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D&D 5E Bards Should Be Half-Casters in 5.5e/6e

Minigiant

Legend
I wouldn't necessarily make it truenaming (although I like the idea) simply because the idea that beings (all? some? only supernatural ones?) have true names isn't something that's been explored in D&D before.

Instead, I'd go with the idea that bards can name things, and those names stick--at least long enough for their magic to work on. A lot of the times, the bard will name a creature "Mud" because the goal is to kill/defeat that creature. It's similar in concept but not identical.

Something like that. Bard magic isn't true truenaming as they don't actual say the truenames.

It's a derivative of Truenaming like Traditional Spellcasting and Pact Magic that is safe for mortals. However it is closer in application but farther is accuracy.
But like you said, bards say what something is or give something a name to raise or lower its importance to fate temporarily. Like you said, bard give things new names and the reality warps to merge the two for a time.
 

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jayoungr

Legend
There is a limit to the reflavoring allowed.
Allowed by whom? By you?

That's the issue with the current bard. It's so permissive and focused on function, it end up not feeling reaching its potential in the magic of bards.
Basically, you're just saying you want stronger niche and less flexibility. Personally, I like the flexibility in this case.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Allowed by whom? By you?

Allowed by the system.
The game system explains how magic comes from musical or oratory works. Therefore the onus is one the player to explain how magic comes from knife juggling.

If I said my fighter swung his nonmagical club and fire spewed out of it, many would state this cannot happen. Thus the responsibilty to explain this and convince the masses would be on me.

Basically, you're just saying you want stronger niche and less flexibility. Personally, I like the flexibility in this case.
I actually am not asking for less flexibility.
I either was to switch spell flexibility with inspiration flexibility OR give the bard a strong niche with more bard-like spells.
My argument was always that the 5e bard was focused on making it a better adventurer at the expense of making it a better bard.

If i were to contine with the point, this function focus had a ripple effect of stripping many illusion and enchantments from the sorcerer and warlock to make the bard feel different. However since individual spell lists are different and new subclasses bleed into other classes, the bard's spell list looks less special as time passed. Therefore leaning on the bard's full casterness without unique spells weakens it hold on the flexibility trope that many lean on. Combine that with ways to get expertise and the full caster bard with very few unique spells feels blander and blander.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Wow, um, so where to start with this...

How many plumbers, electricians, and carpenters do you know or are related to?
Several.
Because I have friends and family in all of those categories, and they are specialists. They might be able to do general tasks in other disciplines, but they know enough to know when they need to get another specialist for the job. The diversity and specialized nature of the trades is precisely why I'm skeptical of the idea of a "jack og all trades."
Yes. The point of the concept is a person who can competently perform several trades, which is an impressive thing to be able to do.

Hardly inappropriate or strange for a PC concept, especially considering there are people who do it IRL. Hell my father in law is a master mechanic who is competent to diagnose and repair everything from performance cars, electric cars (his first job in CA after college was building them), tractors and heavy equipment, diesel trucks, hell I’ve seen him rebuild a Sea-Do, has been a pro race car driver, has built over a dozen race cars and more high performance street cars, including fully engineering and fabricating exhaust systems, fuel systems, etc, and is a competent/journeyman level or better welder, both in repair and fabrication. Oh, and he designed and built his shop.

Because of that broad skill base, all of which he is competent, not mediocre, in, he has an excellent reputation and the shop is always very, very busy.

When we look back a few centuries, guys like him were less rare, because vanishingly few trades were as complex or as time consuming to learn.
The "Jack of All Trades" Bard has certainly existed in the past, "worked" is stronger language than I would apply to how it functioned. The 5E Bard has the virtue of feeling like a Jack of All Trades while actually being a well focused support caster: they do this partly by stealing from the Subclass power budget to provide flavorful abilities in the core Class.
The 4e and 5e Bard areJacks of all trades. The 3.5 Bard worked about as well as any of the not “broken good” elements of 3.5 worked.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Allowed by the system.
The game system explains how magic comes from musical or oratory works. Therefore the onus is one the player to explain how magic comes from knife juggling.

If I said my fighter swung his nonmagical club and fire spewed out of it, many would state this cannot happen. Thus the responsibilty to explain this and convince the masses would be on me.
What's the archetype? If you were an eldritch knight and cast burning hands, you could easily flavor it as coming out of your club.

And what's the magic? Throwing knives around can lend themselves to any number of enchantments (your target is being hypnotized by the movement), protective spells like shield (the incoming attack is deflected off the knife), and illusions (while tossing the knife, it seems to change shape into the illusion you're making).

Sure, the player needs to come up with this, but it's not breaking the archetype or going too far in reflavoring to do so.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Several.

Yes. The point of the concept is a person who can competently perform several trades, which is an impressive thing to be able to do.

Hardly inappropriate or strange for a PC concept, especially considering there are people who do it IRL. Hell my father in law is a master mechanic who is competent to diagnose and repair everything from performance cars, electric cars (his first job in CA after college was building them), tractors and heavy equipment, diesel trucks, hell I’ve seen him rebuild a Sea-Do, has been a pro race car driver, has built over a dozen race cars and more high performance street cars, including fully engineering and fabricating exhaust systems, fuel systems, etc, and is a competent/journeyman level or better welder, both in repair and fabrication. Oh, and he designed and built his shop.

Because of that broad skill base, all of which he is competent, not mediocre, in, he has an excellent reputation and the shop is always very, very busy.

When we look back a few centuries, guys like him were less rare, because vanishingly few trades were as complex or as time consuming to learn.

The 4e and 5e Bard areJacks of all trades. The 3.5 Bard worked about as well as any of the not “broken good” elements of 3.5 worked.
My own father in law is a General Contractor, and while he is a master carpenter, he is a "jack" at other trades: knows the basics and even intermediate stuff, knows enough when he needs to call in somebody else for a job.

The 5E Bard is not a Jack of All Trades, but it gives the illusion of being so very effectively, as the Bard has a definite mechanical role at which it excels, much more so than the 3E actual attempt to be kind of OK at everything.
 


Merlin is a composite of two separate somewhat historical figures, a Roman military leader and a bard called Merlin. The magical traditions are mainly Celtic bardic ones. Merlin compares to Taliesin, a bard with extremely powerful magic.

The word "wizard" means someone who knows magic, a generic term.

One of traditions says Merlin is the son of an "incubus". Given the provenance of place and time, this probably relates to later Scottish traditions of witches and elves, making Merlin something like a half elf. Nevertheless, the Merlin tradition probably demonizes the incubus, whence "cambion". But even then this is part of the Celtic magical concept ot the union of opposites, where this demon Merlin kinda sorta gets baptised as a Christian. In an other union of opposites, Merlin is born as an elder, and becomes more youthful as he ages.

I have no opinion about a reallife warlock. Besides the fact that (certain) communities referred to male witches as "warlock", everything else is obscure.

The term "druid" came to mean a generic term for mage. What the original druid is originally, we can guess at. They are a priestly caste (sacred family) who served Celtic gods, whose social role probably resembles Irish Catholic priests, and who in times of war fought magically and did not use weapons.

Some things are clear. Merlin is a bard.



My approach is, when using a reallife cultural heritage term, make sure one knows what one is talking about. Make sure knowledgeable people from that culture consider the use of the term reasonable.



I feel D&D doesnt entitle gamers to violate other peoples cultures.



I agree the term "music mage" is bland. But obviously the term "bard" wouldnt work if the result is something that isnt what a bard is. Think about the concept, then try come up with a catchy (accurate) name for it.

It is so easy to not use a specific term from someone elses culture. If one wants to use it, do it accurately.
You keep bringing up how many cultural issues you have with D&D. I would very much love to see Yaarel's PH. How would you solve all the issues you think D&D should fix?
 

Anderson and Gygax were Americans, not Europeans. And I don't want WotC or some other company hiring an Asian lead designer to make a hash out of Asian culture any more than I want them to hire an American designer to make a hash out of American culture. But this has nothing to do with taking bards from full to half casters so I'll drop it.
How do you fix that? If you're American of European descent are you just not allowed to be a game designer?
 


The idea that “Jack” means “mediocre” rather than “common in the classist sense” is a misunderstanding based on a modern social refusal to acknowledge class structures.
If by "modern" we mean "no later than the late 18th century, and possibly much earlier," with even the earliest English references often intended to be insulting, then sure. That is, one of the first recorded uses of "jack of all trades" (or, rather, the original Latinized equivalent, "Johannes fac totum," somewhat literally "Johnny-makes-it-all") was someone speaking ill of Shakespeare because he was both an actor and a playwright. History obviously vindicated Shakespeare, but the point is that the phrase has always had some level of disparagement in it as long as it has existed in English. "Jack" was not just a name used for a common man, it was specifically used for (frequently) lazy, folk-hero characters who won via trickery and luck rather than strength or skill per se. It implied some amount if knavery. And, in the context of the guild system, it further implied having been cast out from (or willingly departing from) an apprenticeship before it finished--either way, implicitly indicating a lack of commitment or effort on "Jack's" part.

It is, ironically, only in the 20th century that you start seeing the mostly-complimentary form, where a generalist is said to sometimes exceed a specialist: "a jack of all trades but master of none/is sometimes better than a master of one." The first half of the couplet is itself a newer derivation (as noted, from the late 18th century), intended to intensify the criticism aspect, as the original "jack of all trades" phrase was too ambiguous for folks who wanted to disparage dabblers. It's also worth noting that there was always a non-disparaging alternative term: polymath (dating back to the early 17th century, even before the earliest instances of JOAT), which was subsumed by the early 20th century term "renaissance man," its equal for being purely complimentary.

And as far as GPs and such go, most would not see them as a "jack of all trades." They're just as much masters of the medical trade as any other licensed doctor. They just specialize in overall symptom analysis and daily health needs, because that specialty, while seemingly "generic," is actually both very difficult and much needed (most patients don't know what specialist they need; someone who is specialized in determining what specialists others need is thus exceedingly useful.) But even GPs go through the full, thorough process, including a VERY tradesman-like mentorship program (residency) and then licensing by the guild of doctors national Medical Association. Same with lawyers, who retain much of the old apprenticeship and guild system.

To the other, wholly separate issue: The Jack of All Trades Bard has worked quite well several times, it’s just harder to design well than a simpler more specialized class. In 5e, the Rogue is also a decent generalist, because it has cheats for the action economy. What the Bard (or ideally the Ranger IMO) needs is similar action economy workarounds to allow it to do multiple jobs in a turn.
I'd like to know what these "several" iterations are, because the only two I know of that weren't clearly outclassed (pun intended) within the context of their system are 4e's Bard and 5e's Bard, and the latter is being intentionally excluded from the running.

The ultra old-school Bard was a specialized franken-build nightmare with no focus (full Druid powers? Mediocre thief skills? 5th level Fighter benefits?)--ultimately just a grab-bag of extra bits stapled onto the Druid chassis. They knew a lot of things and could charm with song, but were otherwise Druids with some Fighter and Rogue benefits. Later edition Bards tried to simplify it and broke things badly, taking away the Druid "focus" (such as it was...) and not replacing it with anything in particular. 3e/3.5e in particular was not kind to Bards, unless they again jumped on the franken-build train (which I have done! It's quite effective...so long as you limit your Bard levels as much as possible while still getting the Bard features you want.)

So...tell me more about these "several times" that the generalist Bard has worked?
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
My own father in law is a General Contractor, and while he is a master carpenter, he is a "jack" at other trades: knows the basics and even intermediate stuff, knows enough when he needs to call in somebody else for a job.
Okay. Specialists sometimes need help from even more experienced and knowledgeable specialists, too.
The 5E Bard is not a Jack of All Trades, but it gives the illusion of being so very effectively, as the Bard has a definite mechanical role at which it excels, much more so than the 3E actual attempt to be kind of OK at everything.
Having a thing at which it excels doesn’t stop it being a Jack of all trades. It in fact can excel at basically any role, just not quite at the highest possible levels.

“Not quite the highest possible levels” is not mediocre.

The 5e Bard can competently engage with multiple aspects of play at once, and can “turn its hand” to a wide range of tasks at a master or near master level.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
And as far as GPs and such go, most would not see them as a "jack of all trades." They're just as much masters
I didn’t imply they aren’t. Your whole rant here is pointless railing against a thing I didn’t say.
It implied some amount if knavery.
About as much as any term from the same period that referred to the common person, generically.

Meanwhile, it was also a common term for tradespeople, and for tools which usefully allowed a human to offload some amount of needed labor while doing a task. Eg, lumberjack.

Since the contention I have challenged is that the phrase is wholly pejorative in origin and usage, it really doesn’t particularly matter that it has sometimes been used negatively.
So...tell me more about these "several times" that the generalist Bard has worked?
You seem to have a very “CharOp” POV on the 3.5 Bard. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about when you say that one edition is being kept out of the running, but literally every bard from 3.5 to now is capable of filling multiple roles competently, insofar as anything at all works in that truly cursed system.
 

if you care to reread what you’re quoting, here, you’ll see that you read it incorrectly, and completely got wrong what I referred to as modern.
I have re-read it. You are specifically saying that the use of "jack," in this context, to disparage generalists is a modern invention of classism.

It's not. It's been used in both classist and non-classist ways for literally centuries, long before anything "modern," unless we're treating everything since Shakespeare's time as "modern." Since most people don't, I don't see how my point fails. If you would like to be more specific about why my reasoning is incorrect, I'm absolutely willing to hear it, but the traditional meaning of "a jack of all trades kinda sucks" is something that dates back to, at barest minimum, 1677, in notes on the poems of Dryden: "Your Writings are like a Jack of all Trades Shop, they have Variety, but nothing of value." If that's not explicitly saying that a "jack" of this kind isn't worth anything, I don't know what is; and if you aren't saying that the disparaging use of the phrase isn't rooted in modern things, I've no idea what your actual point there was.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I have re-read it. You are specifically saying that the use of "jack," in this context, to disparage generalists is a modern invention of classism.
No.

The idea that “Jack” means “mediocre” rather than “common in the classist sense” is a misunderstanding based on a modern social refusal to acknowledge class structures.
The thing being referred to as modern here is the social refusal to acknowledge class structure.

The pejorative usage is based in classism, and the idea that it is only pejorative is a misunderstanding that arises from not understanding the classist origin of the use of “Jack”, which is a term for tradesfolk and other working professionals, as a pejorative.
 

So, you'd turn them into Wizards (give them a Spellbook, change their casting ability into Intelligence). That's not a bard anymore, that's a wizard.
(I also don't really care about how they progressed in AD&D and other earlier editions. None of them had the same spell and level progression as 5e, so they're really irrelevant to the discussion.)

So, wait, your definition of a "Full Caster" is someone that doesn't just get up to level 9 spells, but also gets features that regenerate lower level spell slots . . . for some reason. Every Druid is a Full-Caster, not just the Land Druids. Every Sorcerer is a Full-Caster, not just the ones that use their Font of Magic feature.

Full-Casting isn't defined by some arbitrary ability to regenerate some lower level spell slots, it's defined by the capability of casting up to 9th level spell slots. Just because Bards trade a "Refreshing spell slots" feature for Bardic Inspiration doesn't mean that they're not true full-casters. The only "Kind-Of-Full-Caster" class in the game is the Warlock, because they get Pact Magic and Mystic Arcanum instead of the standard Spell Slot tables.

A 2/3rd-Caster-Class would get up to 6th level spell slots. That's barely any difference from being a Half-Caster. One less level in spell slots doesn't seem like a big deal to me.
I don't see why ADnD has no right to be referenced. You asked for opinions and you got one. If you just want to broadcast your opinion, just do so.

If you think half caster and 2/3 caster is identical, so is 1/2 and 1/3. So I don't let that argument pass...
 

No, but it does suggest not being the best. And in D&D and other RPGs, it's common for the best one (i.e., the highest skill) to be the one who does the needed task.
Note that that quote is from a post that was reacting to someone who was inserting the disparaging term "mediocre" into the designation, rather than leaving it as simply "competent".
 


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