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

If it doesn't have to be music, then why not just call it something else?
I think it is a neat and evocative name that fits the themes of the class. But sure, it could be called something else.
I guess they just have a different image of what's important about being a bard.
Which is? Bards are about music, and they're jacks of all trades. If they aren't that, they don't need to exist. If bard is just a primary arcane caster with vaguely defined fluff, how are they different form the sorcerer?
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
"Jack" still implies mediocrity. See also, previous attempts to make a true Jack of all trades Bard.
Two separate issues.

Jack does not imply mediocrity, it implies competence. You seem to think that anything short of specialized mastery is mediocre, and that is simply false. General mechanics are more useful and more well regarded than specialists. General Practitioners are equals to specialist physicians. Lumberjacks are professionals in a trade skill.
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. A Jack in this sense is more akin to someone who is a professional plumber, electrician, and carpenter, with full training and competence in each field, compared to a specialized engineer. One isn’t “better” than the other, they just do very different things.

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.

The other problem with some iterations of the Bard is the false idea that a Jack must be mediocre being translated into mechanics in a level based system, putting them at limited progression in several areas. This part of the issue would be worsened by making the class a half caster.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Which is? Bards are about music, and they're jacks of all trades.
Well, obviously it's going to vary from player to player. But in response to the bolded portion, no--I have seen several examples that were about performance, but not necessarily musical performance specifically. For example, there was a healer bard in one of my games who was basically a male geisha: a teashop owner focused on providing comfort, soothing, and entertainment to his customers and later to the adventuring party. At the opposite end of the spectrum we had a surly tiefling who didn't care to talk much, let alone make music, but who entertained the party with flashy displays of knife juggling.

If bard is just a primary arcane caster with vaguely defined fluff, how are they different form the sorcerer?
In mechanical terms--way bigger spell list. Can also do some divine magic.
 

Well, obviously it's going to vary from player to player. But in response to the bolded portion, no--I have seen several examples that were about performance, but not necessarily musical performance specifically. For example, there was a healer bard in one of my games who was basically a male geisha: a teashop owner focused on providing comfort, soothing, and entertainment to his customers and later to the adventuring party. At the opposite end of the spectrum we had a surly tiefling who didn't care to talk much, let alone make music, but who entertained the party with flashy displays of knife juggling.
Ok. It being about inspiring performance on general, rather than specifically music is a valid point.
 


No!
I come from ADnD and for the first 8 or 9 levels they progressed about as fast as wizards when you look at xp, not at level.
They were 2/3 casters officially and when everyone peogressed equally in 3.x they were nerfed heavily. Especially if you also considered theat they even lost one slot per spell level which they only gained back with high cha (unlike the wizard who kept their spell slots and got bonus spells on top).
Bards as full casters with magical secrets on top gave them the flavour back that I missed in 3e.
If they would cast spells with int and also had a spell(song) book, I would be even more happier.

In 5e they are not real full casters in my opinion actually. Full casters (sorc, wiz, some druids, some cleric) all gain abilities to either get more spells over the course of the day (spell points, arcane recovery, natural recovery) or have a very powerful spell like feature (channel divinity).

Bard usually lack such abilities or are more or less pure casters that only use the bard class as chassis.

I could however live with real 2/3 caster, which I think would be possible to add to 5e with no problem and give a bit more room for subclass features and inapirational abilities. But half caster is too harsh (look at what people write about the artificer, who coul as well become 2/3 caster and still be balanced).
 
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jayoungr

Legend
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.
You can still be the best in your party as a bard, though. For instance, I've been in several games where the bard was the primary healer; a life cleric would have been better, but the party didn't have a life cleric. Or sometimes the bard is the best in the party at a particular skill, thanks to the "jack of all trades" feature, when no one else is trained in that skill.
 

You can still be the best in your party as a bard, though. For instance, I've been in several games where the bard was the primary healer; a life cleric would have been better, but the party didn't have a life cleric. Or sometimes the bard is the best in the party at a particular skill, thanks to the "jack of all trades" feature, when no one else is trained in that skill.
Furthermore, it is often useful if several characters are competent in one area. Even if there was a cleric, additional healing would still be helpful. If a rogue would be doing more damage than other characters no one would be saying that it is worthless for other characters to be able to do any damage at all. And of course in many situations it is useful if several characters are good at a skill, like in any group check situation.
 

Aldarc

Legend
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.
It's also common for the one with the highest skill to still fail due to a crummy d20 roll so others chip in to try their hand at whatever task needs done.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
A Jack in this sense is more akin to someone who is a professional plumber, electrician, and carpenter, with full training and competence in each field, compared to a specialized engineer.
Wow, um, so where to start with this...

How many plumbers, electricians, and carpenters do you know or are related to? 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."
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.
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.
 

Faolyn

Hero
You can still be the best in your party as a bard, though. For instance, I've been in several games where the bard was the primary healer; a life cleric would have been better, but the party didn't have a life cleric. Or sometimes the bard is the best in the party at a particular skill, thanks to the "jack of all trades" feature, when no one else is trained in that skill.
Oh yeah. I mean, if you don't have another option, then the bard is the shoe-in. I'm talking about in comparison to someone who is dedicated to that role.

Of course, even then the bard is sometimes better. Expertise means that the bard can outshine a wizard, cleric, or druid in Arcana, Religion, or Nature.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I think it is a neat and evocative name. that fits the themes of the class. But sure, it could be called something else.

Which is? Bards are about music, and they're jacks of all trades. If they aren't that, they don't need to exist. If bard is just a primary arcane caster with vaguely defined fluff, how are they different form the sorcerer?
Come to think of it? A wild magic sorcerer who selects their spells from the Bard spell list could be a lot of fun to play. Choose Variant Human for the race, select Skilled as the starting feat, and choose the Entertainer background...hmm...
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
No!
I come from ADnD and for the first 8 or 9 levels they progressed about as fast as wizards when you look at xp, not at level.
They were 2/3 casters officially and when everyone peogressed equally in 3.x they were nerfed heavily. Especially if you also considered theat they even lost one slot per spell level which they only gained back with high cha (unlike the wizard who kept their spell slots and got bonus spells on top).
Bards as full casters with magical secrets on top gave them the flavour back that I missed in 3e.
If they would cast spells with int and also had a spell(song) book, I would be even more happier.
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.)
In 5e they are not real full casters in my opinion actually. Full casters (sorc, wiz, some druids, some cleric) all gain abilities to either get more spells over the course of the day (spell points, arcane recovery, natural recovery) or have a very powerful spell like feature (channel divinity).

Bard usually lack such abilities or are more or less pure casters that only use the bard class as chassis.
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.
I could however live with real 2/3 caster, which I think would be possible to add to 5e with no problem and give a bit more room for subclass features and inapirational abilities. But half caster is too harsh (look at what people write about the artificer, who coul as well become 2/3 caster and still be balanced).
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.
 

Minigiant

Legend
That screams bard
Of Course

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.
Well let's go back to the base. What is bardic magic?

5e has bards tapping into and singing/saying words of magic. Words of magic. Sounds like truenaming. Sounds like an alternate or parallel form of spellcasting like Pact Magic. But instead of infinite magic, it's ultra-powerful sound magic.

The bard would be singing or saying their words with the full strength to warp reality. Their songs and words would always be full power to break through the resistance of reality. And in order to dispel the song, you would have to fight reality itself as well or shut up the bard.

Apart from the name, this one just doesn't scream bard to me.
If bards are the masters of song and sound, they sound be able to counter songs and sound with their voice.

A party with a bard should not fear the attacks an orc war drummer, a trumpet golem, or a violin devil.

This one at least screams bard (albeit I hate the name). But IMO, Bards shouldn't be granting other class abilities to other classes.

Couldn't thing of a better name. I kept it as Action surge and Second Wind for simplicity.
That's kind of an issue. There is fight between simplicity and creativity here in making the base bard more bardic.

What's Bard Like about this ability?
I'm not seeing what's bardlike about that
The bard sings or speaks of the villains death and the villain takes more damage.

That is a cool effect and fitting for a bard. Would also work very well as a bard only spell.
Well that's my point.

Either

1) Full caster bard with more unique and exclusive sound and music spells.
2) Half caster bard with more sound and music uses for Bardic Inspiration

Because the 5e bard works. It just feels like a sorcerer with a lute and a niche bloodline.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Well, obviously it's going to vary from player to player. But in response to the bolded portion, no--I have seen several examples that were about performance, but not necessarily musical performance specifically. For example, there was a healer bard in one of my games who was basically a male geisha: a teashop owner focused on providing comfort, soothing, and entertainment to his customers and later to the adventuring party. At the opposite end of the spectrum we had a surly tiefling who didn't care to talk much, let alone make music, but who entertained the party with flashy displays of knife juggling.

The issue is

How does tea setting and knife juggling create magic?
The singer, orator, painter, and even dancer bards at least tap into the idea of using the cosmic power of words.
You say Ugug the Half Orc Barbarian is awesome and the Universe makes him awesome via your words or song.

There is a limit to the reflavoring allowed. 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.
 



Yaarel

Mind Mage
The issue is

How does tea setting and knife juggling create magic?
The singer, orator, painter, and even dancer bards at least tap into the idea of using the cosmic power of words.
You say Ugug the Half Orc Barbarian is awesome and the Universe makes him awesome via your words or song.

There is a limit to the reflavoring allowed. 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.
When the Bard uses the psionic power source, it all makes.

The Bard is the creative mind of the artist, the visionary, the psychic, the shaman. The mind of the Bard is the power source.

Everything the Bard does is to focus the mind to achieve the altered state. Meditative chanting, Rain Dance, poetic inspiration to formulate magical intention, confident command, hypnotic song.

All of it is psionic.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Sounds like truenaming.
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.
 

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