Preformance Bards


Prerelease Discussion


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Since the 70's/80's/90's tabletop roleplaying has come a long way. The basic idea of DnD/Chainmail is as relevant as ever but some things have aged poorly (remember THACO amyone?)

I think one of those ideas that has proven a little silly and dated is the concept of the performance bard (aka every bard that hasn't taken the archaeologist archetype).

I think there's a longing for a 3/4 bab 6th level caster jack of all trades core class and historically this role has been filled by a guy who sings, dances or performs comedy in battle. But does it have to be that way?

With the advent of pathfinder several core classes that were pigeonholed in 3.5 got alternative options: rangers could now share their favored enemy bonuses instead of taking animal companions and druids could take domains for example. What we need is an alternative feature for the bard.

For many the performance ability has a campy,antique and whimsical charm. But I think we could use a cooler, less silly alternative. Here are some alternatives:

An archaeologist style buff to attack, save, skills and damage. Where a typical bard gets new types of performance, he gets combat feats.

A cavalier banner like ability. This makes him a group buffer but changes the flavor entirely.

An ability that emphasizes his jack of all trades role by allowing him two standard actions X times per day as long as they're different types of actions. Aid another and cast a cure spell, for example.

Give him SLAs for illusion and mind control abilities not tied to music


I agree. A lot of bards are cut, copy paste.

Liberty's Edge

I had made a post on this without seeing this thread already on the front page, so I deleted it and will add my point here:

So, the Bard has always bugged me. It's always been a bastard child of the other classes that can also Inspire Courage. It's never lived up to my mind's eye of the bard class. Other takes have though.

First: The Bard from Everquest d20. This was the best Bard ever designed. You had different songs that had different effects, and you could use your perform skill to twist different melodies together and get multiple benefits. If you blew a check, you screwed up the song and had to start it up again (you could only add one melody per round).

Second: Another good take on it, was the Dragon Shaman from 3.5. You had auras that affected everyone around you, and could swap between them.

That's what performance should be like. Bards should just ditch spellcasting altogether.


I think they should relegate performance to one of the class feat trees/archetypes. The class should be the jack of all trades.


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Clearly, the way you modernize a Bard is to have him rap.


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You can already simulate "non-performance performance" by just using Perform: Oratory for your inspire. I do think making the default assumption for a bard no longer be campy lute-plucker might be a good idea, though.

Dark Archive

I think they are using skills from unchained skill consolidated skill system, so presumably there will be just one universal performance skill

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think the bard needs a total overhaul. I don't think being a Jack of All Trades cuts it when the trade-off is master of none. I've played a bard, my players have played a bard- we've all always felt lackluster compared to the Wizard's fireball or the Paladin's smite. The bard needs something they can truly excel at, something that really wows the crowd the way every other class can, and I really don't think being "combo of every class who can do small support stuff" cuts it. Make them a master of enchantment magic! Have them be the top of the Charisma game! Give them a way to hurt foes as well as a rogue or a cleric do! Make bards a class that older players will want to play instead of it being a trap option new players will take because they wanna be musical!


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Derry L. Zimeye wrote:
I think the bard needs a total overhaul. I don't think being a Jack of All Trades cuts it when the trade-off is master of none. I've played a bard, my players have played a bard- we've all always felt lackluster compared to the Wizard's fireball or the Paladin's smite. The bard needs something they can truly excel at, something that really wows the crowd the way every other class can, and I really don't think being "combo of every class who can do small support stuff" cuts it. Make them a master of enchantment magic! Have them be the top of the Charisma game! Give them a way to hurt foes as well as a rogue or a cleric do! Make bards a class that older players will want to play instead of it being a trap option new players will take because they wanna be musical!

There is zero way your group is playing the bard correctly if you think the class is a trap option. Either that or you're grossly underestimating the contribution of buffing (which is probable since you are apparently impressed with Fireball Wizards).

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Being able to buff is great, but when the only thing a class can easily do is buff, there's an issue. Even Clerics and Oracles, some of the biggest support classes in the game, have better options for other routes than the bard, who basically has to stick to buffing unless he's an Arcane Duelist or Dervish.


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Derry L. Zimeye wrote:
Being able to buff is great, but when the only thing a class can easily do is buff, there's an issue. Even Clerics and Oracles, some of the biggest support classes in the game, have better options for other routes than the bard, who basically has to stick to buffing unless he's an Arcane Duelist or Dervish.

Being able to buff is hardly the only thing a bard can do. They aren’t the BEST at alot of things, but are able to meaningfully contribute in many.


Also, Buffs are being greatly underestimated. When I GM, I always make sure to point out attacks that would have missed and saves that would have failed without a performance going.

Liberty's Edge

Coridan wrote:
I <3 the EverQuest d20 bard

It's been a while since we played this, but if I remember right, wasn't it an escalating Perform check to twist effects into your song and/or maintain it?


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I have no problem with the performance bard. But maybe you can take a more Marechal-esque approach ? The bard could be a performer or someone with a presence so strong it inspires their allies. Taking Perform: Oratory like Arachnofiend suggested could be a way to do so, and maybe allow bards to use Diplomacy/Intimidate for their perform check could do it. The current Bard's perform's description is vague enough for that.

Shadow Lodge

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Man, anyone else thinking Archery Bards now? Because I'm thinking Archery Bards with some "nah, you didn't fail that save/miss that attack" sprinkled on top. ^-^

Bards are Support. Have them specialize in a combat style and they will support themselves.


Bardic Buffs could easily be represented with the Aid Another line of thought, and get some Class Feats that let Aid Another power up for them, allowing them to inspire more from others as levels increase. (If that is how these so called "Class Feats" work?)

Feels an easy way to make them naturally a "Support" class, without relying on magic to do that, nor another mechanic.


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Lord_Franklin wrote:

Bardic Buffs could easily be represented with the Aid Another line of thought, and get some Class Feats that let Aid Another power up for them, allowing them to inspire more from others as levels increase. (If that is how these so called "Class Feats" work?)

Feels an easy way to make them naturally a "Support" class, without relying on magic to do that, nor another mechanic.

This, or something like it. There's got to be a less campy replacement, or at least alternative to singing, dancing, etc.

World Warcraft actually introduced a bard class: AS AN APRIL FOOLS JOKE. A game that has talking panda men and Jersey shore goblins decided that a guy playing music in battle was a bridge too far. Let that sink in.

I don't think anyone is questioning the need for a character class that plays music, is skilly and charming. And that's fine for OUT OF COMBAT class features. But let's face it, if the bard was a recent Pathfinder invention with no historical ties to DnD a lot of people would gawk and laugh at the idea and suggest that Paizo has gone off the deep end.


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I would like for the Bard to have more of a niche. The Bard is a weird case. He is certainely a strong class, but he lacks a cool kickass moment where his kit truly can shine. Being a Jack-of-all-Trades is kind of okay, but most Pathfinder classes have their own niche where they can really look good. The Bard lacks those moments of greatness.

Buffing others is a useful role and certainely can have a huge impact on a full attacking party, but it really does not feel that way. It is also depressing that your greatest tool "Haste" is open to other classes.
---------
Personally I like the idea of the bard as a performance class and would like to see to see his songs be made stronger to give him more focus.

I have always thought of a way to give the bards a more Tolkienish mystic flair, where songs are tied to magic more directly. Maybe they could choose different songs from a list of talents like most classes do. Some could be similar to Witch hexes in effect.

They could have some songs for out of combat purposes, which would work similar to rituals. Those could be for utility or maybe some pre-combat buffing.
Others could be be more useable in Combat. I would like stuff like Fascinate and Suggestion to be made to work as an in Combat. Maybe with once per target restrictions like Witch songs. You could also have stuff like Hold Person as a song or a Slumber Witch. Maybe some of the Combat Buffs could be more like a short burst turning your fighter in a beast for 1-2 instead of an always on small buff. Some song to grant your allies rerolls would also be nice.
Maybe tie the bards spellcasting more directly to his performance as well.

I might even think about restricting the ability to maintain a performance while fighting(aside of Derwish Dancing Archetypes) and instead focus of stronger spell songs.


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* Shakes head in wonder *

You guys really have a different experience of the bard. I feel that the bard is usually the most valued player. Yes, they buff, but they don't have to spend many action on that. With the rest of their actions, they can do lots of other cool stuff, such as combat maneuvers or getting the macguffin. You also get the party face role with virtually no sacrifice. And versatile performance makes them great skill monkeys.

This relates to the hate for the -10 and -15 iterative attacks. With a bard around, those attacks are no longer waste.


While I think we could have better bards with more interesting mechanics (like the Everquest D20 example mentioned above, Complete Book of Eldritch Might also comes to mind), I don't think just tagging them as the "Jack of All Trades" class and ditching the silly, campy flavour should be the way to go. I love bards the way they are, sure we certainly could have a lot of alternative options that deviate from that flavour, but the main bard should be the artisy class we know, a lot of bard fans like that, and I'd wager the people who come to the class just wanting to play a jack of all trades aren't regular bard players. Want a jack of all trades that is not campy and silly and fun(ny)? Get an alternative bard, or go rogue, or select the investigator when they come out. Also, keep bard spells, why ever ditching them? I like when characters have different magic mechanics from the same class, bards can have performances & spells for that purpose.


Zolanoteph wrote:
Lord_Franklin wrote:

Bardic Buffs could easily be represented with the Aid Another line of thought, and get some Class Feats that let Aid Another power up for them, allowing them to inspire more from others as levels increase. (If that is how these so called "Class Feats" work?)

Feels an easy way to make them naturally a "Support" class, without relying on magic to do that, nor another mechanic.

This, or something like it. There's got to be a less campy replacement, or at least alternative to singing, dancing, etc.

World Warcraft actually introduced a bard class: AS AN APRIL FOOLS JOKE. A game that has talking panda men and Jersey shore goblins decided that a guy playing music in battle was a bridge too far. Let that sink in.

I don't think anyone is questioning the need for a character class that plays music, is skilly and charming. And that's fine for OUT OF COMBAT class features. But let's face it, if the bard was a recent Pathfinder invention with no historical ties to DnD a lot of people would gawk and laugh at the idea and suggest that Paizo has gone off the deep end.

Bard was created in AD&D 1st edition...


I specifically don't allow non-oratory bards in my games because of my inability to take the standard flavour of bard seriously.


ChibiNyan wrote:
Bard was created in AD&D 1st edition...

Can confirm. Page 117 of the AD&D Player's Handbook (6th Printing, January 1980): Appendix II: Bards

Which includes this nugget:

Quote:
As this character class subsumes the function of two other classes, fighters and thieves, and tops them off with magical abilities, it is often not allowed by Dungeon Masters.

It's a super weird class, you have to take your first 5 levels in fighter, then before 8th level they need a level as a thief, then they become druids before becoming bards. Perhaps the first prestige class?


On AD&D 1st edition bards:

Spoiler:

PossibleCabbage wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
Bard was created in AD&D 1st edition...

Can confirm. Page 117 of the AD&D Player's Handbook (6th Printing, January 1980): Appendix II: Bards

Which includes this nugget:

Quote:
As this character class subsumes the function of two other classes, fighters and thieves, and tops them off with magical abilities, it is often not allowed by Dungeon Masters.
It's a super weird class, you have to take your first 5 levels in fighter, then before 8th level they need a level as a thief, then they become druids before becoming bards. Perhaps the first prestige class?

I might be failing here as a wannabe Grey Sage, but if I recall well, that first bard class is intrinsically tied to Greyhawk lore, even if it doesn't say so where it appears. In the Flanaess (the main continent of the World of Greyhawk setting) you got an organization of druid called the Old Faith (very much like Golarion's Green Faith, in general at least) and the Old Faith has a supporting branch of bards called the Old Lore, which acts as spies, informants, and warriors for the druidic hierarchies of the Old Faith, so there you go. Explains the rogue levels, the fighter levels, and the druid flavour.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
NetoD20 wrote:

On AD&D 1st edition bards:

** spoiler omitted **

They were also major AD&D 1st edition NPCs in Forgotten Realms. The Harpers were all bards


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Dont mess with my bard!!!

Im cool with a pokerface archetype for folks who require stoicism from their bards.


I would make Bards have different skills and spells depending on the instrument. Then I'd put all the good ones in the list for piano.

Imagine the laughter when the PCs try to sneak into the evil guy's fortress carrying a piano.

The Exchange

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Man, i love bards. With PF2 having 3 actions per turn i bet bardic performance will be similar to spell casting. Like if it is a visual performance it is one action per turn to perform and then you can cast a spell or do something else.

As an aside, I love the idea of an aura bard whose very being (maybe his rugged good looks?) Inspires those around him. I keep picturing sergeant armstrong from fma brotherhood.


gustavo iglesias wrote:

I would make Bards have different skills and spells depending on the instrument. Then I'd put all the good ones in the list for piano.

Imagine the laughter when the PCs try to sneak into the evil guy's fortress carrying a piano.

Or, imagine the player's fear when they go up against the boss, only for a curtain off to the side to open and reveal a grand piano.

Bar fights in saloons with a bard-operated piano do twice the damage in half the time.


gustavo iglesias wrote:

I would make Bards have different skills and spells depending on the instrument. Then I'd put all the good ones in the list for piano.

Imagine the laughter when the PCs try to sneak into the evil guy's fortress carrying a piano.

It doesn't have to be a very big piano, you can probably fit this one in your backpack.


ChibiNyan wrote:
Zolanoteph wrote:
Lord_Franklin wrote:

Bardic Buffs could easily be represented with the Aid Another line of thought, and get some Class Feats that let Aid Another power up for them, allowing them to inspire more from others as levels increase. (If that is how these so called "Class Feats" work?)

Feels an easy way to make them naturally a "Support" class, without relying on magic to do that, nor another mechanic.

This, or something like it. There's got to be a less campy replacement, or at least alternative to singing, dancing, etc.

World Warcraft actually introduced a bard class: AS AN APRIL FOOLS JOKE. A game that has talking panda men and Jersey shore goblins decided that a guy playing music in battle was a bridge too far. Let that sink in.

I don't think anyone is questioning the need for a character class that plays music, is skilly and charming. And that's fine for OUT OF COMBAT class features. But let's face it, if the bard was a recent Pathfinder invention with no historical ties to DnD a lot of people would gawk and laugh at the idea and suggest that Paizo has gone off the deep end.

Bard was created in AD&D 1st edition...

It's important to note that he didn't say it was a recent invention, he said 'if' it were a recent invention.

That aside, I would be in favor of some base bard options that allow them to be less artsy. I'm a big fan of VMC bards, and I know several other players who really like the bardic buffs, knowledges, and skills, but hate the song and dance themes.

Shadow Lodge

Or with Perform (Keyboard), you could play the accordion. If a dagger or rapier strapped to one end comes off as too silly for you, you could have a boot blade.

Plus, as was previously stated, any class can be as silly or as serious as you make it. Perform (Oratory) and just shout at your allies to fight better! (Sing) but make it like you're screaming at the top of your lungs, or whistling menacingly?


I prefer to all good bardic music options go to grand piano since it makes sure either bard needs to shut the f up or sit in the same squıare were even clumsy barbarian can coup de grace him also make bardic music three actions please.


gustavo iglesias wrote:

I would make Bards have different skills and spells depending on the instrument. Then I'd put all the good ones in the list for piano.

Imagine the laughter when the PCs try to sneak into the evil guy's fortress carrying a piano.

Versatile Performance and Masterpieces already aim in that direction! So they're not too far off already.


QuidEst wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:

I would make Bards have different skills and spells depending on the instrument. Then I'd put all the good ones in the list for piano.

Imagine the laughter when the PCs try to sneak into the evil guy's fortress carrying a piano.

Or, imagine the player's fear when they go up against the boss, only for a curtain off to the side to open and reveal a grand piano.

Bar fights in saloons with a bard-operated piano do twice the damage in half the time.

Easily solved with a "Spectral Piano" or better yet "Spectral Organ" spell. You conjure a quasi-real force piano (or organ) from thin air. It doesn't actually occupy more space than your square, becomes tangible only as you hit the keys, does all a regular piano/organ does. The spell duration is hours, you can suppress it with an action and bring it back to reality with another as long as the spell duration persists. Beauty and the Beast Christmas Special anyone?

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