Know Your Class: The Bard

So last Friday, we talked about the Barbarian class. And we are going to chat this week about a class that a lot of people talk trash about, but really don’t give it the credit it properly deserves: The Bard.

If you are new to RPG’s or to the Pathfinder system, it is advised to check out our PRD at our Getting Started page!

The Bard

Stat Breakdown

Hit Dice: D8 – 5 + CON Mod + Special Feats per level up
Alignment preference: Any-Commonly Chaotic or Neutral of some type
Primary Spellcasting Stat: Charisma
Spellcasting Power: Arcane with a few Divine Healing Spells (See Notes)
Spellcasting Knowledge: Spontaneous, does not need to prepare before casting.
Weapon Proficiency: Simple and the following: Longsword, Rapier, Sap, Shortbow and Whip
Armor Proficiency: Light and shield to not take an Armor Failure Penalty (AFP), May use Medium/Heavy but must take AFP into account.
Skill Ranks: 6+INT per level
Class Skills: Acrobatics, Climb, Craft (choose), Diplomacy, Disguise, Escape Artist, Intimidate,  Knowledge (all), Lingustics, Perception, Preform (choose), Profession (choose), Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Spellcraft, Stealth, Use Magic Device

Special Class Features
Bardic Performance
Bardic Knowledge
Cantrips
Versatile Performance
Well-Versed
Lore Master
Jack of All Trades

Additional Resources Pages:
Core Rulebook: 34-38
Advanced Players Guide: 80-85
Ultimate Magic: 21-27
Ultimate Combat: 32-33

Understanding Bardic Performance:
Bardic performance is a special trait of the Bard. But there are many parts to bardic performance..

First of all, the performance is a standard action to start. When you perform, it’s a free action to keep it going. If you wish to change it, it would be a standard action to switch from one part of the performance to another. Each performance requires either visual or audio components depending on what  you wish to do. Each set will change or add-on as the bard levels, and if they have taken a specific archetype. It’s important when you take on the Bard class, that you make sure you are aware of what is required.

Bardic Performance can easily be one of the things that makes or breaks a party in combat. With Fascinate, you can easily bring foes to awe in your awesomeness. You can inspire courage, which makes you and your team emboldened and unafraid to do what needs to be done. If your party needs a little more accuracy in what they are doing, sing them a song of competence and the job gets done sooner. If you need to create an escape plan, your songs of distraction can give your team the time it needs to get out of a tough situation. Also if you need to make a suggestion to someone specific, you can always sing them a song that may remind them of a time, and get what you need done. The Bard’s performance is their bread and butter, and it gives them and the party the leverage it needs to do the difficult things Pathfinders do find themselves involved with from time to time.

Although a lot of people give the bard a lot of hell for being a class with no real definition, the class on its own is a good class in the long run. It’s diversity gives players who like to have options available to them. Bards on the roleplay aspect are always going to have a story to tell. Whether it is a happy one or sad one depends on the player and the situation. I will state, that this is not a class for new players to RPG’s in general, as they could be easily overwhelmed by the many layers to this class.

Society Legal Notes Before Building:

Bards have the most archetypes and variations that are legal to play in PFS. But there are a few feats that compliment the Bard that are not legal.

The Geisha archetype must trade out Scribe Scroll for Spell Focus instead.

Performance feats that compliment that are banned: Performing Combatant and Master Performing Combatant.

Recommended Factions:  Bards do well with Osirion, Grand Lodge, and Taldor since these  factions like lore and knowledge, especially when Taldor players sing songs about Taldor. All factions benefit from players who choose the bard class, nevertheless.

Recommended Feats:   Toughness, Arcane Armor Training, Eschew Materials, Extra Performance, Still Spell (Metamagic), Combat Casting, Uncanny Concentration, Lingering Performance, Stone Singer, Persistent Spell (metamagic), Discordant Voice, Harmonic Sage 

Recommended Traits: Sacred Touch, Deft Dodger, Fencer, Caretaker, Skeptic, Fast Talker, Poverty Stricken

Recommended Races: Humans, Elves, Halfings, and Gnomes. Dwarves do not make good ones due to the penalties they take to their charisma scores. Half-Orcs take no penalties, but it would be a little bit of a stretch RP wise for the bard class.

Recommended Archetypes To Consider:  Archivist, Detective, Magician, Sea Singer, Street Performer, Archeologist, Geisha, Songhealer

Recommended Bardic Performance Powers:  Distraction, Fascinate, Inspire Courage and Competence 

Pros To Class:

-The bard is well-known as the “utility” class which means that it has the versatility in comparison to other spellcasting classes. A bard can cast arcane spells, can do some light healing with heal spells, attack quite decently, and can buff and support a party through knowledge or their own performance skills.

-By utilizing bardic performance at the correct times, a bard always has control of the situation and can manipulate almost any situation in the party’s favor if properly planned ahead.

-Bards has the most Society Legal archetypes and variations of their powers that can be used and added in to the PC’s flavor. Add the never ending possibilities of RP that are available to a Bard, and  you have an amazing and even entertaining member of any Society Adventuring group.

Cons To Class:
– Because there are a lot of things for a player to know when running a Bard character, it’s not always recommended for those who may be knew to the Pathfinder System, or to RPG’s in general until they learn the basics of the game. This is due to the fact that Bards need a lot of work and maintenance and understanding of how checks work, how combat orders work, etc.

-Also because of the bard being a utility class, this means that bards are the masters of nothing specific.
As a spell caster, their spell list doesn’t carry the powerhouse spells like Magic Missile, or Fireball and on the healing side, they only carry basic cure spells. They don’t make a formidable fighter class due to their lack of weapon proficiency, and armor penalties for the spellcasting side of the Bard.

-It’s also rather hard to try to balance a bard without min/maxing in some form or other. In Society Play, since we only have a 20 point buy. With a class that can go so many ways,  it’s hard to decide where to put your stats, so to be a well-rounded bard it is a common practice for players to min/max and in society play, you can end up regretting that especially when the bard gets to higher tiers and negatives can work against your player.

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2 thoughts on “Know Your Class: The Bard

  1. As anyone who knows me knows, I know Bards. While I realize this blog post is almost a year old but it has many, MANY, GREAT FLAWS and terrible misconceptions with the way Bards work (even as of July 16th 2012). Though I will agree with one thing (before defining problems with this blog), Bards basically have 2 modes: Fail and Win. There is no doubt this is an advanced class and you really need to understand the core game rules and bard mechanics to perform well with this class.

    Now, here are the areas that are flat out wrong:

    1. Bards DO NOT encounter spell failure from armor or shields. They are considered to have the Arcane Armor Training feat for free. So there is NO SPELL FAILURE AS LONG AS BARDS ARE WEARING LIGHT ARMOR! This has been the case since Pathfinder launched, yet people still quote the old rule.

    2. Songhealers are OK for Society play, but really their best skills they don’t get until far after Society characters retire. The level 2 ability is not really that great and replaces a very good skill (Versatile Performance) for Bards. So in Society play, I’d never recommend Songhealers.

    3. I’ll give you that Thundercallers were not yet released as of this writing, but to list Song Healer and ignore Sound Striker – THE highest damage Archtype as of this writing, is appalling.

    4. Distraction does not do what you think it does. You seem to think Distraction forces everyone to look at the Bard. It doesn’t. It works like Countersong but for illusions instead of sonic based spells. I guess it may make everyone look at the Bard if she used it as you described, but only because that’s not a useful use of the ability.

    5. Bards can absolutely be built to be toe-to-toe fighters (and I don’t understand RP issues with Half-Orc Bards… they even have an archtype geared toward that called Savage Skald). If you don’t know how dangerous in melee a Whip can be or a Longsword or Rapier… I don’t know what to say.

    Finally, though you don’t out right say it, you imply that Fascinate can help in combat. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Though it IS a great ability to use when you need to distract someone while the rest of the party is trying to rob them of things in their home. Not that any honest Bard would do that…

    • LadyBenihime

      Hi Jon!

      So this blog, is not designed to go into great details about the class. This is designed to give you only a small taste of what the class is about. Now the mechanics and all the smaller details, is something that you the player have to go into great details with on your own terms. This blog is only designed to give a brief look, and allows a player the option to decide on their own terms if it is something they want to look into greater details.

      Side point: I do say that light armor doesn’t take an Arcane Failure Penalty. Look again.. 😀

      I do thank you for your input however and will take your thoughts into account.

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