Inspiring the Masses
A small gnome pulls out her lute and begins to play for her resting companions, the healing power of the musical notes grant the party additional health. A tiefling girl winks at her barbarian friend, filling him with inspiration that focuses the swing of his axe.
In this beginners guide to Dungeons & Dragons classes, we will go over the power ballad playing, the mouths of the group, the so charismatic that players think they should be able to seduce a dragon, the bards.
Common Features of the Bard
Bardic Inspiration – Basically the Plot of Footloose
This is the key feature of the bard class. Bardic inspiration allows the player to give other player characters an additional die to roll to any ability check, attack roll, or saving throw. The inspiration die starts at a d6 at level one and ends with a d12 at level 15. Bards are allowed to inspire a number of times equal to their charisma modifier per long rest.
Bardic Inspiration is an awesome way for the players to include some role-play into their game. Some players sing actual songs at the table for their inspiration (Sam Riegel from Critical Role) others write sonnets to inspire their party members, some can describe how their bard dances to inspire their friends, and some easily just wink to inspire their team mates like Fig in the modernized D&D game Fantasy High.
Song of Rest-A Bard’s Lullaby
This second level feature allows the bard to sing while the party is taking a short rest to regain additional hit points. The additional hit die the bard gives their party members start off at a d6 and end at a d12 at level 17.
While at later levels this feature may not be super helpful at later levels but you can best believe this is something that can hold off a TPK (total party kill) in early levels where Dungeons and Dragons is basically a survival horror game.
Sub Classes for the bard class are referred to as colleges in the PHB, an idea that bards learn their skills and spells in class rather than in the action of the world.
College of Lore – Actual D&D School
The lore loving bards are the hugest history nerds in the Dungeons and Dragons multiverse. These characters learn all of the history of their regions, climb the family trees of monarchy, and regularly just love to know information that can be used to their advantage.
College of Lore bard gain access to the feature, Cutting Words. Spending one of their bardic inspiration points, a bard who is about get clobbered by an enemy can use their wit and silver tongue to roll a d10 to lower their opponents attack roll to hopefully cause their enemy to miss.
The attendants of the College of Lore have access to additional spells from any spell list as well as use their bardic inspiration to assist their own ability checks.
College of Valor – The Cool D&D School
If the bard who attended the College of Lore are the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra, the members of the College of Valor are the musical talent you find at your local dive bar. Not saying the dive bar band is bad, but they are more travel weary. Members of the College of Valor sing songs of warriors and fierce battles, where College of Lore sing more of history.
These bard gain proficiencies in more combat appropriate armors and weaponry, as well as the ability to spend a bardic inspiration to inspire a friend’s attack roll like normal but those companions can add that inspiration die to add to their damage roll. That companion could alternatively use their reaction to roll the inspiration die to add to their armor class if they are being attacked. These battle-battle-focuses bards can attack multiple times in combat as well as sling spells and attack in the same turn.
Which Races Can Sing the Blues
When creating your gods of gab, charisma is the most important stat to dump as many points into as you’d like. Charisma is the spell casting based ability and is the backbone of the bard, class. The second ability to think of is dexterity to try to keep the armor class high enough o stay alive.
The “evil” elves of the D&D world, Drows are subterranean elves that are weak against sunlight due to living in the darkness of underground. They have their standard +2 to dexterity as all elves do, but this sub race has a +1 towards charisma that is a necessity for bards. A bard that has more nefarious intentions could be one that has a fun contrast to the rest of the party.
Short in stature but tall in heart, the lightfoot halflings are a more naturally stealthy due to their size. With the same ability bonuses as the Dow (+2 Dex and +1 to Cha), these pint-sized creatures can make fun bards that have a Napoleon complex always picking fights that get their friends into trouble.
The scaly skinned humanoids whose ancestry is a point of argument for different parts of the world, some believe that dragonborns are the unholy offspring of human and dragons, some believe that they are immigrants from a different plane of existence. Dragonborns have a +2 bonus to strength scores and a +1 charisma bonus. These could be bards that can back up what they mouth out in taverns.
With their draconic ancestry, a Dragonborn can breathe out a blast which type depends on their scale color. Blue is lightning, red is fire, etc. These dragonborns also have resistance to any damage of that type they can breath out. Imagine it, a green Dragonborn bard, dancing and playing their tambourine and suddenly, WOOOSH! They breath out a blast of poisonous gas!
As noticeable in public as the dragonborns, tieflings have devilous appearances with horns growing out of their heads and shades of red skin. Many people believe that these creatures are offspring of devils and treat them as such, generally making them outcasts.
Tielfings have a +2 to charisma score and +1 to their intelligence. They also have access to magical spells due to their infernal ancestry such as thaumaturgy and darkness. In role-playing a bard with this race, I would suggest going for a gypsy-like character. Think Esmerelda from Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Like fire! Hellfire! This fire in my skin!
To wrap everything up, the role-play of a bard. A cliche for a bard is the sex-crazed deviant which, if thats your cup of tea, by all means drink up. But, for those who are looking forsomethingo different hear are some ideas.
• A sticky fingered bard who challenges others to a “battle of the bands” type challenge only to have their friends steal their opponents stuff while they are playing.
• A collector of finely tuned instruments. Think a wizard’s love for finding spells but a bard digging through an entire junk store to find a horn.
• A bard who spends her entire life trying to create the “perfect ballad”
• A dancer who’s bardic inspiration is different interpretive dances rather than music of songs.
As a reminder, this is all just suggestions, there is no right or wrong way to play D&D, do what makes you happy, or angry if you’re a real life barbarian. As always, have fun and roll with the dice!