Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #12: Bard

Welcome to the 12th Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of the game’s bard class.

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Samurai

Adventurer
It says on the chart that at level 1 the Bard knows 3 Cantrips and 4 spells, but he only has 2 1st level spell slots to cast with. In the written description, under "Spells Known at 1st level and higher", it says that a 1st level Bard only knows 2 spells of 1st level, not 4. So which is it?
 

Samurai

Adventurer
It says on the chart that at level 1 the Bard knows 3 Cantrips and 4 spells, but he only has 2 1st level spell slots to cast with. In the written description, under "Spells Known at 1st level and higher", it says that a 1st level Bard only knows 2 spells of 1st level, not 4. So which is it?
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
woooooooooow....I too was really impressed & feel like my words don't do it justice

oooo. Something's going on with the spell slots compared to the other casters we've seen (sorc/wiz). Mathematically I'm not sure what happens or if its a new way of showing difference between full & fractional casters since the differences don't kick in to level 9/10 (or I'm overlooking something earlier?). This could make for an interesting way to split full casters from the more martially leaning casters that were once fractional casters before 5e. I'm not sure if this is just new normal for all casters after feedback from the wizard mistake or deliberate shift of bard away from spellslot casting to more notable bard abilities?

The art specialty focus items are pretty neat & feel viscerally different in interesting ways that will make rojer halfgrip with his violin feel notably different from link & his ocarina if both were bards. This will definately make origin/lineage options that give an instrument attractive to bards

The equipment packs have differing bardy feels to them in interesting ways


The Battle Hymns are really cool with kid in a candy store feel from reading over them as something that will to an awesome job of making a bard feel like it can do cool things other than "yea I got that spell too." I can think of a few books & video games that have a similar sort of cool ongoing thing that exists alongside more spell type abilities & actual spells making these really exciting. I could see magic items & such that even add extra uses or reduce the cost of specific hymns like one of the later specializations allows at level 8 too. :D Song of clarity letting someone expend a hit die to heal themselves being one of those free options is really interesting in both respects.

Bardic Legend gives kind of a cool excuse for a gm to send npcs towards the bard & party with relevant quests if they rather overtly invest some effort& the long rest/hit die recovery shift combined with song of clarity makes for really interesting synergy. Combined they give a bard a bunch of great excuses to act more like a bard than frank castle cleaning his weapons alone in room b12 till it's time to go kill things.

The Battle Hymn focus options are all going to give a bard very different feelings within the party & lend themselves towards different hymns rather than just "well clearly x is always the best choice to make" type thing. Being able to change either of the two after getting a new level is a good balance of not so locked in that there is extreme pressure on making the right choice but stable enough that a bard doesn't just change them out every session (the L8 specialization likewise being something you can change at new levels gets the same good mix checkmark imo).

Given the much larger role that bardic inspiration plays for this bard, Font of Inspiration at 5th feels both timely to coincide with other big bumps like fighter/berserker second attack & such.

With the larger role played by using different instruments Key Change letting the bard do a quick bonus action instrument swap will probably open a lot of flexibility to changing situations once we see he spell lists & spells themselves.

The Maestro ability letting bards always get the benefit of an art/instrument/focus item on top of whatever one they are using feels like it comes late enough at 7 to feel like an informed decision should be possible & given all the decisions with hymns this will have a very interesting set of subjective combos that helps ensure bob the "I always play bard" feels like he;s always playing something at least a little different I bet.

The Hymn specialization is filled with cool options but one of them feels like it sheds light on the spell slot mystery in addition to the new spells we haven't seen yet. Choosing 4 spells of any level with only vocal components in o5e is a tall order given nearly everything having vsm so it sounds like verbal somatic & material components with spells will be more nuanced. Those four verbal only spells being limited to 4th level & lower makes me feel like the level 9/10 spell slot shift is deliberate as one of the neat things that split full & partial casters apart as casters .

I really like how the knacks focus around skills/expertise/social engineering flavored stuff & being an indispensable "I'm so glad bob always plays a bard" part of the party. The fact that one of them could result in being able to get a twofer from spells like raise dead tickles my inner cackling child & makes me feel like the o5e ritual spells being kind of an unfinished project that ended at step1 will progress onto step 2 & up in a5e. :D

@Samurai I mention a lot of things about spells that the bard abilities seem to suggest, I think the chart is probably accurate & the pg6 text is outdated
 



Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
This could be the second Bard class I don't ban from my game. Third if I count the Troubadour from Earthdawn.

Bards have always been my least favorite class in fantasy so this one is pretty damn cool.

Great class.

All that's left is to rename a certain particular unarmed fighting class to something that actually makes sense and Level Up would be nearly perfect.
 



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