View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next My Problem With Bard's + Shenanigans

2019-04-24, 11:22 AM
I've got a problem with Bards. I love the class, and before each new group I create one. Then when I'm done writing everything up, I always end up changing my mind and play something else. Today I want to take a look at the Bard, and figure out why I don't want to play one. Then I'm going to ruin the entire class, creating some Franken-Bard I'm (hopefully) more likely to play.

I've got four ideas what might be keeping me away from playing a Bard.

First 4 Levels are spent in anticipation.
No Subclass that speaks to me.
I want some higher base power level
I want more instant/proactive effects from my class.

Being a Bard, I get all these wonderful features. Song of Rest, Jack of All Trades, Expertise and more. All the subclasses are amazing, giving bonus proficiencies to fit the playstyle, and different uses for Bardic Inspiration.

My problem is with my main proactive class feature, Bardic Inspiration. I don't get Font of Inspiration until 5th Level. So for the first 4 levels I only get 3 uses a day. I feel like 3 uses of my main class feature is not enough to get my heart pumping. I feel like level 5 and 6 is where the class really gets going, and up until that point I'm just waiting for features to kick in. This makes it very hard for me to enjoy the 15 sessions it normally takes to reach that point. Having a good consistent bonus action, such as Bardic Inspiration, would go a long way.
I enjoy playing support classes, but I am a proactive player. I'd like to be able to roll my own Bardic Inspiration in the moment to help my allies, instead of giving one away, and then have to remind my friend to use it anyways.

These are the things about the Bard I don't like, and the reasons why I always change my mind. My character sheet usually ends up in a drawer, in the good company of the other Bard's I decided against playing.

Just reading this far, most of you have thought "stop whining and play a cleric". Incidentally, that's what I normally do.

But no more! Im going to have a look at the Bard Colleges, and see if I can brew something that tickles me the right way! Let's go!

Problem 1: Bardic Inspiration
Let's make it a short rest ability! Font of Inspiration already lines up nicely with the proficiency bonus, so let's roll with that. I always thought it was weird it went from long to short rest, instead of just gradually building up.

You can use your Bardic Inspiration a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus. You regain all expended uses at the end of a short or long rest.

Problem 2: Song of Rest
Song of Rest can easily get up to 40 regained hit points in a single day of adventuring. That's pretty strong, but let's swap it out for some instant, proactive gratification.

You can cast Catnap once per long rest without expending a spell slot.

Problem 3a: Subclass Proficiencies
I want the option to dump Dexterity. I'd love a subclass that says something along the lines of.

When wearing no armor and no shield, your AC is 12 + Charisma modifier.

Problem 3b: Subclass Inspiration
I want something that is proactive, and resolved instantly. That's why I like cutting words. The same phrasing could be used for a number of different effects.

When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you takes damage you can use your Reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the damage taken.
Reading this makes me wonder why the standard Bardic Inspiration uses aren't worded the same way... Maybe I'll change that too!

Problem 3c: Subclass Power Boost
The 6th Level Subclass spot could easily be used to increase the base power level of the class, much like Extra Attack does, or to bring Bardic Inspiration even further into the spotlight.

Starting at level six...

Your cantrips deal 1d4 extra damage.
When you have no Spell Slots Remaining, You can use an action to regain one 2nd level spell slot, or two 1st Level Spell slots.
Whenever you use your Bardic Inspiration, you can choose to target one additional creature within range.
Whenever you use your Bardic Inspiration, the target gains 1d6 temporary hit points.

What do you think?
Let's get some supportive replies going. Don't tell me how you love the Bard and how you wouldn't change him
Tell me instead about what classes you wish you liked, and what about it you think could be changed to make it more appealing to you, personally.
This is the homebrew forum, after all. If we want something that doesn't exist, we make it. If there's something we don't like, we make an in depth analysis, and then change it to fit our needs and wants :)

2019-04-24, 12:21 PM
I think you're buffing what's already a pretty strong class.

2019-04-24, 12:34 PM
That 2nd level 6 ability is on the level of a capstone feature, gaining ability stuff back on initiative or at the start of your turn. I guess it does cost an action but it opens up too much in the way of multiclass madness with Cleric. Get your bard to level 6 with decent wisdom and then multiclass to cleric and always prepare Inflict Wounds and cure wounds. When you run out of spell slots every 2nd and 3rd turn is just spent dealing 3d10 damage with a level of magical stamina that monks envy.

The first one is already solved by Vicious Mockery dealing 2d4 at level 5.

2019-04-24, 01:49 PM
Re: Uses of Bardic Inspiration
I doubt the bard will be broken if you refresh Inspiration on a short/long rest basis from 1st level, instead of waiting until 5th level, especially if you tie the number of uses to proficiency bonus instead of Charisma modifier. I also doubt the bard would be broken if you make Inspiration usable as a reaction generally.

Re: Replacing Song of Rest
I'm not very keen on the idea of giving a PHB base class a non-PHB spell as a class feature, unless it were one choice out of several (such as a warlock invocation).

Re: Subclass Features
I'm sure you could have a subclass with a sort of unarmoured defence similar to what you have drafted without any issues. What that subclass might be, I've no idea.

However, the 6th-level feature isn't really meant to be a power boost the way the 5th-level feature is. PHB bards get a versatility boost at 5th level with Font of Inspiration, but they also get their primary power/versatility boost in the form of 3rd-level spells. The 6th-level subclass feature isn't meant to be as significant. (And indeed, on a full-caster chassis, Extra Attack isn't as significant for bards at 6th level as it is for fighters, barbarians, etc. at 5th level.)

At any rate, if you give the bard the ability to recover spell slots through their subclass, it should probably only be usable a limited number of times. I should think its net effect should be no better than wizards' Arcane Recovery, and preferably a bit worse.

The two options you have that tie into Inspiration in your "Problem 3c" section seem like they'd be good ideas.

I do love to tinker with classes, so I'm happy to see some efforts to tinker with bards (or, well, with anyone), whatever remarks I might have on any individual feature.

2019-04-24, 01:58 PM
Bards are a pretty strong class. They are a full caster with a fairly diverse spell list whose only real weakness is a lack of straight damage spells. They can even pull off party healer if you're lacking a cleric. Plus, they've got a nice selection of verbal-only spells and even a couple of somatic-only spells.

Bardic inspiration is really powerful, allowing characters to pull success from the jaws of failure, and having it run on Charisma is thematic. However, because I feel short rests need more attention, I'd be down with regaining up to half your proficiency bonus, rounded down uses of Bardic Inspiration (cannot exceed charisma modifier) on a short rest. Just read Font of Inspiration. You can wait to get the short rest buff. No need to get it earlier in any capacity.

Unarmored defense is not something I'd give the base bard, though it could work on a homebrew subclass. Natural armor tends to take the form of 13 + Dexterity modifier and unarmored defense tends to be 10 + Dexterity modifier + (second ability score) modifier.
Generally speaking, Dexterity is supposed to be the Bard's big way to defend themselves, and making it unnecessary takes away from the class's feel in my opinion.

Song of Rest reducing the length of a short rest once instead of granting bonus healing sounds interesting.

BI as a reaction does not fit the flavor. Also, it's not proactive, it's reactive which is the opposite of what you said you wanted. Honestly, the Bard is pretty proactive in their abilities, just often indirectly.

That multi-point ability...

Bonus cantrip damage is unnecessary. Damage cantrips self-buff.
Regaining spells as an action with no limit is broken as heck. I don't care what level they are.
Are you expending two uses of BI to give Inspiration to two creatures at once? Or are you expending one use? First is fine, second is not.
1d6 temp hp to a target that gains BI sounds okay as a subclass feature by itself, but not as a rider. Maybe make it so the THP is equal to the size of the inspiration die?

2019-04-24, 05:13 PM
I'm glad to hear your opinions!
I'm surprised that some of the things I was pretty sure were way overpowered, you actually gave a green light on. I'm glad :)

I knew the short rest spell slots were ridiculous. I'm currently doing a thing regarding short rest spell slots (got some threads in the 5e forums), so I happy I got some comments on this one.
I'm calling them short rests because an action, two spells, and another action is 4 rounds, which is a pretty standard length for 1 combat.

I can't start by saying I'm going to tear a class apart, and then proceed to "worry abut his feel." I'm a man of my words, and I did my best, and I don't like Dexterity on Bards.
And yes, indirectly proactive can often look pretty reactive. Just like opening your mouth might be a reaction to the food approaching it. Or it could be viewed as proactively eating. World's a funny place.

Thank you for your comments :)
I think you're right. If I ever take this amalgamation out for a spin, I'll just leave the 6th Level feature blank, and cross that bridge once I get to it.

Yeah, short rest spells slots should only be gained by Multiclassing warlock.
... But then again, we don't Multiclass at my tables.

How would you do it, if you where given my design goals? I'd honestly love to see. Maybe all this Front-loading warrants removal of the 6th Level Subclass feature all together? With Song of Catnap, Short Rest Inspiration and Cutting Words, I don't need anything else :)

2019-04-24, 06:37 PM
I can't start by saying I'm going to tear a class apart, and then proceed to "worry abut his feel." I'm a man of my words, and I did my best, and I don't like Dexterity on Bards.
And yes, indirectly proactive can often look pretty reactive. Just like opening your mouth might be a reaction to the food approaching it. Or it could be viewed as proactively eating. World's a funny place.

Except it doesn't really look like you're tearing the class apart at all. You haven't really suggested much of anything that couldn't theoretically be accomplished by making a homebrew subclass that grants those features. Certainly not anything that would require a full overhaul of the base class.

You've said that you want to base Inspiration number on proficiency progression instead of Charisma modifier in order to get more uses, except that much of your complaint is regarding the lower levels where that would likely be a debuff unless you're playing a low-Charisma bard for some reason.

Much of the argument regarding regaining Inspiration on a short rest boils down to you not wanting to wait until level 5 for Font of Inspiration, which gives back all BI on a short rest. Honestly, everyone has it rough in the first tier (levels 1-4) and Bards shouldn't be an exception.

You wanting to cut DEX out of AC calculation completely is an incredible departure from all of D&D up to now. It doesn't just go against the feel of Bards, but the feel of adventurers in general. The only people who don't need DEX for AC are the characters that tromp around in heavy armor. I'm not saying it's impossible, but you'd have to come up with some incredible justification fluff for why every Bard in the world suddenly doesn't need DEX to avoid getting stabbed. If it's a homebrew subclass feature with some decent explanation fluff behind it and possibly a rider (such as you only get to use it while playing music or something), that's another issue, but a core Bard feature? I certainly wouldn't allow it at my table.

It seems like you want to play a low-DEX Bard, and that sounds like a fun concept. Except you don't seem to be willing to pay the toll of playing a Bard with low AC which is a natural consequence of such a choice.

One possibility you might consider if you really want a natural AC of 13 + CHA modifier is to homebrew a Feat that grants that ability along with a +1 to CHA. It'll cost you an Ability Score Increase, but it would work for your build. It would probably even be considered balanced since Dragonborn have a similar Feat available to them. Heck, I'll make it for you:

Charmed Existence
Prerequisite: Charisma of 13 or higher.
Your life has been fortunate for you, often in inexplicable ways. You may not be the most coordinated person, but your fumbles seem to always come at just the right time to avoid ill consequences. You gain the following benefits:

Increase your Charisma score by 1, up to a maximum of 20.
You often stumble out of the way of harm at just the right moment. When calculating your AC, you use your Charisma modifier instead of your Dexterity modifier. All limitations on adding your Charisma modifier to your AC, such as with medium armor, are applied the same as they would be with your Dexterity modifier. You may not use this feature with any other feature that allows you to add your Charisma modifier to your AC.
When you make an ability check or saving throw requiring your Dexterity modifier, you may substitute your Charisma modifier instead. You may do this a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier and regain all spent uses after a long rest.

2019-04-24, 06:42 PM
I like that!

My first idea was to have Song of Defense, where you made a Performance check to determine your AC.

...Your version is better <3

2019-04-24, 06:49 PM
I like that!

My first idea was to have Song of Defense, where you made a Performance check to determine your AC.

...Your version is better <3

Thanks! I added some text saying you can't use the feature with any other that allows adding your Charisma modifier to your AC, such as if you had an Unarmored Defense that was 10 + DEX mod + CHA mod. It could, however, be used with the Barbarian's or the Monk's Unarmored Defense features since they add CON mod and WIS mod respectively.

2019-04-24, 07:03 PM
I'm gonna be looking more at the Bard over the next few days.
With these few changes I'm pretty sure Valor, Lore or Swords will always get me where I want to go.

I added the Song of Catnap and Short Rest Inspiration to my homebrew collection, along with this.

Bolstering Words
You can use Bardic Inspiration as a reaction to a creature making an Attack Roll, Ability Check or Saving Throw.

Thank you guys so much for enduring my little rant, and sharing your insight <3

2019-04-25, 06:24 AM
What annoys me most is that bards typically cant inspire themselves.

2019-04-25, 10:56 AM
I mostly don't play bards because if I have a concept I want to use, there's almost always a better class for it.

Spellcaster/martial hybrid: Cleric, Paladin, Ranger, and Eldrich Knight all work better than the valor/swords bard at doing this.

Buff/debuff caster: The Wizard has a straight up better spell list for this than the bard does, and clerics are about on par thanks to their more efficient versions of bardic inspiration (bless and guidance) and some other unique buff spells.

Jack of all trades: Druids are better jacks of all trades thanks to some blasting capability in their spell list and wildshape's insane utility.

Skill Monkey: Rogues get expertise sooner and are SAD.

Face: Sorcerers with subtle spell do this better imo.

Some sort of cheesy thing using ranger and paladin only spells at lower levels: This just feels gross, not to mention the fact that I have to wait 6 levels to get there. It is the one area where the bard stands out however.

The only reason to play a bard, from my perspective, is when I want to combine multiple of these roles, which is pretty rare, and also often achievable with other classes.

2019-04-25, 03:22 PM

I'm inclined to agree.
I think the only reason we didn't get a different, more unique, Bard, is because tradition. 5e is a giant nod to earlier editions. I can easily imagine a Bard using his Performance to be a magnificent Aura Dispenser.

Think Sona from league of legends. She is a very interesting interpretation of the Bard Archetype.

I think the 4e Skáld went thst route, but I don't remember it well.

2019-04-25, 07:35 PM
So you prompted me to take a 'brewers look at the bard class as well as subclasses, and make some tweaks.

Casting and ASIs are unchanged.

Level 1: Bardic Inspiration
As a bonus action on your turn you can bestow a d4 Bardic Inspiration die to one creature within 60 feet that can hear you. A creature can have only one Bardic Inspiration die at a time.
Once within the next hour the creature can choose to expend this Bardic Inspiration, rolling the die and add the result to one attack, check or save it makes. The creature can wait until after the roll before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration, but must decide before the DM determines the results of the roll.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum once). You regain any expended uses when you finish a short or long rest.
Your Bardic Inspiration die changes when you reach certain levels in this class. The die becomes a d6 at 5th level, a d8 at 9th level, a d10 at 13th level and a d12 at 17th level.

Level 2: Expertise, Jack of All Trades

Level 3: Bardic College, Song of Rest (improves to d8 at level 7, d10 at level 11 and d12 at level 15)

Level 5: Countercharm
When you or an ally within 30 feet of you make a saving throw against being Charmed or Frightened you can use your reaction to grant advantage on the saving throw. The creature must be able to hear you to gain this benefit.

Level 10: Extra Bardic College Feature (most will have magic secrets anyways)

Level 18: Magical Secrets
You learn any three spells or cantrips of your choice, which must be of a level you can cast. The chosen spells count as bard spells for you but do not count against the number of bard spells you know.

Level 20: Superior Inspiration
When you use your Bardic Inspiration ability you can bestow a Bardic Inspiration die to two creatures.

Edit: Or you could swap when you get JOAT and inspiration if you are worried about bard 1 dips.

2019-04-25, 08:00 PM
Edit: Or you could swap when you get JOAT and inspiration if you are worried about bard 1 dips.

To steal the terminology of Captain Cliche from another thread, taking a bard dip for bardic inspiration isn't minmaxing, it's a cry for help.

2019-04-25, 09:16 PM
Particularly if it's starting at a d4 instead of a d6 (even with the buffs of making it short-rest and last for an hour instead of ten minutes).

2019-04-25, 10:49 PM
Oh, well glad to hear it