D&D 5E Geiko: The Eastern Bard

Hello!

So, for a preface, I am new here, and a while ago I was looking to make characters for myself (even though I am a forever DM lol) I don't mind what class I play, but there is a character I wanted to try that I have used a few times growing up, but has evolved over the years. I only found two instances of this, but the one that caught my attention was one by a redditor names Independent_Ask6564 (I have a link, which is here). Taking a look at it, it was rough and I did reach out and ask him about having updates because I hadn't seen any. He said I could steal it, whatever that means, and do what I wanted with it. (
Screenshot 2024-01-31 173932.png
) I thought alright, well I don't want to plagiarize anything, but some of the concepts were good so I had said I would work on it and let him know what I fixed. Well...I didn't fix it per say, it evolved into something far different than what he had. So here I am, sharing it and I hope that you all will give me feedback on it and tell me where I need to fix things. I have never done a whole class homebrew, mainly just a few small things for my group, but nothing on this scale. So if anything is wrong, let me know,

With the character I have, I studied as much about the world of the Geisha in my youth, branching out from the typical information and really sunk my teeth in. I just wanted to let everyone know that while I have used terms here unfamiliar to some, you can ask me what they mean if you are unsure. For the people that do know, I know I have taken liberties with a couple of the things here, but I feel it was well worth it for the change and if that does bother you, I'm sorry. Okay, with that out of the way, let me share with you what I have worked on!



Geiko: The Eastern Bard

You can hear her approach, her okobo clicking quickly against the stone ground as she flits from one Okiya Ochaya to another. Her furisode swinging lightly as she ducks inside, holing her koga and her kimono up out of the dirt. Her kanzashi elaborate and eye-catching, matching perfectly with her bright and joyful outfit. She slips into the building without a sound, until...you hear her, soft music that strikes a chord somewhere inside, her voice delicate yet sharp, and you can see a silhouette of her dancing against the shoji.

The Geiko follows the Bard class, With the vast majority of the two sharing class features. The proficiencies and equipment has been slightly altered to fit the aesthetic of the Geiko and make her unique. There has been an addition of one thing to the class that she starts with and one that has been renamed:

The Song of Rest: This has been renamed to Obon Temae to fit the aesthetic; but it functions the exact same was. The name comes from a style of ceremony because of it's simplistic nature, simple equipment, and the ability to possibly perform it outside on an open flame if you so wish.

Unarmored Defense: The Geiko wears no armor, and wears layers of silk in order to both entertain and draw attention. The Unarmored Defense for her is calculated 10+DEX mod.+PB[CHA mod.]

Aside from this, there hasn't been much of a change to the base class, as I tried to keep it the same because I wanted this to be easily integrated into any game if people choose to play with it. Okay, on to what has been as mentioned earlier in the post.

Proficiencies
Armor: None
Weapons: Darts, Daggers, Rapiers, and Light Hammers
Tools: Three instruments and Disguise Kit
Saving Throws: DEX, CHA
Skills: Choose three from Performance, Persuasion, Deception, History, Investigations, Insight, Perception, [Acrobatics], and Medicine.

Equipment
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
-(a) A Rapier (Chokuto), (b) a Light Hammer (Tessen/fan), or (c) Darts (Kunai)
-(a) An Entertainer's Pack or (b) a Koga (see end for description)
-(a) A lyre (Shamisen) or (b) any other musical instrument (see end for description)
-2 extra outfits in a Kinchaku (see end for description) and a Dagger (Tanto)

Bard College: College of The Hanamachi
The Geiko enters this college at an early age, giving themselves time to learn the intricate skills and abilities they use in their daily life, along with their innate spark of magical capabilities. From cleaning rituals and how to dress, to precise steps and tones, everything honed to be the perfect entertainer and bard.

Bonus Proficiencies
When you join this college, you gain proficiency with three skills of your choice.

Miwaku Teki
At 3rd level, you can use your bonus action to use your appearance. voice, and makeup to charm your foes. You choose up to 2 creatures that you can see within 30ft. of you. The creatures must succeed on a WIS save. On a failed save, they are charmed by you. They stand there, un-moving and fixated on you, unable to attack ot move. At the start of their next turn they can choose to use their action to break the charm by re-rolling the save. The save for this is a DC of 8+CHA.mod.+PB. [The creatures roll against your Spell Save DC to see if they fail or succeed.] Creatures that free themselves can't be effected in this way by you again for 24 hours. Creatures immune to charm are also immune to this effect.

Buyo
At 3rd level, you gain the ability to channel your magic into your dances, or Buyo; but only in a limited fashion. There are 20 Buyo that you can choose from. The amount of Buyo that you know and can use are in separate columns on your Bard table. You know 4 Buyo to start and perform 2 a day. At 6, 10, 14, and 18 both the known and perform number increases to a max of 12 known and 6 perform. [You regain your used Buyo at the end of a long rest.]

Shako Tekina Cho
At 6th level, when you make a CHA check involving any social interaction, you can choose to gain advantage on it. You can use this feature a number of times equal to half your bard level [Proficiency Bonus], rounded down. [You regain your uses of this back when you finish a long rest.]

Kankoshi
At 14th level, in addition to using your Obon Temae, you can use your knowledge of herbs and teas to also brew a tea that can cure any disease or poison.

Buyo

Four Seasons
Your voice and steps depict the changes of the seasons. From the lively, joyful movements all the way to the silent steps and breathy words; You travel through the changes that naturally occur. You grant 2 creatures of your choice a resistance to a damage type of your choice for 1 hour.

Spring Rain
Your voice sings of the calm and yet energizing feeling the rain brings as your steps depict the way the petals from the blooming trees cascade to the ground; and float in the puddles left behind. You grant a creature of your choice an advantage on [to saves against being] charm[ed], restrained, or exhaustion for 1 hour.

Summer Fireflies
Your steps are light yet slow, your voice raising and lowering in intensity; all while you swish you Susohiki against the ground to simulate the sound of reeds. You grant a creature of your choice an advantage on [to saves against being] blind[ed], deaf[ened], or frightened for 1 hour.

Autumn Falling Leaves
Your voice carries and changed pitch as you sway and step, mimicking the falling leaves in a blustering and unpredictable wind. You grant a creature of your choice an advantage on [to saves against being] grapple[d], poisoned, or stunned for 1 hour.

Winter's Soft Silence
Your steps are scattered and slow, you sway to and fro, signalling the gently falling snow. Your voice is light and breathy, indicating the wispy and cold air the flakes use to travel. You grant a creature of your choice an advantage on [to saves against being] paralyzation[Paralyzed], petrification[Petrified], or being knocked prone for 1 hour.

Fragrant Orchard
Your movements are smooth and methodically, swaying and extending your arms out like gently swaying branches. Your voice floats and carries on the breeze; much like the perfume of an orchard in full bloom. You grant a creature of your choice an advantage on [to saves against] sleep for 1 hour.

Fireworks
Your voice expresses joy and excitement, raising and lowering in a tone and pitch to convey the busy yet awe-inspiring atmosphere of a summer celebration. Your steps and movements are quick and erratic, with intermittent pauses to express the notion of watching the cascade of colors in the sky. You spin and turn your fan, hinting at the change of colors in the sky. You grant a creature of your choice and enhancement of your choice. The creature gains an advantage on STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, or CHA for 1 hour.

Rushing River
Your movements are fluid and quick, as you quickly brush your susohiki across the ground to simulate the sound of a rushing river. Your voice is loud and booming, the words are quick and punctual; adding to the sound of the river as well as the emotions it invokes. You grant a creature of your choice an increase in their speed by 10 for 1 hour.

Mournful Night
Your movements are slow and cautious, head bowed and fan opened in front of your face. Your steps reflect the procession and transportation of a body to its final resting place. Your voice carries and melancholic tone, with wails of sorrow and sobs. Your words recite monastic chanting as you commune with the world of the living and the world of the dead. You return one creature of your choice back to life; provided that they have not been dead for more than 10 minutes. This is an intense process and take a lot of effort to both do and complete. With this in mind, this uses up 4 of your uses of your buyo, including the slot you are using now.

Grey Mountains
Your voice is loud and strong, with a breathy tone to it. Your movements are choppy and large, all portraying the strength, towering, and un-moving nature of the mountains.You grant 2 creatures of your choice a +2 to their AC; lasing for 1 hour.

Breathing Land
Your voice goes up and down in volume as you sing about the life the land exhibits; the breathing in and out that it does. Your steps and body move up and down in representation of one's chest moving up and down as they breathe; as well as represents the movement of life. You grant up to 4 creatures of your choice, including yourself, temporary HP of 1d8 for 1 hour.

Salty Shores
You sway and move rhythmically; your susohiki sliding back and forth on the ground, all simulating the sounds of the ocean meeting the sandy shoreline. Your voice carries the sounds of the birds and the breeze that comes off the water. You sing of the life it brings, the work it provides, and the dangers the waters can bring.You grant up to 4 creatures of your choice, including yourself, the ability to breathe underwater for 24 hours.

Twilight
Your voice carries a mysterious and enchanting tone to it; singing of the beautiful colors streaking across the sky, and of the mystical creatures that come with it. Your movements and steps resemble the movement of both creatures, and the moon chasing the sun across the sky. Your fan twirls and spins, reflecting the sparkling stars and the colors changing in the sky. You grant a creature of your choice the ability to see invisible creatures and objects for 1 hour.

Silvery Moon
Your voice is soft and ethereal, enchanting, and smooth. You sing of the phases it has and the light it casts. You sing of its importance and meaning in your culture. Your steps and movements represent the phases and the emotions that each invokes. You grant a creature of your choice Darkvision up to 60ft. for 8 hours.

Dancing Fans
Your movements are light and playful, your fan doing most of the work. Your fan spins, twirls, folds up , folds out, looking as though it is dancing and not you. Your voice is just as playful and joyful; singing of made up kingdoms, adventures for the fan, and all talking of saving the day. You grant a creature of your choice advantage on perception checks for 8 hours.

Dragon's Pearl
Your movements are quick and sporadic; dancing and swaying into different twirls and turns. Your voice is authoritative and powerful, as you sing of the dragon's might and his protective nature of his pearl. You grant a creature of your choice 1 advantage roll on a saving throw of your choice. This lasts for 8 hours if unused and disappears once used.

Regal Pine
Your voice is a soft and echoing, singing of the flexibility and strength of the massive tree. Your dance reflects a forest of them, your arms slightly stiff and your hands and fingers representing their thin needles shaking in the wind. You grant a creature of your choice 1 advantage roll on an ability check of your choice. This lasts for 8 hours if unused and disappears after use.

Misty Hot spring
Your movements are calm and fluid, warm and inviting; much like a natural hot spring. Your voice is soft and breathy; singing of peace and tranquillity. You sing of relaxation and silence, and your movements also reflect the mist forming on the surface of the pool. You can remove 1 point of exhaustion, that is not magically induced, from a creature of your choice. This is an intense process and take a lot of effort to both do and complete. With this in mind, this uses up 4 of your uses of your buyo, including the slot you are using now

Flitting Butterfly
Your movements are quick and sporadic, flitting to and fro. They are light and soft as you delicately move from one step to another. Your voice sings to flowers and the breeze that carries you when you don't want to flap your wings. Your voice also carries a joyful, light, and carefree tone to it; hinting at the butterfly's beautiful form yet chaotic life. You grant 2 creatures of your choice a +2 to their attack rolls. This lasts for 8 hours if unused and disappears after an encounter that results in a fight.

Cicada's Call
Your voice is loud and jolting, but at the same time raising and lowering in pitch and tone. Your movements are stiff yet quick, representing the cicada's flight from one tree in the summer sun to another. You grant a creature of your choice a disguise for 1 hour.

Definitions

Kinchaku
A large drawstring bag that can carry a variety of things, including extra entertaining outfits. In this case, there are two tied together and draped over the shoulder, with a bag draping down the front and back.

Koga
A koga is another type of Kinchaku, in this case it's mainly used by Geiko to carry their more precious things. The pack has a woven basket bottom with a fabric drawstring top that matches the outfit, kanzashi, or hair decorations, and the season she is currently in. For this instance, inside the koga is:
-A disguise kit
-A tea set with 4 cups
-4 containers of high quality tea
-A small wagasa, or umbrella
-Perfume
-Ink sticks, Inkstone, and Brushpen
-5 pieces of high quality paper
-A bedroll

Instruments
The equivelent of instruments to the ones in the players handbook are:
-Bagpipes=Sho
-Drum=Tsuzumi
-Dulcimer=Koto
-Flute=Shakuhachi
-Lute=Biwa
-Lyre=Shamisen
-Horn=Horagai
-Pan Flute=Shinobue
-Shawm=Hichiriki
-Viola=Kokyu

Dances Known and Dances Available
LevelDances KnownDances Available
342
442
542
663
763
863
963
1084
1184
1284
1384
14105
15105
16105
17105
18126
19126
20126

Now, I have a couple different ideas here for this that I haven't added here as I'm not sure where I'm going with this. My ideas were that this was a female class only, with either offering the male version of a Geiko for this, or giving the males their own work in the form of a Kabuki Performer with different names for their dances and their own tools and such. I'm not too sure though. I like the idea of both things, so that's why I have left it out and just kept it as it is.

Also, I took the Artificers Infusion sections where the infusions known and used seemed to match what I wanted in terms of the dances. I altered it a bit because the Geiko doesn't infuse things, more rather their whole deal is entertaining and pleasing people. So that's why the dances kind of seem similar in the way they are laied out. So, this is everything. Please let me know what you think, please give me all the feedback you have for this and don't hold back, I want to get this right before I use it in a game...if i ever get to be a player LOL!

EDIT: I did also have the idea of having the dances as a ritual so that there isn't abuse of them, but I'm not sure if that would suffice.

EDIT#2: Spelling, I noticed there was a bit of spelling errors.

EDIT#3: I will edit this at its base, anything that has been changed will have a strike through, leaving the original text in case anyone wants to know what it was. Anything added with be put in between asterisks so that people can see what was added.

EDIT#4: I have come to realize that accenting anything between an asterisks will result in hem being italicized, so I am changing that to a square bracket set up [like this]
 
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not gonna lie - i thought the geiko in the title was referring to the geico insurance company for a minute. i was wondering what car insurance had to do with eastern bards...

as for the actual homebrew, the class kind of just seems like a couple of additional variant features a la tasha's. that might be an easier way to frame it. the unarmored defense feature also deviates from standard - usually unarmored defense features are 10 + dex + another ability score (charisma would probably fit best here). if you want it to fit with other unarmored defense features, i'd recommend changing that.

as for the subclass, it gives me battlemaster vibes. i won't speak for balance too much, but i did notice some other things.
  • miwaku teki could probably just use your spell save DC. it'll be the same number in 90% of cases anyway.
  • how do you use a buyo? is it an action? a bonus action? does it take 5 minutes? does it vary depending on the buyo? i don't know because it doesn't say anywhere.
  • shako tekina cho has uses equal to half your bard level. that's not really a thing in 5e (the closest would be prof bonus), but the bigger concern is that there's no indication of how you get your uses back. this is also a problem with buyo and swapping them out.
  • numerous buyo mention they grant "advantage on x". i assume this means advantage on checks/saves against x (or, in the case of listing ability scores, advantages on checks using x)? this is really a phrasing concern more then anything.
 

not gonna lie - i thought the geiko in the title was referring to the geico insurance company for a minute. i was wondering what car insurance had to do with eastern bards...

as for the actual homebrew, the class kind of just seems like a couple of additional variant features a la tasha's. that might be an easier way to frame it. the unarmored defense feature also deviates from standard - usually unarmored defense features are 10 + dex + another ability score (charisma would probably fit best here). if you want it to fit with other unarmored defense features, i'd recommend changing that.

as for the subclass, it gives me battlemaster vibes. i won't speak for balance too much, but i did notice some other things.
  • miwaku teki could probably just use your spell save DC. it'll be the same number in 90% of cases anyway.
  • how do you use a buyo? is it an action? a bonus action? does it take 5 minutes? does it vary depending on the buyo? i don't know because it doesn't say anywhere.
  • shako tekina cho has uses equal to half your bard level. that's not really a thing in 5e (the closest would be prof bonus), but the bigger concern is that there's no indication of how you get your uses back. this is also a problem with buyo and swapping them out.
  • numerous buyo mention they grant "advantage on x". i assume this means advantage on checks/saves against x (or, in the case of listing ability scores, advantages on checks using x)? this is really a phrasing concern more then anything.
In honest, forgot about the Spell Save DC for bards, that makes a ton more sense to use than what I have for the Miwaku Teki.

For the Buyo...this is where I am kind of unsure how I want them to work. I was thinking of having them be ritual cast, because they are dances that require some time to set up. Those I was aiming to have used outside of combat rather than inside of it. Also i will add in that you get them back after a long rest and...I will have to think on if I want to swap them out or not. In fairness, the Buyo were kind of based around the artificer spell infusion things because they fit kind of what I was going for with that. I will have to go back and read to see if you can swap them out, and maybe decide what to do with that.

For Shako Tekina Cho, I was looking to have her social presence and pleasing nature be played up a bit with this, that's why I did the half level instead of the proficiency bonus...but maybe with the dances she does a lot more than I figured...hmm...I'll consider it as i get more info on stuff and suggestions lol.

For the Unarmored Defense, I have to admit I was tired when I added that in last minute while working on it, so I messed that up, that's my bad. You're right, CHA would be better instead of PB lol. I will fix that lol.

For the Buyo, can you give me an example of what you mean by phrasing? Can you tell me what's wrong with the phrasing of them? Having an example is a little better for me in terms of understanding, if that makes sense.
 

For Shako Tekina Cho, I was looking to have her social presence and pleasing nature be played up a bit with this, that's why I did the half level instead of the proficiency bonus...but maybe with the dances she does a lot more than I figured...hmm...I'll consider it as i get more info on stuff and suggestions lol.

For the Buyo, can you give me an example of what you mean by phrasing? Can you tell me what's wrong with the phrasing of them? Having an example is a little better for me in terms of understanding, if that makes sense.
for shako, again, the bigger concern is that you don't specify when the feature recovers. though from what you said about buyo i'm assuming you'll get to that eventually.

for phrasing, here's an excerpt for what autumn falling leaves does mechanically:
You grant a creature of your choice an advantage on grapple, poisoned, or stunned for 1 hour.
it's a little oddly phrased. a better way to phrase it might be something like:
"You grant a creature of your choice advantage on checks and saves to avoid being grappled, poisoned, or stunned for 1 hour."
it makes it clear what kind of rolls the bonus applies to (checks and saves) and under what conditions (avoiding the listed conditions). as it's phrased now, it could also grant advantage on checks to grapple (or poison or stun, but i think those usually force saves instead) someone.
 

for shako, again, the bigger concern is that you don't specify when the feature recovers. though from what you said about buyo i'm assuming you'll get to that eventually.

for phrasing, here's an excerpt for what autumn falling leaves does mechanically:

it's a little oddly phrased. a better way to phrase it might be something like:
"You grant a creature of your choice advantage on checks and saves to avoid being grappled, poisoned, or stunned for 1 hour."
it makes it clear what kind of rolls the bonus applies to (checks and saves) and under what conditions (avoiding the listed conditions). as it's phrased now, it could also grant advantage on checks to grapple (or poison or stun, but i think those usually force saves instead) someone.
Ah okay, that's what you meant. Yeah that sounds better to be fair. Let me play around with them and see how that goes. I do appreciate this, thank you!

Also I see what you mean about the not noting how you get it back, I have added it now. It's after a long rest, that was always the intended regain, I just forgot to add it in. It got pushed to the wayside lol.
 



Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Love the flavor!
I've only read up to the start of the Bard Colleges, maybe more feedback later.
Unarmored AC as 10+DEX+CHA is v nice, I like
For the starting skills, what about Acrobatics - are Geiko known for their dancing ability?

Personally, would love a shamisen that turns into a shield and sword connected by guitar strings for capturing incoming blades and potentially garrotte usage - but that's me wanting a Zatoichi-but-geiko character lol

(as someone with a Japanese mom, I want to get out front and say at least as far as I have read seems to be handled with sincerity and sensitivity - but note I am NOT a sensitivity editor)
 

Love the flavor!
I've only read up to the start of the Bard Colleges, maybe more feedback later.
Unarmored AC as 10+DEX+CHA is v nice, I like
For the starting skills, what about Acrobatics - are Geiko known for their dancing ability?

Personally, would love a shamisen that turns into a shield and sword connected by guitar strings for capturing incoming blades and potentially garrotte usage - but that's me wanting a Zatoichi-but-geiko character lol

(as someone with a Japanese mom, I want to get out front and say at least as far as I have read seems to be handled with sincerity and sensitivity - but note I am NOT a sensitivity editor)
That is true! I will add that as an option! Geiko are known for A LOT of things, and I wasn't sure really where to put them all. They are trained not only to dance, sing, and play instruments, they are trained in calligraphy, literature, poetry, traditional games, Ikebana which is the traditional art of flower arranging, some practice drawing with traditional tools, there's a lot they do lol. They all have their specializations, but they are all trained in all forms of art. Some are purely dancing, some are purely instruments, and some are purely singing. They are master conversationalist and even have a code where conversations held between them and a client are not to be spoken about and kept to themselves. Though I'm not sure where to really put all these lol.

Also...thank you, I really appreciate the comment. I was always taught to look at cultures outside of what is well known, because there are so many other things that go on below the surface that is considered common knowledge to the people within them. I'm glad it's showing through here. Again, thank you.
 


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