So, umm, Battle Herald... a little help, please...


Advice


I was to play a vanilla Bard in a stripped down, supposed to be core and vanilla and basic game, in a direct attempt to make the following campaign more challenging and scary for the players. We were given traits available, as well as story feats, based on a number of dice rolls that dictated part of our background and gave us each a random dice rolled conflict to incorporate. I know this is a specific type of alternative gameplay, but I didn't look into it at all because I don't want to ruin any of the GM's surprises. I did choose Bard specifically to inspire courage in these scary times, though. Simply because the GM used the words "supposed to be scary", he is a player at my table in my gestalt Kingmaker campaign, so I enjoy capitalizing on this opportunity to return the favor of doing what I can to make his life as GM difficult, as he so willingly does in my campaign. Mind you, this is truly all in good fun, and I ran my entire backstory and proposal feat progression by him via email to make sure everything fit within his basic and core campaign structure.

In doing so, I received feedback, both in the way of addressing what I can and cannot take for feats, and what information or questions he needed answered from me in my backstory. I readily built off this in a 30+ strong email correspondence between him and I that led to a depth of backstory, completely based off of the conflict my dice rolls gave me, and working in the Kitharodian Academy into my background to meet the prerequisites for Grandmaster Performer feat tree without question in his strict world of character creation guidelines.

He proposed... he did it, not me... asked if I had considered the Battle Herald. I had not. And I told him that I had absolutely not considered a multiclassing/ prestige class build when I was told to pick a core race and core class with a 15pt buy. But he offered, and I figured why not? I would never normally take any prestige class over maxing out any pure class, ever, at all... maybe VERY specific builds involving Dragon Discipline or Eldritch Archer, but even then, probably not. Anyways, the GM who engineered this meant to be scary bare bones campaign offered me the opportunity for a prestige class in his campaign... don't have to ask me twice.

Here's the thing, it's still all about the Bard and the Kitharodian Academy, and I have to start as the Bard. So 1-9 vanilla Bard, 10 standard bearer Cavalier, 11-20 Battle Herald.
I may be able to take two levels of Cavalier, but I will be taking AT LEAST 8 levels of vanilla Bard TO START.

Syr
Half Elf
Ancestral Arms (for the starknife)
**note: this replaces the Half Elf Skill Focus for Perfom Oratory, which is a huge hit given I get proficiency with martial weapons as a Cavalier, but must start as a Bard **
Blended View (backstory related by choice, not dice rolls)

12,14,13,10,10,16

Bard
1. Lost Legacy story feat (+1 all Cha skills/checks)
2. Desna's Divine Fighting Technique (Cha to Atk/Dmg w/starknives)
3. Lingering Performance
4. Con +1
5. Extra Performance
7. Master Performer
8. Cha +1
9. Verbose Performer

Cavalier
10. Tactician teamwork feat: Bonded Mind

Battle Herald
11. Flagbearer
12. Cha +1
13. Discordant Voice

Literally everything after this is a mystery to me, but we are playing past 12. Obviously Grandmaster Performer probably makes the list eventually, but Skill Focus Perform Oratory, Additional Traits, Signature Skill Perform Oratory, Iron Will, Toughness...yeah?

I end with a +17 BAB, +10/+9/+11 saves, maxed Inspire Courage bonus allotted by levels (plus Flagbearer and the Banner of Ancient Kings shenanigans). Two or three 3rd level spells, and I can use the human FCB to gain a few lower level spells along the way.

Any help will be appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time to read this all, if you did.


Unfortunately, the Battle Herald is a very Martial Commander style class - and the best Battle Heralds (At least from what I have seen) were purely Martial characters who used Bardic Performance from other sources than the Bard. I think that the Oracle peaked inside the Herald's room once, but that's mainly because of the Oracle Curse scaling with Character level instead of purely Oracle level.

Personally, the Exemplar is one of the best Bardic Performance classes you can go into for the Battle Herald, with a full progression of d10 and giving everyone Teamwork Feats and minor buffs when you want to - while not being completely reliant on the team to deal damage. (Advanced Class Guide though, so it isn't core).

I may be misunderstanding "Core", but could you clarify what books are allowed? At first I thought you met only the base core books, but then I saw divine fighting style, so I was wondering which books are and which books aren't allowed for character creation.

(Edit)
Please do not take my first two paragraphs incorrectly and misunderstand me. I am - by no means - saying that you should not make a Bard focused Battle Herald. I am, however, saying that I've (personally) never made a successful spell focused Battle Herald, so you'll need to take my advice with a grain of salt.

That being said, your current build looks like an average support Battle Herald build, looks good so far.


I appreciate the response.

Core races.
Core classes.
No archetypes.
15pt buy.
Traits AVAILABLE dictated by dice rolls.
Required conflict dictated by dice rolls.
No Barbarians.
No Monks.
No Paladins.
No Evil Alignment.

When he proposed Battle Herald, and thusly allowing both multiclassing AND me to take the Standard Bearer archetype of Cavalier... I was, and am still, very surprised. He may be satisfied with the Cleric and the Sorcerer as spellcasters in the group. He may want to push me more towards melee after focusing on Bard for so long to put my character outside his comfort zone. We also have a fighter, and he may want to force a more balanced dynamic approach, I don't know... but somehow my backstory emails led to a prestige class being available to me that I would otherwise never play, so why not?

In some odd build advice Battle Herald review thread I read, they brought up an old school ~3.5e term, "twisting"... same thing as rage cycling... but I really need to know how to twist/rage cycle my Bardic Performance and Inspiring Command effectively by the time I actually get into Battle Herald at level 11.

That is far too crucial of a point in the game to suddenly not understand my own action economy.

So, can we discuss the efficient use of combining both Bardic Performance and Inspiring Command in conjunction with Lingering Performance... which DOES, in fact, work with both of them.

I have my allotment of Bardic Performance as per my levels in Bard and Charisma modifier.

I have a separate allotment of Inspiring Command as per my levels in Battle Herald and my Charisma modifier.

I can use my Inspiring Command allotment to specifically use the Inspire Courage Bardic Performance, but I cannot use my Bardic Performance allotment to use Inspiring Command.

So there is a way to cycle the overall awesomeness of Inspire Courage/ Flagbearer/ Banner of Ancient Kings, along with all the circumstantial commands that make the entire prestige class borderline useless.

Anyone have any idea how to effectively do such a thing...?

Besides the obvious... use all Bardic Performance first, except for maybe a few rounds of something other than Inspire Courage, and then use all of Inspiring Command specifically for more Inspire Courage, except for maybe a few rounds of something other than Inspire Courage? (Or is that exactly it?)

My build is using the divine fighting technique as its only combat oriented "feat". My main stat to both attack and damage at level two, okay, I can stop now. I'm a Bard, and I want to do Bard stuff. It's not like the boost to my BAB and my ever increasing highest stat will be a bad thing in combat, either. I would just rather do Bard stuff and not worry about combat feats.

Any official word on:
Tactician & Bonded Mind & Inspire Courage/ Inspiring Command?


I don't know that Herald gives you that much useful stuff, especially if you're not interested in BAB and physical combat.

Building for one, you'd probably want one of the martials with Inspire Courage, like the paladin or exemplar mentioned above, and get in at level 6-7. I know Sensei/Samurai have been theorized as well.
With 9 levels of bard already however, Sound the Charge will never be relevant. Nor will Inspire Greatness, as you'll already have it. And the bonus granting commands won't be all that interesting either that late. Still, maybe the more uncommon ones.
And no Complex Commands before lv 20.
So, you could - and probably should - relatively safely stick to the reroll and feat granting ones.

That said, is it worth it ? You'd probably be better off with more magic.

I don't see what there is to cycle either.
You can't have 2+ Performances/Command running before Complex Commands - Lingering does not help.
Flagbearer is pretty much always on, as long as you got your flag out, obviously.
Your commands should mostly be situational, and unlike rage there is no 1/performance ability of any sort, which is the one point of rage-cycling. Use them when needed (if ever), then stick to Courage 90+% of the time.
Although most of that you quite likely do at least as well with magic.

Also, quick correction : you can in fact use bardic rounds for Inspiring Command. Unless that's houserule of your GM's. See the ability's description.

In short : I like the Herald, but I don't think your build benefits from the PrC in any way.
So ... Just because you can doesn't mean you should, I guess.
It's not like bards can't fight on their own, they have the tools.

If you plan on going Herald no matter what, well : what is it that you want from the class ? Identify that and build for it.


VoodistMonk wrote:
the GM who engineered this meant to be scary bare bones campaign offered me the opportunity for a prestige class in his campaign... don't have to ask me twice.

Why not? In Pathfinder, prestige classes are generally weaker than staying in your class. The GM's "offer" is something that makes your character weaker, not stronger.

On a side note:

VoodistMonk wrote:


Core classes.
No archetypes.
15pt buy.
No Barbarians.
No Paladins.

Do you want an all full-caster party? because that's how you get an all full-caster party!


I've only glanced at Battle Herald, but it doesn't really sound like it's meant for the Bard, but that the Bard just happens to stack with it, if that ever comes up.


To be fair, you need Inspire Courage to qualify, and at the time only the Bard had it. This goes back to the APG after all.

Things have changed though, and there are now better ways to get in.


^Things have changed . . . unless you are limited to the Cire Rulebook + a bit of APG + no archetypes, as specified by the original postet's GM.

Still, this guide may be helpful.


Being based in core, I chose a Bard for skills, versatility, decent utility/combat spells, and the obvious Inspire Courage buff for the party. I figured it was about as helpful as I could get being just core.

I painted such an in depth backstory that the GM suggested that I take Battle Herald. Not something I was intending to ever take, or even that would ever be an option even I had wanted to take it for whatever reason. But it was purely upon the GM's suggestion that I am taking it.

It changes everything about my build design, but fits into my background amazingly well. I have to go 8 levels of trying to be the best Bard ever, backstory wise to gain recognition from the Kitharodian Academy.

Then, I switch to a bit more martial type as I go into two levels of Cavalier and all 10 levels of Battle Herald.

This really doesn't bother me too much, honestly. I really think that the GM is trying to regulate the amount of spellcasting in the levels where both the full casters are getting serious. I am fine with dropping out of my Bard spell progression after acquiring Haste.

I really wanted the Inspire Courage buff for the party, and Battle Herald still expands that particular ability for me. I'm ok with that. I am well aware that there are much better ways to approach a martial Battle Herald build, but I am working within the parameters of this particular campaign and the background I have already written.

I need to acquire a belt of physical prowess to carry my strength up with my dexterity. Dexterity is for my light armor and initiative. Strength is still attack and damage for the longspear whilst wielding the Banner of Ancient Kings. I get full Charisma modifier to attack and damage with starknives, so I think I will wield two and take TWF/Imp.TWF during my early Battle Herald levels.

I have to choose between the benefits of the banner, or the extra attacks of improved two weapon fighting... but options are always welcome. And the two feats for Improved TWF, I can actually afford after all my Bard stuff is already out of the way.

For actual melee combat, I will be better with two starknives, using my Charisma modifier for both attack and damage, than I will with one longspear that keys off strength for attack and damage.

I think it's worthwhile to use two weapons since I won't be casting as many spells, and don't need a free hand to start a Performance either way.

Thank you for the input. I know there are better ways to build a Battle Herald... I probably would have used Samurai and Sensei Monk if I was truly intending to build a Battle Herald from the start.


Oh yeah...

I get the Tactician ability as a Cavalier.

The Bonded Mind teamwork feat allows me to transit untraceable verbal messages without making noise.

I can share this teamwork feat with all allies within 30'...

So, umm, can I quietly Inspire Courage (Perform Oratory)/ Inspiring Command within 30' if I take Bonded Mind as my Cavalier Tactician teamwork feat?

With Verbose Performer my Bardic Performance has double range, typically 60', and Inspiring Command already has a range of 60', so Bonded Mind would be half the range, but I could do it silently as long as the party can see me, right?


Unfortunately you can't dual wield starknives if you plan on using Flagbearer + Banner of the Ancient Kings. It also negates the benefits of the Banner if you don't wield the longspear/Banner in both hands... maybe you can ask your GM to let that slide if you wield it in at least one hand?


juantamad wrote:
Unfortunately you can't dual wield starknives if you plan on using Flagbearer + Banner of the Ancient Kings. It also negates the benefits of the Banner if you don't wield the longspear/Banner in both hands... maybe you can ask your GM to let that slide if you wield it in at least one hand?

This is why I said I have to make a decision between the benefits of the banner, or the extra attacks with the starknives.

I know I have to choose between the strength based longspear in two hands, using the benefits of the banner.

Or...

Dual wield two charisma based starknives, using the extra attacks and higher Charisma modifier.

Having choices is nice. I obviously would prefer to simply Inspire Courage with the Banner of Ancient Kings, but I have no ability to use the longspear effectively in combat. And it is based on a stat I have to remind myself to drag along with my dexterity.

IF I have to engage in the melee, I will have two starknives keying off my highest stat for attack and damage. I am less helpful overall to the party if I have to put the banner away in order to deal damage on my own, but I am capable of doing this.

If the GM is satisfied with the level of spellcasting the Cleric and Sorcerer bring to the game, I will duck out of my Bard spell progression after I acquire Haste. I am ok with that. I would rather have the game be scary as intended, rather than ever make it too easy.

I am really curious about the Tactician/Bonded Mind/Inspire Courage thing, though. I still need ways to make Battle Herald useful.


If you hold out for 3rd level spells, Good Hope gives the party the same bonuses for Flagbearer (and a little more). Bummer for not having all those lovely Banner bonuses though.

Yeah the Bonded Mind/Inspire Courage thing seems valid. To be fair, Bonded Mind through a Ring of Tactical Precision and the 3rd level spell Coordinated Effort can also accomplish that... so how much do you want to be a Battle Herald?


juantamad wrote:

If you hold out for 3rd level spells, Good Hope gives the party the same bonuses for Flagbearer (and a little more). Bummer for not having all those lovely Banner bonuses though.

Yeah the Bonded Mind/Inspire Courage thing seems valid. To be fair, Bonded Mind through a Ring of Tactical Precision and the 3rd level spell Coordinated Effort can also accomplish that... so how much do you want to be a Battle Herald?

Oh, I will have the banner bonuses! I will be prancing around with the Banner of Ancient Kings flying on a longspear, whilst having the Flagbearer feat. That will be my all the time, every day setup. I know it is based on strength, and I shouldn't see that much combat as I buff from the background.

I will put the longspear and banner in my pocket and pull out two starknives in situations that I cannot use the longspear and banner. They will be capable of dealing some damage, but I am not designed to stand on the front lines... as a commander, and all.

I don't want to ever use my starknives, but having the option is always welcome.

And, I wasn't at all considering Battle Herald as a possible option in this bare bones campaign, honestly.

And the GM requested that I start at level one as a Bard, even if I do pursue the Battle Herald route. I would have started Cavalier and worked into Bard if possible, but I can't, so I'm really making the best of what I have available to me.

At this point, I am not being instructed to be a Battle Herald, but I am choosing the option hoping to enrich the overall story.

To answer your question, I have very little interest in the Battle Herald, as a prestige class, itself. However, color me intrigued by the proposal to play a prestige class that requires multiclassing in this bare bones campaign.

I'm doing it, and I am trying to salvage 8 levels of vanilla Bard in the process. I will grab as many 0/1/2 level spells as I can with the human FCB just to have some utility magics. But my 3rd level spells will be very limited and Haste will be one of them. I can enter Bardic Performance as a move or standard action, by this point before multiclassing into Cavalier.

I'm taking 2 levels of Cavalier as to forfeit Inspire Greatness in my Bard levels... this makes getting it granted by Battle Herald worthwhile. And I acquire the 2nd level Cavalier ability, which is nice.

Battle Herald being full BAB, but no spells invites me to invest in my ability to contribute to martial combat. However, more importantly, it expands the use and value of my number one buff to the party as a Bard, my Inspire Courage. So this does continue exactly what I was intending to accomplish being a Bard.

I have exactly zero knowledge of what the other people in the part intend to do with their characters. So Bonded Mind seems like a super safe and utilitarian teamwork feat for my Tactician ability. If I could metagame to see if we were going to summon and flank, or literally anything tactics wise, I may have chosen something different. I still have ample opportunity to change my teamwork feat by the time we get there to match the strategies we develop.


VoodistMonk wrote:

Core races.

Core classes.
No archetypes.
15pt buy.
Traits AVAILABLE dictated by dice rolls.
Required conflict dictated by dice rolls.
No Barbarians.
No Monks.
No Paladins.

No Evil Alignment.

Spoiler:
(Bold: This makes it sound like the DM has had some personal experiences with the "overpowered" classes. I'm personally surprised that Wizard was allowed. Here is what you do, first make a Wizard until that gets banned.... Then a Sorcerer until that gets banned... a Druid until that gets banned... continue on this list until the only classes that remain are Fighter, Rogue, Bard, and Cleric. Because why have any verity when everything else can be completely broken and unbalanced using Core material only. After all, why does anyone play anything but the basics anymore? The 4 basic classes are all you actually need to play and enjoy the game, none of these overpowered options that other classes give you which make them "better" than the base 4.)

Joking aside, with this limited material, Battle Herald is not something I could recommend with a straight face. Especially when you're investing so heavily into Bard early levels. By the time you're taking Battle Herald classes, you've already received most of the benefits that going Battle Herald would have gained and suffered most of the problems going Battle Herald would have solved.

What exactly are you looking for by going Battle Herald? Was there anything specific that you wanted when you were looking at the prestige class?

(Edit) - If your GM is trying to get you to make characters based on story and progression, I see nothing wrong with Battle Herald. But I would recommend caution investing so heavily on a Spellcasting class only to throw it away once you start taking this prestige class.


^

Spoiler:
TheMonkeyFish wrote:
{. . .} This makes it sound like the DM has had some personal experiences with the "overpowered" classes. I'm personally surprised that Wizard was allowed. Here is what you do, first make a Wizard until that gets banned.... Then a Sorcerer until that gets banned... a Druid until that gets banned... continue on this list until the only classes that remain are Fighter, Rogue, Bard, and Cleric. Because why have any verity when everything else can be completely broken and unbalanced using Core material only. After all, why does anyone play anything but the basics anymore? {. . .}

I think that if you did this, Cleric would be quickly banned, followed by Bard and then Fighter, leaving you with only the absolutely most basic class the Rogue.


Might I suggest a very far outside the box build for a Battle Herald?

One of the Inspiring Command options is Teamwork, where you add your bonus to Aid Another checks and bonuses given. This means that your piddling bonus of +2 AC goes to +3. Rawr.

Okay, that still sounds awful, right? How about if we make you a Halfling and it's not a base +4 going to +5?

Order of the Dragon Cavalier and it goes up by +3? Total of +8?

Ring of Tactical Precision and it goes up another +1?

Gloves of Arcane Striking to milk a few more points?

Benevolent Armor for a few more points?

So... you can Aid Another for a pretty fun maybe dozen points of AC bonus. Why not make it crazier? Bodyguard feat lets you dump AoOs to do it as an off-turn free action. Vanguard Style is a long, long feat chain to the payoff... but the payoff is basically you roving the battle field creating a map-sized zone of "nope" in which your allies cannot be hit. I hear that's good.

You can also dip into Divine Strategist Cleric to give an Aid Another bonus to your allies' caster level and concentration checks. Depending on how free wheeling your GM is, you could argue that some of those bonuses above ought to apply to it. I hear casting things at +4 CL is good. Not quite sure.

There's also sorts of fun you can have with an Aid Another build. I've put together a few of them and they're all pretty hilarious and fun to play at any table. Get all your skills to +9 and never fail an Aid check (DC 10). You won't ever be the star with that low a bonus, but when you're handing out big and sexy bonuses to just about every check your allies make, they absolutely love you. Big guy is trying to Intimidate? You're the dude that stands behind him and says "yeah!" Rogue is trying to unlock a door? You bark in her ear about how it ought be done. Wizard is about to get hit? You stand next Old Moons-and-Stars and make the arcanist shine. It's. Super. Fun.


I'm playing a kobold with the helpful trait, via adopted. And obviously Bodyguard. I run around with the dwarven tank... aiding attack when he power attacks, using bodyguard as I ride on his shoulders after he drinks a potion of enlarge person and wades into battle. Literally most useful character I have ever played, but I don't want to have two similar characters in two separate games.

I think I'm going to badger the GM into letting me utilize the Arcane Duelist Bard archetype so I can focus on better using the longspear. He seems to be more comfortable with me being martial focused rather than magics, and the Arcane Duelist gives up a lot of Bard stuff for better martial prowess.

Who knows? This character may not even live long enough to ever see Battle Herald... level 11 is a long ways away.

Thanks for the help, everyone.

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