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Yora
2010-03-29, 12:12 PM
For my homebrew setting I want to use bards as shamans who use divine magic that is closer to that of druids than to a sorcerer.

Many people consider the bard to be a pretty solid class and I want to keep it that way and don't weaken it by making poor changes.
But I never played a bard myself or tried to come up with interesting builds, so I have no idea what makes the bard as good (or moderate) as it is.
So I'd like some help in understanding why the bard is good at what he does. What does he actually do? :smallconfused:

taltamir
2010-03-29, 12:20 PM
http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19870498/The_Bards_Handbook

Tyger
2010-03-29, 12:20 PM
The bard, humble though he may be at first glance, is the difference between a good party and a force for ultimate destruction. He is the face of the party, talking them out of situations that would otherwise destroy them. He is the reason they walk safely through the dungeon despite the lack of a "rogue". He is the one who makes them stronger, faster, better. Seriously, he has the technology.

:)

Seriously, in my experience (and for full disclosure, I am currently playing my first ever bard), the bard is the best damned buffer gold can buy. Yes, he can buff with his spells (haste anyone?) and his music (whether it be the regular +x to hit and damage, or the awesomeness that is Dragonfire Inspiration). He's no slouch in a fight either (those bonuses effect him too!) with a Crystal Echoblade in hand and/or the Snowflake Wardance feat.

The addition of splatbooks simply makes him better and better too. Whether its the Sublime Chord power (making him a bard and a sorcerer all in one) or a flavourful Dirge Singer he's got all the bases covered and covered well.

The bard is the jack of all trades and master of many. When something needs doing, he's the one the party turns to for ideas. Clever and creative, he's the man with the plan, who knows how to turn the party into the best, most well oiled machine of either diplomacy or destruction.

valadil
2010-03-29, 12:25 PM
What does he actually do? :smallconfused:

A little bit of everything. The bard plays second string to everyone. Ge can cast, but with less spell selection and lower level spells (meaning lower DCs) than a sorc or wizard. He can heal as well as a cleric (meaning off of a wand after every combat). The bard is a good party face and can handle some of the rogue's responsibilities. He's respectable backup if any other PC doesn't show up that day. But he never gets to be number one. For this reason, bards are usually considered uninteresting when it comes to optimization.

There are some prestige classes and builds that can allow the bard to excel at one area at the expense of the others. But IMO that defeats the purpose of the bard. If you want to be an awesome caster, go wiz or sorc.

If you're writing a game I think the bard should be a little stronger than they are in D&D. In my experience, a bard is usually 1/2 to 3/4 as good as what they're filling in for. I think they need to be closer to 90% as good as a dedicated class. They need to be noticeably weaker, but good enough that they're still worth playing.

Weirdlet
2010-03-29, 12:39 PM
Given my understanding of the classic druid, a bard would probably make a fair approximation. Having played a bard-rogue mix for fifteen levels, there are a couple of things I've learned whilst trying to shoehorn what I wanted out of it.

The big thing about bards (3.5, at least) are their music as applied to the party (buffs and Inspire ___), their music as applied to their enemies (things like Fascinate and Suggestion), and their knowledge picked up from their travels (Bardic Knowledge). They also have more skills than anyone but the rogue, but we'll leave that aside for now to focus on the major stamps.

In my opinion, the biggest advantage the bard has is often the most useless, because Fascinate does not work once combat has started. Otherwise, you could just push your Perform check sky-high and slaughter every living thing with a brain and ears without a fight. But a more classic, priestly druid might use that well, attempting diplomacy before stepping back and letting the warriors have their fun.

Mark Hall
2010-03-29, 01:02 PM
A long list of why bards are awesome. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6825647&postcount=21)

Why you don't want to play a beguiler... they have scabies. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=122326)

Oh, and a little bit more. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6769527&postcount=31)

Bards are AWESOME. As much as I enjoy my other characters, I regret it just a little bit when I'm not playing a bard.

Lysander
2010-03-29, 01:13 PM
They do three things mainly:

1. Buff their allies with magical music
2. Excel at diplomacy and dishonesty
3. Back up the above with a small amount of combat and arcane spells

JaxGaret
2010-03-29, 05:14 PM
For my homebrew setting I want to use bards as shamans who use divine magic that is closer to that of druids than to a sorcerer.

You might want to take a look at the Mystic Ranger, that is very close to what you just described. Flavor it as a Mystic Bard, maybe swap out some of the class features for Bard class features (for example, remove Favored Enemy and replace it with Bardic Music & Bardic Knowledge).

http://www.crystalkeep.com/d20/rules/DnD3.5Index-Classes-Base.pdf

Pages 91-92 and 185.

Dairun Cates
2010-03-29, 05:18 PM
Why are bards awesome? Because you can wield a holy spiked chain, combine it with your ability to heal yourself and hurt undead on a touch and all your other utility spells, and run through Ravenloft as Simon Belmont.

El Dorado
2010-03-29, 05:51 PM
To the OP: You mentioned shaman/druid. Were you thinking of adjusting the bard's spell selection (adding faerie fire, speak with dead, etc) or were you looking for a build that gives the bard different abilities?

HunterOfJello
2010-03-29, 06:00 PM
you do realize there is a Divine Bard class variant right?


check it out at Variant Character Classes (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantcharacterclasses.htm).

The downside of the character is that they have 2 casting stats instead of 1. They use wisdom to determine their highest spell casting level, so you'll need 19 wisdom in end-game. Otherwise they still use Charisma for everything.

Their spells also count as divine spells instead of arcane, which will change up all the normal feat requirements.

A divine bard also gains the following spells:

Add the following spells to the divine bard's class spell list: 0—create water, cure minor wounds; 1st—detect evil/good/law, protection from evil/good/law; 2nd—consecrate, desecrate, gentle repose; 3rd—magic circle against evil/good/law, prayer; 4th—remove disease, speak with dead, sending; 5th—divination, restoration; 6th—commune, hallow, unhallow, raise dead.

Kylarra
2010-03-29, 06:02 PM
The downside of the character is that they have 2 casting stats instead of 1. They use wisdom to determine their highest spell casting level, so you'll need 19 wisdom in end-game. Otherwise they still use Charisma for everything.
You mean 16. :smalltongue:

HunterOfJello
2010-03-29, 06:28 PM
You mean 16. :smalltongue:

oh! i forgot bards only have 6 caster levels! I've been helping a friend with a favored soul lately and thinking about it that way. Shame on me for giving bad advice.




In that case, I take it back. Getting 16 wisdom is easy by level 17 or whenever you get those last caster levels.

Zaq
2010-03-29, 06:59 PM
Bards actually get a few abilities that are, if not totally unique, at least rather difficult to replicate. There are a few good spells that are Bard-only, and it's difficult even for a Cleric to get the intensity, reliability, and widespread nature of a Bard's buffs (doable, of course, because the Cleric can do damn near anything, but they at least have to work at it).

Another thing that people forget about Bards is that they don't have to just stop what they're doing to keep helping their friends. There are plenty of ways to get Inspire Courage to not interrupt your flow of actions (getting it to a swift action via Song of the White Raven, making it not affect your casting through Melodic Casting, and so on), and then keep doing your thing. Also, while they're not as big as Inspire Courage, Bards DO get other really cool uses for their music. It's damned near impossible to make a save against a Bard's Fascinate/Suggestion combo, really.

Bards really shine in parties with summoners. If you need to, you can even use summon spells yourself, even though they're not as good as those of a 9th-level caster... though with enough Dragonfire Inspiration, they don't really have to be.

The only thing about a bard is that they do have some tricky resource management. On a large scale, they're expected to be good at pretty much any skill ever, but without any real in-class use for INT, 6 skill points doesn't go as far as it looks. They're traditionally UMD monkeys, but you can't afford every wand you've ever seen without a very generous party. Moving in slightly, they don't have as many spells per day as a 9th-level caster, and if you try to play them like they're a sorcerer, you'll end up out of juice very quickly (rather like going from managing a psion's PP to managing a psywar's PP). At low levels, bardic music is to be rationed carefully, and even at high levels you can burn through your daily allotment very quickly if you're using more than one flavor of it, which you probably should be, since there are so many tricks you can do with it. It's very easy for a careless bard to simply run out of tricks, even more so than a careless wizard. This doesn't make them bad, of course, merely tricky.

There's a lot you can do with Bards. You just have to work at it a little bit.

Mark Hall
2010-03-29, 07:23 PM
The only thing about a bard is that they do have some tricky resource management. On a large scale, they're expected to be good at pretty much any skill ever, but without any real in-class use for INT, 6 skill points doesn't go as far as it looks.

While they don't get spell power or anything off of it, I'd disagree that they have no in-class use for Int.

1) Bardic Knowledge. Depending on your DM, this is a GREAT ability.
2) Skills. A large number of their skills rely on Int... like the knowledge skills line.
3) Language. Bards with high Intelligences speak more languages and I've had at least one DM say "Normally I'd make you justify why your character speaks X, but, what the heck, he's a bard."
4) Skill points as ends in and of themselves. Bards having tons of different skills, at low levels, is not necessarily a bad thing. While they have a few they should specialize in, having a couple "wherever" points every level makes for a versatile bard.


They're traditionally UMD monkeys, but you can't afford every wand you've ever seen without a very generous party.

Very true, but remember the other side of UMD: the "randomly throw switches" effect of magic item use. The "I stole this wand from the bad guys, let's try using it on them." The "Sure, I'm not a virgin elven female cleric... but I can put myself in a mindset that will fool this ancient magic."



There's a lot you can do with Bards. You just have to work at it a little bit.

Most definitely.