2010-01-01, 11:47 PM (ISO 8601)
Bugbear in the Playground
Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook
Some bard points:
Might be worth mentioning that bardic music progression is earlier/better.
Inspire Courage, for example, was +2 at 8th, +3 at 14th, and +4 at 20th in 3.5; it's at 5th, 11th, and 17th now, so you get them a bit earlier. It's noticeable, though it doesn't boost the end power level.
Inspire Competence bonuses scale now, up to +6. Not shabby.
A big buff to bards is that their song bonuses (I'm looking at the perennial favourite here: Inspire Courage) are competence bonuses now - this means that they stack with spells that add morale bonuses - and the bard list has several of those (heroism, good hope, and greater heroism come to mind).
I'll point out that I DM a Pathfinder group, and the bard's opening move of a swift action spell (like Inspirational Boost if you allow the SpC), a move action bardic music (Inspire Courage), and a standard action spell (Haste or Good Hope, both are solid options) is pretty solid. Good Hope stacking with Inspire courage is a nice extra +2/+2 for the attackers. Obviously, if you are jacking your IC through the roof with items/feats from diverse sourcebooks it's less of a deal, but it's a nice boost to the vanilla bard.
Inspire Greatness is interesting, because you can continue bardic music as a free action - and thus, one can stop bardic music by simply not taking that action. Because bardic music doesn't persist after stopping, you can start a new one up the same round that you stopped (even as a swift action, eventually). A bard starting and stopping inspire greatness up every round doesn't use any more uses of bardic music (since it's measured in rounds, now) but is continually re-granting the 2d10+2*Con temporary hitpoints that Inspire Greatness grants, which can certainly help soak up incidental damage if that's what is needed; given that this can be done in lieu of swift or move actions you can still be doing other things while restoring everyone's ablative shields.