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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalfOrcPirate

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    Default Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Playerís Gonna Play
    A Bardís Guide

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    ďMusic is everything and nothing. It is useless and no limit can be set on its use. Music takes me to places of illimitable sensual and insensate joy, accessing points of ecstasy that no angelic lover could ever locate, or plunging me into gibbering weeping hells of pain that no torturer could devise. Music makes me write this sort of maundering adolescent nonsense without embarrassment. Music is in fact the dog's bollocks. Nothing else comes close.Ē

    -Stephen Fry

    While Bards were originally a nigh-unfeasible mix of Fighter, Rogue, and Druid, they were made into a regular class with the onset of 2e AD&D. The classic Bard combines the combat prowess of the Fighter and acrobatic skill set of the Rogue with magical abilities. Using magical songs, Bards can buff their allies and devastate their enemies. The 5e Bard stays true to the classic archetype, providing a powerful caster who can hold their own in close combat, and a damned fine skill monkey to boot.

    Of course, apart from the mechanical aspects, the Bard is a class that demands to be roleplayed. Its spells demand that you think creatively. Its strengths push you to interact with people constantly. It wants you to be gregarious, and it was designed that way. If you want to be silly, clever, and powerful, the Bard might be the class for you.

    Remember that this is an optimization guide. It is designed to allow readers to understand the strengths and advantages inherent to playing a Bard. That said, if you have a fun idea that isn't terribly optimized, don't be afraid to put fun ahead of numbers. It's a game, after all.

    Color Scheme
    • This is freaking amazing! It provides many options, or will do one thing extremely well.
    • This is really good, but not quite phenomenal.
    • This is good. It will regularly be useful, though it won't provide many tactical choices.
    • Bad. It will be extremely rare that it's useful at all.


    • Occasionally very useful, but limited in scope or applicability.


    Table of Contents:
    1. Learn Your Scales
    2. Musical Cultures
    3. Bardic Colleges
    4. Set List
    5. Feats and Multiclassing
    Last edited by EvilAnagram; 2016-04-26 at 11:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Playerís Gonna Play
    You Must Learn your Scales and your Arpeggios

    Image by David Rapoza

    Ability Scores
    • Strength: Good for skill checks, and some melee builds will need STR, but most won't. Valor Bards are more likely to go with STR over Lore Bards.
    • Dexterity: This should almost certainly be your secondary stat, and Valor Bards will want to have this roughly equal to their CHA. It boosts your attack, initiative, and AC, not to mention some great skills.
    • Constitution: Hit Points are good.
    • Intelligence: You might want a decent Arcana. Or you might dump this completely.
    • Wisdom: If you donít dump INT, dump this. You might want it to boost your Perception and saves, but you need to pick one of them.
    • Charisma: This is your primary casing stat. Always pump it up.


    While Bards are capable melee combatants, they are primarily casters. Even Bards in the College of Valor will spend as much time weaving spells as they will swinging blades.

    Class Features
    • Hit Dice: 1d8 per level isnít the worst. You wonít be able to take a punch like a Fighter can, but youíre no wimp.
    • Armor Proficiency: Light armor isnít bad, especially since most Bards are DEX builds. Valor Bards get Medium and Shields.
    • Weapon Proficiency: You get all simple weapons, plus some martial swords and ranged weapons.
    • Saving Throws: DEX is extremely common, and youíll be pumping it anyways. CHA is less common, but itís common enough to be useful.
    • Skills: You literally get all the skills. Only the Rogue could possibly contest your position as supreme skill monkey. Grab Acrobatics, one conversational skill, and anything else you think youíll enjoy.
    • Tools: Musical instruments. Youíll be able to find a use for this. At least, early on, you can make some coin.
    • Spellcasting: You can keep up with any other primary caster, with the same number of slots as any other principal caster, and as many cantrips as a Druid. The Bard list lacks a bit in pure damage potential, but it has options in every school, and you can make a powerful Enchanter or Illusionist. Plus, Ritual Casting.
    • Bardic Inspiration: Combine Bless and Guidance, then increase the size of the die every five levels. All this, and you donít even need a spell slot.
    • Jack of All Trades: You will never be bad at a skill. Also applies to Dispel Magic, Counterspell, and Telekinesis ability checks, which is pretty damned helpful.
    • Song of Rest: Stretch out the whole partyís hit dice.
    • Expertise: Bards didnít need to be any better skill monkeys, but they are.
    • Ability Score Improvement: Obviously good for obvious reasons. The only reason it's not sky blue is that the Fighter gets more.
    • Font of Inspiration: Bard features tend to make them even better at things they can already do, and this feature is no exception. Bardic Inspiration now regenerates much faster.
    • Countercharm: Itís a decent buff at the cost of an action. Paladins get similar features that donít cost actions, but this is a solid ability, too.
    • Magical Secrets: Learn any two spells you want. This feature is the primary reason why people claim that Bards are the best caster class.
    • Superior Inspiration: You will always have some Bardic Inspiration. You probably werenít running out very often to begin with, but there you have it.
    Last edited by EvilAnagram; 2017-02-09 at 08:51 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Playerís Gonna Play
    Cultural Music Exchange

    Image not mine, if you know who did it please inform me

    Player's Handbook
    • Hill Dwarf: You gain a boost to CON, which is nice, and you get some sweet Dwarf features. You get nothing that boosts your ability to attack or cast, though.
    • Mountain Dwarf: Like the Hill Dwarf, but instead of a dump stat, you get a boost to STR. Okay for Valor Bards. Again, Lore Bards shouldnít touch it.
    • High Elf: Like all Elves, High Elves get Trance, proficiency with Perception checks, and a DEX boost. You wonít need the INT or the cantrip, though, and the weapon training is wasted.
    • Wood Elf: Again, the basic Elf package is solid, but the Wood-specific features arenít terribly helpful. Itís a slight improvement on the High Elf.
    • Drow: Boost your DEX, boost your CHA, boost your casting, boost your Darkvision, plus all the Elf features! Sunlight Sensitivity sucks, but you can get around it, and most of your spells rely on saves. Besides, Faerie Fire washes out the disadvantage.
    • Lightfoot Halfling: DEX and CHA boosts are awesome. Luck is awesome. Brave is awesome. Hiding isnít bad, either. This is awesome.
    • Stout Halfling: Like Lightfoot, but without a boost to CHA. Still, Con isnít bad, and neither is resistance to poison.
    • Human: Plus one to every stat? Sure.
    • Variant Human: Feats are fun.
    • Dragonborn: A CHA boost, some damage resistance, and a breath attack? Cool. If you want a STR build, this is the race to pick. If you donít, itís still solid.
    • Forest Gnome: Gnome Cunning is awesome, and you get a DEX boost, but INT is your dump stat, and you donít get much use out of anything else.
    • Rock Gnome: See above, but switch out DEX for CON.
    • Half-Elf: Did you want 16, 16, 14 for CHA, DEX, and CON? Then take this. You even get Elf features and even more skills.
    • Half-Orc: If you want a Valor Bard whoís a mediocre caster for the first eight levels, pick a Half-Orc. If youíre starting at level 8 or higher, itís actually not bad. Nothing here for
    • Lore Bards, though.
    • Tiefling: Itís a +2 to CHA, resistance to a common damage type, and you gain spells that key off of your CHA. Youíre second boost goes to a dump stat, but everything else is great.


    Dungeon Master's Guide:
    • Aasimar: Charisma and resistance are great, but the spells are kind of crappy.
    • Eladrin: High Elf with a teleport spell. Not terrible.


    Sword Coast Adveturer's Guide
    • Duergar: Okay for Valor, less good for Lore.
    • Deep Gnome: DEX is fine, and you can get advantage on a lot of saves and Stealth. That said, INT does nothing for you. Besides, Deep Gnomes are too dour.
    • Ghostwise Halfling: The other halflings are simply superior for your purposes.


    Volo's Guide to Monsters
    • Aasimar: The Charisma is great. The rest of it is arguably better. It just offers too much not to be useful.
    • Firbolg: Not that great for Bards, but not terrible for a Valor Bard.
    • Goliath: Another that is okay for a Valor Bard, but terrible for a Lore Bard.
    • Kenku: It's good at doing things unrelated to being a bard, but it isn't great otherwise.
    • Lizardfolk: If you roll a solid STR, this isn't terrible, but it isn't great unless you're a Valor Bard.
    • Tabaxi: CHA, DEX, and mobility features sounds good to me.
    • Triton: Are you a Valor Bard? Well these guys boost all your major stats, plus resistance and extra spells.


    Volo's Monstrous Races
    • Bugbear: Don't bother. Really, no one wants to hear a Bugbear sing. They're not terrible Valor Bards, but they're not good Bards.
    • Goblin: The bonus action Disengage is nice, as is getting boosts to your secondaries.
    • Hobgoblin: There is nothing about Hobgoblins that is musically inclined.
    • Kobold: Pack Tactics isn't great for Bards, who basically only use save-or sucks.
    • Orc: Nothing that Orcs provide helps with the whole singing and making magic by singing schtick.
    • Yuan-Ti Pureblood: For having no emotion, Yuan-Ti are damn good at musical magic. The Charisma and Magic Resistance are solid on their own, but there's also poison immunity and some extra spells.


    Elemental Evil
    • Aarakocra: Flight is fun, and you get a DEX boost, but nothing provides you with any major advantages.
    • Genasi: All the Genasi options provide a CON boost and some CON spells. This is generally a pretty good thing.

    Spoiler: Genasi Subtypes
    Show
    • Air Genasi: DEX and Levitate are decent for any Bard.
    • Earth Genasi: It's better as a STR build.
    • Fire Genasi: Just take a Tiefling.
    • Water Genasi: The only thing here that helps you is the CON boost. If you want Acid resistance, be a Dragonborn.


    Plane Shift Zendikar
    Holy crap, it's a Magic/D&D crossover. A lot of the races in this supplement don't fit the races in traditional D&D settings that well, so be sure to talk to your DM before utilizing them.
    • Human: About what you'd expect.
    • Kor: Ghostwise Halfling drops psychic ribbon for a climb speed.
    • Merfolk: I have a little saying: "If it boosts your primary casting stat and gives you extra magic, it's sky-blue." All Merfolk are sky-blue.
    • Vampire: The Charisma boost is nice, but the other features are not terribly important for a Bard.
    • Goblin: A boost to Constitution and two resistances is going to be nice for any class.
    • Elf: Tajura at least get the Charisma boost, but Juraga and Mul Daya just aren't Bard material.


    Unearthed Arcana supplements have provided a few new options:

    Eberron
    • Changeling: Charisma and Dexterity boosts, plus Deception and Shapechanging? Plenty of fun for a Bard here.
    • Shifters: Shifters tend to provide purely physical boosts. Some of these boosts are better than others, but Valor Bards are generally the only ones who will want to pick a Shifter. Lore Bards have no business being Shifters.

    Spoiler: Shifter Subtypes
    Show
    • Beasthide Shifter: The bonuses to AC, CON, and DEX make a decent Valor option.
    • Cliffwalk Shifter: Your DEX is good, and you get the shifter temp HP, but other shifter options are simply better.
    • Longstride: Another pure Dex option, with a mobility option. No need to poach Longstrider.
    • Longtooth Shifter: A little STR and DEX can help a Valor Bard.
    • Razorclaw Shifter: Pure DEX with a bonus attack. Not terrible.
    • Wildhunt Shifter: WIS is a dump stat.

    • Warforged: A Valor Bard can get some use out of this, but a Lore Bard should just say no.


    Waterborne
    • Minotaur: You ever feel like youíre constantly repeating yourself? Well, itís another race that is okay for a Valor Bard, but terrible for a Lore Bard.
    Last edited by EvilAnagram; 2017-02-10 at 08:04 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Playerís Gonna Play
    Bardic Colleges

    Image by zix72 on DeviantArt

    College of Lore
    The College of Lore is for bards truly devoted to story and song. In his quest for learning, the Lore Bard gains more skills, more magic, and some truly awesome abilities that make him an excellent support character. Arguably the greatest caster in the game.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: At this point, youíre so skilled youíll hardly need spells to accomplish anything.
    • Cutting Words: Now, you buff your friends, and debuff your enemies using Bardic Inspiration. Very nice.
    • Additional Magical Secrets: Who doesnít like more spells?
    • Peerless Skill: Never fail at anything ever again. Well, up to five times per short rest. Works on Initiative, Dispel Magic, Counterspell, and Telekinesis, too.


    College of Valor
    The College of Valor is for those skalds whose devotion to heroism has gone far beyond academic study. The Valor Bard is a competent melee combatant without losing any of his magical ability.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: Exactly what you need to become a strong melee combatant.
    • Combat Inspiration: Solid buffs to damage and AC.
    • Extra Attack: Double your damage.
    • Battle Magic: This is where you really start to shine as a gish. Cast and slash, every turn.


    College of Swords (Unearthed Arcana: Classics Revisited)
    The College of Swords is for those Bards who want to truly devote themselves to the pursuit of the blade without giving up their casting. War Caster becomes absolutely necessary to use this build effectively, but when you pick it up you'll have an excellent time.
    This College is not Adventurer's League legal. Ask your DM before using splats.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: Fairly central to your character concept, though the proficiencies seem comparatively limited.
    • Fighting Style: Two-Weapon Fighting is nice, but it's constantly competing with your other abilities for your bonus action.
    • Blade Flourish:Spend inspiration to boost your AC or ranged attack, or spend it to gain the benefits of Fear and Dominate Person on a wounded target. It's really nice, even with the limitations and lack of coherence with Bardic Inspiration.
    • Extra Attack: Very nice, as always.
    • Battle Magic: When your focus is on Two-Weapon Fighting and your Blade FLourishes take bonus actions, this suddenly has a lot of competition in the action economy, especially since one attack will be somewhat minor compared to a Valor Bard's.


    College of Satire (Unearthed Arcana: Classics Revisited)
    Fun fact: Fools in medieval and Renaissance England were specifically licensed to be able to tell the truth without legal consequences, and the College of Satire draws from these real-world roots. The Fool seems specifically designed both to ferret out truths and avoid consequences, two things that can be very handy in D&D.
    This College is not Adventurer's League legal. Ask your DM before using splats.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: A nice suite of skills and tools.
    • Tumbling Fool: The bonus action Dash/Disengage combined is awesome enough, but there are other benefits, too!
    • Fool's Insight: A solid, low-cost information gathering tool.
    • Fool's Luck: It has a nasty drawback, but it will save your butt when you need it to.


    As you can tell, the Bard provides excellent options that diverge considerably, but provide excellent power and utility.
    Last edited by EvilAnagram; 2016-03-20 at 04:08 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Playerís Gonna Play
    Set List

    Image by Kuang Hong.

    The usefulness of a lot of Bard spells frequently depends on your own imagination and roleplaying. Of course, they also tend to have measurable mechanical aspects that allow you to pull off your imaginative tomfoolery with varying degrees of success.

    It's also worth noting that many of the Bard's best spells rely on Wisdom saves. It is advisable that you occasionally branch out, even picking somewhat inferior spells, in order to ensure that you can target multiple abilities. Otherwise, you might end up with great spells that are completely useless against your enemy.

    You can use either a component pouch or a musical instrument as a focus.

    I will not be rating spells eligible for choice using Magical Secrets, as ranking every spell in the game sounds like a horrible experience. Just make sure one of your choices is Counterspell, and remember that Telekinesis benefits from Jack of All Trades and Peerless Skill.

    Besides, Navigator put together this awesome list of spells eligible for Magical Secrets.

    Spoiler: Cantrips
    Show
    • Blade Ward: This would be great if it didnít last a single round. As it is, if you expect to be attacked by a lot of mundane weapons, you should probably just Dodge and take a different cantrip. That said, a Valor Bard can get use out of this after hitting level 14, when he can cast and then attack as a bonus action.
    • Dancing Lights: Light for people who want to feel fancy. It uses concentration though, so I guess making Light fancy takes a lot of skill.
    • Friends: Charm Person for people you donít care about. Want to get past a hostile bouncer? Friends. Interrogation? Friends. Maybe you want a guard to carry a bomb into a monastery, and you donít particularly care what he thinks of you afterwards. Thatís right. Friends.
    • Light: Makes a light. If you frequently find yourself in need of light, take this cantrip.
    • Mage Hand: It provides a minor benefit that you can definitely get some use out of. In fact, Iíve found that players who chose Mage Hand will frequently find far more reasons for using Mage Hand than other players think is reasonable. Itís like when you have a hammer, every problem is solved by Mage Hand.
    • Mending: Fix a thing. There are some things that are definitely worth fixing. If you think youíll be around things that need fixing, maybe take the spell that lets you fix things.
    • Message: I can imagine ways that this spell can be useful. I cannot imagine very many, though.
    • Minor Illusion: A lovely spell that allows you to fail spectacularly when you roleplay an animal sound. Also, a fantastic way to trick people without using up any resources. Take it.
    • Prestidigitation: Itís all flash, and it provides no mechanical benefit whatsoever. Youíre a bard. Take it.
    • Thunderclap: Bards get a damaging cantrip! It deals more damage than Vicious Mockery, but it doesnít impose disadvantage and leads to fewer yoí momma jokes at the table. It's also a spell that demands that you be surrounded to use it, but doesn't actually help very much if you're surrounded. Lightly slapping the three orcs standing next to you is rarely a winning strategy.
    • True Strike: You know whatís better than giving up an action to roll twice for an attack next turn? Rolling this turn, then rolling next turn. You roll the same number of times, but you have the chance to hit twice. Casting this spell is mathematically worse than not casting this spell.
    • Vicious Mockery: The Bardliest cantrip you can get, it deals very little damage, but the disadvantage is an excellent debuff. Plus, any spell that encourages you to insult the DMís favorite villain deserves respect.


    Spoiler: 1st Level Spells
    Show
    • Animal Friendship: Heavily situational.
    • Bane: More powerful than you think, less powerful than you hope. Inflicting disadvantage is arguably more powerful.
    • Charm Person: Better than Friends, but possibly not good enough to contend with your other options. You might want to wait for Suggestion.
    • Comprehend Languages: Obviously extremely situational.
    • Cure Wounds: Healing is good. This provides healing that scales.
    • Detect Magic: You may need it at times. I donít know if youíll need it enough to displace your other options.
    • Disguise Self: Again, situational, but useful.
    • Dissonant Whispers: Deal okay damage, and force your enemy to run away of their own volition. This can trigger all kinds of op attacks and reshape the field in your favor.
    • Earth Tremor: This can help you escape a nasty situation, dealing some damage to boot.
    • Faerie Fire: I like having advantage. This does that thing that I like.
    • Feather Fall: When you need it, youíll be glad you have it. You will not, however, need it very often.
    • Healing Word: Heal on a bonus action. You donít heal as much as with Cure Wounds, but you still get to do something else. Valor Bards may want this over Cure Wounds so they can continue attacking.
    • Heroism: The temp HP is extremely strong when you first get it, but that fades with time and levels.
    • Identify: Having ritual spells around is certainly a good idea, and this one provides a decent benefit. Having the Wizard take it is an intelligent decision.
    • Illusory Script: Again, situationally useful.
    • Longstrider: The slight mobility granted is simply not worth expending any resources.
    • Silent Image: A neat little illusion thatís suitably superior to Minor Illusion.
    • Sleep: At first you can lay waste to entire encounters with this spell, but it becomes less impressive as time rolls by.
    • Speak with Animals: Situational, if you could not tell.
    • Tashaís Hideous Laughter: It keeps your opponent from being able to do anything for a while, and provides advantage. Extremely abusable in social situations.
    • Thunderwave: Deal okay damage and push your enemies away. Those are two things any caster can appreciate.
    • Unseen Servant: Situational, but it can address so many situations.


    Spoiler: 2nd Level Spells
    Show
    • Animal Messenger: You know this is situational.
    • Blindness/Deafness: An enemy that canít see you is an enemy that wonít last very long.
    • Calm Emotions: Donít want to deal with the furious orcs? Worried that mob might grab its pitchforks? Need to fight off a Frightening Presence? Calm Emotions is here to help you out.
    • Cloud of Daggers: Okay damage in a very small area. If you can keep a target from moving out of the area, it gets better
    • Crown of Madness: As many have pointed out, the fact that the enemy attacks before you force it to move can lead to situations in which the enemy you cast it upon canít actually attack another enemy. This reduces its effectiveness, though you can still force op attacks and prevent enemy actions.
    • Detect Thoughts: It has situational uses, but can also be used to sweep for invisible enemies.
    • Enhance Ability: Itís a solid buff, but it does not allow advantage on attacks or spell attacks.
    • Enthrall: I just donít see the point of it. I suppose you can distract a creature while your buddies sneak around, but they could just use Pass Without Trace. Its uses are extremely limited.
    • Heat Metal: As a matter of fact, dealing damage every turn with no save allowed is extremely nice. The ability to incapacitate or disarm your opponent is gravy.
    • Hold Person: Donít want a big guy to get near you, hold him still!
    • Invisibility: Always good.
    • Knock: If no one has Thievesí Tools, this can be useful.
    • Lesser Restoration: Will be necessary a some point.
    • Locate Animals or Plants: Obviously situational.
    • Locate Object: Again, clearly situational. To the point where you shouldnít have it without a spellbook.
    • Magic Mouth: So very situational.
    • Phantasmal Force: The uses of this spell are infinite, and the damage you could do with it is tremendous.
    • Pyrotechnics: Provides solid debuffs that are definitely worth utilizing.
    • See Invisibility: Somewhat situational, and Detect Thoughts and Faerie Fire can replicate its effects.
    • Shatter: Scaling AOE attack that deals decent damage. Bards donít actually have many of those.
    • Silence: If you want to cripple another caster or sneak through a dangerous are, use this.
    • Skywrite: Completely situational.
    • Suggestion: The only limit is your imaginationÖ in addition to the other limits specified in the PHB. Itís an extremely powerful charm.
    • Warding Wind: Like with Unseen Servant, the sheer variety of situations in which this would be useful move it beyond situational abilities.
    • Zone of Truth: Useful, but not necessary.


    Spoiler: 3rd Level Spells
    Show
    • Bestow Curse:When I read the text for this spell, I feel like a trick is being played on me. You can choose from all those awesome debuffs or convince your DM of another one? Great!
    • Clairvoyance: That's a solid spying tool. Not necessarily one you're ever going to use, but still solid.
    • Dispel Magic: I think everyone finds themselves needing this occasionally. Benefits from Peerless Skill and Jack of All Trades
    • Fear: It has the potential to completely change an encounter. Forcing your enemies to flee while giving your buddies op attacks is fun, but the conditions for saving from it make it downright abusable, and its an AOE to boot!
    • Feign Death: Situational. Sometimes you'll get some use out of this, but you usually will not.
    • Glyph of Warding: If you have an hour to use it, you will frequently find it worthwhile. However, you will rarely have an hour to spare when exploring a dungeon.
    • Hypnotic Pattern: Take away the actions of quite a lot of enemies. Very nice.
    • Leomundís Tiny Hut: Protect yourself from the elements, your enemies, and random encounters at night. A decent utility, though not particularly useful in combat.
    • Major Image: Illusions have infinite uses, and this is a very big illusion.
    • Nondetection: Completely situational. If the BBEG is a mage who has been scrying you, go for it.
    • Plant Growth: The utility uses are entirely situational, but it also aids you in escaping pursuers and allows you to hold groups of enemies fairly still for AOE effects.
    • Sending: You know what's totally situational? This spell.
    • Speak with Dead: And this spell.
    • Speak with Plants: Also, this spell.
    • Stinking Cloud: AOE that denies actions on a CON save? Not bad.
    • Tongues: Playing Holy Spirit is very situational in its usefulness.


    Spoiler: 4th Level Spells
    Show
    • Compulsion: Solid battlefield control that denies movement and can set up some nasty AOEs.
    • Confusion: It interferes with enemy actions as an AOE, but it offers saves every turn and has a smaller radius. Plus the effects are unpredictable.
    • Dimension Door: 500' teleport with very few restrictions. Also potentially weaponizeable.
    • Freedom of Movement: Provides decent bonuses, but maybe not worth the slot.
    • Greater Invisibility:Well, that's nice.
    • Hallucinatory Terrain: Good for occasionally tricking people.
    • Locate Creature: Does what it does well, but you won't necessarily need it.
    • Polymorph: While it's not completely broken as some came, it's still tons of fun.


    Spoiler: 5th Level Spells
    Show
    • Animate Object: Animate some silverware and tell them to assassinate a king for 65 damage per turn. Or animate a cottage and ask the taxman if you really owe for property. This is one of those spells that's more useful than it sounds.
    • Awaken: A spell for those among us who, despite all evidence to the contrary, genuinely believe their pets have something interesting to say. It's situational, but infinitely applicable.
    • Dominate Person: This is arguably the most powerful enchantment up to this level, but it only lasts a minute, and the target can save multiple times.
    • Dream: Situational, but its usefulness is wide-ranging. From simple communication, to intentionally harming or even assassinating a target, you can do quite a lot with this ability.
    • Geas: You can do so many horrible things to a target using Geas. You can ruin an NPC, force an enemy into service, or even assassinate someone via dangerous, but not suicidal tasks.
    • Greater Restoration: You will need this at some point. Take it if no one else will.
    • Hold Monster: Excellent ability that can stop your death in its tracks.
    • Legend Lore: Just make a History check. You're a skill monkey, after all.
    • Mass Cure Wounds: I'm a big believer in not dying as a means of winning, and this is a good spell for that. Doesn't scale terribly well, but still great.
    • Mislead: One of those situational spells that's still useful in combat and has so many uses it has to be black.
    • Modify Memory: This one is just plain situational, though many parties will wish people forgot what just happened. As a Bard, that will likely be your fault.
    • Planar Binding: Potentially powerful, but celestials, fey, and fiends all tend to have excellent Charisma saves, which limits its use. Certain fiends are better targets for this than others, but those tend to be the weaker fiends.
    • Raise Dead: This is one of those spells someone needs to have, or else your party will regret it.
    • Scrying: Totally situational. Flavorful, and a spell I personally like, but situational.
    • Seeming: A decent way to stealth your way through hostile territory. Also good for turning guards against one of your enemies.
    • Teleportation Circle: A decent way to skip travel time for the whole party.


    Spoiler: 6th Level Spells
    Show
    • Eyebite: Solid debuffs on multiple targets for ten rounds for a single slot. Not bad. Still, a lot of these effects can be replicated by lower level spells.
    • Find the Path: Extremely situational.
    • Guards and Wards: If you have a home base of your own, you will want this spell. Most players will not want this spell.
    • Mass Suggestion: I love Suggestion. This is Suggestion for lots of people.
    • Ottoís Irresistible Dance: This is possibly the most fun you can have with a spell. Cast on flying creatures for double the awesome.
    • Programmed Illusion: Situational, but like all illusions a little creativity can make it very useful.
    • True Seeing: It's a festival of benefits for the price of one spell.


    Spoiler: 7th Level Spells
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    • Etherealness: Excellent scouting spell, plus an automatic "Eff your prison."
    • Forcecage: Possibly broken, but no save is necessary, and it can completely remove someone from a fight.
    • Mirage Arcane: A tactile illusion limited only by your imagination and the "no creatures" clause.
    • Mordenkainenís Magnificent Mansion: A fancy hidey-hole. Not quite useless, and very fun.
    • Mordenkainenís Sword: Summon with an action, and deal bonus action damage for the remainder of its duration. The damage is poor for the level, but it's on your bonus action
    • Project Image: If you need another you hanging around, this works out.
    • Regenerate: Excellent healing over a long duration with no concentration.
    • Resurrection: In case no one had Raise Dead when the Wizard died.
    • Symbol: Upgrades Glyph, but has a massive cost. You won't be using it often if you take it, and there's a lot of competition for these slots.
    • Teleport: This is simply a great teleportation spell.


    Spoiler: 8th Level Spells
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    • Dominate Monster: Like Dominate Person, but works against any creature.
    • Feeblemind: A little twisted, but you can completely destroy an enemy's ability to function as a person, almost permanently.
    • Glibness: You'll be out-talking everyone anyways, but you'll find uses for it. If you're expecting to fight casters, it's an enormous boost to your Counterspell.
    • Mind Blank: Great buff if you need it.
    • Power Word Stun: Guaranteed chance to prevent at least a single round of actions.


    Spoiler: 9th Level Spells
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    • Foresight: Holy balls this is great!
    • Power Word Heal: Make someone all better.
    • Power Word Kill: Do you really want to waste your ninth level slot on something that has less than 100 HP?
    • True Polymorph: And now you're a dragon.
    Last edited by EvilAnagram; 2017-02-09 at 10:02 AM.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Playerís Gonna Play
    Feats and Multiclassing

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    Spoiler: Multiclassing
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    • Barbarian : Being unable to cast makes this pretty bad for a caster.
    • Cleric: a couple domains offer enough ancillary benefits that one level might be worth taking, but be sure to pick as few spells that rely on WIS as possible. And why do you have a 13 WIS?
    • Druid: Doesn't offer anything to a full caster with WIS as a dump stat.
    • Fighter: Fighting Style, Extra Attacks, Second Wind, Action Surge, Combat Maneuvers... this is a great for a Valor Bard. Even Lore Bards can benefit from a few levels.
    • Monk: No overlap, no real benefits.
    • Paladin: You share a spellcasting ability, plus a lot of combat benefits. A smiting Bard could be fun.
    • Ranger: A level in Ranger is okay as an alternative to other martials, even two or three if you want Hunter's Mark or a Path option, but no more.
    • Rogue: Sneak attack is fun, but you're already a skill monkey.
    • Sorcerer: Arguably the best option to up your blasting potential, but metamagic also provides boosts to your buffs.
    • Warlock: Another excellent option to increase your blasting power, plus the benefits of Invocations.
    • Wizard: Don't cast spells with your dump stat.



    Spoiler: Feats
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    • Alert: Going before the enemy is rarely a bad thing.
    • Athlete: You really don't need this.
    • Actor:If you thought you weren't crazy enough at Charisma based skill checks, this feat can help you truly break the game. Great for only costing an ability point.
    • Charger: It's okay. You get to charge, just like you did in the last system. Nothing special.
    • Crossbow Expert: If you want to use a crossbow, it's either necessary or broken, depending on how your DM rules it.
    • Defensive Duelist: Great for any melee build, and archers will find it useful when combat gets tight, too.
    • Dual Wielder: Most bards need a free hand to cast, though if you go with the College of Swords then it's much more useful.
    • Dungeon Delver: Great if your DM is a bit trap-happy.
    • Durable: It's okay. Nothing special, but it's a good half-feat bonus.
    • Elemental Adept: You can snag some blasting spells from other classes and make great use out of this, though maybe not as much use as some other casters could.
    • Grappler: Damn it, Jim! You're a caster, not a soldier!
    • Great Weapon Master: An excellent feat for a Valor Bard.
    • Healer: Your skills will be high enough for it.
    • Heavily Armored: You really shouldn't need Heavy Armor, but some Valor Bards might want it.
    • Heavy Armor Master: This is the only reason to get Heavily Armored, but only for Valor Batds, and the benefits aren't worth sacrificing two Ability increases.
    • Inspiring Leader: Starts off powerful and scales okay. Good choice for a Bard.
    • Keen Mind: Situational, but abusable, and it only costs a single ability point.
    • Lightly Armored: You already have the benefit.
    • Linguist: In my experience, knowing the right language at the right time can save your ass.
    • Lucky: This is an exceptionally powerful feat. Definitely worth taking.
    • Mage Slayer: A Valor Bard can get great use out of this, especially if your DM likes casters.
    • Magic Initiate: Grab some blasting power without having to multiclass. Great option.
    • Martial Adept: I would only pick this if you multiclass as a Battle Master.
    • Medium Armor Master: Good for a STR build that relies on Medium Armor, since you won't have to pump DEX quite as much to get a great AC. Even a DEX based Valor Bard could use it if he really wants that +1 AC.
    • Mobile: Solid mobility boost with an escape option.
    • Moderately Armored: You already have the benefit if you're a Valor Bard, but Lore Bards might want it.
    • Mounted Combatant: It's a perfectly good option if you're frequently mounted.
    • Observant: It's a great bonus to two skills that are extremely important to a party.
    • Polearm Master: Great synergy with Sentinel. Only for STR-based builds.
    • Resilient: For a single ability point, you gain a save proficiency. That's awesome.
    • Ritual Caster: You're already a ritual caster, though this might be worthwhile for the spellbook.
    • Savage Attacker: A powerful option for any melee build.
    • Sentinel: Not good for a Bard. Moves up to Blue if you're a Valor Bard and have Polearm Master.
    • Sharpshooter: Great benefits for a ranged character.
    • Shield Master: Great if you use a shield.
    • Skilled: Do you really need any more skills?
    • Skulker: Sneaky stuff can always work to your advantage.
    • Spell Sniper: Okay, but this is not made for a Bard.
    • Tavern Brawler: You're a Bard. Don't take this.
    • Tough: It's a fairly good benefit, and it ends up giving you 40 HP at level 20.
    • War Caster: Valor Bards have no reason not to take this. In fact, if they don't take this, they're big stupid dummy heads. Lore Bards should take it, to. I have half a mind to introduce a gold rating just to emphasize how much this feat rocks.
    • Weapon Master: You already have proficiency with everything if you're a Valor Bard. If you're not, you still don't need this.


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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    "Charisma: CHA is great for skill checks. That's about it. Also a candidate for a dump stat."

    I know bards can do a lot without Charisma, but there is so much more they can do if it is high - I would say it really shouldn't be a dump stat.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    You've rated spells (some)! Nice! Very happy to see a guide start with spells rated instead of "it'll come in the future" and then it never comes. A guide for a spellcaster isn't a guide without spells being rated imo.

    The ratings mostly look good.

    Thunderclap deserves to be blue imo. It is an AoE damage cantrip - which a bard has none other of. The other guide on WotCrates it blue.

    Hold Person is more Blue than Sky Blue. It's good, but is restricted by only targeting humanoids and having a save every round.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    "Charisma: CHA is great for skill checks. That's about it. Also a candidate for a dump stat."

    I know bards can do a lot without Charisma, but there is so much more they can do if it is high - I would say it really shouldn't be a dump stat.
    Based on the sky blue rating, and the fact that they cast off Charisma, I'm inclined to believe that this is either sarcasm or a mistake from copying the format of another guide. Either way, it should be changed.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Kryx View Post
    You've rated spells (some)! Nice! Very happy to see a guide start with spells rated instead of "it'll come in the future" and then it never comes. A guide for a spellcaster isn't a guide without spells being rated imo.

    The ratings mostly look good.

    Thunderclap deserves to be blue imo. It is an AoE damage cantrip - which a bard has none other of. The other guide on WotCrates it blue.

    Hold Person is more Blue than Sky Blue. It's good, but is restricted by only targeting humanoids and having a save every round.
    I don't know - sky blue seems to fit my views on it. It is a bit restrictive yes, but it is an incredibly powerful effect and hits what is often a weak save. For me its value comes from the fact that it remains useful at higher levels - on the right targets cast from a 4th level slot its as game changing as a 4th level spell should be. On the other hand when you are low on resources and only have low level spells the effect on a fight is more powerful than most level 2 spells.

    Niche use also as a non-lethal effect if you need one.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    I wouldn't consider Wis to be a low attribute for most monsters. From the monsters I've used it's typically around 12.

    The Sorcerer guide rates it Blue.
    The Wizard guide rates it Sky Blue.
    The Warlock guide rates it blue(using blue as the maximum)
    The other bard guide linked above rates it Blue.

    I could see it going either way. I lean more toward Blue due to the likelihood of it breaking, but that's just my opinion.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Hmm Yes. I suspect we probably don't disagree about how good it is, just where the boundaries lie between colours.

    For a sorcerer it is better - proficiency in CON and it being a concentration spell is good. Also quickened hold person is a very nasty trick sometimes. I am surprised it is not rated better for them than the Wizard. Certainly given concentration I might rate it slightly weaker for a melee focuses Valor Bard.

    A lot may come down to your DM and how populated the campaign is by monsters and how much by people.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Kryx View Post
    Thunderclap deserves to be blue imo. It is an AoE damage cantrip - which a bard has none other of. The other guide on WotCrates it blue.

    Hold Person is more Blue than Sky Blue. It's good, but is restricted by only targeting humanoids and having a save every round.
    I will definitely take this into consideration.

    My big problem with Thunderclap, though, is that it's an, "Oh, poop, I'm surrounded," spell that doesn't help very much if you're surrounded. The damage is weak, and it doesn't have any secondary effects that would help you escape being surrounded. For those reasons, a Lore Bard should probably never take it. I can see a Valor Bard using it occasionally, since he'd leap into the fray no matter what, but then you have a spell that's only good for kobold sweeping taking an action that could have been used to kill an enemy. Battle Magic alleviates this a bit, but by then you have better options anyways.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    "Charisma: CHA is great for skill checks. That's about it. Also a candidate for a dump stat."
    Thanks for this! Really, point out any typos like this. I was going off of one of my other guides, so some typos like this are inevitable. Also, I was very tired. Please don't judge me.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    I'd rate Blade Ward as "Not a great choice, but situationally useful" for valor bards.

    For valor bards, the spell has more utility at 14th when they can cast and slash. It's a reusable cantrip that aids in defense. So a bard can fight defensively for a bit while waiting for an opportunity to use one of her more powerful spells.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by xroads View Post
    I'd rate Blade Ward as "Not a great choice, but situationally useful" for valor bards.

    For valor bards, the spell has more utility at 14th when they can cast and slash. It's a reusable cantrip that aids in defense. So a bard can fight defensively for a bit while waiting for an opportunity to use one of her more powerful spells.
    This is an excellent point. I will adjust.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by EvilAnagram View Post
    This is an excellent point. I will adjust.
    Thanks.

    Also, it just occurred to me that if a bard (both valor & lore), wants to increase the odds of maintaining a concentration spells, then they can cast this spell for a few rounds. Particularly if your opponent is averaging more than 22 points of damage per strike.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by xroads View Post
    Thanks.

    Also, it just occurred to me that if a bard (both valor & lore), wants to increase the odds of maintaining a concentration spells, then they can cast this spell for a few rounds. Particularly if your opponent is averaging more than 22 points of damage per strike.
    Here, I think that Dodge is a better option. It's as effective at preventing you from taking damage, and it doesn't entail losing out on another cantrip for this one.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by EvilAnagram View Post
    Here, I think that Dodge is a better option. It's as effective at preventing you from taking damage, and it doesn't entail losing out on another cantrip for this one.
    True. But I was imagining it might be of more use in situations where the opponent has high odds of hitting regardless of disadvantage.

    But then again, I suppose if the players are in a campaign where the bard is regularly being attacked by high damage opponents, regular enough to justify the spell, then there is a problem.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    All spells are rated. Suggestions and vitriol are welcome.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Leomundís Tiny Hut has the benefit that it is also a ritual. So a bard doesn't need to expend a spell slot to cast it.

    Where do you find Thunderclap? I've searched all over the PHB and can't find it.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by xroads View Post

    Where do you find Thunderclap? I've searched all over the PHB and can't find it.
    I believe it's in the elemental evil player's guide.

    Also, the spell descriptions here are pretty much perfect. I was suggested by my dm to take modify memory for the same reason that you used to explain the spell.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Not every player wants to play a musical bard, maybe add a reminder that a Component Pouch can also be used instead of a spellcasting focus?
    Demiliches. Why'd it have to be demiliches?

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    Not every player wants to play a musical bard, maybe add a reminder that a Component Pouch can also be used instead of a spellcasting focus?
    This is true. One of my favorite bards is an opportunistic, abrasive mercenary who lies, bluffs or threatens to get what he wants. The though of him using anything more musical than a war-horn just doesn't fit the character.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    I can add the bit about component pouches, though war horns are perfect for a Valor Bard's focus.

    Also, I'm almost done with the Feats, and I'm finished with the multiclassing.
    Last edited by EvilAnagram; 2015-07-14 at 09:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Great weapon master should not be red at least not for valor bard or mc paladin/bard. :)

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Spacehamster View Post
    Great weapon master should not be red at least not for valor bard or mc paladin/bard. :)
    I agree, I don't know what I was thinking there.

    All feats are completed. The guide is finished.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    A STR based valor bard, or even a mountain dwarf lore bard could get a use out of Heavy Armor. Niche yes, but it exists.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by GWJ_DanyBoy View Post
    A STR based valor bard, or even a mountain dwarf lore bard could get a use out of Heavy Armor. Niche yes, but it exists.
    A STR Valor Bard can get 17 AC with Medium armor without getting too MAD. I don't buy that +1 AC is worth the feat. At least Medium Armor Master also provides a decent secondary benefit. Still, I suppose some might see value in it.

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    smile Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    I'm waiting to see what you suggestions will be for multiclassing. ;)

    May I propose some pists? ^^

    1. Paladin: a few dips can mean a lot for a Combat oriented Bard:
    - level 1 for Fighting Style, but more importantly...
    level 2 for Smites.
    - level 3 if you can go Oath of Devotion (+CHA to attack rolls for a minute per short rest, works on ranged too so perfect on a Ranged Valor Bard).
    - Investing more means sacricifing high level spells and some features will overlap (such as Extra attack), so good only if you plan on being a Smiting Bard with occasional spellcasting or your primary goal is versatility in any situation instead of focused efficiency (in which case Paladin 6 / Lore Bard 14 or Paladin 8 / Bard 12 are good choices).

    2. Fighter: 2 levels for Action Surge (and Fighting Style, Second Wind) are always good for anybody.

    3. Sorcerer: 1 level dip can be interesting in some cases (Draconic Origin for a DEX-focused character, Storm Origin to get free Disengage on spellcast, Favored Soul for extra lvl1 spells).
    Getting more levels has a sense only if you're ready to invest quite a few levels to make fun with Metamagic imo. Which also means you sacrifice high-level spells. Otherwise, you'd better cherry pick interesting spells with Magic Secrets.

    4. Warlock: 2 levels for Eldricht Blast and related Invocations, 3rd level for all goodness (recommended choice: Pact of Tome: cantrips + find familiar + other ritual). You can also forego EB combo and get very nice invocations for RP or combat (Free Mage Armor, Free Disguise Self, free proficiencies in Persuasion and Intimidation etc).

    5. Rogue: even 1 level dip is good for expertise, but really the best is getting to Archetype at level 3: Assassin is situational but great when successful, OR Swashbuckler gives you nice boost to Initiative, free Disengage against enemies you attacked and 2d6 bonus damage per turn.

    As for the other classes, they could be nice to multiclass into for some concepts but brings MAD on the table. Except the Barbarian, but since you can't cast magic while raging it would severely limit your playstyle (basically smite your slots while raging. Can be fun though :))

    If you can afford it though 1 or 2 levels can be nice: Life Cleric 1 to empower your healing, War/Storm Cleric to get heavy armor, 1 Druid for Wild Shape (RP only) and spells/cantrips (although Cleric lvl1 brings many specific good spells -Bless, Command, Guiding Bolt- whereas Druid as ~40% spells in common with Bard)...

    Or go become a lvl 2 Divination Wizard to add Portent to your Bardic Inspiration and become a God of Fate... ^^

    Ranger seems uninteresting for me (as a Bard main): you could get Fighting Style from Fighter, pick a Ranger spell through Magic Secrets, and Horde Breaker is not good enough to waste three levels.

    My two cents :)

    EDIT: Ahem, I saved this post from before, didn't see that you published your multiclass recommendations meanwhile. With that said, my post seems complementary since going more in detail. ;)
    Last edited by Citan; 2015-07-14 at 12:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Player's Gonna Play: A Bard's Guide

    I have to say I think you have slightly undersold the Cleric multiclass.

    One level in life cleric gets you weapon and armour proficiency - great for a strength based Valor bard. Life domain also gives you a solid boost to healing. As it is a full caster you still get all the same slots.

    Nature cleric does similar but lets you take shillelagh as a cantrip - you can be a valor bard with wisdom as your attack stat if you want (and heavy armour still).

    A level of knowledge cleric is superb for RP reasons.

    Getting guidance as a cantrip is a nice touch if you are playing bard as a skill focussed character.

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