypes that make them very combat capable. Arcane Duelist and Archaeologist can open up some interesting options. Of course that is assuming you mean melee when you say combat. How do they actually want to fight?


Dark Lord Fluffy wrote:
Archetypes. Bards have a few archetypes that make them very combat capable. Arcane Duelist and Archaeologist can open up some interesting options. Of course that is assuming you mean melee when you say combat. How do they actually want to fight?

You got it, some kind of melee weapon.


Yes, Arcane Duelist is quite good. A two-handed build (I recommend a reach weapon) backed up with Arcane Strike and Inspire Courage is simple and is effective starting at 1st level.


Well a bard will not be a fighter, even buffed they can't quite make that much of a shift. But they can be good melee combatants. Both Dex and Str builds are possible. Str builds aren't quite as powerful but are easier rules wise. Really a solid 2H and power attack is good for most situations.

What do they like about bard and what are they willing to lose? That will dictate some choices.


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Just remembered. Skalds. Not as great for a general party, but can turn melee into monsters.


I think arcane duelist will be fine too. And remind him that if the others look like they are doing very well that he should remember a lot of that is because of him, it's his job.


I play an archaeologist catfolk with lots of archery feats, and she's quite effective. She's not as powerful as a straight up optimized ranged build, but her skills, trapfinding, and spells compensate in other ways. She out-rogues a rogue in a lot of ways.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My bard's a 'switch-hitter'.

Not STRONG in melee combat, but could contribute, provide flanks, etc, in addition to the typical things a well-versed bard can bring to a party.

The other option, of course, is to dip into a martial class, but there won't be the same level of parity with a martial.


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You can't really include Bardic Performance with general lack of help from their class. In fact, Bardic Performance is really what cement the bard into being a combat capable class. Let me whip up a quick 6th level build for you in order to help build up your bardic knowledge.

Barry the Human Bard:

Stats (15 point buy): Str 12, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 7, Cha 19
Feats: Weapon Finesse(1st), Arcane Strike(1st), Lingering Performance(3rd), Harmonic Spell(5th)

So, without even touching any spells, you can easily net yourself a +2 to hit and +4 to damage, which lasts for 3 rounds if you expend one round of performance. If you use a spell, you get to maintain your performance for free. So, before taking magic weapons and buff spells into account, your rapier is going to be rocking a +8 to hit and 1d6+5 damage. This isn't anything too spectacular, I admit that much. But that puts you at hitting the average AC of a CR 6 monster on an 11+, which is pretty much 50/50 odds.

When I have more time, I'll elaborate more on this, such as which spells can really seal the deal.


Ranger. 6 skills per level. Take 1 rogue level and .. That's it.

Cavalier , bard and battle herald are great


666bender wrote:

Ranger. 6 skills per level. Take 1 rogue level and .. That's it.

Cavalier , bard and battle herald are great

Its less about skills per level and more about class skills and good modifiers. Ranger cant really do social skills or knowledge.

Hey good suggestions so far guys. Im leaning towards an archaeologist with fates favored and a big stick. Do you guys think that if he says he wants sword and board that a mythral heavy shield is worth it? (+2 ac and enchantments for a 5% spell failure chance) Its the spell failure that worries me.

Archery looks like a trap still to me despite the suggestions. (opinion time) you cant do it without full BAB just because of the good feats keying off of BAB +6.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Bard with a Longspear, Flagbearer feat, and Banner of the Ancient Kings (from Land of the Linnorm Kings, pgs. 50-51) is pumping everyone's combat prowess quite a bit. That is at higher levels though...somewhere to aim for.

One thing you will want to do is pump the Fortitude save on any battle bard. Poison, paralysis, and several other hazards of the front line tend to be fortitude saves.


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I'd actually reccomend a bard that party buffs over a bard that self buffs personally. He will find a lot of people depending on him to succeed.

As for bards and archery I could make one that does about 2d6 + 1d8 + 18 at around level 11 at a 16x2/16/16/11 to hit. That's with a few Str and lots of Dex. (About 14 and 24). No spells boosting that, so haste and good hope would make that closer to 19x5/14 on attacks.

I'd say that's decent, plus everyone else gets good hope and haste too.

Silver Crusade

The key to a combat Bard is that strength or dexterity needs to be your highest stat. A 14 in Charisma is sufficient.


A) I hardly think bards were even bad at melee (other than a bit squishy with light armor and d8's; light armor can be switched for a mithral breastplate though with armor expert trait). Their problem is they look bad in comparison.

They get an ability that gives them a +1-+4 in attack and damage. That is fairly much on par with other attack boosters. Their problem is that they also buff the fighter. So the difference between the bard and the fighter is the same gap seen with core rogues... even though they are both being raised, it doesn't FEEL that way. Add in GMs making their monsters tougher with more AC to account for the power of the party buff... and bards might not look very good.

That is why 'selfish' archetypes that do not buff allies with performances might not only feel better (Since they close the gap with full martials, and not simply shift the gap higher on both sides), and they might actually perform better.

B) Dawnflower dervish. Full stop. Ignore the free dervish dance feat (cause 1 weapon/1 handed is for swashbucklers). This archetype gives you double bonuses on inspire courage, but it only buffs yourself. That means it starts off on par with rage (+2/+2), and ends up allowing you to be directly on par with a full martial (+8/+8 on a 3/4 BAB means +23, which is on par with the +24 of fighters, barbarians, etc).

So go with any proper style, and it will shine. This is particularly true if your dawnflower dervish is using TWF or archery. This is because inspire courage boosts each and every hit, making many hit styles very attractive. Add some arcane strike on that too, and you are downright deadly. But even twohanding still makes you strong enough to be reckoned with (particularly if you go reach with a long spear).

Overall, it makes your character into something with 6 skill points, 6 spell levels, and full melee or ranged ability. The only flaw is it is vaguely squishy. Not terribly so, since you can get mithral armor to be about on par with a ranger... still, be careful. Long spears are rather attractive with reach...


Even a vanilla bard can be good at combat et all. Between arcane strike, heroism/good hope, inspire courage, and haste (gets all 3 of the latter after level 7 with a quicken rod), they add a lot to attack and damage that make up for smaller base numbers. They're not going to be doing as much damage as the 2 hander barbarian, but they shouldn't be.

Just remember to let them retrain skill ranks whenever they pick up a new versatile performance.

I had a human archer bard who's typical combat routine was round 1 double/triple buff, rounds 2+ arcane strike and full attack.

If going the melee route, you want to start with a 16-18 str and 14-16 cha depending on what you roll/the point buy. Dex and con what you can get. Remember you can let go of your weapon with one hand as a free action, cast a spell, then regrip your weapon as another free action. Power attack is a good damage investment once you start getting multiple buffs available.


Sort of agree with op.. I always found the bard underwhelming I agree the archetypes help a lot but you always give up something good.

For a suggestion (surprised this wasn't mentioned) a decent wis based conversion inquisitor meets the criteria and then some.. wis to monster check, to init and social skills along with bonus teamwork feats that really help. Honestly I have a level 8 archer inquisitor and nobody has complained how effective he has been.. well maybe the complaints have been about how quick he kills things


Arcane Duelist the Quarterstaff Bard

S: 16 D: 15 C: 14 I: 10 W: 10 Ch: 13 (20 pt human)

Feats:
Arcane Strike (bard 1)
Improved Initiative (human)
Two Weapon Fighting (1st)
Weapon Focus: Quarterstaff (3rd)

Assuming 1st round of combat is used to start Inspire Courage...

@1st
+4 to hit for 1d6+6
+2/+2 to hit for 1d6+5/1d6+3

@3rd (with MW quarterstaff)
+7 to hit for 1d6+6
+5/+5 to hit for 1d6+5/1d6+3

@ 4th (+1 to CHA, pre-buff with Heroism, +2 Belt of STR)
+11 to hit for 1d6+8
+9/+9 to hit for 1d6+6/1d6+4

@5th (Arcane Bond your quarterstaff on the cheap!)
+12 to hit for 1d6+10
+10/+10 to hit for 1d6+8/1d6+6

You can enchant the quarterstaff at half price, so your double weapon has the cost as another's single weapon. I've included only stats of a MasterWork double quarterstaff, so the above numbers could go up quite nicely here. A bling thing can be to add Spell Storing to one end to be able to hit with a debuff at the start of a fight.

Note: It won't be a two handed weapon barbarian, but is decent and buffs the party nicely at the same time.

Defenses won't be stellar, but Mirror Image can help a lot, especially starting at 7th (when Inspire Courage drops to a move action).

Sovereign Court

You really don't need archetypes to be an effective combatant. Arcane Duelist is fine, but I'd miss Bardic Knowledge & Versatile Performance too much.

I have a very effective PFS Dex bard with Fencing Grace (helps make them less MAD). He does respectable damage, and unlike some melee bards I've seen, he's not squishy due to his high AC. (I just grabbed Celestial Chain for him at level 8.)

Admittedly, it takes a few levels to get into Fencing Grace. (level 3 as a human, 5 as most other races) So that might depend upon what level you start at

Ex: Level 5 20pt buy halfling bard -

Str: 7
Dex: 19 (21)
Con: 14
Int: 12
Wis: 12
Cha: 14

Feats: Weapon Finesse / Weapon Focus: Rapier / Fencing Grace

Traits: Armor Expert / Muscle of the Society

Gear: +1 buckler / +1 mithril breastplate / +1 rapier / +2 Dex Belt / +1 cloak

Attack: (buffed with song & Heroism) +15 / 1d4+8 (18-20)
HP: 38
AC: 25 (+5 dex / +1 size / +7 armor / +2 shield)
Fort: +5 (+7 with Heroism)
Will: +7 (+9 with Heroism)
Ref: +11 (+13 with Heroism)

The offense certainly isn't spectacular, but it's respectable for a secondary combatant. (It could be a bit better if you went Arcane Duelist. But again - I don't like dropping Bardic Knowledge & versatile performance. Especially since your buddy said he wanted to be good at knowledge.)

His AC is high enough that he can wade into melee combat and makes a great flanking buddy. Plus you can spend 2nd level spells on Heroism instead of burning them & in-combat actions on Mirror Image.

Like all bards, his utility is amazing, both with skills & spells. As long as he focuses on buff & utility spells his low Charisma doesn't matter much.


You won't be particularly optimised. But you can certainly keep up with other middling optimised characters, and be very useful out of combat besides.


start with an 18str after racials, grab a longspear, congrats, you're now good at combat.

Silver Crusade

As others have said, it doesn't take much to make a bard who's good at combat. Just take a bard (archetype it up if you like the idea but it's not really necessary) and spend your stats and feats to be good at combat.

The easy and obvious ways are:

Str 18 (with +2 from human), Dex 13, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14
Weapon: Longspear.
Feats, Combat Reflexes, Arcane Strike, Weapon Focus, Power Attack

Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14
Weapon: Composite Shortbow
Feats: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Deadly Aim

If you want better weapons, you can get them via racial features, traits or multiclass for one or two levels (fighter--esp with Lorewarden archetype, cavalier--esp with standardbearer archetype, and paladin (usually 2 levels for divine grace) are all decent choices).

A Mithral Agile Breastplate is good armor, but if you want fullplate, the multiclassing rule gets you there and you can use long duration spells like heroism before you put on your armor or no-somatic component spells like feather fall, bladed dash, etc to evade arcane spell failure.

Of course, that's all for bards. I will also note that Vigilante is another option if you want good social skills, the possibility for knowledge skills, and good combat ability. Your friend might have a look at that.


Dervish of dawn add double the bardic as bonus.
battle herald stack with bard progression.
cavalier 1 , bard 4 > battle herald : full bab -1, full bard boost X2-1.
up to lvl 2 spells.
decent saves, especially with half elf that add 4 to will saves.


lemeres wrote:
Ignore the free dervish dance feat (cause 1 weapon/1 handed is for swashbucklers)... This is particularly true if your dawnflower dervish is using TWF or archery ... But even twohanding still makes you strong enough to be reckoned with (particularly if you go reach with a long spear)

Should remind that the Bard casts spells that can have somatic components tho.


If a wizard can hold a staff a bard can hold a spear. Same rules apply.


Being able to use the hand holding their bonded weapon for somatic components is one of the little things that I love about the Arcane Duelist. It makes sword and board or TWF much less complicated.


Entryhazard wrote:
lemeres wrote:
Ignore the free dervish dance feat (cause 1 weapon/1 handed is for swashbucklers)... This is particularly true if your dawnflower dervish is using TWF or archery ... But even twohanding still makes you strong enough to be reckoned with (particularly if you go reach with a long spear)
Should remind that the Bard casts spells that can have somatic components tho.

Cestus. It doesn't have rules interfere with casting, like the brass knuckles do. So I assume it is not trouble. Failing that, a normal spiked gauntlets still does the job.

There are also double weapons that are easy to hold momentarily in one hand... but that implies str based TWF on a gish class.... technically doable on a 20 point buy, but VERY painful (since you basically have to hard dump int and wis).


A couple more archetypes to consider would be the Sorrowsoul and the Arrowsong Minstrel archetypes.

The Sorrowsoul bumps up your inspire courage to almost ludicrous levels on yourself and keeps bardic knowledge (but loses versatile performance, sadly). The only thing to keep in mind is that between the Lyric Sorrow and Spurn Harm abilities your bardic performance rounds may become a much tighter resource. I also love the flavor of this archetype, I like to think of it as a Sad-barian.

The Arrowsong Minstrel focuses on using a bow along with magic. This one will have much better defenses being largely dex-based. It also allows you to select combat feats as if you had full BAB, which is very strong for an archer. It is also a really good precursor to the Arcane Archer prestige class.

As a note on what's already been said, the optimal combat bard equipment is the longspear with flagbearer feat and Banner of the Ancient Kings.


I would say it IS about amount of ranks more than class skills
If you're using traits those easily can add class skills.
And 1 level dips, suited to martial builds, get you the class skill bonus.

So like I said multiclassing can be good, but here's a better list imho.

Unchained rogue
Ninja
Barbarian (scared rager gets intimidate/diplo bonus)
Urban or any ranger
Lore warden/other fighter with higher ranks (weapon mastery sorta achieves this)
Vanilla or more combat focus bard
Skald
Cavalier
Inquisitor (!!!)
Magus
Vigilante


Action Economist wrote:
The Sorrowsoul bumps up your inspire courage to almost ludicrous levels on yourself and keeps bardic knowledge (but loses versatile performance, sadly). The only thing to keep in mind is that between the Lyric Sorrow and Spurn Harm abilities your bardic performance rounds may become a much tighter resource. I also love the flavor of this archetype, I like to think of it as a Sad-barian.

Interesting. I think that, as a melee character, the dawnflower has longer lasting power, sorrowsoul can nova their rounds and get excellent defense. It is infinitely preferable if you are in something like kingmaker, where you have 5 minute work days with a lot of walking in between.


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Hmm no one mentioned the Duettist. I like it for Combat oriented builds as a protector or mascott familiar is a great buff. Additionally the improved action economy on Inspire Courage is also really good for martials who want to spend their time fighting.

Grand Lodge

Duettist is very sweet, glad to see it mentioned. One cool Duettist trick, particularly if you take an improved familiar with Fast Healing or regen (Nycar is particularly good here,) is to take Tales of Twisting Steel as a masterpiece to give everyone Shield Other.

I also second Skald. Grab Urban Skald or Spell Warrior if your group isn't melee heavy, and go to town. They'll be a little less skill focused and a bit more stabby than vanilla Bards while still throwing out some awesome buffs in the form of Rage Powers.


I'm going to add in a point for Court Bards.

I'm running a game of Reign of Winter and the Court Bard is making it a breeze for most of the group. At this point they sit at -2 to attack and damage, and a penalty on Fear effects.

In a way it's almost BETTER than a regular bard because it means everyone in the group benefits regardless of class. Of course I'm going to try to hit a wizard. But now there's a huge boost of defenses to do it. It even shuts down things like power attack because I can't afford having 2 penalties to attack. Which means most hits come out limp wristed.

And the penalties of fear? I'd take giving my enemies a penalty on something I KNOW I'm going to use rather than a boost on something that MAY come up.

Court Bard. Surprisingly great.

Sovereign Court

Cavall wrote:


Court Bard. Surprisingly great.

If their song worked against everything, I'd agree entirely.

Except all of their songs have " language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that uses audible components".

That means it doesn't work on anyone who doesn't speak your language(s).

It also doesn't work on undead, vermin, or constructs etc.

If you're in a campaign where you're sure that their songs will work 98% of the time then they're great, but there is just too much stuff that their songs don't work on for me to recommend them. (Not a bad choice if you're going to have 2 bards in the party, though I'd recommend an Archivist ahead of Court Bard.)


Our current game has the rule if you die you make a bard for your second character.

So far that little Ex-druid has kept thrm from making any more because of the constant missing and damage reduction.

But it has been very fae packed so far.

There are ways to get around the plant / undead etc restrictions.

Sovereign Court

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Cavall wrote:


There are ways to get around the plant / undead etc restrictions.

Now I'm curious - what are they?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

No. You don't play a bard to be good at fighting. Bad idea for you and your friends.


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Bards also get some very good sonic-based spells. You could make a Magus-like gish that has the added benefit of having damaging spells that most creatures have NO resistance to, let alone immunity. In fact, there is a deceptively high number of creatures in the game that take more damage from sonic, primarily crystalline or stone creatures.

Using the Flame Dancer archetype will also add some staple fire spells to their spell list and the Magician Archetype will allow them to add their choice of arcane spells to their list, as well as making them better at mage-y things.

Other options for making Bards blasters are the Soundstriker and Thundercaller archetypes. Very fun stuff to play.

If you want a melee-based bard, Dervish Dancer and Savage Skald are amazing and will make done-ion rings out of many combats!

For the goth bards, you have the Dirge Bard. Gaining necromancy spells and the ability to control undead via mind-affecting effects makes for a very fun character. Mascara and bad poetry optional.

Hope that helps a little! <3

Scarab Sages

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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
No. You don't play a bard to be good at fighting. Bad idea for you and your friends.

I see this notion pop up time and again, and it's so wrong it hurts.

What you get: Medium BAB/HP, decent proficiencies easily shored up by racial bonuses, static bonuses to attack and damage that scale as you level, and save you on action economy as you level, access to a variety of useful and potent buffing spells, and to some solid healing options as well, with variant bards gaining better armor proficiencies, weapon proficiencies, and other assorted goodies.

So I'll ask: Why are bards bad at fighting?


In my last campaign I GMed a bard that got pretty good. At least as an archer. He took prioritized his stats Dex, Cha, Str, Con, Int, Wis. Took a bunch of archery feats and arcane strike. He started off most serious combats with Haste and Inspire Courage in the first round, then gunned them down second and third. The rest of the party loved him, he always had lots of skills and utility spells, and outperformed the wizard and rogue in damage. That was a pretty good character...


WhiteMagus2000 wrote:
In my last campaign I GMed a bard that got pretty good. At least as an archer. He took prioritized his stats Dex, Cha, Str, Con, Int, Wis. Took a bunch of archery feats and arcane strike. He started off most serious combats with Haste and Inspire Courage in the first round, then gunned them down second and third. The rest of the party loved him, he always had lots of skills and utility spells, and outperformed the wizard and rogue in damage. That was a pretty good character...

Yep. With the static bonuses bards can get with just a feat and their basic class, it is hard to for anyone to say they don't make fine archers, even if one is of the 'eeewwww....baaaAAAARDS!' camp.


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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
No. You don't play a bard to be good at fighting. Bad idea for you and your friends.

You think bards are bad for your friends?

No. Just no.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Cavall wrote:


There are ways to get around the plant / undead etc restrictions.
Now I'm curious - what are they?

Sure. Happy to help. There's a song that stuns undead or staggers them on a save. Among some other awesome affects.

There's a song that targets oozes and plants for direct damage.

While neither of these are "your court bard affects these guys now" they allow you to use your performance rounds in a fight you normally couldn't.

Personally I think the plant one is a really focused. But I love that Undead masterpiece.

Dirge bard would be a good thing for the class itself but doesn't stack.

To be honest there's not really a lot of call to worry about if swarms and oozes are popping up enough to make a court bard useless, I'd wager that's something the GM should have stated at the start.


I'm surprised that among the classes for bards to dip into the swashbuckler wasn't mentioned. For a dex based melee bard there are some good deeds, such as opportune parry and repost, and even a ranged bard could use derring-do and dodging panache. Swashbuckler finesse is also a great boon for the dex melee character, or a ranged bard looking to shore up a melee back up attack. A second level brings charmed life, not as powerful as a paladins divine grace, but it doesn't come with a code of conduct.

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