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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    So, one thing has bugged me about 3.5e classes... I still can't find a good use for a bard. After much forum derision towards some classes, efforts to challenge myself, and a deep look into the rules, I've found good uses for the ranger, fighter and even the poor monk. But I still got nothing for the bard. I mean it seems like he can poorly buff and poorly mimic 3 other classes. What use is that in a mixed party when the party can better handle any challenge, and really the bard could contribute more by focusing on something?

    So maybe someone could post some good bard strats without prestiging him out. EDIT: No splatbooks either. I have my own strat that makes him into the party skillmonkey, caster of useful low level spells, and magic item crafter, but that hardly seems worth it compared to making a full caster into the party batman, caster of useful low level spells and magic item crafter.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2008-05-20 at 09:02 AM.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    So, one thing has bugged me about 3.5e classes... I still can't find a good use for a bard. After much forum derision towards some classes, efforts to challenge myself, and a deep look into the rules, I've found good uses for the ranger, fighter and even the poor monk. But I still got nothing for the bard. I mean it seems like he can poorly buff and poorly mimic 3 other classes. What use is that in a mixed party when the party can better handle any challenge, and really the bard could contribute more by focusing on something?

    So maybe someone could post some good bard strats without prestiging him out. I have my own strat that makes him into the party skillmonkey and magic item crafter, but that hardly seems worth it compared to making a full caster into the party batman and magic item crafter.
    Virtuoso with PrC's. Fascinate. Dragonfire bard. White raven bard. Otto's irresistible dancer. Inspire superpwn (AKA courage).

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    Combine UMD, Decent Spell Selection, Bardic Music... you're the generalist... you're there to make everyone else better.

    For Instance... my bard this weekend picked up a whip. We had trouble hitting the BBEG... so I took a risk and tripped him. Worked wonders.

    Never underestimate the ability to make everyone else better.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    Bards can be good if you try.
    Iaijutsu focus and Snowflake Wardance come to mind.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    "without prestiging him out" now underlined in first post. Already italicized the without, may increase font if necessary.

    EDIT: I appreciate Sam's post, but I've already looked at the points he mentioned before:
    UMD: Usually better to dip 1 level into a caster. Utility scrolls & wands are handy, but the full caster example I gave still seems like a better option.

    Tripping: Simply reflects most people's poor understanding of combat tactics with other classes. This is why the monk can in fact be useful, and why fighters can & should do more than just hit (though they're also good at hitting).

    Bardic music: Most/all are not worth the standard action it takes to start them. If you can start them before combat, great, but it's a minor plus.

    Basically a buffing/battlefield control sorceror still seems like a much better option. Pop everyone with heroism and it's long duration out of combat, use the same mass buffs (like haste) in combat earlier than a bard can, disable baddies with battlefield control spells. Carry lots of utility scrolls and maybe wands.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2008-05-20 at 09:03 AM.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    Solo and I both provided you with ways to make the bard useful without prestige.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    Ah, I though Solo was using prestige. Ok, I'll add "no splatbooks". Let's try a core bard here.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2008-05-20 at 09:02 AM.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    Dragonfire Inspiration combined with the TWF and optimized Inspire Courge is pretty decent. Making 7-8 attacks a round with +~8d6 fire damage on each one. Its a lot better if you can combine with Warblade using Song of the White Raven and Tiger Claw maneuvers, but you could build it with straight bard too.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the bard?

    Core Only Bard.

    UMD - Never underestimate the ability to cover some spellcasting. Especially those scrolls of lesser restoration, remove disease, remove poison etc.

    Cure X Wounds - These are all on a Bard's spell list and he should have a wand to serve as back up healer... he can even be main healer if he adds them to his spells known at the appropriate level.

    Bardic Music - Very underestimated. +1 to hit and damage is huge, because it makes everyone better. Sure, you have to use an action on it... but it doesn't take you out of the fight after that. And that's only low level inspire courage. You can also use Fascinate, Suggestion, Inspire Heroics, Inspire Greatness... the list goes on.

    Skills - You have 6+int skills... you can spread these out as you choose, but you'll probably be best focusing on skills that make you Likable... or at least believable. My top choices are: Perform, Diplomacy, Bluff, Tumble, Use Magic Device, Speak Language, Knowledges... but milage may vary.

    Diplomancy - A half elf bard at first level can easily have a +9 diplomacy. At 2nd level it jumps to a staggering +16 (3 different synergys - Bluff, Sense Motive and Know [nobility and royalty]) You can now take someone from Unfriendly to Friendly on a roll of a 9. At Second level.

    Bardic Lore - You know -everything-! Its always valuable to a party to say "oh, This place used to be haunted by dread wraiths and dire hippopotomus ghosts". Things like that are invaluable.

    As for feats... again, it depends on what you are trying to do with your character and where you're trying to fill in. Want to be in combat? Combat Expertise and Trip/Disarm work wonders with a Bard's automatic proficiency with a Whip. Maybe you want to be an archer, pick up Point Blank/Precise line. You literally can take this anywhere.

    You've got 3/4 BAB, TWO good Saves, d6 hit die... there is -nothing- bad about bard, it just gets overlooked because it doesnt need to focus on any ONE thing.
    Last edited by SamTheCleric; 2008-05-20 at 09:10 AM.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    I'm not sure why you are so adamant about not prestiging out; after all, a fighter and a wizard also tend to prestige out as soon as level 6.

    Anyway. The obvious role for a bard is face, although whether you need this depends on the type of the campaign (the more social interaction in there, the more the bard shines). Aside from that, based on the fluff I know many people who simply like playing bards for the roleplaying.

    Mechanically speaking, the bard is essentially "second best at everything", which I believe is a viable (if suboptimal) party role. Note that I meant "second best within the party", not of "all classes in general". This means that (1) if the party splits up, the bard can go in any of the groups and be useful; (2) if the party for whatever reason lacks some particular role, the bard can step in; and (3) if the party is smaller than the Classic Four-man Band, having a jack of all trades helps.

    Other than that, just take spells that the wizard doesn't know, learn skills the rogue doesn't want, and use combat tricks the fighter doesn't like.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Eric, what are you looking for here?

    Yeah, if you stick to core, the power balance is silly. Melee classes dominate the low-level game while full-casters dominate at mid to high levels.

    I guess the question is, are you sticking to core because that's all you have access to, or to prove a point? It seems like you already have an opinion on the Bard's utility.

    A core Bard is never going to fight as well as a Fighter or even a Rogue. He'll never be as powerful a caster as a Druid or Sorcerer. The power of the Bard, in core, is being able to do a little bit of everything; jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

    Besides, not everything in this game is combat. When it comes to non-combat encounters, particularly anything that requires NPC interactions, the Bard becomes incredibly important and powerful.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    What Hal said.

    The Bard does not exist to be some awesome guy who hits the I win button every fight. He is subtle and generally is best as a party face, information broker and 5th wheel. He is there to fill the gaps in the battle that isn't being covered because of circumstance.

    The fighter needs healing, but the cleric is busy healing the rogue, or has a monster in his face: The bard heals the fighter.

    The cleric needs someone to get a monster off him, but the fighter is helping the rogue: The bard distracts the monster (via spells or fighting).

    The rogue needs someone to help him flank, but the fighter is protecting the wizard: The bard moves in for the flank.

    The wizard needs to cast a spell, but the enemy is counter-spelling: The bard uses counter-song or readies to counter the counter-spell.

    That's all in addition to singing to boost everyone and all the other tricks of the bard trade.

    Bard isn't a bad class, it's just not a class for people who want to be "the best" at whatever they do.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    "Making others better" is really what the Bard is all about. And not just for Bardic Music, though that's the most obvious one. It's also true for spellcasting. The Bard's spell list itself can allow other casters to be better. Not that it raises their caster level, but that there are quite a few utility spells on there. Batman favorites like Grease, Feather Fall, Sleep, Blur, Blink, Mirror Image, Glitterdust, Dispel Magic, Greater Dispel Magic, Haste, Dimension Door, Greater Invisibility, and Rainbow Pattern are there. So are Cleric staples like Heroes' Feast and some Cure spells.

    All well and good, you might say, but can't the other casters already do that stuff? Here's where the concept of "opportunity cost" comes in. Every time the Cleric casts Heroes' Feast, that's one more Blade Barrier or Harm he can't cast. Every Glitterdust the Wizard casts is a Web or See Invisibility or Spider Climb he can't cast. Even if the Bard doesn't have a Cure spell prepared, hand him a wand and the Cleric can concentrate on smiting his foes instead of healing in-combat.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    There were some good points made and I can see a careful bard being useful. There were some others that I already addressed/etc., so I won't start an argument. Thanks, I think I have a better idea about bard usage now. Btw, this completes the loop for me. I'm pretty well satisfied with every class in the PHB now.

    EDIT (more detail):
    So I think it's best for the bard to focus on things that he can do as-well/almost-as-well as other classes (i.e., the things people mentioned). Sure, a 2nd caster/rogue/fighter/etc. could do just as well or better, but the bard can handle all the busywork of all 3-4 classes as the need arises. Plus bardic knowledge and other abilities that can be used without consuming a precious combat action are all gravy. Perhaps the bard could better be considered "the master of all 'weak' but necessary trades, and the jack of no strong ones."

    Every +1 is handy but bardic music still doesn't seem worth a standard action. Well, maybe it's worth it after you get +3 or +4. Is this a trap or is there a good way to use inspire courage? Anyone ever use fascinate/suggestion? Inspire competence is all gravy, I guess, annoying as it may be (otherwise I'm not one to complain about a free +2).
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2008-05-20 at 01:40 PM.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    I'm sorry, but I really need to disagee with your comment of: "the master of all weak but necessary trades, and the jack of no strong ones."

    Social interaction is half of a good D&D campaign. If there isn't enough social interaction to merit having a good Bard face, then your campaign is probably one giant dungeon crawl.
    A bard can look somebody in the face, stab him in that face, and then, (with the help of Glibness) say, "Why'd you just stab yourself in the face?" Mr. Faceblade would believe him.
    A bard can look a King in the face, roll Diplomacy and say, "Good King, I know I just killed your only son, so, let me replace an heir with an heir by allowing me to marry your incredibly hot daughter." The wedding would be that same evening.

    As for a +1 attack and damage with bardic music: Considering that, at first level, a bard can double the bonuses on melee attacks for everybody in the party, for as many rounds as he keeps singing (which takes no effort on the part of the player)...that's pretty dang impressive. The bard is a buffer. Using one action to boost your entire party is not a waste, at all. What were you gonna do with that round anyways? Move 30ft away from your biggest threat, and buff yourself somehow? Yeah...just spread the butter onto the entire party. It's useful, and it's not a waste.

    Just because the Bard won't outshine anything else in combat doesn't mean the places he does outshine the party any less relevant. An entire fight can be one with a well timed Diplomacy roll. An entire war can be prevented with the same Diplomacy score.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Not to mention, a Snowflake Wardance bard is going to be an excellent combatant.

    And in fact, ALL of the strategies I noted on the first post work without PrCs.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Burley Warlock View Post
    A bard can look a King in the face, roll Diplomacy and say, "Good King, I know I just killed your only son, so, let me replace an heir with an heir by allowing me to marry your incredibly hot daughter." The wedding would be that same evening.
    7.5 out of 10. You lost points for not putting in the obligatory Monty Python quote.

    "This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    ...

    Fighting urge to use reason with something that's (mostly, not all) ridiculously unreasonable, as person probably won't pay attention anyway. I think there's been enough good options pointed out for the bard already. No need to ruin it now with silly stuff.

    Just gonna say thanks to Sam, Kurald, Mr. Friendly and Telonius.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2008-05-20 at 01:51 PM.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Basically, the problem people have with the Bard is that they focus on the wrong parts of his abilities -- trying to fit him in as a caster or (worse) a combatant. Those make good secondary abilities, but they're not his chief role.

    Primarily, the Bard is a skillmonkey. Compare him to the rogue and you get an idea of how good the class is; you're basically trading two skill points per level (out of a still-decent pool of 6), sneak attack, and trapfinding for some decent casting and buffing ability. It's a fair trade. Just like the core rogue is a strictly secondary combatant whose role in combat is just to back up their primary skill-monkey role outside of fights, the core bard is a secondary caster / buffer whose abilities there are intended to back up their primary purpose as a skillmonkey.

    Bards are rogues that focus on magic, buffs, and song instead of stabbing and traps. They do just fine at that.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    ...

    Fighting urge to use reason with something that's (only mostly) ridiculously unreasonable, as person probably won't pay attention anyway. I think there's been enough good options pointed out for the bard already. No need to ruin it now with silly stuff.
    Actually, every build presented here is perfectly valuable and reasonable.

    A Bard CAN do that diplomacy trick, easily.

    Burley still spoke a ton of nonsense, though.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    The Core Bard can also dip 2 levels of Rogue to get Trapfinding and Evasion, as well as make Search and Disable Device class skills (as far as their maximum number of ranks is concerned).

    If you're a typical 5th-wheel bard, this is dumb -- you'd get more utility out of 2 more levels of spellcasting and bardic music. But if you need the Core Bard to be able to fill one of the Four Party Roles, voila -- you have a viable skill monkey.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telonius View Post
    "This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.
    Yeah, we all know how that turned out... they were forced to eat Robin's bards, er, minstrels, and there was much rejoicing.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    I speak truth, spiked with nonsense. I used hyperbole, but only to illistrate completely viable points.
    Contrary to (not so popular, but apparently existing) belief, I am open to criticism and civilized discussion. I would be perfectly willing to accept another person's retort to my opinion, would a person choose to state it, rather than simply saying that I am unruly and unworthy of the time.

    I agree with Azerian, though. I do speak nonsense. I would like to thank Azerian, since he received no thanks from anybody else for his part in this thread, and I wouldn't want to pass off the idea that I would mention him and passive aggresively insult him.

    @ Telonious: I shall not go into the Land of Monty Python Quotes, for that is a silly place.
    Last edited by Burley; 2008-05-20 at 02:14 PM.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Y'see, what you said was not bad, but it went from a very flawed assumption:

    Somebody actually rolls for the talkin', which is purely a RP action.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    I thought the thread was about making a mechanically strong Bard, not an unstoppable RPer...
    Now I just feel stupid... Thanks, Azerian. You've shattered my dreams... as a 20th level Warlock. Over and Over and OVER!
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    'Cause a focused Sunder using Psywar powered by Divine Power and Wraithstrike is where it's at, baby.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Its always valuable to a party to say "oh, This place used to be haunted by dread wraiths and dire hippopotomus ghosts".
    Especially when it isn't true.

    Really, I would say that a bard is valuable in a party of any size other than 4. In a smaller party, you need his versatility: A party of 2 or 3 characters can limp along with a bard filling two roles out of skillmonkey, arcane casting, and healing. In a larger party, his buffing ability really comes to the fore: You can make sure that the rogue can pick that lock, or make sure that the fighter can hit that monster, or make sure that the wizard can concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, concentrate on casting that spell defensively. When you're improving everyone, the more other characters there are to improve, the better. And when you've got 4 or 5 other people to improve, the amount you improve each one by doesn't have to be much to be significant.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    Really, I would say that a bard is valuable in a party of any size other than 4. In a smaller party, you need his versatility: A party of 2 or 3 characters can limp along with a bard filling two roles out of skillmonkey, arcane casting, and healing. In a larger party, his buffing ability really comes to the fore: You can make sure that the rogue can pick that lock, or make sure that the fighter can hit that monster, or make sure that the wizard can concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, concentrate on casting that spell defensively. When you're improving everyone, the more other characters there are to improve, the better. And when you've got 4 or 5 other people to improve, the amount you improve each one by doesn't have to be much to be significant.
    Chronos hit the nail on the head here.

    I will reiterate that the Bardic Knowledge check that the Bard - and only the Bard - gets can be a godsend at times.

    Actually, there is one role that the Bard can fill quite well in an iconic 4-person party - if they one-level dip in Rogue they can fill the trapfinder role, which is particularly beneficial if the campaign features lots of unsneakattackable enemies (i.e. undead-heavy).
    Last edited by JaxGaret; 2008-05-20 at 06:56 PM.
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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    for the inspire courage problem (standard action to start)... just put points into performance (poetry) and speak in rhymes all day long.
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    A Bard will slowly twist your ethics, corrupt your morals, and make you do vile acts just for the chance to face him. When you fight him, he will have your family and friends fighting for him. For he wields the deadliest weapon against you and that is, his word against yours.

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    Default Re: with moderate power... is there any hope for the core bard?

    Quote Originally Posted by quiet1mi View Post
    for the inspire courage problem (standard action to start)... just put points into performance (poetry) and speak in rhymes all day long.
    By RAW, that works. There's no rules that say you can't do it, anyway...
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