I like the bard class as it is, but it has quite a few dead levels, and a couple of its songs have problems. Countersong is a bit situational, and even its ACF Spellbreaker Song only lasts 3 rounds and you can't activate it as an immediate action, so you have to kind of guess when the opponent is going to use its spells. Inspire Competence doesn't scale, and a +2 bonus to a skill check isn't going to get you far in the days past 10th level.
Note: This bard is designed to be balanced with core supplements, and I'm trying to make it good enough to stand on its own without optimization. This bard variant is not
compatible with the feat Words of Creation (Book of Exalted Deeds)
So, with that in mind, I present the conductor bard! (Credit goes to Velkim for the name)
The Conductor Bard
"Today's music ain't got the same soul! I like that old time rock n roll!
" Bob Seger, the world's greatest bard
Some bards enjoy sitting back and singing so much, they never really bothered to learn to defend themselves. While other bards can conjure up an illusion or summon an elemental to protect themselves, the conductor bard spends his time inventing new songs, and relies more on his allies to save him when danger comes. But in exchange for their continued support, he has a host of new abilities that can increase their power.
: Any nonlawful
: The bardís class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (n/a), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
: 8+Int per level (x4 at first level)
|Level || BAB || Fort || Ref || Will || Special|
|1 || +0 || +0 || +2 || +2 || Bardic music, Inspire Battle +2, Inspire Defenses +2, Fascinate, Bardic Knowledge, Dancing Blade|
|2 || +1 || +0 || +3 || +3 || Excellent Performer, Deafening Song|
|3 || +2 || +1 || +3 || +3 || Inspire Competence|
|4 || +3 || +1 || +4 || +4 || Inspire Courage|
|5 || +3 || +1 || +4 || +4 || Inspire Fear, Inspire Battle +4, Inspire Defense +4|
|6 || +4 || +2 || +5 || +5 || Suggestion|
|7 || +5 || +2 || +5 || +5 || Inspire Vigor, Gentle Song|
|8 || +6 || +2 || +6 || +6 || Disgusting Song|
|9 || +6 || +3 || +6 || +6 || Inspire Superiority, Inspire Inferiority|
|10 || +7 || +3 || +7 || +7 || Inspire Battle +6, Inspire Defense +6|
|11 || +8 || +3 || +7 || +7 || Song of Swiftness, Song of Hesitation|
|12 || +9 || +4 || +8 || +8 || Harmony|
|13 || +9 || +4 || +8 || +8 || Healing Song, Extended Performance|
|14 || +10 || +4 || +9 || +9 || Inspire Evasion, Distracting Song|
|15 || +11 || +5 || +9 || +9 || Inspire Battle +8, Inspire Defense +8|
|16 || +12 || +5 || +10 || +10 || Song of the White Raven|
|17 || +12 || +5 || +10 || +10 || Inspire Freedom|
|18 || +13 || +6 || +11 || +11 || Mass Suggestion|
|19 || +14 || +6 || +11 || +11 || Power Chords|
|20 || +15 || +6 || +12 || +12 || Master Performer, Inspire Battle +10, Inspire Defense +10 |
Weapon and Armor Proficiency
: A bard is proficient with all simple weapons, plus the longsword, rapier, sap, short sword, shortbow, and whip. Bards are proficient with light armor and shields (except tower shields).
: Once per day per bard level, plus an additional time per day per point of Charisma bonus (minimum +0), a bard can use his song or poetics to produce magical effects on those around him (usually including himself, if desired). While these abilities fall under the category of bardic music and the descriptions discuss singing or playing instruments, they can all be activated by reciting poetry, chanting, singing lyrical songs, singing melodies (fa-la-la, and so forth), whistling, playing an instrument, or playing an instrument in combination with some spoken performance. Each ability requires both a minimum bard level and a minimum number of ranks in the Perform skill to qualify; if a bard does not have the required number of ranks in at least one Perform skill, he does not gain the bardic music ability until he acquires the needed ranks.
Each bardic music ability has a required minimum ranks in the Perform skill equal to the bard level it is gained +3. This also applies for songs with a scaling ability, such as Inspire Battle, Inspire Defense, and Inspire Fear. If the bard has enough ranks to use the initial song, but not enough ranks to use the scaled song when he gains the level, the bard instead uses the weaker version of the song until his ranks in Perform are high enough.
All bardic music abilities are mind-affecting abilities unless otherwise noted. All bardic music abilities have the sonic descriptor, and can only affect creatures who are able to hear the bard perform. (Unlike the PHB Bard, the Bard variant cannot perform Bardic Music with the Perform (Dance) skill, or any other Perform check that does not actually create sound). Unless otherwise noted, if a bardic music ability affects all allies, it affects the bard himself too.
The duration of any bardic music ability, unless otherwise noted, is for as long as the bard continues to perform, plus an additional 5 rounds after he stops performing.
The DC for any saving throws allowed by Bardic Music are equal to 10+1/2 the bard's level+his Charisma modifier. If a bard takes the Ability Focus feat, he must specify which specific song he is assigning it to. The bard may take the Ability Focus feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time he takes it, he chooses a new song to apply it to.
Bardic Knowledge (Ex)
: This ability is the same as the PHB Bard
: This ability is the same as the PHB Bard
Inspire Battle (Su)
: The bard can play a heavy chord that gets his allies pumped for battle. All allies within 30 feet gain a +2 morale bonus on their attack and damage rolls. This increases by an additional +2 at level 5, and every 5 levels after (to a maximum of +10 at level 20)
Inspire Defense (Su)
: The bard can play a warning song that encourages his allies to stay on their guard. All allies within 30 feet gain a +2 competence bonus to their AC and saving throws. This increases by an additional +2 at level 5, and every 5 levels after (to a maximum of +10 at level 20)
Dancing Blade (Su)
: When the bard begins his performance, his weapon joins the fray anyway. If a bard plays an instrument that requires use of both hands, his weapon floats in the air, acting on its own. The weapon occupies the same square as the bard, and moves with him, but cannot leave his space. It attacks an enemy that comes within range. (If there are multiple enemies, the bard chooses one as a free action). The weapon cannot make attacks of opportunity. It uses the bard's Base Attack Bonus and Strength modifier to hit as usual (unless the bard has the Weapon Finesse feat and is using a finessable weapon, in which case the weapon uses his Dexterity modifier, etc). The weapon benefits from its own enhancements, as usual, but does not gain a bonus to damage rolls from the bard's Strength modifier, nor does it gain any bonuses to attacks or damage rolls from effects that target the bard instead of the weapon (Such as the bard's morale bonus from Inspire Battle). When the bard stops his performance, the weapon returns to his hand as a free action. If the bard's weapon already has the Dancing quality, he need not use this class feature.
For the purposes of the Dancing Blade class feature, a shield is not treated as a weapon.
If the bard has the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, he may have two weapons dancing simultaneously, however the strain on his concentration results in him taking a -2 penalty to attack rolls with each weapon (This penalty replaces whatever normal penalty he would suffer for wielding two weapons). The bard may only have two weapons dancing simultaneously if one or more of them is a light weapon. (The Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting feat does not allow the bard to have two one-handed weapons dancing at the same time)
Deafening Song (Su)
: Sometimes, the bard chooses his lyrics carefully in order to convey just the right message and encourage his audience to think clearly and reflect on important social issues. And sometimes he just wants to be as loud and crazy as possible. At 2nd level, the bard gains the ability to play a Deafening Song. If a bard plays the Deafening Song, he creates an aura of magical silence
, centered on him, for 30 feet. Anyone who is outside the 30 feet radius, but is still 60 feet or less away from the bard, must make a Fortitude save or be deafened for the duration. Unlike most of the bard's bardic music, Deafening Song is not a mind-affecting ability.
Excellent Performer (Ex)
: The bard excels greatly on the stage, even when compared to other classes who can Perform such as rogues or monks. Starting at 2nd level, the bard receives a bonus equal to his class level on Perform and Profession checks made to earn a living.
Inspire Competence (Su)
: A bard of 3rd level gains the Inspire Competence ability. The bard can use his music and his expertise to assist his allies. A bard may not inspire competence in himself. The ally must be within 30 feet. The bard grants the ally a bonus on one skill check of the bard's choice equal to the bard's class level. The bard may not use this ability to enhance the Autohypnosis, Bluff, Concentration, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Hide, Intimidate, Listen or Move Silently checks. He may only inspire competence on a check for a Knowledge, Spellcraft, Psicraft, or Martial Lore check if he made the corresponding check himself or made a successful DC 20 Bardic Knowledge check to gain some relevant information.
Inspire Courage (Su)
: A 4th level bard gains the Inspire Courage ability. The bard can sing a song of steadfast determination and bravery to encourage his allies to get back on their feet. The bard gains immunity to fear for as long as he sings, and allies within 30 feet gain a +4 morale bonus on their saving throws versus fear. If the bard is allied with a paladin who is within the area of effect, he may instead increase the morale bonus the paladin's Aura of Courage provides by +4, using the paladin in his lyrics as a beacon of hope and inspiration to his other friends.
Inspire Fear (Su)
: At 5th level, the bard learns how to use his music to harm his enemies rather than help his allies. When a bard plays the Inspire Fear song, all enemies within 30 feet must make a Will save or become shaken for the duration. If the bard is at least 10th level, his enemies instead become frightened if they fail their save, and shaken if they succeed it. If the bard is at least 15th level, his enemies instead become panicked if they fail their save, and frightened if they succeed it. This ability is treated as a Will (partial) effect for the purposes of the Mettle class feature. Enemies who are immune to fear are immune to Inspire Fear.
: As the PHB Bard's ability.
Inspire Vigor (Su)
: Instead of learning some healing spells, by 7th level the bard has learned to use his music to help jump start his allies' natural healing abilities. When the bard uses this ability, all allies within 30 feet gain Fast Healing equal to 1/2 the bard's class level, to a maximum of Fast Healing 10 at 20th level.
Gentle Song (Sp)
: A bard who is not in battle is able to play soft, non-adrenaline fueled lyrics and chords that allow others to relax and smile without worry or care. By spending one use of his bardic music, a bard may project a calm emotions
effect. Everyone within 30 feet who hears the bard playing (including the bard, because of how relaxing playing this music is) must make a Will save or be affected as if by the calm emotions
spell, with a caster level equal to the bard's class level.
Disgusting Song (Su)
: At 8th level, the bard's music is able to hit what is known as "the brown note", and cause physical sickness in those who hear it. When the bard uses his Disgusting Song ability, enemies within 30 feet must make a Fortitude save or be nauseated for the duration. If they succeed their saving throw, they are instead sickened for the duration. This effect is treated as a Fortitude (partial) effect for the purposes of the Mettle class feature. Unlike most of the bard's Bardic Music, Disgusting Song is not a mind-affecting ability.
Inspire Superiority (Su)
: At 9th level, the bard can launch into a bursting melody that makes his allies feel mightier than the strongest dragon. All allies within 30 feet gain 2 bonus d10 Hit Dice. They roll 2d10 and add twice their Constitution modifier to it, and gain the amount as temporary Hit Points. Every ally receives a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls and a +1 competence bonus on all saving throws. Their effective Hit Dice are treated as being two higher for the purposes of whether abilities such as Frightful Presence or sleep
Inspire Inferiority (Su)
: At 9th level, a bard's jeering and disrespectful comments cut deep and result in weakened fighting spirit. All enemies within 30 feet of the bard must make a Will save or receive 2 temporary negative levels. These negative levels never result in actual level loss, but cannot be removed by any means until 5 rounds after the bard stops singing.
Song of Swiftness (Sp)
: An 11th level bard can get his allies moving quickly. When the bard plays the Song of Swiftness, his allies gain the benefits of the haste
spell for the duration, though this does not stack with the actual spell of the same name. This ability also dispels slow
Song of Hesitation (Sp)
: An 11th level bard can use his taunts to cause his enemies to over-analyze their every move and action, to the point where they haven't even decided how to attack by the time they are cut down. When a bard sings the Song of Hesitation, all enemies within 30 feet must make a Will save or be slowed
, as the spell, for the duration. This ability dispels haste
, and replaces the transmutation descriptor with the mind-affecting descriptor. Creatures immune to transmutation effects are not immune to Song of Hesitation.
: By 12th level, the bard has learned to use lyrics with double-meanings to effectively increase the morale of his allies while simultaneously debilitating his foes. When a bard starts a bardic music ability, he may expend an additional daily use of bardic music to include a second effect in the song, with a different target. (So, he may simultaneously sing a song that affects his allies and a song that affects his enemies, but not two songs that affect his allies or two songs that affect his enemies). The bard may not use this ability to play any song at the same time as he plays Deafening Song.
Song of Cleansing (Sp)
: A 13th level bard can sing a soothing melody that restores an ally to almost perfect condition. This song may only target a single ally within 30 feet, and has a duration of instantaneous. It requires a full-round action. The targeted ally is treated as if he had received the benefits of a heal
spell cast by the bard, as well as break enchantment
(caster level for both is equal to the bard's class level). However, Song of Cleansing does not actually restore hit points (it only removes the negative conditions normally removed by the heal
spell). Undead or other creatures harmed by positive energy are not affected by Song of Cleansing.
Extended Performance (Ex)
: Starting at 13th level, any bardic music's effect now lasts for one minute after the bard stops performing.
Inspire Evasion (Su)
: Once per day, as an immediate action, a bard of 14th level or higher may expend a use of his bardic music to help his allies get out of the way. This does not require any ranks in the Perform skill, but his allies must be within 30 feet and able to hear and understand him. The bard grants himself and all allies within 30 feet who have a base Reflex save of at least +3 the evasion ability (as the PHB rogue) for 1 round.
If the bard or an ally who hears this has a base Reflex save of at least +7, they instead gain the improved evasion ability (as the PHB rogue) for 1 round.
Distracting Song (Su)
: By 14th level the bard is extremely good at coordinating with his allies and can now use his music to help them catch the enemy off guard. All enemies within 30 feet must make a Will save or be treated as flanked for the duration of the song. Additionally, any enemy spellcaster attempting to cast a spell (regardless of whether he succeeded his saving throw) must make a Concentration check opposed by the bard's Perform check. If the bard wins the check, the spell fails and the spellcaster loses his prepared spell/spell slot.
Song of the White Raven (Su)
: A 16th level bard has gained the ability to use his music to lead his allies to victory. The bard may not be performing during the round he uses this ability. Once per day, as a full-round action, the bard may expend one daily use of his bardic music for each ally he designates to be targeted by the effect of this ability (including himself). Each ally who is affected by the ability may use an immediate action to charge an enemy designated by the bard (The bard himself must charge this enemy as well). The bard and his allies do not provoke attacks of opportunity for this movement and do not count each other when determining if they have a straight line to charge. If the bard hits the enemy with a melee attack at the end of the charge, the enemy must make a Fortitude save (DC 10+1/2 the bard's level +the bard's Charisma modifier +2 for each ally other than the bard who hit the enemy during this charge). If the enemy fails this saving throw, he is stunned for 1 round.
Inspire Freedom (Su)
: At 17th level, the bard may use his music to help his allies feel the beat and step livelier. All allies within 30 feet gan the benefits of the freedom of movement
spell for as long as the bard sings.
Mass Suggestion (Sp)
: As the PHB Bard
Power Chords (Ex)
: At 19th level, the bard's musical ability is terrifying and captivating. Increase the DC for all saving throws allowed by all the bard's class features by 4.
Master Performer (Sp)
: At 20th level, the bard has become the ultimate minstrel and his enemies, even if they are frightened or sick or weak, want nothing more than to jive along with his catchy tunes. All enemies who fail a saving throw against the bard's bardic music abilities are affected by the Irresistible Dance
spell for a number of rounds equal to the bard's Charisma modifier (minimum of 4 rounds, no save)
Alternate Class Feature: Song of Destruction
A bard with the Song of Destruction ACF does not gain the benefits of the Gentle Song class feature.
A bard with the Song of Destruction class feature is able strum his chords and use the power of his magical ministrations to create the illusion of devastating power. By consuming one daily use of his bardic music class feature and making a Perform check, the bard is able to cast shadow evocation
, as the spell, as a spell-like ability, with a caster level equal to his bard level. Unlike most of his bardic music, the Song of Destruction is not a mind-affecting ability. The DC for the Will save to disbelieve the Song of Destruction is equal to the bard's Perform check, though if the spell he mimics also allows a saving throw, the DC for that spell is equal to 10+the spell level+the bard's Charisma modifier (13+Cha for fireball
, for instance).
: Bardic Music class feature, Inspire Fear
: You gain the use of two new songs, the Song of Spellpower and the Song of Magical Weakness. Activating either song consumes one of your daily uses of bardic music as normal and lasts as long as a song for you.
The Song of Spellpower grants your allies (but not you) a bonus to their caster level equal to the bonus your Inspire Battle
class feature grants, but it cannot raise their caster level higher than their character level + that bonus. (In other words, if a caster is already boosting his caster level above his character level by some other means, the bonus from your song overlaps but does not stack with that boost)
Ex: Mark the wizard and Joseph the cleric are both level 5 casters. Simon the level 6 bard plays Song of Spellpower for them. Mark's caster level increases by +4, to its maximum granted by this feat of +9. Joseph's caster level also increases, however, when he casts a cure
spell, which his caster level is normally increased for due to his Healing domain power, his caster level is still only 9.
The Song of Magical Weakness is an enemy-affecting song. Enemies with a caster level within 30 feet of you must make a Will save (DC 10+1/2 your bard level + your Charisma modifier, +4 if you have the Power Chords class feature) or have their effective caster level decreased by an amount equal to the bonus provided by your Inspire Defense
feature for as long as you sing and five rounds after. (1 minute if you have the Extended Performance class feature. This duration also applies to the Song of Spellpower)