Bards need some love


Classes

Silver Crusade

I've now run the third chapter of Doomsday Dawn and I'm definitely coming to the conclusion that Bards need some boosting.

Arguably the single biggest contribution a Bard makes to combat is its Inspire Courage ability.

Unfortunately, this is a conditional bonus and conditional bonuses don't stack and are reasonably easy to get. In the specific case of Doomsday Dawn one of the clerics cast Sanctified Ground making the Bards Inspire Courage no longer worth the action.

At least with the current Resonance Rules (may change in 2 weeks, of course) Cha is a fairly important stat so many characters will have it at close to maximum levels. Intimidate is currently a VERY powerful ability which increases the chances that characters will invest in charisma.

This means that the Bard only has a small (if any) advantage in social skills over many other classes. If we get better skill feats this MAY improve a little. Their ability to use Versatile Performance is severely hampered by the fact that it can be used only "in social situations". So, for example, if I want to demoralize in combat I STILL need intimidate and, in fact, will prioritize it over Versatile Performance.

What niche does that leave the bard? Bardic Lore? The weakest list of spells in general (especially for combat)? Multiclass in fighter and just become an archer ?

I get that the Bard's primary sphere is social situations and the Playtest just doesn't have them. But that was true in PF1 as well and, at least there, a Bard could still significantly participate in combat (especially with non Core options).

But right now I'd prefer a Core PF1 Bard to a PF2 Bard. And that is just wrong.

A lot of issues will go away, of course, if spells get somewhat increased in power (I'm one of the people who welcome the nerfing of spells from PF1 but think that Paizo has gone overboard in many cases). But it isn't clear that is going to happen.

I think that the Bard needs some ability to be flat out better at social skills than anybody else. Might be as simple as letting Versatile Performance apply in non social situations, together with better skill feats for social skills. Those better feats don't have to be bard specific. I have no problem that somebody else who tries hard CAN be as good as a bard. I just have a problem that somebody else who doesn't try very hard at all will be nearly as good as a bard.


My personal experience has varied from this a fair bit. I had a player with a Bard in Part 2 and one with Part 3 (Which I'm only halfway through) and they've been some very strong contributors so far. They have used Inspire Courage a lot and it's been great, but in Part 2 Inspire Competence was CRAZY helpful, and her spells ended up doing a lot for the party. Sound Burst was never terribly helpful but it landed some useful damage, but stuff like Illusory Creature was REALLY helpful (It occupied a giant scorpion for almost an entire fight because the scorpion kept missing but even without that the illusion did enough damage to be worthwhile), Phantom Pain is good too, and Daze was used to solid effect multiple times. And this was with the player not even thinking to take an attack Cantrip. XD

In Part 3, so far the Bard has been content to throw around Inspire Courage and attack cantrips which have done well so far, but I expect Triple Time to be of use in some of the encounters too and if you consider that Inspire Competence works for combat maneuvers that's quite a thing as well. Unfortunately I can't give more feedback since she hasn't bothered to use other spells much yet, not due to a lack of good spells but a lack of pressure to use them (the party has had things pretty well in hand for the first two fights). I'll try to remember to post later with feedback from the rest but so far from what I've seen Bards are pretty solid.


pauljathome wrote:
Their ability to use Versatile Performance is severely hampered by the fact that it can be used only "in social situations". So, for example, if I want to demoralize in combat I STILL need intimidate and, in fact, will prioritize it over Versatile Performance.

Where are you getting this from? Demoralize works fine in combat with Versatile Performance. And it's great, because you'll have a Peformance item, you'll have the +2 for the Virtuoustic Performance feat, and you'll be maxing Performance anyway when you can with skill improvements.

Silver Crusade

Xenocrat wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
Their ability to use Versatile Performance is severely hampered by the fact that it can be used only "in social situations". So, for example, if I want to demoralize in combat I STILL need intimidate and, in fact, will prioritize it over Versatile Performance.
Where are you getting this from? Demoralize works fine in combat with Versatile Performance. And it's great, because you'll have a Peformance item, you'll have the +2 for the Virtuoustic Performance feat, and you'll be maxing Performance anyway when you can with skill improvements.

From the very first line in Versatile Performance

"In social situations you can rely on the grandeur".

I'm one of those people who think that you have to read ALL the words when deciding what RAW is and don't get to ignore some of them as just "flavour". Note, the latter is not aimed at you in particular. I've just seen that particular defense a lot in rules duscussions


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pauljathome wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
Their ability to use Versatile Performance is severely hampered by the fact that it can be used only "in social situations". So, for example, if I want to demoralize in combat I STILL need intimidate and, in fact, will prioritize it over Versatile Performance.
Where are you getting this from? Demoralize works fine in combat with Versatile Performance. And it's great, because you'll have a Peformance item, you'll have the +2 for the Virtuoustic Performance feat, and you'll be maxing Performance anyway when you can with skill improvements.

From the very first line in Versatile Performance

"In social situations you can rely on the grandeur".

I'm one of those people who think that you have to read ALL the words when deciding what RAW is and don't get to ignore some of them as just "flavour". Note, the latter is not aimed at you in particular. I've just seen that particular defense a lot in rules duscussions

That sentence is just fluff, like the first lines of Bardic Lore and Lingering Composition. We can easily know this because there is no definition or tag for "social situation" and Demoralize is only an action you take in combat.

If you've seen that defense a lot it may because you're poor at comprehending and interpreting rules and are making bush league mistakes like this frequently.

I had a discussion several weeks back about how you can use Versatile Performance to optimize your Demoralize checks against monsters. Mark Seifter stepped in to correct my DCs. He did not correct the use of Demoralize, because it's self evidence what the rule actually is here.

Edit: Here's the relevant post, Mark's response is below it.

Silver Crusade

Xenocrat wrote:
pauljathome wrote:


"In social situations you can rely on the grandeur".

That sentence is just fluff

Ah, so you Are one of those people who decide which words are rules and which words are fluff by some mysterious (to me, at least) process.

I don't feel like rehashing that argument except to say that
1) I disagree. ALL the words matter.
2) This difference in interpretation matters greatly in how the Bard is built and functions. Hopefully Paizo will make their intent clearer in the final product


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pauljathome wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
pauljathome wrote:


"In social situations you can rely on the grandeur".

That sentence is just fluff

Ah, so you Are one of those people who decide which words are rules and which words are fluff by some mysterious (to me, at least) process.

If it's only mysterious to you and a tiny fringe (hint: it is) then they're not going to invest resources in helping out the flat earthers with detailed proofs of the curvature of the earth.

And the appropriate phrase is "those who are able to recognize" which words are rules and which are fluff.


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Let's just put this down to another badly written rule. The PF2 feats have very little fluff text (usually just one sentence, if any) and it's not separated in any way from the rule text. In PF1 the benefit of a feat was clearly labelled as such, and distinct from the fluff.

Personally, I'm on the side of making it usable everywhere the performance might be justifiable, which will typically include combat. Though combat is rather antisocial, of course...


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for starters, Combat is a "social encounter" for our barbarian and most our murderhobos. They get to practice fist diplomacy all the time.

even if "in social" isn't fluff, there are 0 tags to seperate a "social" from a "combat" encounter.

Demoralize is clearly a combat action.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
shroudb wrote:
Combat is a "social encounter" for our barbarian and most our murderhobos.

LOL, I just had to pull this quote out - just too good.


I've played Dogs in the Vineyard. You can absolutely escalate from Guns to Talking (you just don't most of the time).

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