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Thread: Non-Magic Bard?

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Non-Magic Bard?

    I was wondering what would be a balanced exchange for removing the bard's spells. I thought something like a familiar would be interesting to add, but more is definitely needed. Any suggestions?

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Perhaps a small maneuver progression? Iron Heart has a lot stuff that's just straight combat, like disarming or hitting guys twice, and not much magic influence.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    If you're removing spellcasting, a familiar makes no sense.

    I would suggest ramping up the Bardic Music and Bardic Knowledge to make them actually useful. You can also include something like a Warlock's Invocation list instead of regular magic. In fact, I've written up one just like that. Most of the invocations are things that bards are known for doing (shatter, charm, things like that).
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I like Meek's suggestion (though I'd add in White Raven for all its leadership abilities and Demented One's Coin's Edge homebrewed discipline).

    If you don't like/used ToB, you could butcher the Marshal and give the Bard a full or almost-full progression of their auras, which is thematically appropriate and a decent trade-off, I guess, since you've still got your music to rely on, too.
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2008-12-29 at 03:55 PM.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I'm going to agree with Meek as well, Bardic music needs a huge boost.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Well, I said the something like a familiar. I would have said animal companion, but I was thinking of giving it speech. It was more of an "it would be interesting" than "that makes perfect sense". Anyway of doing something like that?

    I'm not very familiar with Tome of Battle, but from what I get from PHBII, auras would be cool.

    Boosting their music was a thought, but I don't know how I could do it balance-wise.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    A few ideas to throw around:

    -Give him a list of bonus feats to choose from. Luck feats from complete scoundrel probably wouldn't be wrong, duelist style light combat feats or bardic music feats.

    -Animal companion. Probably close to what you meant with familiar, but less magical. Perhaps a small animal instead of a huge combat machine, and give it some rogue abilities.

    -Improve his musical/leadership abilities, as has been suggested. White Raven manuevers, marshall auras, something like that.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I completely overlooked White Raven. Yes, that makes perfect sense.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Auras: If i do auras, how many and when should auras become available? Should I use the same list as the Marshal or create custom auras?

    Companion: Maybe "mascot' would be a better title? I wanted it to speak, maybe be completely sentient, but otherwise be more or less a regular animal. What animals should be available?

    Bardic Music: How could I enhance it in way that would be balanced? Increase the bonus? Max targets? Create new uses?

    Bonus Feats: How often should they get a bonus feat? What should I include on the list?

    Misc.: What if I gave them the bardic knack variant as part of the trade?

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    An idea for companion: Animals that are regarded as "performers", not for combat, but for a music/performance boost. Like, a talking parrot, a monkey that knows tricks, a small dog that can flip, a dancing bear... Well, maybe not the bear.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Definitely nothing big for the animal "mascot". The biggest I'd go with would be a dog, maybe allow a horse, but definitely not a 'war' horse.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    one of those tiny ponies? OH! And a pygamy hippo!

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I would make bardic music easier to use, by making it a swift or free action, so that the bard can contribute directly at the same time, rather than just hanging around the back of the battle and singing.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Monkeys, rats, ravens or crows could be trained as thiefs.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Wound making bardic music a free/swift action be balancing. I think the idea would work, but is it balanced?

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Regarding Auras: I'd give them the same progression as the standard Marshal, and use the same list of auras for simplicity. If you think of others that might work, though, talk to your DM about adding new possible ones.


    Regarding Animal Companions: As far as a companion, how about the Bard gains an animal companion, but the companion has to be Medium-sized or smaller and the Bard is treated as a Druid of one-half his Bard level to determine the companion's abilities. That's in line with several variants that give companions to non-Ranger/Druid classes.


    Regarding Bardic Music:
    Quote Originally Posted by zeruslord View Post
    I would make bardic music easier to use, by making it a swift or free action, so that the bard can contribute directly at the same time, rather than just hanging around the back of the battle and singing.
    Bards by RAW already CAN do more than just stand around and sing.

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Bardic Music

    Starting a bardic music effect is a standard action. Some bardic music abilities require concentration, which means the bard must take a standard action each round to maintain the ability. Even while using bardic music that doesn’t require concentration, a bard cannot cast spells, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), spell trigger (such as wands), or command word.
    (Emphasis mine.) Only a Bard's fascination, inspire competence, suggestion, and song of freedom abilities require you to spend a standard action to continue them. For all the rest (which are the songs you'll use most), you just have to spend the standard action to START the music, and then you continue singing as a free action for as long as you want. You can still swing a sword, shoot a bow, or whatever while singing, you just can't cast spells (not a problem here) or use magic items that require completion/activation words. I think leaving it as-is is the best option for that.
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2008-12-29 at 07:02 PM.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Auras: all the auras at the same progression would be a little much. Marshals pretty much get that as their main thing. Bards have their music. I think I might want to limit the list, slow the progression, or maybe delay it.

    On the animal companion: Animal companion doesn't exactly fit what I want. It's probably closer than a familiar, though. I want a regular creature that is sentient. Something like that, anyway.

    Music: thanks for the clarity.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I really like rtg0922's ideas.

    On auras: It's very hard not to overshadow the marshal without just making the weakest class ever (because marshal sure is a contender for the title). Giving it the same aura progression is like the bare minimum for the auras even being a class feature worth mentioning. Don't worry about stealing the thunder of classes that never had any to begin with. The marshal's main gimmick is really very bard-like anyway; this non-magical bard could easily be called a marshal revision, too.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Maybe we can work on that class as well, then. But later. Would replacing spells with Auras (and possibly the familiar/mascot/animal companion thing) be enough, though?

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hat-Trick View Post
    Maybe we can work on that class as well, then. But later.
    Well, there ARE several rebuilt versions of it that are a LOT better, up to and including a Sublime Way Marshal from the WotC homebrew boards and 4E's Warlord class (which is basically the Marshal, but good).

    Quote Originally Posted by Hat-Trick View Post
    Would replacing spells with Auras (and possibly the familiar/mascot/animal companion thing) be enough, though?
    I think so, but it'd probably need some playtesting to be sure. Just try it out, and if it's enough, great; if not, I think Eldan's idea of throwing 'em some bonus [Luck] feats (from Complete Scoundrel) and stuff like that would work.
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2008-12-29 at 11:39 PM.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Should the Mascot get special abilities using the bard's levels as druid levels or some depreciated amount?

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I would think non-spellcasting bards could get either 4 or 5 bonus feats instead. After all, the non-spellcasting Rangers and Paladins only get 4 special things to replace their spells.

    I also think Bardic Lore should be raised a bit, regardless of whether the class can cast spells or not.

    On an unrelated note, while I think the Marshal could use a minor tweak (Fighter BAB progression should suffice), it is not the most useless class... the Bard is holding onto that title with a deathgrip.
    Last edited by Al-Ashrad; 2008-12-30 at 01:33 AM.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Al-Ashrad View Post
    I would think non-spellcasting bards could get either 4 or 5 bonus feats instead. After all, the non-spellcasting Rangers and Paladins only get 4 special things to replace their spells.
    Yeah, but for a Paladin or Ranger the spellcasting is a TINY part of the class. For a Bard, spellcasting is one of the two MAIN features (along with Bardic Music). There definitely needs to be a better trade-off than JUST a few feats.[/quote]

    Quote Originally Posted by Al-Ashrad View Post
    I also think Bardic Lore should be raised a bit, regardless of whether the class can cast spells or not.
    I'm not quite sure what you're talking about here. What do you mean by "raised?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Al-Ashrad View Post
    On an unrelated note, while I think the Marshal could use a minor tweak (Fighter BAB progression should suffice), it is not the most useless class... the Bard is holding onto that title with a deathgrip.
    I just have to disagree here. Bards are FAR from useless, unless you play them as just standing around singing. A GOOD Bard, in battle, should spend a standard action Inspire Courage and then start attacking, or should be casting some illusion or save-or-suck spells (irresistable dance, hideous laughter, etc.), or something else like that.

    A Marshal, on the other hand, has VERY little to do in combat - his auras are passive, so at most he'll just be switching them around, and occasionally, at higher levels, he'll be granting a COUPLE of move actions a day, which is really not much. Combine that with a mediocre ability to fight in combat and no other skills to back it up with, it just kinda sucks. A full BAB makes it better, but just barely. Nowhere NEAR as useful as a well-run Bard (especially if you take into account non-Core stuff like Dragonfire Inspiration, Inspire Courage optimization, that feat that lets you cast AND sing at one time, and stuff like that).


    @Hat-Trick: I think it probably needs some playtesting to be sure, but I think Effective Druid Level - 3 should be fine. But switch out the Str/Dex increases for a Familiar's Int increases and Speaking ability.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I will say here and now that I am not a good homebrewer, this may even be the first time posting on this side of thread for me. But the Bard has always been similar to the rouge for me, add in a few Rogue abilities like Evasion or Uncanny Dodge, or even the list of special abilities a Rogue gets at level 10 (maybe leave out Crippling Strike). Also I noticed that Elan himself doesn't use a majority of spells, instead he uses his words and his rapier. I'd say give it the class a wider range of skills or if that's too much skills for one class you could steal a few abilities from the Duelist in the DMG. I also like the idea of Performer Animals or "Mascots" because we all know that some performers rely on their signing parrot or dancing monkey which could help with skills in Perform.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rtg0922 View Post
    Yeah, but for a Paladin or Ranger the spellcasting is a TINY part of the class. For a Bard, spellcasting is one of the two MAIN features (along with Bardic Music). There definitely needs to be a better trade-off than JUST a few feats.
    Considering they only get access to 6th level spells, it really shouldn't be that MAIN of a feature. However, maybe 6 feats, and also give them access to the "class feature" feats that Generic Classes in Unearthed Arcana have. After all, letting them glom onto what other classes can do makes some sense, although all it really means is that they will just grab the "Evasion feats"...


    Quote Originally Posted by rtg0922 View Post
    I'm not quite sure what you're talking about here. What do you mean by "raised?"
    I mean give bards something more than just their level + INT modifier with their bardic knowledge. Considering it can't work like an Identify spell anyway, I don't see why this number has to be so low.



    Quote Originally Posted by rtg0922 View Post
    I just have to disagree here. Bards are FAR from useless, unless you play them as just standing around singing. A GOOD Bard, in battle, should spend a standard action Inspire Courage and then start attacking, or should be casting some illusion or save-or-suck spells (irresistable dance, hideous laughter, etc.), or something else like that.

    A Marshal, on the other hand, has VERY little to do in combat - his auras are passive, so at most he'll just be switching them around, and occasionally, at higher levels, he'll be granting a COUPLE of move actions a day, which is really not much. Combine that with a mediocre ability to fight in combat and no other skills to back it up with, it just kinda sucks. A full BAB makes it better, but just barely. Nowhere NEAR as useful as a well-run Bard (especially if you take into account non-Core stuff like Dragonfire Inspiration, Inspire Courage optimization, that feat that lets you cast AND sing at one time, and stuff like that).
    Well, first, non-core additions have a tendency to break class features, so I try to look only at their basic features when homebrewing.

    I can't see how a Bard, who has a lower hit die, scant armour options and far fewer weapon options than a Marshal, and the same BAB progression as a Marshal are somehow better than Marshals at actual fighting. The Marshal has full armour and weapon options. Also, to say a Marshals auras are "passive" is off at best. While the minor auras don't apply to the variety of bonus as Inspire Courage does, they're certainly going to be higher bonuses than Inspire Courage will ever be, considering the Marshal will be raising their CHA scores.

    Finally, did you actually read the rules for Granting Move Action? Did you notice the part that says "any or all of his allies within 30 feet", and then the part that mentions this move action is taken immediately? Give your Marshal "Improved Initiative" and that's basically a BBEG killer.

    To me, Bards are folks who can do a little bit of what other classes can do, but they can't do it as well as any of the other classes they are emulating. They can do some Rogue-like things, but not as well. They can buff and heal like Clerics, but not as well. They can cast a few arcane spells, but not as well as... you get the idea.

    Marshals are buff machines whose auras stack with any buff spells. Give your Marshal a bow, smack him in the center of the party, give the Marshal to someone who actually has some sense of tactics, and see just how how useless he is.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    ... Any class in the right hands is far from useless.

    But anyway, we have a few options floating around, still:

    1. Feats- 4-6 bonus feats off some list I don't have made yet.

    2. Auras- The full array of them (which still seems like a lot) or make a new list

    3. Bardic Knack- I said this earlier and it still sounds legit, but no one commented on it. (No comments I can currently remember, anyway.)

    4. Features- let them choose/give them features of other classes.

    Any of that plus the mascot, 'cause I still want it.

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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Al-Ashrad View Post
    Considering they only get access to 6th level spells, it really shouldn't be that MAIN of a feature. However, maybe 6 feats, and also give them access to the "class feature" feats that Generic Classes in Unearthed Arcana have. After all, letting them glom onto what other classes can do makes some sense, although all it really means is that they will just grab the "Evasion feats"...




    I mean give bards something more than just their level + INT modifier with their bardic knowledge. Considering it can't work like an Identify spell anyway, I don't see why this number has to be so low.





    Well, first, non-core additions have a tendency to break class features, so I try to look only at their basic features when homebrewing.

    I can't see how a Bard, who has a lower hit die, scant armour options and far fewer weapon options than a Marshal, and the same BAB progression as a Marshal are somehow better than Marshals at actual fighting. The Marshal has full armour and weapon options. Also, to say a Marshals auras are "passive" is off at best. While the minor auras don't apply to the variety of bonus as Inspire Courage does, they're certainly going to be higher bonuses than Inspire Courage will ever be, considering the Marshal will be raising their CHA scores.

    Finally, did you actually read the rules for Granting Move Action? Did you notice the part that says "any or all of his allies within 30 feet", and then the part that mentions this move action is taken immediately? Give your Marshal "Improved Initiative" and that's basically a BBEG killer.

    To me, Bards are folks who can do a little bit of what other classes can do, but they can't do it as well as any of the other classes they are emulating. They can do some Rogue-like things, but not as well. They can buff and heal like Clerics, but not as well. They can cast a few arcane spells, but not as well as... you get the idea.

    Marshals are buff machines whose auras stack with any buff spells. Give your Marshal a bow, smack him in the center of the party, give the Marshal to someone who actually has some sense of tactics, and see just how how useless he is.
    Okay, so you've shuffled a few people around the battlefield and expended all of your usefulness. The marshal's battle objective is now to stand near people to grant them small bonuses and watch while they use actions and attacks, bardsongs, spells, and special abilities. A marshal player is not inherently good at tactics; unless your groups are so dedicated to (flawed) RP that nobody else in the group is allowed to come up with team strategies, there is no reason being a marshal could affect a group's tactics. He's just a mediocre magic item to the rest of the party, and they all kinda wish he made some contributing actions on his turns (unless you count 'being a poor-at-best combatant' as contributing actions).
    Last edited by FMArthur; 2008-12-30 at 05:00 PM.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    Can we get off the Marshal, he's having a bad day as it is. It's hard being a fifth character class. Look at the average Bard and Dragon Shaman.

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    May I suggest, for something to consider, Invocation-based Bard. You not only get better use out of Bardic Music (can eventually be applied to saves), but you also get some SLA's that are quite useful. Most are designed for 'group buffing' or 'area effect SoL'. Things like Slow and Haste, of course, but also charm person, and more.
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    Default Re: Non-Magic Bard?

    I'm not truly familiar with invocations, but aren't they almost like magic? I was trying to get away from that.

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