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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Kalaska'Agathas's Avatar

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    Default An Improved 3.5 Bard

    "What?!?! An improved Bard? Why would anyone need such a thing?"

    Well, to me, the Bard is a great concept with bad execution. The Bard is supposed to be a 'Jack of All Trades, Master of None' and therefore frequently better than a master of one. They ought to be capable casters, skill-monkeys, and combatants, moving from one role to another seamlessly. The Bard as it stands does not do this. His casting is highly limited, as is his combat ability. Compared to the Factotum, another Jack, his skills are similarly limited. This rewrite of the Bard attempts to fix that. I could use some help however, I'm worried that the casting is a bit too much, and that he may be a bit more powerful than I intended. This class is supposed to be balanced against the Druid, specifically, being highly capable as a caster and as a combatant (Where the Druid has Wildshape, this Bard has Wardance and some other abilities). In addition to the straight up homebrew, this Bard takes certain ideas from the Pathfinder Bard and applies them to the standard 3.5 Bard.

    Without further ado, I give you Kalaska'Agathas' improved Bard:
    Spoiler
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    Bard (Improved):
    __________________________________________________ _______________
    “The Jack of All Trades, Master of None, is frequently better than a Master of One.” The quintessential adventurer, wandering across the land, gathering lore, telling stories, working wonders with magic and a well-placed knack or two–such is the life of the Bard. When chance or opportunity draws them into a conflict, Bards serve as diplomats, negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies.
    A Bard’s magic and versatility comes from his cunning. A good-aligned Bard brings joy, courage, and hope to the downtrodden and uses his diverse skills, tricks, and magic to thwart the schemes of evildoers. If the nobles of the land are corrupt, the good Bard is an enemy of the state, cunningly evading capture and raising the spirits of the oppressed. But music can spring from an evil heart as well. Evil Bards forgo blatant violence in favor of manipulation, holding sway over the hearts and minds of others and taking what enraptured audiences “willingly” give.
    Adventures: Bards see adventures as opportunities to learn and ply their skills of persuasion, manipulation, and inspiration. They especially relish the opportunity to explore a long forgotten tomb, study ancient magic, decipher an ancient text, travel to strange places, encounter strange creatures, and learn (and even cause) new songs, stories, and poems. Bards accompany other heroes (or villains) to participate in extraordinary deeds, for a Bard who may relate these events firsthand typically wins much renown from his fellows and audience alike.
    Characteristics: Quick witted and captivating, Bard’s are typically masters of multiple forms of artistry, and possess an uncanny ability to know more than they ought to and use this knack to keep themselves and their companions one step ahead of danger. He is a scoundrel, a scholar, a scout, a spy, or a negotiator—often blurring the lines between one and the other. His magic is somewhere between that of a Sorcerer and a Wizard, coming in equal parts from force of personality and arcane study.
    In addition to their spells, a Bard’s music, poetry, and performance take on a supernatural quality—they may encourage his allies, hold audiences in rapture, and even harry enemy spellcasters.
    Bards share some skills in common with the Rogue, but unlike that class, Bards are not focused on mastery of a few specific skills (though they certainly may choose to) but rather general ability in a wide range of areas. A Bard listens to stories as often as he tells them which grants him a nigh-encyclopedic knowledge of people, places, and events.
    Alignment: Bards are wanderers, seekers of new knowledge, and therefore tend towards an alignment which is neutral on at least one axis.
    Religion: Religious Bards tend to worship gods of travel, magic, knowledge, and trickery. Additionally, more larcenous Bards may worship gods of thievery, night, and all Bards tend to revere gods of luck. In any event, even non-religious Bards will know of a god or goddess appropriate to the situation they find themselves in, and it is the rare Bard who is loath to offer a quick prayer to an applicable deity.
    Background: An apprentice Bard may learn from a single Master Bard, or from a number of tutors. Many Bards were once young runaways or orphans, befriended by wandering Bards who became their mentors. Some Bards congregate in “Bardic Colleges” (of varying degrees of formality) where an apprentice Bard may meet many more experienced Bards in an area. Similarly, an individual Bard’s allegiance to his fellows varies from Bard to Bard. Some Bards are in fact quite jealous of their fellows and their reputations, competing over territory and audiences.
    Races: Most races will have Bards in their number, keepers of their culture, history, and lore.
    Other Classes: A Bard works well with members of other classes. Often, the Bard is the “Face” of a party, using his mastery of social skills to the party’s benefit. A Bard may use his magic to support the party, rather than blasting away at his enemies, and use his combat skills to harry opponents, tripping, disarming, flanking and moving to provide the greatest advantage to his fellows.
    Role: The Bard is perhaps the ultimate generalist. In most groups, he works best in a support role. He is less stealthy than the Rogue or Ranger, and lacks the combat prowess of the Fighter or Barbarian. Rather, the Bard strives to improve and facilitate the abilities of his allies by buffing, flanking, and beleaguering their enemies. He makes his allies better at what they do, and often can fill in for another character when needed. For a typical group of four characters, the Bard is often the most useful fifth character to consider adding, and can make an excellent leader.

    Game Rule Information
    Bards have the following game statistics:
    Abilities: Intelligence determines how powerful a spell a Bard can cast, and how difficult they are to resist, while Charisma determines how many he may cast per day (See Spells, below). Intelligence is important for a Bard’s skills, as well as Dexterity and Charisma. A high Constitution is also beneficial, as it affects a Bard’s hit points and Concentration skill. Dexterity also benefits a Bard in combat.
    Alignment: Typically Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Good, or Neutral Evil.
    Hit Die: d8
    Class Skills
    The Bard’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are 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), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (n/a), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
    Skill Points at 1st Level: (6+Int Modifier)x4
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6+Int Modifier.
    Class Features
    All of the following are class features of the Bard.
    Weapons and Armor Proficiency: A Bard is proficient with all simple weapons, plus the hand crossbow, longsword, longbow, rapier, sap, shortsword, shortbow, spiked-chain, and whip. Bards are proficient with light armor and with shields (except tower shields).
    Because the somatic components required for Bard spells are relatively simple, a Bard may cast Bard spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. However, like any other arcane spellcaster, a Bard wearing medium or heavy armor or using a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component (most do). A multiclass Bard still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.
    Spells: A Bard casts arcane spells (the same type of spells available to a Sorcerer or Wizard) which are drawn from the Bard and Sorcerer/Wizard list. A Bard need not choose and prepare these spells beforehand.
    To learn or cast a spell, a Bard must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level (Int 10 for 0-level spells, Int 11 for 1st-level spells, and so forth). The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a Bard’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the Bard’s Intelligence modifier.
    Like other spellcasters, a Bard can only cast a certain number of spells per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on table 1-1: The Bard. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score. Like a Wizard, a Bard may know any number of spells (See Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook, pg 179 PHB). A Bard need not use a spellbook (though he may learn spells from another’s spellbook, provided he first deciphers the arcane script), but rather than spending time scribing a spell into a spellbook, a Bard spends the equivalent amount of time memorizing the spell.
    Unlike a Wizard or Cleric, a Bard need not prepare his spells in advance. He may cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not yet used up his spells per day for that spell level. A Bard learns spells as a Wizard.
    Bardic Knowledge: A Bard learns many stray bits of knowledge on his travels. He may make a special Bardic Knowledge check with a bonus equal to his Bard level + his Intelligence modifier to see whether he knows some relevant information about local notable people, legendary items, historical events, or noteworthy places (If the Bard has 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (history), he gains a bonus +2 on this check). Additionally, a Bard adds half his class level (minimum 1) to all knowledge checks, and may make all knowledge checks untrained. A successful Bardic Knowledge check will not reveal the powers of a magic item but may give a hint to its general function. A Bard may not take 10 or take 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random. The DM can determine the Difficulty Class of this check by referring to table 1-2: Bardic Knowledge.
    Knack: A Bard has a particular knack for skills, adding his Charisma modifier to all his skill checks. In addition, he is treated as trained in all skills (as if he had the feat Jack of all Trades).
    Bardic Performance: Once per Bard level per day, the Bard is trained to use the Perform Skill to create magical effects on those around him, including himself if desired. Each ability requires both a minimum Bard level and a minimum number of ranks in the Perform skill to qualify; if a Bard does not have the required number of ranks in at least one perform skill, he does not gain the ability until he acquires the needed number of ranks.
    At first level, it is a standard action to initiate a Bardic Performance, at seventh it becomes a move action, and at thirteenth it becomes an immediate action. To maintain a Bardic Performance is a free action at any level. To change a Bardic Performance from one effect to another requires the Bard to first stop the first performance and begin the next using a standard action (or move, or swift, depending upon his level).
    Each Bardic Performance has audible components, visual components, or both.
    If a Bardic Performance has audible components, the targets must be able to hear the Bard for the performance to have any effect. A deaf Bard has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to use a Bardic Performance with an audible component. If he fails this check, the attempt still counts against his daily limit. Deaf creatures are immune to Bardic Performances with audible components.
    If a Bardic Performance has visual components, the targets must have line of sight to the Bard for the Bardic performance to have any effect. A blind Bard has a 50% chance to fail when attempting to use a Bardic Performance with a visual component. If he fails this check, the attempt still counts against his daily limit. Blind creatures are immune to Bardic Performances with visual components.
    Spellbreaker Song (Su): A Bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill (and at least one rank in Knowledge (Arcana)) may use his performance to interfere with spells that have verbal components. Enemy spellcasters within 30 feet of the Bard take a 20% spell failure chance when casting any spell with a verbal component (as if they were deafened). A Bard may maintain this ability for three rounds consecutively.
    Fascinate (Sp): A Bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the Bard, and able to pay attention to him. The Bard must also be able to see the creature. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents the ability from working. For every three levels a Bard attains beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with a single use of this ability (two at 4th level, three at 7th level, and so on). To use the ability, a Bard makes a Perform check. His check result
    is the DC for each affected creature’s Will save against the effect. If a creature’s saving throw succeeds, the Bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. If its saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and listens to the song, taking no other actions, for as long as the Bard continues to play (up to a maximum of 1 round per Bard level). While fascinated, a target takes a –4 penalty on skill checks made as reactions, such as Listen and Spot checks. Any potential threat requires the Bard to make another Perform check and allows the creature a new saving throw against a DC equal to the new Perform check result. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a ranged weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect.
    Fascinate is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.
    Inspire Courage (Su): A Bard with 3 or more ranks in perform can use his performance to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to perceive the Bard’s performance. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 5th level, and every six Bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +1, to a maximum of +4 at 17th level. Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability. Inspire courage can use audible or visual components. The Bard must choose which component to use when starting his performance.
    Inspire Competence (Su): A Bard of 3rd level or higher with 6 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to help an ally (including himself) succeed at a task. The ally must be within 30 feet and able to see
    or hear the Bard. The Bard must also be able to see the ally. Depending on the task that the ally has at hand, the Bard may use his Bardic music to lift the ally’s spirits, to help him or her focus mentally, or in some other way. The ally gets a +2 competence bonus on skill checks with a particular skill as long as he or she continues to hear the Bard’s music. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels attained beyond 3rd (+3 at 7th, +4 at 11th, +5 at 15th, and +6 at 19th). The DM may rule that certain uses of this ability are infeasible—chanting to make a rogue move more quietly, for example, is self-defeating. The effect lasts as long as the Bard maintains the performance, up to a maximum of 2 minutes. Inspire competence is a mind-affecting ability.
    Suggestion (Sp): A Bard of 6th level or higher with 9 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance skill to make a suggestion (as the spell) to a creature that is already fascinated (see above). Using this ability does not break the Bard’s concentration on the fascinate effect, nor does it allow a second saving throw on the fascinate effect. Making a suggestion does not count against a Bard’s daily limit on Bardic Performances. A Will saving throw (DC 10 + ½ the Bard’s Level + the Bard’s Cha Modifier) negates the effect. This ability affects only a single creature (but see Mass Suggestion below). Suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind effecting, language dependent ability.
    Dirge of Doom (Su): A Bard of 8th level or higher with 11 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to foster a sense of growing dread in his enemies, causing them to take become shaken. To be affected, an enemy must be within 30 feet and able to see and hear the bard's performance. The effect persists for as long as the enemy is within 30 feet and the bard continues the performance. The performance cannot cause a creature to become frightened or panicked, even if the targets are already shaken from another effect. Dirge of doom is a mind-affecting fear effect, and it relies on audible and visual components.
    Inspire Greatness (Su): A Bard of 9th level or higher with 12 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to inspire greatness in himself or a willing ally within 30 feet, granting him or her extra fighting capability. For every three levels a Bard attains beyond 9th, he can target one additional ally with a single use of this ability (two at 12th level, three at 15th, four at 18th). To inspire greatness, a Bard must perform and an ally must hear or see him perform. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears or sees the Bard perform and for 5 rounds thereafter. A creature inspired with greatness gains 2 bonus Hit Dice (d10s), the commensurate number of temporary hit points (apply the target’s Constitution modifier, if any, to these bonus Hit Dice), a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls, and a +1 competence bonus on Fortitude saves. The bonus Hit Dice count as regular Hit Dice for determining the effect of spells such as sleep. Inspire greatness is a mind-affecting ability.
    Soothing Song (Su): A Bard of 12th level or higher with 15 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to create an effect equivalent to the mass cure serious wounds, using the Bard's level as the caster level. In addition, this performance removes the fatigued, sickened, and shaken condition from all those affected. Using this ability requires 4 uses of Bardic Performance, and the targets must be able to see and hear the bard throughout the performance. Soothing performance relies on audible and visual components.
    Frightening Song (Sp): A Bard of 14th level or higher with 17 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to cause fear in his enemies. To be affected, an enemy must be able to hear the bard perform and be within 30 feet. Each enemy within range receives a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the Bard’s level + the Bard’s Charisma modifier) to negate the effect. If the save succeeds, the creature is immune to this ability for 24 hours. If the save fails, the target becomes frightened and flees for as long as the target can hear the bard's performance. Frightening tune relies on audible components.
    Inspire Heroics (Su): A Bard of 15th level or higher with 18 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to inspire tremendous heroism in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet, allowing that creature to fight bravely even against overwhelming odds. For every three levels the Bard character attains beyond 15th, he can inspire heroics in one additional creature. To inspire heroics, the Bard must perform and an ally must hear or see the Bard perform for one full round. A creature so inspired gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws and a +4 dodge bonus to AC. This effect lasts for as long as the ally perceives the Bard performing and for up to five rounds thereafter. Inspire heroics is a mind effecting ability.
    Mass Suggestion (Sp): This ability functions like suggestion, above, except that a Bard of 18th level or higher with 21 or more ranks in a Perform skill can make the suggestion simultaneously to any number of creatures he has already fascinated (see above). Mass Suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind effecting, language dependent ability.
    Deadly Performance (Su): A Bard of 20th level or higher with 23 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his performance to cause one enemy to die of joy or sorrow. To be affected, the target must be able to see and hear the Bard perform for 1 full round and be within 30 feet. The target receives a Will save (DC 10 + ½ the Bard’s level + the Bard’s Charisma modifier) to negate the effect. If a creature makes its save, the target is staggered for 1d4 rounds, and the Bard cannot use deadly performance on that creature for 24 hours. If a creature fails its save, it dies. Deadly Performance is a mind effecting death effect that relies on visual and audible components.
    Versatile Performance: At 2nd level, a Bard can choose one type of Perform skill. He can use his bonus in that skill in place of his bonus in associated skills. When substituting in this way, the Bard uses his total Perform skill bonus in place of his associated skill bonus, whether or not he has ranks in that skill or if it is a class skill. At 6th level, and every four levels thereafter, the Bard can select an additional type of Perform to substitute.
    The types of Perform and their associated skills are: Act (Bluff, Disguise), Comedy (Bluff, Intimidate), Dance (Tumble, Balance, Jump), Keyboard Instruments (Diplomacy, Intimidate), Oratory (Diplomacy, Sense Motive), Percussion (Handle Animal, Intimidate), Sing (Bluff, Sense Motive), String Instruments (Bluff, Diplomacy), and Wind Instruments (Diplomacy, Handle Animal).
    Well Versed: At 2nd level, a Bard becomes resistant to the Bardic Performance of others. He gains a +4 bonus on Saving throws against Bardic Performance, Sonic, and language dependent effects.
    Lore Master: At 5th level, a Bard becomes a master of lore and can take 10 on any Knowledge check. He may choose not to take 10 and instead roll normally. In addition, once per day, a Bard may take 20 on any Knowledge check as a standard action. He may use this ability one additional time per day for every six levels he possesses beyond 5th, up to a maximum of three times per day at level 17.
    Jack of All Trades: At 16th level, a Bard considers all skills to be class skills (if a Bard has taken Cross-Class skill ranks, convert them to full ranks, not exceeding his allowed skill rank totals. Any skill ranks beyond the allowed max may be redistributed elsewhere.). At 19th level, the Bard may take 10 on any skill check, even if it is not normally allowed.
    Eschew Materials: At 1st level, a Bard gains Eschew Materials as a bonus feat.
    Weapon Finesse: At 1st level, a Bard gains Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat, even if he does not normally qualify for it.
    Bonus Feats: At 1st level, 4th level, and every four levels thereafter, a Bard may select a bonus feat from the following list: Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Critical, Improved Initiative, Melodic Casting, Lingering Song, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Two Weapon Fighting, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Improved Trip, Improved Disarm, or Quick Draw.
    Wardance: A Bard of 5th level or higher with 8 or more ranks in Perform (Dance) may use his skill in dancing to aid him in combat. This adds his Charisma bonus to his AC and attack bonus. A Bard of 10th level or higher with 13 or more ranks in Perform (Dance) may use his skill in dancing to gain a 20% miss chance in combat. A Bard of 15th level or higher with 18 or more ranks in Perform (Dance) may use his skill in dancing to gain an additional move action per round. A Bard of 20th level or higher with 23 or more ranks in Perform (Dance) may use his skill in dancing to gain a 40% miss chance in combat.

    "Table" 1-1
    BAB: Medium
    Spells per Day: As the Wizard
    Saves: Good Fort and Will, the Bard is stronger than he looks, both mentally and physically.


    So what do you think? What changes, if any, are necessary to bring this Bard in line with the Druid? How should the spellcasting change, to reflect the Bard's 'having the right tool for the job' nature?
    Last edited by Kalaska'Agathas; 2010-08-28 at 09:06 PM.
    No levelled malice
    Infects one comma in the course I hold;
    But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
    Leaving no track behind.

    Andrew Eldritch Avatar by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins
    Psionic Tricks Handbook (WIP!)

    Brainstorming thread for a Basic FAQ (WIP!)

    Oh, and you can just call me KA.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Why the proficiency with spiked chain?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Kalaska'Agathas's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by Bladesinger View Post
    Why the proficiency with spiked chain?
    I see it as an improved whip, and frankly, because I think it is a cool weapon. That said, it is in no way required for the sake of Bardiness.
    No levelled malice
    Infects one comma in the course I hold;
    But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
    Leaving no track behind.

    Andrew Eldritch Avatar by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins
    Psionic Tricks Handbook (WIP!)

    Brainstorming thread for a Basic FAQ (WIP!)

    Oh, and you can just call me KA.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Gorgondantess's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    So, wait... he has spells per day as a wizard... spells known as a wizard... and casts spontaneously? Do you understand the problem there?
    Also, make a real table, please.
    Marceline Abadeer by Gnomish Wanderer

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    theMycon's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Honestly, being able to pull spells from the sorc/wizard spell list, and the bard spell list, is probably enough to make a bard Tier 2, even in core.

    That was always my old DM's "default" Bard fix, and it usually made him the most powerful character (except for a druid or wizard) in the games.

    Also, like PF, giving him cantrips at-will was surprisingly useful.
    If it's not obvious, insert a after my post.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Kalaska'Agathas's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgondantess View Post
    So, wait... he has spells per day as a wizard... spells known as a wizard... and casts spontaneously? Do you understand the problem there?
    Also, make a real table, please.
    I have a real table, but being unable to post attachments, I cannot seem to add it, seeing no table function in the message editor.

    And yes, I did give him essentially weakened Beholder Mage casting - I recognize this as a problem. I would use wizard spells per day, but sorcerer spells known, however, this introduces the problem of not having enough spells known for a proper Jack of all trades. Perhaps something akin to the Cleric and Druid + Spellpoint prepared casting system would bridge the gap, namely, you know more spells than you can prepare, but need only prepare them in one slot, and may cast them as many times as you have slots of that level per day?
    No levelled malice
    Infects one comma in the course I hold;
    But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
    Leaving no track behind.

    Andrew Eldritch Avatar by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins
    Psionic Tricks Handbook (WIP!)

    Brainstorming thread for a Basic FAQ (WIP!)

    Oh, and you can just call me KA.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by theMycon View Post
    Honestly, being able to pull spells from the sorc/wizard spell list, and the bard spell list, is probably enough to make a bard Tier 2, even in core.
    Tier 2? Seriously?

    So...what's the difference between this bard and a wizard? The bard actually has class features, the wizard hasn't. Yet, the wizard's class features don't make him a Tier 1 character...well, actually, just one.

    Spellcasting. And the bard just pushed the wizard sideways on that one.

    I'd moderate the bard spellcasting a bit. I mean, the bard spellcasting ability may not seem strong, but it is great once you know how to handle it. Even making the bard spell list somewhat like the Beguiler would have been enough, since both classes share similar traits.

    But, here's the massive problem: 9th level spells, ability to learn pretty much every single spell on the list, no need for spellbooks, spontaneous spellcasting, and you still get the bard's spells (which means the spell list is insanely larger) for free.

    The other quirk is balancing the class against the Druid. The Druid, out of the box, is INSANELY POWERFUL. Remember the Big 5 include a non-PrC Druid just taking 20 levels, so that means the Bard has to be Tier 1 or else. In that case, it fulfills its purpose: 9th level spellcasting, awesome combat ability, and the buffs make for a much better animal companion (while the companion outclasses the Fighter, the bardic music outclasses the companion when applied to said Fighter. All you need is a Fighter cohort and that's it).

    As for giving more pointers...well, I find the Bard is just too powerful. The spellcasting alone is a reason for me to squirm, but basically adding the ACFs and Snowflake Wardance to make the Bard a ways better Fighter than a Fighter (not like it's hard, anyways) seems to top the list. A Bard should not be balanced against a Druid, IMO it's better balanced against a Beguiler or a Factotum, which fit the jack of all trades concept. Beguiler and Factotum are extremely fun classes to play because they always have something to do. The actual Bard isn't a bad class to play, though it could use a bit of buffing.

    I'll do mention something: the Weapon Finesse bonus feat (as well as the Eschew Materials) are nice touches, since a Bard should be a decent fighter that doesn't depend that much on Strength, and Bards have few need for material components (the fact that they have a fixed verbal component should be enough). The bonus feats are also nice, but they should be a tad wider than the norm in terms of what to get; they are meant to support the fighting skill of Bards, which is good, but it does nothing for the spellcasting (powerful as it is, and the Bard will not be as feat-starved so it may seem a bit pointless).

    However, this seems a bit more like a build rather than a class. How?
    --9th level spells, with Sorcerer/Wizard spells. This sounds like Bard/Lyric Thaumaturge/Sublime Chord.
    --Wardance, Bonus Feats and Weapon Finesse are feats, so it would be assumed that you get most of those feats.
    --All skills as class skills isn't exactly Jack of All Trades, but Factotum 1 or Human Paragon 1 plus Able Learner; again, another feat choice.
    --The bardic performance abilities are a recollection of some of the bardic music ACFs, as well as prestige classes: I can observe Dirgesinger and Virtuoso over there.
    --Bardic Knack is an ACF, which well replaces the Bardic Knowledge ability. Not only does it has both, but it also has a boost to Knowledge abilities. That would be similar to having Bardic Knack instead of Bardic Knowledge, and then get Bardic Knowledge/Lore by other means (Lyric Thaumaturge)

    While it's fun to just keep adding stuff to the Bard, eventually you end up in a spectrum that doesn't make for a class. It makes for a build. Look at, say, the Samurai from Complete Warrior: it's basically a Fighter build instead of a class. That isn't an example of proper class building, regardless of what the DMG might say; a class should offer you options to create diverse builds, with some weaknesses on one side but some advantages to another. Certainly, the class does follow a paradigm of allowing for options, but it disregards the weaknesses when you basically have all options present and a rare need to focus on one over the other.

    Example: you have uninterrupted spellcasting (and the best spellcasting out there, period), so you can shoot spells over and over without trouble (since you memorize them, you never prepare them, which is another trouble). You could go Bard/Incantatrix and get as many boosts to metamagic as you can. Yet, you can still use your few weapons, your few bonus feats, and still kick the living daylights out of the Fighter, buff yourself to frustrate the Barbarian, do better healing, buffing, and probably tanking than the Paladin a thousandfold, and generally frustrating most martial classes except ToB (and with Heroics, you can dabble and probably frustrate those too). But, your skill list is also pretty extensive, and even without spells you have already bypassed the Rogue on its own turf, given that Sneak Attack is rather hard to pull off. What's left? You already have better spells than the Cleric does, and with, say, Radiant Servant you can pretty much say goodbye to the Cleric.

    I think the only problem with this is the lack of a familiar and the lack of ability to specialize. If you can understand the joke, that means you should revise the class a bit; not that bad, but it's just TOO good to be true.
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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Tier 2? Seriously?

    So...what's the difference between this bard and a wizard? The bard actually has class features, the wizard hasn't. Yet, the wizard's class features don't make him a Tier 1 character...well, actually, just one.

    Spellcasting. And the bard just pushed the wizard sideways on that one.
    I think he meant that taking the normal only-casts-up-to-6th-level-spells bard and giving it sor/wiz spells is tier 2; this one is definitely too good.
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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    I think he meant that taking the normal only-casts-up-to-6th-level-spells bard and giving it sor/wiz spells is tier 2; this one is definitely too good.
    Indeed it was. My apologies for the confusion.
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    Give it Bard 6 level casting and make the wizard spells considered 2 levels higher to be learned (fireball is a 5th level bard spell, and a third level wizard spell). Expand spells known to be higher than spells per day (this only works if you limit your party's ability to rest). While War dance sounds good make is mutually exclusive with Bardic Music. The bard has to choose between buffing the party lightly with perform, or buffing himself heavily with it. You'd have to expand what War Dance gives you if you do this.
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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    While I understand the hesitance to give this Bard full casting, to limit its casting otherwise would limit it against the Druid, which is my intended power point. I recognize that the Druid is Tier 1, but I see no issue with boosting the Bard to a point where he is on par with the wizard or the druid. Similarly, while the Bard + Sorc/Wiz list is expansive and a rather good list (maybe even the best list) it is easily available via Bard + Sublime Chord.

    I would hesitate to make Wardance and Bardic Performance incompatible. A Druid, with Natural Spell, may cast and be buffed for combat simultaneously - this Bard may buff himself and his allies but is unable to cast, unless they've taken the proper feat (Lyric Song, if I remember correctly). As I'm building an arcane Druid, in essence, I think this wouldn't be terribly unbalancing.

    As for the spellcasting, I want it to be different from the Sorcerer and Wizard, but without limiting him to 6th level spells (which would place him firmly within Tier 3 rather than Tier 1 or 2 as I intend). Further, to limit him to Sorc/Wiz spells but 2 spell levels late (so in effect four to six levels late) feels to me arbitrary and unnecessary, as with a simple prestige class it is simple to get them at proper level. The Bard is supposed to have access to the correct 'tool' for the job, which is why I would have him cast spontaneously from his spells known, though I realize this is a problem balance-wise. How can I achieve differentiation from the Sorcerer and Wizard, while maintaining access to the right 'tool for the job' (unlike the Sorcerer, with his limited spells known) while being balanced?

    Also, the Bardic Performance is basically a combination of Pathfinder and 3.5, not a combination of those from various prestige classes (though they may match up, I've not checked) so I don't know that it's such an issue.

    What might I do, then, to make this less of a build and more of a class, T.G. Oskar?
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    Default Re: An Improved 3.5 Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalaska'Agathas View Post
    A Druid, with Natural Spell, may cast and be buffed for combat simultaneously - this Bard may buff himself and his allies but is unable to cast, unless they've taken the proper feat (Lyric Song, if I remember correctly).
    Actually, it's Melodic Casting, though you can attempt a combination of Still Spell, Eschew Materials and any masterwork instrument that allows you to cast spells while doing bardic music, or Disguise Spell (I reckon the latter allowed you to cast while disguising the verbal spell components into language, so you could cast while singing).

    As for the spellcasting, I want it to be different from the Sorcerer and Wizard, but without limiting him to 6th level spells (which would place him firmly within Tier 3 rather than Tier 1 or 2 as I intend). Further, to limit him to Sorc/Wiz spells but 2 spell levels late (so in effect four to six levels late) feels to me arbitrary and unnecessary, as with a simple prestige class it is simple to get them at proper level. The Bard is supposed to have access to the correct 'tool' for the job, which is why I would have him cast spontaneously from his spells known, though I realize this is a problem balance-wise. How can I achieve differentiation from the Sorcerer and Wizard, while maintaining access to the right 'tool for the job' (unlike the Sorcerer, with his limited spells known) while being balanced?
    Balance is rarely what you seek, especially balance between different classes. What you want is mostly theme and effectiveness. There is nothing wrong with Tier 3 near Tier 2, since you can do a very effective range of options with little effort. Factotum is a great example of a Tier 3 that allows you to have the right tool for the job without sucking at what it does. Perhaps it's best to understand the meaning behind Tier 1: Tier 3 can do things well, Tier 2 can mostly do what other classes do with little effort and relatively well, Tier 1 can do what other classes do BETTER.

    The thing is, the spells that are unbalanced are actually the spells that work as the Swiss Army knives. Planar Ally and Planar Binding allow you to have the right monster for the task, and Gate at end-levels allows you to, with minimal effort, have a near-permanent addition to your team. Polymorph allows you to transform into virtually any creature that suits your needs, and Shapechange basically does the same but with the option of further changing. Wish, Miracle, Anyspell and Greater Anyspell are your "free spell slot to cast what you want" options. And so forth. Of course, all except two of these options are accessible to the Sorcerer and Wizard (and the latter are accessible if they get access to the Spell domain).

    The point is to figure out what these effectively replace, and find out within your Bard what options are better for the task with minimal effort. For example: the normal Bard is a very effective stealth character, because it combines Hide + Move Silently (skill-based abilities) with spells to buff those checks, or Invisibility/Greater Invisibility/Blink for spell-based stealth. It does lack ways to make the skill-based stealth better, which can be done by means of spells like fogs or mists (which provide concealment and thus perfect places to hide), but otherwise just with what the Bard has it already replaced the Rogue as a stealth character. However, this goes into ridiculous levels when you add UMD (which is the only way the Rogue can roughly keep up with spellcasting classes); you pretty much don't need UMD since most of the spells you want to emulate are spells you already know, but it's a legacy ability and it remains there. Even if it weren't present, the ability that allows you all cross-class skills to become class skills ensures that investment in UMD as cross-class will pay off later, which coupled with the boosts and the overall dependence on Charisma means you'll pull off better UMD checks than classes that got UMD and high Charisma from the very beginning. Then, considering you can basically find ways to create magic items with little effort (mostly Fabricate + Wall of Iron for gp or something more cost-effective, Shun the Dark Chaos + item creation feats + Thought Bottle for items with Experience is a River as an option), you'll always have the right tool for the job...several times, which implies redundancy. Why prepare the magic items when I can just cast on my own? Why invest on the skills when I can replace that with magic? Why spend my spell slots when I can just garble some magic items that do exactly the same, and since I cast magic nearly half of the options have zero limitations?

    By being a full spellcaster with the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list (with Bard spells), you are already pretty different from any of them, but still hold several similarities. Sorcerers, much like you, seek utility; Sorcerers aren't versatile, but rather make several things with the few spells they got, and thus, seek the most useful spells for the task. Wizards are actual versatile casters; when the prepared spell isn't what you seek, leave the slot open, wait a while and just load on the right spell. If you really want to make a difference, trim the list of spell accessibility you get. Mostly, think of a Sorcerer that has less memorized spells but a few known slots that change over day, or as a better allegory, a Wizard with Spell Mastery for every level. Regarding the second allegory: a Wizard prepares spells on his spellbook, but memorizes a few spells that he doesn't need to read in order to prepare; in your case, those memorized spells can be cast at any time, since you're a spontaneous spellcaster rather than a prepared spellcaster. There are several options, actually; just find which is more interesting.

    Also, the Bardic Performance is basically a combination of Pathfinder and 3.5, not a combination of those from various prestige classes (though they may match up, I've not checked) so I don't know that it's such an issue.
    True, except that the PF creators got lost on a little thing. Bards are best seen as buffers, rather than debuffers. A Dread Necro, a Hexblade, a Necromancer Wizard, a Cleric of an Evil deity...those are mostly debuffers, and you can expect to see them doing the shakes and the frights. So you get healing, buffing, debuffing...one spot short of musical attacks, but you can get the idea.

    What might I do, then, to make this less of a build and more of a class, T.G. Oskar?
    Diversify.

    Wardance requires Perform (dance)? Excellent; it makes people that don't take Perform (dance) less effective on combat. Perhaps those that aren't trained on string instruments (fiddle and violin, for example) won't get the right tunes for dread music, and thus they don't get any access to the songs. Build lots of great options, each just as good as the other, but limit their accessibility.

    Spells can also get the same way. Suddenly memorizing 70-100 spells because you can read them from a scroll seems a bit silly, but most important, it reduces the spice of making a build. You as a DM can restrict the accessibility to certain spells, but in the end having the option will simply cause people to get random spells, pretty sure that in the end they'll get the spells they need by other means. Some of those random spells they get, though, may not be as random (Summon Monster, Heal, Planar Ally, Planar Binding, Limited Wish, etc.), but your proposal in spellcasting allows for such leisure with spells that you simply can't go wrong. And since magic pretty much replaces everything, the options will look pretty similar (focus on the spells over anything else).

    Feats are a place where you can expand your options. You can get most fighter options, most metamagic feats, and even some other feats like Reserve feats. The right amount of bonus feats spread over the class allows you to break with the concept of a build, since you won't be always using TWF or range attacks. Most of the people that wish to make warrior-based Bards (a bad option considering you'll be THE spellcaster) won't find the options they want. Opening those options for, say, a Bugbear that has Power Attack and Leap Attack and spellcasting instead of Weapon Finesse and light weapon attacks can be different enough to take the feel of a build out of the mouths of the builder.

    See which skills are worth keeping, see which are not. Removing UMD won't take a dent on the Tier of the bard. Reducing your spellcasting to a more limited list makes UMD more interesting to use. Removing the idea of the pseudo-Able Learner mixed with Bardic Knack and Jack of All Trades to make the Bard have bonus on every single skill will seem at first that it'll reduce the skill portion of the Bard to nothingness, but considering you have a decent amount of skill points and a nice, long list, you still can do wonders with the Bard. Otherwise, you'll have...UMD, Tumble, perhaps Concentration for the spells, Spellcraft to know which spell...maybe several ranks in Knowledge checks for Knowledge Devotion...but it won't matter because at 1st level you already are better than the Rogue at its own game, and by level 16th you disregard skill points altogether since you'll get your Charisma so high and you'll have so many skill points distributed on virtually all skills (not to mention Inspire Competence, Improvisation, and if you feel lucky UMD the cleric spell that grants an insight/sacred bonus on skill checks) that you'll rarely fail any skill check short of Epic.

    But most important, check what's on the Bard that you don't like, check what's on the Druid that made you choose it as the JoAT goal, and what the Factotum does that makes it an effective JoAT class. That should give you an idea on how to properly provide options to diversify the class and allow more than one build to emerge, rather than a single one (the spellcaster that can do everything better than the Wizard).
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