PDA

View Full Version : Straight up 3.5 PHB-only Bard



Arros Winhadren
2008-07-06, 07:42 PM
I'm not looking for someone to tell me what to do, but are there any feats/etc. that people think are necessary to being a good bard? Remember, I can't use anything outside of PHB until we hit epic levels, at which point we can use the Epic Level Handbook. For example, I know that gnomes are suited to being bards, but at first level my move is 15 ft due to equipment I must carry and my jump check is a whopping -15. As a human, however, my move and skills are better and I get an extra feat. Thoughts?

The Necroswanso
2008-07-06, 07:46 PM
Be human. You'll need it.
Anyway; Core bards? Basically everything you need is there. The book doesn't caiter very well to the bard. Try weapon feats.

Tengu
2008-07-06, 07:48 PM
A core bard is best off as a diplomancer - get Diplomacy and Bluff as high as possible. You may consider being a half-elf. The Glibness spell is your friend.

Lochar
2008-07-06, 07:51 PM
Half elven bard diplomancer.

It's your only hope.

Half Elf +2 Diplomacy
18 Cha
Max ranks in Diplomacy
Skill Focus: Diplomacy

That's +13 at level 1.

At level 2, max ranks in K: Nobility for a +2 synergy, add a rank to Diplomacy

That's +16 to diplomacy.

Level 3.

Feat: Negotiator
Another rank in Diplomacy

That's +19. Given one minute, you can at minimum turn an enemy to unfriendly. Given a minute and a roll of 6, you can turn an unfriendly into a friendly.

Continue, add Cloak of Cha when possible.

Jack_Simth
2008-07-06, 07:54 PM
A Bard does reasonably well in a party in two basic circumstances:

1) Smaller than usual party (where a Jack of All Trades aspect comes in handy)
2) Larger than usual party (where the bardic music mass buffs have a significant impact).

In the first case, advice is very dependent on existing party makeup - a bard makes a reasonable secondary arcanist, healer, or skillmonkey (with a d6 hd, they don't do melee, though). Look at what everyone else in the party is doing, and cover the lack.

In the second case, there aren't really any particularly specific suggestions - as it's Bardic Music that carries the buff role, and there's not really anything in Core to help that.

Arros Winhadren
2008-07-06, 07:59 PM
Just to clarify my situation, the setting is a dungeon-crawl, with emphasis on lots of fighting and puzzles. I think NPC interaction will be fairly low - also I'll have about four other people who will be choosing other classes from PHB. So I think that I shouldn't have to worry too much about diplomatic skills, though that certainly is a good ability to have. Thanks for the help so far guys!

Edit: I'm a little concerned about my stats - they're good, but all on the verge of being better . . . well, I've got 2 17s, 2 15s and 2 13s. Should I reroll them until I get an 18 I can put in Charisma? It's bugging me that they all just need one more point to get an additional modifier.

Lochar
2008-07-06, 08:03 PM
Dungeon crawl with minimum NPC interaction?

You're a secondary arcanist and healer. Grab Cure Light Wounds and combat control spells like grease. Talk to the group pure arcanist, have them go for the more direct damaging spells. Max UMD and get the arcanist to make a few scrolls of his direct damage spells. Get the group cleric (You'd better have one) to eventually create a wand, or buy one, that has CLW or CMW.

Chronicled
2008-07-06, 08:06 PM
Edit: I'm a little concerned about my stats - they're good, but all on the verge of being better . . . well, I've got 2 17s, 2 15s and 2 13s. Should I reroll them until I get an 18 I can put in Charisma? It's bugging me that they all just need one more point to get an additional modifier.

Those are excellent stats, don't reroll. You can bump up Charisma by 1 point at 4th level and every 4 levels afterwards, just take the 17 (more than good enough) for now.

Kiara LeSabre
2008-07-06, 08:08 PM
Yes, Diplomancy and ... also consider abusing your Fascinate/Suggestion abilities. Fascinate sets a Will save DC equal to your Perform check, which quickly becomes simply hideous, and once you hit 6th level, you can use Suggestion for free on any creature you've already fascinated, with a Will save DC that also continues to go up with your bard level (so since you can only be a straight bard, you may as well take advantage of that). Also, look carefully at the wording of the text -- nowhere under the "Suggestion" heading does it say that on a failed attempt you can't just try again each round (and note the fascination isn't broken!) until you succeed or until the fascination effect runs out normally.

Once you gain access to Charm Monster, you can then probably, fairly easily, deceive anything you've already hit with the Suggestion effect into lowering its defenses in order to allow you to "buff" it (actually charm it). That has a duration measured in days, and it's easy to keep up given the creature will now view anything you say (like that you want to cast a spell on it again, which of course will be another charm to keep it going) in "the most favorable light." Diplomacy and Bluff are your friends, and I'd also make full use of the fact that Speak Language is a class skill. It's no good being silver-tongued if they can't understand you!

Maybe also consult Logic Ninja's wizard guide for a list of must-have spells, such as Alter Self, Glitterdust and Otto's Irresistible Dance.

Tengu
2008-07-06, 08:12 PM
Those are excellent stats, don't reroll. You can bump up Charisma by 1 point at 4th level and every 4 levels afterwards, just take the 17 (more than good enough) for now.

Yeah, seriously - what's up with the obsession with 18s some people have? In point-buy, it's usually a huge waste of points to have base 18 in any stat - upgrading from 16 to 18 costs 6 points, the same as from 8 to 14!

Kiara LeSabre
2008-07-06, 08:13 PM
Just to clarify my situation, the setting is a dungeon-crawl, with emphasis on lots of fighting and puzzles. I think NPC interaction will be fairly low - also I'll have about four other people who will be choosing other classes from PHB. So I think that I shouldn't have to worry too much about diplomatic skills, though that certainly is a good ability to have. Thanks for the help so far guys!

Edit: I'm a little concerned about my stats - they're good, but all on the verge of being better . . . well, I've got 2 17s, 2 15s and 2 13s. Should I reroll them until I get an 18 I can put in Charisma? It's bugging me that they all just need one more point to get an additional modifier.

Well, wait ... now it depends. Is the party the kind that will allow you to attempt to end encounters without combat (and maybe with a new friend)? At low levels, that isn't really possible, but as you get up there, with focused Diplomancy, it's quite possible to turn enemies into adoring allies rather than kill them. Given you end up with far more resources that way, it's by far a better choice.

xPANCAKEx
2008-07-06, 08:18 PM
designate one of your perfomance styles as "bad standup comedy" - at least if you fail at everything else, your friends can laugh their asses off to the thought of the last thing opponents will ever hear is a bad one liner about three men walking into a bar

Arros Winhadren
2008-07-06, 08:18 PM
As for that, I was thinking of taking Leadership. Does that operate by using Diplomacy, or something else?

EndlessWrath
2008-07-06, 08:25 PM
As I see it...You don't play bard to fight or something. You play a bard to have fun. If I were you, I'd max diplomacy but more importantly (in my opinion) bluff. If you want to be a decent fighter...put an good score into dex. Weapon Finess Rapier or something like that and fight using 1 weapon. Keep a good escape ability or spell handy just in case... and constantly buff people. Bard is like a lesser version of a wizard/rogue. Decent skill points and weak spells... I'm not gonna say change class, but don't expect to do well Numbers wise. I would make the WACKIEST bard ever. Make him humorous and take bluff and diplomacy...and constantly try to do both. Bluff your way out of things.

Best # into Charisma. 2nd best # into Dex. 3rd best into Int or Con (for hp.) Wis, while good, shouldn't be as important as survival (higher con) or More skill points (int)

Eldariel
2008-07-06, 08:31 PM
Be Middle-Aged. Your stats scream Middle-Aged seeing that you have all 6 as uneven stats.

18 Cha, 16 Con, 16 Int, 14 Dex, 14 Wis, 12 Str should be awesome. Alternatively, you could play a larger number in Str if you want to use combat maneuvers like tripping (switch 16 into Str, toss 12 into Dex and 14 into Con).


Just try to surprise people with your Fascinate into Suggestion to just end encounters and overall buff your Bardic Music if you can (core doesn't cater well for that though). I'd say you want to study the art of Tripping people to be of in-combat use and focus on what you can do; unfortunately Bard really loves his splat books so you're missing out on a lot (you'd get two useful songs instead of Countersong and Inspire Competence (not useful), Sublime Chord for casting, ability to pimp out your Inspire Courage-check and so on).

Draz74
2008-07-06, 08:33 PM
I'd go crazy with Illusion spells of all ilks, play a Gnome, and take Spell Focus (Illusion) feats.

Kizara
2008-07-06, 08:34 PM
Unfortunately, you really don't have many options without even the Cadventurer available. I mean, its one thing to not allow stuff from campaign settings, dragons or all the other splat, but its another to basically kill any real build options you have.

Some ideas nonetheless:

Spell focus (enchantment)
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (something cool, like a chain)
Extend Spell (for buffing allies/self)

As others have said, focus your skills in the social skills. Put the rest of the leftovers in knowledges.

Um...

Go for the shadow-dancer PrC in the DMG, its about the only bardic-like PrC that comes to mind that might work at all.

monty
2008-07-06, 08:36 PM
As for that, I was thinking of taking Leadership. Does that operate by using Diplomacy, or something else?

Leadership is entirely Charisma-based (ignoring non-core feats), and is often considered broken.

Talya
2008-07-06, 08:36 PM
Be Middle-Aged. Your stats scream Middle-Aged seeing that you have all 6 as uneven stats.


Brilliant.

Leewei
2008-07-06, 08:43 PM
1. Your Inspire Courage ability hits everyone, including you. Two Weapon Fighting is pretty nice for taking advantage of this.

2. Your Inspire Courage has no limit on the number of targets it can affect. Your Summon spells will suck, but there's no reason another PC (especially a druid) couldn't take advantage of this.

3. Haste is extremely handy. Heroism somewhat less so (stacks only slightly with Inspire Courage but grants a +2 Morale bonus to all saves). Grease denies Dex bonus to AC for many opponents, making you a rogue's best friend. Heck, debuffing AC is handy for everyone.

4. Use Magic Device is the utimate skill for longterm versatility -- and you get it as a Class skill with your best ability bonus thrown in.

One final note -- Diplomacy is nice to have up there, but don't waste feats on it. Seriously.

Arros Winhadren
2008-07-06, 08:53 PM
Cool stuff! I realize that my bard will never be a powerhouse, but that's just fine with me. I'm using daggers (thrown) and I'm going to take Improved Critical so that I can at least have a good chance of critting with my wimpy daggers. With my low hp (like 7 or something) I'm staying away from the front lines, so I'm thinking of Farshot to get my daggers up to 20 ft.

What do you mean by being Middle Aged? Is that just some joke I'm missing, or is there actually a benefit to that?

Eldariel
2008-07-06, 08:57 PM
What do you mean by being Middle Aged? Is that just some joke I'm missing, or is there actually a benefit to that?

Age categories are listed in PHB. Middle-Aged people get -1 Str, Dex and Con, +1 Int, Wis and Cha. Old people further get -2 Str, Dex and Con, +1 Int, Wis and Cha (so a total of -3 physicals, +2 mentals). Venerables further get -3 Str, Dex and Con, +1 Int, Wis and Cha (a total of -6 physicals, +3 mentals). By starting in Middle Age, you get good adjustments in all stats. It just requires making a bit older character.

Page 109 in PHB lists these.

Cuddly
2008-07-06, 09:00 PM
Recognize that you're going to be in a support role. Focus on getting spells that help your friends. Let the wizard take care of shutting down enemies with grease or whatever. Let the fighter hit stuff. You just layer on bonuses, like bull's strength, singing (for the love of god, make sure you sing!), haste, and so on. Be a flanking buddy for the rogue with your whip or spiked chain. Glibness is a totally broken spell. +30 to lying? Hell yeah!

Illusions are handy, too. Note that you can't take improved critical until you have +8 BAB. If you're starting at level 1, you can't take it (RAW, anyway). Criticals are typically a bad way to do damage, anyway. If you plan on throwing things, get point blank shot and precise shot. A -4 penalty on throwing into melee sucks, especially at level 1. When you get more attacks, quick draw will be useful. But hold off on that for a while.


Leadership is entirely Charisma-based (ignoring non-core feats), and is often considered broken.

Charisma and level based, with a handful of modifiers.

Arros Winhadren
2008-07-06, 09:11 PM
Thanks for all of the help! This forum is surprisingly helpful, I've made a few newbie topics and so far all I've gotten is support. So here's one last question - does Hero Forge have an option for changing my stats according to Middle Age, or should I just change them myself?

Chronos
2008-07-06, 09:12 PM
Leadership is the most powerful feat in the game, if you can get it. But there's a reason it's in the DMG, instead of the PHB: It's strictly on a DM-approval basis. If the DM allows Leadership, then everyone should have it. If he doesn't, then of course no one will.

Eldariel
2008-07-06, 09:16 PM
Thanks for all of the help! This forum is surprisingly helpful, I've made a few newbie topics and so far all I've gotten is support. So here's one last question - does Hero Forge have an option for changing my stats according to Middle Age, or should I just change them myself?

Changing them yourself is probably the easiest. Just remember to choose age accordingly; a Middle Aged Human is 35 or over.

monty
2008-07-06, 09:23 PM
Leadership is the most powerful feat in the game, if you can get it. But there's a reason it's in the DMG, instead of the PHB: It's strictly on a DM-approval basis. If the DM allows Leadership, then everyone should have it. If he doesn't, then of course no one will.

And when everyone has Leadership, no one will.:smallbiggrin:

Mark Hall
2008-07-06, 09:34 PM
Since you're looking at a combat-heavy game, get friendly with the whip. Stand behind your party and trip everything you see ("I am the mystical elf of helpful healings and magical foo-fraw." "I trip him.")

Fortunately, this works well with being a diplomancer... you'll have to wait a bit for improved trip, but tripping everything is FUN!

Cuddly
2008-07-06, 09:50 PM
Being middle aged and using a whip makes you more Indiana Jones, too.
Make sure you carry a hand crossbow or something.

Vexxation
2008-07-06, 09:57 PM
Being middle aged and using a whip makes you more Indiana Jones, too.
Make sure you carry a hand crossbow or something.

Hehe...

He basically could just RP as being Indy...
Massive Lore and knowledge, a better diplomat... all he lacks is the combat prowess (not much, really) and the luck (aka "action points").

Bards might not get much in the PHB, but a bard always relies on you to make it fun. If you want, try for some silly Performs, like Perform: (Demoralizing Speech). That's my favorite of any I've seen.

Use Illusions to keep yourself alive, use Charms and Suggestions to make new "allies," and use Glibness to bluff out of anything bad.

Actually, bluff plus illusions can be good. "Hey, there's a big mean dragon over there! Watch out, it's headed right at you!"

monty
2008-07-06, 10:19 PM
I'd hardly say he lacks combat prowess...hell, even a wizard is better at combat than the average person. Indy isn't that good.

Hal
2008-07-06, 10:28 PM
It sounds like you've got your mind made up already, but if it's not too late, I'd like to put in a vote for the archery line of feats. It's actually a decent role for a bard, as you're not likely to want to be on the front-line of combat anyhow.