Bard Playtest discussion

I am mostly neutral on the loss of a class spell list. Being able to take any Arcane spell from certain schools is cool (even if I'll miss the iconic particular flavor of the ecclectic Bard list), but the new system also seems vastly more complicated. They think they've solved the problem by suggesting spells, but there is a vast spectrum of game familiarity I think between the people who are so new they want the makers to just assign them spells so they can play, and the people who feel up to going through a third of the games spells figuring out which ones are of the right four schools. I feel like WotC is just not in tune with how newer or less committed players approach the game, as I suspect when they playtest they mostly interact with veterans or absolute beginners having their hands held by some WotC employee.

I hate the prepared spell system which I have encountered here with Bards with a firey passion that knows no bounds. Making them prepared spellcasters is one thing feels wrong but I might get behind it. Not having a prepared spellcaster's number of prepared spells be ability score dependent is a change I like. But the idea that you now must prepare spells of levels based on the spell slot progression is an unforgiveable insult to 5e. No. Just no. A thousand times no. You got it wrong. Think of something else. I don't care what other editions did, 5e got that thing right. Make whatever employee thought that was a good idea spend a month playing a prepared spellcaster in actual 5e and don't let them near any more playtest materials until they do.

I like changing inspiration to be proficiency bonus based, as I feel like, being based on charima bonus, it has been one of those things that made it actually unfeasible to play a class mediocre in their primary ability score. I kind of like moving it to the reaction, as it both makes it more powerful (which given that most bards will have less of it most of the time is fair) and avoids the problem of being dependent on other players remembering one of the Bard's class features. But now the Bard is one of those classes in search of something to do with their bonus action, and I liked the ludonarrative logic of giving inspiration in advance better. I am intrigued by making inspiration usable instead as a heal. The value of a slight increase to a critical die roll vs. a die roll of hit points at a clutch moment is difficult to quantify, and might make for compelling gameplay, I'm not sure.

But they moved short rest inspiration regain, something I've long though should be the default at level 1, from 5th to 7th level. Now I understand that requiring several levels of Bard to get it might be necessary to balance multiclassing, especially with it being proficiency bonus based, but come on, level seven? And level 5 for Jack of All Trades? No. Characters should have all their iconic class abilities earlier, not later. I understand the joys of delayed gratification, but I shouldn't have to get 10 to 20 sessions in for my character of X class to feel like a proper character of X class.

And on that subject, the level 1 Bard, not yet getting their extra healing spells, and having only 2 Arcane spells, has been severely nerfed. As have level 1 parties whose healer is (going to be) a Bard.

Taking away a Bard's proficiency in rapiers and handcrossbows is an incorrect decision, though not as absurd as taking away the Rogue's proficiency in handcrossbows, which seems like it must just be a straight up oversight.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

I feel like WotC is just not in tune with how newer or less committed players approach the game, as I suspect when they playtest they mostly interact with veterans or absolute beginners having their hands held by some WotC employee.
Definitely agree. I think they're trying pretty hard, but they don't actually get it.

Sympathise with a lot of what you're saying even if I don't 100% agree.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The way the spell lists are interacting with the playtest Bard seems ok.

Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, and Transmutation feels appropriate enough.

Swapping spells per long rest is balanced. For the Bard particularly, these "schools" seem ok.



At the same time, there are many problems with the 5e spell lists, generally. Such as wildly imbalanced spells at the same spell level. The lists defacto mean, the arcane casters get the better spells, and the divine and primal casters get the crappier spells. Thematically, the lists overlap − blurry and redundant − in other words, a poor organization.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I am mostly neutral on the loss of a class spell list. Being able to take any Arcane spell from certain schools is cool (even if I'll miss the iconic particular flavor of the ecclectic Bard list), but the new system also seems vastly more complicated. They think they've solved the problem by suggesting spells, but there is a vast spectrum of game familiarity I think between the people who are so new they want the makers to just assign them spells so they can play, and the people who feel up to going through a third of the games spells figuring out which ones are of the right four schools. I feel like WotC is just not in tune with how newer or less committed players approach the game, as I suspect when they playtest they mostly interact with veterans or absolute beginners having their hands held by some WotC employee.
This is only a problem if you don’t use digital tools, which may be a feature in WotC’s eyes.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I hate the prepared spell system which I have encountered here with Bards with a firey passion that knows no bounds. Making them prepared spellcasters is one thing feels wrong but I might get behind it. Not having a prepared spellcaster's number of prepared spells be ability score dependent is a change I like. But the idea that you now must prepare spells of levels based on the spell slot progression is an unforgiveable insult to 5e. No. Just no. A thousand times no. You got it wrong. Think of something else. I don't care what other editions did, 5e got that thing right. Make whatever employee thought that was a good idea spend a month playing a prepared spellcaster in actual 5e and don't let them near any more playtest materials until they do.
Yea, I'm not a fan of swapping to prepared spells in general, but I'm definitely not a fan of forcing prepared spells into certain spell levels. One of the strengths of the original 5e system was being able to underprepare spells for some levels to give you greater versatility in others. For a lot of my casters, I would only prep 1 or 2 1st level and 2nd level spells in order to have more options for higher level slots, I don't think losing that freedom is a positive.

I'd much rather have all casters be spells known, and swap out one spell on a long rest. Maybe give wizards some extra freedom with their spellbook, but every other caster should be spells known.
 


Raith5

Adventurer
I do think I will miss the flavour of song of rest - it seemed like the only time a bard did a musical thing rather than casting a spell thing. It felt like a core bard thing to me.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I do think I will miss the flavour of song of rest - it seemed like the only time a bard did a musical thing rather than casting a spell thing. It felt like a core bard thing to me.
Yep, but it was moved to Inspiring Leader. This plus the Musician feat on a bard (and maybe Healer) will make for an absolute beast in terms of support.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I am mostly neutral on the loss of a class spell list. Being able to take any Arcane spell from certain schools is cool (even if I'll miss the iconic particular flavor of the ecclectic Bard list), but the new system also seems vastly more complicated. They think they've solved the problem by suggesting spells, but there is a vast spectrum of game familiarity I think between the people who are so new they want the makers to just assign them spells so they can play, and the people who feel up to going through a third of the games spells figuring out which ones are of the right four schools. I feel like WotC is just not in tune with how newer or less committed players approach the game, as I suspect when they playtest they mostly interact with veterans or absolute beginners having their hands held by some WotC employee.
It's hard to gather data about casual players. In my experience, they don't keep up with D&D news (I often have to tell my players about upcoming books and major updates/changes to the game in order for them to hear about it), don't answer official surveys, and don't participate in forums/discussions online. They just show up to the game and play and don't care much for the background stuff that affects how they play (heh. reminds me of something else).

I'm not sure how WotC would gather data about what the silent portion of the D&D fanbase wants. D&D Beyond might actually be the best tool to gather that information, actually. A lot of casual players use it and now that WotC owns it, they have a better way of gathering access to this kind of data.
I hate the prepared spell system which I have encountered here with Bards with a firey passion that knows no bounds. Making them prepared spellcasters is one thing feels wrong but I might get behind it. Not having a prepared spellcaster's number of prepared spells be ability score dependent is a change I like. But the idea that you now must prepare spells of levels based on the spell slot progression is an unforgiveable insult to 5e. No. Just no. A thousand times no. You got it wrong. Think of something else. I don't care what other editions did, 5e got that thing right. Make whatever employee thought that was a good idea spend a month playing a prepared spellcaster in actual 5e and don't let them near any more playtest materials until they do.
I'm a bit conflicted on this issue. It certainly makes prepared casting simpler, which makes it easier for people that typically play Martials to get into Spellcasters, but it also takes away a lot of the versatility that came along with being a caster. Without having playtested it, my gut reaction is that I prefer the old way, but it'll take pretty extensive playtesting to solidify my opinion on this issue.
I like changing inspiration to be proficiency bonus based, as I feel like, being based on charima bonus, it has been one of those things that made it actually unfeasible to play a class mediocre in their primary ability score. I kind of like moving it to the reaction, as it both makes it more powerful (which given that most bards will have less of it most of the time is fair) and avoids the problem of being dependent on other players remembering one of the Bard's class features. But now the Bard is one of those classes in search of something to do with their bonus action, and I liked the ludonarrative logic of giving inspiration in advance better. I am intrigued by making inspiration usable instead as a heal. The value of a slight increase to a critical die roll vs. a die roll of hit points at a clutch moment is difficult to quantify, and might make for compelling gameplay, I'm not sure.
I think that changing the healing ability to a bonus action could solve the "no bonus action" problem. It's also a bit weird as written anyway, it sort of functions like the Goliath's Stone Endurance ability, but in a weird way where it makes it so the person you're healing takes the entire damage (which could reduce them to 0hp and knock them unconscious) and then are healed (which would "yoyo" them back from being unconscious if the attack reduced them to 0 hp). It's all just very weirdly written in my opinion. Changing it to a bonus action means that it doesn't compete with the Bardic Inspiration reaction and gets rid of the option of you being knocked unconscious and then awoken just in the span of a reaction.
But they moved short rest inspiration regain, something I've long though should be the default at level 1, from 5th to 7th level. Now I understand that requiring several levels of Bard to get it might be necessary to balance multiclassing, especially with it being proficiency bonus based, but come on, level seven? And level 5 for Jack of All Trades? No. Characters should have all their iconic class abilities earlier, not later. I understand the joys of delayed gratification, but I shouldn't have to get 10 to 20 sessions in for my character of X class to feel like a proper character of X class.
Having Bardic Inspiration that scales off of your Proficiency Bonus and comes back on a Short Rest would definitely be too much for level 1. That's probably the best and easiest support-multiclass dip in the game, and it would be available to anyone with at least a 13 in Charisma. Imagine how many support-focused Paladins would multiclass into Bard if it was designed that way. I'd probably move the "Bardic Inspiration recharges on a Short Rest" to level 5 or maybe even level 3.
And on that subject, the level 1 Bard, not yet getting their extra healing spells, and having only 2 Arcane spells, has been severely nerfed. As have level 1 parties whose healer is (going to be) a Bard.
Yeah, this has been a problem in 5e for awhile now. You don't truly become a member of your class until you gain your Subclass, which normally happens at level 3. It's especially bad for Druids and Artificers, who don't get to do the things their class is known for until level 2/3.
Taking away a Bard's proficiency in rapiers and handcrossbows is an incorrect decision, though not as absurd as taking away the Rogue's proficiency in handcrossbows, which seems like it must just be a straight up oversight.
Maybe they're reserving that for a College of Valor/Swords-type subclass? I'm personally fine with getting rid of those proficiencies from the base class so long as there's a well-designed subclass that gives them.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The UA finally distinguishes between "Perception" and "Investigation".

Perception is part of a Search Action. It applies to finding something "concealed".

Investigation is part of a Study Action. It applies to "traps and gadgetry" but also to the unrelated linguistic "cypher" and "riddles".

This correctly emphasizes how Perception applies to the senses only, not really how to interpret those sensations.

I would relocate the linguistic stuff of cyphers and riddles to History, which I have been using for all of the human sciences, relating to culture and language.

Otherwise, Investigation is something like the Engineering skill that has been missing from 5e, and responsible for gears, machinery, and traps.

Note, I have been using Nature in the sense of the four elements (solid, liquid, gas, and plasma) for physical sciences, including alchemy and material sciences, including building architecture and structures.
 

Yea, I'm not a fan of swapping to prepared spells in general, but I'm definitely not a fan of forcing prepared spells into certain spell levels. One of the strengths of the original 5e system was being able to underprepare spells for some levels to give you greater versatility in others. For a lot of my casters, I would only prep 1 or 2 1st level and 2nd level spells in order to have more options for higher level slots, I don't think losing that freedom is a positive.

I'd much rather have all casters be spells known, and swap out one spell on a long rest. Maybe give wizards some extra freedom with their spellbook, but every other caster should be spells known.
I think it’s a nice playtest tryout.
The forced spell selection by level is more straight forward for beginner, but less versatile for experimented players. In a way it’s a nerf for all caster, having less option for high level spell will indeed impact and nerf more experimented players.

in a way it’s a step back torward old vancian system.
 



FitzTheRuke

Legend
Gonna make my comments on yours, because why not?

1) Changed from Simple + trad Bard weapons to just Simple weapons. Odd change because an awful lot of Bards use Rapiers, but a simplification.
Probably the Skald/Swords-type bards will get Rapier (actually, probably all Martial Weapons, which could be neat). Short Swords will have to do for the rest. (Simple weapons now!)

2) Bardic Inspiration changed to a Reaction on someone failing a roll or taking damage, which potentially makes it a lot more flexible and makes Bards very good at getting people up who just got downed. PB/long rest uses at L1, PB/short rest (so they do still exist!) from L7. Also at L7, if the roll a 1 it doesn't use up the Inspiration, nice!
Yeah, that's nice stuff. It's how we want to use it.

3) Spell Preparation. If I'm reading correctly this now works more like they're a Cleric/Druid? I.e. they choose what spells to prep from a list, and can change on a long rest, including cantrips. That's pretty big.

EDIT - It's a subset of the Arcane list, I see - Only Divination, Enchantment, Illusion or Transmutation. However this overall still feels like a buff.
Notice that Bards don't have any healing spells at level one? They have to use Bardic Inspiration for it.

4) Expertise in 2 skills at L2, 2 more at L9 nice.
Good stuff.

5) Songs of Restoration - Always have healing spells prepared so no excuse to not have them/cast them! Kind of seems like a 4E role vibe there, but certainly technically a buff.
Right. But at level 2. Also, no Cure Wounds.

6) Magical secrets - Now it's pick a spell LIST and you can memorize 2 spells from that. At 14th pick a different list and get the same. Simple, flexible and useful.
Interesting that it has to be a "different" list. So you'll know a bit from all 3 lists in the end. Cool.

7) Capstone is now 2 uses (up from 1) on rolling initiative and L18 like all capstones.
Good. I hope they make some capstones better too.

College of Lore (only subclass for now):

8) Still not available until L3 despite WotC saying this wasn't something they liked, interesting.
I think that's due to "backwards compatibility". There's only so much they can change. Personally I'm all for "change anything that will make the game better". But that's subjective. And I understand why they might want to keep as much the same as they can. Too bad, though.

9) Gives Arcana, History and Nature instead of letting you choose ensuring you can't be awful at knowing things lol.
The "knowledge" skills. Yeah. Makes sense.

10) Cutting Words is explicitly rolled after a SUCCESS, so that's great. Also does psychic damage from L10!
That's awesome. I like it.

11) Inspiration dice are rolled with Advantage from L6 lol nice.
Yup. That's nice too.

12) Peerless Skill changed to be "after you fail" instead of the ludicrous "before the DM says if you succeed or fail" approach.
Yeah much better. Blah blah DM says blah.

Overall my impression?

I don't have any complaints. This is a straight upgrade that addresses virtually all the major issues with Bard gameplay. Yes, it is slightly more restrictive, in that it's forcing you to be competent at your role, but I had no problem with that in 4E and have no problem with it here.
Seems good to me. I'm on board so far.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
When creating a Bard character, the Bard should choose either Verbal or Somatic. This then counts for all spell components and the spellcasting focus for every Bard spell.

Many Bard concepts lack a musical instrument. For those concepts that have one, a musical instrument can then substitute instead of this method, thus casting spells only by means of the instrument and no other requirement.

Note. The Bard should never use a material component, except if choosing to use an instrument to replace all spell components.
 
Last edited:

Yaarel

Mind Mage
It is odd that Songs of Restoration casts healing spells, but the Prepared Spells cannot access the Abjuration school.

Probably the Bard spell schools should be: Abjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, and Transmutation.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
There is a lot of this I'm on the fence about, but one thing in particular I haven't seen mentioned here yet.

You can no longer use Bardic Inspiration and Cutting Words in the same round. It used to be that you could hand off a bardic inspiration on your turn and then cutting words as your reaction. With them both being reactions now, this isn't possible.

And, really... this is a nasty bit of choice to make. Do you use bardic inspiration to make an attack hit? Do you save it to cutting words an attack to miss? Do you save it to bardic healing someone who may drop? You only get two of these per day by third level, and this a massive choice. It doesn't feel like it would be satisfying, just reading through it.

I also feel like a large number of bards will choose Primal for their magical secrets. It will open up blasting, control and I think revival spells for them, and that's everything you may want from the other two lists.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
It is odd that Songs of Restoration casts healing spells, but the Prepared Spells cannot access the Abjuration school.

Probably the Bard spell schools should be: Abjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, and Transmutation.

That is an intentional design choice though, to not give them abjuration (shield, mage armor, ect) and to still give them healing.

Remember, if they get Divine or Primal from Magical secrets, they get healing spells, but even if they gained Abjuration, the Arcane list doesn't have healing spells.
 

The UA finally distinguishes between "Perception" and "Investigation".

Perception is part of a Search Action. It applies to finding something "concealed".

Investigation is part of a Study Action. It applies to "traps and gadgetry" but also to the unrelated linguistic "cypher" and "riddles".

This correctly emphasizes how Perception applies to the senses only, not really how to interpret those sensations.

I would relocate the linguistic stuff of cyphers and riddles to History, which I have been using for all of the human sciences, relating to culture and language.

Otherwise, Investigation is something like the Engineering skill that has been missing from 5e, and responsible for gears, machinery, and traps.

Note, I have been using Nature in the sense of the four elements (solid, liquid, gas, and plasma) for physical sciences, including alchemy and material sciences, including building architecture and structures.
Still missing Streetwise/Gather Information.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top