Bards and two-handed instruments


General Discussion


I was taking a closer look at the Bard now, since one of my players is going to play one and it's the first one I have in a PF2 game, and I've noticed something odd. One of, if not the most popular concept for a Bard is the guy that weaves between playing his instruments to cast spells and striking with finesse weapons. However, with the current rules, it looks like you can't play an instrument as part of the Material Casting action if one of your hands are occupied unless you have some type of exotic instrument that can be played with one hand. From what I can see, in practice that would mean wasting a lot of actions sheathing and drawing your weapon, even if it's a one-handed weapon, and that a Bard is actually better off not using the instrument and just casting spells with a component pouch. Am I missing something?

Liberty's Edge

Quote:
Starting a bardic performance is a standard action, but it can be maintained each round as a free action. [...] A bardic performance cannot be disrupted, but it ends immediately if the bard is killed, paralyzed, stunned, knocked unconscious, or otherwise prevented from taking a free action to maintain it each round. A bard cannot have more than one bardic performance in effect at one time.

This here is what you're looking for. Starting, or even continuing a Performance technically requires NO hands, simply that you need to have the instrument ready to use. I've found no reference to handedness in the Equipment, Skills, Feats, or Class sections in any book to indicate that the use of the Performance Skill should ever require a PC to give up use of a hand in combat or otherwise.

Look at it like you have a free action "hand" to perform with at all times, you can even do it grappled or pinned as long as the Instrument is not STOLEN (Not disarmed, you cannot disarm anything but a Weapon) via CMB check.

So by RAW you can jam out with your Axe on a shoulder strap (Or even NOT), and still hold onto your Battle Axe with both hands and swing it without so much as missing a beat of the performance.

Liberty's Edge

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So, basically, there are two types of Bards. Those that sing (or orate, or perform comedy, or dance) and use a weapon and those that, as pure casters, play an instrument.

Combining instruments and weapons as part of the same combat style has never been a good idea in previous editions of Pathfinder and remains a poor choice in PF2. At least in this edition it synchronizes well with actual casting.

EDIT: Uh...Themetricsystem, you're in the wrong subforum. This is the PF2 playtest area, while those are PF1 rules. PF2 does not work the same way.


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I don't think Bards were ever designed to properly be a gish type character. If they were, they could only sing or dance (or other verbal activities), since any other form of performance requires hands to use. I suppose the drawback can be that Silence or Paralysis can shut those down, but the former doesn't stop dancing, and Paralysis stops all of them equally, meaning they aren't any more of a drawback compared to other options.

Now, if a Bard could get an instrument crafted in the image of a weapon (such as a Guitar Axe or a Drumstick Club), and enhance it and use it as if it were both a tool and a weapon, it'd be pretty awesome. However, those rules are neither here nor there. I'd love for Paizo to have these rules, but I am not expecting it to be core or even a supplementary book. But there will for-sure be splatbook/3PP sources for it.

Bladedancers and Bladesingers are the meta. Bladerockers are now dead and are a continually dying breed.

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Well DIP, somebody got his tabs mixed up now didn't he?

soo..........


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I suppose this means we'll be forced to choose which kind of violins we're gonna deliver.
But yeah I have a very hard time imagining playing an instrument with a sword in hand. This makes sense and it's fine.


I agree Instruments should be able to be played in one hand.


Atalius wrote:
I agree Instruments should be able to be played in one hand.

Which instruments?


Atalius wrote:
I agree Instruments should be able to be played in one hand.

I don't think playing a guitar or a violin with one hand would make any in-world sense, but I've ended up house ruling that you can play a two-handed instrument in the place of Material Casting even if one of the hands is holding another object that doesn't restrain them completely (like Somatic Casting after 1.6).

This doesn't alter the power of the class at all because you could already cast with a component pouch with just one hand, it's mostly for flavor. I see casting with an instrument to be more about playing a specific sequence of notes than actually making a super enjoyable performance (it doesn't require a Performance check after all), and it's a fantasy Bard, so... makes sense for me and my players.


Just chiming in that I agree with DMW's take here, and that different performance arts having different playstyles is a GOOD thing in my book... Of course something to be taken into account from the ground up in designing particularities to each performance art. Song and Dance being inherently more compatible with fighting with a weapon just seems common sense, and the idea of wielding a weapon while playing a musical instrument was AFAIK a concept of 3.x that was MOCKED more than appreciated. Musical instruments being more "Caster" focused is likewise intuitive, in line with occult "Pied Piper" type concepts. Of course, there can be overlap between these styles, Singing in particular being obvious for that (IMHO).

(and the idea that even in 3.x hand requirements go away for Maintain a Performance because it doesn't say anything about them is absurd, standard aspects of Performance skill apply to all it's usages including all aspects of Bardic Performance unless explicitly stated otherwise)

EDIT: Of course, there can be one-handed instruments: Trumpets and Harmonica come to mind.


One handed drum ftw :)


Quandary wrote:

Just chiming in that I agree with DMW's take here, and that different performance arts having different playstyles is a GOOD thing in my book... Of course something to be taken into account from the ground up in designing particularities to each performance art. Song and Dance being inherently more compatible with fighting with a weapon just seems common sense, and the idea of wielding a weapon while playing a musical instrument was AFAIK a concept of 3.x that was MOCKED more than appreciated. Musical instruments being more "Caster" focused is likewise intuitive, in line with occult "Pied Piper" type concepts. Of course, there can be overlap between these styles, Singing in particular being obvious for that (IMHO).

(and the idea that even in 3.x hand requirements go away for Maintain a Performance because it doesn't say anything about them is absurd, standard aspects of Performance skill apply to all it's usages including all aspects of Bardic Performance unless explicitly stated otherwise)

EDIT: Of course, there can be one-handed instruments: Trumpets and Harmonica come to mind.

Well I don't personally see a music specialist quickly playing some notes one a lute with the same hand he is holding a sword as that absurd/ridiculous in a world where even non-magical people can do stuff that really defies all laws of physics, but I guess that's personal preference. I just wanted to check if that was the case or not, fortunately this is easily house-ruleable either way since it doesn't alter anything balance-wise.


Ya I figured a one handed instrument of some sort might be playable by a master of Performance or something. Or even have a magical item later on in the game be a single handed instrument. People can fly in this game, and can do amazing things, I'm sure there are some human beings IRL who can play a musical instrument one handed.

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dmerceless wrote:
Well I don't personally see a music specialist quickly playing some notes one a lute with the same hand he is holding a sword as that absurd/ridiculous in a world where even non-magical people can do stuff that really defies all laws of physics, but I guess that's personal preference.

Absurdity and implausibility are a bit different. It's certainly no more implausible than many things in Pathfinder, but a lot of people (myself included) find this idea notably more absurd than most of them.


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Atalius wrote:
One handed drum ftw :)

How about one set of castanets?

Hrm. That started as a joke, but now I'm getting this image of a bard loosely inspired by a Spanish Matador with a rapier and a set of castanets. Although I'm seeing them as mostly doing a combat dance, the castanets being just a flourish.

I don't really see much mechanical reason to ever use an instrument. I could be missing something though, I'm not as well versed in the bard as I am with other classes. Substituting for a component pouch is a pretty minor effect, losing the instrument would be even worse losing the pouch, and it doesn't reduce actions. So this seems like it doesn't really give any actual benefit, it's just replacing a pouch with an instrument. Not requiring a free hand isn't a net benefit either, because the only reason your hand is full is that you're using an instrument in the first place. Using song or dance just seems to be mechanically superior, because it leaves your hands free to be able to do other things like fight, it doesn't require any money and you always have it with you.

The concept of a bard with a lute or the like is very strong, but mechanically rather 'meh.' Maybe there should be some extra bonus for using an instrument for spells. Maybe item bonuses to your spell rolls or even touch attack rolls? Maybe magic instruments that can work like a staff or something?


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For this reason I which PF2 would give casters implements as "weapons", too:
Staves as they are, wands for bonus to touch attacks and other objects (tomes, instruments, holy symbols) for bonus to save DCs.

That way, I could have my battledancer bard with his rapier OR my lute bard that actually gets a bonus to enchantment save DCs or whatever for having both of his hand occupied with an instrument.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Atalius wrote:
One handed drum ftw :)

How about one set of castanets?

Hrm. That started as a joke, but now I'm getting this image of a bard loosely inspired by a Spanish Matador with a rapier and a set of castanets. Although I'm seeing them as mostly doing a combat dance, the castanets being just a flourish.

I don't really see much mechanical reason to ever use an instrument. I could be missing something though, I'm not as well versed in the bard as I am with other classes. Substituting for a component pouch is a pretty minor effect, losing the instrument would be even worse losing the pouch, and it doesn't reduce actions. So this seems like it doesn't really give any actual benefit, it's just replacing a pouch with an instrument. Not requiring a free hand isn't a net benefit either, because the only reason your hand is full is that you're using an instrument in the first place. Using song or dance just seems to be mechanically superior, because it leaves your hands free to be able to do other things like fight, it doesn't require any money and you always have it with you.

The concept of a bard with a lute or the like is very strong, but mechanically rather 'meh.' Maybe there should be some extra bonus for using an instrument for spells. Maybe item bonuses to your spell rolls or even touch attack rolls? Maybe magic instruments that can work like a staff or something?

The basic benefit is you can hit the Perfomance DC's for your compositions a bit more easily with the quality bonuses for an Expert/Master/Legendary instrument.


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Ediwir wrote:

I suppose this means we'll be forced to choose which kind of violins we're gonna deliver.

But yeah I have a very hard time imagining playing an instrument with a sword in hand. This makes sense and it's fine.

A drum (like bongos) strapped to your body can be played one-handed. A Harmonica, likewise, is one-handed. Both are very common and popular instruments amongst some of the most iconic genres of music.

A Bard using a Harmonica and singing about the Murder HoboAdventuring Blues is probably one of the coolest character concepts to date that can very easily be exciting and inspirational to the game.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ediwir wrote:

I suppose this means we'll be forced to choose which kind of violins we're gonna deliver.

But yeah I have a very hard time imagining playing an instrument with a sword in hand. This makes sense and it's fine.

A drum (like bongos) strapped to your body can be played one-handed. A Harmonica, likewise, is one-handed. Both are very common and popular instruments amongst some of the most iconic genres of music.

A Bard using a Harmonica and singing about the Murder HoboAdventuring Blues is probably one of the coolest character concepts to date that can very easily be exciting and inspirational to the game.

Thanks! Yes this is what I meant, it's very plausible, not the least bit absurd. It would be great to implement it into the game.


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I’m surprised no one has mentioned ‘El Kabobong’ as a gish idea yet. Maybe it’s just me. :/

Thematically a gish wouldn’t use a two handed instrument and a weapon; too impractical. That said if this is a road a player wants to go down then your best bet is a Weapon/Instrument hybrid. The Hunting Horn weapon class from Monster Hunter would be great inspiration for this. Some examples are generally a two handed mace that doubles as a bagpipe; a two handed axe that doubles as an ’electric’ guitar. You could use an Interact Action to change grips and use the other part, or just let it flow without requiring an Interact Action.


Cool idea Pumpkinhead


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:

I’m surprised no one has mentioned ‘El Kabobong’ as a gish idea yet. Maybe it’s just me. :/

Thematically a gish wouldn’t use a two handed instrument and a weapon; too impractical. That said if this is a road a player wants to go down then your best bet is a Weapon/Instrument hybrid. The Hunting Horn weapon class from Monster Hunter would be great inspiration for this. Some examples are generally a two handed mace that doubles as a bagpipe; a two handed axe that doubles as an ’electric’ guitar. You could use an Interact Action to change grips and use the other part, or just let it flow without requiring an Interact Action.

I really don’t care for guitar-axes and their ilk because they break the immersion/mood for me. Somebody using an instrument to perform magic is something from fantasy; somebody using an instrument to hit somebody is from cartoons. (Obviously, people will be playing with them- not everyone is as stodgy as me- I’m just hoping it doesn’t show up as a built-in option.)

On the topic of one-handed instruments, tambourines work well, as do smaller pan pipes (if you want something older than the harmonica).


Yes lots of options for one handed instruments.


I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.


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A guitar or violin could preform songs with that are limited to certain notes with only one hand, based on their strings. A bugle could theoretically be played without a hand if something could hold it up to the players face.

Keeping in mind that it uses Performance, which no longer is split out for individual instruments or genre's of performance, a bard doesn't have to choose to be a spellcasting or fighting bard. They can choose to play an instrument for casting, or choose to sing when their hands are occupied, or dance if they need to be able to keep their voice for giving orders or quiet. But it becomes a matter of Bards being Performers and it is legitimate they may be capable of preforming in multiple avenues of performance, not just a single or pair of instruments or skills like was often the case for bards in first edition. [It is interesting about how the skill talks about how it is CHA base, but that certain implementations, the GM should feel free about having a poor attribute potentially impact certain types of performances, if it naturally would depend on the weakened attribute]

Yes, using an instrument offers you the ability to get an Item bonus based on its quality. Voice this is probably hard to justify(unless the cheerleader gets to count an expert cheer cone to help project their cheer out to the crowd better). Dance, some might question it, but there might be value in certain textured foot/hand wear and certain other worn items supporting joints with springs or such might be useful for tumbling and dancing routines. Costumes may justify bonuses towards any primarily visual performances.


Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.

I mean, I don’t think Paizo is going to exclude actual one-handed instruments. But I also don’t think they’re going to say Bards can play violins with their rapiers either.


A high enough performance score might be cool to allow someone to play single handed, as they have proven they are experts in the field. Perhaps a low level character couldn't be allowed, but a high level character has mastered the art.


Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.

Not necessarily. If a character can perform Somatic components with an occupied hand, then I think numerous instruments likewise can be done the same, and numerous examples have been given.

I mean, sure, balance reasons is a thing, but there needs to be more of a reason to use the instruments besides a whole minor scaling bonus to Performance that can't reasonably be expected to have much use. If we had some feat synergy to work with, I'd consider it fair, but we have none of that.


Loreguard wrote:

A guitar or violin could preform songs with that are limited to certain notes with only one hand, based on their strings. A bugle could theoretically be played without a hand if something could hold it up to the players face.

Keeping in mind that it uses Performance, which no longer is split out for individual instruments or genre's of performance, a bard doesn't have to choose to be a spellcasting or fighting bard. They can choose to play an instrument for casting, or choose to sing when their hands are occupied, or dance if they need to be able to keep their voice for giving orders or quiet. But it becomes a matter of Bards being Performers and it is legitimate they may be capable of preforming in multiple avenues of performance, not just a single or pair of instruments or skills like was often the case for bards in first edition. [It is interesting about how the skill talks about how it is CHA base, but that certain implementations, the GM should feel free about having a poor attribute potentially impact certain types of performances, if it naturally would depend on the weakened attribute]

Yes, using an instrument offers you the ability to get an Item bonus based on its quality. Voice this is probably hard to justify(unless the cheerleader gets to count an expert cheer cone to help project their cheer out to the crowd better). Dance, some might question it, but there might be value in certain textured foot/hand wear and certain other worn items supporting joints with springs or such might be useful for tumbling and dancing routines. Costumes may justify bonuses towards any primarily visual performances.

Bards can’t substitute singing, dancing, etc. for somatic or material components, only playing an instrument. The idea is that using an instrument shouldn’t prevent you from casting, but that doesn’t let you wield a greataxe and cast regular spells by singing. Now, your Bard cantrips will generally be verbal-only, so you can cast those.


QuidEst wrote:
Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.
I mean, I don’t think Paizo is going to exclude actual one-handed instruments. But I also don’t think they’re going to say Bards can play violins with their rapiers either.

Why not? Van Halen's "Poundcake" song featured someone with a power tool (a screwdriver, to be precise,) play on the guitar, and it sounded really, really awesome (at the time). Suggesting a Rapier can't work on a lute or guitar is just going to amount to a "Challenge Accepted" stance, which is very unhealthy for the game's image.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.
I mean, I don’t think Paizo is going to exclude actual one-handed instruments. But I also don’t think they’re going to say Bards can play violins with their rapiers either.
Why not? Van Halen's "Poundcake" song featured someone with a power tool (a screwdriver, to be precise,) play on the guitar, and it sounded really, really awesome (at the time). Suggesting a Rapier can't work on a lute or guitar is just going to amount to a "Challenge Accepted" stance, which is very unhealthy for the game's image.

You expect Paizo to say that Bards can play violins with rapiers? I expect they’re not going to address it, with it falling to GMs to decide if they want Van Halen Bards or not.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.

Not necessarily. If a character can perform Somatic components with an occupied hand, then I think numerous instruments likewise can be done the same, and numerous examples have been given.

I mean, sure, balance reasons is a thing, but there needs to be more of a reason to use the instruments besides a whole minor scaling bonus to Performance that can't reasonably be expected to have much use. If we had some feat synergy to work with, I'd consider it fair, but we have none of that.

Well the mechanical benefit is good for boosting your bard songs, so I think it's relevant. The issue is if you could replace a two-hand instrument with a one-hand instrument there is only disadvantages to use a two-handed one.


Could always make it so it gives less of a benefit than using it two handed. For example wielding certain weapons one handed opposed to two handed do different damages.


QuidEst wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.
I mean, I don’t think Paizo is going to exclude actual one-handed instruments. But I also don’t think they’re going to say Bards can play violins with their rapiers either.
Why not? Van Halen's "Poundcake" song featured someone with a power tool (a screwdriver, to be precise,) play on the guitar, and it sounded really, really awesome (at the time). Suggesting a Rapier can't work on a lute or guitar is just going to amount to a "Challenge Accepted" stance, which is very unhealthy for the game's image.
You expect Paizo to say that Bards can play violins with rapiers? I expect they’re not going to address it, with it falling to GMs to decide if they want Van Halen Bards or not.

No, but with it falling to GM FIAT, there will be players who challenge the notion, and it will create issues with PF2S.


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Nettah wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.

Not necessarily. If a character can perform Somatic components with an occupied hand, then I think numerous instruments likewise can be done the same, and numerous examples have been given.

I mean, sure, balance reasons is a thing, but there needs to be more of a reason to use the instruments besides a whole minor scaling bonus to Performance that can't reasonably be expected to have much use. If we had some feat synergy to work with, I'd consider it fair, but we have none of that.

Well the mechanical benefit is good for boosting your bard songs, so I think it's relevant. The issue is if you could replace a two-hand instrument with a one-hand instrument there is only disadvantages to use a two-handed one.

The bonus there isn't relevant for it to matter since the DC scales. Being 5-15% more likely to succeed or critically succeed is not really worth what you can potentially do with your hands.

Keeping with the current theme, +1 per hand per item quality seems fair. So a two-handed expert gives +2 compared to +1. And since Perform is so limited in use, it's not game-breaking to make it work that way.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Nettah wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Nettah wrote:
I prefer to keep the instruments two-handed for balance reasons as well as the factor that more or less every instrument needs two hands to play or play optimally.

Not necessarily. If a character can perform Somatic components with an occupied hand, then I think numerous instruments likewise can be done the same, and numerous examples have been given.

I mean, sure, balance reasons is a thing, but there needs to be more of a reason to use the instruments besides a whole minor scaling bonus to Performance that can't reasonably be expected to have much use. If we had some feat synergy to work with, I'd consider it fair, but we have none of that.

Well the mechanical benefit is good for boosting your bard songs, so I think it's relevant. The issue is if you could replace a two-hand instrument with a one-hand instrument there is only disadvantages to use a two-handed one.

The bonus there isn't relevant for it to matter since the DC scales. Being 5-15% more likely to succeed or critically succeed is not really worth what you can potentially do with your hands.

Keeping with the current theme, +1 per hand per item quality seems fair. So a two-handed expert gives +2 compared to +1. And since Perform is so limited in use, it's not game-breaking to make it work that way.

Absolutely well said.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


The bonus there isn't relevant for it to matter since the DC scales. Being 5-15% more likely to succeed or critically succeed is not really worth what you can potentially do with your hands.

Keeping with the current theme, +1 per hand per item quality seems fair. So a two-handed expert gives +2 compared to +1. And since Perform is so limited in use, it's not game-breaking to make it work that way.

That would make both relevant, but +6 just from quality (before going into the magic ones that would then provide +10 i guess) would likely be pretty game altering. Remember you can also use performance in place of other skills. Bards would be amazing at demoralizing with that kind of bonus.

EDIT: Just did the math. That could lead to a level 20 bard with +42 to demoralize when performing. He would scare pit fiends left and right :)


QuidEst wrote:


I really don’t care for guitar-axes and their ilk because they break the immersion/mood for me. Somebody using an instrument to perform magic is something from fantasy; somebody using an instrument to hit somebody is from cartoons. (Obviously, people will be playing with them- not everyone is as stodgy as me- I’m just hoping it doesn’t show up as a built-in option.)

My comment wasn’t meant to encourage a standardization of behavior, but rather that using a two handed instrument and a weapon is impractical to the point of stretching possibility (both realistic and fictitious) and should remain that way mechanically as well.

The iconic bard uses a flute(or piccolo, not sure) and a rapier. In no picture that I am aware of is he using both at once, and generally shouldn’t. If a player wants to use both then it would have to be invented in a pragmatic way; either through a commissioned weapon with an instrument attachment of some sort, or a magical weapon. Either way it requiring GM approval


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Nettah wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


The bonus there isn't relevant for it to matter since the DC scales. Being 5-15% more likely to succeed or critically succeed is not really worth what you can potentially do with your hands.

Keeping with the current theme, +1 per hand per item quality seems fair. So a two-handed expert gives +2 compared to +1. And since Perform is so limited in use, it's not game-breaking to make it work that way.

That would make both relevant, but +6 just from quality (before going into the magic ones that would then provide +10 i guess) would likely be pretty game altering. Remember you can also use performance in place of other skills. Bards would be amazing at demoralizing with that kind of bonus.

EDIT: Just did the math. That could lead to a level 20 bard with +42 to demoralize when performing. He would scare pit fiends left and right :)

Let's follow the "1.7" set-up and subtract 2 from everything (so Legendary is now Level+6 instead of +8). A Level 20 Bard with Legendary Proficiency, a Legendary Magical Lute, and all of the relevant feats (a Performance feat grants yet another +2 to a specific type of Perform) would have a +38 at the absolute highest barring Aid Another shenanigans, pre-rolling, meaning they can have a result of anywhere from 39 to 59, which is probably the highest you can expect.

A stronger creature of the same level somewhat geared towards the relevant benefits would probably have +30 (20 base, 4 proficiency, 6 attribute), or a 40 Will DC barring specific benefits. A truly optimal creature of a higher level with specific benefits will have a significantly higher bonus, or would outright negate such a check from happening via immunities.

However, they would be spending actions and spell points for empowered Composition cantrips and Intimidate checks, but no spellcasting unless they have 3 Hero Points, which doesn't grow on trees per RAW. Sounds in-line with what I can expect Bards to be capable of. In fact, I like it, since this means a Bard isn't constantly casting spells, and is making great use of his Performance abilities both in-combat with Intimidate, and out-of-combat with his Diplomacy, which is, and always has been, the Bard's most important niche.

The most fun part about this is that, in reality, any character can do this. I could be a Sorcerer and be a godlike performer along with the Bard if I have identical investment. I can't do Composition cantrips or empowering shenanigans unless I spend Dedication feats, but for a pure spellcaster Sorcerer, that sounds pretty dope and could be worth the investment compared to, say, Paladin dedication, which really only gives me armor proficiencies (which, sans Light is trash), and access to additional healing options. Which aren't bad, but I might not want to do that for personal reasons.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

Let's follow the "1.7" set-up and subtract 2 from everything (so Legendary is now Level+6 instead of +8). A Level 20 Bard with Legendary Proficiency, a Legendary Magical Lute, and all of the relevant feats (a Performance feat grants yet another +2 to a specific type of Perform) would have a +38 at the absolute highest barring Aid Another shenanigans, pre-rolling, meaning they can have a result of anywhere from 39 to 59, which is probably the highest you can expect.

A stronger creature of the same level somewhat geared towards the relevant benefits would probably have +30 (20 base, 4 proficiency, 6 attribute), or a 40 Will DC barring specific benefits. A truly optimal creature of a higher level with specific benefits will have a significantly higher bonus, or would outright negate such a check from happening via immunities.

However, they would be spending actions and spell points for empowered Composition cantrips and Intimidate checks, but no spellcasting unless they have 3 Hero Points, which doesn't grow on trees per RAW. Sounds in-line with what I can expect Bards to be capable of. In fact, I like...

I don't really get your math in this context. It seems you get a +3 item bonus in it, which is less than you are currently able to get (but might be right after update 1.7, but we don't really know) but changed proficiency levels toward 1.7 which is still pretty much unknown.

It would make more sense to stick with the current rules for the math, because then you can more readily compare it to the beastiary. Currently you would get a maximum of +37 (+20 level +3 legendary proficiency, +7 attribute, +2 circumstance from feat +5 item). Bards playing instruments being the best possible demoralizer is fine by me, in fact I believe that is how it should be.

But the whole reason I started mentioning the bonuses was because of your suggestion to increase the bonus you get from two-handed instruments to be double the current value to make one-handed instruments a thing. And I do think that would break some of the maths, because +42 to demoralize would be just insane.


Nettah wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

Let's follow the "1.7" set-up and subtract 2 from everything (so Legendary is now Level+6 instead of +8). A Level 20 Bard with Legendary Proficiency, a Legendary Magical Lute, and all of the relevant feats (a Performance feat grants yet another +2 to a specific type of Perform) would have a +38 at the absolute highest barring Aid Another shenanigans, pre-rolling, meaning they can have a result of anywhere from 39 to 59, which is probably the highest you can expect.

A stronger creature of the same level somewhat geared towards the relevant benefits would probably have +30 (20 base, 4 proficiency, 6 attribute), or a 40 Will DC barring specific benefits. A truly optimal creature of a higher level with specific benefits will have a significantly higher bonus, or would outright negate such a check from happening via immunities.

However, they would be spending actions and spell points for empowered Composition cantrips and Intimidate checks, but no spellcasting unless they have 3 Hero Points, which doesn't grow on trees per RAW. Sounds in-line with what I can expect Bards to be capable of. In fact, I like...

I don't really get your math in this context. It seems you get a +3 item bonus in it, which is less than you are currently able to get (but might be right after update 1.7, but we don't really know) but changed proficiency levels toward 1.7 which is still pretty much unknown.

It would make more sense to stick with the current rules for the math, because then you can more readily compare it to the beastiary. Currently you would get a maximum of +37 (+20 level +3 legendary proficiency, +7 attribute, +2 circumstance from feat +5 item). Bards playing instruments being the best possible demoralizer is fine by me, in fact I believe that is how it should be.

But the whole reason I started mentioning the bonuses was because of your suggestion to increase the bonus you get from two-handed instruments to be double the current value to make one-handed instruments a...

I suppose I forgot the attributes, since it should be 20 level + 6 proficiency + 7 attribute + 10 item would be +45, or +42 by the original proficiency rules. Whoops.

Also keep in mind that any character could do this, and monsters who specialize in Perform can get identical benefits (if not stronger), so it's not necessarily mutually exclusive to Bards. Though Bards get the most via Compositions, Dedication feats can fix that, and monsters probably have their own abilities too. Sirens with instruments just became much more deadly!

I suppose now the big question is "Should perform be this high in scale and effect?" Using Perform in place of Intimidation (which is already really strong) and Diplomacy (which is the #1 way to avoid encounters) is where the real problem lies due to the way Performance can be inflated in terms of numbers. I believe if the feat let you use your Perform proficiency in place of the others' proficiency would be fair and still in-line with what the feat is intended to do. Now it's just a matter of making it happen.


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This is a weird direction to take stuff- adjusting instrument bonuses for handedness because of combat? Why should instruments be exceptions, especially over something they're not meant for? And why should bulky musical instruments be handing out the largest bonuses of any mundane items?

Before, Bards couldn't cast while their hands are occupied by an instrument. Furthermore, Bards were 6/9 casters with features that left their actions free, so they were strongly pushed into using weapons.

Now, Bards can cast by playing an instrument- a substantial improvement. And, with Bards as full casters who have souped-up cantrips, you can actually make a Bard focused primarily on casting. Just because you can not make a caster violinist doesn't mean that the game ought to make a gish violinist just as good, and shouldn't mean that instrument rules should be reworked as a special case.


QuidEst wrote:

This is a weird direction to take stuff- adjusting instrument bonuses for handedness because of combat? Why should instruments be exceptions, especially over something they're not meant for? And why should bulky musical instruments be handing out the largest bonuses of any mundane items?

Before, Bards couldn't cast while their hands are occupied by an instrument. Furthermore, Bards were 6/9 casters with features that left their actions free, so they were strongly pushed into using weapons.

Now, Bards can cast by playing an instrument- a substantial improvement. And, with Bards as full casters who have souped-up cantrips, you can actually make a Bard focused primarily on casting. Just because you can not make a caster violinist doesn't mean that the game ought to make a gish violinist just as good, and shouldn't mean that instrument rules should be reworked as a special case.

Because the instrument is competing with what you could otherwise do with your hands in combat, and the instrument, outside of spell point mechanics, does very little in exchange. Everyone will be singers and dancers because other forms of performance take up precious hand slots that players clearly have expressed desire to see have use in combat as well as out-of-combat. Not only is that an extremely shoe-horning concept, but it makes instruments very trash.

Liberty's Edge

Not really. A pure caster Bard is a very viable build and has no reason not to use an instrument. They can (and should) focus on non-attack stats (well, they have Dex, but no intention of using it to attack with non-spells) and are thus practically useless with a weapon anyway.

Combat Bards are another matter, certainly, but that's always been true and them focusing on arts that involve fewer props continues to make sense to me.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

There's also the Maestro's Instrument's Charm ability. When you combine that with an item bonus to Impressive Performance and there's two possible ways the instrument can save you from a combat happening. There are lots of encounters that offer an opportunity to use Diplomacy (or in the Bard's case, Perform) before fighting begins. I reckon we will get other abilities in magical instruments as the game goes on, but that's a pretty decent benefit itself, especially when you combine that with the item bonus for Composition checks.

There's also the fact that a two handed instrument can still be held in one hand, and all of the bard melee weapons are one handed. So an instrument doesn't prevent you from actually pulling out your weapon to stab someone if the situation calls for it. The Bard in our game defaults to having his Maestro's Instrument out for Exploration mode but he still pulls out an uses his whip pretty frequently.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Not really. A pure caster Bard is a very viable build and has no reason not to use an instrument. They can (and should) focus on non-attack stats (well, they have Dex, but no intention of using it to attack with non-spells) and are thus practically useless with a weapon anyway.

Combat Bards are another matter, certainly, but that's always been true and them focusing on arts that involve fewer props continues to make sense to me.

Even with a pumped Dexterity, using a ranged weapon (such as a shortbow) can be a fair contributor to combat, especially since Strength isn't a very useful attribute for damage with ranged weapons anymore (unless you throw, but those are still junk in this edition sans Daggers for Finesse Striker Rogues), and Bards have proficiency with that kind of weapon right out of the gate.

Granted, it won't receive too much use since it competes with spellcasting and compositions as it is, it's still certainly better than a minor boost to a skill that will most likely not make a difference in determining whether spell point expenditure is worthwhile or not, or in replacing a skill that the character is probably already well proficient in anyway, since other boosts (such as proficiency, level, and attribute modifier) will always be higher and make up the difference. Even if bad rolls happen, there is no real penalty for failing or critically failing Performance checks with spell points, so there's no justification for it outside of "I want my spell points to matter more," in which case there are numerous better ways to accomplish that which don't involve soaking up precious hand slots.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Not really. A pure caster Bard is a very viable build and has no reason not to use an instrument. They can (and should) focus on non-attack stats (well, they have Dex, but no intention of using it to attack with non-spells) and are thus practically useless with a weapon anyway.

Combat Bards are another matter, certainly, but that's always been true and them focusing on arts that involve fewer props continues to make sense to me.

Even with a pumped Dexterity, using a ranged weapon (such as a shortbow) can be a fair contributor to combat, especially since Strength isn't a very useful attribute for damage with ranged weapons anymore (unless you throw, but those are still junk in this edition sans Daggers for Finesse Striker Rogues), and Bards have proficiency with that kind of weapon right out of the gate.

Granted, it won't receive too much use since it competes with spellcasting and compositions as it is, it's still certainly better than a minor boost to a skill that will most likely not make a difference in determining whether spell point expenditure is worthwhile or not, or in replacing a skill that the character is probably already well proficient in anyway, since other boosts (such as proficiency, level, and attribute modifier) will always be higher and make up the difference. Even if bad rolls happen, there is no real penalty for failing or critically failing Performance checks with spell points, so there's no justification for it outside of "I want my spell points to matter more," in which case there are numerous better ways to accomplish that which don't involve soaking up precious hand slots.

None of that is really true if you simply aren't interested in in using weapons in the first place, is the point. I mean, using a shortbow is only worthwhile if you actually invest in keeping your shortbow up to date with the latest runes, for example. If you wanted a relevant option, you should have pointed to staffs, which are excellent for pure casters and would offer a legit reason to not use an instrument. (Even then, there's nothing stopping you from holding the instrument by default and pulling out the staff when you need to utilize its spells. In most situations having a staff/weapon in one hand and the other with an instrument is the same as just having a staff/weapon in one hand.)

Also, critical successes on compositions let you do stuff like save an action across multiple rounds, or grant a basically automatic +4 to all ally skill checks. Boosting that bonus sky high is GOOD. Also, you seem to be using the final PF2 version of UTEML for your argument, which strikes me as bizarre because you are assuming everything else remains the same from the playtest. We have no idea what changes might be in store for the bard, instruments, or casting.


Captain Morgan wrote:

None of that is really true if you simply aren't interested in in using weapons in the first place, is the point. I mean, using a shortbow is only worthwhile if you actually invest in keeping your shortbow up to date with the latest runes, for example. If you wanted a relevant option, you should have pointed to staffs, which are excellent for pure casters and would offer a legit reason to not use an instrument. (Even then, there's nothing stopping you from holding the instrument by default and pulling out the staff when you need to utilize its spells. In most situations having a staff/weapon in one hand and the other with an instrument is the same as just having a staff/weapon in one hand.)

Also, critical successes on compositions let you do stuff like save an action across multiple rounds, or grant a basically automatic +4 to all ally skill checks. Boosting that bonus sky high is GOOD. Also, you seem to be using the final PF2 version of UTEML for your argument, which strikes me as bizarre because you are assuming everything else remains the same from the playtest. We have no idea what changes might be in store for the bard, instruments, or casting.

Again, this is also assuming players have not, nor will ever, express desire to use weapons. Some won't, which is true, but some will. Not only in this thread, but the whole entire previous edition of Pathfinder, will show a large grain of disagreement with your sentiments of not wanting to use weapons, even if the core of the Bard's design has been changed. And again, the argument that "choosing to use your weapon versus your main niche" is a valid one when numerous other classes don't have to make that choice proves to be quite absurd across the board. Even compared to other primary spellcasters, as you so eloquently pointed out, having to choose between bonus spellcasting or a minor boost to compositions (which means a Bard is a spellcaster before they are a performer), the choice is quite clear, especially when there is no real strong support for either in the Bard class, and the spellcasting itself is something that a Bard's core design is now wholly a part of.

The whole "critical successes" thing is like prepping your build around a Vorpal Weapon or assuming you are 20th level. Not only are they super rare and not realistically expected until the endgame, they are also something that falls apart real fast in actual play. Amongst all of our playtesting of the Bard, not once have they critically succeeded their perform check, primarily thanks to the treadmill effect, since every bonus or two they get from leveling or character choice is negated by scaling DCs. In fact, one of our groups at 4th level didn't even succeed a single Perform check with expending spell points!

Even with full optimization (highest proficiency, best item bonus, optional feats, and most attribute boosting), they have at-best a 10% critical success chance. Their spell point expenditures have at least a 40% chance of doing nothing, and those are supposed to be a precious source of power (weaker than spell slots, but still). Not only is that highly unfair, but it properly demonstrates how pointless and bad an instrument would be compared to having more slots or spell versatility with a Staff. Hell, I don't care about the fact that the instrument can virtually last all day, if I wanted to adventure with two hands tied behind my back, I'd use a hand-held instrument as a Bard, because that's basically what you're doing here.


We do know that skill progression is being changed so that on-level checks get easier if you're advancing a skill.

If you don't like giving up your hands in combat, save the violin for after combat. You advance all your performance types together now, so you can do that. The change to casting allows violinist Bards to use their instrument in fights if they're committed to that. It doesn't guarantee that a violin is as good as the other options. But, we'll probably be able to get more cool magic item instruments now, and those can be balanced around taking up both hands in combat.

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