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Quellian-dyrae
2007-02-16, 06:13 PM
I'm shaky about bards. Some supplements have provided some really nice feats for them (see Words of Creation in Exalted Deeds and Snowflake Wardance in Frostburn), and hey, +4 to all allies attack and damage rolls is nice, but aside from credible party support their abilities are rather limited. 'Sides, a cleric with a few supplements can do at least as well and a lot more besides.

My aim here is to give bards their own niche. I'm going to attempt to do so in the format of feats, because I feel that feats are a nice way to balance character power. Whenever I try to do an all-new class, I wind up adding too much stuff. This way I can add all I want and they can only use some of it.

One disclaimer: the arcane music style feats do not, and are not intended to, correspond to the typical D&D spellcasting styles. The intent is for a bard to have a more limited niche, but a potentially greater selection of spells, and also get more utility out of their low-level spells. I imagine bardic magic as being a bit more spontaneous and more about personal skill than the spells themselves; they are, in essence, more or less powerful variations on the same theme. As a result, bards using these feats will have a better save DC (slightly better in the case of its top-level spells, much better for its low-level spells, which I'd like bards to get more use out of) and, if they put some effort into these feats, more spells known. They also will eventually gain access to much higher-level spells than bards normally receive, and generally gain access to higher-level spells faster than a bard normally would. The limitations: less access to magic items and spell-improving feats; less versatility with regards to spell selection; a rather significant amount of upper level "spell duplication"; and, of course, fewer feats to spend on other things.

Arcane Music Feats:

Arcane Music:
You cast spells directly through your music.

Prerequisites: Bardic Music, Perform 4 Ranks, Ability to cast arcane spells.

Benefit: A character who takes this feat loses its ability to cast arcane spells from its bard class. In return, it gains access to a selection of spell-like abilities based on feats taken, its Bard level, and its ranks in Perform. It may cast any of these spells at the cost of a number of uses of bardic music for the day. The DC for arcane music spells is equal to 10 + ˝ your Perform ranks + your Cha modifier. Casting time is normal for the spell, and all components are still required.

Spell 1 (SL 0-1): Level 1, 4 ranks required, 1 use required.
Spell 2 (SL 2-3): Level 5, 8 ranks required, 2 uses required.
Spell 3 (SL 4-5): Level 10, 13 ranks required, 3 uses required.
Spell 4 (SL 6-7): Level 15, 18 ranks required, 4 uses required.
Spell 5 (SL 8-9): Level 20, 23 ranks required, 5 uses required.

Upon taking this feat, you may choose three 0-level bard spells. You may cast these spells at the cost of one daily use of bardic music.

A bard with this feat does not count as a spell caster; it uses spell-like abilities. Its caster level for purposes of these abilities is equal to its bard level. Feats that apply to spells, such as spell focus, spell penetration, and metamagic feats, do not apply to these effects.

Between the Notes:
You have mastered an art of bardic stealth, known as hiding between the notes.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Ventriloquism.
Spell 2: Invisibility.
Spell 3: Greater Invisibility.
Spell 4: Mislead.
Spell 5: Mass Invisibility.

Call to Arms:
You can use your bardic magic to summon aid from afar.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Summon Humanoid Ally I*.
Spell 2: Summon Humanoid Ally III*.
Spell 3: Summon Humanoid Ally V*.
Spell 4: Summon Humanoid Ally VII*.
Spell 5: Summon Humanoid Ally IX*.

*Non-standard spell, can be replaced by the appropriate Summon Monster spell.

Chaos Lore:
You have studied the songs of change.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Disguise Self.
Spell 2: Alter Self.
Spell 3: Polymorph Other*.
Spell 4: Metamorph Other*.
Spell 5: Mutate Other*.

*Non-standard spell, can be replaced by Polymorph, Statue, and Polymorph Any Object.

Dance of Deception:
You have mastered the art of weaving illusions through your music and dance.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Silent Image.
Spell 2: Major Image.
Spell 3: Persistent Image.
Spell 4: Greater Shadow Conjuration.
Spell 5: Greater Shadow Evocation.

Healing Rite:
You channel your music to heal your allies.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music, Perform 9 Ranks.

Benefit: You can expend one use of bardic music as a standard action that provokes an attack of opportunity to heal a touched ally (or yourself). You heal an amount of damage equal to a Perform check result.

Healing Rite, Improved:
You can perform healing rites to remove conditions.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music, Perform 9 Ranks, Healing Rite.

Benefit: Rather than curing injury, you may use a healing rite to cure conditions. Roll a Perform check against a DC determined by the condition you are trying to cure. Success cures the condition:

Ability Damage: DC 15 + 2/point.
Ability Drain: DC 25 + 3/point.
Blindness: DC 20.
Charmed: DC 20.
Compelled: DC 30.
Confusion: DC 20.
Curses: DC 15 + caster level.
Daze: DC 15.
Dazzle: DC 10.
Deafness: DC 15.
Energy Drain:
--Negative Levels: DC 25 + 5/NL.
--Drained Character Levels: DC 35 + 5/level.
Exhausted: DC 20.
Fatigued: DC 15.
Fear:
--Frightened: DC 20.
--Panicked: DC 25.
--Shaken: DC 15.
Nausea: DC 20.
Paralysis: DC 25.
Petrification: DC 40.
Sickened: DC 15.
Stunned: DC 20.

Lay of Learning:
You are skilled at bardic farsensing spells.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Alarm.
Spell 2: Clairaudience/Clairvoyance.
Spell 3: Scrying.
Spell 4: Legend Lore.
Spell 5: Greater Prying Eyes.

Persuasive Speech:
You are skilled at manipulating others with your music, poetics, or speeches.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Charm Person.
Spell 2: Suggestion.
Spell 3: Charm Monster.
Spell 4: Mass Suggestion.
Spell 5: Dominate Monster.

Power Word:
You can unleash your bardic music as a devastating word of power.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music, Perform 9 Ranks.

Benefit: You can expend one use of Bardic Music to invoke a power word. The power word deals an amount of sonic damage equal to the result of a Perform check to a single creature or object within medium range. The target may make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + ˝ Perform ranks + Charisma modifier) for half damage. A power word bypasses an object’s hardness.

Power Word, Improved:
You can blast an area with the might of your power word.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music, Perform 9 Ranks, Power Word.

Benefit: Your power word affects a sphere with a radius of 5’ per use of Bardic Music spent. You may spend a maximum number of bardic music uses equal to your Charisma modifier in any one Power Word.

Rite of Knowledge:
You use your bardic magic to gain information.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Comprehend Languages.
Spell 2: Know the Past*.
Spell 3: Know the Present*.
Spell 4: Know the Future*.
Spell 5: Discern Location.

*Non-standard spell; can be replaced with Augury, Divination, and Commune, respectively.

Soothing Words:
You use your bardic magic to pacify your opponents.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Sleep.
Spell 2: Hold Person.
Spell 3: Hold Monster.
Spell 4: Mass Hold Person.
Spell 5: Mass Hold Monster.

Traveler’s Tales:
You have mastered the use of bardic travel magic.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Expeditious Retreat.
Spell 2: Fly.
Spell 3: Teleport.
Spell 4: Greater Teleport.
Spell 5: Etherealness.

Word of Truth:
You are able to reveal the unknown with your bardic magic.

Prerequisites: Arcane Music.

Benefit: You gain the following Arcane Music spell-like abilities:

Spell 1: Detect {Alignment}.
Spell 2: Detect Thoughts.
Spell 3: Arcane Sight.
Spell 4: True Seeing.
Spell 5: Foresight.


Song of Ability Feats:

Song of Ability:
You have given up on advanced forms of bardic music to improve your ability to inspire courage.

Prerequisites: Inspire Courage.

Benefit: You lose access to all forms of bardic music that increase stats or checks, except inspire courage (inspire competence, inspire greatness, and inspire heroics). You may now choose feats that allow your inspire courage ability to affect other stats.

Classes that improve your ability to inspire courage do not improve the bonus for purposes of these feats.

Song of Defense:
Your magical song inspires allies to better protect themselves.

Prerequisites: Song of Ability.

Benefit: Allies affected by your Inspire Courage add its bonus as a morale bonus to AC.

Song of Pride:
Your magical song inspires allies to better overcome adversity.

Prerequisites: Song of Ability.

Benefit: Allies affected by your Inspire Courage add its bonus as a morale bonus to all opposed checks.

Song of Resilience:
Your magical song inspires allies to shrug off hits.

Prerequisites: Song of Ability.

Benefit: Allies affected by your Inspire Courage gain DR/- equal to its bonus.

Song of Resistance:
Your magical song inspires allies to better resist magic.

Prerequisites: Song of Ability.

Benefit: Allies affected by your Inspire Courage add its bonus as a morale bonus to all saving throws. This bonus stacks with the usual save bonus against Charm and Fear effects.

Song of Skill:
Your magical song inspires allies to perform tasks.

Prerequisites: Song of Ability.

Benefit: Allies affected by your Inspire Courage add its bonus as a morale bonus to all skill checks.

Song of Speed:
Your magical song inspires allies to move more quickly.

Prerequisites: Song of Ability.

Benefit: Allies affected by your Inspire Courage add +5’ to all forms of speed per point of the bonus gained. This counts as a morale bonus.


Miscellaneous Bard Feats:


Dirge of Despair:
You are skilled at using your music to weaken your opposition.

Prerequisites: Bardic Music, Perform 4 Ranks.

Benefit: You may reverse the effects of your Inspire Courage ability, penalizing your opponents rather than uplifting your allies. Affected foes take a penalty on stats and checks equal to any bonuses normally bestowed. This is a mind-affecting effect. All potentially affected foes receive Will saves (DC 10 + ˝ Bard level + Charisma modifier) to negate the effects. You may not use Inspire Courage and Dirge of Despair simultaneously; as soon as you begin one, the other cancels out.

Invoke the Muse:
You are particularly connected to your muse.

Prerequisites: Bardic Music.

Benefit: Any time you use a bardic music ability that grants a bonus to stats on yourself, you get half again the listed bonus. For example, if you inspire courage for a +2 bonus, your allies would get +2, but you would get +3.

((Hmm...would it be better to say a bard with this feat can't inspire allies, and call it "temperamental artiste"?))

Deme
2007-02-17, 08:31 AM
the main problem with these arises with the limited number of feats a player can take. this'll have some meaning for bards at higher levels, but what are you going to do with a non-human bard at first level? it basically would create two different types of bards- those who take the feats, and those who do not, which could be really confusing in the same campaign.

My advise would be to tweak the class just one little bit...that is to say, add the ability to take bonus feats from this list. I like this a lot in concept, though. I love bards, and adore it when people try and tweak them without getting rid of the thing that makes them bards- that is, the music.

Quellian-dyrae
2007-02-17, 01:43 PM
My official response, as a game designer focused on both useful abilities with balance, should be that that's in essence the point. If a bard could take all of those feats easily, they'd have perhaps too much casting power (although, I suppose it wouldn't wind up as being much more than a beguiler, really).

My unofficial response is that I run gestalt games with flaws and this unique feat:

Expanded Horizons:
You train in a variety of areas.

Prerequisites: Int 13+.

Benefit: In any class that offers a selection of bonus feats that you must fill prerequisites for, you may select any feat as a bonus feat. This feat does not apply to classes that offer bonus feats that you need not fill prerequisites for.

I know, I know I'm a feat-hungry power-playing munchkin fiend. And I'm good with that.::Grin::