Are bards still relevant? More so, is the vanilla bard?


Grand Lodge

It's been a whiles since I played and even longer since I've been given cart-blanche to create a new character.... Lotsa lotsa options! Lotta new classes. I'm going to be in a 6 characters group playing Ruins of Azlant and bard seems like a potentially useful character... But I wonder if there are better support choices.

I enjoy melee as well so even if I do go bard should I be doing the arcane duellist as a matter of course or the archeologist (which on the surface doesn't interest me a lot) or is the vanilla bard still something that is going to deliver to myself and the group?

Interested in any and all feedback- thx

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Bards are still some of the better buffers in the game. Especially with 6 people in the party.
If any of them play with animal companions/summons/eidolons you just get better and better.
Bards are force multipliers. They take whatever you have and make it better. But you need to have something to make better.

If you want to melee you can also go dervish dancer bard with dervish dance feat.

The group I run for finished a campaign on friday. In the final battle against the big bad, the bard was dominated and began buffing the enemies. The group immediately shifted focus to take the bard out ASAP.

They killed their own bard rather than let the enemies benefit from her. It's that much of an advantage in a fight.

If you enjoy melee there are also a bunch of spells and feats even a regular bard can get without giving up any class features which help a bunch in combat.

Also, bards are some of the best skill monkeys in the game, over time.

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In that situation, bards are king. I GM a group where One of my players always plays a bard. Nobody in the group regrets it. He often ends encounters before the fight even begins, and if it does, everyone else is much better in that same fight from his inspire courage.

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Inspire Courage is a very useful ability, to the point that I would only consider playing either a vanilla bard or an archetype that does not swap out that ability.

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Vanilla bards are very good to play - besides the fact that they're great at buffing and face stuff, they can be useful in combat, though they pretty much need to focus most of their feats and some spell support that way. (I usually build archer bards so I don't have to get into melee, but you can build a bard who can contribute in melee.)

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Anybody who tells you that a vanilla bard isn't useful doesn't know what they're talking about. Inspire Courage alone is a huge benefit because of how rare competence bonuses to attack and damage rolls are, and their other performances are very effective in the situations that require them.

Arcane duelists can be effective combat/support characters, but you're trading away most of your ability to be a skill-using support character.

Archaeologist gives up all of their party-supporting abilities in order to essentially become an alternative to a rogue. Still useful, but it can't do the main thing that bards are typically praised for.

Tacticslion wrote:
Also, bards are some of the best skill monkeys in the game, over time.

My friend and I did the math; even if a bard only picks 2 of the base versatile performances and uses their others for Masterpieces or Martial Performance, they have an effective 8+Int skill points per level.

Taking Act, Dance, Oratory, and Percussion lets you effectively turn 6+Int skill points into 10+Int skill points, with one versatile performance left to use on the Advanced options.
Even if you only pick one versatile performance, you can pump up its effectiveness with the Expanded Versatility option. By level 18 you could potentially turning a single skill point in that Perform check into ranks in six other skills.

On top of that, Bards are the best Knowledge skill monkeys in the game, except for maybe the Mindchemist and the Investigator at early levels.

Here's how my breakdown went. XD

Grand Lodge

Thanks all!!!

I am sold.

Any suggestions for best traits for a vanilla bard?

Grand Lodge

Maestro of the society - ok at low levels but wasted at high levels because you never run out of round of performance.

Reactionary - really important for bards to go first.

Memorable - is alright

Save booster - anything that gives a +1 to saves

Collector +2 to any one perform because of the stack of sheet music you carry with you.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The attack bonuses a bard is able to provide become a lot more meaningful once party members start getting multiple attacks per round. Here's a little math to help in case anyone wants to dispute a bard's impact in combat.

Level 11 bard bonuses
Inspire Courage +3 (competence)
Flagbearer (after Banner of Ancient Kings), Good Hope, or Heroism +2 (morale)
Haste +1
Total: +6

Level 11 fighter
Bab +11
22 strength +5
Weapon training +2
Greater Weapon Focus +2
Magic weapon +2 (low-balling this)
Full-attack Totals w/o buffs: +22/+17/+12
with buffs: +28/+28(haste)/+23/+18

Using the average AC of CR+15, so 28 for a single CR 13 (challenging):

Attack rolls needed w/o buffs: 6/11/16

Attack rolls needed with buffs: 2/5/10

It's effectively a %30 improvement on each iterative roll.

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

With traits for a melee bard, I would strongly suggest something to boost the Fort save. Reactionary is also good. You want that song to start before the fighters are swinging their weapons.

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