(5E) Help me pick spells for my Lore Bard
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  1. #1
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    (5E) Help me pick spells for my Lore Bard

    Campaign: Tomb of Annihilation
    Current Level: 5
    Character: Half-elf Lore Bard with Anthropologist background. Mostly fills role of support/utility/social skills character
    Rest of party: Lizardfolk druid, tabaxi rogue, tiefling warlock

    Spells I currently have

    Cantrips:
    Vicious Mockery
    Minor Illusion
    Prestidigitation

    1st
    Comprehend Languages
    Healing Word
    Identify

    2nd
    Enhance Ability
    Lesser Restoration (would consider dropping - Druid can also cast)
    Phantasmal Force (would consider dropping)

    3rd
    Leomund's Tiny Hut
    Sending

    Next level, I can add up to 4 spells (1 bard spell, 2 magical secrets, plus 1 additional bard spell if I replace one i already know)

    Bard spells I'm considering adding:

    Heroism (1) - Based on how our fights tend to go, having multiple party members gaining 4 temporary hp per round would be helpful. I tend to spend fights spamming Healing Word to get or keep people on their feet.

    Sleep (1) - crowd control, not sure how well it will stack but seems like could still be effective to shut down wounded groups

    Shatter (2) - I don't have a lot of offensive spells, and this damage stacks pretty decently and is (albeit limited) AOE

    Silence (2) - It's ToA and a lot of fights so far take place in large jungle areas, so usefulness might be limited

    Catnap (3) - Seems like pretty great utility spell, especially as the warlock gets everything back on a her short rests

    Clairvoyance (3) - Cool utility spell

    Considering for Magical Secrets:

    Fireball (3) - obvious reasons. Our party otherwise does not have access to this spell.

    Spiritual Weapon (2) - solid combat spell

    Spirit Guardians (3) - pretty awesome combat spell, plus our party's ability to do radiant damage is pretty limited. However, I usually stay more than 15' away from enemies if I can help it

    Eldritch Blast (Cantrip) - arguably the best offensive cantrip (I'm currently still using Vicious Mockery...a lot)

    Find Familiar (1) - we don't have any familiars, and this would basically add a permanent ability for my character.

    (Note: I would absolutely choose Revivify here except it's ToA so that spell doesn't work)

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Burnside; Friday, 19th October, 2018 at 03:22 PM.

  2. #2
    If you don't have access to Agonizing Blast, Toll the dead will give you better damage than Eldritch Blast for a Cantrip, assuming you're hitting a target that's not at full health. I don't think I would use one of my level 6 magical secret slots on a cantrip though.

    Hypnotic Pattern is a great control spell on the bard spell list, 120 foot range, 30 foot diameter sphere, creatures who fail a save are incapacitated for a full minute. I'd recommend it over spells like Sleep

    Locate Animals or Plants seems like it could be useful in the jungle, plus it's a ritual.

    Find Steed is a good option for magical secrets. The warhorse gives you an effective movement speed of 100 (since a mount can take the dash action every turn) Plus you only need to cast it once and the steed lasts until it dies. For your second magical secret, I'd recommend Spiritual Weapon, as it does high damage which bards otherwise lack.

    Another option would be Spirit Guardians plus some sort of defensive spell like Mirror Image to help you fight in close range.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the ideas.

    Regarding taking a cantrip, I think it might be a good idea to take an offensive cantrip because I find myself wishing I had a solid damage-dealing option that doesn't burn a spell slot. Eldritch Blast appeals to me because of the versatility of having the option to fire it at multiple targets or the same one - it essentially would give me a multi-attack at range, which I don't currently have. Toll the Dead is actually a great fit thematically for a bard, which I hadn't thought of (so much so that I almost feel that cantrip should be on the bard spell list) but I would like something that applies my spell attack modifier rather than a saving throw - and Toll the Dead calls for a Wisdom save just like Vicious Mockery which I already have. I'd like something to hit the smart monsters with.

    Locate Plants or Animals is definitely useful in our campaign, but I leave it to our druid.

    Hypnotic Pattern is a great suggestion.

    Find Steed, like Revivify, is something I might very strongly consider in a different campaign. Warhorses just aren't very practical in the jungle.
    Last edited by Burnside; Friday, 19th October, 2018 at 03:38 PM.

  4. #4
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    While I understand your thinking, I definitely would hesitate to use Magical Secrets to obtain a cantrip. If you can spare a feat instead, something like Magic Initiate or Spell Sniper could grant you access to some cantrips from the Sorcerer or Warlock spell lists, although that wouldn't be for another 2 levels. (You could dip into Sorcerer or Warlock for a level too.)

    Save your Magical Secrets for more potent spells, unless you simply have no other way to get a cantrip to blast when you're not doing anything else that round.

    In your shoes, I'd consider Haste, Fireball, Spiritual Weapon, Aura of Vitality, or Counterspell.

    Counterspell is very handy (read: nearly indispensable) when going against enemy spellcasters, and Bards get their Jack of All Trades bonus to the ability score roll involved, but it can be potentially passed over if your Warlock is willing to handle that role for the party. The other three are spells that your party wouldn't have access to otherwise. Haste is a powerful buff for you or another party member, which meshes well with your support/buffing role. Spiritual Weapon is a good pick if you want to boost your own Damage Per Round, provided you don't already have another regular use for your bonus action. Aura of Vitality is a potent healing spell, if you find yourself taking the party healer role more often than not. And Fireball is a great way to add some Area of Effect damage to the party for handling mobs, if needed.

    While I agree that a horse or camel from Find Steed wouldn't be very useful in your current setting, I'd recommend considering the 4th Level Find Greater Steed for your next Magical Secrets interval at 10th level. A griffon, pegasus, or saber tooth tiger, or even something like a giant spider (with DM approval), could be viable in a jungle.
    Last edited by RogueJK; Friday, 19th October, 2018 at 07:52 PM.

  5. #5
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    I should have mentioned: our DM does not allow feats at all.

    I am considering a level dip though, but there would need to be storyline justification (in my character's case a dip into cleric or paladin would make sense, other classes less so).

    Our Warlock does have Counterspell (though two characters having it certainly wouldn't hurt, especially with the warlock having limited spell slots).

    Aura of Vitality is great and I had overlooked it; I should probably also consider Mass Healing Word for similar reasons.
    Last edited by Burnside; Friday, 19th October, 2018 at 08:00 PM.

  6. #6
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    Apprentice with your party Warlock. Have them act as an intermediary with their patron, to forge a pact where the patron grants you a small portion of power (read: one level) in exchange for *insert story-appropriate trade here*.

    Or, while it wouldn't be as effective as Sorcerer or Warlock since I'm assuming your Charisma is likely higher than your Wisdom, a dip into something like Life Cleric could be handy, provided you have a decent Wisdom (16ish). They'd also grant you Cantrips as well as a few other 1st Level bonuses, including bonuses to your healing spells. A Life Cleric 1/Lore Bard 6 with Healing Word (Bard/Cleric spells), Cure Wounds (Cleric spell), and Aura of Vitality (Bard Magic Secrets spell) would be a pretty effective healer.

    Nature Cleric or Arcana Cleric would get you access to even more Cantrips from other spell lists, provided you have the Wisdom to use them effectively.
    Last edited by RogueJK; Friday, 19th October, 2018 at 08:24 PM.
    XP Burnside gave XP for this post

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin O. View Post
    If you don't have access to Agonizing Blast, Toll the dead will give you better damage than Eldritch Blast for a Cantrip, assuming you're hitting a target that's not at full health. I don't think I would use one of my level 6 magical secret slots on a cantrip though.
    True stuff!

  8. #8
    Might I suggest Haste. It covers a lot of bases. Survivability, Mobility, Huge damage increase when cast on the rogue (can allow them to ready an attack for off their turn, applying double sneak attack).

    Heroism requires concentration so I wouldn't use it. Your concentration slot is too valuable for control and higher tier spells.

    Drop Lesser Restoration since the Druid has it

    I have two possible recommendations.

    1. Haste
    2. Shatter
    3. Cure Wounds
    4. Fireball / Counterspell / Shield

    OR

    1. Aura of Vitality
    2. Shatter
    3. Dissonant Whispers
    4. Fireball / Counterspell / Shield

    The playstyle is simple. Start the hard fights with your appropriate level 3 concentration spell.
    Use Shatter and or Dissonant Whispers as direct damage as needed.

    Medium difficulty fights start with phantasmal force to control one of the harder hitting enemies or just shatter the little mooks.

    I actually think the Aura of Vitality route is a little stronger, but haste on a rogue always very appealing.

    If you find yourself using aura of vitality a lot then trade out healing word for cure wounds eventually.

    If your rogue is melee instead of ranged then dissonant whispers may can get him a few extra sneak attacks in as well.

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