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

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I explained part of it before

I would combine Bardic Inspiration into a resource that powers several class features.

One would be Bardic Inspiration as we know
Another would be Song Magic casting of wizard level sound based spells that lack concentration and are "uncounterable" by "spells".
Another would be Countersong, one of the few ways to counter Song Magic and allows the bard to counter and dispel thunder or sound based magic effects
Another would be Theme Song, which lets the bard tap into reality and play a character's theme song and give them fighter-level ability (action surge and second wind)
Another would be Dirge of Doom or something that lets you roll your die as necrotic damage a bunch of times rogue-style when you hit with advantage
The reverse would be the bard playing music to cast a cleric-level healing spell on a target
Another would be just like the Whisper Bard's Psychic Blades, added psychic damage to attacks.
Another would be a sort of magical Synesthesia Echolocation mixture where the bard plays music or makes a sound and it allows allies to see the sound to look behind walls and see in the dark.


A bard would get Bardic Inspiration, Song Magic, and Countersong automatically then choose which other bardic secrets they know.
These can be spells in the spell list.
 

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Well, the second half of the saying "Jack of all trades" is "and master of none."

That is how the saying goes.

"Jack (= apprentice) of all trades, master of none."

A dabbler whose not particularly great at anything.

This kind of incompetence seems to be built into the 3e Bard design.

The full proverb is "Jack of All Trades, Master of None." The "Jack" in "Jack of All Trades" means a subpar, mediocre practitioner and dabbler of multiple skills on a low level, not an omnicompetent badass. It can be actively considered insulting and embarrassing.
Just going to have to mention that the full saying is actually a compliment.

A Jack of all trades, and master of none
Is often better than the master of one.

I.E. a generalist who can contribute well in many different aspects can be more valuable than a specialist who can do one thing very well, but then cannot contribute in anything else.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
First of all, thanks for explaining.
I explained part of it before

I would combine Bardic Inspiration into a resource that powers several class features.

One would be Bardic Inspiration as we know
That screams bard

Another would be Song Magic casting of wizard level sound based spells that lack concentration and are "uncounterable" by "spells".
Besides the name - It's not clear to me why spells the bard casts by this means should be uncounterable.

It's also not clear to me what this does significantly differently than granting the bard spell casting and the game fluffing that spell casting as the bards music/words.

Another would be Countersong, one of the few ways to counter Song Magic and allows the bard to counter and dispel thunder or sound based magic effects
Apart from the name, this one just doesn't scream bard to me.

Another would be Theme Song, which lets the bard tap into reality and play a character's theme song and give them fighter-level ability (action surge and second wind)
This one at least screams bard (albeit I hate the name). But IMO, Bards shouldn't be granting other class abilities to other classes.

Another would be Dirge of Doom or something that lets you roll your die as necrotic damage a bunch of times rogue-style when you hit with advantage
What's Bard Like about this ability?

The reverse would be the bard playing music to cast a cleric-level healing spell on a target
Something that is already handled well via the current bards spell casting.

Another would be just like the Whisper Bard's Psychic Blades, added psychic damage to attacks.
I'm not seeing what's bardlike about that

Another would be a sort of magical Synesthesia Echolocation mixture where the bard plays music or makes a sound and it allows allies to see the sound to look behind walls and see in the dark.
That is a cool effect and fitting for a bard. Would also work very well as a bard only spell.

A bard would get Bardic Inspiration, Song Magic, and Countersong automatically then choose which other bardic secrets they know.
I'm not seeing how these abilities as a whole produce a more bardlike bard than what we have now.
 

What I would give to half caster bards would be 'songs' that are ongoing buff auras that they can keep up on top of concentration spells. There would be different songs that would do different things, and they would learn more on higher levels and subclasses would have their own signature songs. These wouldn't be particularly potent, but as they could be applied on top of any other buffs, and apply to the whole party they would be always useful.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The full proverb is "Jack of All Trades, Master of None." The "Jack" in "Jack of All Trades" means a subpar, mediocre practitioner and dabbler of multiple skills on a low level, not an omnicompetent badass. It can be actively considered insulting and embarrassing.
Incorrect. The second part was added 200 years after “Jack of all trades” entered the English lexicon, and is not a necessary component of the saying. “Jack” simply refers to the common man. It just means “a chap who can turn his hand to many things”.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
What I would give to half caster bards would be 'songs' that are ongoing buff auras that they can keep up on top of concentration spells. There would be different songs that would do different things, and they would learn more on higher levels and subclasses would have their own signature songs. These wouldn't be particularly potent, but as they could be applied on top of any other buffs, and apply to the whole party they would be always useful.
That feels very bardlike. In fact, a well implemented bard like that would be more bardlike than what we currently have.

Artificers get infusions.
Warlocks get invocations.
Why the heck don't Bards get songs??!
 

jayoungr

Legend
It feels to me like it was designed to function first and second then display a master of magical music third.
Why the heck don't Bards get songs??!
Because 5E is deliberately walking back the idea that a bard's magic is explicitly musical. That was one of the most widely-mocked aspects of bards in previous editions: all the stuff about how they'd have to play loud music to help the party sneak up on a foe, or the image of the bard standing off to one side in combat playing a lute while the rest of the party attacked the monsters. The flavor text in the PHB makes it explicit that bardic magic can take the form of battle poetry, for example, and it ties their magic to "the words of creation" rather than to musical tones. (Heck, I had a bard in one of my games earlier last year who gave people bardic inspiration by juggling knives.)
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Because 5E is deliberately walking back the idea that a bard's magic is explicitly musical. That was one of the most widely-mocked aspects of bards in previous editions: all the stuff about how they'd have to play loud music to help the party sneak up on a foe, or the image of the bard standing off to one side in combat playing a lute while the rest of the party attacked the monsters. The flavor text in the PHB makes it explicit that bardic magic can take the form of battle poetry, for example, and it ties their magic to "the words of creation" rather than to musical tones. (Heck, I had a bard in one of my games earlier last year who gave people bardic inspiration by juggling knives.)

PHB: Bard Section. Music and Magic Subsection
ln the worlds of D&D, words and music are not just vibrations of air, but vocalizations with power all their own. The bard is a master of song, speech, and the magic they contain. Bards say that the multiverse was spoken into existence, that the words of the gods gave it shape, and that echoes of these primordial Words of Creation still resound throughout the cosmos. The music of bards is an attempt to snatch and harness those echoes, subtly woven into their spells and powers. The greatest strength of bards is their sheer versatility. Many bards prefer to stick to the sidelines in combat, using their magic to inspire their allies and hinder their foes from a distance. But bards are capable of defending themselves in melee if necessary, using their magic to bolster their swords and armor. Their spells lean toward charms and illusions rather than blatantly destructive spells. They have a wide-ranging knowledge of many subjects and a natural aptitude that lets them do almost anything well. Bards become masters of the talents they set their minds to perfecting, from musical performance to esoteric knowledge.
Kind of sounds like the same musical song fluff to me. But what do I know?
 

The bard has always been weird. But it wasn't until 4e that the Bard was actually functional, in part because it was always designed with form in front (remember how weird the requirements for Bard were in ye olden dayse?), with function an afterthought. ANY time you design something like that, it's at risk of ending up crappy, a grab-bag of features that don't actually work together except in a thematic sense.

More or less, you can divide D&D classes into two categories: those that have a "narrow" fundamental fiction, and those that have a "broad" one. Rogues, Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, and a few other classes fall into that "broad" group, where they need their subclasses/specialties/whatever to make one character meaningfully different from another. (Fighter and Rogue are particularly generic, something Mearls himself even lamented very slightly at one point, specifically Fighter, when reflecting on 5e and what he'd change.) Those that have a "narrow" fiction include bards, warlocks, sorcerers, and paladins: classes that carry a much more specific story (unless opted out of, as opposed to the opt-in nature of story for the previous group).

It sounds to me like @AcererakTriple6 wants to push Bard into the "broad" category, and I think the past failures to achieve success with that are indication enough that that's not an effective strategy. More can be done to integrate the theme and concept with the class, to be sure, but there are very good reasons why Bard was often disliked in prior editions, but was quite popular in 4e and remains popular in 5e. It actually works, and actually does things now. That's a big selling point.

Ultimately, I don't disagree with the desire to have a lower-magic alternative to the Bard that gets some other thing in exchange. I just think that it is a disservice to an awful lot of people that really love Bards to take away a version that, y'know, actually works for once, in order to give them the same thing they'd been sold for years and years with an airy promise that this time being a half-caster and a half-meleeist and a half-whatever actually WILL work and WON'T suck.
 

PHB: Bard Section. Music and Magic Subsection

Kind of sounds like the same musical song fluff to me. But what do I know?
I mean, the stuff you quoted, even bolded, explicitly talks about things that aren't music: "a master of song, speech, and the magic they contain." Which, sure, it means there's some music in there. But it also means there's some stuff that's explicitly not music. That would seem to conform to what Jayoungr said, that they're walking back from Bards being 110% musical ALL the time, even when helping people concentrate or sneak around. That their magic can involve words alone. The music stuff is already baked in (getting three instrument proficiencies and Song of Rest), so everything else can, at least in theory, be covered by the "magic [speech] contain[s.]"
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I mean, the stuff you quoted, even bolded, explicitly talks about things that aren't music: "a master of song, speech, and the magic they contain." Which, sure, it means there's some music in there. But it also means there's some stuff that's explicitly not music. That would seem to conform to what Jayoungr said, that they're walking back from Bards being 110% musical ALL the time, even when helping people concentrate or sneak around. That their magic can involve words alone. The music stuff is already baked in (getting three instrument proficiencies and Song of Rest), so everything else can, at least in theory, be covered by the "magic [speech] contain[s.]"
I don’t know how anyone reads the passage I quoted and comes away with bards aren’t primarily musical.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Incorrect. The second part was added 200 years after “Jack of all trades” entered the English lexicon, and is not a necessary component of the saying. “Jack” simply refers to the common man. It just means “a chap who can turn his hand to many things”.
"Jack" still implies mediocrity. See also, previous attempts to make a true Jack of all trades Bard.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Just going to have to mention that the full saying is actually a compliment.

A Jack of all trades, and master of none
Is often better than the master of one.

I.E. a generalist who can contribute well in many different aspects can be more valuable than a specialist who can do one thing very well, but then cannot contribute in anything else.
The second doublet was added in the 21st century, to subvert the usual meaning, which again is being capable of passable mediocre work at a bunch of tasks.
 

Faolyn

Hero
So, wait, your definition of a "jack of all trades" means that the person who is being a jack of all trades doesn't get to actually be actually good at anything, but has to be relatively mediocre at everything? That's clearly not how things do or should work.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Kind of sounds like the same musical song fluff to me. But what do I know?
They haven't ruled out the idea that bards can deal in magical music. They're just offering other options alongside it for those who find the idea silly. If "songs" were a core class feature of the bard, they would be basically saying you have to be a music-making bard, whereas now they're saying you can be one but other types of bard also exist.

I don’t know how anyone reads the passage I quoted and comes away with bards aren’t primarily musical.
The key word is primarily. The passage you quoted leaves the door wide open for the creation of a non-musical bard. Giving the bard core class features called "songs" would counteract that.
 
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They haven't ruled out the ideas that bards can deal in magical music. They're just offering other options alongside it for those who find the idea silly. If "songs" were a core class feature of the bard, they would be basically saying you have to be a music-making bard, whereas now they're saying you can be one but other types of bard also exist.
The mechanic can be called 'song' but still be poetry or tap dance or whatever. Also I really don't get people who dislike bards singing and still want to play bards. That's like wanting to play wizard but disliking that they read books.
 


jayoungr

Legend
The mechanic can be called 'song' but still be poetry or tap dance or whatever.
If it doesn't have to be music, then why not just call it something else?

Also I really don't get people who dislike bards singing and still want to play bards. That's like wanting to play wizard but disliking that they read books.
I guess they just have a different image of what's important about being a bard.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
They haven't ruled out the ideas that bards can deal in magical music. They're just offering other options alongside it for those who find the idea silly. If "songs" were a core class feature of the bard, they would be basically saying you have to be a music-making bard, whereas now they're saying you can be one but other types of bard also exist.


The key word is primarily. The passage you quoted leaves the door wide open for the creation of a non-musical bard. Giving the bard core class features called "songs" would counteract that.
It's more of a Platonist approach to the Bard: the Bard resonates with, like, cosmic harmonies, man, to effect change in the world.
 

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