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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GnomePirate

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    Post Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    A whirling and dancing pirate captain leads a crew to overtake a ship, the simple bandits of the sea becoming something more by her very presence. A grim commander shouts orders as he leads his men to their last battle. The boring calm of a small village is forever changed by a mysterious wanderer, infecting the locals with the whimsy and shadow of the Feywild.

    These are all bards - using song and oratory to encourage, charm, protect or frighten. Jacks of all trades and masters of none, bards are capable of achieving many things through magic and skill - but a bard's true power lies in her ability to heighten and augment the abilities of her companions to triumph over any challenge.



    Spoiler: Some context and explanations
    Show
    Some time ago I've started this thread, wandering whether or not anyone has seen a full rework of the bard as a half caster. It seems I'm not the only one who felt that a class based on being a support and a jack of all trades felt out of place as a full caster. The participants of that thread have pointed me to some useful sources, but again and again, the question came up: "why don't you do it yourself?"

    So, I did. Many suggestions in that thread were helpful, but my shout out goes to Waazraath, for putting me on the track I ended up taking.

    The idea here was to take inspiration from the bardic music of previous addition through the concept of a bardic song. To avoid the situation where the bards has too many pools of resources to manage, I've made the decision to make bardic song usable at will - but having an opportunity cost through the concentration requirement and the difficulties with sneaking and having conversation. The barely usable countercharm and the underwhelming song of rest were changed and rolled into the new bardic song ability, and others were added. To avoid the feeling that this made the toolkits of all bards too much alike, and to compensate for the lost customization opportunities and power that having more spells provided, all subclasses were given new subclass features, including two unique songs. This has made the bard the second class to have 5 subclass feature levels, and help them feel like unique characters that keep evolving despite their staggered spell progression.

    The idea here isn't that these are neccesarily just as powerful as full-caster bards are. As long as the half caster bard is a fun and useful class, falling comfortably within the power curve of other classes, I'm happy.


    The Half-Caster Bard





    Level Proficiency
    Bonus
    Features Cantrips Known Spells Known 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
    1st +2 Spellcasting, Bardic Inspiration (d6) 2 2 2 - - - -
    2nd +2 Jack of All Trades, Bardic song (rest) 2 3 2 - - - -
    3rd +2 Bard College, Expertise 2 4 3 - - - -
    4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 3 4 3 - - - -
    5th +3 Bardic Inspiration (d8), Bardic Song (Vigilance) 3 5 4 2 - - -
    6th +3 Magical Secrets, Bard College Feature 3 5 4 2 - - -
    7th +3 Uncanny Dodge 3 6 4 3 - - -
    8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 3 6 4 3 - - -
    9th +4 Expertise 3 7 4 3 2 - -
    10th +4 Bardic Inspiration (d10), Bard College Feature 4 7 4 3 2 - -
    11th +4 Magical Secrets 4 8 4 3 3 - -
    12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 4 8 4 3 3 - -
    13th +5 Bardic Song (Countercharm) 4 9 4 3 3 1 -
    14th +5 Bard College Feature 4 9 4 3 3 1 -
    15th +5 Bardic Inspiration (D12) 4 10 4 3 3 2 -
    16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 4 10 4 3 3 2 -
    17th +6 Bardic Song (Endless Inspiration) 4 11 4 3 3 3 1
    18th +6 Magical Secrets, Bard College Feature 4 11 4 3 3 3 1
    19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 4 12 4 3 3 3 2
    20th +6 Effortless performance 4 12 4 3 3 3 2


    Class Features:

    Hit Points:
    No change.


    Proficiencies:
    No change


    Spellcasting:
    The Bard is now a half caster, starting with 1st level spells and ending with 5th. The bard spell list only goes up to 5th level spells. See the table for the updated spell known and spell slot values. Otherwise, this feature is the same as the spellcasting feature of the original bard.


    Bardic Inspiration:
    This class feature is the same as that of the original bard, except all expended uses return after a short or long rest. Essentially, the Font of Inspiration ability has been folded into the level 1 base feature.


    Jack of All Trades:
    No change.


    Song of Rest:
    This feature no longer exists independently and has been folded into the new Bardic Song feature.


    New Feature; Bardic song:
    Bards function as beacons for their allies. With song and music, you can uplift the spirits of your friends, and help them achieve greater deeds. Starting out with only one song at 2nd level, a bard slowly expands their repertoire over their career.
    As an action, you may start singing a bardic song. Singing a bardic song requires your concentration (see chapter 10 of the PHB), and can be sustained as long as you maintain concentration.
    As long as you are singing, you cannot hide or use stealth. You cannot sing quietly or stop singing without breaking concentration and losing the benefits of the song. Bardic songs can only affect those who hear them, so they do not work in areas of silence or similar conditions. You cannot speak while singing, but you may still cast spells with a verbal component. Unless otherwise noted, a bardic song is not a magical effect.

    Song of rest
    At 2nd level, you learn the song of rest, allowing you to revitalize your allies with soothing music during a short rest. For this song to take effect, you must thing for at least 10 minutes during the short rest. If you or any ally who can hear you use hit dice to heal at the end of the short rest, you may add a die equal to your bardic inspiration die to that healing.

    College Song I
    At 3rd level, you learn a second bardic song, which depends on your bard college.

    Song of Vigilance
    At 5th level, you learn the song of vigilance, allowing you to heighten the awareness of your allies to your surroundings by playing tense, low tones. While you're singing this song, any ally who can hear you within 60 ft (but not yourself) may add a die equal to your bardic inspiration die to their initiative rolls, and has advantage on perception checks based on sight.

    College Song II
    At 10th level, you learn a fourth bardic song, which depends on your bard college.

    Song of Countercharm
    At level 13, you learn the song of countercharm, allowing you to inspire mental resilience of your allies with music that emboldens the heart. While you're singing this song, you and any ally who can hear you within 30 ft have immunity to fear and charm effects.

    Song of Endless Inspiration
    At level 17, you learn the song of endless inspiration, allowing you to inspire your allies with unmatched consistency. While you're singing this song, you may give out one d6 inspiration die on each of your turn without spending any actions or resources. These dice immediately vanish if you stop singing this song.


    Bard College Feature:
    All bard colleges now get additional Bard College features at levels 3, 10 and 18, as shown in the Bard Colleges section below. Otherwise, no change to the existing features.


    New Feature; Uncanny dodge:
    Starting at 7th level, when an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack's damage against you.


    Expertise:
    This feature is the same as the original feature, except the second instance of it comes online at level 9, not 10, as shown on the table.


    Ability Score Improvement:
    No change.


    Font of Inspiration:
    This feature no longer exists independently and has been folded into the Bardic Inspiration feature.


    Magical Secrets:
    Same as the original feature, except it now occurs at levels 6, 11 and 18.


    Countercharm:
    This feature no longer exists independently. It was changed and has been folded into the new Bardic Song feature.


    Superior Inspiration:
    This feature no longer exists.


    New Feature; Effortless Performance:
    At 20th level, you no longer need to maintain concentration on your bardic songs. All other limitations still apply, and you can still only be singing one bardic song at a time.



    Bard Colleges:

    The following section will include all bard colleges I have access to at this moment. All of them have gained unique bardic songs at levels 3 and 10, as well as a unique improvement affecting all their bardic songs, also at level 10. They also get a new feature unrelated to bardic song at level 18, which is suited for the spirit of the subclass. All the other features see no changes, unless otherwise noted.
    This design philosophy should be used to update all future subclasses to this version of the bard.

    Spoiler: College of Lore
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    College of Lore:

    Song of Lore:
    At 3rd level, you learn the song of lore, allowing you to utilize your knowledge, especially that of spells. While you're singing this song, your spell DC is increased by 1. In addition, all allies who can hear you within 60 ft (but not you) can substitute any of their ability modifiers with your intelligence modifier for the purposes of any roll except saving throws. This includes ability checks, attacks, damage rolls, and any other roll to which they would add one of their ability modifiers.

    Song of Arcane Power:

    At level 10, you learn the song of arcane power, allowing you to evoke the deep magic within your allies despite the song not being magical unto itself. While you're singing this song, all spells cast by you or by your allies that can hear you within 30 ft are considered to have been cast using a spell slot that is one level higher than the one that was actually used.
    So, a spell that was cast using a 1st level spell slot will be considered as if it had been upcast at 2nd level, and so forth, up to a spell that was cast using a 8th level slot which will be considered to have been upcast at 9th. This song does not affect spells that used a 9th level spell slot, or spells that were not cast by expending a spell slot.

    Erudite Hymns:
    Also at level 10, you start imbuing your bardic songs with your uncanny knowledge of magic. When singing any bardic song, any allies affected by your bardic song have advantage on arcana and history checks. In addition, while singing a bardic song, you may maintain two concentration effects at the same time. You may do so for a number of rounds equal to your intelligence modifier per day, which do not have to be consecutive.

    Lorespell:
    At level 18, your knowledge of magic becomes unparalleled. At the end of a long rest, you may prepare one spell, from any class spell list. You can cast this spell as if it was one of your known spells until you finish another long rest. The spell must be of 5th level or below, and your casting ability for it is Intelligence, not Charisma.

    Spoiler: College of Valor
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    College of Valor:

    Song of Valor:
    At level 3, you learn the song of valor, allowing you to fill the hearts of your friends with gallantry in combat. While you're singing this song, you and any ally that can hear you within 30 ft add your proficiency modifier to weapon damage rolls, and have advantage on saving throws against fear.

    Song of Tenacity:
    At level 10, you learn the song of tenacity, allowing you to help your allies to withstand anything. While you're singing this song, you and allies who can hear you within 30 ft get temporary hit points equal to your charisma bonus (minimum 1) at the beginning of each of your turns.

    Heroic Hymns:

    Also at level 10, your songs start inspiring your allies to match the great deeds of the heroes of old. As long as you're singing any bardic song, any ally who can hear you within 60 ft (but not you) has advantage on Strength and Constitution ability checks and saving throws.

    Last Stand:
    At times of true crisis, when all seems lost, you call on your allies to stand up and fight.
    When you or any ally within 60 ft are dropped to 0 hit points or are subjected to an effect that would cause immediate death, you may immediately use your reaction to call for a last stand. The target drops to 1 hit point instead, and you and up to 10 willing allies who can hear you within 60 ft gain temporary hit points equal to 10 * your Charisma modifier (minimum 10).
    As long as a character has these hit points, they have advantage on all saving throws and cannot be poisoned, and any melee weapon hit they make deals an extra 1d12 force damage. In addition, they may take one extra action on their first turn after receiving these hit points.
    At the end of combat, all benefits of the last stand are gone, and every affected creature suffers two points of exhaustion. Once you've used this ability, you cannot use it again for one week.

    Spoiler: College of Glamour
    Show
    College of Glamour:

    Song of Glamour:
    At level 3, you learn the song of glamour, allowing you to subtly enchant and confuse those around you and prevent them from fighting. While you're singing this song, anyone who can hear you treats all others (except you) as if they are under a sanctuary spell you've cast.
    Unlike most bardic songs, this song is a magical effect. You cannot exclude creatures from this effect.

    Song of Fury:
    At level 10, you learn the song of the fury, allowing you to tap into the dark wrath of the feywild.
    While you're singing this song, any friendly creature that can hear you within 30 ft may use a bonus action to enter a fury, mechanically identical to a first level barbarian's rage except it isn't impacted by heavy armor. That rage lasts for 10 rounds or until you've stopped singing the song of fury, whichever is earlier. As soon as the rage ends, the creature takes a point of exhaustion.
    In addition, while singing this song, you may use your action to infest the mind of a creature with wrath. One target within 60 ft makes a wisdom saving throw against your spell DC. If it fails, it cannot cast spells or concentrate on them for 10 rounds or as long as you're singing, the earlier of the two. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a wisdom saving throw. If it succeeds, the effect ends. A target that saves against the effect is immune to your song of fury for 24 hours. If the target cannot hear you, the effect fails automatically.

    Captivating Hymns:
    Also at level 10, an alluring quality starts seeping into your songs, making it difficult for others to target you. While you're singing any bardic song, anyone attempting to target you has to make a wisdom saving throw to do so, as if you were under the effect of a sanctuary spell you've cast. This is not a magical effect.

    Mantle of the Fey:
    At level 18, you gain the ability to embrace the power of the fey. When you use your mantle of inspiration or mantle of majesty abilities, you may don the mantle of the fey as well. For a number of rounds equal to your Charisma bonus, your type changes to fey, and you cannot be affected by any effects that would not work on fey. As long as you are under this effect, you may cast Confusion, Detect Thoughts, Entangle, and Sleep without expending a spell slot. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put you to sleep. If you have fey ancestry, you become immune to being charmed for the duration.
    Once you've used this ability, you cannot use it again until you've finished a long rest.

    Spoiler: College of Swords
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    College of Swords:

    Song of Swords:
    At 3rd level, you learn the song of swords, allowing you to sing a tune of mastery and elegance. While singing this song, you may perform one flourish per turn without expending a bardic inspiration die. You use a d4 for this flourish. You may not perform another flourish in the same turn with the flourish provided by the song of swords. In addition, you and every ally that can hear you are considered proficient with all melee slashing weapons as long as you're singing this song.

    Song of the White Raven:

    At level 10, you learn the song of the white raven, allowing you to attune yourself and your allies to the artistry of war. As long as you're singing this song, any ally that can hear you and has a bardic inspiration die you granted may use that die as if it was a superiority die, and can use it to execute one of the following combat maneuvers from the battle master maneuver list: Bait and Switch, Disarming Attack, Evasive Footwork or Trip Attack. In addition, you may spend bardic inspiration uses as a superiority dice yourself. If you do so, you may use it for any of the preceding maneuvers, or for the Commander's Strike maneuver.
    Any character with access to maneuvers can use the inspiration dice as superiority dice for those instead.

    Daring Hymns:
    Also at level 10, you start imbuing your bardic songs with the audacious spirit of adventure. While you're singing one of your bardic songs, you and any ally who can hear you gain 10 ft of movement, have advantage on acrobatics checks, and opportunity attacks against any of you have disadvantage.

    Sword Dance:
    At level 18, you gain the ability to make a sword dance a burst of speed and grace in combat. At the beginning of your turn, you may initiate a sword dance. For that turn, your attack action lets you make 4 attacks. If you're using a melee slashing weapon, you may roll extra slashing damage equal to your inspiration die to each of your hits. Until the beginning of your next turn, all attacks against you have disadvantage, any melee attack against you provokes an opportunity attack from you, and you can make opportunity attacks without expending your reaction.
    Once you've used this ability, you cannot initiate another sword dance until you've finished a short or long rest.

    Spoiler: College of Whispers
    Show
    College of Whispers:

    Song of Whispers:
    At 3rd level, you learn the song of whispers, allowing you to infest the area around you with a haunting hymn, preventing the needed concentration to enact magic. Any opponent within 30 ft of you attempting to cast a spell has to make a DC 10 concentration saving throw. If they fail, the spell does not work.

    Song of Dread:
    At level 10, you learn the song of dread, allowing you to fill the hearts and minds of your opponents with fear. While you're singing this song, any opponent moving to within 30 ft of you or starting their turn within 30 ft of you has to make a wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be frightened of you for as long as you're singing and they can hear you. An opponent who makes their save are immune to your song of dread for 1 minute.

    Whispered Hymns:
    Also at level 10, you start imbuing your faintest whispers with the force of your personality. You can now use any bardic song effect with subsonic whispering. Any target within 60 ft of you doesn't need to be able to hear you to be affected by your songs, and your songs no longer reveal your presence and location you can hide and stealth normally while subsonic singing. You are still incapable of normal speech while singing.

    Spelldeath:
    At level 18, you gain the ability to invade the minds of others and rob their magical ability. When you use your psychic blades ability on a creature with spellcasting, that creature has to make a wisdom saving throw against your spell DC. A creature with innate spellcasting makes this save at disadvantage. On a failure, that creature cannot cast spells. They can remake the save at the end of each of their turns.

    Spoiler: College of Creation
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    College of Creation:

    Song of Creation:
    At 3rd level, you learn the song of creation, allowing you to empower the making of new things around you. You and all allies within 30 ft have advantage on all tool checks, and all spells of 1st level or higher you and all allies within 30 ft cast benefit from the effect of the extended spell metamagic if they are eligible for it.

    Song of Cosmic Fire:
    At level 10, you learn the song of cosmic fire, allowing you to access the raw primeval energy at the heart of creation. When you initiate singing this song, you may pick a number of creatures up to your charisma bonus (minimum 1) within 30 ft of you. While you're singing this song, and as long as they can hear you, these creatures have resistance to fire and radiant damage.
    In addition, while singing this song, you may spend a bardic inspiration use as your action to unleash the cosmic fire. Choose one creature within 60 ft. Your target must make a Wisdom saving throw. If it fails, it takes 6d10 fire or radiant damage (your choice) and is blinded until the end of your next turn. If a creature succeeds on its saving throw, it only takes half damage, and isn't blinded. The damage is improved to 6d12 at level 15. A creature that cannot hear you is immune to this effect.
    Unlike most bardic songs, the song of cosmic fire is a magical effect.

    Creative Hymns:
    Also at level 10, you start imbuing your bardic songs with the forces of creation within you. While you're singing a bardic song, anyone hearing you who's rolling an inspiration die you've given adds +1 to the result.

    True Animation:
    At level 18, you may create an inanimate sculpture and breath life into it. The creation of the sculpture takes six full days of work, and costs 1,000 gp in marble or sandstone. Once the statue is finished, you spend a full day on the ritual of animation, singing it to life as an automaton.
    Your automaton has the statistics of a stone construct spirit, as if you had cast the summon construct spell at 5th level except the duration of the spell would become instantaneous. Your automaton cannot naturally heal, but it can be healed by magical means. You may also use bardic inspiration as an action to heal it for your bardic inspiration roll + your charisma modifier. If your automaton is dropped to 0 hit points, it becomes inert, and the ritual of animation is needed to bring it back to life.
    If you create another automaton, your previous automaton turns to dust.

    Spoiler: College of Eloquence
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    College of Eloquence:

    Song of Eloquence:
    At 3rd level, you learn the song of Eloquence, allowing you to smoothen social interactions around you. While you're singing this song, every creature who can hear you has advantage on persuasion and deception, and disadvantage against spells or effects which impose the charmed condition.

    Song of vitality:
    At 10th level, you learn the song of vitality, allowing you to heal and support your comrades with comforting tones. While singing this song, you and all allies within 60 ft are immune to poison and disease. In addition, you may use a bardic inspiration use as an action to heal those around you. Roll your bardic inspiration die, and heal everyone affected by this song for that amount of hit points.

    Fluent Hymns:
    Also at level 10, your bardic songs start flowing through you more smoothly. You can initiate a bardic song as a bonus action.

    Glibness:
    At level 18, you can cast Glibness without spending a spell slot. Once you've used this ability, you can't use it again until you've finished a long rest.


    And... That's that! Let me know what you think. If you like the concept, and have better suggestions for some of the features / subclass features, I'd be happy to hear them, as well as any balance concerns with any of the subclasses or features. I'm sure many things here could be done better, and there very well may be plenty of editorial errors, as much as I've tried to proof-read this. Looking forward to your commentary!
    Last edited by H_H_F_F; 2021-12-09 at 10:24 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dragon in the Playground Moderator
     
    Peelee's Avatar

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    The Mod on the Silver Mountain: Moved to Homebrew.
    Spoiler: Avatar by always-awesome Cuthalion
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    Spoiler: Come down with fire
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    Spoiler: Lift my spirit higher
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    Spoiler: Someone's screaming my name
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    If anyone has a crayon drawing they would like to put on the Kickstarter Reward Collection Thread, PM me.

    Number of times Roland St. Jude has sworn revenge upon me: 1

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    I haven't checkt out all the different subclasses (so can't comment on the balance of each of them, or compared to each other), but from what I've seen I like this. It does exactly what your aim was: making it a half caster, and giving it a stronger thematic focus. The power you removed by making it a half caster you added primariliy by giving more uses of bardic music (at least up to lvl 5) and by adding new and more powerful uses of bardic music (the songs) by subclass. So 'class' gets less decisive and 'subclass' more, making the valor bard really more different than the glamour bard. That's bonus points for me.

    1 thing that I see that might be a let-down for potential players is level 5; normally, that's a great power boost, from extra attack to Fireball or Spirit Guardians. Bards got more uses of bardic inspiration and lvl 3 spells, but this version gets neither at 5. But that's not a biggy imo.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Waazraath View Post
    I haven't checkt out all the different subclasses (so can't comment on the balance of each of them, or compared to each other), but from what I've seen I like this. It does exactly what your aim was: making it a half caster, and giving it a stronger thematic focus. The power you removed by making it a half caster you added primariliy by giving more uses of bardic music (at least up to lvl 5) and by adding new and more powerful uses of bardic music (the songs) by subclass. So 'class' gets less decisive and 'subclass' more, making the valor bard really more different than the glamour bard. That's bonus points for me.

    1 thing that I see that might be a let-down for potential players is level 5; normally, that's a great power boost, from extra attack to Fireball or Spirit Guardians. Bards got more uses of bardic inspiration and lvl 3 spells, but this version gets neither at 5. But that's not a biggy imo.
    Thanks a lot for the commentary, friend! If you ever get to reading the subclasses, let me know what you think.

    I was looking at level 5 as a good level, because it got a bardic inspiration improvement, 2nd level spells, and a proficiency increase. However, when comparing it to 3rd level spells / extra attacks for most classes at this level, I can see how that's a disappointing level. I'll see if there's something I can do to make that better.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Some general points:

    - You're wearing light armor, rocking a d6 hit die and need to boost Charisma to make your spells, songs and inspiration worth using. Any non-Valor or Swords subclass is going to have a hard time of it in combat. You need to be relatively close to the action for your songs to apply, too, and your spell list does not have most of the defensive / escape options the Wizard spell list does even if you had the spell slots to spare (which you probably won't). I think the class really needs a good defensive feature, whether that be a variant of Uncanny Dodge, some kind of AC/HP/saving throw boost, or armor proficiency in the base chassis. Some kind of feature to boost their offensive output would also go a long way towards helping them feel not entirely useless when they're by themselves. Note that even Artificers, who are probably the most direct comparison, get something like that in their subclass features.

    - Bardic Song requiring Concentration is really painful because now your passive effects are directly competing with everything active you can do.
    - College of Lore has a hard time of it because Magical Secrets is working off a severely diminished spell list.

    - College of Swords and Valor do better, relatively.

    - Song of Creation on the College of Creation really doesn't have enough to work with. Unseen Servant is the only Bard spell that it will work with - every other Conjuration on the Bard list is either instantaneous or requires concentration.

    - A lot of Bardic Song effects want you to spend your inspiration really aggressively, which diminishes the value of the base feature.

    - Possibly room for some kind of Illusion-boosting effect? I'd expect that to show up in Lore, Glamour or Whispers, and unlike Conjurations the Bard spell list actually has quite a bit to work with there. They're also often spells that work well even when cast from lower-level slots, so great for a half-caster.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    If your bards (of most colleges) aren't going to do much in combat except sing songs and cast cantrips, they probably should get a lot more strength in cantrips.

    I'd suggest the sorcerer progression for cantrips known, and at least Mind Sliver added to the spell list.

    Frankly, I'd go all the way to adding Toll the Dead. (Conveniently, it has a slight musical flavor.)

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    1. You must THING!

    2. Bardic song mechanics reduces the set of bard type characters significantly.

    3. Concentration requirements means that concentration spells for bards are a bad idea.

    4. Changing bard college levels seems pointless? Oh, you are doing a rewrite.

    Personally, I'd see if existing bard colleges would work without change. And honestly, you could make that work.

    5. Bardic Inspiration being short-rest at level 1 is a mistake. A level 1 bard in your system has strictly better features than the baseline level 1 bard, and it makes splashing bard much better.

    The long rest Bardic Inspiration was intended to have little impact on "real level 1" bards, while making MC bard dipping less insanely good.

    6. Effortless Performance: Adding the concentration requirement, then removing it at 20, seems a bit wonky. So concentration spells are junk for the bard until they hit 20, at which point they can swap 1 spell in?

    7. Your college of lore is ... worse at utility ... than the baseline bard?

    Cutting Words was really, really good support. And Peerless Skill was a great knowledge-based ability.

    It morphed into some kind of EQ-esque "boost group spellcasters" subclass?

    Edudite Hymns is a light version of the level 20 ability that stacks with it. So a lore bard 20 can cast two concentration spells so long as they are singing.

    8. Wait, College of Swords seems to refer to flourishes, but it isn't in your list. Oh, these are on top of existing features? Hurm. I see these are on top of it.

    It might be cleaner to decouple these from the existing subclasses. Take a page from the Warlock invocations; make your song repetoir be a set of picks from a list. They can require certain colleges as an exception.

    Call it your Bardic Portfolio?

    Then things like "general singing boosts" can go into it.

  8. - Top - End - #8
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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Ideas:
    Swap Bardic Song for Bardic Performance.

    At level 2 you pick your Performance Style.

    Verbal (such as Song) and Motion (such as Dance) are two options.

    Verbal prevents hiding but can be initiated as a bonus action. Creatures must hear you to be effected. Motion requires an action to start, and creatures must see you to be effected.

    You collect a Bardic Portfolio of performances, like invocations. Possibly these performances have upgraded effects at higher level instead of higher level versions.

    I would drop the concentration requirement, but keep the idea that you have to make a concentration check if damaged. This is a spellcaster with lots of concentration based utility; dedicating their concentration "slot" to bardic spells is impolite.

    Bardic Performance
    Starting at 2nd level you can engage in a supernaturally effective Bardic Performance. While doing a Bardic Performance, when you take damage you must make a concentration check as if concentrating on a spell, and if you fail the performance ends. You know one kind of performance, either Motion or Verbal.

    Verbal performance could be reciting poetry or singing. Starting a Verbal performance is a bonus action, and while doing the performance you cannot hide. Creatures are effected by the performance if they can hear you.
    Motion performance could be a form of dance or other whole-body action. Starting a Motion performance is an action, and while in such a performance creatures are at disadvantage to attack you when it isn't their turn. Creatures are effected by the performance if they can see you.

    You have a Portfolio of Performances. When you initiate a performance, select an effect from your Portfolio. You can end a performance at any time.

    At level 10 you learn a new performance technique, which changes some of the rules about how performances work.

    Bardic Portfolio
    You learn 2 performances at level 2, and two additional performances at level 5, 9, 13 and 17.

    (Insert list of performances here)

    ---

    Ok, I think calling it Song and Dance is better than Verbal and Motion.
    Last edited by Yakk; 2021-12-08 at 09:34 AM.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    Some general points:

    - You're wearing light armor, rocking a d6 hit die and need to boost Charisma to make your spells, songs and inspiration worth using. Any non-Valor or Swords subclass is going to have a hard time of it in combat. You need to be relatively close to the action for your songs to apply, too, and your spell list does not have most of the defensive / escape options the Wizard spell list does even if you had the spell slots to spare (which you probably won't). I think the class really needs a good defensive feature, whether that be a variant of Uncanny Dodge, some kind of AC/HP/saving throw boost, or armor proficiency in the base chassis. Some kind of feature to boost their offensive output would also go a long way towards helping them feel not entirely useless when they're by themselves. Note that even Artificers, who are probably the most direct comparison, get something like that in their subclass features.

    - Bardic Song requiring Concentration is really painful because now your passive effects are directly competing with everything active you can do.
    - College of Lore has a hard time of it because Magical Secrets is working off a severely diminished spell list.

    - College of Swords and Valor do better, relatively.

    - Song of Creation on the College of Creation really doesn't have enough to work with. Unseen Servant is the only Bard spell that it will work with - every other Conjuration on the Bard list is either instantaneous or requires concentration.

    - A lot of Bardic Song effects want you to spend your inspiration really aggressively, which diminishes the value of the base feature.

    - Possibly room for some kind of Illusion-boosting effect? I'd expect that to show up in Lore, Glamour or Whispers, and unlike Conjurations the Bard spell list actually has quite a bit to work with there. They're also often spells that work well even when cast from lower-level slots, so great for a half-caster.
    Hey, thanks so much for your comments!

    Bardic song being concentration felt like the main way to make it an "active" instead of a "passive" buff, despite being at will and lasting indefinitely without an action economy cost to maintain. It isn't a passive aura, it's an option you can utilize for the appropriate situation, or to save up on spell slots. These bards shouldn't always be singing - they should be using songs and concentration spells alternatively, depending on what makes more sense for the situation and their resources. Do you feel that this requirement makes bardic song too weak? Do you not see yourself ever maintaining it in combat?

    I'm not sure I got the point about college of lore - do you mean that the additional secrets no longer cover 3rd level spells? Helping out the traditionally weaker subclasses in comparison with the strong ones was one of my goals, but I still feel that college of lore is doing fine as the "caster" subclass, especially with song of arcane power.

    Good catch on song of creation! I made a mistake and wrote "you" meaning a plural you referring to the previously mentioned "you and your allies within 30 ft". The song applies the metamagic buffs to your party, not just yourself. I'll fix the phrasing momentarily. Do you still see it as too weak?

    I tried to give some songs a "spend inspiration" option, to continue with the trend set by colleges such as swords, glamour, and whispers. Which songs in particular seem to you to not be worth the inspiration uses? I was also contemplating making bardic inspiration "half proficiency + charisma" uses per short rest. The numbers seemed good, but it felt convoluted and I wasn't sure it was really necessary. What are your thoughts?

    Replacing song of glamour with an illusion boosting effect has potential, certainly. The song as-is is one of the songs I'm less happy with.

    I saved your first point for last, because it's the one I'm most conflicted about. You somewhat overstated the case - bards in 5e have d8's, not d6's, so with light armor you're still far tankier than a wizard - but this was still a concern of mine. I didn't want the non-melee bards to feel "tanky", or feel like they can walk up to combat and feel fine. Pretty much any song I set to 30 ft was with the idea of making it more limited in combat, or to force a high-risk-high-reward mentality.
    What are your thoughts about adding some sort of mobility based escape-card at 5th level? It feels more bardy to me than just tanking hits in melee, and would help the non-melee classes feel more natural at a distance. It could also help make 5 feel more significant. I'm just hesitant about introducing more X uses/day abilities to the bard, and making something like this at-will seems like a bit much, unless I make it an action. Do you have any cool ideas for that?

    Thanks again for your input, I really appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corey View Post
    If your bards (of most colleges) aren't going to do much in combat except sing songs and cast cantrips, they probably should get a lot more strength in cantrips.

    I'd suggest the sorcerer progression for cantrips known, and at least Mind Sliver added to the spell list.

    Frankly, I'd go all the way to adding Toll the Dead. (Conveniently, it has a slight musical flavor.)
    As I've mentioned above, I do intend song to be another tool in the bard's list. Lots of low level concentration buffs are excellent, and the bard is meant to use those or a song based on their strategy and their spell slots.

    More cantrips are certainly an option, though, as is toll the dead. I'll consider it. Thank you!

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Bardic song being concentration felt like the main way to make it an "active" instead of a "passive" buff, despite being at will and lasting indefinitely without an action economy cost to maintain. It isn't a passive aura, it's an option you can utilize for the appropriate situation, or to save up on spell slots. These bards shouldn't always be singing - they should be using songs and concentration spells alternatively, depending on what makes more sense for the situation and their resources. Do you feel that this requirement makes bardic song too weak? Do you not see yourself ever maintaining it in combat?
    It depends on the song, really. Song of Valor seems like a great always-on sort of buff, but Song of Lore has the problem that it takes up your concentration (which already disqualifies the effect from working on most of the spells that you'd want it for), has the general issue that a +1 to the DC of your spellcasting is a lot less impressive when you're working from a half-caster progression, and then also wants you to invest in Intelligence when you desperately need Charisma to boost those DCs, Dexterity to not have an awful AC and Constitution to not be constantly at risk of dropping in combat. Song of Whispers is particularly situational, so at that point you don't mind simply not using it very much and picking up some concentration spells, but as a whole I simply don't think the feature is good enough to make up for the lost spellcasting progression.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    I'm not sure I got the point about college of lore - do you mean that the additional secrets no longer cover 3rd level spells? Helping out the traditionally weaker subclasses in comparison with the strong ones was one of my goals, but I still feel that college of lore is doing fine as the "caster" subclass, especially with song of arcane power.
    I generally like the idea of College of Lore as the college that boosts other spellcasters, but I feel that as it is here the best use of Additional Magical Secrets is to pick up Eldritch Blast, grab Eldritch Adept as a feat for Agonizing Blast and play a discount Warlock with a bunch of buff auras. Which works but doesn't really sit well with me from a flavor standpoint. For the base Lore Bard, usually I'd pick up Counterspell, Fireball and/or Misty Step - things that feel generally more wizardy to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Good catch on song of creation! I made a mistake and wrote "you" meaning a plural you referring to the previously mentioned "you and your allies within 30 ft". The song applies the metamagic buffs to your party, not just yourself. I'll fix the phrasing momentarily. Do you still see it as too weak?
    Probably, yes. On the whole, conjuration spells worth using are either about summoning stuff or teleporting. The feature doesn't work on teleportation and with summon spells, the duration was rarely an issue to begin with. If you're set on the feature specifically buffing Conjuration spells, I'd prefer Distant Spell (because it works with many more effects) or Heightened Spell (because it is generally more powerful). Additionally, by focusing on a category as narrow as conjuration spells, the Creation Bard is also suddenly very reliant on one of their allies being specifically a Conjuration specialist.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    I tried to give some songs a "spend inspiration" option, to continue with the trend set by colleges such as swords, glamour, and whispers. Which songs in particular seem to you to not be worth the inspiration uses? I was also contemplating making bardic inspiration "half proficiency + charisma" uses per short rest. The numbers seemed good, but it felt convoluted and I wasn't sure it was really necessary. What are your thoughts?
    First ones that come to mind are Song of the White Raven (College of Swords) and Song of Cosmic Fire (College of Creation). Song of the White Raven has the issue that as a Swords Bard you're not really hurting for good options to spend your inspiration in the first place, and Song of Cosmic Fire seems a Four Elements Monk kind of deal in that you're rapidly burning through all of your class resources to be a second-rate blaster instead of doing anything you're actually good at.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    I saved your first point for last, because it's the one I'm most conflicted about. You somewhat overstated the case - bards in 5e have d8's, not d6's, so with light armor you're still far tankier than a wizard - but this was still a concern of mine. I didn't want the non-melee bards to feel "tanky", or feel like they can walk up to combat and feel fine. Pretty much any song I set to 30 ft was with the idea of making it more limited in combat, or to force a high-risk-high-reward mentality.
    What are your thoughts about adding some sort of mobility based escape-card at 5th level? It feels more bardy to me than just tanking hits in melee, and would help the non-melee classes feel more natural at a distance. It could also help make 5 feel more significant. I'm just hesitant about introducing more X uses/day abilities to the bard, and making something like this at-will seems like a bit much, unless I make it an action. Do you have any cool ideas for that?
    I'd personally look to the Rogue - Uncanny Dodge might work (though I'm not sure if putting it at 5 is right - I'd honestly prefer some kind of personal damage output boost at that point since the vast majority of other classes get one there). It's a very powerful reaction feature (Bards don't usually get good Reactions) that I feel does work with the Bardic idea of tumbling around and dancing in combat. In general, I think I'd like to see a half-caster Bard borrow more from the Rogue in the same way that the Paladin and Ranger borrow from the Fighter.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    1. You must THING!

    2. Bardic song mechanics reduces the set of bard type characters significantly.

    3. Concentration requirements means that concentration spells for bards are a bad idea.

    4. Changing bard college levels seems pointless? Oh, you are doing a rewrite.

    Personally, I'd see if existing bard colleges would work without change. And honestly, you could make that work.

    5. Bardic Inspiration being short-rest at level 1 is a mistake. A level 1 bard in your system has strictly better features than the baseline level 1 bard, and it makes splashing bard much better.

    The long rest Bardic Inspiration was intended to have little impact on "real level 1" bards, while making MC bard dipping less insanely good.

    6. Effortless Performance: Adding the concentration requirement, then removing it at 20, seems a bit wonky. So concentration spells are junk for the bard until they hit 20, at which point they can swap 1 spell in?

    7. Your college of lore is ... worse at utility ... than the baseline bard?

    Cutting Words was really, really good support. And Peerless Skill was a great knowledge-based ability.

    It morphed into some kind of EQ-esque "boost group spellcasters" subclass?

    Edudite Hymns is a light version of the level 20 ability that stacks with it. So a lore bard 20 can cast two concentration spells so long as they are singing.

    8. Wait, College of Swords seems to refer to flourishes, but it isn't in your list. Oh, these are on top of existing features? Hurm. I see these are on top of it.

    It might be cleaner to decouple these from the existing subclasses. Take a page from the Warlock invocations; make your song repetoir be a set of picks from a list. They can require certain colleges as an exception.

    Call it your Bardic Portfolio?

    Then things like "general singing boosts" can go into it.

    Ideas:
    Swap Bardic Song for Bardic Performance.

    At level 2 you pick your Performance Style.

    Verbal (such as Song) and Motion (such as Dance) are two options.

    Verbal prevents hiding but can be initiated as a bonus action. Creatures must hear you to be effected. Motion requires an action to start, and creatures must see you to be effected.

    You collect a Bardic Portfolio of performances, like invocations. Possibly these performances have upgraded effects at higher level instead of higher level versions.

    I would drop the concentration requirement, but keep the idea that you have to make a concentration check if damaged. This is a spellcaster with lots of concentration based utility; dedicating their concentration "slot" to bardic spells is impolite.

    Bardic Performance
    Starting at 2nd level you can engage in a supernaturally effective Bardic Performance. While doing a Bardic Performance, when you take damage you must make a concentration check as if concentrating on a spell, and if you fail the performance ends. You know one kind of performance, either Motion or Verbal.

    Verbal performance could be reciting poetry or singing. Starting a Verbal performance is a bonus action, and while doing the performance you cannot hide. Creatures are effected by the performance if they can hear you.
    Motion performance could be a form of dance or other whole-body action. Starting a Motion performance is an action, and while in such a performance creatures are at disadvantage to attack you when it isn't their turn. Creatures are effected by the performance if they can see you.

    You have a Portfolio of Performances. When you initiate a performance, select an effect from your Portfolio. You can end a performance at any time.

    At level 10 you learn a new performance technique, which changes some of the rules about how performances work.

    Bardic Portfolio
    You learn 2 performances at level 2, and two additional performances at level 5, 9, 13 and 17.

    (Insert list of performances here)

    ---

    Ok, I think calling it Song and Dance is better than Verbal and Motion.
    Thanks for your commentary, Yakk. Many of your complaints, as you've realized, are not relevant as the new subclass features are add-ons, not replacements. I'll note again that I don't see concentration spells as a bad choice for most bards - simply a more expensive one, and one that depends on the circumstances. Most songs are meant to have the advantages of infinite uses and a better action economy. Many bards may find themselves singing the song of vigilance before combat, and swap it for a concentration spell with their first action in combat.

    Bards become better 1 level dips, yes, but worse at the same time due to no longer fully progressing spell slots. It becomes a more expensive dip for casters, and most martials aren't going to have the Cha to back it up. It's a good dip for a paladin - but worse than hexblade, I'd say, and not broken in my opinion.

    I'll also note that erudite hymns does exactly what I meant it to do. Early on, it allows lore bards to better utilize their concentration than other bards for a few rounds per day. It does the same at level 20. Is it great? Sure, I want it to be great. You're level 20. Is it broken? With 2-5 rounds per day and up to fifth level spells - no, I don't think so.

    A bardic dance alternative is an option, but I feel like it has to have more disadvantages than an action to initiate instead of a new bonus action initiation for songs. That is true from both a balancre perspective with song, but also with a sense of realism. You can dance inspiringly while full moving? Dashing? Fighting, even? Worth considering, but seems too good to me as presented.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    It depends on the song, really. Song of Valor seems like a great always-on sort of buff, but Song of Lore has the problem that it takes up your concentration (which already disqualifies the effect from working on most of the spells that you'd want it for), has the general issue that a +1 to the DC of your spellcasting is a lot less impressive when you're working from a half-caster progression, and then also wants you to invest in Intelligence when you desperately need Charisma to boost those DCs, Dexterity to not have an awful AC and Constitution to not be constantly at risk of dropping in combat. Song of Whispers is particularly situational, so at that point you don't mind simply not using it very much and picking up some concentration spells, but as a whole I simply don't think the feature is good enough to make up for the lost spellcasting progression.

    I generally like the idea of College of Lore as the college that boosts other spellcasters, but I feel that as it is here the best use of Additional Magical Secrets is to pick up Eldritch Blast, grab Eldritch Adept as a feat for Agonizing Blast and play a discount Warlock with a bunch of buff auras. Which works but doesn't really sit well with me from a flavor standpoint. For the base Lore Bard, usually I'd pick up Counterspell, Fireball and/or Misty Step - things that feel generally more wizardy to me.



    Probably, yes. On the whole, conjuration spells worth using are either about summoning stuff or teleporting. The feature doesn't work on teleportation and with summon spells, the duration was rarely an issue to begin with. If you're set on the feature specifically buffing Conjuration spells, I'd prefer Distant Spell (because it works with many more effects) or Heightened Spell (because it is generally more powerful). Additionally, by focusing on a category as narrow as conjuration spells, the Creation Bard is also suddenly very reliant on one of their allies being specifically a Conjuration specialist.



    First ones that come to mind are Song of the White Raven (College of Swords) and Song of Cosmic Fire (College of Creation). Song of the White Raven has the issue that as a Swords Bard you're not really hurting for good options to spend your inspiration in the first place, and Song of Cosmic Fire seems a Four Elements Monk kind of deal in that you're rapidly burning through all of your class resources to be a second-rate blaster instead of doing anything you're actually good at.



    I'd personally look to the Rogue - Uncanny Dodge might work (though I'm not sure if putting it at 5 is right - I'd honestly prefer some kind of personal damage output boost at that point since the vast majority of other classes get one there). It's a very powerful reaction feature (Bards don't usually get good Reactions) that I feel does work with the Bardic idea of tumbling around and dancing in combat. In general, I think I'd like to see a half-caster Bard borrow more from the Rogue in the same way that the Paladin and Ranger borrow from the Fighter.
    I'll admit to designing valor and swords to have better combat options as their College Song I. It felt fitting, and I did want to make them feel more worth playing. Song of Swords, especially, was a way to allow sword bards to feel like sword bards before level 14. Not having that rely on concentration just feels far too good to me.
    I made college of lore somewhat MAD, but it's a great college as is. I see your concern about the warlock lite playstyle, but I'm not a 100% sure how to address it once the bard is assumed to be a half caster. That's true for most subclasses, in my opinion - song of lore doesn't impact spell attacks, after all.

    Speaking of which, I considered making it half proficiency instead of 1, but that just felt too good, especially once erudite hymns comes along, and of course effortless performance. I thought it'd be a good options with saving throw cantrips and with spells like blindness. I may have overshot my balancing act for the subclasses, especially considering the reduced opportunity cost of doing non-spell things. I'll look into modifying it.

    I have to go, so I'll comment on your further points later.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Continuing.

    Heightened conjuration for everyone for free seems way too powerful to me. It's such an expensive metamagic option for a reason. I went with extend and conjuration mainly for thematic reasons - feels like the most creation-like school of magic, and making it more permanent made sense with the rest of the features I've added. When looking more in depth at the actual spells that would benefit, I see your point - though I personally am a big fan of extend spell on a warlock to summon aberration before a short rest. That's very situational though. Extend spell might indeed be better here. I also considered subtle spell, but that too is very situational.
    I could also give up on the whole conjuration theme, and just make it extend all spells, which would be more mechanically consistent at least. What do you think about that option? Too weak? Too good? Just right?

    Song of cosmic fire gives two resistances to many allies, potentially the whole party if you're willing to risk getting closer to the action. One of them is to fire, a very common damage type. That is something I thought would be extremely useful, in the right circumstances, so I wanted the active portion to be a "you can if you want to" deal, not something worth concentration, resources and the other downsides unto itself. I may have made it too weak, but I thought the blindness was an attractive enough debuff to make it worth your time more than occasionally. Do you disagree?

    I also considered making it an AoE without the blindness effect, like the OG song of cosmic fire. Another option was adding fire/radiant damage to weapon attacks made by your allies, but that felt like stepping on Crusader's Mantle toes too much, as well as on valor's. Not to sure what to do here.

    Song of the white raven... I had my concerns with it, exactly because it competes so hard with flourishes, but I just like it so much. It feels unique, it suits the swords bard, and it's a good callback to the original song of the white raven. I thought it was pretty good - you inspire an ally, they didn't need it for a save so they can pull off something cool. I felt like it broadened sword bard's horizons in a very fitting way, helping the playstyle become less monotonous. I really don't want to give the concept up. Does anyone have an idea of a way to salvage it? What did you guys think about the idea to increase bardic inspiration uses by half proficiency?

    Just straight up giving them uncanny dodge... It'd interfere with Last Stand's action economy, but that's a once-a-week 18th level subclass feature, so not a real problem probably. I have two real issues with the idea:
    1. It might enhance their survivability too much. It doesn't feel "tanky", which is good, but it's still a major power boost that might make surviving too trivial for bards keeping their distance from the action.
    2. I feel like it's stepping on the rogue's toes too hard, perhaps. It's one of their best features, and the only other way to get it IIRC is being a 15th level hunter.

    If I add uncanny dodge and a strong offensive option at 5, we might be making early game bards too good, no? Consider the rogue's fifth level: they get uncanny dodge, and their sneak attack improves from 2d6 to 3d6.

    I don't know. I'll try to figure something out.

    Thanks again, Arcomage. You've been a huge help, and I really appreciate the way you deep-dived into my work.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Continuing.
    Heightened conjuration for everyone for free seems way too powerful to me. It's such an expensive metamagic option for a reason. I went with extend and conjuration mainly for thematic reasons - feels like the most creation-like school of magic, and making it more permanent made sense with the rest of the features I've added. When looking more in depth at the actual spells that would benefit, I see your point - though I personally am a big fan of extend spell on a warlock to summon aberration before a short rest. That's very situational though. Extend spell might indeed be better here. I also considered subtle spell, but that too is very situational.
    I could also give up on the whole conjuration theme, and just make it extend all spells, which would be more mechanically consistent at least. What do you think about that option? Too weak? Too good? Just right?
    Extending all spells might work, and at least it solves the general issue where the feature is really hard to balance - 'conjuration spells' is a rather narrow subset of abilities, so if you're supporting one or more specialists in that it could be pretty good (because it's so narrow, it needs to be powerful to be worth using at all), but also you really don't want to have a subclass that's built around specifically supporting conjuration specialists because in the vast majority of actual play you're not going to be able to guarantee playing with those.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Song of cosmic fire gives two resistances to many allies, potentially the whole party if you're willing to risk getting closer to the action. One of them is to fire, a very common damage type. That is something I thought would be extremely useful, in the right circumstances, so I wanted the active portion to be a "you can if you want to" deal, not something worth concentration, resources and the other downsides unto itself. I may have made it too weak, but I thought the blindness was an attractive enough debuff to make it worth your time more than occasionally. Do you disagree?

    I also considered making it an AoE without the blindness effect, like the OG song of cosmic fire. Another option was adding fire/radiant damage to weapon attacks made by your allies, but that felt like stepping on Crusader's Mantle toes too much, as well as on valor's. Not to sure what to do here.
    Fire resistance is nice but very situational. If it's supposed to be a feature that's only used on occasion, when the resistances would be useful, then I don't think the blasting component needs to be there at all (especially since things that deal these damage types are much more likely to resist them as well). As is, it's kind of a trap since it's in direct competition over your inspiration with Note of Potential from the same college, which is a very powerful feature.

    At level 10, you're not far from the full spellcasters potentially getting Sunbeam, which is comparable for damage and blinding effect, but is also repeatable over a full minute instead of requiring the caster to spend their Channel Divinity/Sorcery Points/Wild Shape on every use, is a line attack instead of a single target, offers additional advantages vs. undead and oozes, and has some fringe benefits if you need lighting or are fighting things weak to sunlight. And that's just one spell, which is often not the best pick on the lists for those characters. It's quite important for this sort of thing to keep in mind that especially at higher levels, if you're going to take away the versatility of spellcasting you need to offer alternatives that are more, not less, powerful.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Song of the white raven... I had my concerns with it, exactly because it competes so hard with flourishes, but I just like it so much. It feels unique, it suits the swords bard, and it's a good callback to the original song of the white raven. I thought it was pretty good - you inspire an ally, they didn't need it for a save so they can pull off something cool. I felt like it broadened sword bard's horizons in a very fitting way, helping the playstyle become less monotonous. I really don't want to give the concept up. Does anyone have an idea of a way to salvage it? What did you guys think about the idea to increase bardic inspiration uses by half proficiency?
    I like the idea as well, in a general way, but I also think it's just too complex to see actual play. Having played a Bard, it's sometimes difficult to get other players to keep track of them having Inspiration at all, let alone them also having to keep track of a list of maneuvers that isn't going to be on their character sheet that they might or might not be able to use depending on what the Bard's been doing. I think just straight-up giving the Bard a few superiority dice, Commander's Strike and one other maneuver from the shortlist might be a better choice for the sake of gameplay, even if it's a bit less exciting.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Just straight up giving them uncanny dodge... It'd interfere with Last Stand's action economy, but that's a once-a-week 18th level subclass feature, so not a real problem probably. I have two real issues with the idea:
    1. It might enhance their survivability too much. It doesn't feel "tanky", which is good, but it's still a major power boost that might make surviving too trivial for bards keeping their distance from the action.
    2. I feel like it's stepping on the rogue's toes too hard, perhaps. It's one of their best features, and the only other way to get it IIRC is being a 15th level hunter.

    If I add uncanny dodge and a strong offensive option at 5, we might be making early game bards too good, no? Consider the rogue's fifth level: they get uncanny dodge, and their sneak attack improves from 2d6 to 3d6.

    I don't know. I'll try to figure something out.

    Thanks again, Arcomage. You've been a huge help, and I really appreciate the way you deep-dived into my work.
    I think Uncanny Dodge might go nicely at level 7, where Song of Vigilance and a 2nd-level spell slot make for an otherwise somewhat lackluster levelup. That means you're still getting it later than the Rogue, and the fact that you're not combining it with Sneak Attack or Cunning Action (which is generally how playing a Rogue works, in my experience) means it doesn't step on their toes all that hard. No more than you're getting from competing with them in Expertise and skill use, anyway. That leaves some room at level 5 to add something to offense, though I'm still not sure what. Bonus cantrip damage? Added Thunder damage to weapon strikes?

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    Extending all spells might work, and at least it solves the general issue where the feature is really hard to balance - 'conjuration spells' is a rather narrow subset of abilities, so if you're supporting one or more specialists in that it could be pretty good (because it's so narrow, it needs to be powerful to be worth using at all), but also you really don't want to have a subclass that's built around specifically supporting conjuration specialists because in the vast majority of actual play you're not going to be able to guarantee playing with those.
    Alright, I hear you on song of creation. We'll go with extending all spells. Hopefully it isn't abusable at that level in one way or another.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    Fire resistance is nice but very situational. If it's supposed to be a feature that's only used on occasion, when the resistances would be useful, then I don't think the blasting component needs to be there at all (especially since things that deal these damage types are much more likely to resist them as well). As is, it's kind of a trap since it's in direct competition over your inspiration with Note of Potential from the same college, which is a very powerful feature.

    At level 10, you're not far from the full spellcasters potentially getting Sunbeam, which is comparable for damage and blinding effect, but is also repeatable over a full minute instead of requiring the caster to spend their Channel Divinity/Sorcery Points/Wild Shape on every use, is a line attack instead of a single target, offers additional advantages vs. undead and oozes, and has some fringe benefits if you need lighting or are fighting things weak to sunlight. And that's just one spell, which is often not the best pick on the lists for those characters. It's quite important for this sort of thing to keep in mind that especially at higher levels, if you're going to take away the versatility of spellcasting you need to offer alternatives that are more, not less, powerful.
    For cosmic fire - I was thinking you could do radiant damage when fighting "fire types", and vice versa, but I see how the song "pretending" to be useful outside the resistance does it more damage than good. I don't think the comparison to sunbeam really checks out, as sunbeam also means commiting yourself with a 6th level spell slot and targets a typically stronger save, but I agree with the general sentiment. what would you suggest? Making it AoE? giving up the active part and adding another passive defensive boost? Or perhaps, giving some bonus damage to allies using your inspiration dice on attack rolls, thus enhancing mote of creation instead of counteracting it?


    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    I like the idea as well, in a general way, but I also think it's just too complex to see actual play. Having played a Bard, it's sometimes difficult to get other players to keep track of them having Inspiration at all, let alone them also having to keep track of a list of maneuvers that isn't going to be on their character sheet that they might or might not be able to use depending on what the Bard's been doing. I think just straight-up giving the Bard a few superiority dice, Commander's Strike and one other maneuver from the shortlist might be a better choice for the sake of gameplay, even if it's a bit less exciting.
    I hear you on the complexity issue with song of the white raven. It's not just a more complicated subclass, which would be fine, but it relies on complicating the mechanics for the rest of the party, who didn't sign up for that. It hurts me to say, because despite being problematic it's my favorite feature I've designed here, but I see your point. I don't see how superiority dice would work with a song though. Not sure what to do. How about spell slots for maneuvers while singing? Could it be made worth it?
    I really tried hard to make sure every single song had at least some effect on the party, not just the bard, so I'm unsure as to what to do here... I'll try to figure something out. Let me know if you get any cool ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    I think Uncanny Dodge might go nicely at level 7, where Song of Vigilance and a 2nd-level spell slot make for an otherwise somewhat lackluster levelup. That means you're still getting it later than the Rogue, and the fact that you're not combining it with Sneak Attack or Cunning Action (which is generally how playing a Rogue works, in my experience) means it doesn't step on their toes all that hard. No more than you're getting from competing with them in Expertise and skill use, anyway. That leaves some room at level 5 to add something to offense, though I'm still not sure what. Bonus cantrip damage? Added Thunder damage to weapon strikes?

    Moving vigilance to 5 was actually something I contemplated when working on this redesign. I felt like having access to more bardic songs, even if they still belong to very different niches, might feel nicer. I hesitated because I didn't want a 5 level stretch with no new songs.

    I guess uncanny dodge could work at 7. It won't feel as core to the class, and rogues get evasion at that point.

    Bonus cantrip damage isn't my go-to here. I did consider it for song of lore (though that would only increase the warlock-lite feel, unless we make it add to the total cantrip damage, so it'd add only once for eldritch blast... hmm. Might be worth persuing. Int to cantrip damage if we want to be mean, Cha if we want to be nice? Proficiency, to make it more consistent?) but it feels too castery to be a main class feature, and would disadvantage weapon-based bards. Thunder damage to weapons would be the opposite, of course.

    It wouldn't come at 5, but I was considering making magical secrets not take a spot as spells known. I forgot to account for them when I designed the spell progression, and it'd boost the bard's power for sure (though it'd certainly step on lore bard's toes a bit). I could also just increase the total spell known by 3 or so and rework the progression, for a milder effect if that seems like overkill.

    Level 5 might still need 1 more treat, but if we move song of vigilance to 5 and increase known spells, it may not have to be quite as impressive as what they're lacking now.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post

    I hear you on the complexity issue with song of the white raven. It's not just a more complicated subclass, which would be fine, but it relies on complicating the mechanics for the rest of the party, who didn't sign up for that. It hurts me to say, because despite being problematic it's my favorite feature I've designed here, but I see your point. I don't see how superiority dice would work with a song though. Not sure what to do. How about spell slots for maneuvers while singing? Could it be made worth it?
    I really tried hard to make sure every single song had at least some effect on the party, not just the bard, so I'm unsure as to what to do here... I'll try to figure something out. Let me know if you get any cool ideas.
    Let's see. If I were to write something along those lines...

    Song of the White Raven: At level 10, you learn the song of the white raven, allowing you to attune yourself and your allies to the artistry of war. As long as you're singing this song, you may take a bonus action to allow one of your allies that can hear you and is not grappled, restrained or incapacitated to move up to 5 feet in any direction without provoking attacks of opportunity. Additionally, when you take the Attack action on your turn, you can forgo one of your attacks and expend a spell slot of 1st level or higher to direct one of your companions to strike. When you do so, choose a friendly creature who can see or hear you. That creature can immediately use its reaction to make one weapon attack, adding 1d6 to the attack's damage roll per level of the expended spell slot.

    That'd be a fairly direct comparison to Commander's Strike every turn (as long as your spell slots last, but as a Swords Bard you were using them less than most anyway), plus a generally solid but situational 'tactical' ally-moving passive effect. Since you have Extra Attack at this point you're still getting to attack and potentially Flourish, and if you have any allies that can make decent melee attacks or a Rogue that can potentially get another free Sneak Attack out of this it's easy to come out ahead.
    Last edited by Arcomage; 2021-12-09 at 08:46 AM.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    Let's see. If I were to write something along those lines...

    Song of the White Raven: At level 10, you learn the song of the white raven, allowing you to attune yourself and your allies to the artistry of war. As long as you're singing this song, you may take a bonus action to allow one of your allies that can hear you and is not grappled, restrained or incapacitated to move up to 5 feet in any direction without provoking attacks of opportunity. Additionally, when you take the Attack action on your turn, you can forgo one of your attacks and expend a spell slot of 1st level or higher to direct one of your companions to strike. When you do so, choose a friendly creature who can see or hear you. That creature can immediately use its reaction to make one weapon attack, adding 1d6 to the attack's damage roll per level of the expended spell slot.

    That'd be a fairly direct comparison to Commander's Strike every turn (as long as your spell slots last, but as a Swords Bard you were using them less than most anyway), plus a generally solid but situational 'tactical' ally-moving passive effect. Since you have Extra Attack at this point you're still getting to attack and potentially Flourish, and if you have any allies that can make decent melee attacks or a Rogue that can potentially get another free Sneak Attack out of this it's easy to come out ahead.
    Interesting direction. Allowing allies to move with a bonus action is situational, especially since it doesn't break grapples. Bonus actions suffer from some competition, especially when considering two weapon fighting is one of swords bard's fighting styles.

    The damage on the commanderesque strike seems a bit low to me, especially considering the fact the song only comes online at 10.

    It's more limited than what I would have liked, but it's a good direction to go in. Given that the strike is the only offensive capability provided, the utility of the song would drastically depend on the existence of a rogue on the team. I'll see if I find a version of this that feels a bit more versatile without becoming bloated.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Okay, I have an idea for a level five feature to help boost the bard's power at that level. I'd like to hear some opinions on it - Is it really necessary, in your opinion? This bard already has more class feature than any other class, I think. Maybe we should just leave it as is?

    If we're going forward with this, Is it good enough? Are the different options well balanced?

    I'd love to get at least a few opinions, if I could.

    New Feature; Aptitude Focus:

    At 5th level, you broaden your horizons in one field of study. You may choose the arcane focus, the divine focus, or the martial focus:

    Arcane Focus
    You add two cantrips from the sorcerer or wizard list to your known cantrips. The chosen cantrips count as bard cantrips for you, but don't count against the number of bard cantrips you know.

    Divine Focus
    You add 1 cantrip from the cleric or druid list to your known cantrips. The chosen cantrip counts as a bard cantrip for you, but doesn't count against the number of bard cantrips you know. In addition, you gain the ability to use Channel Divinity: Turn Undead once per long rest.

    Martial Focus
    You gain one fighting style from the fighter fighting styles list. Alternatively, you gain proficiency with shields.
    Last edited by H_H_F_F; 2021-12-10 at 04:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Okay, I have an idea for a level five feature to help boost the bard's power at that level. I'd like to hear some opinions on it - Is it really necessary, in your opinion? This bard already has more class feature than any other class, I think. Maybe we should just leave it as is?

    If we're going forward with this, Is it good enough? Are the different options well balanced?

    I'd love to get at least a few opinions, if I could.
    Mostly I think the design is looking in the wrong direction. The Bard, even at a half-caster progression, is not lacking versatility. What it is lacking is in direct combat power, and while upgrading from a d4 Vicious Mockery to a d10 Fire Bolt (or from a d8 rapier to a d8+2 with a Dueling fighting style) helps, it's not going to keep up at higher levels and is needlessly limiting because it locks you into a single playstyle if you want to try to keep up.

    Generally, for a direct damage increase feature, you're looking at either a primary stat being added to the damage (as per the Evoker Wizard, the Dragon Sorcerer's Elemental Affinity or the Potent Spellcasting feature of several Cleric domains) or a d8 of damage being added to whatever you're doing that deals damage once per turn (Improved Divine Smite, Arcane Firearm, Blessed Strikes). Note that the Artificer (which I think is a good benchmark for what you're doing here since it's an arcane half-caster primarily about party support) gets a similar feature in every subclass.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcomage View Post
    Mostly I think the design is looking in the wrong direction. The Bard, even at a half-caster progression, is not lacking versatility. What it is lacking is in direct combat power, and while upgrading from a d4 Vicious Mockery to a d10 Fire Bolt (or from a d8 rapier to a d8+2 with a Dueling fighting style) helps, it's not going to keep up at higher levels and is needlessly limiting because it locks you into a single playstyle if you want to try to keep up.

    Generally, for a direct damage increase feature, you're looking at either a primary stat being added to the damage (as per the Evoker Wizard, the Dragon Sorcerer's Elemental Affinity or the Potent Spellcasting feature of several Cleric domains) or a d8 of damage being added to whatever you're doing that deals damage once per turn (Improved Divine Smite, Arcane Firearm, Blessed Strikes). Note that the Artificer (which I think is a good benchmark for what you're doing here since it's an arcane half-caster primarily about party support) gets a similar feature in every subclass.
    Thing is, I'm not sure the bard should be competetive with heavy hitters, DPR wise. They're getting a ton of other stuff already. I agree that the artificer is a good comparison, but it feels a more dedicated niche. Bards can still heal and support and do skill stuff better than the artificer, I think. Why should they get just as much combat utility?

    I went that direction to allow the bards to better fill their niche. I'm far from sure I'll be going with it, but just making 5th level bards equivalent damage dealers to 5th level artificers feels sort of wrong.

    I recognize I could be wrong about assuming artificers get less out of combat utility than these bards, but that's how it seems to me at the moment.

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
    Thing is, I'm not sure the bard should be competetive with heavy hitters, DPR wise. They're getting a ton of other stuff already. I agree that the artificer is a good comparison, but it feels a more dedicated niche. Bards can still heal and support and do skill stuff better than the artificer, I think. Why should they get just as much combat utility?

    I went that direction to allow the bards to better fill their niche. I'm far from sure I'll be going with it, but just making 5th level bards equivalent damage dealers to 5th level artificers feels sort of wrong.

    I recognize I could be wrong about assuming artificers get less out of combat utility than these bards, but that's how it seems to me at the moment.
    I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on that point. Artificers are very good skill users, though they mostly bring in their proficiency modifier by way of tool use, and the ability to manufacture magic items on the fly lets you bypass a lot of challenges, if you know they're coming.

    The Bard, in its base game incarnation, is already one of the worst damage dealers out of all available classes. They make up for this by offering strong control and party support. In your proposal, Bardic Song does a decent job at making up for support elements in the lost spellcasting progression, but I'm not seeing any of the control options. Fear or Hypnotic Pattern can lock down an entire encounter. Song of Dread is the only Bardic Song option that can even compare, and it's available 5 levels later and only to a single specific subclass. If control elements are being lost by design (as I think is the case here), then to me the logical alternative is to increase the baseline for damage dealing to match and compete in a different arena, because whatever you're trying to put down here will be compared to the baseline Bard, and it needs to look good in that comparison somewhere unless the purpose of this project is to prove that Bards are severely overpowered to begin with (in which case I disagree).

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    Default Re: Song, Sword, and Sorcery: H_H_F_F's Half-Caster Bard.

    I see your point about control options. They come later and have more competition.

    As I said in my original thread, I don't think this class has to be just as strong as the bard. I wouldn't say bards are severely overpowered by any means, but they are a strong class. If the new bard finds a good place within the power curve of all classes, I think that's fine. After all, this is meant as a DM tool, not as an alternative for players in a world that also contains the original bard.

    I'll think on it.

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