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d-_-b
01-10-2010, 06:04 PM
Bards get a lot of flack in my experience. At best they are called "the fifth wheel", at worst they're touted as being an absolutely useless class. ATM I find myself wanting to build a Bard to try it out, but I'm finding the Bards main ability: bardic music to be somewhat weak. Now, he's gotta start out at 1st level so we're talking progression plan, but still: How do you build an effective Bard?

I've been looking into a human Bard, mixing in two fighter levels to get some feats to play with. This is what I got so far:

1st lvl: Bard Artist FRCS + Force of Personality CAdv
2nd lvl: Bard
3rd lvl: Fighter Battle Dancer PH2 + Versatile Performer CAdv
4th lvl: Fighter Point Blank Shot PH
5th lvl: Bard
6th lvl: Bard Precise Shot PH

Artist gives the Bard a +2 bonus on perform checks.
Force of Personality lets the bard add his Charisma bonus to his Will Save.
Battle Dancer gives the bard a +2 bonus to attacks as long as he moves and gives a bonus to someone else.
Versatile Performer gives +2 bonus to combined perform checks.
Point Blank Shot +1 to shots <30ft
Precise Shot no -4 penalty for shooting into melee.

I'm not sure where to take his after level 6 but I'd probably stick with the Bard class and eventually a Prestige Class.

As I see it, this plan will make him a decent combatant and a skill selection which focuses on the key bardic skills as well as magic use will make him versatile too. Obviously given the Bards slow spell progression the two fighter levels don't help make the bard a better spell caster but given the level the Bard is at when he gets to the more decent spells one would expect he'd have the money to buy potions anyway.

I'd like some input and/or other ideas. I have thought about making a build where I utilize a feat that lets you multiclass a Bard with a Paladin (Devoted Performer)

Sascha
01-10-2010, 07:53 PM
With this class, the best gauge of effective strategy is really the other characters. As the front-line type count increases, so does the effectiveness of things like Haste and Inspire Courage. Having spontaneous Cure spells is a bonus, unless you're already swimming in healer love.

As for the music effects, they really start to shine when you can stack them. Or are facing spellcasters - Fascinate is a spectacular way to ruin a healer-type's day~

I'm currently playing a cheerleader bard. She's designed to give out as many stacking bonuses to as many of our fighty-types (and we have six of them, with an occasionally-fighty cleric :P), as well as being a patch-healer. She's also got the social skills to get herself or others out of trouble (or into, which I prefer ^_^).

d-_-b
01-11-2010, 05:28 AM
But how many bonuses can she really dish out?

Melil1
01-11-2010, 08:59 AM
There are 3 main ways to build a bard ... You can make him a melee monster by investing in some fighter lvls and taking Snow Flake War Dance (Not sure where it was again). But Cha to Damage and to hit is very nice :D. I also favored picking up the Undead Templates around (Necropolitian) for the d12 hit dice and solving the bards worst problem. Its very easy to disguise as a bard as well :D

You can also focus on magic in which case the PrC sublime cord will make you as good as a wizard pretty much. Casting spells up to 9th lvl drawn from the wizard/sorc spell list. Also some of the Song Abilities from the PrC are quite powerful.

You can also go Cheerleader with certain Feats from Exalted and so on. Words of Creation or something like that. And the bonuses do add up nicely as a cheerleader. And that feat from Exaled Deeds like doubles the bonuses but gives you con damage? or non leathal Damage.

Sascha
01-11-2010, 12:51 PM
But how many bonuses can she really dish out?
We're 17th level currently and have a huge party, so that'll skew performance more than anything else. It takes time for all the effects to pile on, and I'll usually only need (or have the chance at) the first two. It's usually in this order, though if everyone's scattered, I'll mostly just do Courage and zap folks with haste as I can reach 'em.

Haste: +1 attack in a full attack, +1 to attack rolls, +1 (dodge) to AC, +1 to Reflex saves; affects the whole party.
Inspire Courage: +3 (morale) to attack and damage rolls, and saves against fear and charm; affects the whole party
Inspire Greatness: +2 (competence) to attack rolls, +2 HD (d10s), +1 (competence) to Fortitude saves; affects three party members
Inspire Heroics: +4 (morale) to saves, +4 (dodge) to AC; affects only one party member
Ironskin Chant: DR 5/-

Our main meatshield would have +5 AC, +6 to attack rolls, +3 to damage rolls, +4 to Will saves, +5 to Fortitude and Reflex saves, 2d10 extra temporary HP, an extra attack in a Full Attack and DR 5/-.

Our two bigger front-line meleers would have +1 AC, +6 to attack rolls, +3 to damage rolls, +3 to fear and charm saves, +1 to Reflex and Fortitude saves, 2d10 extra temporary HP, an extra attack in a Full Attack and DR 5/-.

The rest of the party gets +1 AC, +4 to attack rolls, +3 to damage rolls, +1 to Reflex saves, +2 to fear and charm saves, an extra attack in a Full Attack and DR 5/-.

By the time my next turn rolls around, I either need to refresh the songs or it's decidedly won and I can start patching up folks with Cure Critical Wounds. It rarely comes to needing the full complement, as our group is three warblades, two(?) swordsages, a crusader, a cleric and a (scary-effective) wizard.

d-_-b
01-11-2010, 04:00 PM
It seems to me that the natural role for the bard is cheerleader and knowledge monkey. The other builds suggested by Melil1 look to me like attempts at being either a fighter or a sorcerer...

If one goes pure bard the words of creation can be used from 6th level. They do indeed bolster the Bards main ability -song. It does, however, require that you take the exalted feat: Knight of Stars, which entails you swearing allegiance to the Court of Stars, the paragons of the Eladrin (whoever they are...), which I do not believe is part of the FR campaign setting. I might be able to work around that, though.
--- Merged from Double Post ---
Still, it's a long way from level 1.

cplmac
01-11-2010, 04:37 PM
Actually in our game (even though it is a 2E game), we are liking that we have a bard in our party. With everyone being either level 2 or level 3, we are more than happy to get the +1 bonuses from her. There are lots of times that has made the difference between hitting and missing.

Sascha
01-11-2010, 05:13 PM
Yep, the 3E-family bard is the cheerleader, making folks better do what they do. To be more effective outside that role, you'll need to look outside the class, really.

At lower levels, they feel like a magical rogue, shifting more towards the support magic and abilities in later levels. And they're skill monkeys at all levels (though why Intimidate is *not* a class skill is still beyond my understanding, heh).

Of course, it's all dependent on what flavor of a bard you're going for; I like playing the cheerleader, so that's how I developed my bard. Your bard will be different, both in mechanics and fluff, and your group makeup will be radically different.

Malruhn
01-11-2010, 07:18 PM
In my experience, a bard is kind of a fifth wheel. As one of the four main characters in a group, they are (in my opinion) too weak to be of any real use other than as a knowledge monkey.

HOWEVER...

As that fifth character in a standard group, they don't shine, they ROCK!! They can (almost) unbalance a party with their bonuses and boosts.

As a party member, not so much... but as a groupie, WAY COOL!

(Please note that the above diatribe did not necessarily reflect the opinion of the sponsors, mods or this station. We now return to regularly scheduled broadcasting.)

Sascha
01-12-2010, 12:50 AM
It's more an issue with DnD's assumptions about what the game does (as in, what gets detailed mechanics), and how each piece fits (class balance). A jack-of-all-trades class has a hard time excelling in a system that specifically rewards being highly specialized.

Though, it's been my experience that bards are the class that isn't well understood, since all the other classes are heavily slanted towards doing mechanically *interesting* stuff in combat and the bard's stuff suggests they shine outside. Coupled with DnD's lack of a complex social conflict resolution system, something no edition really ever had, and you get the "useless" or extra-wheel outlook. Adapt something like 4E's skill challenge for social conflicts, and you might see attitudes change.

d-_-b
01-12-2010, 07:31 AM
It seems that in a roleplay/story heavy campaign Bards rock:) I think I'll stick with the single class Bard for now:) Feats as follows (If the DM will let me use the Book of Exalted Deeds):

1st lvl: Extra Music (4 more time/24h) + Nymph's Kiss (+2 to Cha related checks, +1 against spells, 1 extra skill point per level, Fey regard you as Fey)
3rd lvl: Knight of Stars (+1 Luck Bonus to any one roll/24h) (required for WoC)
4th lvl:
5th lvl:
6th lvl: Words of Creation (WoC)(Doubles bonuses from Bardic Music ability -amongst others)

I don't know where I'll take him after lvl 6, but I'll get to that in due time.

His skills will be focused on bardic abilities and magic use.

cigamnogard
01-18-2010, 07:23 PM
Must have feats:

Extra Music
Lingering Song


and also look into different instruments for added benefits from I believe the Complete Adventurer.
My latest bard was a bard/paladin - she rocked!
But, for the first few levels she aided a lot with her whip - 15' threat range +2 to attack or +2 to AC
After that, she served as hole filler when the fighter classes were having problems but mostly as she was an elf she was fire support with her longbow.

Sascha
01-18-2010, 10:21 PM
I'd actually take Heighten Spell over Lingering Song, giving your spells access to higher-level slots (and saves, if needed). With spontaneous casting, you'll have increased your on-the-fly utility, and extra patch heals are almost always useful. Combats where you'll have to refresh an effect are also the ones where your other casters are going to be burning up their stuff, too.

Still, it's all pretty dependent on what types of challenges you'll be facing and how often you get to rest up. It's also handy to see what the other characters' limitations are and smooth out those edges, too.

In our case, the cleric is a negative-energy channeler, so spontaneous healing is pretty much limited to the bard and whatever wands we happen to have on us. Having the option to use a Cure as a higher-level slot is more valuable than extra rounds on effects. I'd imagine a similar boost in effectiveness with a less heal-focused party.

cigamnogard
01-19-2010, 06:18 PM
I'd actually take Heighten Spell over Lingering Song, giving your spells access to higher-level slots (and saves, if needed). With spontaneous casting, you'll have increased your on-the-fly utility, and extra patch heals are almost always useful.

Good point - I liked the ability to stop being the bard yet still be the bard (with lingering song) while able to perform other actions as required.

Sascha
01-19-2010, 06:31 PM
Yeah, it's part of the reason "effective" isn't a good, objective adjective of the class, in and of itself; you kinda need the other characters, as well as the challenges, to work out options.

cigamnogard
01-20-2010, 06:56 PM
Curious Sascha - how did you counter the three rounds later problem or did your bard just keep singing, reciting, playing, piping...(LOL)-performing- to keep the effects up?

Sascha
01-21-2010, 01:05 AM
It's five rounds lingering for the core abilities (I'm unsure on Ironskin Chant, as I don't have the book handy, but we've been treating it as the same; works for us :P), so that'll give you more flexibility.

With our group's size and makeup, if it comes to needing to refresh any effect, there's either a heck of a lot of enemies or a few really strong ones with loads of DR and spell resistance. At that point, it's a tossup as to whether I need to be doing healing duties, reapplying buffs, or sitting back and watching them clean up. More often, I don't even get to the second effect before the fight is decisively over.

(Again, our party size and level skew the numbers something fierce, heh. Still, adjusting tactics during an encounter's a useful skill overall.)

cigamnogard
01-22-2010, 06:15 PM
Ah - I see.

tesral
01-24-2010, 07:52 PM
Yeah, it's part of the reason "effective" isn't a good, objective adjective of the class, in and of itself; you kinda need the other characters, as well as the challenges, to work out options.

Effective is a relative term. May times an ineffective character is simply a failure of point of view. Once does not play a Bard to be a combat monster.

Karrnathi
01-25-2010, 12:44 PM
In my experience Bards can quickly become the most vital class in a group of adventurers. They are excellent buffers/debuffers and their ability to cast Cure spells makes them a great addition if you're lacking a healer or require someone who can do back up healing. My favorite kind of bard setup though is the debuffer using 3.5 rules.

The best way to go about this is using Complete Adventurer and Complete Scoundrel to really create a devastating bard. The way I usually set it up is I take Performance (String Instruments) and have my character use a fiddle. This leaves him free to cast spells that require only verbal components, especially if you take the Feat: Eschrew Materials. Now while I'm doing Bard Song or Fascinating something I can cast Blindness/Deafness as well.

This becomes especially devastating once you prestige class into Dirge Singer and gain Dirge Song. You can lower the enemy's chances of resisting your various debuffing effects, throwing off Darkness spells, Blindness/Deafness, and other Dirge Song effects. This absolutely cripples enemies and allow the party to rip through them with little difficulty, or allows you to keep a particularly powerful foe in control while the rest of the party deals with it.

You personally won't be doing any damage with this setup, but that's not really your role. You're there in order to provide utility and debuffs, so usually for spells I choose whatever debuffing spells I can cast using only vocal components, cure spells, and/or illusion spells.

Regicide
01-29-2010, 07:59 AM
In 3.5, the Bard is a spontaneous spell-caster, and the Sublime Chord PRC makes the Bard a full caster that eventually gets 9th Wiz/sorc level spells as well as other fun abilities. Though the Sublime Chord Bard isn't quite a Wizard, s/he makes the sorcerer look like chopped liver.

Good skill points, good skill selection, unmatched social prowess, full casting and other interesting class features to boot? As long as you take Sublime Chord, you'll have to work extra hard to make a mid-to high level Bard not effective.

And in an urban social/intrigue-heavy campaign the bard is awesome with or without this must-have PRC.

WhiteTiger
01-29-2010, 10:51 AM
I really enjoyed playing the Lyric Thaumaturge from Complete Mage. Granted, you can't get any spells above 6th level but the extra spell slot and the extra spell per spell level from the sorcerer/wizard list comes in really handy and the sonic master power is really cool to.

Regicide
02-02-2010, 03:03 AM
I just remembered this interesting melee bard/warblade build:

http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19864106/Song_of_Death:_Bardic_Badass

Hamenopi
02-02-2010, 10:47 AM
I have a Gnome Bard12/Sorc1 who specializes in illusions. Has the Half Orc fighter convinced that he is the chosen one to the god of squirrels, and the paladin's lance was really the Squirrel God's Divine Weapon. Had the halfling paladin at his beck and call, until he bravely met his fate and returned to his god. Has the cleric's church building a shrine to the Dwarf Cleric (used alter self and preached one hell of a sermon while the cleric was at the armory). Saved a succubus from my party members. Befriended a blue dragon and a hill giant. Convinced a deranged wizard not to engage the party but actually give the party what it needed and some gold as a standard delivery fee.

See my belief is that Bards are the anti hack and slash. With a few well placed words, our party is able to bypass many hazards and threats, making my bard do better damage than the fighter, better battle field control than the wizards, and better healer than the cleric. Cause, let's just face it, they'd actually have to take damage and use weapons and spells if it wasn't for me.

tesral
02-02-2010, 10:57 AM
Which is my point about how "effective" is seen. You are playing an effective character. You get what you are after without a fight. Which as a DM I'm good with.

Hamenopi
02-02-2010, 11:32 AM
Exactly! Doesn't matter what your saves/attack rolls/damage dice are when you don't have to roll them. Bards are not for beginners. =P

Regicide
02-02-2010, 01:40 PM
Not just effective, but IMHO one of the more fun sorts of characters to play.
See my belief is that Bards are the anti hack and slash. With a few well placed words, our party is able to bypass many hazards and threats, making my bard do better damage than the fighter, better battle field control than the wizards, and better healer than the cleric. Cause, let's just face it, they'd actually have to take damage and use weapons and spells if it wasn't for me.That is true, but Bards aren't special in this regard. I once played a Wizard who did much the same thing (a prestige class gave him Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate as class skills), but was also able to eventually teleport the party across the world when needed, and turned a spellcaster who could be neither be tricked nor persuaded into stone. He didn't have anyone in the party convinced that he was chosen of the God of anything, but he did manage to keep his true intentions under wraps long enough to usurp the kingdom that the party was supposed to be serving, secretly build an army out of several of the previously 'avoided' combats and destroy the Druid's (who was onto him the whole time somehow) village to the ground disguised as the Druid herself. He left just enough witnesses alive to spread the word of course.

There's something to be said for playing Lawful Evil in a Good party ;)

A Beguiler (a class that I've always wanted to play) is arguably the best class for this sort of play. But as far as core material goes, the bard is defiantly the king of the social stuff. Though a properly built rouge can do the job too.

Hamenopi
02-02-2010, 02:21 PM
The fun increases when the gm deems it appropriate that the creatures the party is fighting also get my bonuses too. Well... I did say that I wanted to sing a song about the heroic red dragon who valiantly but vainly tried to ward the insurgents from his lair as my song....

Another time fighting some lawful evil undead thing, it purposely didn't attack me because I wasn't considered a combatant, merely an interesting conversationalist that didn't run or try to kill it at first sight. In hind sight if the party was wiped, I wonder what stories we could have shared. My gnome bard is trying to become a lich after all.

cigamnogard
02-02-2010, 05:10 PM
Working towards lichdom - now that has potential.

Regicide
02-02-2010, 09:20 PM
Might have just been saving the bard for dessert ;)
One day someone is going to play a character with a very high sense motive check and then that pesky gnome will be in trouble :lol: