Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2018

    Default PEACH - College of the Forest (Bard subclass)

    Back in the original AD&D PHB, the Bard presented in the Appendix definitely leaned into Celtic archetypes by establishing a strong connection between the Bard class and the Druid class. In fact, you needed to actually be trained by a Druid in order to become a Bard. I decided to create a Bard subclass that evoked that connection.

    College of the Forest
    Bards of the College of the Forest prefer the wilderness to civilization. They revere life and nature and seek to protect the balance of the natural order. They listen to the music of nature and are inspired by the harmony of the wild. Their music frequently seeks to evoke natural sounds like birdsong, rustling leaves, or babbling brooks.
    Student of Nature
    When you join the College of the Forest at 3rd level, you learn one cantrip from the druid spell list. This cantrip counts as a bard cantrip for you but it does not count against your cantrips known. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this cantrip.
    In addition you gain proficiency with the herbalism kit and in two skills of your choice from Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature, and Survival.
    Skilled Healer
    At 3rd level, you can treat injured creatures to restore their health. As an action you bestow healing on one creature you can touch equal to one roll of your Song of Rest die plus your Charisma modifier (minimum 1). Each creature who benefits from this feature must complete a long rest before they can benefit from it again. At 14th level the healing from this feature increases to two rolls of your Song of Rest dice plus your Charisma modifier.
    Secrets of the Wilderness
    At 6th level you learn two druid spells of a level you can cast and one druid cantrip. The chosen spells and cantrip count as bard spells for you but don't count against the number of bard spells or cantrips you know.
    Also at 6th level, you can use magic items useable by druids in addition to those useable by bards.
    Master of Many Forms
    At 14th level you learn the spell polymorph if you do not already know it. If you do know it, you may choose to learn any other bard or druid spell that is of a level you can cast. The spell you learn with this feature count as a bard spell for you but doesn’t count against the number of bard spells you know.
    Additionally you can cast polymorph without expending a spell slot. When you do this, you can only target yourself, you can only transform into a beast of challenge rating 1 or lower, and you do not need to concentrate on polymorph – the spell lasts one hour, until you drop to 0 hit points, or until you use a bonus action to end the spell, whichever comes first. Once you use this feature you can not use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

    My design thoughts for this:
    I know the descriptive lore in the preamble is a bit thin. I am afraid that kind of writing is not really my strength.
    Student of Nature is the bonus proficiency/cantrip part of the subclass, designed to give a Druid like feel to the character.
    Skilled Healer takes the place of the 3rd level feature that normally gives new ways to use Bardic Inspiration. I had difficulty using Bardic Inspiration for healing, any amount that was big enough that I thought someone would actually use the feature felt overpowered. So I looked for an alternate Bardic resource to use for it and noticed Song of Rest. Giving a new way to use Song of Rest felt like a reasonable alternative to a new way to use Bardic Inspiration and Song of Rest felt thematically appropriate as the resource to use for a healing ability. The ability needed a limit, and since the limit for the standard use of Song of Rest is tied to the character's rests I tied this ability's use to the rest cycle. Giving it once per creature per short or long rest felt like too much of an upgrade, so I scaled it back to once per creature per long rest.
    Secrets of the Wilderness is like Lore Bard's bonus Magical Secrets, but it is restricted to the Druid spell list to increase the connection to the Druid class. Since the restriction makes it is less flexible than the standard Magical Secrets I added another cantrip to make it feel more impactful.
    I added the ability to use Druid only Magic items to further increase the connection between the classes. There aren't that many magic items that can be used by Druids but not by Bards, so this bonus won't have much impact for most characters. I think of this part as being only marginally stronger than a ribbon. The biggest question I have for this perk is whether it should be part of the level 6 ability or the level 14 ability.
    Master of Many Forms is basically using the Polymorph spell to emulate the Druid's Wild Shape ability. I wanted an ability with a Wild Shape like feel, but I didn't want to actually give them the Wild Shape ability as that felt too much like stepping on the Druid's toes. Using the spell to emulate it gives most of the feel while tying the ability to the spellcasting capability that is already part of the Bard. It's not as good as the actual Wild Shape ability because the mental stats change to the beast's stats (because it is Polymorph), but it still gives you the a Wild Shape like feel. It also is fairly comparable to the School of Transmutation's Shapechanger ability.
    The most unusual part of the Master of Many Forms ability is the alternate spell for Polymorph, but since Polymorph is first available at level 7 it seemed likely that a player who wanted to use Polymorph would already have it long before this ability gave it to the character. On the other hand, since this ability uses Polymorph it felt like the ability had to guarantee that the character had the spell, but giving a benefit that you only benefit from if you massively delay acquiring something thematic for your subclass feels wrong.

    Any and all feedback is much appreciated.
    Last edited by kosh49; 2021-01-30 at 10:12 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2018

    Default Re: PEACH - College of the Forest (Bard subclass)

    So I have been thinking about this subclass, and I have made a few revisions. Here is version 2. Is this better balanced than the original version? Any adjustments it might need?

    One other thought. The ability to use magic items that druids can use which bards are not normally able to use is meant to allow the use of things like a necklace of prayer beads or a staff of fire. It is not meant to allow the bard to use spell scrolls for spells on the druid spell list that are not on the bard spell list (with the obvious exception of any druid spells the bard picked up through Secrets of the Wilderness or Magical Secrets). Is that clear from the phrasing, would I need to language to clarify that, or should I modify it to allow the use of those spell scrolls?

    College of the Forest
    Bards of the College of the Forest prefer the wilderness to civilization. They revere life and nature and seek to protect the balance of the natural order. They listen to the music of nature and are inspired by the harmony of the wild. Their music frequently seeks to evoke natural sounds like birdsong, rustling leaves, or babbling brooks.
    Student of Nature
    When you join the College of the Forest at 3rd level, you learn one cantrip from the druid spell list. This cantrip counts as a bard cantrip for you but it does not count against your cantrips known. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this cantrip.
    In addition you gain proficiency with the herbalism kit and in one skill of your choice from Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature, and Survival.
    Skilled Healer
    At 3rd level your ability to use soothing music to revitalize your wounded allies improves. If you and a wounded ally spend 1 minute singing together while tending that ally's wounds at the end of that time your ally can spend a number of hit dice up to half your proficiency bonus to heal themself. If they spend at least one hit die in this way they also gain the benefit of your Song of Rest feature. Once a creature benefits from this ability they must complete a long rest before they can benefit from it again.
    Secrets of the Wilderness
    At 6th level you learn two druid spells of a level you can cast and one druid cantrip. The chosen spells and cantrip count as bard spells for you but don't count against the number of bard spells or cantrips you know.
    Master of Many Forms
    At 14th level you can cast polymorph without expending a spell slot, even if it is not one of your spells known. When you do this, you can only target yourself, you can only transform into a beast of challenge rating 1 or lower, and you do not need to concentrate on polymorph – the spell lasts one hour, until you drop to 0 hit points, or until you use a bonus action to end the spell, whichever comes first. Once you use this feature you can not use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
    Also at 14th level, you can use magic items useable by druids in addition to those useable by bards.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Devil

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: PEACH - College of the Forest (Bard subclass)

    I like the look and feel. I'd probably like it less in a party which already contains a druid (as either the bard is always getting overshadowed, or the druid loses his uniqueness), but in a party without druid, it looks about right.

    I'm going to do a quick comparison vs the lore bard (as that's the one I'm most familiar with and certain features seem to line up)

    Lore 3 = 3 skills (any) + a new reaction (use of bardic inspiration)
    Forest 3 = 1 tool, 1 skill (limited) 1 Cantrip + a healing feature

    All in all, seems mostly balanced. I kind of worry about the repeat nature of the cantrip (though the druid cantrips aren't really over powered, though see end for addendum) and the healing (which costs nothing but time for the bard, but is limited per target per day). So should be mostly okay.


    Lore 6 = 2 spells from any class
    Forest 6 = 2 druid spells + 1 cantrip

    Might be a case of quantity vs quality (options vs amount). And again, the druid cantrips are mostly flavor (see end for minor worry though)


    Lore 14 = another use of their bardic inspiration (second sub class ability to be based of those)
    Forest 14 = Wild shape similar polymorph once per short rest and druid items

    Thematically I like it. Practically, there are some concerns:
    • I'd specifically spell out that they can't use druid scrolls (I seem to remember that a rogue does get to use spell scrolls with their feature)
    • Polymorph also changes mental aspects (something that wild shape does not), might want to add that bit. Otherwise you are getting a rather gimped animal form
    • The fact that neither the 3rd level and 14th level don't use any of the bard's normal resources. (I'm not entirely certain how to approach this, nor do I know what resource to tap into for this. I'm almost tempted to add bardic inspiration to the 3rd level ability, but allow the bard to treat multiple people in a single short rest from that expenditure)



    Finally: Druid cantrips.
    As I said, I'm mostly unconcerned about this (no Eldritch blast or similar present here). Though guidance and resistance are quite powerful. But then again, both are concentration. But, probably most importantly, they are very much a cheapskate's bonus bardic inspirations.
    Let's just say I have some concerns with those 2.
    Last edited by Loek; 2021-02-09 at 12:09 PM.
    Help improve my (favorite) 5e homebrews: The Circle of the Full Moon and Tweaking the Echo Knight.
    My old 3.5 homebrews: The Disciple of the gem, the Dragonhearted and my Warlock fix.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2018

    Default Re: PEACH - College of the Forest (Bard subclass)

    I specifically did not want the 3rd level feature to tap Bardic Inspiration because I felt that I would either produce a feature that provided so little healing that no-one would use it (as opposed to other Bardic Inspiration options) or I would provide too much healing and create balance problems. Looking for an alternate bard feature to tie healing to I came up with Song of Rest, which is thematically appropriate because healing is what Song of Rest does. The revision makes it function more like the normal use of Song of Rest which is:
    Once per creature per short rest, a creature that spends hit dice can recover extra hit dice based on a roll of the die indicated for the Song of Rest feature.
    Since I did not want to double the power of Song of Rest, I decreased the feature from once per short rest to once per long rest. But the function now matches the original function of Song of Rest: a target creature expends one or more of their resources (hit dice) in order to get the normal benefit of the resource plus the boost from the bard's Song of Rest.

    For the 14th level feature, I did not want to give Wild Shape to the bard since that is a druid only class feature that bards do not have access to. Instead, I am letting the bard use the spell Polymorph to mimic Wild Shape. This is something any bard could do (to some extent) since Polymorph is on the bard spell list. This ability is very similar to the School of Transmutation's level 10 Shapechanger feature. The CR 1 limit happens to match both the Shapechanger limit and the level 8+ (non Circle of the Moon) druid Wild Shape limit, so it felt obvious to keep that limit. Once this feature limited the bard to self transformation with a CR a limit there are three differences between Polymorph and Wild Shape - Wild Shape lasts longer, you need to concentrate on Polymorph, and your mental stats are changed by Polymorph. Since this is a level 14 feature rather than level 10, I buffed it by removing concentration to make it closer to Wild Shape. But I was afraid that if I modify it to keep the mental stats the same it becomes less "the bard is using a bard ability (the ability to cast Polymorph) to emulate the druid's Wild Shape" and more "the bard is getting a reduced version of the druid's Wild Shape ability".

    As far as the Guidance/Resistance and Bardic Inspiration problem goes, that is a valid concern. But it is not a problem exclusive to this subclass. Any party with a bard and a cleric or druid has the potential to have this problem. Magic initiate can make this problem possible in parties with a bard and no clerics or druids (indeed, the bard could take magic initiate to be the self contained source of this problem). With the right party, Bless and Resistance could create this problem without there being any bards at all. If it becomes a problem in your game, the best solution is probably to add a homebrew rule that you can only add one die to a d20 (so you could use Guidance on a roll or Bardic Inspiration, but not both).

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

    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: PEACH - College of the Forest (Bard subclass)

    I love the theme of the class and think this delivers quite well on it in some ways but feels a little low-key. Building on the other comments:

    Bardic inspitation - I feel that having something more to do with the dice is good, it adds value to what is the special resource for the class in the edition. Were it to be me, I might move the level 14 feature here - maybe something like "you may expend a number of bardic inspiration dice equal to your proficiency bonus, if you do you may transform into a beast or plant creature with a CR equal to twice the number of dice you expended".

    The level 6 ability kind of feels like the lore bard ability but just worse... so it got a cantrip and ability to attune to items thrown is as a bonus to make it seem less bad in comparison. The cantrip part is also low value as you already took the better one at level 3. One thing you could do is move the healing bonus here. You could even tie it to the song of rest mechanic you used before - it is cool that gets a look in. Maybe adding the song of rest die to HP recovered from any healing spell you cast? It is a bit bland, but lets the College of the Forest bard step into the role of primary healer.

    If you were to move the "wildshape" element to 3 then level 14 would be clear. Personally I would look to something like the Paladin's Cleansing Touch for the feel I get from the class. I am feeling a druidic themed support/healing subclass of the bard. A kind of healing mysterious wanderer attuned to nature. Ability to "heal" spell effects would line up well with the role without stacking with earlier healing and would support the role. Maybe extend the countercharm ability to any spell? Or make it need a bonus action to shore up an otherwise little used ability? This is just based on my sense of what you are aiming for though rather than anything explicit you said so I could be wildly out.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •