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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Why do Bards "suck"?

    This is not about the power level of a Bard but about the average perception of a Bard.

    When I first started playing, I thought the Bard was terrible. Every person I have played with also held this opinion. I thought this until I was like 15 or so when I started to think on the power level of classes and came across these type of forums. Now, I see that the Bard definitely has a lot of power even in just the core book. They can fight almost as well as the Fighter since their song gives them basically the same pluses to attack, they have an incredibly great skill list, they fit very well thematically in any setting, some great class features, and some fairly nice spells to boot.

    But everywhere else I look, there is the joke about the useless Bard that either dies or gets the crap kicked out of them like they are a stinky pinata. Why is there this perception of the Bard 'sucking' when it it is the 5th most powerful in PH1 and gets so much free love in splatbooks that it might as well be a hippie commune?

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    The perception probably stems mostly from the idea that Bards are "second best" at everything.

    Which actually makes them absolutely awesome, but that's not exactly intuitive to most people.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    When singing or playing a musical instrument are your most visible class features....
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Probably because they sound silly on paper and are never the best in practice. Never being the best at anything makes you feel underpowered even if you are actually carrying the party.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    When singing or playing a musical instrument are your most visible class features....
    This actually reminds of me something.

    Is it possible to swap the Bard's Bardic music ability for something else?

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Lots of reasons that all add up.

    Core-only is a good start. Bards aren't terrible in Core-only, but they're tricky to play well and are really missing out on a LOT of their power that comes in splatbooks.

    Starting campaigns at Level 1 also gives a poor impression of the Bard. 1 music use per day and a few cantrips means that the Bard is rather sad at Level 1 unless it has great ability scores or the campaign makes Skills particularly germane.

    Lots of playgroups and DMs have a misconception that bardic music requires a standard action every round in order to keep it going (although at least there's the default 5 rounds of effect after the bard stops performing). In truth, other than bardic music uses that state they require concentration, the bard only needs to spend 1 standard action, then can keep Inspiring Courage as long as he wants, with no action cost, as long as he doesn't cast spells or use wands/scrolls.

    The books tote Bards as being jacks of all trades, and that makes a lot of players want to use them as melee combatants some of the time. But Core Bards are really not any good as melee combatants. And they're pretty mediocre even as archers. These are areas where splatbook support can really add a lot.

    Lots of playgroups aren't very good at incorporating illusion and enchantment effects into their games at all. Other playgroups have similar struggles with social and knowledge Skills.

    Finally, low-op playgroups often have no idea how much power and flexibility Use Magic Device really represents (assuming the campaign makes magic items as common as Wealth By Level implies, which is not a given).

    EDIT: Oh yeah, one more reason: their bonuses can be easy to forget.
    Last edited by Draz74; 2013-10-13 at 12:10 PM.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    What they said.

    1. It sounds silly on paper. "I shall confront the fearsome ogre with--a banjo!" "No, I'm not going to hit the ogre with the banjo, I'm going to play the banjo!"

    2. Because they're pretty-good at everything, and not great at anything, they don't have their encounter-ending moments like the fighter-type does rolling a crit for a ton of damage, or the wizard does when he wipes out the mooks with a fireball, or the rogue does when he makes a key skill check or when he Sneak Attacks for a ton of damage.

    "Healbot/buffbot" clerics have this problem too--even when their contribution is crucial, and if you totalled it up on a spreadsheet, they're carrying way more than their share of the load (HP restored, damage from attacks made due to buffs, damage increases from buffs). Bardsong has that perception problem--it's helping other people to be awesome, so it doesn't highlight your PC's awesomeness.

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Core-only Bards are quite lacking indeed, but with splat help they own. Hard..

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwazi Magnum View Post
    This actually reminds of me something.

    Is it possible to swap the Bard's Bardic music ability for something else?
    What are you interested in with the bard class? The factotum is also a jack of all trades.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    I think the real reason for some thinking Bards are underpowered is the common perception of spells. A lot of people see spells are things of direct power, rather than indirect. A wizard is not good at melee, and has a crap Hit Die, but can roast enemies with lightning and fire. As most people on this forum know, in DnD game mechanics, these are far from his most powerful spells.

    Bards suffer from this misunderstanding a lot, because his best spells are these somewhat "subtle" spells, such as Grease, Glitterdust and Haste. Then on top of this stuff the Bards has a decent party-wide buff (which players, as noted above, tend to forget), and the second best skill list in core (which is much more important than many players realize).

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    I've seen bards in play in a group with a god wizard. The wizard had to be careful from casting spells that would make bard spells irrelevant.

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    <insert dirty reference here>

    Bards do suck pretty hard in at least a couple other games... maybe it comes from there.

    Furthermore, when you were younger and had that point of view, it may have been the case. I mean, the mindset when you start playing D&D is all about damage, and in core Bards are easily out-damaged by blasty Sorcerers, and people don't think of Bards as frontlining at all.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    This is not about the power level of a Bard but about the average perception of a Bard.
    Because Robin's Minstrels bravely running away endured through pop culture much more than Bard's Tale and MAMA (Malamars Mighty Hammer i think...memory evades me, just the four letter command is remembered)
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Here's the reason as it popped up in most groups that I played third edition with (2nd Edition bards being their own thing and due to limitations on multiclassing, etc, saw more play as it was really your only option if you wanted a rogue-ish spellcaster):

    The lacked clear crunch, and what they didn't lack was too much up to DM fiat. And this is because a good Bard is "The Face". They hypnochant people with their bardic music powers, they use illusions and charms to trick people, they have social skills...

    And all of those are the things most likely to be screwed with by DMs. Because it's plot derailment most of them don't think about and haven't figured out how to deal with. What do you do when a bard Fascinates a group that is supposed to kill you, then mass suggests them to go get drunk at a bar 10 miles away instead? The DM gets kinda pissy and "nopes" it, often blatantly cheating on it. I mean he might get pissy if the wizard said something like "I drop a fireball in them right away" and nukes the encounter with it... but a Fireball is a fireball and it's hard to "cheat" it as everyone knows and expects what it can do, the dice are openly rolled, etc. Same applies to Illusions that they don't want to work, or charm spells, or using Bluff and Diplomacy and it's vague "People like you" or "They believe something for a round" results that DMs will twist because they're ticked at plot derailment.

    So you're left not being able to do those things, because they "never work"... meaning your bard is either a healer who's worse than a cleric, or a blaster who's worse than a Sorcerer, or you provide small little +Xs that no one really notices the effect of.

    Side note: No, I've never seen anyone play DFI or the Op Like on the table.

    So yeah. As a bard you feel like you "Suck" at that point. Basically you're a lame version of other things. Because your primary function, being the guy naturally is best at Illusions, Charms, and Mindjacking (Social skills, check, enough points to actually have them, check, spell list which emphasizes that, often with early access, check, solely Charisma dependent, check).

    Note that if you get a DM who isn't really a bastard about it, and you're not playing "Night of the Living Dead" as your campaign theme, the bard shoots up in power quite well.

    But I've known more DMs who are going to "nope" illusions and enchantments, Bardic bread and butter, than are willing to play ball with them.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    When singing or playing a musical instrument are your most visible class features....
    Indeed, it falls outside the gender norms of he-man facesplitter rage-kill or cackling mage gone mad with absolute power.
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2013-10-13 at 01:09 PM.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Usually when people say "bards suck" they are thinking of core-only. (This is the case for both 3.5 and PF.)

    I find that a core-only bard is one of the better choices for a DMPC. They can fill the healer role if nobody picked that, they sit firmly in the background, they make the PCs more awesome just by being there, they can aid the PCs with a wide variety of skill checks, use their bardic lore to deliver any plot exposition the DM needs the party to know without being subject-matter experts, and their magic is generally too weak to really help in combat.

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by ArcturusV View Post
    But I've known more DMs who are going to "nope" illusions and enchantments, Bardic bread and butter, than are willing to play ball with them.
    That's a pretty good point.

    Besides that, as has already been mentioned:
    • No flashy effects
    • Most music bonuses are pretty crappy without optimization
    • The "need" to keep playing to keep your music up (which might require you to keep both hands on your lute, even if it's not wasting actions)
    • All the best bard stuff is out-of-core
    • You walk into a dungeon and SING at people. Who could take that seriously?
    • It's generally not the most newbie-friendly class. You need to optimize to make bardic music worth it, know that things like Glitterdust and Alter Self are better spells than Shout, dig out things like DFI, stuff like that.

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    They're pretty MAD, and inside core, they're kind of hard to optimize. They wont have the DPS of anything with full BAB, they dont have the AC or HD to stand in the front lines, and they lack the spells that cleric and wizards have. It's also harder to make glitterdust relevent when you cant afford as high a casting stat is a sorcerer and get the spell even later. Save-or-lose just isnt that good when you cant pump the DC.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    DM: You're in the large cavern, and you see the mighty dragon roaring! What do you do
    Fighter: I use my axe to slash it to bits
    Rogue: I sneak behind it to set up a flank with the fighter
    Wizard: I invoke the eldritch energies of the universe, twisting the dragons mind to make it do as I please
    Cleric: This beast shall be slain in the name of Pelor!! ALL GLORY TO PELOR!!!
    Bard: I sing at it and tell stories about other famous half forgotten dragonslayers that no one cares about.

    Here you go :)
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Course it can also go:

    DM: You're in the large cavern, and you see the mighty dragon roaring! What do you do?
    Barbarian: Rage and Hulk Smash.
    Fighter: I can trip it right?
    Ranger: ... I have favored enemy: Draggers, so I'll shoot it with a damage buff, whoo!
    Paladin: SMITE EVIL!
    Cleric: Invoke my god to buff me out into Clericzilla!/Buff someone else/Buff all of us!
    Wizard: Summon 1d3 demons to bum rush him and keep him busy while we whittle him down.
    Rogue: What do you mean my halfling can't reach a vital spot on a giant dragon? Clearly their ankle is the weak point you attack for massive damage! Oh fine... I'll go steal some of the treasure before we all split it...
    Bard: I cast some illusions before hand, and make him think that some might Silver Dragon (An appropriate one due to Bardic Knowledge and picking up on the dragon's nemesis) is invading his domain with us as his thralls. I roll a bluff check to sell the illusion and have the dragon waste attacks on the illusion while the rest of the team just murders him.
    DM: Nope, Dragon has True Seeing... and umm... the entire cave is a Zone of Truth so you can't bluff... yeah.
    Bard: ... sigh... so I'll sing for a +3 bonus to everyone...

    That's the sort of thing that usually happens to Bards.
    Last edited by ArcturusV; 2013-10-13 at 04:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    They "suck" for players who believe your character isn't worth anything if you don't "get the kill". If your character is never the one to get the bad guy to 0 hit points or fail a saving throw and lose, you are useless. It is possible for a bard to do such, but often and stereotypically perceived bards are support and another character gets the killing blow or otherwise only useful for out of combat situations. The players aren't realizing that every +# the bard provides or some other assist helps their own characters achieve the victory. It is this same attitude that has players not wanting to play a cleric or feel someone must be "stuck" playing one because all they're good for is healing.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    The point of the bard is not to be the best at anything so much as being good at everything. Ok, talking to people tends to be something they are the best at due to their high charisma and class skills. Knowledge skills are also class skills for them and when that fails, there is always bardic knowledge to fall back on.

    The bard song ability can be very strong because many of them effect everyone ally who can hear it. As such, they get more useful the more allies they are with. If you are working with NPC troops you can give all of them a boost.

    The bards spell list mean they can help in a variety of situations. Backup healing, buffing, disabling enemies etc.

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azernak0 View Post
    When I first started playing, I thought the Bard was terrible. Every person I have played with also held this opinion. I thought this until I was like 15 or so when I started to think on the power level of classes and came across these type of forums
    ...Are you me? This is 100% what I was like many years ago until I was ~15

    Anyway, I eventually just realized that it's probably because they're the most iconic support-based characters; their primary abilities are giving teammates bonuses to random rolls.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by holywhippet View Post
    The point of the bard is not to be the best at anything so much as being good at everything.
    And what's worse, they don't really get the resources necessary to do that. So there's the trap of actually trying to do a little bit of everything.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    If you want an exemple of a Bard who most definitely does not suck, look up Thom Merrilin from the Wheel of Time books.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raven777 View Post
    If you want an exemple of a Bard who most definitely does not suck, look up Thom Merrilin from the Wheel of Time books.
    I'm pretty sure he's a rogue/spell-less bard with levels in assassin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    What are you interested in with the bard class? The factotum is also a jack of all trades.
    While a Factotum can do pretty much anything (ask Tippy for schooling in breaking it); a Bard is fairly unique in that it can make all allies within 10 miles do I think it was around +16d6 Sonic Damage on every attack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
    While a Factotum can do pretty much anything (ask Tippy for schooling in breaking it); a Bard is fairly unique in that it can make all allies within 10 miles do I think it was around +16d6 Sonic Damage on every attack.
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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubik View Post
    I'm pretty sure he's a rogue/spell-less bard with levels in assassin.
    Plus Invisible Blade/Master Thrower.

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    Default Re: Why do Bards "suck"?

    People think bards suck for several reasons

    1) They have no set role. They are a skill monkey but lack trapfinding so they lack the one aspect of skills that really is necessary for a true skill monkey. They are not a warrior type by default and are not great healers. They get good spell access but it is not the highest level or flashier spells.

    2) They are good at many things but are best in things thatare not really considered. Bards might be the best overall party buffer but that is not a common thing to talk about but everybody knows if you deal the most damge or heal.

    3) Their best features help all your allies but your allies get all the glory. It is easy to see when your warrior walks up and splatters something. It is a lot harder to notice that he would not have splattered it without the bard's buffs.

    4) bards require careful planning to ensure that you are picking up quality abilities. It is easy to make a bad bard and then you feel useless and may lack a role a double whammy.

    Seriously bards are nasty if you know what you are doing and can wreck campaigns as you can easily make everybody in your party never miss while doing insane damage (including yourself) but even if you you and your players may not directly realize it. In my campaign everybody noticed the melee druid over the bard but what I realized as the DM was that it was the bard that made the druid (and the other characters) so nasty. I had to build encounters specifically keeping the bard in mind just to make them challenging (only once did I use silence so it would not get too old).

    Bards have been a quality class in essentially every edition.
    Last edited by MeeposFire; 2013-10-13 at 06:53 PM.

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