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5E (+)The 5e Bard Doesn't Feel Right. Help Me Fix It?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Now, obviously, if you disagree that the Bard needs fixing, this thread may not be for you. Fair warning, I don't care and won't have much patience for "the bard is good stop" type opinions. The purpose of this thread is to establish elements of the Bard that don't feel right to some of us, and workshop ideas for variant class features, new spells, enhancements in the form of new uses of bardic inspiration, or whatever else we can figure out, that will make the Bard feel like a Bard.

So, what feels off?

1) Bardic Inspiration. It's not just that I miss 3.5 "Song of XYZ" mechanics. If it was, I could just add them back in as new spells. Bards inspiring one friend at a time, for a benefit the friend can use later, at such a fairly low level...it's just weird. It feels completely off, to me. A group buff that buffs the group for the duration, or other zone effects, would feel right. The Paladin's aura feels more bardic than bardic inspiration, to me.

2) The spells. Both, how much spellcasting the bard gets, how limited the list is, how focused on enchantment and trickery it is, just all of it. Vicious Mockery is cool, and then it just sort of...is powerful and bland. Meh. I literally can't play a bard without tweaking the spell list. It's, for me, garbage.

3) It almost never feels like a bard is emboldening the hearts of their allies and demoralizing their enemies with "mere" words.

4) It's mostly sparkle and mechanical efficacy, with no substance. It gets so many features, and I can't imagine why to care about half of them. Song of Rest and Expertise are about all I can imagine keeping in a total ground-up rewrite. Even Jack of All Trades I would put in a feat or something. Hell, switch the Bard and Rogue, and give the Rogue JoAT and give Bards earlier expertise and another trained skill.

5) Words words words. Do they even matter to the Bard? Song or no song, the Bard should be able to make people weep or dance on command.


So, what can be done? What needs to go in order to turn bardic inspiration into a group buff that is more specific in effect but effects all allies that can hear you when you use it? Or maybe who can hear you within 100ft, whatever.

What can be done about spellcasting? Drop secrets and instead lean into subclasses with bonus spells, and reconfigure what spells the bard naturally gets? Drop it to artificer style 1/2 caster to make more room for Bard abilities, or beef up the list with unique Bard spells?

What kinds of things can be done as class features to make the Bard the person you don't want to allow to speak, even if their hands are tied and they're tapped out of spells? The person you're afraid to anger, even if your know your guards are more than a match for the bard and their allies? The person who can turn a nation against her monarch in a single season, with a single song? The person who can heal with words, without it being clear if it involves spellcraft or not. Maybe even the person who can calm the savage beast like a druid, without using druidic magic, and can command the dead to rest or to live again, without investment or holy blessing? The person who knows the power of names and the old words and of old and new stories.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
Bardic inspiration, NPC knight ability, refresh on short rest. Gets extra use level 5 or so. Basically bless but better.
 

Stormonu

Hero
It seems a lot of the abilities you want to incorporate into the bard are out-of-combat, roleplay abilities. Nothing wrong with it, but it's a lot like the Stronghold and Follower rules of older editions. Some folk may be interested in it, but probably not a large percentage.

I would suggest for your needs to add ritual-like uses of Bardic abilities (something that takes 10 minutes or so to accomplish as the bard talks, sings, tells stories, composes poetry or the like). One path to take may be to modify the Bardic inspiration thusly:

At low levels (tier 1?), these abilities would ingratiate the bards among others - somewhat like the old Friends spell. By this, the bard is making himself indispensable - others want to hear what he/she has to say and will be irked if you attempt to get rid of them. Old man Jenkins sneers at the town guard. "Leave 'im alone an' let 'em play his tune, Rugby. He ain't a hurting no one"

In the next grouping (tier 2?), the bard expands his ability to begin influencing individuals. Effects would be along the lines of an Emotion spell, where the bard can now get a reaction from his audience, influencing them towards a course of action the bard desires. The peasants mutter, and curse the tax man, singing the bard's words back at the sheriff, taunting King John.

As the bard becomes more proficient (tier 3?), the bard is no longer influencing individuals, but affecting mobs, and inspiring those individuals to feats beyond their normal abilities. This is a bit of Suggestion and Bless in the works. The peasants revolt, storming the king's stronghold, with cries of "viva la revolution!" as they knock the king's guard aside.

At the highest levels (tier 4?), the bard no longer influences - they demand action and are in control of the outcome. At this point, the bard's abilities become Domination. The bard can make the king give up his crown with but a word.
 

One mechanic I would play around with if re-writing the bard is breaking the rules of concentration.

I would allow them to do this with songs.

So for example a bard can cast a second concentration spell so long as they maintain a song - in effect they weave it into the song. Possibly put in some increasing DC to maintain the spell (or possibly limit the number of spells to the proficiency bonus.

Possibly allow them to take single target buff spells and make them multi-target.

This would give them a clear role as the ultimate party buffer.


Maybe reduce them to half-caster in the process.
 

Iry

Adventurer
You could remove their spellcasting entirely and give them Bardic Inspirations (Warlock Invocations). But to make the system a little more unique, divide them into Prime Songs and Support Songs. A bard could sing one of each at a time, but have some Inspirations be branching choices that are mutually exclusive. Prime Songs can have both continuous effects and Action effects. The core class can even have Climaxes that terminate a song for some kind of benefit.

It's very Pillars in retrospect.
 

1) Bardic Inspiration. It's not just that I miss 3.5 "Song of XYZ" mechanics. If it was, I could just add them back in as new spells. Bards inspiring one friend at a time, for a benefit the friend can use later, at such a fairly low level...it's just weird. It feels completely off, to me. A group buff that buffs the group for the duration, or other zone effects, would feel right. The Paladin's aura feels more bardic than bardic inspiration, to me.
So more like a wide-scale Bless spell? Should this boost everything that anyone tries to do under the effects? Or would there be more targeted options for attacks, saves, ability checks etc?
100ft range seems reasonable for singing, 10 rounds of concentration seems reasonable for a powerful performance, and 1/long rest before level 5 and 1/short rest afterwards.

Perhaps turn this "Performance" into the major class mechanic - Give it more uses and allow different riders similar to be spells to be picked. Bless, Heroism, Bane etc at low levels. Haste, Fear and Suggestion at high levels.
Even give the ability to add more riders on subsequent rounds at the cost of more uses or harder concentration checks.

2) The spells. Both, how much spellcasting the bard gets, how limited the list is, how focused on enchantment and trickery it is, just all of it. Vicious Mockery is cool, and then it just sort of...is powerful and bland. Meh. I literally can't play a bard without tweaking the spell list. It's, for me, garbage.
Bard spells have traditionally been about fairly subtle influence and trickery. Its not always obvious that the bard is even using magic to influence or trick someone.
What spells do you believe that it is missing? Or what type of spells?

3) It almost never feels like a bard is emboldening the hearts of their allies and demoralizing their enemies with "mere" words.
Outside of mere words like bardic inspiration, song of rest etc, is the issue that a lot of the bard's words are magical? (i.e. spells) Would a bard whose abilities weren't coded as magic fix that?

4) It's mostly sparkle and mechanical efficacy, with no substance.
Which bits do you feel lack substance? Or what is the substance that you feel that they should have?

5) Words words words. Do they even matter to the Bard? Song or no song, the Bard should be able to make people weep or dance on command.
In a way outside of what expertise in persuasion, or performance allows? Currently Bards can do that with a little magic. Does this tie in to the "mere words" bit?

I've turned a Bard into a Warlord simply by requiring non-"flashy" spells and stating that they require the recipient to hear the warlord, but making them nonmagical. There were no major balance concerns that came up during play.

I think 5e bards are built more around the concept of the companion who keeps people's hopes up and keeps them going with encouragement, or even insults, but also pitches in when the party has to fight. Rather than the earlier concept of the gaudy fop standing to the side and singing a tune in the middle of combat.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
I would not try to fix the bard, but propose another one!
for me another bard would be a half caster, no cantrip.
keep expertise, Jack of all trades, song of rest, countercharm, but get rid of inspiration.
i don’t like inspiration, as well as guidance. Nice idea at first, but soulless source of goodie bonus on the long term.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I would not try to fix the bard, but propose another one!
for me another bard would be a half caster, no cantrip.
keep expertise, Jack of all trades, song of rest, countercharm, but get rid of inspiration.
i don’t like inspiration, as well as guidance. Nice idea at first, but soulless source of goodie bonus on the long term.
Bard ain’t a bard if they can’t inspire.

It just needs to work differently.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Okay, from all your feedback so far, I think the following will work.

*Ditch Magical Secrets.

*Create at least a half dozen bard song spells that all bards get access to

*add additional spells to each subclass

*Trade Bardic Inspiration for Words of Power. A set of effects on the same resource recharge, with different effects and their own scaling by bard level. Bonus action, last for 10 minutes with concentration, you can use a bonus action anytime during the duration to speak again and include new creatures in the effect. Use Cha mod per long rest, then eventually per short rest. All allies who hear it within 100ft gain;

**Words of Courage. a bonus to 1 saving throw and THP equal to the Bard’s Charisma modifier, once per round, and advantage on saves against fear. At later levels it’s 1/turn, and eventually adds to death saves and concentration saves.

**Words of Alacrity. A +10 speed bonus and add Bard’s Charisma Mod to their AC against opportunity attacks.

**Words of Doom. Allies get +Cha to 1 damage roll per round. Enemies who hear your words have disadvantage on saves against fear, and you can use a reaction when an enemy affected by your words of doom attacks you or an ally to strike fear into their heart. They must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of you, and take 1d8+Cha mod psychic damage.

**Words of Secret Knowledge. A bonus to Spell save DC?

**Words of [that feeling that gets people off the couch to go march on Washington. Righteous Fury?]. Non-hostile creatures that hear you are influenced to do soemthing about a situation. They gain [bonuses] and will try to effect change in a way determined by what problems you present to them as needing fixed, as determined by the DM. Any of your allies who hear you words are also emboldened

Higher level options, come online at major tier levels? Stuff like Words of Forbidding (stuff can’t come near without succeeding on a save) and Words of Healing (just a light group heal effect, with bonus action thp grant for the duration) and even some of the wild stuff I mentioned like commanding the dead to rest or reviving an ally, or effect similar to calm emotions.

In heroic fiction, bard types can often shame someone into acting correctly when they are not, causing surrender, or a corrupt king to do what’s right, etc. I like that, but it needs to walk the line of avoiding actual mind control.

*Add an ability to effect social groups, like a town, county, nation, or region, with the sphere of influence growing as you level. You write stories or songs or nail your manifesto to temple doors, and the word spreads, depending on a skill check? Just Charisma+proficiency? Maybe a scale with a table shows how big an influence you can have, and it’s Cha+prof+bard level?
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
It's an unpopular opinion, but I'd replace the bard class with a modified version of the Arcane Trickster. Something like this:

This was roughly copied from Roll20 and spliced into a Rogue archetype...but you get the idea...

Some rogues enhance their musical talent and performance ability with magic, learning tricks of enchantment, influence, and distraction. These rogues include minstrels and skaalds, but also jesters, mischief-makers, and a significant number of adventurers.

BARD ABILITIES

Musical Talent.
At 3rd level, musical talent awakens within you. You become proficient with Perform, and with two musical instruments of your choice.

Bardic Inspiration. You can inspire others through stirring words or music. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can year you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add thenumber rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the D20 before deciding to use the bardic inspiration die, but must decide before the DM announces whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the bardic inspiration die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one bardic inspiration die at a time.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once.) You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Your bardic inspiration die changes when you reach certain levels in this class. The die becomes a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 15th level.

Jack of All Trades. Starting at 3rd level, you can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to any ability check you make that doesn't already include your proficiency bonus.

Song of Rest. Starting at 3rd level, you can use soothing music or oration to help revitalize your wounded allies during a short rest. If you or any friendly creatures who can hear your performance regain hit points at the end of the short rest by spending one or more Hit Dice, each of those creatures regain an extra 1d6 hit points.

The extra hit points increase when you reach certain levels in this class: to 1d8 at 9th level, to 1d10 at 13th level, and to 1d12 at 17th level.

Font of Inspiration. Beginning when you reach 5th level, you regain all of your expended uses of Bardic Inspiration when you finish a short or long rest.

Countercharm. At 6th level, you gain the ability to use musical notes or words of power to disrupt mind-influencing effects. As an action, you can start a Performance that lasts until the end of your next turn. During that time, you and any friendly creatures within 30 feet of you have advantage on saving throws against being frightened or charmed. A creature must be able to hear you to gain this benefit. The performance ends early if you are incapacitated or silenced or if you voluntarily end it (no action required.)

Magical Secrets. By 10th level, you have plundered magical knwoledge from a wide spectrum of disciplines. Choose two spells from any class, including this one. A spell you choose must be of a level you can cast, as shown on the Bard Table, or a cantrip.

The chosen spells count as bard spells for you and are included in the number of spells known on the Bard Table.

You learn two additional spells from any classes at 14th level, and again at 18th level.

Superior Inspiration. At 20th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses of bardic inspiration left, you regain one use.


SPELLCASTING
When you reach 3rd Level, you gain the ability to cast Spells. See the general rules of Spellcasting and the Bard spell list.

Cantrips. You learn three cantrips, chosen from the Bard spell list. You learn another bard cantrip of your choice at 10th level.

Spell Slots. The Bard Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your bard spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell's level or higher. Your regain all expended spell slots when you finish a Long Rest.

For example, if you know the 1st level spell charm person and have a 1st level and a 2nd level spell slot available, you can cast charm person using either slot.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher. You know three 1st level Bard spells of your choice. The Spells Known column of the Bard Spellcasting table shows when you learn more bard spells of 1st level or higher. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the bard spells you knwo with another spell of your choice from the bard spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

Spellcasting Ability. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your bard spells, since you learn your spells through talent and artistic expression. You use your charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a bard spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell Save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your charisma modifier
Spell Attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your intelligence modifier​

Bard Spellcasting

Rogue LevelCantrips KnownSpells KnownSpell Slots, 1st LevelSpell Slots, 2nd LevelSpell Slots, 3rd LevelSpell Slots, 4th Level
3rd332
4th343
5th343
6th343
7th3542
8th3642
9th3642
10th4743
11th4843
12th4843
13th49432
14th410432
15th410432
16th411433
17th411433
18th411433
19th4124331
20th4134331

Ritual Casting. You can cast any bard spell you know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag.

Spellcasting Focus. You can use a musical instrument (see Chapter 5, "Equipment") as a spellcasting focus for your bard spells.
It's something I've been working on for a little while; it's going to need some extensive playtesting and revision but at the moment the gears all turn in the right directions. It's an Arcane Trickster, but with bard spells instead of wizard, and bard abilities instead of the rogue-y, thief-y stuff.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's an unpopular opinion, but I'd replace the bard class with a modified version of the Arcane Trickster. Something like this:

This was roughly copied from Roll20 and spliced into a Rogue archetype...but you get the idea...

Some rogues enhance their musical talent and performance ability with magic, learning tricks of enchantment, influence, and distraction. These rogues include minstrels and skaalds, but also jesters, mischief-makers, and a significant number of adventurers.

BARD ABILITIES

Musical Talent.
At 3rd level, musical talent awakens within you. You become proficient with Perform, and with two musical instruments of your choice.

Bardic Inspiration. You can inspire others through stirring words or music. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can year you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add thenumber rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the D20 before deciding to use the bardic inspiration die, but must decide before the DM announces whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the bardic inspiration die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one bardic inspiration die at a time.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once.) You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Your bardic inspiration die changes when you reach certain levels in this class. The die becomes a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 15th level.

Jack of All Trades. Starting at 3rd level, you can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to any ability check you make that doesn't already include your proficiency bonus.

Song of Rest. Starting at 3rd level, you can use soothing music or oration to help revitalize your wounded allies during a short rest. If you or any friendly creatures who can hear your performance regain hit points at the end of the short rest by spending one or more Hit Dice, each of those creatures regain an extra 1d6 hit points.

The extra hit points increase when you reach certain levels in this class: to 1d8 at 9th level, to 1d10 at 13th level, and to 1d12 at 17th level.

Font of Inspiration. Beginning when you reach 5th level, you regain all of your expended uses of Bardic Inspiration when you finish a short or long rest.

Countercharm. At 6th level, you gain the ability to use musical notes or words of power to disrupt mind-influencing effects. As an action, you can start a Performance that lasts until the end of your next turn. During that time, you and any friendly creatures within 30 feet of you have advantage on saving throws against being frightened or charmed. A creature must be able to hear you to gain this benefit. The performance ends early if you are incapacitated or silenced or if you voluntarily end it (no action required.)

Magical Secrets. By 10th level, you have plundered magical knwoledge from a wide spectrum of disciplines. Choose two spells from any class, including this one. A spell you choose must be of a level you can cast, as shown on the Bard Table, or a cantrip.

The chosen spells count as bard spells for you and are included in the number of spells known on the Bard Table.

You learn two additional spells from any classes at 14th level, and again at 18th level.

Superior Inspiration. At 20th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses of bardic inspiration left, you regain one use.


SPELLCASTING
When you reach 3rd Level, you gain the ability to cast Spells. See the general rules of Spellcasting and the Bard spell list.

Cantrips. You learn three cantrips, chosen from the Bard spell list. You learn another bard cantrip of your choice at 10th level.

Spell Slots. The Bard Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your bard spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell's level or higher. Your regain all expended spell slots when you finish a Long Rest.

For example, if you know the 1st level spell charm person and have a 1st level and a 2nd level spell slot available, you can cast charm person using either slot.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher. You know three 1st level Bard spells of your choice. The Spells Known column of the Bard Spellcasting table shows when you learn more bard spells of 1st level or higher. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the bard spells you knwo with another spell of your choice from the bard spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

Spellcasting Ability. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your bard spells, since you learn your spells through talent and artistic expression. You use your charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a bard spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell Save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your charisma modifier
Spell Attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your intelligence modifier​

Bard Spellcasting

Rogue LevelCantrips KnownSpells KnownSpell Slots, 1st LevelSpell Slots, 2nd LevelSpell Slots, 3rd LevelSpell Slots, 4th Level
3rd332
4th343
5th343
6th343
7th3542
8th3642
9th3642
10th4743
11th4843
12th4843
13th49432
14th410432
15th410432
16th411433
17th411433
18th411433
19th4124331
20th4134331

Ritual Casting. You can cast any bard spell you know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag.

Spellcasting Focus. You can use a musical instrument (see Chapter 5, "Equipment") as a spellcasting focus for your bard spells.
That may well be a cool thing, but it’s outside the point of the thread.
 


dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
One feature I am adding for my next game (although I doubt anyone will play a bard...) is

Sudden Inspiration
Starting at 6th level, you can grant bardic inspiration as a reaction to yourself or on another creature's turn. You do not have to grant the inspiration to the creature taking their current turn. You cannot use this feature if you are incapacitated or surprised.

I added this because Inspiration is for the most part useless unless planned, and IME having it planned doesn't happen that often or other times the character with it never ended up needing it, but boy that other PC sure could have!

Considering how much I dislike bards in general, that will be my only contribution for this thread. Have a nice day. :)
 


vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
It may be overly complex, but I'd remove spells and add a list of songs that affect allies in an aura centered on the bard.

Something like this:

Hymn of Battle.
1 minutes
This old battle song inspire your allies to fighter ever harder.

Overture: As part of the action used to begin this song, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within your weapon range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack's normal effects, and it takes an extra 1d6 thunder damage. You then begin the chant part of this song.

Chant: Until the end of the song or until you lose concentration, up to 3 allies within your aura range deal 2 extra thunder damage on a successful attack. At the end of each turn you are chanting, you gain 1 escalation point.

Climax: As an action, you can spend 3 escalation point to summon 1 berserker. It appears in an unoccupied space you can see within range, and the berserker disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the song ends. Roll initiative for the berserker, which has its own turns. When you summon it and on each of your turns thereafter, you can issue a verbal command to it (requiring no action on your part), telling it what it must do on its next turn. If you issue no command, it spends its turn attacking any creature within reach that has attacked it.


etc
 

Now, obviously, if you disagree that the Bard needs fixing, this thread may not be for you. Fair warning, I don't care and won't have much patience for "the bard is good stop" type opinions. The purpose of this thread is to establish elements of the Bard that don't feel right to some of us, and workshop ideas for variant class features, new spells, enhancements in the form of new uses of bardic inspiration, or whatever else we can figure out, that will make the Bard feel like a Bard.
So, what feels off?
I've been avoiding these forums the past while.
But I need a distraction, AND the bard's design is something that has bugged me since release (and prior, since I was not fond of the playtest and super disappointed that they left the bard until the very end when it's arguably one of the hardest classes to get right.

So throwing in my thoughts.

The lack of cool powers is a big problem with the bard.
Jack of All Trades is neat as is Expertise, but they don't really stand out, being passive powers that just boost numbers. Song of Rest is fine but forgettable: adding 3-6 hp each short rest is incredibly minor. Magical Secrets is fun for making a unique bard and allows you to make a pretty diverse character, taking a ranger spell to be an archer, a paladin spell to boost melee, or slightly boosting support with a cleric spell.

They get one real active Bard power, and that's Countercharm. And it's super situational. And means giving up your entire turn to give people a new save for a single round. Which they might not want to do if making a new save against fear is an action, or be able to do if they can't repeat the save against being charmed each turn.

Even the subclasses are a little anemic, only getting three features. Having designed a few homebrew bard subclasses, it's really hard to work all the ideas for a subclass into such a small design space.

Heck… there's not even really any ribbons or exploration powers.

1) Bardic Inspiration. It's not just that I miss 3.5 "Song of XYZ" mechanics. If it was, I could just add them back in as new spells. Bards inspiring one friend at a time, for a benefit the friend can use later, at such a fairly low level...it's just weird. It feels completely off, to me. A group buff that buffs the group for the duration, or other zone effects, would feel right. The Paladin's aura feels more bardic than bardic inspiration, to me.
So, what can be done? What needs to go in order to turn bardic inspiration into a group buff that is more specific in effect but effects all allies that can hear you when you use it? Or maybe who can hear you within 100ft, whatever.
I also miss the 3e/ Pathfinder songs, and buffing the entire party. Being the character that "cast fighter" and made everyone else awesome. The 5e bard can be many things, but it's only a so-so support character, and none of the subclasses really boost that aspect.

First things first, I like Bardic Inspiration. The floating die people can add when they need it is really slick, and allows for a larger bonus. And it gets really good at 5th level. Or rather, it gets usable at 5th, as 3 uses per day from levels 1-4 are pretty low.

While I was disappointed by the final game, Pathfinder 2 does give a great idea of something that is needed by the bard: a buffing cantrip. All bards get inspire courage as a cantrip at first level, which is a single action spell that grants all allies within 60 feet a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls for a single round.
That could easily work, being a less powerful version of bless. It could be limited to one target at level one and increase with level, going to 3 targets at level 5.

2) The spells. Both, how much spellcasting the bard gets, how limited the list is, how focused on enchantment and trickery it is, just all of it. Vicious Mockery is cool, and then it just sort of...is powerful and bland. Meh. I literally can't play a bard without tweaking the spell list. It's, for me, garbage.
What can be done about spellcasting? Drop secrets and instead lean into subclasses with bonus spells, and reconfigure what spells the bard naturally gets? Drop it to artificer style 1/2 caster to make more room for Bard abilities, or beef up the list with unique Bard spells?
This is the BIG one. I think the bard really suffers from the decision to make it a master of spellcasting rather than a dabbler. A full 9- levels of spells means there's just less room for unique features. This might be bearable with a 3e/4e style release schedule that boosts the number of spells and gives more bard-centric spells. As it is, there's only a couple spells of 6th level and higher that really seem "bardic".

Dropping the bard to a 1/2-level, rounded up caster like the artificer would mean it only gets a big spell boost at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17, so there's be space for a bigger buff at levels 7, 11 (now dead levels), and 15. And possibly a smaller boost at 3rd level.

Dropping Font of Inspiration down to 3rd level would help lift Bardic Inspiration up sooner, and mean 5th could use a small buff. Maybe a small ribbon.
11th level is begging to be a 4th Bardic College feature, making each subclass more interesting.

That still leaves 7th level and 15th level as needing something unique to bards. Plus any additional ribbons being added.
(That's assuming magical secrets isn't dropped. It feels like this is just better suited to existing in the College of Lore.)
 
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I did also do a few bard-focused spells for my book 'o homebrew.

Allegro
8th-level transmutation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a coffee bean)
Duration: Concentration, up to 8 hours
You produce a lively toe-tapping rhythm that accelerates up to 6 creatures of your choice that you can see within range. Until the spell ends, the target’s speed is doubled, it gains a +5 bonus on initiative rolls, it has advantage on Dexterity saving throws, and gains an additional action on each of its turns. That action can
only be used to take the Attack (one weapon attack only), Dash, Dodge, Disengage, Hide, or Use an object actions. Additionally, while travelling overland the target covers twice the usual distance for their pace.

Dirge of Doom
8th-level enchantment
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (60-foot cone)
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous
You sound an echoing wail filled with remorse and sorrow. Creatures in a 60-foot cone must make a Wisdom saving throw. A creature takes 10d8 psychic damage on a failed save and is frightened for 1 minute. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage and is not frightened. At the end of each of its turns, a creature frightened by the spell can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success

Fugue
6th-level enchantment
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60-feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
You repeat a phrase or subtle rhythm inducing a trance in creature you can see within range. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. If you are fighting the creature, it has advantage on the saving throw. On a failed save, the target becomes charmed by you for the duration. Apart from being charmed the target acts normally, but when the spell ends the target is unable to remember anything that occurred during the spell’s duration. A carefully worded wish spell or similar magic is required to restore the creature’s memories
At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th or 8th level, you can maintain your concentration on the spell for up to 8 hours. When you use a spell slot of 9th level, you can maintain your concentration on the spell for up to 24 hours.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I've been avoiding these forums the past while.
But I need a distraction, AND the bard's design is something that has bugged me since release (and prior, since I was not fond of the playtest and super disappointed that they left the bard until the very end when it's arguably one of the hardest classes to get right.

So throwing in my thoughts.

The lack of cool powers is a big problem with the bard.
Jack of All Trades is neat as is Expertise, but they don't really stand out, being passive powers that just boost numbers. Song of Rest is fine but forgettable: adding 3-6 hp each short rest is incredibly minor. Magical Secrets is fun for making a unique bard and allows you to make a pretty diverse character, taking a ranger spell to be an archer, a paladin spell to boost melee, or slightly boosting support with a cleric spell.

They get one real active Bard power, and that's Countercharm. And it's super situational. And means giving up your entire turn to give people a new save for a single round. Which they might not want to do if making a new save against fear is an action, or be able to do if they can't repeat the save against being charmed each turn.

Even the subclasses are a little anemic, only getting three features. Having designed a few homebrew bard subclasses, it's really hard to work all the ideas for a subclass into such a small design space.

Heck… there's not even really any ribbons or exploration powers.



I also miss the 3e/ Pathfinder songs, and buffing the entire party. Being the character that "cast fighter" and made everyone else awesome. The 5e bard can be many things, but it's only a so-so support character, and none of the subclasses really boost that aspect.

First things first, I like Bardic Inspiration. The floating die people can add when they need it is really slick, and allows for a larger bonus. And it gets really good at 5th level. Or rather, it gets usable at 5th, as 3 uses per day from levels 1-4 are pretty low.

While I was disappointed by the final game, Pathfinder 2 does give a great idea of something that is needed by the bard: a buffing cantrip. All bards get inspire courageInspire Courage - Spells - Archives of Nethys: Pathfinder 2nd Edition Database as a cantrip at first level, which is a single action spell that grants all allies within 60 feet a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls for a single round.
That could easily work, being a less powerful version of bless. It could be limited to one target at level one and increase with level, going to 3 targets at level 5.




This is the BIG one. I think the bard really suffers from the decision to make it a master of spellcasting rather than a dabbler. A full 9- levels of spells means there's just less room for unique features. This might be bearable with a 3e/4e style release schedule that boosts the number of spells and gives more bard-centric spells. As it is, there's only a couple spells of 6th level and higher that really seem "bardic".

Dropping the bard to a 1/2-level, rounded up caster like the artificer would mean it only gets a big spell boost at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17, so there's be space for a bigger buff at levels 7, 11 (now dead levels), and 15. And possibly a smaller boost at 3rd level.

Dropping Font of Inspiration down to 3rd level would help lift Bardic Inspiration up sooner, and mean 5th could use a small buff. Maybe a small ribbon.
11th level is begging to be a 4th Bardic College feature, making each subclass more interesting.

That still leaves 7th level and 15th level as needing something unique to bards. Plus any additional ribbons being added.
(That's assuming magical secrets isn't dropped. It feels like this is just better suited to existing in the College of Lore.)
I actually agree with most of that. What if we keep Bardic Inspiration, but simply add a second feature to it where you can spend a die to use a Words of Power feature, as I described in my follow up post?

As for Spellcasting, yeah I think lore bards getting more casting than other bards works.
 


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