5E The Bard: College of Lore or Valor?

AmpsterMan

Visitor
So after reading through the PHB a few times, I still can't decide which kind of Bard to make. Have any of you had experience playing either one? What external factors (if any) should one take into consideration. I.e. party maje up, campaign setting, etc.

Personally, RP wise a College of Lore Acolyte or Sage is more along the lines of what I want my background to be. However, mechanically, the College of Valor is more to my liking and play style. Sword and shield taking out my flute from time to time to do magic, etc.

HELP!
 

Mistwell

Hero
Cutting Words for Lore is their key ability, along with additional spells from other classes. Rather than costing your bonus action to give it to someone else, and then also costing their reaction to use it, and only using it if it happens to come up with that character, Cutting Words is far more flexible. Instead, it just uses your reaction, and only once it would actually likely help someone. The additional spells from other classes, and additional skills, makes them pretty well-rounded spell casters and skill monkeys.

The big problem with Lore though is, from my perspective, armor class. You get light armor only, no shield, no medium armor, no mage armor spell, none of that stuff. And your primary stat isn't Dex, so you don't even likely get a very high dex. So you have a low AC, and your hit points are not all that impressive either.

Valor is more about melee and ranged weapon attacks. You get a bonus attack, which is very useful, and a much higher base AC with medium armor and a shield. You also can, at 10th level, grab the rangers Swift Quiver spell. And now, for a minute, you're firing 4 hours per round, which is more than the Fighter or Ranger is able to fire at that level.

My inclination is to prefer the Lore bard, as I think they have a lot more general utility for the party with their buffing and debuffing abilities and overall higher skills. But I can definitely see the appeal of the more combative valor bard.
 

Weave

Visitor
I have been mulling this one over for a week or so now, and since the answer is so subjective maybe I will just offer two criteria I consider when weighing my options.

1. Campaign setting and party make up matter way less as external factors to consider than does what kind of DM you have. knowing how your DMs adventures tend to go should be the biggest factor. Is he a descriptive DM who relies on skill rolls in conversations, or is he more likely to embody NPCs and make you come up with that persuasive argument? College of Lore would be better for descriptive DM campaigns. Does your DM support lore heavy play by being familiar with the setting your playing? Making amazing knowledge checks is only fun if the DM is prepared enough to provide substantive responses to those checks. If its more of a fly by the seat of your pants adventure with heavy combat and light roleplaying then Valor might be a better choice mechanically.

2. More importantly, who is your character? Did your bard receive their training at a prestigious college while enjoying the perks of the noble background? Lore. Perhaps you learned your bardic crafts on the caravan road, picking up tips from traveling virtuosi and adventuring amateurs alike. Valor. Make it an organic choice and you will find the character comes more naturally during roleplaying.

Lore:
3rd level: Lore gets more skills, which is great but we already have jack of all trades and being a half elf I already have 7 skills and 2 expertise. Eh.
6th level: 2 spells from any class, up to spell level 3. Great feature.
14th level: Use bardic inspiration on any ability check. Pretty good, but at this point bonus actions are precious and I intend to use my inspirations on my comrades to mitigate damage.
Cutting words: Makes you a more effective support character on the defensive side. Great reactive defense.

Valor:
3rd level: Armor and Weapons. You get a shield, which is nice. The medium armor is not that big an upgrade for a dexterity based character, which as valor, you probably are. again, eh
6th level: Bonus attack. Nothing wrong with that. Great addition.
14th level: attack after using a spell. Since you are not taking an attack action, you don't get your level 6 additional attack. Since the smite line (which as valor most would think of pursuing) is made up of bonus actions, you get that one attack anyway on most spells you cast at 5'' range. This is comparable to lore feature.
Combat inspiration: Makes you a more effective support character on the offensive side. Great for offense and reactive defense.

As far as mechanics go, The level six extra spells from any class are the most attractive feature. Once I hit level 6 I plan on grabbing Aura of Vitality, a gnarly paladin healing spell quite powerful at that level, and the warlocks cantrip Eldritch Blast which at level 6 allows for 2d10 dmg, and can hit multiple targets. This will let me do high spell damage after using the useful "1 bonus action" spells Banishing Smite (another paladin spell accessed through magical secrets) and Healing Words/Mass Healing Words. I figure this will allow me to really stack up the actions per turn, and lets me roleplay stringing magical notes together.
 

Mistwell

Hero
Combat inspiration: Makes you a more effective support character on the offensive side. Great for offense and reactive defense.
Is it? You have to fist give them the die with your bonus action, and then they have to use the die with their reaction, and you cannot switch the die to someone else. It's really not equal to Cutting Words in this way - it's much weaker. Cutting words is the focus of the Lore build, and you gave it little more than a nonchalant blurb it seems.

Also, the level 6 spells from another class is only for Lore bards. Valor bards must wait until level 10, where the Lore bards also get them (again).
 

Weave

Visitor
You make some good points on cutting words over combat inspiration Mistwell. There are times when I do see someone else having to use their reaction per turn to save themselves rather than your own as a minor advantage, given the long nature of the buffs. Still, I think your right. Cutting words>Combat inspiration.

Also, the level 6 spells from another class is only for Lore bards. Valor bards must wait until level 10, where the Lore bards also get them (again).
Yep, got both those in their right place.

Lore:
6th level: 2 spells from any class, up to spell level 3. Great feature.

Valor:
6th level: Bonus attack. Nothing wrong with that. Great addition.
.
 

AmpsterMan

Visitor
So I guess the issue I have is that from a mechanics standpoint I can't see what role the seperate Bards fill. (I think I have decided on Lore Bard btw)

Lore Bard doesn't seem to be able to take much of a beating at all. At D8 and Light Armour, he is as squishy as a Rogue. I can see myself only getting an AC of 15 ( S.Leather and 2+ Dex) Two handed longsword seems nice though.

Valor Bard, however, gets Scale Mail, Shield, and still Dex bonus. I think this puts it at 18 AC (I am doing these numbers from memory) Furthermore, it gets a bonus attack, which I understand can be an extra wack with a blade or a spell being cast. This seems much more powerful IMO.

Then again, it could just be that since I am VERY new to TTRPG that I am not really seeing the exponential nature of Spells. I would imagine getting 2 extra spells of my choice would indeed be powerful.

Perhaps the Lore Bard is a wizard that can fight with a sword and the Valor Bard is a Fighter that can cast certain spells.
 

brehobit

Explorer
So I guess the issue I have is that from a mechanics standpoint I can't see what role the seperate Bards fill. (I think I have decided on Lore Bard btw)

Lore Bard doesn't seem to be able to take much of a beating at all. At D8 and Light Armour, he is as squishy as a Rogue. I can see myself only getting an AC of 15 ( S.Leather and 2+ Dex) Two handed longsword seems nice though.
I've been working on a Paladin/Lore bard. She is an amazing buffer (4e leader) but needs to use spell slots to be effective in combat--either casting them or using them to smite. _if_ taking a cantrip is a legit thing to grab with the 6th level Lore ability, that will improve (I'm thinking haste and Eldrich blast). Great AC with Dex as a dump stat. Really bad "basic attacks" --her sword attack is nearly useless without smiting and Vicious Mockery isn't much better.

But she certainly has a role (buffer/leader) and she does it really really well. Plus there is a lot of flexibility there and a great skill monkey.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Wl_qs80Vl5wycqZL5bQ92e53epe-HNSq1w6MfqgUvYQ/edit?usp=sharing
 

Weave

Visitor
If your going for standard stat allocation mine will look like this for a half elf bard. I will be sticking to finesse weapons obviously.

Str:8
Con:12
Dex:15
Int:14
Wis:10
Cha:17

Just flip the dex and cha if you go valor. I dont know if I would take any feats for my lore bard. I may consider spell sniper to pick up Eldritch Blast, letting me pick up something else when I hit the level 6 lore feature, but to be honest achieving +4 cha and +3 dex is a higher priority for me. If you are a more perceptive, investigative bard rather than a brainy knowledge bard you can flip the int and wis. Strength is ignored because only one skill depends on it and can often be a combined skill check.
 

ppaladin123

Visitor
So I guess the issue I have is that from a mechanics standpoint I can't see what role the seperate Bards fill. (I think I have decided on Lore Bard btw)

Lore Bard doesn't seem to be able to take much of a beating at all. At D8 and Light Armour, he is as squishy as a Rogue. I can see myself only getting an AC of 15 ( S.Leather and 2+ Dex) Two handed longsword seems nice though.

Valor Bard, however, gets Scale Mail, Shield, and still Dex bonus. I think this puts it at 18 AC (I am doing these numbers from memory) Furthermore, it gets a bonus attack, which I understand can be an extra wack with a blade or a spell being cast. This seems much more powerful IMO.

Then again, it could just be that since I am VERY new to TTRPG that I am not really seeing the exponential nature of Spells. I would imagine getting 2 extra spells of my choice would indeed be powerful.

Perhaps the Lore Bard is a wizard that can fight with a sword and the Valor Bard is a Fighter that can cast certain spells.
You might consider a level of cleric for the knowledge domain...will get you shields and medium armor to help your defenses.
 

AmpsterMan

Visitor
I'd be giving up my 10th level spell then, no? Alas, I don't even have anyone to play this game with xD. I am just doing this for my own amusement tbh.
 

Llokii

Visitor
If your going for standard stat allocation mine will look like this for a half elf bard. I will be sticking to finesse weapons obviously.

Str:8
Con:12
Dex:15
Int:14
Wis:10
Cha:17

Just flip the dex and cha if you go valor. I dont know if I would take any feats for my lore bard. I may consider spell sniper to pick up Eldritch Blast, letting me pick up something else when I hit the level 6 lore feature, but to be honest achieving +4 cha and +3 dex is a higher priority for me. If you are a more perceptive, investigative bard rather than a brainy knowledge bard you can flip the int and wis. Strength is ignored because only one skill depends on it and can often be a combined skill check.
This is a horrible allocation. With Half-elf, your stats should be (using standard array)

Str: 8
Dex: 15 (+1) = 16
Con: 13 (+1) = 14
Int: 10
Wis: 12
Char: 14 (+2) = 16

Having scores at 15 and 17 as your 2 main stats is a waste. You don't get any bonus until the even number (16 and 18). Starting both at 16 gives you better starting Dex and doesn't reduce your bonuses from Cha. Also, why int so high? It literally does nothing for you outside of skills. Con should be higher for Concentration checks.

Also, I believe Perception is Wisdom and Investigation is Int.

At level 4 when you get your stat boost, you can put 2 into Cha to make it 18, but this will be better for the first few levels than the original split out.
 

DMCF

Visitor
Lore with a splash of rogue, paladin, cleric, and even fighter for an action surge is amazing.

Valor not so much. You'll never be a front line fighter but you get some great control and healing. Better for archer heavy groups with a tank if you want to mix things up imo.

Lore also has such great RP value with all the skills. That's why I chose it even though Im playing HotDQ with a group that prefers to hack through its challenges than use any kind of finesse.
 

Minsc

Visitor
I was trying to build a character that could cover a lot of party roles.

I came up with a Bard (College of Lore) who dips one level into Cleric (Life). You get better healing, you get Heavy Armor (if you want it), and simple weapons (be an elf or dwarf if you want more weapons). Lots of skills too.

I haven't actually played this character. I hope he's a fun and versatile as I'm thinking he will be.
 

Vymair

Visitor
Both sub-types appeal to me, so I think it depends on what I want to do from a role-play and party mix perspective.

My Bard is a Skald from the North, so he's a valour bard wielding a Great Sword. His spells are focused on healing and utility effects for the most part since he's not buffing or casting spells for damage. He's more of a support healer with some decent melee damage. He also has a few ritual spells so that he can provide some out-of-combat utility and of course enhance ability for social situations.

The bards in the other camaigns I'm in have been Lore Bards and they are certainly quite effective as well, but tend to focus more on the crowd control spells where my guy just busts out the Great sword and wades into the fight.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Valor bard is a bit MAD if you plan on using medium armor. If you roll stats and get a lot of 14+ the class is a lot better. The valor bard stinks at damage even with that extra attack at level 5 as it gets no spells that add to damage like hex, no fighting style, and doesn't get to steal any spells until level 10 and it kind of needs the warcaster feat. It can be a good buffer with the shield master feat as it an use expertise on athletics. Without better scores than the default start as a fighter and multiclass in the valor bard at level 2. If you want a dex based valor bard you do noot get a lot of stat buffs to use on dex and cha and you want both. And now you are a dex based melee combatant with meh scores , meh damage and not doing much of anything. dex based ranged valor bard is a bit better but you lack feats to make the archer good or if you get the feats your dex is going to be lacking and you will stink at being an archer compared with fighter/ranger and there is not much until level 10 to make you any better at archery.

The fighter level gives you proficiency in con saves, heavy armor, a fighting style and reduces MAD so fixes most of the problems the valor bard has. Lore bard has less MAD (cha/dex with tertiary in con) and can usually hide behind people and failing that can still has a d8 hit dice and can steal spells form other classes at level 6 to help out in that regard.
 
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Mistwell

Hero
Valor bard is a bit MAD if you plan on using medium armor. If you roll stats and get a lot of 14+ the class is a lot better. The valor bard stinks at damage even with that extra attack at level 5 as it gets no spells that add to damage like hex, no fighting style, and doesn't get to steal any spells until level 10 and it kind of needs the warcaster feat. It can be a good buffer with the shield master feat as it an use expertise on athletics. Without better scores than the default start as a fighter and multiclass in the valor bard at level 2. If you want a dex based valor bard you do noot get a lot of stat buffs to use on dex and cha and you want both. And now you are a dex based melee combatant with meh scores , meh damage and not doing much of anything. dex based ranged valor bard is a bit better but you lack feats to make the archer good or if you get the feats your dex is going to be lacking and you will stink at being an archer compared with fighter/ranger and there is not much until level 10 to make you any better at archery.

The fighter level gives you proficiency in con saves, heavy armor, a fighting style and reduces MAD so fixes most of the problems the valor bard has. Lore bard has less MAD (cha/dex with tertiary in con) and can usually hide behind people and failing that can still has a d8 hit dice and can steal spells form other classes at level 6 to help out in that regard.
I would love to see your sample Lore Bard build. Either straight-up, or with some multi-classing. I am thinking of playing a Bard in an upcoming Horde of the Dragon Queen campaign.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I was trying to build a character that could cover a lot of party roles.

I came up with a Bard (College of Lore) who dips one level into Cleric (Life). You get better healing, you get Heavy Armor (if you want it), and simple weapons (be an elf or dwarf if you want more weapons). Lots of skills too.

I haven't actually played this character. I hope he's a fun and versatile as I'm thinking he will be.
Take goodberry and the level 3 pladin spell aura of vitality at level 6 lore bard.Best healer ever.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I would love to see your sample Lore Bard build. Either straight-up, or with some multi-classing. I am thinking of playing a Bard in an upcoming Horde of the Dragon Queen campaign.
My player got hers to level 12 or 13. I got my valor bard to 13 and the class has problems around MAD and not actually being good at combat.

I don't think tyou can go to far wrong building a lore bard just focus on something (support, buffing, debuff, healing, blasting). Don't try and do everything at once. The MC lore bard combos I have seen that I liked are the healer one (life cleric1, bard6+) taking goodberry and aura of vitality otherwise take probably bless at level 6 and a level 3 spell of your choice. 2 levels of warlock boosts the bards damage via eldritch blast. The lore bard is not that good of a healer unless you MC or start stealing cleric spells like prayer of healing and aura of vitality.

Lore bard is ch cha and cha, try for a 14 dex/con or 14 con/16 dex and cha as half elf. Or take a punt roll some dice and try out something like a Dwarf lore bard if you can roll a 16-8. Good feats to take are healer, warcaster and resilient:con otherwise just buff charisma all the time and get 20 cha by level 8 or 12 and 1-2 feats depending on race.

Healer is an MVP feat for any spellcaster really but it helps even more if you are a class that may be expected to carry some of the healing load. If you plan on buffing warcaster is always good, a cleric level dip can get you heavy armor and a fighter level is almost as good for you as it is for the valor bard assuming you start as a fighter.
 
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Minsc

Visitor
The cool thing about getting heavy armor and being a dwarf is the heavy armor doesn't matter. Dwarves don't get any slower.
 

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