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%

pemerton

Legend
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.
In D&D that's a cleric, a wizard or perhaps a druid.

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.
The roguish minstrel is, presumably, a rogue (or rogue/illusionist). The warrior skald is a fighter or a fighter/wizard (if there was a warlord class, it would fit under that umbrella, but there's not). The sage is a cleric, wizard or druid.

In 1st ed AD&D your bard had to exhibit all 3 archetypes - start as fighter, change to thief, pick up druidry.

In 2nd ed AD&D your bard is a roguish caster with a bit of sageary on the side, and 4e roughly follows that picture. In 4e the ideal sage PC can be a wizard or invoker as much as a bard; a roguish minstrel can be a rogue as easily as a bard; a warrior skald can be a paladin or warlord as much as a bard.

I suspect that the attempt to encmompass all these characters under a single class might be a triumph of labelling over logic!
 

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Li Shenron

Legend
Check out the first draft of the Bard class...

One of the Colleges (subclasses) definitely makes the Bard a bit more like a Fighter, the other instead mostly expands on Bardic Performance.

This is exactly what I meant when I wrote that the class can be used for providing basic capabilities across all Bard's traditional tropes, while subclasses can shift the focus towards one of them in particular.

Also, there is some limited option there for the Bard to cherrypick from everybody's spell list (up to level 5) if you want to make it closer to Druid, Wizard or Cleric, but unforunately this is only at level 20th. It grants 5 known spells at once tho, it should be a piece of cake of splitting this into 5 abilities at various levels.
 

Starfox

Hero
I am more and more of the opinion that bard is a background that can be taken with any class. There is no consensus what a bard is, only some things a bard can do. Sounds like having those bardish things as add-ons to other classes would work well.

But Next has moved away from backgrounds with real substance and towards background as fluff, which means backgrounds might not be substantial enough to hold up the bard concept. :(
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I am more and more of the opinion that bard is a background that can be taken with any class. There is no consensus what a bard is, only some things a bard can do. Sounds like having those bardish things as add-ons to other classes would work well.

But Next has moved away from backgrounds with real substance and towards background as fluff, which means backgrounds might not be substantial enough to hold up the bard concept. :(

If you want a Bard that is simply a "wandering minstrel", I think you can use backgrounds. There is currently one sample Minstrel background that is quite ok for that IMHO (tho I'd switch Disguise with another lore or Cha skill).

But spellcasting and Bardic Music effects are simply too large for a background, even tho IMO today's packet has made backgrounds more significant than in any previous packets, it's not fluff...

You could get spells from feats, but currently it is VERY expensive to do so (4 feats to get only few low-level spells per day).
 

Mishihari Lord

First Post
If bard is a subclass of anything, it's warlord. Social focus? Working through others? Buffs? Inspiration? Check, check, check, and check.

It even works for the guy I think of as the archetypical warlord, Croaker from Glen Cook's Black Company books. History is his forte and his passion, and he uses it to good effect in his warcraft. Sounds a lot like the bard's legend lore.

I could even get behind shout healing, which I don't care for, if it's "sing healing" with an arcane component.

Edit: So if I have the last post, does that mean I win the thread?
 
Last edited:

Ashrym

Legend
I suspect that the attempt to encmompass all these characters under a single class might be a triumph of labelling over logic!
Encompassing the roles is based on historical accuracy and classic mythologies. In D&D they are using the bard name but not the actual historical reference attached to the name, or the myths surround bards like Myrridin,Taliesin, Vainamoinen, or similarities with classic Greek stories associating magic and music, or the same roles for different cultures like Africa, Persia, China, and Indonesia. It's easy to differentiate bards from wizards because bards were healers and wizards were not. It's easy to separate bards from druids because druids were priest and bards were not, especially looking at the same roles outside of the Celtic roles. It's easy to separate bards from clerics because clerics were not priests and based more on orders of knights devoted to gods and granted magic from those gods while bards were seers who served as advisors and teachers for rulers and who's magic came from the natural gift of inspiration.

The many function of the historical bards and similar roles in other cultures was to maintain history and interpret custom. That's why they learned all that information and the use of poetry or song (depending on culture) was one mnemonic device for maintaining the information.

The functionality isn't much different than a cleric in gameplay, or at least wasn't in the last couple of editions, in the buffs, healing, combat etc. The flavor was different but not really how the classes interacted in the groups. The main difference in 3.x bards were skilled and used a combination of song magic and spell magic. In 4E they were both leaders and clerics were better at healing while bards subbed controller, which match 3.x pretty well too.

The DDN packet bard that came out is similar to the concepts I mentioned and 3.x, where they are skilled experts and knowledgeable. The main feature of knowledge and skills is there, healing is there, party multiplier abilities are there, spells are there, and they use a mix of spell magic and song magic. The 2 types listed so far give warlord-like abilities to the college of valor bard, and the college of with bards are more focused on some controlling effects.

I suspect your attempt to call what I mentioned a triumph of labelling over logic a lack of following how the class dynamic typically worked in groups and applying that logic moving forward, and needing a better understanding of the historical and mythical bards of which we speak. ;)
 

Ashrym

Legend
Check out the first draft of the Bard class...

One of the Colleges (subclasses) definitely makes the Bard a bit more like a Fighter, the other instead mostly expands on Bardic Performance.

This is exactly what I meant when I wrote that the class can be used for providing basic capabilities across all Bard's traditional tropes, while subclasses can shift the focus towards one of them in particular.

Also, there is some limited option there for the Bard to cherrypick from everybody's spell list (up to level 5) if you want to make it closer to Druid, Wizard or Cleric, but unforunately this is only at level 20th. It grants 5 known spells at once tho, it should be a piece of cake of splitting this into 5 abilities at various levels.

Right now the capstone ability isn't so great. With the way multi-classing is working it's better to simply add more spells known by taking the right cleric for the domain or druid for the circle spells for more spells known, and much earlier. I'm hoping to see that changed before it's released.

I am more and more of the opinion that bard is a background that can be taken with any class. There is no consensus what a bard is, only some things a bard can do. Sounds like having those bardish things as add-ons to other classes would work well.

But Next has moved away from backgrounds with real substance and towards background as fluff, which means backgrounds might not be substantial enough to hold up the bard concept. :(

Backgrounds are still there, including the minstrel background. My current bard/cleric MC has the guild thief background and is shaping up to be pretty versatile. It's easy enough to use the minstrel background as a bard and apply it to any class too, but that's like getting rid of clerics simply because we can add the priest background to any class. Entirely possible but it's generally better to fill out a class that has a lot of potential shared design space without needing to multi-class. Clerics, bards, rangers, druids, and paladins are all hybrid models reflecting shared design space while still having full advancement as a single class.

The reason for that is to be able to fill out group roles using alternate combinations and still be successful without being stuck with fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue.

If bard is a subclass of anything, it's warlord. Social focus? Working through others? Buffs? Inspiration? Check, check, check, and check.

It even works for the guy I think of as the archetypical warlord, Croaker from Glen Cook's Black Company books. History is his forte and his passion, and he uses it to good effect in his warcraft. Sounds a lot like the bard's legend lore.

I could even get behind shout healing, which I don't care for, if it's "sing healing" with an arcane component.

Edit: So if I have the last post, does that mean I win the thread?

Sry, you don't get the last post. :eek:

Warlords and bards are thematically different. Warlords would focus on enhancing battle effectiveness and bards actually focused on avoiding it and keeping the peace. Warlords would be military and bards would be magical. They simply also shared some design space.
 

Can we please open the warrior/arcane caster up to more than just a singing and dancing guy? Then stick the bard under it! The arcane gish class is such a utilized fictional category of characters. However D&D has always required multi-classing to achieve it, other than 1e where the ranger got M-U spells. So I dont want to minimize the importance of the bard. Which has existed in 3 out of 4 PHB1s which is way more than barbarian 1 out of 4 or monk 2 out of 4. So bard can be a build of the arcane gish class. I would absolutely think this was fantastic.
Because of the way the subclass system is built into the game you can add magic to the fighter pretty easily. Plus there's multiclassing.

You don't need to do anything to the bard.
 

Ashrym

Legend
Because of the way the subclass system is built into the game you can add magic to the fighter pretty easily. Plus there's multiclassing.

You don't need to do anything to the bard.

The bard doesn't even need to sing and dance. Oration is listed as a method to use the abilities. Singing and dancing is added by the players and not the mechanics.
 

pemerton

Legend
Encompassing the roles is based on historical accuracy and classic mythologies. In D&D they are using the bard name but not the actual historical reference attached to the name, or the myths surround bards like Myrridin,Taliesin, Vainamoinen, or similarities with classic Greek stories associating magic and music, or the same roles for different cultures like Africa, Persia, China, and Indonesia. It's easy to differentiate bards from wizards because bards were healers and wizards were not. It's easy to separate bards from druids because druids were priest and bards were not, especially looking at the same roles outside of the Celtic roles. It's easy to separate bards from clerics because clerics were not priests and based more on orders of knights devoted to gods and granted magic from those gods while bards were seers who served as advisors and teachers for rulers and who's magic came from the natural gift of inspiration.
It's not clear to me whether or not you're using the class names ("cleric", "bard", "wizard" etc) in their D&D sense or in some other (ordinary Engish?) sense.

As a class, clerics - according to Gygax in his PHB - are inspired by the crusading military orders, whose members were not priests but were lay brothers. But in D&D, clerics always had "priest" as a level title, and are I think are now indelibly associated with the idea of priesthood.

I don't really see how you can say that Vainamoinen is a bard (seems plausible) and that bards are not priests, given that Vainamoinen is a placeholder in the story either for a god or for some sort of ur-priest ancestral figure.

And I don't really grasp the basis on which you're saying wizards are not healers. "Wizard", in D&D terms, doesn't really correlate with any historical or mythological notion - historical witches and wizards can (by reptuation, at least) perform healing as well as other magical feats. There are D&D books that put forward Merlin as an archetype of a wizard, but of course it is just as easy to present Merlin as a druid or a bard. And if we look to literary rather than mythical characters, Gandalf - another archetypical wizard - could just as easily be presented as a bard (he heals, and as a spirit-being is clearly in tune with the music of creation). Elrond is a healer and a loremaster, but except for the D&D demarcations around who can and cannot use healing magic there would be no deep reason to label him a bard rather than a wizard, nor vice versa.

The DDN packet bard that came out is similar to the concepts I mentioned and 3.x, where they are skilled experts and knowledgeable. The main feature of knowledge and skills is there, healing is there, party multiplier abilities are there, spells are there, and they use a mix of spell magic and song magic.
The warrior-skald built using the D&Dnext bard class has d6 HD and is therefore hugely vulnerable in combat. And is a spell caster.

The loremaster is proficient in the rapier and shortsword for no very good story reason that I can see.

The rougish minstrel isn't particularly represented by this bard class at all, other than the rapier and light armour proficiency (which the rogue also gets). In particular, all the social capabilities provided by the College of Wit are expressly called out as magical abilities (except perhaps Seeds of Doubt). As far as non-magical wit and charm, a rogue build is just as viable as a bard build. (The College of Valour actually has more non-magical social abilities, but they're confined within the combat mechanics.) As far as I can tell the bard has no special competence or advantage within the interaction mechanics.

So I personally don't see the D&Dnext bard as covering all the historical and literary archetypes. I see a magician class based around musical/oratory performance and some other support magic, who is also a loremaster and perhaps a fairly weak warrior. It's an oddity of the D&D world, with no real basis in myth and history, that the best loremasters also happen to be rapier duelists (at least until 9th level, at which point the full casters get access to Commune and Contact Other Plane).
 

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