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Thread: Bard Class

  1. #1
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    Bard Class

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    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)

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    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 ^_^).

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    But how many bonuses can she really dish out?

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    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 . 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

    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.
    Last edited by Melil1; 01-11-2010 at 10:03 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by d-_-b View Post
    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.

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    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.
    Last edited by d-_-b; 01-11-2010 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Automerged Double Post

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.)

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    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.

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    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.

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    Must have feats:
    1. Extra Music
    2. 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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sascha View Post
    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.

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    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.

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