D&D 5E Bard as a subclass

I want the bard to be

  • a class with a bunch of entertainer types under it

    Votes: 41 70.7%
  • a subclass of a greater arcane gish type class

    Votes: 17 29.3%

gyor

Legend
I can see alot of possiblities beyond entertainer, but it was the closest of the two.

As for Gish I have no prob using it to denote warrior/mage types. I find the origin interesting, but honestly languages are going to evovle weather you like it or not, trust me, my war against the term Bromance has been a failure.
 

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Stormonu

Legend
Bards are a bit of an odd bird because they have talents of all of the "big four" - healing from clerics (and other spells), arcane spells from the wizard, thievery from the rogue and some of the martial skills of the fighter. They are, in essense, the first gestalt class.

I'd rather they not be handcuffed to being entertainers. Their appeal is they can do a little bit of everything and fill in on a party where it is lacking. Leave it up to the player what role in the group he wants the character fill in, whether its a socialite, knowledgable sage, sellsword, con man, charlatan, guru, soothsayer, showman, arcane assassin, bawdy minstrel or spy.
 

lutecius

Explorer
As other have said, the poll options are far too restrictive. I can see the bard as a class of its own but "entertainer" isn't a wide enough concept (in the context of dnd of course) to warrant many subclasses (does every class need to have them anyway?)
The bard could also work as a subclass but I don't see it as a arcane warrior/gish at all (and honestly I haven't seen many people who do). If anything, the dnd bard has always been more of a rogue/caster hybrid.
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
Bard as a class is a very hard class to peg.
Early on it was a kind of prestige class for Fighter/Thief dual class humans who had progressed over half way in each. The prestige class was taught by Druids and class holders cast druidic spells, performed enchanting music, and learned all sorts of legends/famous rumors about the world. Sort of like the Legend Lore spell.
On the other hand, a musician is an NPC class.

Then Bard became a kind of jack of all trades class with musical spellcasting and supernatural abilities plus a legends knowledge roll.
That morphed into more rogue-like combat and a less defined knowledge roll, keeping the music and magic stuff.

I couldn't tell you what to do with the class now. It's oddly far to specialized while trying to be good at everything. It could be a musical caster subclass or an NPC sage class or skald. It appears to have almost completely dropped the religious elements from it's previous incarnation as a cleric subclass for high level. As for a scope of exploration it is definitely a wanderer, but not a specialist. Jack of all trades, no mastery at all, may be the best option. So a core class after all. But with all the work to gain XP it will always be second fiddle to every class it covers, it which all four of the primary.
 

Sadrik

First Post
Bard as a class is a very hard class to peg.
Early on it was a kind of prestige class for Fighter/Thief dual class humans who had progressed over half way in each. The prestige class was taught by Druids and class holders cast druidic spells, performed enchanting music, and learned all sorts of legends/famous rumors about the world. Sort of like the Legend Lore spell.
On the other hand, a musician is an NPC class.

Then Bard became a kind of jack of all trades class with musical spellcasting and supernatural abilities plus a legends knowledge roll.
That morphed into more rogue-like combat and a less defined knowledge roll, keeping the music and magic stuff.

I couldn't tell you what to do with the class now. It's oddly far to specialized while trying to be good at everything. It could be a musical caster subclass or an NPC sage class or skald. It appears to have almost completely dropped the religious elements from it's previous incarnation as a cleric subclass for high level. As for a scope of exploration it is definitely a wanderer, but not a specialist. Jack of all trades, no mastery at all, may be the best option. So a core class after all. But with all the work to gain XP it will always be second fiddle to every class it covers, it which all four of the primary.

In a way, because it is such a hard class to peg, I could see it being a background.

I could see it being a casting method (performance powers) and this could apply to any casting method like power points (innate powers) or at-will (granted powers) or vancian (study - or default) in this way it could be applied to any caster class and could provide the same flavor of the bard's magic and song.

Also the bard could be a prestige thing. Start as another class then they join a college, like the harpers or something. They had said they planned on making PrCs feat chains. If this is still the case I could see this.

Because it is hard to peg, it makes sense to do this approach, pretty much everything but a class.

That said if they do make it a class, and they will, I would like to see it as a arcane caster with fighting capabilities of a rogue. I.e. not a front line fighter with magic. I would like the entertainer portion added in or not so strongly presented that it is impossible to get around. I think a sage, or an archivistst or elric all could be really nice potential uses for the class, but too much performer/entertainer added in and it all but makes the class relegated to only a few cases where I would want to use it.
 

Ashrym

Legend
WOTC_Rodney:
What role does the bard serve in a D&D Next party? Is it a jack-of-all trades or an inspiring leader or some mix of the two?

"We’re still in the process of working on the bard, but I would say that there are a few things we can pretty reasonably say fall within the bard’s domain. In mythology and history alike, bards are historians, writers, poets, and eulogizers, as well as doctors and magicians. In D&D, bards should excel in social skills and make good party leaders and party representatives in social situations. They should also be fonts of knowledge, both from their collected stories and histories, as well as from the ability to go out and find information that they need. Bards should excel in any interaction portions of an adventure, and you want to have a bard with you to help seize the advantage when social situations arise. So, I would say that while the bard’s role isn’t necessarily to be the leader of the party, it’s definitely to take the lead during interaction scenes."

It's a broken link and removed but the quote is still valid. 1E bards were an attempt at Celtic warrior style druidic lorekeepers. 2E were more like wandering minstrels. 3E moved back to 1E roots with healing spells and left the opportunity to build various styles of bards. 4E focused more on being arcane casters and less on entertainers.

The origins of bards started as prophets and seers, and their purpose was to to interpret customary law, and maintain customary law and tradition. They were an academic class highly valued in some points in history.

"Bards are artists first and foremost, and they practice magic just as they practice song, drama, or poetry. They have a clear sense of how people perceive reality, so they master charm magic and some illusions. Sagas of great heroes are part of a bard's repertoire, and most bards follow the example of many fables and become skilled in a variety of fields. A bard's artistic ability, knowledge of lore, and arcane might are widely respected, particularly among the world's rulers.


Art and magic share a sublime beauty, and, as a bard, you seek the place where the two meet. You might be a naturally talented wanderer who casts impressive spells almost instinctively, a student of a bardic college who learned ordered systems of magic and epic poetry, a warrior skald who mixes skill at arms with thundering music, a dashing performer known for putting on a good show even for your enemies, or a perfectionist who seeks the consummate formula that blends art and magic into a higher force."

They share some design space with clerics and wizards, and the archetype was a lorekeeper. Twitter feeds list bards as arcane casters and we know they were working on the college of valor as a warrior-esque version. The roguish entertainer isn't representative of the name "bard" but has some more modern interpretations as an entertainer and in other games. I expect to see the roguish minstrel option, the warrior skald version, and the knowledgeable sage caster version. That doesn't mean I'll get it of course, but I'm partial to the more historically accurate representation.

Entertainment was not the actual focus of the caste in the first place and stemmed from learning histories and legends in the form of poems and songs in oral tradition. Changes in the roles came with the wane of oral tradition in favor of written works and the time period at which we look sets more of a tone on what a bard represents. For anyone who might not know, the point of the eulogy included a prediction on the deceased's successor and was part of the prophet aspect of bards until the prediction was later removed from the practice. Originally bards were seers, magicians, healers, and keepers of lore. Roguish minstrels are a much later representation but still a valid one base on modern fiction.
 
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Li Shenron

Legend
In a way, because it is such a hard class to peg, I could see it being a background.

I could see it being a casting method (performance powers) and this could apply to any casting method like power points (innate powers) or at-will (granted powers) or vancian (study - or default) in this way it could be applied to any caster class and could provide the same flavor of the bard's magic and song.

Also the bard could be a prestige thing. Start as another class then they join a college, like the harpers or something. They had said they planned on making PrCs feat chains. If this is still the case I could see this.

Because it is hard to peg, it makes sense to do this approach, pretty much everything but a class.

I reach the opposite conclusion... It is hard to peg because it is many things at once, thus it can't be a background, a casting method or a feat... those are way way too narrow! Unless you mean, that a Bard should be a background PLUS a casting methods PLUS a few feats PLUS a unique spell list PLUS some special features, all together to "build" a Bard, and that sounds like a class to me :)

A subclass cannot work because it's still quite small (although larger than each of those before), but more importantly because it is a subclass of a specific class. So even assuming that 5-6 subclass features could be enough to wholly represent a Bard, do we make it a Fighter subclass, a Wizard subclass, a Rogue subclass? If the original problem is that a Bard is a bit of Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, Druid maybe also Cleric and Ranger, choosing any class as a basis is going to be like pulling the sheet to one side at the expense of the other.

Instead, exactly because the Bard is many many things, probably the best they can do is truly a class, and then use its subclasses to shift focus on different aspects. This would be the same as Druid subclasses, we have one focusing on spells and another focusing on wildshape, later there could be others focusing on healing, elemental powers, survival/natural lore, animal summoning/companions... If they make the Bard a class, then we can leverage on subclasses to make a Fighter-type Bard, a roguish bard, an arcane spellcasting machine Bard, a druidic Bard, a wandering minstrel Bard, a sage Bard, a healing Bard... there will be plenty of options for everybody taste, and everybody's personal view on what a Bard is or should never be.

I suppose you could do something similar also with a "build a Bard using different mechanical elements" approach, i.e. take a Background, 3-4 feats, a couple of specific proficienies etc. But I am not convinced this would work for a lot of people who just want to play a Bard character since day one.
 

Wangalade

Explorer
i'm a sucker for history too, and nowhere in history do you hear of a guy who is anything like the dnd bard. the least common aspect of the bard is the fighting ability. they shouldn't have any more fighting ability than a thief or mage or druid. yeah they can defend themselves like anyone else, but they don't specialize in killing. i like the idea of the different bard subclasses focusing on one aspect, but I also don't think bard should be its own class. maybe have several bard subclasses, one version for the fighter, one for the mage, one for the cleric,and one for the rogue. they each have the common attributes of the bard, but focus on the abilities of their main class.
 

Herobizkit

Adventurer
Since Bard has traditionally been a mix of Fighter, Rogue, and alternately Druid and Mage, I see Bard being a main class and sublass each being more focused on one aspect of the above.

So, fr'ex, a more Martial Bard could be a Skald with better weapon skills and rage, a more Roguish bard might be a Swashbuckler with Rogue tricks, Mage could be a Loremaster with improved spellcasting and Lore, and Druid would get Druid spells and have an animal companion.

I sure did love that 2e Bard's Handbook.
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
WOTC_Rodney:
What role does the bard serve in a D&D Next party? Is it a jack-of-all trades or an inspiring leader or some mix of the two?

"We’re still in the process of working on the bard, but I would say that there are a few things we can pretty reasonably say fall within the bard’s domain. In mythology and history alike, bards are historians, writers, poets, and eulogizers, as well as doctors and magicians. In D&D, bards should excel in social skills and make good party leaders and party representatives in social situations. They should also be fonts of knowledge, < snip >

Welcome to EN World!
 

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