View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next College of the Armchair General - Bard College

2017-06-21, 07:58 PM
Just an idea that came to me earlier today that I just had to elaborate on. It's a bit of a joke, yes, but I'd like to actually make a balanced subclass out of it so any comments and critique would be appreciated.

The Armchair General – Bard College

Many bards operate under the hope that the information and knowledge they gather and spread will be useful to other people, whether in exposing and overthrowing tyrants or inspiring the heroes of the present and future with tales from heroes of the past. The bards of the College of the Armchair General take this one step further, however: they know for a fact that, with their wealth of knowledge and experience, their advice will be useful in any situation, and they are more insistent than anyone else that it be applied, reasoning that information known but not used might as well not be known at all. When an armchair general happens upon a situation that they believe they know how to solve (and those are many), they endeavor to unload all information that they believe pertinent to the situation in a rapid but elaborate series of suggestions and orders that, if followed, will ensure that the situation is expediently resolved. Whether or not their advice is actually called for is beside the point, as the armchair general knows that those who heed it will learn in their success the value of the information provided and that those who fail to heed it are fools who would see good advice go to waste. Though at times they may be derisively referred to as “backseat drivers” and worse, the armchair general’s conviction in their own intellect keeps them devoted to their task. Knowledge is power, and it must be distributed… regardless of whether the subjects are willing.

Incessant Advice
The armchair general’s creed to make their knowledge valuable in every conceivable situation drives them to constantly provide advice on everything. At 3rd level, you learn the Guidance cantrip. For you, the cantrip has a range of 60 feet so long as the target can hear you, and the target can apply the die awarded by the cantrip to an attack roll or saving throw.

The armchair general always sees themselves as directing a situation as it develops, and this is done best when seated comfortably in a way that conveys authority: from a well-positioned armchair. If necessary, the armchair can be anything from a rock to a tree stump to an overturned feeding trough, but many armchair generals carry with them a piece of furniture to ensure that, wherever they go, they will always have a way to assert their intellectual authority from a comfortably seated position in which they need not get their hands dirty. Starting at 3rd level, you can sit down or stand up from a seated position without using any of your movement speed. In addition, when you are seated and do not use any of your movement, make a weapon attack, or cast a spell that directly damages another creature during your turn, you gain the following benefits:

The armchair, in addition to being comfortable, provides you with a degree of distance and security from the chaos around you. You gain the benefits of the Sanctuary spell until the beginning of your next turn. The saving throw DC for the spell is your spell save DC. If a creature succeeds on the saving throw against this feature, it is immune to its effects for the next 24 hours.
Without having to worry about mundane things like standing up and moving around, you can focus your attention on dispensing your most valuable asset: your knowledge. You can cast the Guidance Cantrip as a bonus action.

Commander’s Presence
The armchair general’s success in their craft bolsters their gravitas and ego to the point where, whenever they sit down in the armchair, their throne of wisdom and authority, they automatically take on a commanding presence that bolsters their allies even from afar. Beginning at 6th level, if you are seated and do not use any of your movement during your turn, the range of your Countercharm feature increases to 60 feet.

Vindicated Ego
For the armchair general, nothing is more rewarding than seeing another creature heed their advice and succeed at what they set out to do because of it. Starting at 14th level, when a creature utilizes a Bardic Inspiration die that you provided and manages to succeed on an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw that they would have failed if it were not for the Bardic Inspiration die, you can immediately use your reaction to regain one use of the Bardic Inspiration feature.

2017-06-21, 11:03 PM
Love the idea. I was thinking of doing something similar myself. Some of the crunch doesn't quite work. Just off hand vindicated ego pretty much gives at will bardic inspiration. I will give more thorough feedback tomorrow when I am not on my phone

2017-06-22, 12:29 AM
Near at-will bardic inspiration is actually the intent behind the Vindicated Ego feature; the flavor of the subclass is specifically to emphasize heavy use of the bardic inspiration feature as it models the incessant 'advise' coming from the Armchair General. I am concerned that it might be too powerful a combo with the deluge of commands considering that the bard is already a full casting class, but I wasn't sure how to make throwing out movement for one's turn a competitive option without tying a serious boost to it. Maybe making the deluge of commands a main action to force a choice between the heaviest bardic inspiration output and using spells would help to keep the bard in check... But at that point I'd just opt for 'armchairing' the first turn of combat to throw three bardic inspiration dice out there, essentially priming for plenty of Vindicated Ego recharges, and then not bother using the Armchair again until I started running out of spell shots, which might balance better mechanically but betrays the flavor, in my opinion. It's a bit of a conundrum...

2017-06-22, 08:47 AM
Okay so here is my ideas. Instead of focusing on trying to gain unlimited bardic inspiration why not focus on giving him something useful to do with his action that fits the theme. My suggestion is focus on the help action as it is already unlimited in usage.

Level 3:
For the armchair you gain the following benefits:
Gain the effects of the sanctuary spell
Can use bardic inspiration to effect 2 allies(not entirely sure as this already doubles your bardic inspiration but we'll go with it for now)

Replace vindicated ego with the ability to use the help action from up to 60ft away.

Level 6:
Give the ability for the help action to affect all of the attack rolls made by the person you are helping on their next turn rather than just one and it isn't limited to a specific enemy.

Level 14:
You can help instruct creatures to cast spells so they are most effective. You can use the help command to instead grant disadvantage on the next save against a spell of the ally you are helping.

This encourages buffing with the spells as it doesnt break the sanctuary effect. And then for typical actions using the help as an action and bardic inspiration as bonus action. I think it keeps the theme well.

2017-06-22, 10:01 AM
Throwing the Sanctuary spell effect in at 3rd level should be okay; it's only a 1st level spell, though working against all attacks might make it a bit more powerful than the cover bonus. Immunity for a day against it on a save might help to counterbalance that a bit. Using the Help Action from a distance works with flavor and does have more limitations than Bardic Inspiration does, but if handing out advantage or disadvantage is the goal it's going to compete with several bard spells with similar effects for usage (Heat Metal or Deafness/Blindness against a single foe, or Faerie Fire against multiple). I mean, for balance it's probably better, but... I'm just not sure whether I'd ever feel inclined to use it in combat unless my spell slots were completely depleted.

Another idea: what if we remove the 'deluge of orders' double-inspiration, keeping the Sanctuary at 3rd level as the primary incentive to use the armchair, and provide the Guidance cantrip with range as currently at 3rd level. When using the armchair, you can cast guidance as a bonus action and allow the subject to add the 1d4 to an attack roll or saving throw, not just an ability check. This sets up Guidance as a slightly weaker version of Bardic Inspiration (d4 instead of d6, and it doesn't scale) that can provide early-level advisory 'staying power' that Vindicated Ego currently does without letting the armchair general just toss out ridiculous amounts of d6 bonuses all the time. Using both Guidance and Bardic Inspiration in a turn in the armchair is possible to still mimic what the deluge of orders does, but now it would require the armchair general to spend their full turn on that, so it would have to compete with spell usage rather than stacking powerfully on top of it. Whether the extra advice or a spell is better is up to the player and dependent on the situation, but the advice would still offer something that can't be gotten anywhere else, whereas advantage, as from the Help action, can be acquired in multiple ways. Additionally, it incentivises continuing to use the armchair once Bardic Inspiration runs out, since the Guidance 'inspiration' can only be used as a bonus action when positioned in the armchair and getting to hand it out as a bonus action on each turn is still strong, if not as strong as flat Bardic Inspiration.

At sixth level, I'd increase the range of Countercharm to 60 feet to allow it to be more easily used on open battlefields, since that feature is normally reliant on relatively close positioning to allies which is going to be a weakness in a mobile battle for the relatively immobile armchair general.

Vindicated Ego, if it requires using the reaction, could still stay in as a higher-level (probably 14th) feature, allowing for a mostly constant but slower stream of Bardic Inspiration at those levels. Given that most Bards at this level should already be able to do this for five turns straight and get their inspiration dice back on a short rest regardless, it shouldn't be quite as ridiculous a buff as it was before while still accomplishing the staying power goal. Also, since it only charges off of Bardic Inspiration die usage, not Guidance, and that there's now no way to hand out more than one Bardic Inspiration Die per turn, it would be entirely possible to still run dry on Bardic Inspiration and have to turn to Guidance until a Vindicated Ego recharge.

2017-06-22, 10:25 AM
I like those ideas. and ya I dont think sanctuary will be a problem considering if you attack an enemy or target them with a spell you lose it anyways. I might add a refresh time on it just to prevent abuse. One of two ways. Either 2/short rest or once you have used this you cant use it again until at least at least a minute has passed.

2017-06-22, 10:35 AM
The Sanctuary spell, at least how it's added in at the moment, is supposed to become active at the end of the armchair general's turn if they 'armchair' and lasts until the beginning of their next turn, so they couldn't break it by attacking or casting a damaging spell unless they did so as a reaction for some reason. It would re-apply at the end of every 'armchair' turn without a limited recharge, but if a creature saves against it once, it becomes immune to it for the next 24 hours, the way that dragons' Frightful Presence does. So, in some battles it might make the armchair general almost impossible to approach, while in others the big bad or similar immediately save against it and it's useless for the rest of the battle; it's a gamble. Even if it does hold, though, enemies can still redirect their attacks towards the armchair general's allies, which I think nicely fits the image of the armchair general as one who throws out all the advice but never wants to get their hands dirty, forcing allies to take the blows instead. Still, it might be a bit strong.

Actually, what I could add is a stipulation that the Sanctuary only activates if, in addition to not moving during their turn, the armchair general doesn't make any weapon attacks or cast a spell that directly damages an enemy creature. That would feed even more strongly into the 'I don't get my hands dirty' flavor of the Armchair general, as it would strongly encourage using battlefield control and buff/debuff spells to 'conduct' the battlefield to their allies' favor as opposed to really being a part of the battle themselves. Most of the Bard spell list is pretty well geared towards this kind of support anyways and I would consider it the best role for the class, so it shouldn't be too strong a limit on spell usage while still reinforcing the fact that the armchair general's role is to in effect help their team help themselves.

Edit: I changed up the OP to reflect the changed features.