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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Sep 2016

    Default A Non-Magical Bard

    The Bard is the quintessential face in D&D: a class founded on its charisma, rife with powers to persuade, intimidate, deceive and perform. This is a fun role, and more importantly to me, it's very different from the combat and exploration roles other classes are built around. My problem is that this role is tied to magic. Many a Rogue has been a non-magical face with skill proficiencies to drive the role home, but they aren't built around the role, and they all come with baggage of roguish cunning that excludes "pure social genius" from your character options.

    There are obvious difficulties facing anyone who wants to create a non-magical Bard class. Without creating a Warlord, Skald, Dervish or plain Rogue, it's difficult for the Bard to defend themself. And without magic, it's difficult to write a variety of interesting and powerful utilities. But I wanted to give it a shot, and to put up this thread for brainstorming. I'd be overjoyed to play a sort of charming party leader and diplomat, a shrewd mastermind and manipulator, or an intrepid genius of lore.
    Last edited by GalacticAxekick; 2016-11-17 at 07:10 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Sep 2014
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    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    This is good goal, though I admit it will be tough as half a bard's power (overall, not just combat), is from spells.

    Adventures in Middle Earth has the Warden, which is basically a spelless bard. However it's a bit weak as it takes away spells and does add much new. It does have a streetwise sort of skill where you can learn whatever rumors are going around. It also has distraction which is reverse inspiration on enemies.

    One thing that might work is to add proficiency bonus to all charisma skills plus one chosen skill. This stacks with proficiency and expertise, so bards are clearly better as social skills. They're the actors and lawyers of their world. That might be a bit much, maybe +1 which bumps up at levels 6, 11, and 17 or something - that way you don't get a huge bonus with a dip.

    How about a too pretty to die feature? It could function similarly to a sanctuary spell but only for the bard. That would give them greater survivability in combat without making them better at combat.

    Another possibility is improved leadership skills. One possible source of inspiration is Pathfinder's Cavalier.
    Last edited by Stan; 2016-11-17 at 07:08 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Sep 2016

    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    This is good goal, though I admit it will be tough as half a bard's power (overall, not just combat), is from spells.

    Adventures in Middle Earth has the Warden, which is basically a spelless bard. However it's a bit weak as it takes away spells and does add much new. It does have a streetwise sort of skill where you can learn whatever rumors are going around. It also has distraction which is reverse inspiration on enemies.
    Inspiration and a form of reverse inspiration, like Cutting Words, is absolutely necessary. I might even make it available as a reaction since Bards won't be making many AoOs anyway.

    Gathering rumours and such would probably come mostly from skill checks, especially since these things are rarely time sensitive. But features for rapid gathering could be interesting. Maybe a platter to choose from (similar to Hunter Ranger) features, including speed reading, streetwise, a sort of sizing-up of a target, etc.

    One thing that might work is to add proficiency bonus to all charisma skills plus one chosen skill. This stacks with proficiency and expertise, so bards are clearly better as social skills. They're the actors and lawyers of their world. That might be a bit much, maybe +1 which bumps up at levels 6, 11, and 17 or something - that way you don't get a huge bonus with a dip.
    I think some sort of bonus to all charisma skills would be reasonable, though constant double proficiency for Charisma skills seems like quite a bit (as you noticed yourself).

    But your mention of lawyers and the thought of lore makes me think, why not a stacking mechanic? Let's say a Bard is gains in Intelligence (History), and she attempts to deceive someone regarding a historic event. She, as a Bard, has the unique ability to make a Charisma (Deception, History) check. Cha + Deception proficiency + History proficiency. The same for Performance, Persuasion and Intimidation. Bards can apply their knowledge of anything relevant to a conversation to find an edge. Fun combinations might include

    • Charisma (Arcana, Deception) to mislead a wizard regarding a magical effect
    • Charisma (Animal Handling, Intimidation) to startle or threaten to sic a beast
    • Charisma (Acrobatics, Performance) to delight an circus audience.
    • Charisma (Religion, Persuasion) to convert a diehard cultist

    How about a too pretty to die feature? It could function similarly to a sanctuary spell but only for the bard. That would give them greater survivability in combat without making them better at combat.
    That could be interesting! I might extend it so it uses charisma to increase or diminish one's presence. At a will, a Bard might change their attitude to become more obvious, drawing attention (and potentially aggro, yikes), but in the same vein, they might be able to diminish their presence and pass almost stealthily, a bum in a crowd, a head in the fray.

    Squishy as they are, accentuating their presence is a penalty, and should come with bonuses to their abilities (or at least the safety of their allies)

    And in the same vein, dimishing their presence is a huge plus, and so like invisibility, it might end immediately after the make themselves noticed with an attack, command, or other show.

    Another possibility is improved leadership skills. One possible source of inspiration is Pathfinder's Cavalier.
    OOh! Noted!
    Last edited by GalacticAxekick; 2016-11-17 at 08:35 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGirl

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    Feb 2014

    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    I kind of wish you had modular bardic song abilities.

    Perhaps where you had like a number of song points and you could play a song as an action and spend the points in certain ways to augment certain aspects.

    Like for example, my bard is level 3 and has 5 bard points. He has access to the following song augmentations:

    Arcane Melody: After playing your song, the next spell cast by your allies within the area is treated as one spell level higher than the slot that was used to cast it. It will not consume a higher level spell slot. 3 points

    Brutes Ballad: After playing your song, allies may add twice their strength score to their next physical damage roll. 2 points

    So, I have no idea what the power level of those would be as I'm just spit balling. But, I could play this one song and buff up my peeps, and then use the same ability to play a different song later using other modular parts. That'd be one bad-ass bard.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Nov 2015
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    Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    Maybe borrow/steal inspiration from Pathfinder Bard's Masterpieces as spell replacements?
    My Homebrew:
    Don't look for an insult when there is none.


    Quote Originally Posted by Anon von Zilch View Post
    Words actually mean things, people!


    Current Characters:
    Arkhios "Wolfhammer", V.Human Paladin (Ancients) 5 (Dawnfall: The Greendale Campaign)
    Anarriel, Valenar Fighter (Cavalier/TBD) 4 (Eberron: Embers of the Last War)

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Sep 2016

    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by PapaQuackers View Post
    I kind of wish you had modular bardic song abilities.

    Perhaps where you had like a number of song points and you could play a song as an action and spend the points in certain ways to augment certain aspects.

    Like for example, my bard is level 3 and has 5 bard points. He has access to the following song augmentations:

    Arcane Melody: After playing your song, the next spell cast by your allies within the area is treated as one spell level higher than the slot that was used to cast it. It will not consume a higher level spell slot. 3 points

    Brutes Ballad: After playing your song, allies may add twice their strength score to their next physical damage roll. 2 points

    So, I have no idea what the power level of those would be as I'm just spit balling. But, I could play this one song and buff up my peeps, and then use the same ability to play a different song later using other modular parts. That'd be one bad-ass bard.
    I generally don't like points systems and prefer action economies, so the player must decide which of many equal options is most valid, rather than when to use the Strong Options. I let Vancian magic slide because spellcasters rely entirely on their magic and must cast very judiciously, but ideally I'd want to avoid points systems in non-casters, who have round-to-round options that should be foundation of their success in their roles.

    That said, I can get behind a few high power features with limited use supplementing a classes's power, like X-per-rest features. I really like Brute's Ballad and Arcane Melody especially. I might generalize them so that, rather than music specifically, they encompass all forms of performance, mostly to expand the character options available to the bard. Oratory especially makes the Bard a conceivable class in many settings.
    Last edited by GalacticAxekick; 2016-11-18 at 03:39 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Ninja_Prawn's Avatar

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    May 2015
    Location
    UK

    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    If you're looking for inspiration, here's my attempt at a spell-less bard. It's based on an enhanced Inspiration mechanic and invocation-like abilities with non-magical fluff.

    Good luck!
    Lydia Seaspray by Oneris!

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    A Faerie Affair

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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Sep 2014
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    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    If you're looking for inspiration, here's my attempt at a spell-less bard. It's based on an enhanced Inspiration mechanic and invocation-like abilities with non-magical fluff.
    Oh yea. It's very bardy. For some reason, I didn't have it mentally categorized as a bard.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Orc in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGirl

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    Feb 2014

    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    The points were just a mechanism for the goal, modular. I want to be able to play a different song every time, without just blatantly getting new songs that just do one thing. I want different parts that I can work with to make songs.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Sep 2016

    Default Re: A Non-Magical Bard

    Quote Originally Posted by PapaQuackers View Post
    The points were just a mechanism for the goal, modular. I want to be able to play a different song every time, without just blatantly getting new songs that just do one thing. I want different parts that I can work with to make songs.
    Oh, pardon me! I misunderstood! I took it as a point system similar to, say, Ki, rather than a points system to lets the Bard combine different effects into one bardic song.

    I actually really love that flexibility! And it sits well with the idea of composite skill checks (History-Deception, Acrobatics-Performance, etc). I'll definitely include something of the sort!

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