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D&D 5E Bardic Lore: A Basic College of Lore Bard Guide


This is my first attempt at writing a guide and is based on actual in game experiences with a bit of theory craft thrown in for good measure. I will be using the following system to rate things for the College of Lore Bard. This will cover the 1st 6 levels at this point.

Selling Points
AKA why play a College of Lore Bard. Bards have a reputation as sucking as a class. This is not a view I agree with as I found the 2E bard quite powerful and we kind of broke the 3.5 Bard. The 5E bard however is a very good class IMHO and the College of Lore bard is likely one of the top tier classes in 5E. Do not expect to deal massive damage as the bard or even a moderate amount of damage. The Lore Bard excels as a controller in 4E terms buffing and debuffing friends and enemies and it makes a decent skill monkey as well along with a great support PC. It is probably the best class to take as a 5th person and if you need to replace a traditional role in a 4 man party I would suggest replacing the Rogue 1st followed by the wizard.

Red: Garbage, or completely overshadowed by another option.
Purple: Situationally useful, but overall pretty meh.
Black: OK. You could do worse than pick this.
Blue: Good stuff. You probably want this.
Sky Blue: You want this. Period.
Gold: Why haven't you taken this yet? A defining choice for a build, or even the whole class.

Ability Scores
This is assuming you use point buy or the default stat array. If you are rolling the dice this still gives you an indication of where to place your ability scores.
Strength: Well something has to be the dump stat and for the Bard it may as well be strength. Short of some sort of multi class build strength is a dump stat.
Dexterity:At low levels you may actually wade into combat dual wielding or using a bow. To many bard skills are keyed off this along with dexterity saves, initiative and AC. You want at least a 14 in this score or start the game with a 16.
Constitution: Good for every class in the game. A 12-14 score is very good.
Intelligence: Not a bad stat for a bard but you can get by with a 10. Intelligence saves are rare. You can switch it with wisdom if you like.
Wisdom: Perception is based off wisdom and wisdom saves are common.
Charisma: Your spell DCs, attack rolls, inspiration dice are all based off charisma along with several bardic skills. Put your highest score here the only exception I can thing of is perhaps some sort of gish multi class. Buff this stat if you do not take a bonus feat.


Hill Dwarf:
This race lacks a bonus to dexterity or charisma and none of its racial abilities really scream out as good bard choices. Probably best just avoided.
Mountain Dwarf: Better than the hill Dwarf and you may be able to play some sort of gish type Dwarf bard due to medium armor, the strength boost and better weapons than the bard starts he game with. Could be fun at the lower levels and the medium armour could be useful. Could be fun but fun doesn't mean good.

Would be rated as sky blue but the daylight sensitivity thing is a big drawback. Also you are a Drow which can have some in game downsides as well depending on your DM and setting. An extra Faerie Fire is always nice to have as a bard and you can mitigate the daylight penalty to some extent by casting spells that have no attack rolls. Superior darkvision allows things like surprise rounds in dungeons and larger caverns as your foes will not even see you coming.

High Elf:
A bonus cantrip is nice along with perception as a trained skill and the elven weapons. Nothing is really appealing as such in regard to most of its racial abilities but you do get a dexterity boost.
Wood Elf: The wood elf offers most of the advantages as a high elf but the 35 movement rate and the mask of the wild can be useful for bards. The wisdom bonus is also nice. Not a great race as such but better than the High Elf IMHO.

The light foot gets +2 dexterity and +1 charisma and the rest of the racial abilities are decent for bards. Would be sky blue but there are better races for the College of Lore Bard.
Stout The stout could make an OK Bard I suppose but you have better options.

Human: +1 to all stats can be very good for a bard and could be abusable with rolled stats and point buy. Boring perhaps but you can have something like 11,12,12, 14,14,16 or 10,11,14, 14,14, 16 or 10.10,11, 14,16,16 for ability scores which means no dump stats and when combined with the jack of all trades bard ability you are a great skill monkey outside of combat. Also no dump stats and bonuses to all saves actually matters in 5E. Theory crafters may not rate this that high but in game you are very versatile outside combat and having no dump stats on saves is very good. Can be the best multiclass race in the game and can be abused with rolled stats. Also useful for some jack of all trades multiclass skill builds. And by that I mean you are proficient in all of the skills.

Human (variant) +1 to 2 stats, +1 skill and most importantly +1 feat makes for a great Bard. Having 12,14,14,16 for your 4 highest stats and a bonus feat works very well. The best Bard race and really the only competitive alternative to the half elf bard.

Dragonborn: More suited to the Valorious bard the Dragonborn still make a good bard as resistance to an energy type is useful and the breath weapon is kind of like a free level 1 AoE spell. You probably want to have red or gold scales as well. The strength bonus is a little bit useless as you do not really want to be using strength based weapons anyway.

Forest Gnome
Marginally better than the Rock Gnome. The ability scores mostly do not matter and the racial abilities do not really help with anything the bard should be doing.
Rock Gnome:
The Rock Gnome really offers very little to the Bard class.

Half Elf: More or less the best bard race bar none. Only the variant humans bonus feat can really compare. I would almost rate this race as gold. If your DM doesn't allow the variant human into the game this race is rated as gold. +2 charisma, +1 to two stats of your choice, +2 skills and darkvision the rest of the racial package doesn't matter. You can have 16/16/14/12 as your best 4 stats for example. The half elf is just good.

Half Orc: None of the half orc racial traits or ability score boosts matter that much for the college of Lore Bard. The Half Orc can make a good Valorious Bard though.

Tiefling: The tiefling can make a good bard as it has decent attributes for the class and its racial spells. It is not as good as the human or half elf however hence its dark blue rating instead of sky blue.
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Class Abilities
In 5E the bard is a primary caster and this means spells are your major and most powerful class feature. And the bard has some powerful spells indeed. Individual spell selection will be covered later.

Bardic Inspiration: Part of the bread and butter of the Bard class. The key part of using this ability is knowing when you give the dice to your allies. Practice makes perfect is the best advice I can give. Gets a lot better at level 3 and 5.

Level 2
Jack of All Trades
At level 2 you can add half your proficiency bonus rounded down on all ability checks that you are not proficient in. Not really a major class feature in terms of the bard power but a decent enough ability and it can get crazy at higher levels. Note this also applies to initiative rolls.

Song of Rest

Another level 2 ability. When your allies spend a hit dice they regain an extra 1d6 hit dice. Short rests may be hard to come buy though so it is somewhat DM dependent. If you get multiple short rests in a day you are better off using HD based healing 1 dice at atime to maximise the amount of bonus d6's you can get.

Bard College (Lore)
You pick your career path here. For purposes of this guide I assume you pick the lore college.

More or less identical to the Rogue ability you get delayed access to this ability compared to the Rogue. Unlike the Rogue you cannot pick Thieves tools. I recommend picking stealth and perception as your skills. When combined with Jack of All Trades, and the bonus proficiencies you could make the argument the bard is better at skills than the Rogue.

Bonus Proficiencies
You gain an extra 3 skills of your choice. More skills are always great. You do not have to pick skills on your class list either.

Cutting Words:
How good is cutting words? Put it this way you are probably better off not using bardic inspiration any more as you can debuff enemies using your reaction. Really feeds into the controller part of the the College of Lore Combines with Vicious Mockery and can make the DM cry, I should know I am one.

Font of Inspiration.
Up until 5th level you may struggle with the amount of inspiration dice you have. Now they refresh on a short rest. Hard to rate higher due to short rests being hard to measure to to specific adventure, play styles, and the DM. The more short rests you get the better this ability is.

Additional Magic Secrets
You can pick 2 spells of any class and add them to your spells know list. The obvious choice is wizard spells but you can also take ranger and paladin spells before members of the actual Paladin and Ranger classes. I would recommend Aura of Vitality, Fireball, Fly, Slow or Haste depending on what you want to do.

Bards get to pick any 3 skills and they get an additional 2 skills via back ground, another 3 at level 3 and 2 if half elf, 1 if variant human and various racial skills such as perception as an elf.

Acrobatics is a dexterity based skill and is useful but it is not a 1st pick as such.

Animal Handling
Not really that useful for you unless you want to ride a mount or something like that.

Could be useful for scrolls but your intelligence is probably going to be 12 at best and someone else in the aprty is likely to be better at it than you.

Strength as a dump stat probably and you have better options. Probably best avoided.

Charisma based skill with a lot of uses in social settings etc. You did make your charisma high right?

You have better options.

Can be good to detect people lying to you.

Make my day punk! You can be the good cop and the bad cop. Or maybe just bad.

AKA Streetwise in previous editions. Can be useful for digging up clues and rumours.

Odds are the cleric is trained in this and is better at it.. Useful for when the cleric goes down however but a healing kit can automatically stabilise people.

Its a skill, it has some uses, you can live without it and someone else is probably better at it than you.

One of the 5E super skills. Everyone should have this as you can use it to find hidden things and more importantly not get surprsed by anyone or anything. Do not accept dinner invitations from bugbears without this skill.

One of the charisma based skills you can live without.

One of the charisma based skills you really really want. You are likely the party face and be the best at it. Even if there is a Paladin in the party you still probably want to take this skill.

Vecna who?You can live without it.

Sleight of Hand
You can get some creative uses out of this skill or at least eat for free. Don't get caught.

The other 5E super skill. You should have a decent dexterity, and surprise rounds+spells can end a combat fast.

Odds are someone else in the party has this and is better at it. Buffing them with inspiration may be a better idea than doing it yourself. Still useful at times though.


Pick whatever you like based on what skills you want or whatever other criteria you like. The Criminal and Urchin back grounds however let you gain proficiency in thieves tools so pick them up if your bard it the Rogue replacement in the party.

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With no way to cast this spell as a bonus action it is kind of a bad spell for bards to take as you have to give up your action to cast it. It may be remotely useful to help maintain a great concentration spell you care about.

Dancing Lights
Might be useful sometimes and in social situations if you want to make entertain guests or something.

A poor man's charm person. Gets the job done I suppose.

Useful spell but the cleric should be casting this not you.

Mage Hand
One could get creative with this spell. Good utility.


The relative short range of this spell and its situational utility means it is best avoided IMHO.

Minor Illusion
This spell is really only limited by ones imagination. Could be used as a distraction, entertainment, etc.

See Minor Illusion

True Strike
Takes an action to cast and it is concentration. Avoid.

Vicious Mockery
The best bard cantrip in the game and probably one of the best cantrips full stop. Why have you not taken this if you are a bard?

Level One
Animal Friendship
You are a bard and not a Druid;) You have better options.

A debuff spell that scales well throughout the whole game. Also a charisma save as well. Combines well with cutting words to really make NPCs cry.

Charm Person
Eh it is OK, not as good as previous editions of the game.

Comprehend Languages
Better for classes with spellbooks as known spells are a precious commodity for Bards.

Cure Wounds
A great spell that scales and what happens if the cleric goes down? Not very sexy though and you may be hard pressed to take it due to your limited spell slots.

Detect Magic
A good spell but not for the bard due to limited spell slots. The Cleric or Wizard should have this spell instead as it is also a ritual.

Disguise Self.
A good spell that would move up to a blue rating in a social setting. Very useful outside combat only limited by your imagination.

Dissonant Whispers
A bard exclusive spell that seems to be one of the few forced movement type spells that grants an attack of opportunity. A rare spell on the bard spell list that deals damage and it can get to be an absurd amount of damage depending on your party make up.

Faerie Fire
On of the best buff spells in the game. For the College of Lore Bard it is more why have you not picked this spell? It is a somewhat rare spell as well with the Druid being the only other class that can cast the spell or a light cleric or Archfey Warlocks the only other classes with the ability to get this spell.

Feather Fall
To situational for your limited spell known, not a bad spell as such.

Healing Word
Somewhat useful in emergencies but you are not a cleric. If you are the party healer for some weird reason take the healing feat instead.

Somewhat situational but bonus hit points are always nice and in the right situation this spell will be blue or light blue.

See detect magic

Illusory Script
Marginal use even in non combat situations. Slightly better in a spy type setting or campaign.


A decent enough spell that increases movement by 10 for an hour. No concentration required. Always useful but you probably have better options.

Silent Image
Illusions can be hard to adjudicate at times and it depends on your DM to some extent and the player as well. Could be blue for creative players.

This spell is light blue at level 1 and it is still usefull as you level up as long as you use it on damage enemies. It has no saving throw and is a big I win button at lower levels.

Speak With Animals.
A bit to situational for a bard spell. Rated gold for furbies and cat fanciers PCs however.

Tasha's Hideous Laughter
A poor mans hold person at level 1. A target failing its save is incapacitated and prone.

A rare AoE that deals damage and can be used to push opponents away from the Bard.

Unseen Servant
Another one of those it can be good in certain situations type spells.

Level Two
Animal Messenger
You are not a Druid.

Not bad vs enemy spell casters as it is a constitution save. This spell also requires no concentration and blinded opponents have disadvantage to hit and you get advantage to hit them. Spellcasters can also struggle to hit with the spell.
Calm Emotions
An AoE charisma save spell that pacifies the targets. Also useful in out of combat situations and it can be used to suppress frightened or charmed effects as well.

Cloud of Daggers
An easily avoided effect that only targets a single square for middling damage. You would be better off using a level 2 spell slot for one of your level 1 spells.

Crown of Madness
More or less a dominate type effect. Not only can you remove a humanoid from a combat you can get it to attack its own allies. Not bad for a level 2 spell.

Detect Thoughts
Another one of those great in certain situations type spells.

Enhance Ability
This spell grants advantage and some other benefits for an hour on yourself or an ally on an ability score of your choice. Has great out of combat uses along with things like advantage on initiative checks if you pick dexterity.

Could be used to distract some guards I suppose but not overly useful in most situations.

Heat Metal

One of those spells that was buffed from earlier editions of the game. 2d8 recurring damage on every turn and disadvantage on attack rolls if they can't drop it. Makes heavy armor users cry.

Hold Person
Hold person more or less doing what it always has. Wisdom save or be paralysed. Very good spell.

So many uses both in and outside combat. One of the best spells in successive editions over the years.

If you really must get that door pen, do not mind creating a noise and sucking up a precious spell know slot. Not really worth it at least for a bard. Good spell though.

Lesser Restoration
Good utility spell that can end conditions. Even better on a scroll but it is what it is.

Locate Animals or Plants
Can be a good spell just not for bards as it is to situational with your limited spells known

Locate Object
See locate animals or plants

Magic Mouth
Not a good bard spell. To situational with a limited effect to be worth taking even outside combat.

Phantasmal Force
Illusions are always DM dependent and thus can be hard to rate or use.

See Invisibility
Situational. Brilliant when relevant, otherwise useless. This means it is of limited use to a bard.


An AoE attack spell that deals decent damage but nothing to outstanding. Still if you have your heart set on a blaster bad it is one of your best options at this level.

On of those spells that is brilliant when it works as it shuts down spells with a verbal component. You can use it creatively outside combat for sneaking about as well.

More or less does the same thing suggestion has always done. "These are not the droids you are looking for" can make the Bard into a bit of a Jedi so to speak. Has combat and social uses.

Zone of Truth
Good spell but situational makes it hard to justify knowing as a Bard.

Level Three

Bestow Curse: A nasty debuff spell but you have to hit the target and they get a saving throw. Lore bards probably do not want to be in melee combat that often either. Still can make an opponent cry though.

Clairvoyance: More or less does what it always does. Could be red could be light blue depending on the campaign.

Dispel Magic: Automatically dispels spells of level 1-3. Always handy to have available.

Fear: Wisdom save spell in effect and makes people run away from you and hits a 30'cone.

Feign Death: Situational and you have a very small amount of spells usually means it is sub par for a bard spell.

Glyph of Warding: More of an NPC type spell but decent enough I suppose. Probably campaign dependent on how good it is makes it hard to rate. I'll rate it black as it is fun to use on PCs.

Hypnotic Pattern: In practice this spell is at best big I win button or usually a massive tempo loss for NPCs at the worst. Very brutal level 3 spell with a great area of effect and will likely make your DM cry.

Leomunds Tiny Hut: Great spell- for wizards. Funny if the enemy doesn't have access to dispel magic but it is a itual which is nice. Limited spells known make it hard for bards to justify taking it though.

Major Image: Great spell but perhaps limited by DMs and/or campaign world. Like most illusions it may be great or achieve nothing. I would probably rate it blue for myself YMMV though.

Nondetection: Limited use, lack of spells known probably adds up to this spell being better off avoided.

Plant Growth: Severely screws up movement in the spells area of effect and it has some non combat uses as well. I like this spell.

Sending: Magical cell phone I suppose. Could be marginally better in some game, probably best avoided for the usual reasons.

Speak with Dead/Plants: Useful some of the time but you really do have better options.

Stinking Cloud: A decent control spell the only real downside is that its a con save and NPC monsters often have a decent con score. Spell may not work on various creatures as well.

Bards are good at persuasion, tongues lets you communicate with your mark.

Magical Secrets.
A lore bard can steal spells off other classes spell lists. This is any class and in several cases you can get spells before classes like the Paladin and Ranger. A few of the obvious candidates.

Aura of Vitality: One of the best healing spells in the game. 20d6 healing spread over 10 rounds. You can also get it 3 levels earlier than a pure Paladin. Compare with a cure spell cast in a level 3 slot- 3d8+ wisdom modifier.

Bless: Just because you can take 2 level 3 spells doesn't mean you have to as you only have so many slots to go around anyway. Probably one of the best buff spells in the game and it is very efficient. I would rate this spell gold if you have the warcaster feat.

Eldritch Blast
Bard spells do not tend to do much damage. Without hex and charisma to damage though this spell is not all that. However you can steal hex and/or hunters quarry as well.

Fireball: The lore bard doesn't tend to do much damage. Well fireball can fix that. Fireball out damages most other spells and has a larger area of effect.

Haste:This spell is great if you have a Barbarian, Ranger, Avenger Paladin or warrior type that can reliably hit with the -5 to hit +10 damage part of Great Weapon Master or the Sharpshooter feat. If you do not have one of those examples in your party haste is rated as a blue spell.

You are probably better off using bless but you might have a bless bot cleric in the party already. You may also want to play a blaster bard and stealing this spell+ eldritch blast ramps up your bards damage dealing ability. Hex also gets the nod over hunters quarry as you also grant disadvantage on strength or dexterity based skills which can be a lot of fun if someone else in the party has the shield master feat or just likes knocking people prone.
Level 4

How nasty this spell is depends on the party composition and builds. Can in effect be a wisdom save or die type spell via triggered attacks of opportunity.

Nasty save or suck type spell in an area of effect. Brutalizes NPCs. Would be rated higher but has a small AoE, doesn't impose any crippling conditions as such and it is competing with better spells. Targets wisdom as well which is an advantage vs a lot of NPC monsters.

Dimension Door
A spell that should be good but it comes at a steep price of a precious spell known and a spell slot to cast it. Sometimes it is great, sometimes a bit meh. Has out of combat uses as well though for the inventive player.

Freedom of Movement
Another situational spell. When its great its great other times it is useless.

Greater Invisibility
Probably the best level 4 bard spell available and good for the valor bard as well. Lets you attack or cast a spell while invisible. Remember that while invisible you have advantage to hit and they have disadvantage to hit you. Very good spell on a Rogue or PC using the Great Weapon or Sharpshooter feats as it helps negate the -5 to hit +10 damage part of the feat. Defensive and offensive and out of combat applications of the spell make it great.

Hallucinatory Terrain
Its an illusion spell how useful it is depends on the situation, DM and player

Locate Creature
An ok spell using a precious precious bard spell known means it is best avoided. Maybe a purple spell for other classes but not the bards.

Polymorph Has a few drawbacks these days and you are limited to beasts which tops out as a T-Rex at CR 8. However you also have the mentality of a T-Rex and no feats unlike Druidic wildshaping. Best case scenario is several spell casters buffing the wildshape form and some DMs will require you to know what you are wildshaping into. Bless and Stoneskin on a T-Rex is kind of fun though.....
Level 5
Animate Objects.

Its a spell and it does some stuff that may matter but you have better options.

A broken spell - in 3.5. You are not a Druid although the spell is not bad as such. Just another one of those you have better options type deals.

Dominate PersonAnd this spell is one of those better options IMHO. Not as powerful as some previous versions of the game but it is a 2 for one deal. You neutralise a threat and can get that threat to aid you.

This is one of those spells I have a huge amount of trouble rating. THis is a great spell to really annoy your PCs with. As a PC spell it is probably not that good except in certain scenarios such as a city based campaign with recurring NPCs with class levels you want to annoy. Its the type of spell PCs do not want used on them but do not really want to use themselves.

GeasOne of those spells where how powerful it is can vary widely and by the type of campaign you are running. You can charm someone and give them a task to do that inflict 5d10 damage should they directly act against your instructions. How useful that is resembles an illusion IMHO as it depends on the situation and how creative the player will be.

Greater Restoration
This spell is better off for the parties cleric to have rather than the bard. Your party may not have a cleric though and it is a very very useful spell to have somewhere in the party. A Lore Bard makes a weak cleric in most cases but sometimes you may have to take one for the team.

Hold Monster
The best bard spell to have at level 9 IMHO. It is just like hold person but works on most things. If something gets paralyzed you get advantage to hit it just saying. The rest of your party will love you. Even better for a Valor Bard.

Legend Lore
Its a spell it might be great it might be useless YMMV so it gets rated black.

Mass Cure Wounds

Outside of a life cleric I do not like this spell. If you have splashed a level of life cleric to do the bardic healing thing this spells gets upgraded to black or blue depending on what other spells you have.

Mislead/Modify Memory/Planar Binding/Raise Dead/Scrying/Seeming/Teleportation Circle

These spells are all very similar or situational in their use. In the right situation they tend to be great (Raise Dead for example) and in other it depends on how the DM runs their game (Teleportation Circle). With the limited number of bard spells known I probably would not take any of them but they are not outright bad spells.

Magical Secrets.
A lore bard can steal spells off other classes spell lists. This is any class and in several cases you can get spells before classes like the Paladin and Ranger. A few of the obvious candidates. At level 10 though you can now steal level 4 and 5 spells but just because you can feel free to steal lower level ones including cantrips. A few I would consider. If you are building a blaster bard I would consider stealing hex+eldritch blast at level 6 and fireball+destructive wave at level 10. In all cases remember you can steal unique spells from all classes including warlocks it depends on how you want to build your bard- buffer, blaster, healer etc.

Circle of Power
Another one of those level 17 Paladin spells that you can steal and use at level 10. This more or less gives you spell resistance and the level 6 Oath of the Ancients Paladin ability in a spell for for 10 minutes. Also this spell requires no concentration to use either. That means it can only be dispelled and if you can make it last for 2 or 3 fights or if you know you are facing spell casters this spell is really really good. Taking spells like this also means your party will love you.

A spell widely regarded as broken for clerics. However you are not as melee focused and it is competing against every other 5th level spell in the book not just 5th level cleric spells.

Destructive Wave
A "lost" spell that is probably a 5th level Paladin spell. This spell doesn't appear on any classes spell list and RAW only appears as a 5th level domain spell for tempest clerics. It is one of the best blasting spells in the game. 10d6 damage total half thunder, half lightning damage and it can knock people prone. It also only effects creatures you chose so you dop not have to worry about it hitting your own party. Things prone on the ground grant advantage to hit them. I would pick this spell as a buffer or blaster bard. I would almost rate this spell gold come to think of it.

Swift Quiver
Gets a mention so you do not pick it. Not a bad spell for a Ranger or archer focused valor bard but odds are you do not have other things to go with it to make it good. Things like the archery fighting style and the sharpshooter feat. Or the ability to use longbows or hand crossbows. Using a level 5 spell slot to fire off 2 1d6+dex short bow arrows for 3 or 4 rounds probably is not the best thing you can do. Compare the best case scenario this spell offers (all arrows hit over multiple rounds) to just out right casting destructive wave. If you have built a heavy archer themed lore bard or multiclass lore bard for whatever reason (Fighter 6/Lore Bard10 for example) this spell obviously becomes a lot better.
Level 6
I love this spell and you have several effects you can do with it. It is sometimes better than Ottos Irresistible Dance and it is the other level 6 Bard spell I consider great. The only thing really wrong with it is that it not Ottos Irresistible Dance.
Find the Path
its a divination spell that is great in the right situation.
Guards and Wards
You are not a wizard and have better options.
Mass Suggestions
I also like this spell a lot as well but level 6 spell slots are in scarce supply and it is competing with Ottos Dance Routine and Eyebite.
Otto's Irresistible Dance
This spell is the creme de la creme of the level 6 bard spells if not one of the best spells in the game. There is also no saving throw against this spell until the creatures action so it even works on things like legendary creatures or creatures with spell resistance. You get advantage to hit the creature, its movement is 0 and it gets disadvantage to hit you. I recommend playing Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus if you ever use this spell as a DM on the players. Why? Just to really piss them off.
Programmed Illusion
Its an Illusion Spell
True Seeing
This is a great spell that might be better on other classes. The spell description is not that exciting but check out true sight on pg 185 opf the PHB. You can see invisible things, see through normal and magical darkness, and illusions do not matter. Its a good spell IMHO.

Level 7.

This spell has no saving throw and gets brutal when combined with zone effects such as Insect Plague or whatever. You can use it to escape an encounter or cut it into more manageable sizes. Often used as an example of a broken spell in 5E and I would tend to agree.

Mordenkainens Sword.
Looks like a lot of damage but it is not really that much and you are usually better off casting another spell or even a lower level spell in a higher level slot such as a 12d6 destructive wave.

Level 8

Level 9.
Perhaps one of the most powerful spells in the game and almost your only choice to pick at level 9. Lasts for 8 hours and grants advantage on all attacks, saves and skill checks while enemies get disadvantage to hit. Can also be cast on other people as well so if you have anyone in the party using the Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter Feats it gets very silly very fast. By level 17 though odds are there are plenty of other things going wrong in 5E mechanically so one more broken or overpowered spell probably will not make that much of a difference.

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Lore Bard Builds and Multiclassing

Generally I would pick a focus with a lore bard and build the bard around that focus. Between your bardic spell list and magical secrets once can do most things well. Another way is to just pick the most powerful spells but you may spreads yourself a bit thin doing this.

Recommended Spells and Feats

Eldritch Blast
Fireball/Lightning Bolt
Destructive Wave


Faerie Fire
Enhance Ability
Greater Invisibility
Circle of Power


Healing Word
Lesser Restoration
Prayer of Healing
Aura of Vitality

Multiclass Lore Bard Builds.

The Skill Monkey
The idea of this build is to be proficient in every single skill in the game and to have expertise in 6 of them. Echoes of 3E here but.
Half Elf Rogue1/Warlock 2/Cleric (knowledge)1, Lore Bard 3+, skilled feat, Requires Dex, Cha, Wis scores 13+

The idea here is to stack as many proficiencies in the game as you can. You get this via multiclassing, the skilled feat, the knowledge domain,beguiling influence and being a half elf. This build looks terrible because of the multiclassing but you are not to bad in combat due to eldritch blast+hex+agonizing blast and you also have medium armour proficiency. Skills, damage, AC the downside is less spells.

The Bardlock
Lore bards do not tend to deal that much damage unless you focus on being a blaster and the Bardlock fixes that. You take 2 levels in warlock for hex, eldritch blast, and agonizing blast. You can also now cast hex in your lore bard spell slots. I have seen this build in play. It works but it does get boring but if you want to deal a decent amount of damage and still have the option of being a buffer for example you can do it.

The Healer
One can be a a single classed healer but this build becomes one of the best healers in the game competing with a single classed life cleric. The build is Life Cleric1/Lore Bard 6+. How it works is you are cheesing out how the life clerics disciple of life ability works with spells from other class lists. Specifically this means stealing good berry and aura of vitality at level 6. Each good berry you eat now heals 4 hit points instead of 1 and aura of vitality jumps from 2d6 healing per round for 10 rounds (avg 70) to 2d6+5 (avg 120) which will restore more hit points than the actual level 6 heal spell. I believe there was a twitter question from the game designers confirming that Disciple of Life and the Goodberry interaction works this way as well. Life Cleric1/Land DruidX can also do something similar. Even without the goodberry abuse this is not a bad multiclass idea for Bardic healers as you just replace goodberry with prayer of healing.

The Valor Bard 2.0
This build is more of a gish build. Start the game as a Paladin and multi class into the lore bard at level 7. You miss out the higher level spells of course but you have a lot of spell slots to go around for things like smite and you double dip on your charisma and pick up heavy armor use. The avenging Paladin is better at dealing damage, The Oath of the Ancients is better at AoE and party support if you end up with 7 levels of Paladin. By level 11 or 12 you will likely be better than a normal Valor bard at combat and almost as good at spell casting. In effect you will only be 4 levels behind a primary spell caster for spell slots which puts you ahead of the normal Paladin in spell slots at higher level.
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I'm enjoying this -- thanks.

Thanks I have not finished yet, I ran out of time as I want to do feats and add to the bard as I see one in play as opposed to pure theory crafting. Should be more or less done by tomorrow as I am running a game today.
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Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Thanks for the guide!

A note on strength as the dump-stat, the excellent Grappler's Guide lists Lore Bard as one of the best grapplers in the game, but that tactic would fail if you dumped Strength. Just something to consider.

Also, Lore Bard has the #1 worst armor class in the game, baring a feat or precious use of a spell from another class. Which makes Dwarf at least a better choice than I think you're making it. It's the difference of 4-5 AC (14 or 15, versus 18 or 19 in a breast plate or half-plate and shield), which is pretty big. It's such a big survival issue at lower levels that human bards are likely taking the Moderately Armored feat, and other bards may well be taking a multiclass level in Cleric or Fighter just for the AC. This is a major issue in some games, and is worth some discussion.
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Thanks for the guide!

A note on strength as the dump-stat, the excellent Grappler's Guide lists Lore Bard as one of the best grapplers in the game, but that tactic would fail if you dumped Strength. Just something to consider.

Also, Lore Bard has the #1 worst armor class in the game, baring a feat or precious use of a spell from another class. Which makes Dwarf at least a better choice than I think you're making it. It's the difference of 4-5 AC (14 or 15, versus 18 or 19 in a breast plate or half-plate and shield), which is pretty big. It's such a big survival issue at lower levels that human bards are likely taking the Moderately Armored feat, and other bards may well be taking a multiclass level in Cleric or Fighter just for the AC. This is a major issue in some games, and is worth some discussion.

Don't get hit would be my advice;). Our lore bard tends to stay at the back of things and at lower levels AC 15 seems to be about as good as the Rogue for example.

At higher levels AC won't matter to much short of fighters in +3 plate or something. Debuffing and neutralizing attacks is better than AC. I did rate the mountain Dwarf higher taking into account the fact it could use medium armor. By going mountain Dwarf though you will not have 20 cha until level 12 and compared with a human for example they will have 20 charisma and 2 feats, a half elf can have 20 charisma and a feat.

And charisma is just to good for bards, probably better than intelligence on a wizard as well. The boards were down yesterday so hopefully I will finish this today.

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