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5E A bard walks into a bar

Gundark

Explorer
If you've ever seen Gamers 2, there's a line in there that kind of summarizes this for me. The Bard is playing his lute and standing at the back of the party. One of the PCs says "God dammit, man, HELP!" and the Bard says "I *AM* helping!".

I'd prefer a Bard whose entire purpose wasn't to use nothing but one ability every combat. And especially not to have that ability be "I play my instrument...look at all the bonuses the rest of you get".

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
I'd prefer a Bard whose entire purpose wasn't to use nothing but one ability every combat. And especially not to have that ability be "I play my instrument...look at all the bonuses the rest of you get".
That's not his only purpose. Bards also provide cover, once you get behind the pile of dead ones. :)
 

variant

Adventurer
Yes, I'm aware, and the tier system is based around an assumption of moderate optimization with regards to Prestige Classes, spell choices, and feats.

We are talking about the same tier system, aren't we? When you said "lowest tier", I assumed we were talking about JaronK's tier system.

I don't even know what JaronK's tier system is.
 

The 2e bard was basically a hodge-podge of thief abilities and wizard spells. When they finally got their spells, they progressed faster than a wizard which was nice for a few levels since their experience requirement was much lower. However, they couldn't even wear the armor they were proficient in if they wanted to cast their spells.

The 3.5e was incredibly weak, easily the lowest tier class, but it was certainly an improvement in flavor. Though that meant they didn't even get to throw around fireballs like its 2e counterpart. The bardic abilities no way made up for the fact that they were a subpar spellcaster class.

I disregard everything 4e.

This is straight up wrong, variant.

You presumably don't know much about tiers in 3.XE. Bard is a solid-to-high T3. You sneer about obscure PrCs and Feats, but that's enough to take Bards to T2! For god's sake! T2! If you demand T1, you should know that ONLY full casters got that status, and not even all of them! T2 is pretty crazy. T3 is where most good-but-not-overpowered classes lived.
So no, they are not "lowest tier". Not easily. Not at all. Not even slightly. You need to accept your error, there.

2E Bards were an extremely strong class, and their armour limitations were no worse than any multiclass Mage (by the time the Elf F/M had Elven Chain, you probably had Bracers of Defense or a Ring of Protection). In practice every DM I ever heard of let them cast in armour, though, and I believe Dragon magazine even recommended it (can't remember what the Bard's Handbook had to say). They levelled so fast that they challenged the Wizard for highest level spell they could cast.

You say when they "finally" got their spells. They got their spells AT LEVEL 2. If that's too long to wait, on Rogue XP, god freakin' help you. That's not "finally". :p That's weird.

4E you "disregard", but it still happened. And the Bard in it was great. No possible major complaints great.

Personally, I like the fact the bard actually has a real niche without being a "me too" 3rd wheel. I guess the 4e bard had that as well (and the 2e one could fake it for a few levels due the the oddness or rogue Xp charts and spellcasting). Still, its nice to have a bard that feels like he could replace a core member rather than emulate it badly.

I honestly feel like that's never really been a problem for Bards except in 3E having played them in every edition except 1E. In 2E, they were tremendous. I was the goddamn boss of the party most of the time, playing one. I fought, I cast spells, I influenced NPCs, I identified stuff, etc. etc. - no way was I "emulating badly". 3E. Yeah. Yeah. Hmmm. Not so much. Just kind of terrible at everything. 3.5E/PF, though? Much better, much more solid, actually feels like you have a niche - not a great one, but still decent. 4E completely solid, not a trace of "emulating badly".

So... I do like the 5E Bard, but I don't really like the focus on spellcasting or the slightly boring spell list, and the fact that they cut his ability to buff the party (as opposed to single specific members for single actions) during combat out entirely for the first time, what, ever? COMPLETELY TERRIBLE. As discussed elsewhere, Bless, L1 Cleric spell (and thus spammable) gives 3+ party members +1d4 to hit and save on ALL attacks and saves for the WHOLE combat, so you'd think Bards, who were previously typically granting similar bonuses to a Bless spell, would get an ability like that, or just that, or just another spell which was similar? But you'd be wrong!

Unless they've changed it again - but it seems really unlikely.

If you've ever seen Gamers 2, there's a line in there that kind of summarizes this for me. The Bard is playing his lute and standing at the back of the party. One of the PCs says "God dammit, man, HELP!" and the Bard says "I *AM* helping!".

I'd prefer a Bard whose entire purpose wasn't to use nothing but one ability every combat. And especially not to have that ability be "I play my instrument...look at all the bonuses the rest of you get".

Not only did it almost never add up mathematically(It was almost always a better idea to attack with your weapon than to give bonuses to the rest of the party), but it seems silly that in character ANYONE would consider playing an instrument to be as useful as actually fighting.

I don't mind a character who inspires but doing it continuously and doing it by playing music...not sure about that.

This is complete untrue, Majoru, and Gamers 2 was apparently written by people who know nothing about D&D.

2E. You orate or sing. You don't play a goddamn instrument to grant the bonus.
3.5E You SING. SING. SING. Not play a goddamn instrument. Right here: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/bard.htm#inspireCourage
Pathfinder: You do whatever you want so long as it's perform - it's not even specified - Oratory, Acting, Singing - Instrument if you want, but no-one is making you.
4E. You sing, or orate, or whatever the hell you want.

So how about we don't spread really lazy and inaccurate lies about Bards in front of people who know more about Bards than you do? :p
 
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Li Shenron

Legend
Ok, I'm not a game designer. But can someone honestly explain why the Bard must have this ad-hoc known spells progression, instead of a simpler 1 new spell known every level, starting with 4 and ending with 23? :hmm:
 

Ok, I'm not a game designer. But can someone honestly explain why the Bard must have this ad-hoc known spells progression, instead of a simpler 1 new spell known every level, starting with 4 and ending with 23? :hmm:

It first goes funky with the "magical secrets" ability, which also reappears each time the spells known jump by two rather than one. I assume that's something to do with it.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I honestly feel like that's never really been a problem for Bards except in 3E having played them in every edition except 1E. In 2E, they were tremendous. I was the goddamn boss of the party most of the time, playing one. I fought, I cast spells, I influenced NPCs, I identified stuff, etc. etc. - no way was I "emulating badly". 3E. Yeah. Yeah. Hmmm. Not so much. Just kind of terrible at everything. 3.5E/PF, though? Much better, much more solid, actually feels like you have a niche - not a great one, but still decent. 4E completely solid, not a trace of "emulating badly".

My rationale (as a bard player myself in 2e, 3e, and PF, had quit 4e before ever trying one).

If we imagine the Four Basic Food Group Classes (Fighters, Rogues, Clerics, Wizards) we get a sense of what each classes "role" is (not in 4e sense of the term, but the more generic earlier). Fighters were supposed to be good in melee, wizards had spells, cleric's healed, and rogues were sneaky, larcenous, and trap-finding.

Most classes tried to "fill" one of those roles: a druid could be a decent cleric, a ranger or paladin did a fighter's job, a sorcerer was a replacement wizard, etc. A bard didn't. He couldn't fight to fill a fighter's role (low hp/attack), a clerics (no healing in 2e, weak and slow healing in 3e), a wizards (solid in low-level 2e, but lacking in 3e) and a rogues (the four worst thief skills in 2e, and average-good skill points in 3e but no traps thanks to trapfinding). Even with a bard's songs and stuff, they were never good enough to replace a core four member, so they always were the "5th wheel" after you filled the other roles first.

4e did break that mold by making them leaders, a tradition the 5e bard proudly carries on. A 5e bard CAN replace a cleric now.

So... I do like the 5E Bard, but I don't really like the focus on spellcasting or the slightly boring spell list, and the fact that they cut his ability to buff the party (as opposed to single specific members for single actions) during combat out entirely for the first time, what, ever? COMPLETELY TERRIBLE. As discussed elsewhere, Bless, L1 Cleric spell (and thus spammable) gives 3+ party members +1d4 to hit and save on ALL attacks and saves for the WHOLE combat, so you'd think Bards, who were previously typically granting similar bonuses to a Bless spell, would get an ability like that, or just that, or just another spell which was similar? But you'd be wrong!

Unless they've changed it again - but it seems really unlikely.

I think this is a major tonal shift: before a bard had hack-eyed casting to support their magical songs and now they are primarily spellcasters and have some minor song-based powers to augment that. Which is why I think the cleric example is apt: bard inspiration is pretty much on par now with Channel Divinity rather than being the be-all-end-all of the bard. I wager they'll be more a debuffer-healer (or in 4e parlance: controller/leader) than the preview walking prayer-spell.

This is complete untrue, Majoru, and Gamers 2 was apparently written by people who know nothing about D&D.

The Gamers was a COMEDY dude. I'm pretty sure they know (and are making fun of) the perception of bards.

Lighten up Francis.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
variant said:
The bardic abilities no way made up for the fact that they were a subpar spellcaster class.

This is straight up wrong, variant.
...
Not easily. Not at all. Not even slightly. You need to accept your error, there.
...
No possible major complaints great.
...
This is complete untrue, Majoru
...
So how about we don't spread really lazy and inaccurate lies about Bards in front of people who know more about Bards than you do? :p

Okay, we're seriously going to need to turn down the "you either agree with me or you're wrong" thing. Experiences differ. If that's not a fact you can admit into your worldview, just mentally replace any disagreeable posts with the words "Blah blah blah I'm wrong blah blah blah" and move on with your day.
 

gyor

Legend
I kind of liked Vicious Mockery myself. Even as an HP-as-meat guy. I always imagined the target of the spell simply springing wounds from their flesh as the bard insulted and belittled them, literally shredding them to ribbons with cutting insults.

"Your nose is repulsive! Your face would be better without it!" and slices appear on the target's face.

"You're a fool for marching behind this blackguard!" and the target stumbles as his leg muscles experience a sudden slice.

"Thank you for cooling my skin, but I can't help but think you waggling your sword around like that is a tremendously inefficient way to fan me." And the target's arms begin to bleed from cuts.

"Sniveling whelp." And the orc's skin is flayed from her bones in an instant.

That's part of the awesome bard magic to me, the ability to shape words into weapons. What a wizard does with bullets of force, a bard does with barbed tongues.

That said, it is a cantrip. Would not be shocked if it did no damage in 5e.

The way I picture it, the insult of vicious mockery so enrages the target, that it has a minor stroke, which causes the damage.
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
This is complete untrue, Majoru, and Gamers 2 was apparently written by people who know nothing about D&D.

2E. You orate or sing. You don't play a goddamn instrument to grant the bonus.
3.5E You SING. SING. SING. Not play a goddamn instrument. Right here: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/bard.htm#inspireCourage
Pathfinder: You do whatever you want so long as it's perform - it's not even specified - Oratory, Acting, Singing - Instrument if you want, but no-one is making you.
4E. You sing, or orate, or whatever the hell you want.
Singing sounds so poor by itself, might as well play an instrument to have some accompaniment. :)

Besides, it doesn't so much matter if it is singing or playing an instrument. It's still silly. And even though you COULD just sing, that didn't stop nearly every bard in existence from saying "No, I don't need to attack...I'm singing, so I do nothing this turn."
 

Moorcrys

Explorer
Looking good to me. And I like the art - she looks like a badass.

I haven't looked at the alpha playtest, so I don't know what they can actually do... but for a fluffy preview it certainly makes me excited to get my filthy paws on a Player's Handbook, which is the point of these previews I'd imagine.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Singing sounds so poor by itself, might as well play an instrument to have some accompaniment. :)

Besides, it doesn't so much matter if it is singing or playing an instrument. It's still silly. And even though you COULD just sing, that didn't stop nearly every bard in existence from saying "No, I don't need to attack...I'm singing, so I do nothing this turn."

I don't know what the heck those lazy minstrels were doing, 'cause I was belting out poetry while plinking away with my crossbow or bow when I played my bard. :)

Seriously, there's nothing to stop a bard from launching their inspiration and then moving to something else, because it lasts for 5 rounds after you stop -- pretty much the length of the combat.
 

Singing sounds so poor by itself, might as well play an instrument to have some accompaniment. :)

:) But as I've shown, I hope, you literally do not need it.

Besides, it doesn't so much matter if it is singing or playing an instrument. It's still silly. And even though you COULD just sing, that didn't stop nearly every bard in existence from saying "No, I don't need to attack...I'm singing, so I do nothing this turn."

I've never come across this "I don't need to attack" business, so I'm really skeptical that "nearly every bard in existence" did it, especially as there was no edition which specified using an instrument. It seems more like this is a hackneyed stereotype that people like to get lolz out of to me, but y'know, YMMV.
 

First: I have played nearly every bard in the bard handbook of 2e and played bards in 3e and a little in 4e

Some things I noticed in your text:

They levelled so fast that they challenged the Wizard for highest level spell they could cast.

snip

So... I do like the 5E Bard, but I don't really like the focus on spellcasting or the slightly boring spell list, and the fact that they cut his ability to buff the party (as opposed to single specific members for single actions) during combat out entirely for the first time, what, ever? COMPLETELY TERRIBLE.
,

You are contradicting yourself
The bard in 2e was nearly a full spellcaster as you mentioned. His generous xp progression allowed him to have level 3 spells at the same time the wizard does and then he casts at lvl 7, not 5. He has slightly less spells per day and so it evens out.

Now in 5e he is finally a full spellcaster again. So actually his focus on spellcasting is not really more than in 2e.

The bard has a lot of skills, and is capable of fighting (like in 2e) d6 hp in 2e with fast progresion equals d8 here.

In 2e, as per RAW, the bard did not sing during the fight, but he had to sing before the fight to bolster his allies. So all in all, the 5e bard is very comparable to the 2e bard.

I do believ bolsteing allies will be done via spellcasting. There really is no need to have additional layers. His spells are his songs. And if you add subclasses, there will most probably be a subclass that bolsters allies during fights.
[MENTION=39652]Yo[/MENTION]ur opinion about the bards tier in 3e:
I don´t agree with you. In 3.0 the bard was really somewhere at the bottom of the barrel. Especially when you compare 2e with 3e (his spellcasting and hp was toally nerfed, both in selection of spells as in power, due to xp progression) It was sad. 3.5 remedied a bit by giving him some exclusive spells and shifting some bard spells to lower levels (tasha´s hideous loughter) and allowing him to cast in armor, which even the 2e bard was not allowed. Pathfinder (although i don´t play it) made the bard decent again, by upping hp, spellcasting and skills.
Last, the 5e playtest bard was quite imbalanced. Too few hp, and spellcasting. Way overpowered battle songs. Not working for a base class.
 

You are contradicting yourself
The bard in 2e was nearly a full spellcaster as you mentioned. His generous xp progression allowed him to have level 3 spells at the same time the wizard does and then he casts at lvl 7, not 5. He has slightly less spells per day and so it evens out.

Now in 5e he is finally a full spellcaster again. So actually his focus on spellcasting is not really more than in 2e.

Can you explain to me how this is a "contradiction"? I'm confused.

In 2e, as per RAW, the bard did not sing during the fight, but he had to sing before the fight to bolster his allies. So all in all, the 5e bard is very comparable to the 2e bard.

For three rounds before the fight, yes, but the 5E one cannot do even that.

I do believ bolsteing allies will be done via spellcasting. There really is no need to have additional layers. His spells are his songs.

I was thinking the exact same until I saw the Alpha Bard spell list! :(

The Bard has none of the expected "buff the party" spells. I see literally no party-buffing spells in his list from spell levels 1-5 (stopped looking after that, because campaigns that go past 10 are somewhat uncommon, I am told).

Cleric has Bless, Protection from Evil, Aid, Beacon of Hope, Magic Circle, Prayer, Death Ward in those levels.

I'm not saying the Bard should have the same exact spells, but when both Bless and Prayer do the exact same things as pre-5E Bard abilities (i.e. buff the party by a small amount during combat), I think that is a big problem.

What's weird is, all the Paladin's Auras are spells (makes sense, right?) but none of the Bard's songs are.

I do think what you're proposing is a good design, but it isn't the design in the Playtest or the Alpha. Let's hope it changed.

And if you add subclasses, there will most probably be a subclass that bolsters allies during fights.

In the Playtest, all did. In the Alpha, you can only buff 1 ally for 1 roll, CHA mod times/day. You have to do this pre-emptively and it costs a Bonus action (so 1/round at most).

3.5 remedied a bit by giving him some exclusive spells and shifting some bard spells to lower levels (tasha´s hideous loughter) and allowing him to cast in armor, which even the 2e bard was not allowed. Pathfinder (although i don´t play it) made the bard decent again, by upping hp, spellcasting and skills.

I agree.

Last, the 5e playtest bard was quite imbalanced. Too few hp, and spellcasting. Way overpowered battle songs. Not working for a base class.

I'm not saying he didn't need adjusting, I'm saying a Bard who can't sing/orate and buff the party isn't really a D&D Bard. If the Cleric can have Bless and Aid, the Bard can certainly have them too, or Bard versions of them.

This would be easy to fix by making Song-Spells, the Alpha didn't have those, let's hope the actual release does.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
The way I picture it, the insult of vicious mockery so enrages the target, that it has a minor stroke, which causes the damage.

The way I DMed the power was that it would drive the target insane. Creatures reduced to 0 HP by it would take their own lives as a default. If the player actually said something their behaviour might be different, but with 0 HP they didn't have much staying power.
 

Can you explain to me how this is a "contradiction"? I'm confused.

You said you don´t like the spell fokus, but liked the bards spell progression in AD&D where you correctly stated that a bard did rarely lag behin wizards in spellcasting power.

This would be easy to fix by making Song-Spells, the Alpha didn't have those, let's hope the actual release does.

The open playtest was different, the spellist of alpha seemed incomplete. I missed summon spells too.
I hope that the bard gets some song spells. Words of courage or something would be nice.
 

You said you don´t like the spell fokus, but liked the bards spell progression in AD&D where you correctly stated that a bard did rarely lag behin wizards in spellcasting power.

That's true, but they got that AS WELL as their other stuff! I guess I should be clear that I don't want it INSTEAD! :)

The open playtest was different, the spellist of alpha seemed incomplete. I missed summon spells too. I hope that the bard gets some song spells. Words of courage or something would be nice.

Yep. Fingers crossed that they added some last-minute spells to the Bard list to make up for the missing songs. It would only take literally 3-4 spells, tops.

I guess I can always design them for my game - but I don't get to play MY game! :)
 

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