D&D 5E Advise me on a Dragonborn Valor Bard

Alright--as I said in my other advice-seeking thread, I have settled on going for a Valor Bard with my character. It was given quite a bit of praise in that thread, and now that the path is open for it, I am hopeful I can get something fun out of it.

However...I still feel pretty lost in actually making the character, mechanically. (Thematics are still up in the air, but I can handle that part myself.)

First, some relevant information about the party and starting conditions:
1. We're starting at level 1.
2. The DM is pretty flexible, and willing to adapt just about anything that has a plausible basis to it.
3. The other characters are a Dex-based Devotion Paladin, a Moon Druid, and a Tempest Cleric.

And then some relevant information about what I'm looking for:
1. I want to mix it up in melee. I'm not really interested in flinging spells from afar...
2. ...but I am okay with my gameplay being a mixture of support and offense.
3. I'm playing a Dragonborn. This is really the only non-negotiable part of the character.
4. I'd like to do some Grappling. Perhaps not an "optimized" Grappler, but capable.
5. If at all possible, I want to avoid having a situation where I look over my character sheet and wonder whether my contribution to the current scene will matter. I know being a Bard in the first place takes care of a lot of that, but I'm just reiterating it.

One of my very real concerns at the start is that I'm not sure I can get enough protection. I don't want to dump Charisma, and Grappling means going for Strength...so my Dexterity can't be very high, and my AC is going to suffer as a result. I have heard that 5e is quite lethal at low levels; not Dungeon Crawl Classics levels of lethality, but still very dangerous for characters below level 3. Particularly since I'll be stuck with Light armor until I actually get the College of Valor benefits :(
 

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yakuba

Explorer
Your group is all melee by the looks. For 1st and 2nd level you're going to be the weakest melee member of the group, there's no way around that. Fortunately 1st and 2nd level do go by rather fast. Assuming that you're using a standard point buy, I'd start with a broad array something like:

S:16(14)
D:14
C:14
I:9
W:10
Ch:14(13)

The 14 Dex is really non-negotiable if you want to be on the front line and it also makes you not helpless at ranged combat. The starting Charisma is a little low which will cost you on opposed saving throws, but it doesn't leave you weak in any important areas and you'll want the extra hit points from the 14 Con if you're going to be on the front line.

Your starting AC will only be 13 (or 14 if you start with studded leather), and you'll need to play to that for a couple of levels. Save hard for the breastplate, money does not typically come very fast in 5e.

Are you planing to use a shield eventually or to stick with 2-handed weapons once you reach 3rd level?
Have you given much thought as to whether or not the Resilient(Constitution) feat makes sense for your melee-oriented build? It would make a difference in the starting attributes if you planned on taking that feat early (at 4th level).

How do you feel about spells. Do you want combat spells or would you prefer to stock up on utility spells? In the combat spell realm:
Sleep (which can and should be trained out later) is mandatory.
Even though you have both a Druid and a Cleric I would still take Healing Word as well.

Faerie Fire is a very good opener when you win initiative, but because you're going melee oriented, I'd probably leave it alone.

Detect magic is very useful, especially because it is a ritual and doesn't cost a slot to cast if you are not in a hurry
Comprehend languages is also useful if you tend to capture and interrogate. More bloody minded groups probably don't really need it. Also a ritual
 

Herobizkit

Adventurer
I have a few random thoughts.

Starting at level 1 isn't a big deal. Your forst 4 levels are basically 'tutorial' levels, but you're also at your most vulnerable at level 1. Then again, so is the rest of the party. To be flexible, I'd advise carrying some throwing weapons and be a 'skirmisher' for a bit. It's a free action to draw/stow a weapon AND, if you have two throwing weapons handy, you can throw both in one round (minus the STR bonus for damage from the second, I believe).

Grappling is nifty. The best way to make it effective is high strength and high Athletics. Without a Feat to make it better, your melee choices are "hit for damage" or "try and grapple". Even at level 1, with 16 STR and training (and later Skill focus) in Athletics (which you can boost via your Bardsong and even magic - Athletics is a skill check, not an attack roll), you'll be darn good at it.

For the full-meal deal of Grappling information, click here.

Re your AC: The heaviest Light armor is still +4 to AC, but AC remains pretty static throughout 5e. You can have an 18 AC at level 1 and, with no magic, still have an 18 AC at level 10 and be perfectly fine. If you're skirmishing, you're staying out of melee and throwing stuff and moving about, but you're also in range to jump into melee in a single move. Teamwork is key...

... which brings me to my last point. Bard is THE MOST versatile class, and you'll always have something to do on your turn. That doesn't always mean you _should_ do something, nor does it mean that you will shine in every encounter. D&D's a team game. :)
 

Your group is all melee by the looks. For 1st and 2nd level you're going to be the weakest melee member of the group, there's no way around that. Fortunately 1st and 2nd level do go by rather fast. Assuming that you're using a standard point buy, I'd start with a broad array something like:

S:16(14)
D:14
C:14
I:9
W:10
Ch:14(13)

Yeah we'll be very melee heavy. The Cleric is going to lean (slightly) toward spell stuff, but Tempest still means getting into the thick of things. If this weren't my first go at 5e, I'd consider playing a Storm Sorcerer or some other long-distance caster, but my hope is that having many melee attackers will make the Grappling that much more useful (as a grappled-and-shoved enemy is particularly weak to melee attacks).

Your array doesn't quite seem to square with the numbers I'm seeing unfortunately. That is, it looks like {14, 14, 14, 9, 10, 13} would require 29 build points, which is 2 over budget. Since I agree with your thoughts on Dex and Cha, Con is (unfortunately) where those points will have to come from. Which would you think a better choice: going for 12 Con and 10 Int (to avoid a negative modifier), or 13 Con and trying to pick up Resilient(Con) ASAP? I generally feel very conflicted about feats, since +2 to a key stat is so damn potent, but perhaps this is an exception.

Are you planing to use a shield eventually or to stick with 2-handed weapons once you reach 3rd level?

Either two-hand or one-hand weapon and no shield--not only for any relevant spellcasting with somatic components, but also for the grappling, which requires a free hand.

How do you feel about spells. Do you want combat spells or would you prefer to stock up on utility spells? In the combat spell realm:
Sleep (which can and should be trained out later) is mandatory.
Even though you have both a Druid and a Cleric I would still take Healing Word as well.

Faerie Fire is a very good opener when you win initiative, but because you're going melee oriented, I'd probably leave it alone.

Our Druid will probably pick up several utility spells (at least his statements imply he leans in that direction), and our Cleric will bring some decent combat spells. I'm probably going to try to split the difference between combat spells (like Sleep) and support/utility ones--maybe try to alternate back and forth in my picks. I've heard lots of good things about Healing Word, so I probably will take it.

I've clued our Druid in to the potential of Faerie Fire, and I believe he'll have high enough Dex to be winning Initiative a lot of the time. Overall, we have a fairly high-Dex group, the Cleric being the only one with relatively "low" Dex, so I suspect we'll be able to make good use of Faerie Fire...if I'm not the one casting it :p
 

Zalabim

First Post
One thing I find myself suggesting a lot is starting with 17 Str and taking Heavily Armored at level 4. That would be starting with 17, 12, 14, 8, 10, 14, as an example. It's a ways off, but in the end you get +1 AC over medium armor and you're already picking between 12 dex 14 con or 14 dex 12 con.

Sleep is the obvious combat spell, but Bane can be useful as well, since Charisma is a weak stat on a lot of monsters. Having an area attack like Thunderwave can make you stand out from the heavily melee party, but you've already got a breath weapon.

A versatile weapon like the longsword is suited to switching between two-hands for damage and one-hand for grappling. It's a good idea to have some thrown weapons around too, like hand axes for two-weapon throwing or javelins for that extra bit of range. Keep those handy and you can draw the sword when you actually enter melee. You don't have to use an instrument to cast your spells; the spell component pouch is perfectly valid, and has you juggling equipment less often. Of course you can keep the instrument around and just use it out of combat. Even if you don't grapple on a turn, you can (I believe) use the bonus attack from TWF to trip the enemy to help your teammates. If so, you can actually trip first by using the bonus action before taking your primary attack. You can Help with anything you're capable of attempting to give advantage on skill checks, in addition to granting the bonus die from bardic inspiration or the divine caster's Guidance.
 

yakuba

Explorer
Your array doesn't quite seem to square with the numbers I'm seeing unfortunately. That is, it looks like {14, 14, 14, 9, 10, 13} would require 29 build points, which is 2 over budget. Since I agree with your thoughts on Dex and Cha, Con is (unfortunately) where those points will have to come from. Which would you think a better choice: going for 12 Con and 10 Int (to avoid a negative modifier), or 13 Con and trying to pick up Resilient(Con) ASAP?

I'd go with the 12 Con, but I will note that at 2nd level you will get +1 to all untrained skill and attribute checks (including initiative), so your negative Int modifier would have only applied to the extremely rare Int saving throw. The reason for not taking a 13 in Con is because if you're going to be in melee and also not using a shield, you should just avoid concentration spells in combat until your paladin reaches 6th level (and then stay very close to him). Your spells will end up only lasting one or two rounds in practice. So Resilient(Con) is not really a strong feat. +2 to Strength will be a better investment for what you're focus is.

I generally feel very conflicted about feats, since +2 to a key stat is so damn potent, but perhaps this is an exception.

Don't be. Feats can really be good, and I've found that people generally have a hard time deciding between feats and stat bumps because of that. I'll probably make another post with some feat choices

As a side note, you have no Int in your group. Depending on the campaign this may or may not matter, but you might at least want to have someone take training in Arcana and Investigation as these skills come up more than you might think even in combat driven campaigns (i.e. Glyphs). Since you have 3 skills plus a background, it may be easiest for you to cover those skills. A second point is it might be helpful if someone in the group has proficiency with Thieves Tools's, although again that may be campaign dependent.
 
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yakuba

Explorer
I'd consider playing a Storm Sorcerer or some other long-distance caster, but my hope is that having many melee attackers will make the Grappling that much more useful (as a grappled-and-shoved enemy is particularly weak to melee attacks).

Grappling only reduces your opponents speed to zero and allows you to drag them around. It doesn't improve attacks against the grappled target (unless you have the Grappler feat). A shoved (and thus prone) opponent yields advantage to all attackers within 5 feet and attacks at disadvantage.

I generally feel very conflicted about feats, since +2 to a key stat is so damn potent, but perhaps this is an exception.

Feats can be very strong and more valuable than stat bonuses in some cases. For example, the Grappler feat allows the grappler to attack the 'grapplee' with advantage. If a player wants to grapple a lot, then the extra damage from advantage will easily exceed the extra damage from +2 to Strength

Similarly shoving an opponent usually requires an action, but the Shield Master feat allows for a shove as a bonus action, which means that if a player plans to regularly shove in combat, the extra attacks, will easily out weigh the benefits of +Strength.

It depends on whether or not a feat will modify an action that you plan to use often or not. If grappling and/or shoving were only going to be an occasional tactic then the feats would not justify themselves relative to a strength increase.

One thing in 5e is that monster AC scales very slowly and irregularly, so there isn't the same pressing need to improve accuracy as much as possible as there in 4e, and, as long as your not fighting lots of hobgoblins and knights, improved accuaracy won't really be that noticeable. Most creatures you encounter are strictly in the easy to hit AC 15 and below category for a really long time.
 

ccooke

Adventurer
Alright--as I said in my other advice-seeking thread, I have settled on going for a Valor Bard with my character. It was given quite a bit of praise in that thread, and now that the path is open for it, I am hopeful I can get something fun out of it.

However...I still feel pretty lost in actually making the character, mechanically. (Thematics are still up in the air, but I can handle that part myself.)

First, some relevant information about the party and starting conditions:
1. We're starting at level 1.
2. The DM is pretty flexible, and willing to adapt just about anything that has a plausible basis to it.
3. The other characters are a Dex-based Devotion Paladin, a Moon Druid, and a Tempest Cleric.

And then some relevant information about what I'm looking for:
1. I want to mix it up in melee. I'm not really interested in flinging spells from afar...
2. ...but I am okay with my gameplay being a mixture of support and offense.
3. I'm playing a Dragonborn. This is really the only non-negotiable part of the character.
4. I'd like to do some Grappling. Perhaps not an "optimized" Grappler, but capable.
5. If at all possible, I want to avoid having a situation where I look over my character sheet and wonder whether my contribution to the current scene will matter. I know being a Bard in the first place takes care of a lot of that, but I'm just reiterating it.

One of my very real concerns at the start is that I'm not sure I can get enough protection. I don't want to dump Charisma, and Grappling means going for Strength...so my Dexterity can't be very high, and my AC is going to suffer as a result. I have heard that 5e is quite lethal at low levels; not Dungeon Crawl Classics levels of lethality, but still very dangerous for characters below level 3. Particularly since I'll be stuck with Light armor until I actually get the College of Valor benefits :(

There's already some good advice in this thread, but a few comments:

1) +1 on Versatile weapons if you go for Strength. The quarterstaff is versatile as a good starting point, until you get martial weapons.
2) You're going down a Strength-based route to be good at grappling. But you don't necessarily have to do that.
You said you want to do some grappling, but not necessarily optimise for it. Well, consider - a Fighter with a strength bonus of +3 (the highest you can start with using point buy) and proficiency in Acrobatics (the relevant skill for both Shoving and Grappling) has a +5 skill check at levels 1-3. If you had a Strength of 12, you would have a +3 bonus. Weaker, but not so much that you couldn't use it. Get to level 3 and choose Athletics as one of your Expertise options, though, and you suddenly have a +5 check, and your check will jump to +7 at level 5. The fighter, assuming they increased STR at level 4, would be +6 at level 4 and +7 at level 5 (when proficiency increases). Basically, you will be as good as a fighter at grappling for 90+% of the game, and if you choose to increase your strength later you will be better than them. That means you could realistically choose stats like:
STR: 12(10), DEX 14, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 8, CHA 16(15). (I happen to prefer playing unwise characters, but you could swap INT and WIS of course ;-)
With a Dragonborn you're obviously never going to get Dex to +3 at level 1, but +2 (+4 with proficiency) is good enough to contribute in melee, and the extra CON bonus not only gives you more hit points, but it makes your Dragonborn breath weapon harder to resist, increases the usefulness of Concentration spells later and means you can have +3 for your spellcasting.
3) Your go-to spell is Vicious Mockery. It was great for Bards in 4e, and it's even better in 5e - it's one of the best cantrips in the game. Low damage, but excellent support. You said you want to mix it up in melee - but does that mean you want to be attacking every round? With dex-based weapons and a decent CON score, you can be right up in people's faces. The Thunderwave spell, your breath weapon, Vicious Mockery and Healing Word all work well for a very powerful melee bard. If you need to get out of combat, remember that Vicious Mockery imposes disadvantage on the next attack - which means if you're in combat with one enemy, you can use VM on them and then retreat, and any attack of opportunity on you will have disadvantage. Getting a +3 CHA bonus will help all of those.
4) A thing that people often miss - the 2nd level Jack of All Trades ability lets you add half your proficiency to all ability checks that you are not proficient in. Initiative is a Dexterity ability check - so you can apply JoAT to it.
5) The Dissonant Whispers spell is monstrously awful, especially if you are standing next to the creature you cast it on. Shame you don't have a rogue, which would make it even more hilarious - a second sneak attack in a round is a big thing.
6) Healing Word will be very familiar to you from 4e, and works well if you're going for melee-based support. Since it's a bonus action to cast, you can still attack on the same turn.
 

Alright. Another update. We'll be starting the campaign this weekend, so things are largely finalized at this point, though I am free to make any changes I like prior to Saturday evening. Also, something I forgot to mention previously: my DM has very graciously thrown me a bone with regard to my race choice, so Dragonborn are now Proficient with History. (He thought it was thematically fitting, and considers it essentially a 'ribbon' for the race, since it's not really a 'key' skill like Perception, Insight, etc.)

There's already some good advice in this thread, but a few comments:

1) +1 on Versatile weapons if you go for Strength. The quarterstaff is versatile as a good starting point, until you get martial weapons.

Actually, since Bard starts with a Longsword, I believe sticking with that will be the superior choice. Also, due to other unrelated discussions initiated by another player, the DM has allowed the existence of a "buckler" shield, which gives +1 AC and allows the associated hand to count as "free" for most things (but not for wielding a versatile weapon in two hands, nor a two-handed weapon). I've already gotten the OK to use it along with grappling, once I get Shield proficiency, just need to confirm that it works with a spell pouch as well.

2) You're going down a Strength-based route to be good at grappling. But you don't necessarily have to do that.
<good advice snip>
This is theoretically an option, but unfortunately due to the skill/ability choices of the rest of the party, I am going to need to be the "Int skill guy" (Investigation and Arcana) in addition to my other stuff, so I really can't afford to have an Intelligence less than 12. While 14 Con and 15 Cha (pre-race) would be nice, it stretches my points so thin I will have trouble meeting the needs of the party, so I think I will probably stick with the following stats (post-race): Str 16; Dex 14; Con 12; Int 12; Wis 8; Cha 14. If I end up feeling seriously hampered by it, or the Int doesn't end up seeming as necessary as I thought, I'll ask the DM if I can re...buy? ("reroll" doesn't sound quite accurate...) at that point.

3) Your go-to spell is Vicious Mockery. It was great for Bards in 4e, and it's even better in 5e - it's one of the best cantrips in the game.
<more good advice snip>
Yeah, Vicious Mockery is a pretty sweet deal, and pairs very nicely with a grapple (since it doesn't require a free hand to cast) and makes it much harder for a grappled enemy to try to hurt me. I agree that a high Cha would help that, but...we really DO need some help in the Int department. (A new issue I hadn't noticed before: apart from the Rogue and Fighter subclasses with spells, Wizard is the only class that directly benefits from high Int, while 4 classes want Cha and 3 want Wis!)

4) A thing that people often miss - the 2nd level Jack of All Trades ability lets you add half your proficiency to all ability checks that you are not proficient in. Initiative is a Dexterity ability check - so you can apply JoAT to it.
Yeah, I was aware of this one. It's quite nice. :)

5) The Dissonant Whispers spell is monstrously awful, especially if you are standing next to the creature you cast it on. Shame you don't have a rogue, which would make it even more hilarious - a second sneak attack in a round is a big thing.
6) Healing Word will be very familiar to you from 4e, and works well if you're going for melee-based support. Since it's a bonus action to cast, you can still attack on the same turn.
I've certainly heard good things about both of these.

Anyway, a condensed summary of what I have chosen for my character thus far.
Leoben Nayax'ka, level 1 Dragonborn Bard
Background: Academy Graduate (Insight,* Arcana)
Stats: Str 16; Dex 14; Con 12; Int 12; Wis 8; Cha 14. HP: 9.
Proficient skills: History (racial), Athletics, Persuasion, Investigation, Insight,* Arcana
Spells Known
Cantrips: Vicious Mockery, Minor Illusion
1st level: Dissonant Whispers, Healing Word, Sleep, ???

Gear is still a little up in the air because the DM has decided to give us both the standard equipment pack and a roll for our starting wealth, so I have 140 GP (5d4*10 + 10 from backgound, rolled a 13) plus my Bard and Academy Graduate starting equipment.

*I'm really on the fence about this one. My DM is cool with backgrounds giving any reasonable skill, and "studied (Bard) magic in college" is a perfectly valid reason to get Performance instead of Insight. But Insight might have more practical use, especially since Instrument proficiency means I can do nearly everything Performance would allow, as long as I can play an instrument with it. Thoughts?

Finally, I'm not sure what to take for my fourth spell. Since I'm not pushing Cha as much as I possibly could, would I be better served taking something buff-y or that doesn't require a save? Or would Thunderwave be better, even though it does require a save? Tasha's Hideous Laughter is very highly regarded by the guides I've seen. Of course, I could always take one and then the other, but are there other/better ideas?
 

yakuba

Explorer
*I'm really on the fence about this one. My DM is cool with backgrounds giving any reasonable skill, and "studied (Bard) magic in college" is a perfectly valid reason to get Performance instead of Insight. But Insight might have more practical use, especially since Instrument proficiency means I can do nearly everything Performance would allow, as long as I can play an instrument with it. Thoughts?
You'll probably never use Performance, ever especially because of your musical instrument proficiencies, so even though you are dumping Wisdom, Insight will still probably be more useful to you.


Finally, I'm not sure what to take for my fourth spell. Since I'm not pushing Cha as much as I possibly could, would I be better served taking something buff-y or that doesn't require a save? Or would Thunderwave be better, even though it does require a save? Tasha's Hideous Laughter is very highly regarded by the guides I've seen. Of course, I could always take one and then the other, but are there other/better ideas?
Depends on whether or not you want another combat spell. Detect magic is nice, because it almost never costs a slot and it comes in handy both for not missing loot and/or clues, but also for finding magical traps.

I tried Thunderwave (because it seems to fit a Valor bard well) and I really found it weaker than it seems. Part of the issue is that Strength and Constitution saving throws are pretty much the fastest scaling saves for the bad guys. It just failed way to often. In your case were you are starting with a low save DC and then probably not buffing it for a while, I think this could be really unhelpful. The damage becomes pretty weak pretty fast as well.

Silent Image can be combined with minor illusion because minor illusion doesn't require concentration, and Disguise Self has some obvious uses, as well. I don't really see a good 4th combat spell because you're very unlikely to be able to maintain concentration in melee at low levels with your character.
 

I looked at making a Melee Valor Bard. I think it can work reasonably well. Here's the conclusions I came to:

1) Focus primarily on your combat stat. Cha becomes a secondary stat
2) Because of #1, you need to consider how it will affect your spell selection. Best to avoid spells that require a to hit roll or save - here's some spells I think work very well:

Cantrips: Friends, Prestidigitation, Message, Mage hand, Light
1st: Heroism (pretty obviously), Healing Word, Sleep
2nd: Enhance Ability (For grappling), Lesser Restoration, Silence, Invisibility
3rd: Dispel Magic, Nondetection, Leomund's Tiny Hut
4th: GREATER INVISIBILITY (plus nondetection for super-powered invisibility), Dimension door, Freedom of movement, polymorph
5th: Animate Objects, Raise dead
6th: True Seeing
7th: Regenerate
8th: Mind blank
9th: Foresight
Magical Secret Suggestions: Wall of Force, Banishing Smite

Hope that helps.
 

mellored

Explorer
What treantmonk said. But also cloud of daggers. Drag someone into it for easy damage and it scales very well.

Also, get shield master at level 4. Prone + grapple (+athletics expertise) work very well together. Particularly in a melee heavy party.

Enlarge is a good spell to grab with your magic secrets at 10, letting you grab bigger creatures. Possibly other zone spells, like firewall for more places to drag people.
 

I looked at making a Melee Valor Bard. I think it can work reasonably well. Here's the conclusions I came to:

1) Focus primarily on your combat stat. Cha becomes a secondary stat
2) Because of #1, you need to consider how it will affect your spell selection. Best to avoid spells that require a to hit roll or save - here's some spells I think work very well:

Cantrips: Friends, Prestidigitation, Message, Mage hand, Light
1st: Heroism (pretty obviously), Healing Word, Sleep
2nd: Enhance Ability (For grappling), Lesser Restoration, Silence, Invisibility
3rd: Dispel Magic, Nondetection, Leomund's Tiny Hut
4th: GREATER INVISIBILITY (plus nondetection for super-powered invisibility), Dimension door, Freedom of movement, polymorph
5th: Animate Objects, Raise dead
6th: True Seeing
7th: Regenerate
8th: Mind blank
9th: Foresight
Magical Secret Suggestions: Wall of Force, Banishing Smite

Hope that helps.

All good advice, though I have to say I'm...frankly stunned that you'd suggest Friends as a cantrip. With the one-minute duration, I find it almost impossible to justify--making a (semi-)permanent enemy for a single minute's "friendship" seems like an incredibly bad move, especially if the DM actually likes running social situations, or you ever plan on coming back to a place you've visited. What led you to recommend it?
 


ccooke

Adventurer
All good advice, though I have to say I'm...frankly stunned that you'd suggest Friends as a cantrip. With the one-minute duration, I find it almost impossible to justify--making a (semi-)permanent enemy for a single minute's "friendship" seems like an incredibly bad move, especially if the DM actually likes running social situations, or you ever plan on coming back to a place you've visited. What led you to recommend it?

Obviously I can't answer for the person who suggested it, but for a non-Lawful-Good character it can be incredibly fun. Need to get past some guards and don't care about the consequences? Need to convince someone to do something that you can't, and don't care if you have to kill them later? There are a load of ways it can be used.
 

All good advice, though I have to say I'm...frankly stunned that you'd suggest Friends as a cantrip. With the one-minute duration, I find it almost impossible to justify--making a (semi-)permanent enemy for a single minute's "friendship" seems like an incredibly bad move, especially if the DM actually likes running social situations, or you ever plan on coming back to a place you've visited. What led you to recommend it?

Friends is probably one of the worst named spells in the game because that's not what it does at all. Being that you brought it up, you clearly know what it does, but for other readers who haven't really looked, Friends is a cantrip that provides you advantage on all charisma checks directed at one creature of your choice that isn't hostile to you. There is no saving throw, and after a 1 minute duration (concentration) that creature becomes hostile.

So let's be clear - if you are looking to make a friend, DON'T CAST FRIENDS!

I personally consider it primarily an intimidation spell. You want to intimidate someone by convincing him that if he ever crosses you, you will make him sorry he was ever born. Soften him up with a "friends" cantrip first. You get advantage on the intimidate check, and he's likely going to be hostile to you afterwards regardless, but scared too!

In a similar vein you can use it with deception. "Ever heard of Tenser? Yeah, well I'm working for him, so maybe you should back off." Again, the hostile reaction is probably going to be manageable.

Of course, then there is the situation where you are actually trying to pick a fight with someone not inclined to do so. In this regard, the poorly named "Friends" spell is fantastic. Get under their skin with a few well placed insults, and a persuasion roll with advantage, and if that doesn't work, drop the spell. :devil:

I never take Friends with a low Cha character, but if you are making a character with a decent Cha, it has its uses.
 

Ashrym

Hero
I looked at making a Melee Valor Bard. I think it can work reasonably well. Here's the conclusions I came to:

1) Focus primarily on your combat stat. Cha becomes a secondary stat
2) Because of #1, you need to consider how it will affect your spell selection. Best to avoid spells that require a to hit roll or save - here's some spells I think work very well:

Cantrips: Friends, Prestidigitation, Message, Mage hand, Light
1st: Heroism (pretty obviously), Healing Word, Sleep
2nd: Enhance Ability (For grappling), Lesser Restoration, Silence, Invisibility
3rd: Dispel Magic, Nondetection, Leomund's Tiny Hut
4th: GREATER INVISIBILITY (plus nondetection for super-powered invisibility), Dimension door, Freedom of movement, polymorph
5th: Animate Objects, Raise dead
6th: True Seeing
7th: Regenerate
8th: Mind blank
9th: Foresight
Magical Secret Suggestions: Wall of Force, Banishing Smite

Hope that helps.

^^Good list.
 


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