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The Bard’s Tale
Mike Mearls

O ver the past couple of weeks, I've touched on the design process behind the sorcerer and warlock classes. This week, we turn our attention to the bard.

The bard has always been cast as a jack-of-all-trades. In AD&D, the class started as a peculiar mix of fighter, thief, and druid, before 2nd Edition merged those concepts into a mash-up of spellcasting, thief skills, and fighting ability. Unfortunately, being a jack-of-all-trades has often left the bard a master of none. In a story with a single character, the bard can easily shine as a resourceful, clever hero. In a game with a team of characters working together, the bard too often comes off as second best at everything.

Despite this, the idea of a clever, resourceful hero with quick wit and quicker reflexes is hard to step away from. Though the rogue captures many of the archetypes that those traits bring to mind, there's something about the panache and charisma that a bard can bring into play that makes the class so appealing.

In our design work on D&D Next, we took a sledgehammer to a few of the bard's traditional concepts in order to give the class a clear, unique place in the game.

Full Spells

A bard casts as many spells per day as a wizard or cleric. Rather than being limited by a reduced casting slate, the bard can match any of the other caster classes in bringing magic to the table. A bard's magic focuses on trickery, words of power, and the ability to sway emotions. The class straddles the line between clerics and wizards, though it leans a bit closer to cleric with its access to healing magic.

This is a simple change, but it goes a long way toward leveling the field when comparing the bard to other classes. Rather than forcing the bard to rest somewhere between a caster and a noncaster, we've pushed the class hard toward fully embracing magic.

Bardic Inspiration

Bardic music has been replaced with a mechanic called Bardic Inspiration. A bard has a number of uses of this ability each day.

A bard can inspire a creature with a performance or speech, using natural and trained leadership abilities to help others achieve greatness. The affected creature gains a d6 that it can add to any check, attack, or saving throw. The nice thing about this mechanic is its flexibility. Bardic Inspiration can be applied to any situation a party faces, and allowing the recipient character to determine how it is used helps to build the narrative component of a game.

As an example, in my own campaign, a bard once used Bardic Inspiration to help a rogue before she slipped into a chamber teeming with bloodthirsty demon cultists. The bard's player described taking the rogue aside and giving her a pep talk that bolstered her confidence before she snuck into the room. The rogue's player knew that she could use that inspiration die at any point, whether to boost a Dexterity or Charisma check, or to improve the attack roll needed to take out the cult leader. The confidence the bard bestowed on the rogue was reflected in how the rogue's player approached the situation.


Reflecting the feel of the bard as a resourceful hero across multiple editions, we've added two new features to the class. From 2nd level, a bard who doesn't apply a proficiency bonus to a check instead adds half the value of that proficiency bonus. A bard is thus always halfway between skilled and unskilled on any check.

In addition, like the rogue, the bard is a master of certain skills. At different points, a bard picks two skill proficiencies and adds double the character's proficiency bonus to checks involving those skills.

The bard created by this array of class features is a talented leader who combines spellcasting with a flair for skill use. A bard can easily take on the role that a cleric fulfills in a party, or can even stand in for a wizard. Though the class misses out on some of the wizard's signature combat spells, a bard's ability to extend the effectiveness of other characters in combat can easily make up the difference.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.
Equivocating about the +2 starting bonus, I'm starting to see how it might work. As a skill/equipment proficiency, it creates just enough distinction between trained & untrained to justify allowing untrained rolls. More about that below.

Giving all characters a +2 to hit at first level has 1½ benefits I can see. The main one is rather mundane; new players who start off adding 2 + ability bonus to their d20 rolls won't be confused, in the way that transitioning from just ability bonus, to modifier plus ability bonus, can be. The ½ is if a need is seen for weapons with increased accuracy, as the dagger and shortsword, otherwise of restricted utility in Fourth Edition, were. All I'm saying is that if that does happen the need for an overly intricate system of weapon bonuses, like that I just mentioned, or AD&D's Armor Type table, is replaced by a relatively uncomplicated weapon property.

In general, however, I think the unified proficiency bonu... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (3/18/2014 10:29:31 AM)


It's only applies to some chosen skills or tools as is. Using the rogue example selecting thieves' tools, search, perception, and stealth gives a bigger bonus, it's true, but only to limited checks in specific circumstances. The bonuses aren't any different for any of the other skills than any other character.

Most checks still end in the +3 to +9 range. A max of +17 in indicative of top potential but not typical or common.
Posted By: Ashrym (3/20/2014 4:48:08 AM)


Gimble the Bard! He RAWKS!
Posted By: Pyrate_Jib (3/13/2014 12:04:00 PM)


The double proficiency bonus sentence caught my eye, because I feel like I'm already starting to feel the effects of the math getting out of hand. Proficiency bonuses are a finely tuned mechanic from what I can tell, and tossing about 1/2 this and double that just means that the new bar for what is considered a "good" bonus to a check just got higher. This means the rogue will likely need even higher checks to make sure they're still best in class, while other characters will fall further behind. It seems like this rule has begun a slow creep back toward 3.5/4.0 again. I'm sure we'll also see feats and backgrounds that also boost skill bonuses, making the gap between "good bonus" and "worthless" even bigger, which is what I thought they were trying to get away from in the first place by reducing the focus on skills.

I do appreciate the full focus on casting for the bard, though. They had to go in a direction and that one is as good as any, ... (see all)
Posted By: nukunuku (3/13/2014 8:33:30 AM)


*Updating to say "creeping back toward 3.5/4.0" meaning back toward a mechanic where all skills eventually became binary: they were either hail marys or sure things because you either heavily focused in them or you didn't. This made all skill checking effectively pointless because you knew before you rolled what the outcome would be nearly all the time, thus defeating the mechanic.
Posted By: nukunuku (3/13/2014 8:37:04 AM)


I really valued that clarification, but I am replying to the whole comment. There is most certainly an arms race going on. I'm not privy to the developers' details but given the similarities of the skill lists in Third & Fourth it's safe to say Perception & Stealth are shaping up to be the go-to skills of this edition. Monsters are being built to test characters optimized for those skills, the Expertise classes fine-tuned not to fail in these boundary conditions, and room being made for more thematic needs like Arcana & Insight.

This bard reminds me more than anything of the 081712 Warlock. Let's not forget the design team's history, and Mike's in particular, of presenting us with provocative propositions. I can't find it at the moment, but one of you wags commented that that Warlock was a better magic-user than the magic-user and a better fighter than the fighter. They learn a lot about what'll fly & what just doesn't work by reading what we say about ... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (3/13/2014 9:20:34 PM)


Doubling the proficiency doesn't really get out of hand any more than the bonus dice did or that last version of +5 did. I think +5 represents one difficulty easier extremely well because the difficulties were set at 5 DC's apart, making the mechanic obvious in how it worked. That was very effective in meeting the design goal.

The only difference doubling the proficiency instead does is remove that benefit a task being one difficulty category easier for lower levels and postponing it for higher levels. Unless we see a drastic change in proficiency progression the upper level changes are negligible and the lower levels are more bound but a bonus is a bonus is a bonus in the math.

There is appeal in progressive improvements in the expertise abilities but I preferred the +5 bonus, tbh. ;-)
Posted By: Ashrym (3/13/2014 1:48:22 PM)


This is meant to be a reply to RadperT, which looks like a reply to my comment. For some reason I can reply to every comment on the thread except his.

I agree that advantage/disadvantage as it is now is very limiting, which is why I mentioned an "expanded advantage/disadvantage" mechanic, meaning one that has more than just on/off. Imagine if advantage & disadvantage had multiple tiers, up to some reasonable maximum (I prefer 3 tiers) -- then each tier conveys a benefit or penalty. It could be fixed bonuses, rerolling dice, a dice pool (to add or subtract form the d20 roll) or some combination. However, any situational benefit, be it something like cover, the effects of a spell, tactical placing, bardic inspiration, etc. would add in to this unified advantage/disadvantage mechanic, rater than being separate rules that may have odd effects when combined.

I see that as a separate issue from my disdain for non-d20 dice used to determine success or failu... (see all)
Posted By: Noirsoft (3/12/2014 8:18:09 PM)


I am strongly in favor of using a numerical bonus instead of advantage in some situations, and replacing all situational disadvantage, that is caused by the type of action being attempted, not some outside agency, with numerical penalties.
Posted By: RadperT (3/13/2014 8:07:05 PM)


That sounds overly complicated to me. I don't think that some situational benefits/penalties should be handled with flat bonuses, others with rerolling dice, others with dice pools, and so on. I really think that all situational benefits, regardless of whether by choice (I.e. attempting a backstab) or outside agency (defender has cover) should be handled in the same way. Then all one needs to do is count up the number of situational benefits & penalties and then figure out the result. This seems to me to be a lot easier than what will undoubtedly be a lot of book consulting to remember which situations had what kind of effect.

Note that I am not specifically advocating flat bonuses or rerolling, only the consistency of treating all situational modifiers the same. A DM can easily declare all modifiers to be a flat bonus/penalty, or use of a growing/shrinking dice pool, use of rerolls, or whatever. My preferred (but not advocated in earnest) solution would be to allow for ... (see all)
Posted By: Noirsoft (3/14/2014 4:35:37 AM)


You know, neither one of us likes the actual mechanic of advantage defined in the How to Play document. That's what we ought to be voting on.
Posted By: RadperT (3/14/2014 10:38:52 AM)


I like this Bard! For the first time this class gets its own uniqueness and, simultaneously, his Flavour becomes free from the monothematic and narrow "Minstrel". Now the Bard embodies all the persuasive/charismatic PCs.
Now players can use the Bard to obtain the Minstrel, the Juggler and the Poet, but also the Politician, the Diplomat and the Leader.
So, it's nice to think that we can finally build a Bard character without any artist background, but a more social and political one.
Now a Bard can be a Merchant or a Artisan with contacts in high society, sent to the court of a nearby city to define the terms of a treaty whit his extraordinary diplomatic skills.
With this version some Bards will play music in the Taverns, some others will inspire the crowd or will manage complex political intrigues.
Posted By: Silentwind6 (3/12/2014 12:31:25 PM)


Yes! Yes! Do not listen to any detractors! I have been a long time fan of Bards since 2nd edition. I admit, losing magic missile in 3rd edition was sad, but I quickly fell in love with the idea of an arcane magic user adept at enchantments, illusions and...HEALING! The Bard has just gotten better and better with each revision, and I believe this is another step in the right direction!
Full spellcasting progression? One easily manageable song that does whatever I want? YES PLEASE!
It only makes sense to go ahead and take the plunge and take Bard to full spellcaster, they never made good fighters in the first place.
Thank you!
Posted By: Baptor (3/12/2014 11:50:20 AM)


I hate disadvantage. It's too limiting, and advantage is too limited. On the other hand numerical bonuses, and even penalties, make it conceivable that you'll succeed even when you have a really bad base, which could be often in a D & D with bounded accuracy. I like dice pools, and I think lots of effects should allow you to use more of the dice that have just been sitting next to your d20 and neglected for too long.
Posted By: RadperT (3/11/2014 10:36:21 PM)


I really don't like the idea of a d6 ever being used as part of a check. I didn't like skill dice, and I don't like this. I'd rather have the mechanic rolled into an expanded advantage/disadvantage set of rules. As it is stated now, if a character has advantage/disadvantage on a roll, do they pick the die the d6 adds to before they roll it? do they resolve the advantage/disadvantage first, then roll the d6? Having multiple systems for situational benefits adds unneeded complexity. The designers really just need to make a universal advantage/disadvantage mechanic that all situational modifiers can work into. Yes, I proposed one in a comment on an earlier article, but I'm not tied to that particular implementation, but I hate the complexity that comes with "Cover gives you a flat +2, disadvantage means you roll two and pick the lower, and bardic inspiration means you roll an additional d6" and then whatever new rules get added later.
Posted By: Noirsoft (3/11/2014 6:39:23 PM)


It seems to me that trying to define all classes with magical abilities in terms of SPELLS makes the whole thing rather... banal. Magic becomes entirely about specific pre-defined effects instead of something genuinely unpredictable- and this really seems out-of-theme for Bards, who are supposed to be creative.
Posted By: Criswell (3/11/2014 6:06:31 PM)


I am currently running (in 4th Ed.) a hybrid half-elf bard/cleric, with the
half-elf Dilettante option. Currently, I am 4th level and I can cast (1) Healing Word and (1) Majestic Word per encounter. My 4th level encounter power is Resurgent Sun, which permits me to allow myself or someone else to spend a healing surge. I have the Bardic Wayfarer feat which permits me to teleport my Majestic Word target (1) square instead of merely sliding him/her. My Dilettante option is the warlock power 'Eyebite' and my character theme is 'Ordained Priest' which give me the encounter power 'Shining Symbol' and the daily utility 'Word of Comfort'..................and I am having a blast!

On the downside, hybrid spell casters do not get Ritual Caster as a feature, instead I have to acquire just like any other feat (which has bummed some of the strikers out because I am not yet able to recharge their limited supply of daily surges using the Comrades' Succor ritual).
Posted By: arnvid2008 (3/11/2014 2:27:49 PM)


In last dnd next campaign I was in, I got up to 11th level bard, 1st level rogue. And he was awesome! Great at skills, great at combat, and a nice mix of spells.

So I'm hoping when the official version comes out that they don't ruin it too much. :(

Which sounds like they changed several key things... and not for the better. sad face.

but i guess i'll keep my fingers crossed that everything turns out awesome in the official release.
Posted By: awogaman (3/11/2014 1:15:08 PM)


Personally hope that 'bard' is expansive enough to cover various performative arts. It's always great to have a 'dancing bard' or a 'improv theatre bard' around, likewise, mimes, human statues, etc. would be fun and hilarious at the table.

I've played a bard once or twice and, though I never stuck with it because they were mechanically too weak, I always had a lot of fun tap-dancing my allies to victory. Please make room for non-musical bards.

Another thing that would be great is some kind of mechanic to burn spell slots for advantage on skill checks and/or burn uses of bardic inspiration to gain back spell slots or augment spells.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (3/11/2014 12:30:17 PM)


Although I like how this sounds, and I must add that I have never really liked bards before, I still think they MUST have the traditional connection to musical spell-like abilities. With the music side of the character added in I think this class actually sounds very cool, and I might even consider playing one which is something I would have never considered before! Please keep the musician angle and then you've hit the sweet spot!
Posted By: tirwin (3/11/2014 10:33:38 AM)


I agree. The bardic inspiration should still be based on music and their instrument. Real world bards are known for music through song, instruments and prose. As such, the DnD version should too. I would even go to the extreme of making unique spells or song spells that only the bard can use.
Posted By: Darkwon (3/11/2014 11:34:50 AM)


In the real world, William Shakespeare and Robert Burns are both called "the Bard of [place-name]." Neither is particularly known for his musical talent. In English, "bard" is not the same as "minstrel." The key feature of both bards and skalds in the real world is their association with a particular tradition of oral recitation of poetry—not the musical accompaniment. AD-amp-D conflated bards with minstrels; they overlap but are not strictly the same thing.
Posted By: CHeard (3/12/2014 1:10:06 AM)


This may be true however the word Bard comes the Celtic people in the early 14th century. The bards of Ireland, Wales and Scottland were well known for their poetic and muscical talents. These bards were required to train for years to memorise stories, poems and songs to later recite them exactly as they learned them. As such, REAL world bards from their earliest inception was based on music and poetic talents.

Also the word minstrel dates back to 11th century and is also considered to be a musician, singer and poet. If you look up the definitions of these two terms you will see that both of these words are associated with a poet and musician.
Posted By: Darkwon (3/12/2014 12:21:31 PM)


Are you prepared to physically play a flute, a set of Pan pipes, a violin or a set of Bongo drums during a gaming session?

I am.......I bought a slide whistle over at and I occasionally whistle my way through a gaming session.
Posted By: arnvid2008 (3/11/2014 2:31:31 PM)


sounds awesome!
Posted By: sjap (3/11/2014 5:54:35 AM)


@Reluctant: All those options could also just be added as backgrounds to the bard class instead of vice-versa. That's how the system work with other classes for similar results and we could build a fighter that has a lot of different varieties and flavors, for example.

Bard were distinct as sages, healers, advisors, teachers, historian, prophets, magicians, and more. When there are enough archetypes of the standard baseline it just makes more sense to use the standard baseline and work from there.

The game has design space for the hybrid healer and mage, and bards are suitable to that particular archetype based on various legends and folklore. The existence of this particular version of the bard doesn't stop a person from the alternatives you suggested in the minstrel background and (hopefully) feat selections. The existence of one does not exclude the other.

I like my bards as the casters on a similar level of clerics, with similarities in game pl... (see all)
Posted By: Ashrym (3/11/2014 4:43:05 AM)


I don't think reluctant is thinking through how hard it would be to keep track of a gishfighterbard, gishbarbarianbard, gishmonkbard, gishclericbard, gishroguebard, gishmagebard, and the consequences therefrom. I hope that by "background" you meant subclass, as I think having some bards who are half-casters and possibly some who don't use spells at all is the way to go. I say possibly, as the way spells work in this edition may make them the best way to express the magical abilities of even the purely martial bard concepts. With no components, a free hand and the ability to speak all that is required to cast spells, it is quite simple to adapt them to more limited implementations. For the musical bard, one adds the instrument as a focus, and the guy who needs a shield in one hand (or both hands to fight) to be effective is limited, by design or choice, to specific bard spells which can be defined as having no somatic (hand/arm motion) components.
Posted By: RadperT (3/11/2014 11:06:11 AM)


Couldn't Bard just be included as an add on to any character class?

It seems to me that there is enough literary support for bards who fight, bards who are sneaky, bards who sing about their religion, bards who's music has purely magic effects and many others.
Posted By: reluctant (3/11/2014 2:36:21 AM)


WRT "nonmusical bards": When I think of D-amp-D bards, I immediately think of a musician playing a stringed instrument, because AD-amp-D required that. But the words "bard" and "skald" both refer in real-life English chiefly to poets who compose and/or performers who recite epics; music is either irrelevant or incidental to the core senses of these terms. If I play a 5e bard, s/he will be a stringed instrument musician, like my 1e and 4e bards (never played 2e and was always the DM for 3.5e). But I don’t begrudge anyone the option to play a character more like, say, Chaucer in "A Knight's Tale," or a Snorri Sturluson type.
Posted By: CHeard (3/11/2014 2:31:39 AM)


I think there should be a Bard subclass that works as a half-caster with more inspiration, particularly in the sense of acting ridiculous to help more than one person while maintaining concentration. I'm serious, but I never was a big fan of the bard using what we would now call an extra action to fight just as awesomely as h/h allies while simultaneously buffing them.
Posted By: RadperT (3/10/2014 9:51:31 PM)


Interesting changes, but I have a question/concern.

If the Bard Inspires someone does the die roll need to be declared before the roll is made? If so, I think you should opt for the Bard's inspiration to give the character advantage instead. If the Inspiration can be declared after a roll is made then I think the d6 is satisfactory.
Posted By: LostLegolas (3/10/2014 9:12:32 PM)


Agreed. Advantage is such a strong, fun and system specific mechanic that I'd like to see it used whenever possible, as opposed to a bland "add +1d6" or whatever to a roll.
Posted By: muherd (3/11/2014 11:35:11 AM)


I have to agree that this does not sound like a bard. A bard class without bardic music? Thats like making a cleric class with no turn undead option. It could still lean martial the way a cleric does, but it should be part caster part rogue. In fact, part caster part rouge was a unique niche the bard class could offer, but it sounds like that is now dead. I hope it's not. Hard to judge from a few tidbits (I have been pleasantly surprised before after one of these vague articles before) but this sounds like a significant change to a class that I was really liking.
Posted By: moes1980 (3/10/2014 8:40:56 PM)


I tried to reply to Nimel below (we all know how that goes) & your comment touches on what s/he was missing about the Jack-of-All-Trades thing. Nimel, that class feature must not have a name but Mike described it right under Skills. Moes1980, with your choice of skills, the latest incarnation of Expertise and that crappy tool proficiency feature from one of what will certainly be several possible suitable backgrounds, the class as described could potentially out-rogue the Rogue in certain situations.
Posted By: RadperT (3/10/2014 10:04:22 PM)


If music is central to the definition, why is Shakespeare called "the Bard of Avon" and Robert Burns is called "the Bard of Ayrshire," but Mozart is not called "the Bard of Salzburg" (or Vienna) and Beethoven is not called "the Bard of Bonn" (or Vienna)?
Posted By: CHeard (3/11/2014 2:38:36 AM)


Bardic Inspiration is Bardic Music, but named something that could also be applied to orators, dancers, etc. Not sure whether it will have additional effects to the very flexible buff that was mentioned, but 3e Bardic Music feels mostly covered by what's in the article.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (3/11/2014 8:44:58 AM)


Interesting. I hope the bard still gets healing magic, and at least some direct-damage spells.
Posted By: SirAntoine (3/10/2014 8:20:40 PM)


I like this as *ONE* Bard archetype. But I gotta say: the Skald from Heroes of the Feywild was my favorite version of the class, coming across as a duelist-type character who led from the front, bolstering his allies and dabbling in spellcasting between attacks. I don't mind a Caster bard, but as someone whose favored class is Bard, I want my Skald, too!
Posted By: Krayt1 (3/10/2014 8:08:13 PM)


I'm with you on this one. I like the spellcaster bard. I think it has a solid place in the DnD game, but the non-spellcasting skald is where my bardic heart resides.
Posted By: Aavarius (3/10/2014 10:09:12 PM)


Not a big fan of bards-as-mages. I liked the fluff of them being spelllike rather than explicitly casters.

Also does this mean martial bards are dead?

If so just another reason not to look at 5e.
Posted By: Elementalos (3/10/2014 7:34:56 PM)


Bleh. This doesn't sound like a Bard at all. I always viewed the bard as creating "Spell-like Effects" through the explicitly non-magical use of their instruments.

Personally, I'd prefer if they didn't use spells at all but instead had a list of Bardsongs. Something that would have a primary effect for the bard and a secondary (weaker) effect for those near her. And then give them a fighting style (duelist, archer, etc).

I suppose you could do this by giving them their own unique spells like "Song of Regeneration" and "Song of Charming", but if it ends up just being an arcane caster with Cure Wounds and no damage spells, you've definitely missed the mark.
Posted By: Vengeful_Deity (3/10/2014 5:16:56 PM)


This sounds a /lot/ like the 3.x Bard. A full caster (the 3.x Bard did cast at his bard level, even if he didn't get a whole lot of spells) with even more spells and the upgrade from spontaneous to neo-Vancian; plenty of emphasis on skill; and inspire courage/competence/greatness etc rolled up into a very generic and limited 'Bardic Inspiration.'

Posted By: Tony_Vargas (3/10/2014 4:22:11 PM)


The changes to the bard that I initially saw within the playtest was enough for me to want to try out a bard. I'm behind the decision on a lot of the changes seen in the new edition and am really looking forward to the final product (totally not a plant post).
Posted By: dejectedgeek (3/10/2014 2:04:03 PM)


I like the direction where all of the presented classes are going. Stay on track!

(I hope there are still bards, that are decent in their combat ability)
Posted By: UngeheuerLich (3/10/2014 1:33:08 PM)


The thing that seems dumb do me, if everything is rounded down, why give the "half your proficiency bonus" at second level when it's still only +1? That's not a useful feature until your proficiency bonus is +2, right?
Posted By: semifamous (3/10/2014 1:32:00 PM)


Moreover, it's yet another more complex mechanic. It's another exception to the rule in game that's supposed to be simple. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (3/10/2014 1:55:00 PM)


What makes you think it's only +1 at level 2...

The game has moved on from the playtest. What we are looking at in the packets is only inspiration for what we'll see when it comes out (I expect).

In fact, this article offers some hints. I hadn't caught the one on proficiency bonus, but there you have it. Prof bonus of at least +2 at level 2.

"Words of power" could be certain types of spells, but I think they're using it as the new/old replacement for swift spells.

I'm hoping we'll see bardic performance represented in spells. Really, they were *very* similar to spells anyway. Making it official that "Song of Courage" or "Fascinating Song" are spells, and then giving a bard more spell slots (including higher level slots) allows you to play a bard who uses music and takes those spells, or to play a bard who doesn't perform at all and doesn't have a wasted class feature, since he can learn other spells instead.
(see all)
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (3/10/2014 8:39:02 PM)


Thematically, I've never been a fan of the bard but I do like these new changes. It sounds like they'll be a lot new spells for the bard that boost stats or help when diplomacy is needed. If so, this makes sense to give the bard the same amount of spell slots as a full caster.
Posted By: fugmonkey (3/10/2014 1:15:57 PM)


Okay, apart from no mention of combat ability (which, if they are close to a Cleric, should be halfway decent)...I fail to see how this is different from a 4E Bard? Maybe that's the point? Honestly, before 4E I wouldn't have played a Bard on a dare, even with what ADnD 2E and DnD 3E did to make the class actually playable.
Posted By: Clansmansix (3/10/2014 12:47:54 PM)


I actually really like this - even though I never really liked the bard... good idea. The only thing I'm not sure about is healing spells, but as long as they fit thematically ~ the celtic bard - druid connection could work - dont know...

Also if bards get healing spells, I petition for a return of the few wizard healing spells (e.g. healing touch). As long as they're clearly less powerful than priest spells, I think there's room for them.
Posted By: Archelaos (3/10/2014 12:31:53 PM)


Maybe priest healing spells could heal d8, bards d6 and wizard's d4...
Posted By: Archelaos (3/10/2014 12:34:36 PM)


Change Cure Wounds to read "Hit dice of the class granting the spell" and adding Cure Wounds to other spell lists? Not bad. I don't think it would fly in the community, but a nice house rule.
Posted By: Mourne (3/10/2014 3:54:13 PM)


I don't see why not! Nice flex, we totally changed the meaning of the term "Hit Dice" so we might as well use it in whatever way works best.
Posted By: RadperT (3/10/2014 9:26:49 PM)


While I'm not opposed to making the Bard class a full-caster, I disagree with the reason they did this. If the jack of all trades is also master of them all, there is no reason to have other classes. Also, many Bard concepts who do not fit into the full caster thing should have proper support.
Posted By: cassi_brazuca (3/10/2014 12:05:36 PM)


@DoDColumbus: Damagesong had the problem that it scaled too well for classes with multi-attacks. So if a bard is in group playing a class with multiattacks was too attractive (instead of playing what you want to play). I really hope the damage song is gone and replaced by that new mechanics.
Posted By: MagicSN (3/10/2014 11:35:06 AM)


That's one power. Give them credit, they can easily nerf it the way they did Hunter's Mark. I mean, not exactly the same way, but look at how Extra Actions are shaking out to be a swift/minor action.
Posted By: RadperT (3/10/2014 9:03:19 PM)


I gotta say, in all my decades playing and running this game, bards have never captivated me for any reason. I've never been impressed by any allocation of their abilities. To be blunt, I've never seen significant impression of their overall need to be a full blown class.

What are bards, anyway? Entertainers? Maybe there are some in history who were healers? Wandering artists who had to develop random basic skills (like a commoner background) just to make a living (until they "make it big")? I don't know, why isn't the "BARBER" a class? I did some really basic research and could only find references to the above mentioned artists.

So, why a full class for something that (to me) would make a better Character Theme (like in 4e or 2e kits). I don't know, bards have just never been an impacting presence in my long experience with DnD. They've only ever served as a flavor for artist type players. I know there are strong supporters and lovers of the ... (see all)
Posted By: Timmee (3/10/2014 11:14:09 AM)


In history, they served Celtic societies as historians and sages. Basically, they knew things, such as the history of their people and their battles (especially, say, the ones that got immortalized as catchy and inspiring songs or poems. This is the origin of bardic lore and bardic music.

Among the European Celts especially, there was very little writing due to the belief that all truth had mystical power, and that even written forms of the truth were generally something too powerful to be left lying around. Myths persisted for centuries that the Celts eschewed all writing, which is the origin for the game of the secret druid language, and the reason the bard trained under a druid to finish off his training. Bards on know some great truths -- although not as deep as the mystic truths known by druids -- so they too get some mystic ability (read: spells).

Due to the rather complicated origins -- which don't always come out well in the D&D bard -- and mix of abi... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (3/10/2014 7:30:59 PM)


I'm down with this (although, like others I hope there's still a more martial-feeling Bard archetype). I can imagine the traditional Bard abilities like the Damage Song being represented in the spell slots similar to the Hunter's Mark and Smite spells for rangers and paladins, respectively.
Posted By: DoDColumbus (3/10/2014 11:02:50 AM)


I can't but notice that, while the 'master-of-none' issue has been tackled, the 'jack-of-all-trades' has barely been mentioned. Has it been removed? If not, how will it be achieved and balanced?

Losing the Jack-of-all-trades, while maybe letting an improved character class (in the mechanics, at least), would let out some well loved archetypes. I hope they can still be played, maybe with a diferent class name.
Posted By: nirnel (3/10/2014 10:40:08 AM)


So, no more singing sword battle-bards, or song-bow ranged bards?

While I recognize it's considered an improvement to make a class more distinct, it's NOT an improvement to remove archetypes crucial to how players have typically played a class.
Posted By: wetsail (3/10/2014 10:28:35 AM)


I'm kind of torn. The mechanical change sounds great. Pulling it away from bardic music less so. It's also a complete 180 from the last time I saw any talk of bards, when they were asking, "should we just tie ALL of their magical ability into their music?"
Posted By: longwinded (3/10/2014 7:35:08 PM)


Sounds like they're a gap-filling class to me. Full spells in case you don't have enough casters; skill mastery in case you don't have a rogue; healing in case you don't have a cleric; half-training in every other skill in case you don't have anyone who trained those skills; and inspiration in case any players didn't properly stat-out their characters. I'm not saying such a class isn't necessary, mind you. And I like that there's another healing class. But it still fills like reactively using a class to patch gaps you found in the rest of the system.
Posted By: JoeyLast (3/10/2014 9:51:15 AM)


Bards have always been my favorite class to play. I'm glad they finally picked the bard for this. I've wanted to talk about how much I love the new bard for awhile now. The inspiration mechanic is awesome and I enjoy the spells they've given him.

I'd say his spells are still indeed a 'trick up his sleeve' he just gets to cast them on par with the others. They didn't mention the archetypes so I won't either, but they do a great job at directing you towards the flavor of bard mentioned in some of the below posts.
Posted By: NinjaPlease (3/10/2014 9:43:29 AM)


This full spellcasting is terrible. Bards have spells have spells as a trick up the sleeve, not as a go-to mechanic; bards should focus on swordwork more and spellwork as a backup.
Posted By: TheCrankyMage (3/10/2014 9:35:06 AM)


According to whom? I prefer the spells. :)
Posted By: Ashrym (3/11/2014 4:18:48 AM)


That's some welcome polish to the rough archetype of a bardic adventurer. Love the mechanic for bardic inspiration, too.

Are the only classes to use alternate magic systems the sorcerer and warlock (basically as different flavor wizards)? I wonder if there's any thought on how to adapt other magic systems to other casting classes.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (3/10/2014 8:26:39 AM)


I smell redmage:

full spellcasting, mastery on the inspiring and demotivational front. And mediocre everywhere else.
Posted By: UngeheuerLich (3/10/2014 8:24:47 AM)


Also, allow bards to have a "ritual use only" spell book with additional spells that aren't in there regular daily casting repertoire. This would give then much needed flexibility and be inline with their normal support role.
Posted By: jedibeary (3/10/2014 8:05:31 AM)


Sounds good. Please fix the saving throw issue, by allowing bard to apply Charisma to will saves, or at least charm saves. There are VERY few spells that require Intelligence or Charisma saves. Ideally, they should apply Charisma to charm/enchantment saves and have a choice of dexterity or constitution saves.
Posted By: jedibeary (3/10/2014 7:59:17 AM)


Problem with linking magic to skills is that you've now created must-have skills for the bard and decreased character options. All bards will be focused on these or will be poor in one of their class' primary abilities, full spellcasting.
Posted By: Blue23 (3/10/2014 7:48:16 AM)


Not sure what you mean; what must-have skills are there for the bard, and how do they compete for attention with casting competency?
Posted By: Dreamstryder (3/10/2014 8:31:24 AM)


Oh, now I see; your post was a reply to KenKrajen.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (3/10/2014 8:37:17 AM)


One issue 4e introduced that wasn't widespread in early editions was "leader" as a role meaning that your buffs worked on others but not yourself for most classes. You mention bard as a good solo character choice, can they give themselves pep talks and psych themselves up? Or if separated from the rest of the party are they lamed?
Posted By: Blue23 (3/10/2014 7:36:29 AM)


One question - combat often involves a lot more rolls then other scenes. So if a negotiation is dependent on a roll, the bard's inspiration affects the whole thing. But in a combat, the bard uses their inspiration (gives up their action?) for at most one round, and possibly less if there's multiple rolls needed. Why not make inspiration last for the entire combat, but only one roll per round. Keep things on the same scale.

Posted By: Blue23 (3/10/2014 7:34:20 AM)


I approve of the full-caster change, it does away with needing something like a Sublime Chord prestige class, or half of the Beguiler class.
Posted By: KoboldAvenger (3/10/2014 3:53:13 AM)


I think I'll like this. Going full-caster, while never something I've asked for, is a move I can't fault. I think it's going to do wonders for the class, and it certainly will help with knowing how to properly balance it.

I hope I like how it turns out.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (3/10/2014 2:29:07 AM)


Would really like to see a Mime/Blue Mage sub-class for this a la Final Fantasy either by WotC or the community, just saying.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (3/10/2014 2:28:58 AM)


I'm also really pleased that the dev team wants to do away with the "Master of None" drawback of the bard. However, I also dislike the idea that it looks like an amalgamation of Wizard and Warlord. I do agree the class should be more magical in nature rather than combat oriented. What I think would a good is to base his magic off of his skills. I feel some interplay between skill mechanics and magic mechanics would make a wonderfully interesting and satisfying way of remaking the bard while still being true to its origins.

Ideas to implement the interplay between Magic and Skills:
Perhaps limit their spells per day for balance in order to allow skill checks to boost their spellcasting, making spells more powerful than normal. i.e. numeric effects or DCs.
Sacrificing spell slots to boost skill bonuses (or maybe advantage?) for self and other PCs for a period of time.
Have an at-will power either illusion or enchantment based that let's the... (see all)
Posted By: KenKrajen (3/10/2014 1:31:17 AM)


I like that the dev team is taking steps to prevent the "Master of none" side of the "Jack of all trades" air of the bard, and I really like the idea of Bardic inspiration - the flexibility sounds pretty damn cool.
Just a question that probably won't be answered for a while, but could the team PLEEZ consider at some point making a Bard subclass for musicians who sell their souls to infernal beings in exchange for musical prowess? I saw someone had homebrewed their own version of this idea on Reddit, and it was really, really cool:

Posted By: sixtymya (3/10/2014 12:49:33 AM)


Also, that picture of the Gnome bard is the "archtypical" bard for me. Gotta love that guy.
Posted By: sixtymya (3/10/2014 12:50:34 AM)


Sounds very promising.
Posted By: the_move (3/10/2014 12:41:52 AM)