Agreed. As I stated previously, giving the bard a full caster progression would be my "quick fix". Barring that, it needs to be blown up and rebuilt.I agree; I think the bard, as it stands now, fails in its design goals to the point where applying "patches" won't work. It needs to be almost completely torn down and rebuilt from the ground up in terms of class abilities to fix it.
Would you take "much greater chance to fail" rather than "predisposed"?Well, the idea of the bard as generalist is how I always perceived the class. And while I do think that generalists are harder to design, I wouldn't go so far as to say that they're predisposed to fail. I think a good generalist is one that can serve as any of the major roles in a party, but not in an optimized fashion.
There is no doubt the generalist "archetype" is a tricky one in 3ed.
The bard has some casting ability but doesn't have the ability of the wizard, sorcerer, or cleric but still relies on his spells more than the ranger and paladin. He can fight but won't be able to keep up with the fighter, barbarian, or rogue. He has a fair amount of skills and knowledge abilities but if you've red Trailblazer, you know that those are hardly a factor when determining balance.
It's all about combat baby.
Which is also how I feel players "value" their character, even if not directly. I always like the skill monkey classes, and also like to play a character that supports the party. I've played a bard and a beguiler, both of which are easily overshadowed in combat. And since so much of D&D is combat, it's disheartening to the player. Heck, I dumped the beguiler and rolled a new character. I just wasn't enjoying it. (The problem with the beguiler is that he's virtually useless in melee and against non-humanoid opponents.)
And it's not even about being able to "keep up" with the other classes. It's about how the player values his contribution to the party. When I was playing my bard, the joke was that I should get a hat that said "+1 for my homies" and put it on when I use my bard song. Otherwise, I didn't have a lot to contribute.
The monk also suffered from this somewhat. On paper, the monk looks like a combat monster but in practice, he doesn't have the striking power of the barbarian or rogue and lacks the defensive ability and hit points of the fighter or paladin.
You can mitigate one area to try to remain relevant but it's difficult because of the ability score and feat requirements. With Trailblazer, we chose to focus on the monk as a striker.