Alternate Bard for Review

Whats your rating?

  • Fantastic - I want to use it in my game.

    Votes: 1 8.3%
  • Cool idea. Might use it myself.

    Votes: 1 8.3%
  • Neutral - Dont care one way or the other.

    Votes: 3 25.0%
  • Eh- Dont really like it, but nice try.

    Votes: 6 50.0%
  • Crap - Worst thing I ever saw.

    Votes: 1 8.3%


This is an alternate version of the base Bard class as presented in the 3rd Edition Players Handbook. This version of the Bard is based more along the idea that Bards are the true “Jack-of-all-Trades, Master of None”. They are travelers of the world and masters of spreading the musical and literary cultures of the world to all corners. Bards pick up skills and abilities everywhere they go, and most Bard’s have formal training in survival, combat, and performing.

Bards have the following game statistics.
Abilities: Charisma determines the effectiveness of a Bard’s magic. To cast spells, a Bard must have a Charisma score of 10+ the spell’s level. Bards gain bonus spells based upon Charisma. The Difficulty Class of a saving throw against a Bard’s spells is 10 + Spell Level + Bard’s Charisma modifier.
Alignment: Any Non-Lawful
Hit Die: d6

The class skills of the Bard are: Alchemy, Appraise, Balance, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Disguise, Escape Artist, Gather Information, Intuit Direction, Jump, Knowledge (Any), Listen, Move Silently, Perform, Pick Pocket, Profession, Scry, Sense Motive, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Swim, Tumble, Use Magical Device, and Wilderness Lore.

Class Attack Saves
Level Bonus Fortitude Reflex Will Special
1 +1 +0 +2 +2 Bardic Knowledge,
Bardic Music
2 +2 +0 +3 +3 Bardic Ability
3 +3 +1 +3 +3 ---
4 +4 +1 +4 +4 Spell Ability
5 +5 +1 +4 +4 ---
6 +6 +2 +5 +5 Bardic Ability
7 +7 +2 +5 +5 ---
8 +8 +2 +6 +6 Bardic Ability
9 +9 +3 +6 +6 ---
10 +10 +3 +7 +7 Bardic Ability
11 +11 +3 +7 +7 ---
12 +12 +4 +8 +8 Bardic Ability
13 +13 +4 +8 +8 ---
14 +14 +4 +9 +9 Bardic Ability
15 +15 +5 +9 +9 ---
16 +16 +5 +10 +10 Bardic Ability
17 +17 +5 +10 +10 ---
18 +18 +6 +11 +11 Bardic Ability
19 +19 +6 +11 +11 ---
20 +20 +6 +12 +12 Bardic Ability

All of the following are class features for the Bard.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Bards are proficient with only a small sampling of weapons. At 1st level the Bard may choose proficiency in one melee weapon and one ranged weapon of choice from the following weapons: Club, Composite Long Bow, Composite Short Bow, Dagger, Halfspear, Heavy Crossbow, Heavy Mace, Light Crossbow, Light Mace, Long Bow, Long Sword, Quarterstaff, Rapier, Sap, Short Bow, Short Sword, and Whip. At 3rd, 7th, 11th and 15th levels, the Bard may choose any one weapon proficiency from the list above. Bards are proficient in light and medium armors, and are proficient in shields.

Bardic Ability: A Bard is Jack-of-all-Trades and learns many abilities throughout their travels and dealings with others. These varied abilities are developed over time and reflect the Bards wanderings and dealings with those that help them learn their craft. Bardic Abilities are gained at 2nd, 6th and every even level thereafter. At each level that a Bardic ability is gained, the Bard chooses one option from the list below. Note that some of these abilities have a Prerequisite that is required to attain the ability.

Bonus Feat: The Bard may choose a bonus feat from the following table.
Forgotten Realms: Artist, Cosmopolitan, Luck of Heroes, Silver Palm, Smooth Talk, Street Smart, and Survivor.
PHB: Dodge, Expertise, Leadership, Mobility, Run, and Skill Focus.
Rokugan: Versatility.
Song & Silence: Acrobatic, Alluring, Athletic, Charlatan, Disguise Spell, Extra Music, Green Ear, Jack-of-all-Trades, Lingering Song, Multicultural, Obscure Lore, Persuasive, Requiem, Subsonics, and Trustworthy.
Traps & Treachery: Fast Talker.

Detect Crossroads: If the Bard has 6 or more Ranks in Knowledge (Fey), they may use the spell-like ability of Detect Crossroads at will. This ability works like the spell Detect Crossroads, except that the range of the ability is 10’ per Bard level, or if the Bard concentrates for 10 minutes, the range increases to 1 mile per Bard level.

Nature Sense: If the Bard has 3 or more Ranks in Wilderness Lore, they can identify plants and animals (their species and special traits) with perfect accuracy. They can also tell whether or not water is safe to drink or dangerous (polluted, poisoned, or otherwise unsafe for consumption).

Resist Nature’s Lure: If the Bard has 6 or more ranks in Knowledge (Fey) they gain a +4 bonus to saving throw bonus against the spell-like abilities of feys (such as dryads, nymphs, and sprites).

Slippery Mind: If the Bard has 13 or more ranks in Sense Motive, they gain the ability to wriggle free of magical effects that would otherwise control or compel them. If the Bard with this ability is affected by an enchantment and fails their saving throw, 1 round later they can attempt their saving throw again. They only get this one extra attempt to succeed at their saving throw.

Uncanny Dodge (AC): If the Bard has 3 or more ranks in Sense Motive, they can react to danger before their senses would normally have allowed. They retain their Dexterity bonus to AC regardless of being caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker but they still loose their Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.

Uncanny Dodge (Flanked): If the Bard has 13 or more ranks in Sense Motive and has the Bardic Ability of Uncanny Dodge (AC), they can no longer be flanked, being able to react to opponents on opposite sides of them as easily as they can react to a single attacker. This defense denies others the ability to use flank attacks on the Bard. The exception to this defense is if the attackers are of 4+ levels higher than the Bard.

Woodland Stride: If the Bard has 6 or more Ranks in Wilderness Lore, they may move through natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain at their normal speed and without suffering damage or other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are enchanted or magically manipulated to impede motion still affect the Bard.

Bardic Knowledge: This ability remains the same as the ability of the same name as listed in the PHB.

Bardic Music: At 1st level, the Bard gains the ability of Bardic Music which functions exactly as the Bardic Music ability listed in the PHB.

Spells: If a Bard has 7 or more Ranks in Perform, they gain the ability to cast Arcane spells from the Bard Spell List. Bards are not limited in the number of spells they know, similar to Wizards. Bardic spells unlike Wizardly spells are recorded as sheet music, books of poetry, etc.
Spells are learned through the Bard’s Spellcraft. Spells can only be learned through study with other Bards, not from scrolls or written spell research from Wizardly spellbooks, and only spells from the Bard Spell List may be learned. Each time a Bard gains a new Bard level they may learn two new spells from their research into Bardic magic.
A Bard is limited to casting a certain number of spells of each level per day, and they must prepare these spells in advance. The number of spells the Bard can cast is modified from the Spells Per Day Table, by their Charisma modifier (if positive). A Bard must spend an hour each day going over their notes in a form of meditation to prepare their spells just as wizards have to study their Spellbooks.
To learn or cast spells, the Bard must have a Charisma score of 10+the spell’s level. The difficulty class for saving throws against the Bard’s spells is 10+ Spell Level + Bard’s Charisma modifier. A spell with a “0” listed in the Spells Per Day table are only gained at this level if a bonus spell is gained due to a high Charisma modifier.

Bard Spells Per Day
Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
4 3 0 - - - - -
5 3 1 - - - - -
6 3 2 0 - - - -
7 3 3 2 - - - -
8 3 3 2 0 - - -
9 3 3 3 1 - - -
10 3 3 3 2 - - -
11 3 3 3 2 0 - -
12 3 3 3 3 1 - -
13 3 3 3 3 2 - -
14 3 3 3 3 2 0 -
15 4 3 3 3 3 1 -
16 4 4 3 3 3 2 -
17 4 4 4 3 3 2 0
18 4 4 4 4 3 3 1
19 4 4 4 4 4 3 2
20 4 4 4 4 4 4 3

Bards are Jacks-of-all-Trades and Masters of None. Thus they may not ever specialize in any one kind of training other than Bard. Like any other class, a Bard may be multiclassed, but Bards face a few special restrictions. A Bard who gains a new class or (if already multiclass) raises another class by a level may never again raise their level in Bard. Also, a Bard who becomes lawful in alignment can no longer progress in levels as a Bard.

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First Post
You've increased the bards power and it didn't need it. Why do they have the best Base attack progression if they are familiar with so few weapons? You've given them an extra ability every even level. This is on par with the fighter class features, but you've kept all the old bard class features. Plus you've increased the skill points.

I do like the prequites that the special abilities have.


We (the co-author and I) felt that the Bard (along with Ranger) was on of the lamest and weakest classes written in the core book. We also preferred the feel of the older 1st Edition (i.e. Celtic/Druidic) overtones and feel.

Why is it that basically all of the Bard's abilities are gained Solely at 1st level. If you want to be a Bard, all you really need is 1st Level. All you gain at higher levels is more music uses (which you can gain with a feat faster than with levels), and a better chance at Bardic Lore.

Now look at the other classes. Druids, Monks, Fighter, Wizards, Rogues all gain more powers as they increase in level. Why not the Bard? The Bard is supposed to be the Jack-of-all-Trades yet they get no real mix from other classes. We really felt the class low level unbalanced and underpowered in relative power versus most of the other core classes.

For example - we gave the base attack bonus to show their dabbling in the martial sciences. A Bard is good at defending themselves. However, they are not a specialist in fighting, and do not take the necessary time to learn ALL weapons. They pick up a few smatterings of weapons as they go along in their career.

These are the concepts we designed the class on.


First Post
You are right, Bards are a bit front loaded. Plus their music should really be level dependasnt and not perform ranks dependant. Actually, it should be both. But Bards are not weak. I play a bard, and I'm as useful as the other guys. The great thing about Bards are the spells. They get acces to some of the best non combat spells. They have healing and spontaneious casting. They have good skill points and probalby one of the best lists of class skills. This is a great thing and one of the overlooked aspects of the Bard.

I don't think the Bard is the jack of all trades anymore. They are performers, traveling minstrels.

I find it funny that you aquate defending with base attack bonus. If you want them good at defending I'd give them a dodge bonus to their AC or Expertise for free, or even a superior fighting defensive ability. The only classes that get the best base attack bonus are the ones that specialize in fighting.

It's by no means a bad version of the bard. I think that if you tone it down it would be a very good alt Bard.


Registered User
I have to agree with Crothian. The bard is definitely not weak. He has good skill points, lots of class skills, language boni, not so bad BA bonus, not so bad weapon proficiencies, good spells if you don't want firepower but versatility, bardic music which is very powerful if you use it right....

You give the bard a better BA and lots of additional skill points (as the feats). Spell casting is not that much weaker... You give them the possibility to learn a lot more spells.

There's not much you took from him.

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