View Full Version : The Skald

2009-06-04, 01:02 PM
Kay, I got this E-book called Unorthodox Bards, in there is a type of Bard that I have studied for some time, it is called a Skald. Here is the entry, and some of my notes.

In cultures without a written language the stories and histories of their greatest heroes are passed own orally through song and prose. Not content to purely compose sagas from the tales of others, Skalds often demand to be part of the action and sometimes even become the heroes themselves. Skalds are commonly male unless the area they come from has a tradition of women warriors.

The life of adventuring appeals to all Skalds.

While possessing no spellcasting abilities, the Skald has the unique ability to Inscribe Runes, which makes him very versatile in groups.

Most Skalds are of the same alignment of their community and this is usually chaotic, although more neutral Skalds are found closer to civilization. In the balance of good versus evil, most Skalds prefer neutrality as it allows them to take an impartial view of their subjects. Those Skalds who find themselves joining the action are usually good and know that stories of heroism are the most popular.

Any god of warriors, or war is popular to the Skald. If there is a god of runes or story tellers then the Skald may also worship them.

Skalds are trained by other Skalds in their lands. They must spend years memorizing the tales of their ancestors and heroes and be able to recite them back without error. During this time the Skald is also expected to go through the same fighting training as the other young members of the area.

Humans, half-elves and dwarves are best able to have cultures where Skalds would come from. Elves, halflings and gnomes don’t usually take the joy in warfare that is required for the Skald to function. Half-orcs often prefer to be in the thick of the action and often don’t have the intelligence to stay on the sides of battle to get a record of the deeds done that day, however those half-orcs with higher than average intelligence make excellent Skalds. Other Classes: Barbarians and fighters are the Skald’s best friends. Skalds often come from the same cultures that produces barbarians so the two classes have a mutual respect for each other. Rangers, monks and paladins are also respected for their fighting prowess. Clerics that follow war gods are admired more than those that follow other paths, and they admire druids, especially those that take the form of powerful animals in battle. Wizards and sorcerers are usually disdained unless they take an active role in combat and not just stay back and toss spells.

Game Rule Information
Skalds have the following game statistics.

Skalds benefit from high strength scores to help them in combat. They like to get up close to truly see where the action is happening.

Alignment: Any non lawful.

Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills: Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha),
Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Ancient and Local History
only) (Int), Listen (Wis), Perform (Cha), Ride (Dex), Survival (Wis),
and Swim (Str).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Int modifier) x4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Skald.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A Skald is proficient with all simple weapons, martial weapons, light armor, medium armor and shields (except tower shields).

Bardic Music: At 1st level the Skald can use Bardic Music. Once per day per Skald level, a Skald can use his song or poetics to produce magical effects on those around him (usually including himself, if desired). While these abilities fall under the category of bardic music and the descriptions discuss singing or playing instruments, they can all be activated by reciting poetry, chanting, singing lyrical songs, singing melodies, whistling, playing an instrument, or playing an
instrument in combination with some spoken performance. Each ability requires both a minimum Skald level and a minimum number of ranks in the Perform skill to qualify; if a Skald does not have the required number of ranks in at least one Perform skill, he does not gain the bardic music ability until he acquires the needed ranks. Starting a bardic music effect is a standard action. Some bardic music abilities require concentration, which means the Skald must take a standard action each round to maintain the ability. Even while using bardic music that doesn’t require concentration, a Skald cannot cast spells, inscribe runes, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), or activate magic items by magic word (such as wands). Just as for casting a spell with a verbal component, a deaf Skald has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to use bardic music. If he fails, the attempt still counts against his daily limit.

• Inspire Courage (Su): A Skald with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use song or poetics to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to hear the Skald sing. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the Skald sing and for 5 rounds thereafter. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. Unlike the bard however, the Skald is slightly more less adept at this.

• Inspire Heroism (Su): A Skald of 8th level or higher with 9 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poetics to inspire tremendous heroism in himself or a single willing ally within 30
feet. For every three Skald levels the character attains beyond 8th, he can inspire heroism in one additional creature. To inspire heroism, a Skald must sing and an ally must hear the Skald sing
for a full round. A creature so inspired gains a +2 morale bonus on saving throws, +2 dodge bonus to AC, and +2 bonus to attack rolls. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the Skald sing and for up to 5 rounds thereafter.

Inscribe Runes: Skalds do not learn spells; instead they learn how to inscribe runes -- mystical symbols full of magic. They gain the ability to inscribe the specific runes when they reach the appropriate level and have the appropriate Perform skill. A Skald gains the ability to inscribe 1 rune a day at first level. At 3rd level and every three levels thereafter, the Skald can inscribe a rune one additional time per day. Inscribing a rune is a standard action and the Skald must be singing, reciting, or performing in some way for the magic to take. The runes can be carved or etched with a knife or painted on with inks or paints. Each rune that is active counts against the total number of times per day the Skald may Inscribe Rune. For example, a 4th level Skald has the ability to inscribe 2 runes a day. If he inscribes a bladed weapon with Serpent Blade, it counts as 1 usage of
Inscribed Rune every day until the effect has expired (i.e. when blade deals 12 damage). Runes disappear once the effects have expired.

Well Mead (Su): At 2nd level the Skald with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can inscribe a rune onto a drinking horn, or any other container that is currently holding liquid. Once inscribed, the rune changes the liquid in the container into a healing potion that will heal 1d10 +1 hit points if completely drunk. The liquid must be an alcoholic beverage and must be no more than 1 pint worth. After 1 hour, this liquid loses all magical properties. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune. At 4th level and ever two levels thereafter, the liquid changed this way will heal and additional 4 hit points.

Serpent Blade (Su): At 4th level the Skald with 6 or more ranks in a Perform skill can inscribe a rune onto a bladed weapon, allowing it to move and shift about to find the best opening for attack. The rune will grow bright green and the weapon will flash with a bright white for just a moment. The imbued weapon gives the wielder a +2 competence bonus to attack and damage rolls with the weapon. The effect lasts until the rune gains it’s fill of blood, which happens once the weapon inflicts an amount of damage equal to three times the Skald’s level. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune.

Hero’s Shield (Su): At 7th level, the Skald with 6 or more ranks in a Perform skill inscribe a rune into any armor or shield, making it more beneficial to the wearer. By placing this rune on a shield or other piece of armor, it becomes imbued with variable Damage Reduction 1d8/- (whenever the wearer of this items takes damage, the item will reduce 1d8 of that damage). The damage reduction last for 1 week, until the item is dropped, or after the item has reduced 50 points of damage – whichever is first. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune.

Blood Rage: At 10th level the Skald with 10 or more ranks in a Perform skill can inscribe a rune onto himself or an ally. This rune allows the subject to go into a rage when they take damage. Once per round, if the subject takes any damage, he is immediately penalized – 2 to AC, but gains +1 to his melee attack rolls and damage rolls. This penalty and bonus is cumulative every round as long as the rune is in effect. The effects of this rune lasts for a number of rounds equal to
1d4 + the Skald’s Cha bonus (if any). While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune. A subject cannot have this rune inscribed on him more than once per day. If the Skald is 12th level or higher, and has the Trace Rune ability (see below), he may inscribe Blood Rage on any ally within 30 feet if him – the recipient does not need to be adjacent to the Skald. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune.

Trace Rune (Su): At 11th level the Skald with 12 or more ranks in a Perform skill has become so adept at using runes that he no longer needs materials to inscribe the rune, instead he can trace the shape of the rune with his finger on the item or person and it gains the effect of that rune.

Stone trap (Su): At 11th level the Skald can place a rune on a stone or other item, creating a trap that will be triggered by anyone moving within 5’ of the item. At the time of inscription, the Skald can specify a password that, when spoken, allows the creature to pass by without triggering the trap. Once the trap is triggered though, the stone explodes doing fire damage equal to 3d6 + Skald’s level. Anyone within 10 feet is effected by this trap, and may attempt a reflex save (DC 15) to take half damage. To use Stone Trap, the Skald may only inscribe an in tem no bigger than the Skald’s fist. The rune lasts for 2 days or until someone speaks the password 3 times in a row while within 15 feet of the object. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune.

Feather Shape (Su): At 13th level the Skald with 15 or more ranks in a Perform skill may attempt to Polymorph a creature with a rune. If this rune is inscribed using a feather quill and ink upon a person they immediately take the form of an eagle as if they had been Polymorphed; a feather quill and ink must be used (using Trace Rune will have no effect). This form lasts for 8 hours after which the subject changes back to their normal form. The subject can attempt to change back earlier by making a Will check (DC 15). If the check fails they must wait an hour before attempting again. If the Skald uses this rune on himself, his familiarity with the rune gives them a
+2 insight bonus to the save. Once they make the save to change back, it requires another use of the rune for them to take eagle shape again. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune.

Luck’s Coin: At 16th level the Skald with 15 or more ranks in a Perform skill can place this mark on any form of coin worth 1 cp, 1 sp, 1 gp, or 1 pp. Whoever keeps the object in their possession
automatically gains a bonus to their next saving throw. The rune is automatically used whenever the possessor must make a saving throw, even if they did not want it to. The effect ends and the coin disappears after granting the saving throw. The saving throw bonus the rune grants is based on the type of coin as follows:
Coin Bonus
1 copper piece | +1 to Saving throw

1 silver piece | +2 to Saving throw

1 gold piece |+4 to Saving throw

1 platinum piece | +8 to Saving throw
The rune does not stay on the coin forever. Regardless of whether a saving throw is attempted, the rune’s effects will end after a number of days equal to the Skald’s level, and then the coin will simply disappear. No more than one of each type of coin may be inscribed at one time. And carrying more than one inscribed coin causes the effects to stack. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune.

Slayer’s Mark: At 19th level, the Skald with 18 or more ranks in a Perform skill can inscribe powerful slaying magic into arrows (or other ranged ammunition). This rune is placed on an arrow’s shaft and must be written with the blood of a creature. Once placed, the rune begins to glow red turns the arrow into a Slaying Arrow which affects the type of creature whose blood was used to form the mark. This arrow is a +1 weapon that causes the creature hit to make a fortitude save (DC 12 + Skald’s Cha bonus) or die – on a failed save the creature still takes 4d10 +1 damage. Inscribing this rune requires two full round actions. The Skald may inscribe the same rune on the arrow (with the same blood) two additional times -- each additional time the rune in inscribed, the DC save required is increased by 5. While this rune is in effect it counts against the Skald’s total number of times per day he can Inscribe Rune -- each inscription counts as one.

A Skald who becomes lawful in alignment cannot progress in levels as a Skald though he retains all his Skald abilities.

Table: Skald Progression Chart
{table] Level|Base Attack Base|Fort|Ref Save|Will Save|Save|Special

1st|+0||+2|+0|+2|Bardic Music, Inspire Courage +1, Inscribe Rune 1/day

2nd|+1||+3|+0|+3|Rune (Well Mead)

3rd|+2||+3|+1|+3|Inscribe Rune 2/day
4th|+3||+4|+1|+4| Rune (Serpent Blade)
6th|+4||+5|+2|+5| Inscribe Rune 3/day
7th|+5||+5|+2|+5| Rune (Hero’s Shield)
8th|+6/+1||+6|+2|+6| Inspire Heroism (1)
9th|+6/+1||+6 +3|+6| Inscribe Rune 4/day
10th|+7/+2||+7|+3|+7| Rune (Blood Rage)
11th|+8/+3||+7|+3|+7 |Trace Rune, Rune (Stone Trap), Inspire Heroism (2)
12th|+9/+4||+8|+4|+8| Inscribe Rune 5/day
13th|+9/+4||+8|+4|+8| Rune (Feather Shape)
14th|+10/+5||+9|+4|+9| Inspire Heroism (3)
15th|+11/+6/+1|| +9 |+5| +9| Inscribe Rune 6/day
16th| +12/+7/+2|| +10| +5| +10| Rune (Luck’s Coin)
17th|+12/+7/+2| |+10 |+5 |+10 |Inspire Heroism (4)
18th| +13/+8/+3| |+11| +6| +11 |Inscribe Rune 7/day
19th| +14/+9/+4| |+11 |+6 |+11 |Rune (Slayer’s Mark)
20th|+15/+10/+5| |+12| +6| +12 |Inspire Heroism (5)[/table]

Kamden's Notes:

First off, The Skalds were warriors as well as poets musicians what have you. They fought hard and recorded the fight during or afterword so that the clan could add another chapter in their history books.

Secondly, the skald was a respected part of the clan community, mostly for the fact that they were the historians, the story teller, the diplomat, and a good warrior. A clan without a skald, is kind of screwed. So Skalds are treated nicely, as long as they pull their weight. If the skald wasn't pulling their weight, well, there will be blood.

Thirdly, if you want a good look at skaldic cultures. Look to the Vikings, the Celts, the Scots, the Franks, Any Northern Barbaric civilization in Europe, and you'll get the idea.

Any Questions?

I would like to see a Person create a spellcasting version of the Skald.

Human Paragon 3
2009-06-04, 03:23 PM
First off, let me say that I love the Skald. It was my favorite bard kit from back in the 2e days. I love the idea of runes replacing spells, too. That being said, this class has a number of issues.

This class appears much weaker than the traditional Bard. Spellcasting is a huge part of the Bard's arsenal, and any replacement to spellcasting should be as useful as arcane spells. Inscribe Rune is much weaker, since it can't do as much and what effects it can do aren't very strong.

In addition, the Skald isn't as good at bardic music as the bard (the class's other signature ability). If anything, I would think that a Skald would be better at increasing morale than a typical bard.

Some changes I would recommend would be to first give the Skald full bardic music, just like a bard has.

Second, if this class is really meant to be a warrior class, I would give him full BAB and proficiency with heavy armor, too. To compensate for this, cut down on his skill points per level. He only has 10 class skills and gets 6+int skills. That means a human Skald with 16 int would have every single skill maxed out. I'd cut this down to 4 to make it more in line with other martial characters.

As for the individual scribe rune abilities, I think they need a little work.

Well Mead doesn't provide a significant amount of healing at any level. The ability to make a potion is nice, but you can't have many made at a time and they don't come close to replacing a party cleric.

At the very least, I would have the potion also act as lesser restoration at level 5 and restoration at level 9 or something.

Serpent Blade starts out kind of nice, but it doesn't make a weapon magical, nor does it scale well with level. At higher levels the +2 will be pretty insignificant. I would give it the same plus to hit and damage as the Skald's Inspire Courage ability grants. Keeping track of its damage dealt is also more book keeping than I would like. I would make it last for one encounter. No muss no fuss.

The variable damage reduction on Hero's Shield is baffling. Why not just make it equal to 1/4 the Skald's level? Or give it an effect equal to Stone Skin cast at the Skald's caster level? That would actually be a useful ability.

Blood Rage is utterly worthless. Getting a +1 to hit in exchange for a -2 to AC is a terrible trade. I would instead make it a +4 to STR and CON and a -2 to AC, like the Barbarian's rage ability. Or even a +6.

Stone Trap is an interesting ability, but compared to other traps encountered at 11 isn't very strong. Even Explosive Runes is much, much stronger and that's just a first level spell. I would make the Stone Trap deal a d6 damage/Skald Level. Make the saving throw equal to 10 + 1/2 Skald Level + Cha modifier so it scales and remains somewhat effective.

Feather Shape is actually pretty cool, and although other classes can do this much, much better it doesn't bother me much. I would add a few more forms to choose from, say Eagle, Owl, Giant Eagle, Giant Owl, or Falcon. At level 20 add Roc. Also, you should be able to just make the subject grow wings and gain a flight speed equal to twice their land speed. In general, I'd like to have flight well before you get this ability.

Luck's Coin is the most baffling ability of all, to me. At that level the difference between a cp and a pp are negligible. I would make it work on any coin and have the bonus to saves by a flat bonus, say, equal to 1/2 skald level.

The save on the Slayer's Arrow is too low. I would make it 10+1/2 Skald Level + Skald's Cha.

Frightful Presence (like a dragon gets) might be another cool ability to give this class. Fit it into Bardic Music, maybe replace Inspire Competence or something. Fits with the intimidating warrior type.

EDIT: You have a number of misprints on your table, too.