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Thread: Melee Bards

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    Default Melee Bards

    How do they do enough damage to be effective? I am aware that they should be able to hit basically every time with Snowflake Wardance and Weapon Finesse, but I can't find anything to match the damage of even a fighter. I don't think Dragonfire Inspiration can add enough, with a max of 4d6 and all. Am I missing something stupid and blindingly obvious?

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Well, you are missing the Book of Exalted Deeds and its ever popular Words of Creation, which doubles your IC bonus. Then there's Eberron's Song of the Heart, which increases your IC bonus by one. Then there are the Slippers of Battledancing, from Dungeon Master's Guide II, which give you Charisma to Attack and Damage if you move 10 feet. There's also the Crystal Echoblade from Magic Item Compendium which gives you half your Bard level to damage. You might want to check out the Inspire Courage Handbook and the Bard's Handbook for more information.
    Last edited by Kalaska'Agathas; 2011-01-16 at 07:05 PM.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalaska'Agathas View Post
    Well, you are missing the Book of Exalted Deeds and its ever popular Words of Creation, which doubles your IC bonus. Then there's Eberron's Song of the Heart, which increases your IC bonus by one. Then there are the Slippers of Battledancing, from Dungeon Master's Guide II, which give you Charisma to Attack and Damage if you move 10 feet. There's also the Crystal Echoblade from Magic Item Compendium which gives you half your Bard level to damage. You might want to check out the Inspire Courage Handbook and the Bard's Handbook for more information.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    With such a high attack bonus, you can probably afford to Power Attack for your full BAB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabe the Bard View Post
    With such a high attack bonus, you can probably afford to Power Attack for your full BAB.
    Though, since the OP mentioned Snowflake Wardance, you won't be getting as much out of it as would a two handed weapon user. Still, it provides a nice damage boost. Oh, and Words of Creation also doubles your Dragon Fire Inspiration bonus damage, just so you know.
    Last edited by Kalaska'Agathas; 2011-01-16 at 07:51 PM.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    So, if I'm getting this right, you can do 12d6 fire or sonic damage with each hit, easily, probably more, with a +bajillion to hit? How come I never hear about these things?

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    'Cause most of us don't have DMs who would allow all that. I love bards to pieces and I don't allow BoED or MIC in my game... so they have to find other ways to embarrass the normal melee characters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OverdrivePrime View Post
    'Cause most of us don't have DMs who would allow all that. I love bards to pieces and I don't allow BoED or MIC in my game... so they have to find other ways to embarrass the normal melee characters.
    Meh, just send a wizard or Kobolds (or both) at them, problem solved. I can see why, though.

    Why in the name of all that is good and bacony are they referred to as weak all the time?

    And is there a balanced way to give them enough damage?
    Last edited by CycloneJoker; 2011-01-16 at 08:22 PM.

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    As mentioned, melee bards work because there is an amazing number of things printed to help them work. Splat writers like bards.

    Consider:
    Badge of Valor, Inspirational Boost, Song Of The Heart: Even without Words of Creation (and its obnoxious Exalted Good requirement) you now Inspire Courage at +3 points over your normal level progression. And they are respectively a very cheap magic item, a 1st level spell, and a functionally pre-req-less feat, so you can get that all running between about level 3-5 (get a wand of Inspirational Boost and stick it in the Wand Chamber in your sword.)

    Snowflake Wardance: Use Cha to hit.
    Slippers of Battledancing: Different way for Cha to hit, plus Cha to damage. Note these are replacement of dex/str, not addition, so you get a dump stat out of this if you can make good use of them; they pair really well with means of Swift movement.
    Crystal Echoblade: half bard level to damage.
    Gauntlets of Heartfelt Blows (Dragon Compendium, or they'd get mentioned a lot more): Cha mod again to all your hits, this time as Fire damage.

    And that's just the ones I know of. There's probably a few more stuck in some of the books.


    And is there a balanced way to give them enough damage?
    Yes, it's actually really easy- don't use Dragonfire Inspiration and/or Words of Creation. The annoying thing about bard melee is that you have to cross so many disparate sources and add so many pieces to make it work; the nice thing is that no one piece is absolutely essential to it, so if you want to make it weaker you can just pull out one or two of the boosters without much trouble.
    Last edited by tyckspoon; 2011-01-16 at 08:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Yup. And, of course, you can just optimize for non-combat; if you're playing a bard and other party roles have already been filled, bards are among the best general investigator/diplomat types. You could make a very good party leader, and a +whatever in combat will mean your party likes having you around, too. You don't have to be powerful yourself to be a useful party member.

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    X stat to Y Bonus can help a lot with building melee bards. Just look at the options for charisma.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Plus with extend song and the double song ability found in a number of bard prcs you can have many songs on at once. Song of courage can be evil especially since now your bard is brutal but you also just made the party bruiser even better. A well built bard can ruin the CR system. It does not ruin it like a wizard (they have instant win buttons) but they make the already inaccurate math of the CR system to near worthlessness.

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    You can always take a few dips in Crusader or Warblade with the Song of the White Raven feat, to get a few Maneuvers, better HD, and your Inspire Courage doesn't take a hit.

    Vest of Legends from DMGII lets you be treated as a Bard of 5 levels higher for several Bardic Music effects, as well as +5 bonuses to Diplomacy and <skill I can't remember since I'm AFB> for an extra kicker.
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    It also lets you sing as a swift action which is nice for the times you are not using a spell to boost you song.

    Don't foget the extra song feat and masterwork instruments!

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    So, to recap:

    Song of the Heart: 1st level feat for a +1 to IC
    Badge of Valor: cheap magic item for +1 to IC
    Vest of Legends: cheap magic item for effective +1 to IC
    Inspirational Boost: 1st level Bard spell for +1 to IC
    Masterwork Mandolin: Cheap mundane item for +1 to IC

    That's a +5 right there. All easily obtainable by around 3rd level

    Then we get to the +Cha for attack and damage.

    Then we get into Dragonfire Inspiration.

    Oh, if you go Bardblade (Bard4/Warblade6/War Chanter10), you'll also be able to keep up both IC and DFI and Song of the Legion (everyone has the same BAB as the highest person being affected by the song) for completely stupid bonuses on attacks and damages.
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    Can't take Song of the Heart at first level, it requires Inspire Competence as a pre-req.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Let's not forget the usual suspects like Arcane Strike and Knowledge Devotion; Bards excel at those just as much as the next caster (at least in Sublime Chord-shells). Bards also have access to Divine Might through one-level dip in Sacred Exorcist which effectively translate into "add Cha to damage for all attacks for Cha+3 rounds per day"; effectively constant.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    It should also be noted that the longer you hold off taking Warblade or Crusader levels, the better.

    Since your initiator level is 1/2 non ToB classes + levels in ToB classes, being a level 8 bard, then take a blade magic class gives you an initator level of 5. That opens up such goodness as White Raven tactics (WARNING! excessive usage may cause DM's to hit you with extremely heavy objects. Using this on yourself pretty much guarantee's it.), as well as Thicket of Blades (crusader only), which with Combat Reflexes means that if your Courage is currently being Inspired, you'll have plenty of opportunities to put out the extra damage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipperOfShirts View Post
    It should also be noted that the longer you hold off taking Warblade or Crusader levels, the better.

    Since your initiator level is 1/2 non ToB classes + levels in ToB classes, being a level 8 bard, then take a blade magic class gives you an initator level of 5. That opens up such goodness as White Raven tactics (WARNING! excessive usage may cause DM's to hit you with extremely heavy objects. Using this on yourself pretty much guarantee's it.), as well as Thicket of Blades (crusader only), which with Combat Reflexes means that if your Courage is currently being Inspired, you'll have plenty of opportunities to put out the extra damage.
    I strongly disagree.

    You'd need class level 9 to qualify as an IL of 5 by that tactic. However, Bard4 is an IL of 2, plus three levels (level 7) of Warblade, will get you the same thing, earlier, and have a higher BAB.

    Bardblade needs only 4 levels of Bard, the rest should go into Warblade.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    I strongly disagree.

    You'd need class level 9 to qualify as an IL of 5 by that tactic. However, Bard4 is an IL of 2, plus three levels (level 7) of Warblade, will get you the same thing, earlier, and have a higher BAB.

    Bardblade needs only 4 levels of Bard, the rest should go into Warblade.
    It really depends if it's a long game, if you want slightly higher maneuvers without spending feast, if you're going for traditional bardblade (off-topic, I agree with you strongly though, I usually go Bard 4-Warblade or Crusader X) or if you want more Bard-y stuff, like the spells.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipperOfShirts View Post
    It really depends if it's a long game, if you want slightly higher maneuvers without spending feast, if you're going for traditional bardblade (off-topic, I agree with you strongly though, I usually go Bard 4-Warblade or Crusader X) or if you want more Bard-y stuff, like the spells.
    Only you don't get higher maneuvers by dumping more levels into bard. Traditionally, you take a two-level dip in another class so you can time your extra stance to coincide with the level at which you actually get access to a new stance. But that doesn't carry over any further with more non-IL levels. More bard levels is just a waste for a melee-centric bardblade build.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Level 6 bard is never a waste, even on meleecentric warblade/bards. Suggestion is fun no matter what.

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    Spells like this help. The 3.5 version that was likely intended to replace it but failed to due to having a different name is also quite useful thought not as powerful, and appears in the Spell Compendium, IIRC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    Bards also have access to Divine Might through one-level dip in Sacred Exorcist which effectively translate into "add Cha to damage for all attacks for Cha+3 rounds per day"; effectively constant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mabriss lethe View Post
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    So, to recap:

    Song of the Heart: 1st level feat for a +1 to IC
    Badge of Valor: cheap magic item for +1 to IC
    Vest of Legends: cheap magic item for effective +1 to IC
    Inspirational Boost: 1st level Bard spell for +1 to IC
    Masterwork Mandolin: Cheap mundane item for +1 to IC

    That's a +5 right there. All easily obtainable by around 3rd level

    Then we get to the +Cha for attack and damage.

    Then we get into Dragonfire Inspiration.

    Oh, if you go Bardblade (Bard4/Warblade6/War Chanter10), you'll also be able to keep up both IC and DFI and Song of the Legion (everyone has the same BAB as the highest person being affected by the song) for completely stupid bonuses on attacks and damages.
    All good advice, though the Vest of Legends is very likely not available by 3rd level, as it sells for 16,000 GP, which is available by about 8th level, give or take.

    Doesn't change the fact that this is all great advice though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalaska'Agathas View Post
    Oh, and Words of Creation also doubles your Dragon Fire Inspiration bonus damage, just so you know.
    Doesn't "Words of Creation" also cause ut to take quite few hitpoints as damage when you use it? Is there a way around this, or do you always take those nasty XD4s damage when using it?

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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    It's nonlethal damage, so if you have a wand of cure light wounds you're more or less set.

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    Quote Originally Posted by poignant123 View Post
    It's nonlethal damage, so if you have a wand of cure light wounds you're more or less set.
    Ah, I misread the entry for Words of Creation: I thought it was 1D4 of nonlethal damage for each rank in Perform the Bard uses, ie his number of ranks.

    But I see now that for Inspire Courage it's a flat 3D4 damage. Fair enough. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycloneJoker View Post
    Why in the name of all that is good and bacony are they referred to as weak all the time?
    No claim to that effect has gone unchallenged on these forums.
    Quote Originally Posted by RipperOfShirts View Post
    It really depends if it's a long game, if you want slightly higher maneuvers without spending feast, if you're going for traditional bardblade
    The more levels in martial adepts you have, the faster you gain access to higher level maneuvers. On any given level, a pure warblade has more higher level maneuvers than a bard4/warblade of the same ECL, who in turn has more higher level maneuvers than bard6/warblade, and so forth.
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    Default Re: Melee Bards

    Bards tend to be weak in core due to lack of options.

    A player who is unaware of the sources, or doesn't know how to optimize a bard, would end up relatively weak due to being able to do a lot of things but not being very good at them.

    Bardblades are essentially up to the player. Some might want spells more than maneuvers, which is understandable. Spells can do the same thing as maneuvers, and a good number of times outdo maneuvers entirely.

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