Level Up (A5E) Are Bard Hymns Overpowered?


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evildmguy

Explorer
Great conversation, if a bit necro on it! I'm glad I found it as I have a bard in my current LU game. We have some questions.

As per Selganor's post, the bard starts a hymn on their turn. That costs no action. Then, the idea is that maybe before the end of the bard's turn, they give their party members something they can do, or the bard uses their reaction during the combat to activate a specific hymn. This allows them flexibility with the hymns they know. Is that correct?

The question I had is what is the duration for them? Just until the bard's next turn? Does this also mean that a bard could start a hymn, be doing a hymn the entire battle and if they decided never to actually target someone, they never use it, or a BI, up? Is it obvious when someone is being targeted by a hymn? I'm thinking about Overbearing Rhythmn with additional creatures based on CHA mod. Is this saying that all attacks against targeted creatures are at disadvantage? And as soon as the hymn is used, a BI is used which lasts for the round? However, then let's look at Call to Arms. I think the wording is such that the intention is that once it gives that bonus damage die, it uses up a BI. In theory, if the target of Call to Arms misses, it never costs a BI but it also means that the bard is sustaining the Call to Arms Hymn the entire time?

Hmm. Is this why it's better used as a reaction? The bard starts an undefined hymn and then waits to see if his team member hits first, so does Call to Arms to give extra damage or if the enemy attacks first, does Overbearing Rhythmn to give the enemy disadvantage? Is that the intention of them?

I talked to my player about this, and we did agree on several things. First, it is based on their type of performance, so anything that would stop that shuts this down. Second, we agreed that since as written target for Overbearing Rhythmn is the party member, once disadvantage happens once, the effect is over for that party member. However, third, we preferred Overbearing Rhythmn to target a group of enemies and they have disadvantage on their next d20 roll. If they are willing to do nothing, they can avoid negative effects.

We came up with this because if the bad guys use good tactics and all targeting the wizard, every attack being at disadvantage was OP to us.
My teeny, tiny issue with the description is that it's more gamist and I prefer narrativist. The idea for Overbearing Rhythmn is to make it so they are protected from attacks but it's the passive part. I prefer the bad guys targeted with the negative effect compared to some aura around a character given the effect. That's minor, though.

Thanks!
 

Selganor

Adventurer
First: You expend one BI when you start the Hymn, so if you never declare a target and just sustain the Hymn you have just "wasted" this BI.

You don't need a Reaction to choose a target ("You may choose to target a creature at any point, but after targeting a battle hymn its
target cannot be changed.") but you can only Sustain a Hymn that doesn't have a target declared yet.
Note that "at any point" isn't limited to your turn.

Battle Hymn Focus allows you to to start/replace a Hymn at the end of another creature's turn as a Reaction (and if you already got a Hymn running but not targeted you get the new Hymn ´without expending another BI, it allows you to "change the tune" with a Reaction)

It should be obvious that the Bard's Hymn is now affecting people (and even if it doesn't target someone the fact that the bard is doing something should be obvious)

The Hymn ends at the end of the Bard's turn and once you declared a target for the Hymn it can't be sustained anymore. So if a 4th level bard used his reaction to activate an Overbearing Rhythm at the end of someone at Initiative 12 and the bard acts at initiative 10 then only those between those two points would be affected by the Hymn and anyone acting at 9 or less wouldn't be affected by it anymore. But I see no limit on how many attacks would be affected by OR.
But an enemy might want to change the target to someone not affected by OR (for example the bard?)

If the Bard chose no Concentration for the Battle Hymn Focus would still be working even if he was knocked out (or killed). (Talk about an earworm that just lingers...)
 
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Selganor

Adventurer
I like the idea of the Hymn but it really isn't easy to explain (especially with archetypes and higher level class features changing the basics of the hymns)

An idea to think about the Hymn in game could be to have them printed out (like spell cards) and once the bard starts a hymn just put it near the action on the battle map to remind everyone that there still is some effect waiting to be activated. This may also work on VTTs if you have some transparent tokens (maybe with the rules of the hymn as text once you click this token)
 

evildmguy

Explorer
Thanks for the ideas! We are in person, so having the hymn on a card, out and visible to all might help.

I think I had to realize that the bard has to declare the hymn they are starting. It's almost like Vancian casting because they have to guess what might be needed. When I realized that, I think that made it reasonable to me. We are going to try it as is and see what we think of it.

If no one gets a benefit from a hymn, can they continue it for free? If no attacker had disadvantage due to OR, or no one could heal at the start of their turn with SoC, for whatever reason, does it carry over for free?

I also agree, and I don't remember who said it, that the Bard seems to get everything all at first level, or by third, and then just gets more of it later. I hoped to see more meaningful choices. We loved the Marshal in our last game and wanted to see the Bard take on leadership. Maybe a hymn to give advantage on an attack? Or expertise die on attacking? Leadership options that fit the Bard.

I also think the Bard spell list is missing some spells, like Command seems to fit them and Hold Person but with song. Equally, why do they have Plant Growth, Heat Metal, and a few others?

Those are nit picks, though, because we love Level Up compared to 5E!

Thanks for the responses!
 

If no one gets a benefit from a hymn, can they continue it for free? If no attacker had disadvantage due to OR, or no one could heal at the start of their turn with SoC, for whatever reason, does it carry over for free?
RAW, if the bard picks a target, the hymn ends at the start of the bard's next turn. whether or not the hymn was actually used is irrelevant.
I also think the Bard spell list is missing some spells, like Command seems to fit them and Hold Person but with song. Equally, why do they have Plant Growth, Heat Metal, and a few others?
tradition, i think. 5e bards get plant growth and heat metal, which are commonly associated with druids, which follows because bards were originally introduced as the result of a really bizarre fighter/thief/druid multiclass back in AD&D.

basically, it's because bards are weird.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
I loved the idea because it reminded me of the Chanter from Pillars of Eternity; it definitely gives the Bard a boost that I didn't think it needed, and more features to keep track of (but such is the way of a5e 😅 ). I will say that certain chants are QUITE potent- giving disadvantage on all attacks against your entire group (assuming they take the choice that lets them affect 1+CHA Bonus) is pretty great for a single Bardic Inspiration use.
 

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