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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Cantor, Minstrel, and Skald: a bard remix



Sindeloke
2014-11-08, 02:10 PM
Bards have always been my second favorite class after paladin, and I was actually sort of disappointed by them in 5e. Yeah, they're powerful, but they're really almost too powerful, and they just don't feel right. They don't group buff, they don't fascinate with their performances, they don't even actually need to perform. Ever. You could have a bard thatís not even proficient in an instrument if you wanted. And the subclasses just sort of feel like "this one's the battle bard, and that one's... eh, everything else I guess." They don't seem distinct enough and are too limited by the power of the base class to add any new really interesting mechanics.

So.

First off, changes to the base class.

Bardic Inspiration
Revamped and rebuilt into a more structured full-on chassis for class abilities, very much like superiority dice, as so:
Bardic Performance
You can inspire others to achieve what they never thought possible, with the magic of your speeches, stories or song. You have a number of Bardic Inspiration Dice equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1), which you may spend to create different effects with Bardic Performance. This die begins as a d6, but increases in size to a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at fifteenth level.
At first level, you automatically learn the Motivating Song performance, and you may learn other bardic performances as you level up; these performances are detailed at the end of this class description.

Jack of All Trades
No longer a base class trait. It's replaced at second level with Bardic Knowledge, which applies 1/2 proficiency only to what we used to call Knowledge checks - all the current Int skills, basically. You can also add it to Int checks to remember things you've been told or have read.

Magical Secrets
Is restricted to only spells on at least two spell lists, not including the special spell lists of subclasses (so no grabbing a ranger's signature spell just because vengeance pallies get it). You also only get four spells total; two at ten, one at 14 and 18.

Sindeloke
2014-11-08, 02:17 PM
CANTOR

All bards have a knack for supportive magic, an ability to heal and strengthen their friends and allies. To some bards, however, this is not a mere knack, but a calling. Dubbed cantors, these bards are often associated with temples and churches, or even charity organizations like the White Wheel, but some are self-taught wandering healers. What they all have in common is a healing touch, a desire to help the hurting, and an inclination to solve conflicts with diplomacy, compromise and guile before resorting to aggression and bloodshed.

Bonus Proficiencies
At third level, when you take up this practice, you learn the cantrip spare the dying. The spells aid, calm emotions, mass healing word, protection from energy and revivify are considered bard spells to you; you may learn them when you level up like you would any other bard spell.
You also gain proficiency with healer's kits and the Medicine skill, if you can't already use them.

Bardic Music
At third level, you learn the bardic performance song of succour.

Song of Cleansing
At sixth level, you may spend one bardic inspiration die as a bonus action to remove a single disease or the blinded, charmed, deafened, or incapacitated condition from an ally within 60 feet.

Improved Bardic Music
At sixth level, you learn a new way to support your allies with your magic. Select either enhancing harmonies or entrancing melody from the bardic performance list.

Bardic Music Mastery
At fourteenth level, you learn the most powerful of musical magic. Select either song of freedom or timeless hymn from the bardic performance list.

I've given all three subclasses an identical structure. Level 3 gets you a single unique bard song customized to your theme, level 6 gets you a non-song feature and a choice between a unique song or a shared song, and level 14 gets you a non-song feature and a choice between a unique song or song of freedom. Cantors bug me a bit because all of their abilities are Inspiration Dice-dependent and they don't even have a second level 14 perk (good thematic suggestions to that effect are welcome). So consider this a work in progress.

Sindeloke
2014-11-08, 02:19 PM
Court Minstrel

Given their role as welcome entertainers in any court, and their skill at enchanting everyone they meet, bards can be excellent at espionage. Some bards embrace this role full-time, mastering the arts of deception and secrecy and becoming court minstrels. Some serve their lords as advisors, some spy on their supposed lords in service of other lords, and some serve other organizations entirely as they seek to manipulate politics for their own goals from behind the throne. All, however, are charming, canny, and dangerous.

Bonus Proficiencies
When you take up this practice at level 3, you gain proficiency with one skill and one tool of your choice. Alarm, arcane eye, darkvision, jump, and passwall are considered bard spells to you; you may learn them when you level up like you would any other bard spell.

Jack of All Trades
You may add 1/2 your proficiency bonus to all nonproficient ability checks, not merely those based on Intelligence.

Bardic Music
At third level, you learn the bardic performance bewildering melody.

Song of Subtlety
By sixth level, you learn to cloak your magic within a veil of mystery and concealment. When you cast a spell with no readily visible effect, you may expend one bardic inspiration die to cast a subtle spell, concealing any somatic or verbal components in a mask of innocuous gestures and words. A subtle spell is perfectly concealed, and no observer can realize that it has been cast at all except by observation of its results. The target of a subtle spell is never aware that they were ensorcelled once the spell wears off, even if the spell description would indicate otherwise.

Improved Bardic Music
At sixth level, you learn new ways to support your allies and manipulate your magic. You may choose either entrancing melody or song of celerity from the bardic performance list.

Harmony of Shadows
Starting at fourteenth level, your mastery of the primal music has passed beyond the need to make audible sound. You can now ignore the verbal component of any of your spells by making a Charisma check against 10+ the level of the spell slot you're using, and you may use any bardic performance you know completely silently.

Bardic Music Mastery
At fourteenth level, you learn the most powerful of bardic performances. Select either aria of achievement or song of freedom.

Sindeloke
2014-11-08, 02:20 PM
Skald

Warrior-poets, tribal drum-masters, and fearless commanders who lead from the front and live the stories they later tell, skalds are bards who have mastered the art of war and weaponry alongside their music and magic. Direct, bold, and strong, skalds master turning their force of personality into their companions' force of arms.

Bonus Proficiencies
At third level, when you take up this practice, you gain proficiency with medium armor, shields, and two martial weapon groups.

You also learn the cantrip true strike, if you do not already know it. The spells blur, mage armor, stoneskin, and vampiric touch are considered bard spells to you; you may learn them when you level up like you would any other bard spell.

I use the old weapon group houserule. If you don't, this would just be "martial weapons" like in the default Valor Bard.

Bardic Music
At third level, you learn the song of strength bardic performance.

Extra Attack
Starting at sixth level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Improved Bardic Music
At sixth level, you learn new ways to push towards victory with your music. Select either shattering chord or song of celerity from the bardic performance list.

Battlecaster
At fourteenth level, whenever you cast a bardic spell or cantrip or use a bardic performance that requires an action, you may make one weapon attack as a bonus action.

Bardic Music Mastery
At fourteenth level, you learn the most powerful of war music. Select either song of freedom or song of valor from the bardic performance list.

Sindeloke
2014-11-08, 02:22 PM
Bardic Performances


First, our basic Bardic Inspiration replacement:

Motivating Song: Your stirring words or music can lift your allies to unexpected heights. Select a creature within 60 feet that can hear you. As a bonus action, you may give one of your inspiration dice to your target. The creature can then choose to spend the die when making an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, rolling the inspiration die and adding the result to the d20 roll. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 to decide whether to spend the die, but must make the choice before the DM says whether the roll was a success.

A creature can't have more than one die at a time, and the die expires if the creature takes a short or long rest.
A short rest is just cleaner than tracking a number of minutes, and allows more flexibility with noncombat encounters. Not a big deal, you still only get one die at once.


Bewildering Melody: You can use your poetry or music to distract and weaken a foe. Select a creature within 60 feet that can hear you. As a reaction, you may spend one inspiration die, rolling it and subtracting the result from the creature's attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. You may wait until after the creature rolls the d20 to decide whether to use this ability, but you must make the choice before the DM says whether the roll was a success.

Song of Succour: You can use your music to revitalize your allies. As a bonus action, spend one bardic inspiration die on an ally within 60 feet who can hear you. Roll the die twice, restoring a number of hit points equal to the result.

You may spend additional bardic inspiration dice when you use this ability. Each extra use allows you to heal an extra die of damage; this healing can be applied to the same ally or bestowed on another within range.
For reference on the relative strength of this, I buffed extant healing spells pretty heavily in accordance with forum math and also the guidelines in the bleedin' DMG itself, thusly:

Cure Wounds heals 2d10, +1d10/lvl
Healing Word heals 2d6, +1d6/lvl
Mass Word heals 5d8, +2d8/lvl
Mass Cure heals 5d10, +2d10/lvl

So the cantor is still better off spending a slot to really get her heal on, but when a quick top-off is required she has some flexibility.


Song of Strength: You can perform an inspiring war song that makes your allies better combatants. As an action, spend one bardic inspiration die to boost an ally's strength; as long as you continue to play, your ally may roll a die equal to your bardic inspiration die once per turn and add the result as a bonus on any strength check or save or any weapon damage roll. Additionally, while affected by a song of strength, your ally may swim or climb at his full normal walk speed.
You must concentrate on this song as though it were a spell in order to maintain it.

At 9th level, 12th level, and every third level thereafter, you may spend one additional die when you use this ability. Each die you spend allows you to impart the bonus to one additional ally. At 12th level you may also target yourself with this song.

Entrancing Melody: You can play a hypnotic song that enraptures those who hear it. As an action, spend one bardic inspiration die. Up to two targets of your choice within 60 feet must make a Charisma save or become fascinated by you. Fascinated creatures are considered stunned until the end of your next turn; they cannot move or act, and are not aware of their surroundings or anything other than your song.

You may keep playing to maintain this effect, but you must concentrate on it as though on a spell, and while playing, you cannot take other actions, or take any bonus actions or reactions. Deaf creatures, creatures in combat with you, and creatures immune to charm effects cannot be fascinated, and if a fascinated creature suffers damage, it immediately breaks free of the effect.

You may spend additional dice when you use this ability. Each extra die allows you to fascinate one additional target.

Walk, walk, walk past the stupified guards. This ability is the reason I reorganized everything into a suite of customizable songs to begin with; it belonged too clearly to both cantors and minstrels and yet didn't really fit with skalds, so here we are.

Enhancing Harmonies: You know powerful music that magnifies the effect of beneficial magic. As a bonus action, spend one or more inspiration dice. Select one ally per die spent. As long as you continue to play, any beneficial spells cast on your target are enhanced:
* Healing effects heal additional hit points equal to your Charisma modifier.
* Effects that require die rolls, such as bless, may be rerolled once per round if the initial result is a 1.
* Effects that increase an attribute by a constant are increased by 50% (round down).

You may keep performing each round and thus keep granting this effect, but you must concentrate on this performance as though it were a spell.

I'm not sure this is as clean as I want. The basic idea, if it's not clear, is that if you've got bless or flame shield (or, yes, Bardic Inspiration) you can reroll 1s, if you've got Longstrider you get 15 feet instead of 10, and if you get Song of Succor dropped on you you get (2*1dX)+Cha. I'm hoping it adds up to "sometimes worth it but not always" and not either useless or mandatory. Playtesting so far seems to be ok, but anectdata != actual data, as they say.

Song of Celerity: You learn to play a rapid, magic-laden tune that quickens your allies' movements and reactions. As a bonus action, spend one bardic inspiration die on a creature within 60 feet who can hear you. The creature is immediately freed of any slow spell or similar effect. Additionally, on its next turn and for each round after that you continue to play, it may make a bonus attack, spend a bonus action to move a distance equal to 5x the result of your inspiration die, or increase its initiative by the result of your inspiration die, potentially moving up in the turn order.
Not sure I like the extra attack, it's more powerful than either other option, but I'm not sure what else to give, since this is supposed to be sort of a mini-haste.

Shattering Chord: You can use the destructive force of your music to reduce obstacles to rubble. As an action, spend an inspiration die to make a perform check with a readied instrument, and deal double that number, plus the result of your die roll, in thunder damage to a solid object of your choice within 60 feet, ignoring any resistances or other protections.

If the object is in the possession of or being worn by a creature, the creature can make a Dexterity save to protect the object and negate the damage. The effect of the spell on a worn object is determined by your DM, but may include a minor penalty to AC for damaging armor, loss of fire protection from a magical amulet, or similarly powered effects.
Potentially pretty potent, admittedly, but it should be enough explicitly in the DM's hands that a sensible group can manage it.


Aria of Achievement: You may spend one bardic inspiration die whenever you would need to make an ability check. Treat the check as if you had rolled a 12.

Song of Freedom: You can create music that liberates your allies from all bonds. As an action, spend one bardic inpsiration die to grant any number of creatures of your choice within 60 feet (including yourself) the effect of a freedom of movement spell. The moment this music takes effect, affected creatures are immediately freed from any restraint, including petrification, forcecage, or any other form of containment.

You may keep performing each round and thus keep granting this effect, but you must concentrate on this performance as though it were a spell.

Everyone gets the option to have this as sort of a compensation for the loss of the Non-Lawful requirement. It subtly emphasizes that bards are all about freedom without requiring any particular bard to have to be about freedom. Also it was a 3.path ability, and 4e bards were all about granting movement, so.

Song of Valor: You may perform a song that drives your allies to incredible heroism. As an action, spend one bardic inspiration die to remove the frightened or charmed condition from every ally (including yourself) within 60 feet. All affected allies are immune to those conditions and gain a bonus to weapon and spell damage rolls equal to your Bardic Inspiration die until the beginning of your next turn.

You may keep performing each round and thus keep granting this effect, but after the first round, the bonus only applies to one ally, and you must concentrate on this performance as though it were a spell.

Timeless Hymn: You can make time stop for your enemies with the power of your song. As an action, spend three bardic inspiration dice to force a creature within 60 feet to make a Charisma save or be frozen in time for a number of rounds equal to the result of the middle value die roll. A creature in such stasis cannot act or move and is not aware of anything, but it also cannot be harmed, and hostile effects with a duration (such as burning damage, disease, or poison) are temporarily suspended. All such effects resume when the stasis wears off, and the creature does not realize that any time has passed.

You may spend multiple dice when using this ability. Each additional die allows you to ensnare one additional target, but the duration is the same for all affected creatures.

You may also continue to perform the hymn each round, in which case the stasis lasts as long as you continue to play, plus the rounds based on the die roll once you stop. You must concentrate as though on a spell, and you cannot take any actions or reactions while performing the hymn.

And now, customary desperate begging for feedback: Thoughts? Criticisms? Balance concerns? Lore or theme issues? Showers of compliments or venomous insults? I want to hear it all.

GorinichSerpant
2014-11-08, 04:01 PM
Entrancing Melody seems like an ability that all bards should have, not just the healy/buffy one. If a specific sub-class of bard should have that ability, it should be the manipulative pie-piper-esqe one.

Sindeloke
2014-11-12, 10:35 AM
I tend to agree, but I'm wary of adding more abilities to an already strong base class...

IDK. Let's see how it looks.

(And while we're at it, time to throw Minstrel up there too.)

Sindeloke
2014-11-15, 05:25 AM
Alright, Skald is up. The whole thing feels a little strong again, which is part of what I was trying to tone down, so suggestions on how to limit power without losing flavor or a sense of choice are particularly solicited.

EDIT: Boosted the healing on Song of Succor due to general forum consensus that healing is absurdly underpowered, and changed Harmony of Shadows after consideration that casting unobtrusively should be something any caster can attempt at any time, and thus not worth a 14th level class ability; even as an auto-success it's still only worth level 6 (which is where I've put it.)

Edit edit: LET'S CHANGE EVERYTHING.

Sindeloke
2015-03-07, 09:34 PM
Actually how about a straight-up bump for the massive overhaul. Power level should be more reasonable now, along with a boost in simplicity (or at least ease of use).

PotatoGolem
2015-03-08, 12:05 AM
Is it intentional that Minstrel doesn't have a unique song option at level 6? I don't think that makes it too weak or anything, just curious.

Bharaeth
2015-03-08, 11:20 AM
I've not really studied the 5e Bard or anything, but I like what you've got here. Couple of bits of feedback, with the Bardic Performance options:

Entrancing Melody - should this also not work on creatures that are immune to charm effects?

Song of Celerity - perhaps rather than allowing a bonus action to attack, it should specify using a bonus action to make a single weapon attack? Otherwise characters with Extra Attack might benefit more than you intend

Sindeloke
2015-03-10, 03:26 AM
Is it intentional that Minstrel doesn't have a unique song option at level 6? I don't think that makes it too weak or anything, just curious.

Ah, that. I sort of have a loose plan for a fourth subclass, a Sublime Chord type who gets better at offensive magic/nuking. They were going to share Celerity with skalds, and minstrels were going to have their own more skillmonkey thing, but in lieu of finishing either I ended up just doing a shortcut. I still hope to work it out later.


I've not really studied the 5e Bard or anything, but I like what you've got here. Couple of bits of feedback, with the Bardic Performance options:

Entrancing Melody - should this also not work on creatures that are immune to charm effects?

Song of Celerity - perhaps rather than allowing a bonus action to attack, it should specify using a bonus action to make a single weapon attack? Otherwise characters with Extra Attack might benefit more than you intend

Solid points, thanks. Fixed.