View Full Version : [3.5] A more warrior-like Bard

The Troubadour
2012-04-30, 08:38 AM
Hey there, guys! So, let's say I removed the Bard's spellcasting ability and the Use Magic Device skill from his class skills list, and then gave him d8 HD, ability to wear medium armor and proficiency with all martial weapons, and increased his initial Inspire Courage bonus from +1 to +2. Would that be an ok alternate class feature, optimization-wise?

Frog Dragon
2012-04-30, 08:50 AM
So.. trade out your hands down most powerful feature for medium armor and one hit point per level, along with a few proficiencies?

Also, Inspirational Boost, a spell from the Spell Compendium grants a +1 to your inspire courage bonus, so if you're using that, you don't even get more inspire courage.

It'd basically be a huge nerf, and the result would be, on its own, on par or weaker than a monk. It might be somewhat useful with Bardblades and Bardsaders, but even those would mostly be better served with regular bard levels.

The Troubadour
2012-04-30, 09:10 AM
Yeah, I was afraid of that, actually. But for a low-op group, would it be ok?

And assuming it's for a mid-op group, how could I do such a change - preferably in a mostly low-key way (that is, adding or removing features, not writing entirely new ones)?

Frog Dragon
2012-04-30, 10:10 AM
The problem with low-OP bards is that the optimization floor and ceiling are more like those of a wizard than those of a warblade. Basically, the warblade will be pretty kickass even if you make bad choices (because there aren't many bad choices to make), but as a wizard, you could pick crappy or useless spells, spend your feats on metamagic that doesn't synergize with the aforementioned spells and so on.

The bard is like a wizard, but with a lower ceiling. An unoptimized bard at first level inspires some courage in one fight and then proceeds to totally suck at all the others. This is probably why bards have a gimp reputation. They kind of are gimps if you're playing at the optimization floor.

The easiest way to compensate for spells is to give maneuvers. Make a bardblade in a can so to speak. White Raven is an obvious pick, but other than that, it's kind of a toss-up. Iron Heart? Setting Sun? Desert Wind for the Dragonfire Inspirers?

That's really the only way I can think of to compensate for spells.

The Troubadour
2012-04-30, 11:31 AM
Assuming a core-only game, though, would the tradeoff be allright?

2012-04-30, 12:03 PM
Core only if you take the bards magic away your looking at a tier 5. Less HD then a fighter, no bonus feats, medium armour, no tower shields. And music that unfortunately is not going to make up much for what your taking away.

2012-04-30, 12:31 PM
This is similar to a ACF that i made for teh bard that i named the SKALD.

Increased HD to a D8, made isnpire courage start at +1 but increase every 5th level ( so ends up being +5 at level 20)

they lost teh ability to make suggestions and knew 1 fewer spell on their spells known as well as Bardic knoweldge was only 1/2 Bard level instead of full bard level.

They also gained in place of Suggestion the ability ti Inspire Frenzy, which basically gave everybody RAGE for 5 rounds.

It was pretty great considering my players wanted to play a more melee gritty in your face campaign so it meshed was perfect for that one particualr campaign..

whether or not you it would work for a 'standard' D&D campaign is something i do not know.

2012-04-30, 12:34 PM
The point that I have -- and this is just a personal thing -- is that I like classes where you get a lot of choices, either each day or at least once -- . I like Binders, spellcasters, Tome of Battle classes, and any other class where two people can play the same class but make different choices while still remaining effective. I feel like, for the Bard class, the main option for making different choices is spell selection and since this Bard doesn't get any spells, pretty much every Bard is going to look just the same, not because of optimization or anything but because the player doesn't get many choices.

2012-04-30, 12:47 PM
In a recent campaign I was dm'ing someone came to me with almost the exact same idea. What we wound up doing was the following

He gave up his magic.
His 'bard' got d10 hit dice and full bab.
He received the ranger combat style of his choice. (wound up as an archer)
He added intimidate to his skill list.
He got martial proficiencies.

2012-04-30, 01:02 PM
Yeah, I'm going to throw in my support on the whole "massive nerf" thing. The best way would be to replace the spells with maneuvers, probably, but with core only? There's really nothing you can give him on the same level as spells-- at least, not without cutting massively into another class' territory, or 'brewing up an entirely new set of songs and class features. I'd say that if you want a warrior-leader type, play a Marshal, but they're not core either, and kind of lackluster. T. G. Oskar did a pretty good homebrew fix (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=186681), although the power level on it is pretty high.

The Troubadour
2012-04-30, 02:10 PM
Here's the thing, guys: this would be a homebrew I'd like to present to a new DM for a character with which I'd like to play. Usually, I'd keep the spellcasting ability, but the DM's restricted the available material to core-only books, plus the Eberron Campaign Setting. (I'm actually torn between playing a melee Bard and playing a Domain Adept, but I digress.)

Now, I don't mind the lack of options, since I like to play with melee/buffing bards (though I usually don't employ Dragonfire/Words of Power cheese); but I am worried about the character's effectiveness, since I've never played with this DM and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

What if I traded the spellcasting ability/Use Magic Device for:

- d10 HD;
- full BAB;
- proficiency with heavy armor, shields (except tower) and martial weapons;
- additional +1 bonus for Inspire Courage.

So basically, a Fighter without proficiency with tower shields and no bonus Feats, but with two good saves, 6 + Int skill points and Bardic Music.

The Troubadour
2012-04-30, 02:14 PM
Or perhaps:

- d8 HD;
- proficiency with medium armor, light shields and martial weapons;
- +1 bonus to Inspire Courage;

in exchange for half caster level.

2012-05-01, 04:59 AM
Play a marshal (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ex/20030906b) , re-fluff,and role-play the hell out of it.

The Troubadour
2012-05-01, 08:34 AM
Core-only game, otherwise I'd actually like to try a Marshal.

2012-05-01, 09:48 AM
Core-only game, otherwise I'd actually like to try a Marshal.

Core only, but the DM will accept homebrew? That's not exactly core only. Strip the serial numbers off, claim it as your own work, and present it to your DM as your homebrew.

Job done.

2012-05-02, 07:52 AM
The trade off will never be ok without gaining something non-core in return

something instead like giving full BAB and

inspire courage hits every 5 levels from first.
level 2 : weapon finesse for free, +1d6 elemental damage with any finnesse weapon while music is active. Increases every 2 levels. Must choose element and must stick with it. can change element with 1 hour to retune yourself. This only affects yourself.
level 4: Lingering Song
level 7 : Gain ability to create music with a blade. Must be able to use weapon finnesse with the wielded weapon.
Level 10: add + enchantment bonus of wielded weapon to all Inspire songs

I'm sure people can think of more. Char to things like attack, dam and AC, other stuff that comes from common bard feats ur not going to be able to pick in a core game.

2012-05-02, 10:55 AM
What I would go for, personally, would be:

- d10 HD
- Full BAB
- Medium Armor and Shield Proficiency
- Martial Weapons Proficiency
- Unlimited Inspire Courage use (does not use up Bardic Music, but other songs would)
- Double the bonus you would ordinarily receive from class levels only
- Request new songs leveling up. I know, I know, Core Only, but maybe you could work something out with getting select songs from elsewhere allowed.

I could PM you my personal homebrew Bard revision, but it might not be very well received if you're not familiar with the DM.

The Troubadour
2012-05-02, 01:39 PM
Well, the DM veto'ed homebrew too. He agrees that my proposed revisions are actually more of a nerf, but since there'll be novice players at the table, he would rather we stuck to core to make things easier for them.

That said, this has actually turned into an interesting (to me, at least) homebrewing exercise, and I'd be grateful for any help you guys would like to give. :-) Here's an attempt at a spell-less Bard that is actually viable:


Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d8.
Class Skills: Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Speak Language (None), and Swim (Str).
Skill Points: 6 + INT modifier.

Base Attack Bonus: Medium.
"Good" Saving Throws: Fortitude, Will.
"Poor" Saving Throws: Reflex.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: All simple and martial weapons, medium armor and shields (except tower shields).

Class Features:

Skald's Knowledge (Su): Beginning at 1st level, the Skald may perform any Knowledge check untrained. In addition, he gains a bonus on all Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Local), and Knowledge (Nobility & Royalty) checks equal to half his Skald's level (rounding up).

Battle Chants (Su): Beginning at 1st level, the Skald may sing one magical chant at a time.

Singing a chant is a swift action. The chant remains in effect until the Skald uses a free action to dismiss it or activates another chant. A Skald can have a chant active continually; thus, a chant can be in effect at the start of a combat encounter even before the Skald takes his first turn.

While singing a chant, a Skald cannot cast spells, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), spell trigger (such as wands), or command word. Just as for casting a spell with a verbal component, a deaf Skald has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to sing a chant.

Unless otherwise noted, a Skald's chant affects all allies within 60 feet (including himself) who can hear the Skald. An ally must have an Intelligence score of 3 or higher and be able to understand the Skald's language to gain the bonus. A Skald's chant is dismissed if he is dazed, unconscious, stunned, paralyzed, or otherwise unable to be heard or understood by his allies.

A Skald begins play knowing two chants of his choice. He learns another chant at 3rd level, and then a new one every three levels thereafter.

Chant of Ardor: The Skald's allies gain a +1 morale bonus on melee attack and damage rolls, +1 for every 4 Skald levels, up to a maximum of +5 at 16th level. In addition, they can re-roll any failed saving throw against charm, compulsion and fear effects, once for each save.

Chant of Fortitude: The Skald's allies gain a +2 morale bonus on Fortitude and Will saves, +1 for every 5 Skald levels, up to a maximum of +5 at 15th level. In addition, if they make a successful Will or Fortitude save against an attack that normally would have a lesser effect on a successful save (such as a spell with a saving throw entry of Will half or Fortitude partial), they instead completely negate the effect.

Chant of Might: The Skald's allies gain a +2 morale bonus on Disarm, Grapple, Sunder, Strength and Strength-based skill checks, +1 for every 5 Skald levels, up to a maximum of +5 at 15th level. In addition, they gain Damage Reduction equal to half of the Skald's class level (rounding up), up to a maximum of 10 at 20th level.

Chant of Power: The Skald's allies gain a +2 morale bonus on Concentration and caster level checks, +1 for every 5 Skald levels, up to a maximum of +5 at 15th level. In addition, their caster levels are increased by 1, +1 for every 4 Skald levels, up to a maximum of 5 at 16th level.

Chant of Precision: The Skald's allies gain a +1 morale bonus on ranged attack and damage rolls and rolls to confirm critical hits, and a +2 morale bonus on Search and Spot checks. In addition, they may reduce any miss chance due to cover or concealment from which they are suffering by 10%, +5% for every 3 Skalds levels, up to a maximum of 40% at 18th level.

Chant of Protection: The Skald's allies gain a +1 morale bonus to Armor Class, +1 for every 4 Skald levels, up to a maximum of +5 at 16th level. In addition, they gain Spell Resistance equal to 10 + the Skald's class level.

Chant of Swiftness: The Skald's allies gain a +2 morale bonus on Reflex saves and Initiative, Balance and Tumble checks, +1 for every 5 Skald levels, up to a maximum of +5 at 15th level. In addition, the Skald's allies base land speed is increased by 10 feet, +5 for every 4 Skald levels, up to a maximum of 30 feet at 16th level.

(More chants to be added later)

War Cries (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, the Skald learns one War Cry, selected from the list below. At 4th level and every three levels thereafter, he learns another War Cry, up to a maximum of 6 War Cries at 16th level.

The Skald can use these War Cries a total number of times per day equal to 1/2 his Skald level + his Charisma modifier.

Blood for the Gods of Battle!: The Skald may force all enemies within 60 feet who fail a Will save (the save DC is 10 + 1/2 the Skald's class level + the Skald's Charisma bonus, if any) to become shaken for 3 + the Skald's Charisma bonus (if any) rounds as a free action. This War Cry can only be used once per encounter.

My Ancestors Demand Your Death!: All enemies within 60 feet immediately suffer 1d8 damage for every Skald level, up to a maximum of 10d8 at 10th level, Will half (the save DC is 10 + 1/2 the Skald's class level + the Skald's Charisma bonus, if any). This is a necromancy effect. This damage ignores all resistances and immunities. This is a necromancy effect. Using this War Cry is a standard action, and it can only be used once per encounter.

Onwards, to Death and Glory!: All of the Skald's allies (but not the Skald himself) within 30 feet may charge immediately as a free action. Using this War Cry is a standard action, and it can only be used once per encounter.

(More War Cries to be added later)

Battle Rhythm (Ex): Beginning at 6th level, the Skald may add his Charisma bonus (if any) as a bonus to all attack and damage rolls against flanked or prone opponents and opponents who had their Dexterity bonus to AC denied, and to his Armor Class against attacks of opportunity and charges, for an entire round as a swift action.
This ability can be used a total number of times per encounter equal to 1/2 the Skald's class level.

Master Skald: Beginning at 10th level, the Skald may sing two chants at the same time, and the effects of both apply at the same time.
At 20th level, he may sing three chants at the same time, and the effects of all three apply at the same time

Dance of the Hammer and Anvil(Ex): Beginning at 14th level, when using his Battle Rhythm ability the Skald may also gain a +1 competence bonus for every 2 Skald levels (up to a maximum of +10 at 20th level) on all attack rolls when declaring a Power Attack or when using Combat Expertise.

2012-05-02, 02:14 PM
That seems to be effective though right off hand I don't think it is as solid as a normal bard though taking out spells will do that. Overall everything seems balanced. You might want to work on the capstone a little bit. While playing three songs at a time is nice your capstone ought to be something that really makes players want to stick with the class that long.

The Troubadour
2012-05-02, 03:50 PM
The scaling is a bit weird for some effects. I'm probably gonna adopt a different scaling for each chant, instead of using an unified bonus for all of them.

Edit: There, revised it a bit.

The Troubadour
2012-05-04, 02:28 PM
I'm stumped with the development of additional chants and war cries, not to mention a capstone! Anybody's got any suggestions? :-)