View Full Version : The Tomes Bard (D&D 3.5 Base Class, PEACH)

2012-06-07, 02:35 PM
So, while reading Frank Trollman's Tomes, I found a lot of things I really loved. However, I found a few things missing.
Three of my favorite classes from the PHB were conspicuously absent; the Bard, Sorcerer, and Ranger were nowhere to be found!
This is the second of three classes I will be presenting, rebalanced to reflect the design philosophy I found in the Tomes: That there should be a reason to write 20 levels of a single class on your character sheet. Prestige classes should provide options, not be mandatory to survive.
The Bard presents a unique character type. His main schtick is not to deal the most damage, or to provide game-changing effects by turning into dragons and such. No, where the bard truly shines is in inspiring others in the party to greatness. He is a supportive character always, although he has skills that let him mix it up a little. Armor proficiency and 3/4 BAB help this, and a Bard can be a passable scrapper or archer if the need comes. But the fact remains, the Bard is at his greatest when he's helping his friends.
The Bard presented in the PHB isn't as good at this as he needs to be. Sure, things like Dragonfire Inspiration can make him better, but the Bard is a spellcasting class... that doesn't even get good spells. The effects for his Bardic Music are okay, but nothing that will make heads turn. He has prestige classes and can multiclass, but saying that a class is made better by being another class is an extraordinarily crappy way to build a class.
The solution, of course, is to model the bard off of classes like the Beguiler and Dread Necromancer. Limited spontaneous spell list, with Juicy class features thrown in to make writing 'Bard 20' on your character sheet a thing to be proud of.
The idea for this build is not one I can claim entirely for myself. I made some tweaks, but the primary creadit goes to KR for the chassis and spell list.

The Bard

"It's not a bard's place to be a hero. Heroes get statues built of them. They get songs written about them. They get remembered, see... But it's a bard's job to be a part of the Legend. They tell the stories, they write the songs... So while it's nice to be a hero, I'd rather be a Legend. Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die."

Spellcasters in the world vary wildly. The Wizard studies for decades to gain arcane power through knowledge and learning. The Sorcerer has ancient magic running through his veins. A Cleric prays to the gods for aid, and a Druid acheives power through closeness with nature.
And then... we have the Bard.
They do not cast spells; they sing them. Each spell is just a chord in a song, these arcanists changing the battlefield by inspiring their allies to new heights with magically-charged music.

Charisma is, by far, the most important stat for a Bard. It gives him bonus spells, raises their DC's, and adds to his Perform and social skills.
Bards benefit from a high Dexterity and Constitution, as well; initiative is always important, and Constitution supplements a Bard's mediocre hit dice.

Alignment: Any. Music is not exclusive to the Chaotically-aligned, and it's silly to think that way.
Starting Age: Moderate.
Hit Die: d6
Class Skills: Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (n/a), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skill Points: 6+Int modifier.

{table=head]Level|BAB|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Special

1st| +0 | +0 | +2 | +2 |Bardic Knowledge, Bardic Composition, Cantrips

2nd| +1 | +0| +3 | +3 |Advanced Learning

3rd| +2 | +1 | +3 | +3 |Bardic Composition

4th| +3 | +1 | +4 | +4 |Advanced Learning

5th| +3 | +1 | +4| +4 |Bardic Composition

6th| +4 | +2 | +5 | +5 |Advanced Learning

7th| +5 | +2 | +5 | +5 |Bardic Composition

8th| +6/+1 | +2 | +6 | +6 |Advanced Learning

9th| +6/+1 | +3 | +6 | +6 |Bardic Epic

10th| +7/+2 | +3 | +7 | +7 |Advanced Learning

11th| +8/+3 | +3 | +7 | +7 |Bardic Epic, Lyrical Alacrity

12th| +9/+4 | +4 | +8 | +8 |Advanced Learning

13th| +9/+4 | +4 | +8 | +8 |Bardic Epic

14th| +10/+5 | +4 | +9 | +9 |Advanced Learning

15th| +11/+6/+6 | +5 | +9 | +9 |Bardic Masterpiece

16th| +12/+7/+7 | +5 | +10 | +10 |Advanced Learning

17th| +12/+7/+7 | +5 | +10 | +10 |Bardic Masterpiece

18th| +13/+8/+8 | +6 | +11 | +11 |Advanced Learning

19th| +14/+9/+9 | +6 | +11 | +11 |Bardic Masterpiece

20th| +15/+10/+10 | +6 | +12 | +12 |Advanced Learning, Legends Never Die[/table]

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Bards are proficient with all simple weapons and martial weapons and with light armor and shields. A bard can cast arcane spells while wearing armor he is proficient in or using a shield he's proficient in without incurring Spell Failure Chance.

Class Features: All of the following are class features of the bard. He gains them at the levels indicated on the table above.

Spells: A Bard casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the Bard spell list. When you gain access to a new level of spells, you automatically know all the spells for that level on the Bard’s spell list. You can cast any spell you know without preparing it ahead of time. Essentially, your spell list is the same as your spells known list. You also have the option of adding to your existing spell list through your advanced learning class feature (see below) as you increase in level. To cast a Bard spell, you must have an Charisma score of 10 + the spell’s level (Cha 10 for 0-level spells, Cha 11 for 1st-level spells, and so forth). The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a Bard’s spell is 10 + the spell’s level + the Bard’s Cha modifi er. Like other spellcasters, a Bard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. The base daily spell allotment is given on table above. In addition, you receive bonus spells for a high Charisma score. A Bard need not prepare spells in advance. You can cast any spell you know at any time, assuming you have not yet used up your spells per day for that spell level.
The Bard's spellcasting progression is as follows:





















Cantrips (Ex): When casting a 0th-level spell, a Bard need not worry about spell slots. These are at-will.

Bardic Knowledge (Ex): A Bard gains half his Bard level as a competence bonus to all knowledge skills. Additionally, he may make knowledge checks untrained.

Bardic Composition (Su): A Bard can inspire those around him with his Bardic Compositions. Activating a Bardic Composition requires a swift action that requires verbal components, and the Composition's effects last for one round unless stated otherwise. In order to use a Bardic Composition, you must have at least 4 ranks in Peform. The Bardic Composition affects all creatures you designate in a 30-foot radius burst and unwilling targets may negate it with a Will save. Each Bardic Composition must be named, and the Bardic Composition may have up to two of the effects listed below:

•Creatures affected gain a +3 morale bonus to attack.
•Creatures affected deal +1d6 bonus damage with attacks for every 4 character levels you possess (round up).
•Creatures affected gain a +3 morale bonus to AC.
•Creatures affected gain a +3 morale bonus to saving throws.
•Creatures affected gain a +10 morale bonus to their movement speeds.
•Creatures affected gain the Evasion ability.
•Creatures affected take no AoO penalties for movement.
•Charms and Compulsions are suppressed on affected creatures for one round.
•Choose one ability score when you create a composition with this effect. Creatures affected gain a +3 morale bonus to ability checks using the chosen ability (including skill checks).
•Creatures affected gain 1 point of fast healing for each character level you possess.
•Creatures affected gain light fortification.

Advanced Learning (Ex): At 2nd level and every two levels afterwards, the Bard may add a spell from any spell list to his own. This spell must be selected from the Enchantment, Illusion, and Necromancy [Healing] lists. The Bard may choose one additional school that their Advanced Learning applies to. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed.

Bardic Epic (Su): A Bard can inspire those around him with his Bardic Epics. Activating a Bardic Epic requires a swift action that requires verbal components, and the Composition's effects last for one round unless stated otherwise. In order to use a Bardic Epic, you must have at least 12 ranks in Peform. The Bardic Epic affects all creatures you designate in a 30-foot radius burst and unwilling targets may negate it with a Will save. Each Bardic Epic must be named, and the Bardic Epic may have up to two of the effects listed below:

•Creatures affected become invisible, as the spell.
•Creatures affected gain immunity to an energy type. This energy type must be specified when you create a composition with this effect.
•Creatures affected gain immunity to dazzling and dazing.
•Creatures affected gain immunity to deafness and blindness.
•Creatures affected gain immunity to all death spells, magical death effects, energy drain, and any negative energy effects.
•Creatures affected gain the benefits of a fly spell for 2 rounds.
•Creatures affected gain blindsight out to 20 feet.
•Creatures gain an amount of DR equal to your character level that is defeated by a non-neutral alignment of your choice.
•Creatures affected gain spell resistance equal to 10 plus your character level.
•Creatures affected gain medium fortification.
•Creatures affected gain the Edge against any creature with a Perform bonus lower than your own.
•Instead of gaining a Bardic Epic effect, you may choose two effects from the Bardic Composition list.

Lyrical Alacrity (Su): A Bard gains one extra Swift action each round that he can use on things like a normal Swift action.

Bardic Masterpiece (Su): A Bard can inspire those around him with his Bardic Masterpieces. Activating a Bardic Masterpiece requires a swift action that requires verbal components, and the Composition's effects last for one round unless stated otherwise. In order to use a Bardic Masterpiece, you must have at least 18 ranks in Peform. The Bardic Masterpiece affects all creatures you designate in a 30-foot radius burst and unwilling targets may negate it with a Will save. Each Bardic Masterpiece must be named, and the Bardic Masterpiece may have up to two of the effects listed below:

•Creatures affected may enter the plane of shadow for the duration of 1 move action as free action and move to any location within 500 feet. This ability does not grant the creature any new types of movement.
•Creatures affected may greater teleport as a swift action to any location within 100 feet. They may not bring any creatures or objects over their heavy load along.
•Creatures affected gain immunity to mind-affecting effects and targeted divinations (including discern location).
•Creatures affected gain the benefits of true seeing.
•Creatures affected gain the benefits of delay death.
•Creatures affected gain heavy fortification.
•Instead of gaining a Bardic Masterpiece effect, you may choose two effects from the Bardic Epic list.

Legends Never Die (Ex): The Bard has literally become immortalized in song. He stops gaining penalties due to age, and has no maximum age. (If he had previously accrued penalties due to age, these are eliminated as the Bard returns to his physical prime.)

Bard Spells
Cure Minor Wounds: Cures 1 damage/level.
Dancing Lights: Creates torches or other lights.
Daze: Humanoid creature of 4 HD or less loses next action.
Detect Magic: Detects spells and magic items within 60 ft.
Flare: Dazzles one creature (–1 on attack rolls).
Ghost Sound: Figment sounds.
Lullaby: Makes subject drowsy; –5 on Spot and Listen checks, –2 on Will saves against sleep.
Mending: Makes minor repairs on an object.
Message: Whispered conversation at distance.
Prestidigitation: Performs minor tricks.
Read Magic: Read scrolls and spellbooks.
Summon Instrument: Summons one instrument of the caster’s choice.
1st-level Bard Spells
Cause Fear: One creature of 5 HD or less flees for 1d4 rounds.
Charm Person: Makes one person your friend.
Comprehend Languages: You understand all spoken and written languages.
Confusion, Lesser: One creature is confused for 1 round.
Disguise Self: Changes your appearance.
Expeditious Retreat: Your speed increases by 30 ft.
Grease: Makes 10-ft. square or one object slippery.
Hideous Laughter: Subject loses actions for 1 round/ level.
Hypnotism: Fascinates 2d4 HD of creatures.
Magic Mouth: Speaks once when triggered.
Remove Fear: Suppresses fear or gives +4 on saves against fear for one subject + one per four levels.
Silent Image: Creates minor illusion of your design.
Sleep: Puts 4 HD of creatures into magical slumber.
Undetectable Alignment: Conceals alignment for 24 hours.
Ventriloquism: Throws voice for 1 min./level.
2nd-level Spells
Alter Self: Assume form of a similar creature.
Deafness: Makes subject deaf.
Blur: Attacks miss subject 20% of the time.
Calm Emotions: Calms creatures, negating emotion effects.
Cat's Grace: Subject gains +4 to Dex for 1 min./level.
Eagle's Splendor: Subject gains +4 to Cha for 1 min./level.
Enthrall: Captivates all within 100 ft. + 10 ft./level.
Fox's Cunning: Subject gains +4 to Int for 1 min./level.
Glitterdust: Blinds creatures, outlines invisible creatures.
Heroism: Gives +2 on attack rolls, saves, skill checks.
Hold Person: Paralyzes one humanoid for 1 round/level.
Invisibility: Subject is invisible for 1 min./level or until it attacks.
Minor Image: As silent image, plus some sound.
Mirror Image: Creates decoy duplicates of you (1d4 +1 per three levels, max 8).
Pyrotechnics: Turns fire into blinding light or choking smoke.
Rage: Gives +2 to Str and Con, +1 on Will saves, –2 to AC.
Shatter: Sonic vibration damages objects or crystalline creatures.
Shout: Deafens all within cone and deals 5d6 sonic damage.
Suggestion: Compels subject to follow stated course of action.
Tongues: Speak any language.
3rd-level Spells
Blink: You randomly vanish and reappear for 1 round/level.
Clairaudience/Clairvoyance: Hear or see at a distance for 1 min./level.
Daylight: 60-ft. radius of bright light.
Deep Slumber: Puts 10 HD of creatures to sleep.
Dispel Magic: Cancels magical spells and effects.
Displacement: Attacks miss subject 50%.
Fear: Subjects within cone flee for 1 round/level.
Gaseous Form: Subject becomes insubstantial and can fly slowly.
Glibness: You gain +1 bonus/level on Bluff checks, and your lies can escape magical discernment.
Haste:One creature/level moves faster, +1 on attack rolls, AC, and Reflex saves.
Illusory ScriptM: Only intended reader can decipher.
Invisibility Sphere:Makes everyone within 10 ft. invisible.
Major Image: As silent image, plus sound, smell and thermal effects.
Phantom Steed:Magic horse appears for 1 hour/level.
Remove Curse: Frees object or person from curse.
Sculpt Sound: Creates new sounds or changes existing ones.
Secret Page: Changes one page to hide its real content.
See Invisibility: Reveals invisible creatures or objects.
Slow: One subject/level takes only one action/round, –1 to AC, reflex saves, and attack rolls.
Tiny Hut: Creates shelter for ten creatures.
4th-level Spells
Charm Monster:Makes monster believe it is your ally.
Confusion: Subjects behave oddly for 1 round/level.
Crushing Despair: Subjects take –2 on attack rolls, damage rolls, saves, and checks.
Detect Scrying: Alerts you of magical eavesdropping.
Dimension Door: Teleports you short distance.
Freedom of Movement: Subject moves normally despite impediments.
Geas, Lesser: Commands subject of 7 HD or less.
Good Hope: Subjects gain +2 on attack rolls, damage rolls, saves, and checks.
Hallucinatory Terrain: Makes one type of terrain appear like another (field into forest, or the like).
Invisibility, Greater: As invisibility, but subject can attack and stay invisible.
Rainbow Pattern: Lights fascinate 24 HD of creatures.
Secure Shelter: Creates sturdy cottage.
Shadow Conjuration: Mimics conjuring below 4th level, but only 20% real.
5th-level Spells
Break Enchantment: Frees subjects from enchantments, alterations, curses, and petrification.
Dominate Person: Controls humanoid telepathically.
False Vision: Fools scrying with an illusion.
Heroism, Greater: Gives +4 bonus on attack rolls, saves, skill checks; immunity to fear; temporary hp.
Hold Monster: As hold person, but any creature.
Legend Lore: Lets you learn tales about a person, place, or thing.
Mirage Arcana: As hallucinatory terrain, plus structures.
Modify Memory: Changes 5 minutes of subject’s memories.
Persistent Image: As major image, but no concentration required.
Seeming: Changes appearance of one person per two levels.
Shadow Evocation: Mimics evocation of lower than 5th level, but only 20% real.
6th-level Spells
Animate Objects: Objects attack your foes.
Cat's Grace, Mass: As cat’s grace, affects one subject/level.
Dispel Magic, Greater: As dispel magic, but +20 on check.
Eagle's Splendor, Mass: As eagle’s splendor, affects one subject/level.
Fox's Cunning, Mass: As fox’s cunning, affects one subject/level.
Geas/Quest: As lesser geas, plus it affects any creature.
Heroes' Feast: Food for one creature/level cures and grants combat bonuses.
Mislead: Turns you invisible and creates illusory double.
Permanent Image: Includes sight, sound, and smell.
Programmed Image: As major image, plus triggered by event.
Shout, Greater: Devastating yell deals 10d6 sonic damage; stuns creatures, damages objects.
Song of Discord: Forces targets to attack each other.
Suggestion, Mass: As suggestion, plus one subject/level.
Veil: Changes appearance of group of creatures.
7th-level Spells
Arcane Sight, Greater: As arcane sight, but also reveals magic effects on creatures and objects.
Hold Person, Mass: As hold person, but all within 30 ft.
Insanity: Subject suffers continuous confusion.
Invisibility, Mass: As invisibility, but affects all in range.
Irresistible Dance: Forces subject to dance.
Project Image: Illusory double can talk and cast spells.
Shadow Conjuration, Greater: As shadow conjuration, but up to 6th level and 60% real.
Vision:As legend lore, but quicker and strenuous.
8th-level Spells
Charm Monster, Mass: As charm monster, but all within 30 ft.
Maddening Scream: Forces subject to scream and drop defenses.
Mind Blank: Subject is immune to mental/emotional magic and scrying.
Scintillating Pattern: Twisting colors confuse, stun, or render unconscious.
Screen: Illusion hides area from vision, scrying.
Shadow Evocation, Greater: As shadow evocation, but up to 7th level and 60% real.
Sympathy: Object or location attracts certain creatures.
9th-level Spells
Dominate Monster: As dominate person, but any creature.
Hold Monster, Mass: As hold monster, but all within 30 ft.
Foresight: “Sixth sense” warns of impending danger.
Freedom: Releases creature from imprisonment.
Shades: As shadow conjuration, but up to 8th level and 80% real.
Time Stop: You act freely for 1d4+1 rounds.

2012-06-07, 05:13 PM
I personally don't like Frank Trollman's approach at all.
"I Win" classes (classes that are inherently designed to ignore most potential challenges out of the box and all of them with little effort) don't make the game anymore fun.
What they do make the game is boring real quick.

2012-06-07, 05:23 PM
Well, you're entitled to that opinion.
Personally, I enjoyed his approach for the most part.

2012-06-08, 06:04 PM
I'm a strong supporter of the early F&K work, though less so of Races of War and subsequent stand alone bits. I have a very soft spot for their Monk, and this reminds me of him in all the right ways. Full caster shenanigans with advanced learning aside, this looks more like their early work than their later, which I think a good call.

But it looks a bit rough around some edges. The spell lists, for example, need some serious trimming. Especially at low levels. There are 37 2nd level spells on the class list, and that's way way too many options to be carrying around to cast whenever. I'd suggest bringing it down to 7-8 per spell level, tops, thinning slightly as they level up. 7-8ish + advanced learning + UMD scroll use is all that a full list spontaneous caster needs to be relevant.

If you wanted the class to have more spells associated with them, however, you could break up the spells into "bardic traditions". If the traditions start with 7-8 per level at 1 and thin, you get to pick one and be done. If they start with 3-4 per level at 1 and thin, you could pick 2. A setup like that would sort of force each bard to "specialize" in one or two types of music, but it would leave some spell variety in the class.

As for the Monk style bardic music effects, they look pretty well setup. There's only a few things that stood out as odd. The big one was that, aside from the perform ranks, there's nothing about playing an instrument or singing or anything in the descriptions. Can they do it while their hands are bound and they're gagged? The 2 round fly is weird since it's the only effect that isn't 1 round, but that's not a big thing. The "immune to other effects" one only looks useful when you're trying to countersong an enemy bard. I assume that if that hits you (you'd probably want to roll a save against it) that you can't benefit or suffer from any music from any source for the round, but I'm not sure. Some additional clarity there might be helpful. It also looks like it's never going to be combined with anything else, since every target it hits would be an enemy target (except in edge case charmed / dominated enemy working with you circumstances) and there's nothing else in the list you'd want to apply to them. I don't know if you want to add in some debuff effects to stack with it or not, but it seems pretty standalone right now. I do like the idea of dueling bards with lyrical alacrity trying to buff and cancel opposite buffs in a round though.

I'm also not sure if they all don't need to be toned down because the number of allies present turns into a force multiplier there. That combined with their at-will nature suggests that they don't need to be as big as other buffs, but I'm still kicking it around in my head.

That stuff aside, it looks like a rather nice support class. It should have stuff to do and decisions to make in a fight on a round by round basis, at least after it gets a second composition, that will keep it from getting stale early. It gets better the larger the party it walks around with, and worse the smaller it walks around with. It has no 2-man game to speak of, but I don't think that's a problem.

Out of curiosity, did you consider any other bardic music targeting schemes? I'm not sure if the current 30' radius or a more permissive 4 or 6 targets at up to 100' / medium range would be better. There's tradeoffs with each setup, but I thought I'd mention it.

2013-07-04, 08:34 PM
I know it's been a long time. But, I haven't given up working on these.
UPDATE: Trimmed the spell list.
Unfortunately, the Flight effect needs to be two rounds, otherwise they start to fall at the end of the round.
Will edit the countersong thing, it's too situational.