Saving the Bard

DMMike

Game Masticator
I like to bash on the bard, because well, what kind of adventurer brings a lute to a swordfight? It doesn't help that Monty Python makes them seem counter-productive:

...and Final Fantasy gave them the special ability to Hide...


...but I secretly :censored: think that the bard should be the best class, hands-down. Others agree that the bard needs some uplifting - D&D bumped up their hit dice, and GRR Martin made a bard King Beyond the Wall. Three Amigos: not sidekicks, but heroes (who begin the story lower than sidekicks)! The last bard I played ended up being almost a Witcher-type character: a gruff swordfighter and magic-user, who used music and tidings as payment for his lodging as he wandered.

Have you saved a bard lately? Do they need saving?
 

Celebrim

Legend
I think Bard is a class that really comes into its own with large parties, and only comes into its own with large parties.

Bard is largely a force multiplication class with a side light of being the party 'face' when conducting business. The bigger the party, the more the Bard rocks. If you are playing with fewer than 6 PC's, you probably don't want a Bard. But at 6 or more, the Bard's ability to buff everyone without spending significant resources is unparalleled.

My biggest problem with the class is that it's pretty boring to play mechanically, and very hard for people who aren't themselves super-charismatic to pull of in any sort of convincing way. I'm still waiting to play with a player who can make up cantrips, limericks, ditties, jingles and silly songs on the spur of the moment, because I think if you can't, then you are unlikely to make the character memorable and alive. By contrast, I've known players that can pull off even difficult classes like Paladin. Bard though requires someone I think really is IRL creative and artistically talented.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Have you saved a bard lately? Do they need saving?
The big problem with the bard in D&D is that it doesn't really feel like a bard. It's useful as a spellcaster, sure, but there's very little overlap between its power and its theme. Your useful abilities don't feel like bard abilities. When I was writing Gishes & Goblins, I felt like this was a problem that needed to be addressed.

Obviously, there's the issue that playing a lute is kind of a silly thing to do in combat; but if you aren't playing a lute, then you aren't really acting like a bard. My solution to that was multi-classing. In my game, bard exists only as a multi-class option, which any class can take in lieu of their sub-class. Nobody is only a bard. So you can be a fighter/bard, and you still get all of your primary fighter features, but you also have the option of doing bard stuff when the situation calls for it. Or you can be a wizard/bard, and you still get as many spell slots as any other wizard, but you also get bard stuff.

As for what the bard stuff does, it's mostly just AoE de-buffs for as long as you keep playing. You start with a bane effect, and progress through fear, slow, vulnerability to energy, confusion, and exhaustion. None if it is limited by rests, so you always have the option of using the right song for the situation at hand.

I also gave them disintegrate at-will, by playing a musical instrument, as their capstone ability. (If you play any of the later releases of Final Fantasy IV, the bard eventually becomes the most powerful character in the game, hitting almost every enemy in the final dungeon for 9999 damage with his harp.)
 
I like to bash on the bard, because well, what kind of adventurer brings a lute to a swordfight? It doesn't help that Monty Python makes them seem
TBF, that's a take on a sort of fantasy minstrel.

...but I secretly :censored: think that the bard should be the best class, hands-down. Others agree that the bard needs some uplifting...Have you saved a bard lately? Do they need saving?
The D&D Bard has actually had a pretty good run the last 20 years or so. Though it was roundly mocked in 3.x, it /was/ a full caster, could be creadible in a leader/support role, and rated Tier 3, compared to the Fighter (talked up as a natural party leader, but with no mechanical support) at Tier 5.
In 4e it was a full-function leader to rival the Cleric & Warlord, and it got a reasonably respectable treatment in the Essentials Skald.
In 5e the Bard is a full caster with 9 levels of spells, is the only non-Rogue in the PH with Expertise, and is held back from a candidate for "best class" only by being a spontaneous rather than neo-Vancian caster - even so, a case can be made that it belongs in Tier 1.
 
I like to bash on the bard, because well, what kind of adventurer brings a lute to a swordfight?

...

Have you saved a bard lately? Do they need saving?
I'm occasionally annoyed that a bard HAS to be a separate class. One great way to "save" the bard is to simply give the fighter a decent number of skill points and/or appropriate feat, combat maneuver, martial archetype, or whatever you call in your given edition. Then the bard can just be any warrior who happens to play some songs. In a setting where magic is real and can be performed completely silently, there's no reason the musician should have to have highly specialized magic to use perfectly realistic melodic skills.
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
One of my players multiclasses as a pirate captain and a bard. His inspirational songs fit well with a captain trying to inspire his crew in battle. Plus, since he is often at the wheel of his ship, singing is one of the ways in which he can still aid his allies in combat. A bard can be pretty fantastic, depending on how you play him.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
The crunch of gameplay mechanic can be fixed, and bards can be good deuteragonists in the hands of a good storyteller, (for example the main character of "Kubo and the two strings" is a good example) but in D&D to be a magic singer idol isn't easy. If they have to play music they aren't good for silent stealth operations, and in the battlefield to play as a "cheerleader" isn't so fun while the rest of the group are slapping bad guys. To play Patapon videogame, or Guitar Hero, would be funnier. Its music could be used as a "whistled language" to give orders to troops can't understands words from a human voice among the noises.

They can't be only a hybrid stealth-spellcaster class with some buffer gifts.

If the videogame "Brutal Legend" where a D&D world... how would be the epic metal bard, like the rockstar clas by Little Red Goblin publisher?

* TV tropes shows examples of magic music and magic singer idols. Maybe this could help to get inspiration.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Bards do not need saving. It's one of the more played classes because it's one of the more powerful classes.

Bards are excellent force multiplier. They can buff, debuff, and especially crowd control with spells. They can hand out inspiration like candy (once they hit 5th) which helps both in combat and out of it, and is one of the very, very few ally buffs that doesn't take concentration. They naturally excel at social interactions with the right skills and high CHR, but are also skill monkeys to a degree with Expertise.

I've been playing a halfling glamour bard for about a year and a half, and they are often the MVP of a scene. Not in doing the most damage - that's not their focus. But in doing things like splitting up the foes so we can defeat them in detail, handing out bonuses to allies, etc. And sometimes polymorphing into a giant ape and doing damage. Just because.
 
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DMMike

Game Masticator
My biggest problem with the class is that it's pretty boring to play mechanically, and very hard for people who aren't themselves super-charismatic to pull of in any sort of convincing way. I'm still waiting to play with a player who can make up cantrips, limericks, ditties, jingles and silly songs on the spur of the moment, because I think if you can't, then you are unlikely to make the character memorable and alive. By contrast, I've known players that can pull off even difficult classes like Paladin. Bard though requires someone I think really is IRL creative and artistically talented.
This is interesting - do bards have a bad rap because players can't play them properly? I don't quite think that's fair though, because I've seen my share of "fighters" who couldn't heft a weapon for 30 seconds.
The crunch of gameplay mechanic can be fixed, and bards can be good deuteragonists in the hands of a good storyteller, (for example the main character of "Kubo and the two strings" is a good example) but in D&D to be a magic singer idol isn't easy. If they have to play music they aren't good for silent stealth operations, and in the battlefield to play as a "cheerleader" isn't so fun while the rest of the group are slapping bad guys.
This could be the crux. The bard is a cheerleader, not a player. The bard's weapon is public opinion or motivation, not steel. The bard is a lover, not a fighter...

Is the bard saved, then, if you make it a multiclass-only option? Or if you draw up a warrior and add an inventory line item: trumpet? I'm not convinced. I think @Blue is on the right track. The bard's focus is not doing damage. When a bard kicks as much butt on the battlefield as the knight or the fireball-slinger, he has ceased to be a "bard."

(By the way, Edward is the bard in the OP video. For those of you who haven't played Final Fantasy IV.)
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
My dwarven valor bard, Malrek, hasn't needed saving (okay, other than that one time with the Githyanki...). He's saved a number of fallen allies with his healing magic, talked his way into the lair of Elemental Evil cultists, blasted apart a golem and a band of undead in one round, weathered blow after blow with his armor and shield, helped countless allies land their attack or do a bit more damage, and has used his song to help a corrupted dragon free itself from the shadow possessing it.

The bard can be pretty versatile indeed. Been a fan since 1e. Yes, I actually went through the arduous process to qualify for the bard class. By the time I was done, I was getting tired of the character, so only actually played a handful of sessions more with them!
 

Mistwell

Hero
Others agree that the bard needs some uplifting - D&D bumped up their hit dice, and GRR Martin made a bard King Beyond the Wall. Three Amigos: not sidekicks, but heroes (who begin the story lower than sidekicks)! The last bard I played ended up being almost a Witcher-type character: a gruff swordfighter and magic-user, who used music and tidings as payment for his lodging as he wandered.

Have you saved a bard lately? Do they need saving?
Bard is hands down one of the most powerful 5e classes. I have no idea why they'd need saving or uplifting. They kick butt in this edition. What is the issue?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'm occasionally annoyed that a bard HAS to be a separate class. One great way to "save" the bard is to simply give the fighter a decent number of skill points and/or appropriate feat, combat maneuver, martial archetype, or whatever you call in your given edition. Then the bard can just be any warrior who happens to play some songs. In a setting where magic is real and can be performed completely silently, there's no reason the musician should have to have highly specialized magic to use perfectly realistic melodic skills.
You can simply play a fighter who is also a musician. There is even a background for it.

Meanwhile, the Bard should absolutely be it’s own class, and be magical.

The two are separate things.
 

Celebrim

Legend
This is interesting - do bards have a bad rap because players can't play them properly? I don't quite think that's fair though, because I've seen my share of "fighters" who couldn't heft a weapon for 30 seconds.
A player's body is not part of the fictional universe and doesn't extend into it. But a player's mind is inevitably and desirably a part of the fictional universe and does extend into it. This creates an unavoidable distinction between physical and mental skill that occurs in all RPGs.
 

RSIxidor

Explorer
The bard should be its own class.

But I have to agree with some others that a martial archetype for fighters in 5E would be neat to see. There's even a few potential ideas, such as one who's performance as a combatant might be how they inspire, or one that just borrows some features from the bard class. I think a fighter subclass that grabs inspiration dice, expertise, and maybe one other thing would be kind of neat. Maybe not spellcasting (or at least not much), I think Eldritch Knight does that well enough already. PF2 I think already has this covered with being able to pick up the Bard dedication feats. Seasoned Commander for PF1 has a slightly bardish concept to it, there might be another archetype that does as well but that's the closest I found to a "bardish fighter" there.
 
You can simply play a fighter who is also a musician. There is even a background for it.
Meanwhile, the Bard should absolutely be it’s own class, and be magical.
The two are separate things.
You could fairly easily split the bard into an Archetype or two, like Fighter (Skald) and/or Rogue (minstrel?), and a Tradition (Lore Bard, as a wizard tradition could be an oral-tradition instead of book-learn'n wizard).

But, under the 5e design paradigm, that wouldn't mean it couldn't remain a class, as well.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
Useful but boring gameplay? Have you noticed there are not sourcebooks about bards published by 3rd party companies?

Let's imagine the musical group "Jem and the Holograms" and your famous singers (for example Taylor Swift or Tarja Turunen) are sent to a fantasy world as Westeros, and they are now bards with magic musical powers (almost nobody but them can cast spells). How would be their story to survive, everytime singing like a princess in a Disney movie? Lindsey Stirling playing music to defeat monsters can be fun for five minutes, for after two episodes could be annoying.



Sometimes I have thought about bards with some power about "music of the spheres" using a game mechanic like the truenamer. Other idea is the bards need the "glamour" as power source (Let's remember "Changeling: the dreaming" by White Wolf). Music would the easiest and fastest way to gather glamour essence.

If WotC doesn't publish any concept as base class, then it will be done by a 3rd party publisher, for example the warden or the warlord.
 

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