Bard

In thousands of taverns, alehouses, inns, festhalls, theatres, and carnival tents across the Flanaess the bard reigns as theBard-e1495126599416.jpg kings and queens of hearts. Whether they be mistresses of song, master poets, genius thespians, expert tumblers, maven jongleurs, or consummate contortionists, it is in the craft of the humble bard that the common folk find entertainment, diversion, and inspiration. Jack of all trades, master of none, even other adventurers find it remarkable just how much bards get around, how frequently they find themselves in trouble, and how masterfully they negotiate their way back out again. They know something of magic, interpreting the talents of sorcery through the lens of their craft, and have enough skill to hold their ground in battle and engage in the odd bit of skulduggery. And above all, the bard knows a bit of something about everything, as they inevitably come into tales, rumours, and odd morsels of lore in their travels. As such, they make extraordinarily good intelligencers, messengers, and spies.

Rarely, a bard will have the advantage of a mentor in the arts of the Old Lore, a loose confederation of colleges practicing ancient Flan traditions relating to the Old Faith. These bards aspire to gain the regard of their mentors among the colleges, and they often embark on a particularly diverse (read: multi-class) career of entering the circles of the druidic hierarchy and engaging in even more intelligence-gathering than others of their ilk. When judged worthy by the masters of the colleges, they will be accepted as an equal in the mysteries of the colleges of the Old Lore. Those who succeed become the greatest bards in the Flanaess, going on to serve as councillors to archmages, hierophant druids, high priests, the high nobility, and even kings.

Of course, the majority of entertainers encountered on any given night will be minstrels with the Expert professional class, skilled performers who lack the spark or talent to tap into arcane and divine magic. They might also be Commoners looking to earn a few extra coins or a warm meal after a day of labour in the fields. Or perhaps even a Rogue hero with a penchant for entertainment looking for marks with ready coin to spend. However, it takes a special talent to be a bard, and this most underrated of heroes will almost certainly stand out before the crowd.

Alignment

Any nonlawful.

Hit Die

d6.

Class Skills

The bard’s 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 (None), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Points at 1st Level

(6 + Int modifier) ×4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level

6 + Int modifier.

Table: the Bard
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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). A bard can cast bard spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. However, like any other arcane spellcaster, a bard wearing medium or heavy armor or using a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component (most do). A multiclass bard still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.
Spells

A bard casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the bard spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. Every bard spell has a verbal component (singing, reciting, or music). To learn or cast a spell, a bard must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a bard’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the bard’s Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a bard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Bard. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score. When Table: The Bard indicates that the bard gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Charisma score for that spell level.

Table: Bard Spell Known
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The bard’s selection of spells is extremely limited. A bard begins play knowing four 0-level spells of your choice. At most new bard levels, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: The Bard. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a bard knows is not affected by his Charisma score; the numbers on Table: The Bard are fixed.)

Upon reaching 5th level, and at every third bard level after that (8th, 11th, and so on), a bard can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the bard “loses” the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least two levels lower than the highest-level bard spell the bard can cast. A bard may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

As noted above, a bard need not prepare his spells in advance. He can cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not yet used up his allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level.

Cantrips

Bards may cast a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells, each day, as noted under the Table: “Bard Spells Known.” A bard casts cantrips in the usual manner. However, those selected will not become exhausted after being cast, so may be cast again later that day. This means that all cantrips known may be cast far more often than 3.5 rules allow. A bard may cast a given cantrip a number of times each hour equal to their class level, after which it takes their magical “wellspring” a small time to regenerate. In a manner of speaking, the magical energy gone into the cantrip is not exhausted, but it could be considered fatigued for a little while.

Bardic Knowledge

A bard may make a special bardic knowledge check with a bonus equal to his bard level + his Intelligence modifier to see whether he knows some relevant information about local notable people, legendary items, or noteworthy places. (If the bard has 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (history), he gains a +2 bonus on this check.)

A successful bardic knowledge check will not reveal the powers of a magic item but may give a hint as to its general function. A bard may not take 10 or take 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random.

Table_Bard_III.png

Bardic Music

Once per day per bard level, 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, 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.

Starting a bardic music effect is a standard action. Some bardic music abilities require concentration, which means the bard must take a standard action each round to maintain the ability. Even while using bardic music that doesn’t require concentration, a bard cannot cast spells, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), spell trigger (such as wands), or command word. Just as for casting a spell with a verbal component, a deaf bard has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to use bardic music. If he fails, the attempt still counts against his daily limit.

Countersong (Su)

A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to counter magical effects that depend on sound (but not spells that simply have verbal components). Each round of the countersong, he makes a Perform check. Any creature within 30 feet of the bard (including the bard himself) that is affected by a sonic or language-dependent magical attack may use the bard’s Perform check result in place of its saving throw if, after the saving throw is rolled, the Perform check result proves to be higher. If a creature within range of the countersong is already under the effect of a noninstantaneous sonic or language-dependent magical attack, it gains another saving throw against the effect each round it hears the countersong, but it must use the bard’s Perform check result for the save. Countersong has no effect against effects that don’t allow saves. The bard may keep up the countersong for 10 rounds.

Fascinate (Sp)

A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the bard, and able to pay attention to him. The bard must also be able to see the creature. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents the ability from working. For every three levels a bard attains beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with a single use of this ability.

To use the ability, a bard makes a Perform check. His check result is the DC for each affected creature’s Will save against the effect. If a creature’s saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. If its saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and listens to the song, taking no other actions, for as long as the bard continues to play and concentrate (up to a maximum of 1 round per bard level). While fascinated, a target takes a -4 penalty on skill checks made as reactions, such as Listen and Spot checks. Any potential threat requires the bard to make another Perform check and allows the creature a new saving throw against a DC equal to the new Perform check result.

Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a ranged weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect. Fascinate is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.

Inspire Courage (Su)

A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use song or poetics to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to hear the bard sing. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter. An affected ally receives a 1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 8th level, and every six bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by 1 (2 at 6th, +3 at 12th, and +4 at 18th). Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability.

Inspire Competence (Su)

A bard of 3rd level or higher with 6 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to help an ally succeed at a task. The ally must be within 30 feet and able to see and hear the bard. The bard must also be able to see the ally.

The ally gets a 2 competence bonus on skill checks with a particular skill as long as he or she continues to hear the bard’s music. Certain uses of this ability are infeasible. The effect lasts as long as the bard concentrates, up to a maximum of 2 minutes. A bard can’t inspire competence in himself. At 7th level, and every four bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by 1 (3 at 7th, +4 at 11th, +5 at 16th, and +6 at 19th). Inspire competence is a mind-affecting ability.

Suggestion (Sp)

A bard of 6th level or higher with 9 or more ranks in a Perform skill can make a suggestion (as the spell) to a creature that he has already fascinated. Using this ability does not break the bard’s concentration on the fascinate effect, nor does it allow a second saving throw against the fascinate effect.

Making a suggestion doesn’t count against a bard’s daily limit on bardic music performances. A Will saving throw (DC 10 + ½ bard’s level + bard’s Cha modifier) negates the effect. This ability affects only a single creature (but see mass suggestion, below). Suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language dependent ability.

Inspire Greatness (Su)

A bard of 9th level or higher with 12 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poetics to inspire greatness in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet, granting him or her extra fighting capability. For every three levels a bard attains beyond 9th, he can target one additional ally with a single use of this ability (two at 12th level, three at 15th, four at 18th). To inspire greatness, a bard must sing and an ally must hear him sing. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter. A creature inspired with greatness gains 2 bonus Hit Dice (d10s), the commensurate number of temporary hit points (apply the target’s Constitution modifier, if any, to these bonus Hit Dice), a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls, and a +1 competence bonus on Fortitude saves. The bonus Hit Dice count as regular Hit Dice for determining the effect of spells that are Hit Dice dependant. Inspire greatness is a mind-affecting ability.

Song of Freedom (Sp)

A bard of 12th level or higher with 15 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poetics to create an effect equivalent to the break enchantment spell (caster level equals the character’s bard level). Using this ability requires 1 minute of uninterrupted concentration and music, and it functions on a single target within 30 feet. A bard can’t use song of freedom on himself.

Inspire Heroics (Su)

A bard of 14th level or higher with 18 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poetics to inspire tremendous heroism in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet. For every three bard levels the character attains beyond 15th, he can inspire heroics in one additional creature. To inspire heroics, a bard must sing and an ally must hear the bard sing for a full round. A creature so inspired gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws and a +4 dodge bonus to AC. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for up to 5 rounds thereafter. Inspire heroics is a mind-affecting ability.

Mass Suggestion (Sp)

This ability functions like suggestion, above, except that a bard of 18th level or higher with 21 or more ranks in a Perform skill can make the suggestion simultaneously to any number of creatures that he has already fascinated. Mass suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language-dependent ability.

Bonus Feat

Bards are an eclectic bunch, subject to a wide variety of fancies, specialisations, and odd advantages. At 10th level, and again at 20th level, the bard may select a bonus feat. This feat is not limited to any degree save that the bard must have any prerequisites necessary to purchase it.

Ex-Bards

A bard who becomes lawful in alignment cannot progress in levels as a bard, though he retains all his bard abilities.


Rationale and Explanation of Changes

  • Of all the D&D 3.5 classes, bards have always been the most short-changed, being both under-powered and rather lacking in flavour. I have attempted to rectify that somewhat by improving spell acquisition and potential, giving a more balanced allocation of skills and some bonus feats, and reintroducing a divine touch to the origins of some of their power.
  • Bards gain Spot as a class skill. Though not so often as rogues, bards sometimes find themselves engaged in illicit activities. It makes sense that they would have a keen eye in addition to a sharp ear.
  • Henceforth bards know and cast 0-level spells as cantrips as per the Pathfinder rules, modified as follows. There are no 0 level spell slots for bards, and they are not exhausted after being cast. This means that all cantrips known may be cast far more often than 3.5 rules allow. A bard may cast a given cantrip a number of times each hour equal to their class level, after which it takes their magical “wellspring” a small time to regenerate.. In a manner of speaking, the magical energy gone into the cantrip is not exhausted, but it could be considered fatigued for a little while.
  • Bards have always been shafted for spells per day and spells known. Henceforth, bards in Ill Winds gain spells per day and spells known at a more prodigious rate. This new allocation is not quite as presented in the Pathfinder rules set, but is rather a fusion of D&D 3.5 and PF.
  • Finally, a bard may not learn curative magics unless they are also devoted to a god in some manner. Arcane magic cannot be curative in the same manner as divine magic — there is almost always a deleterious necromantic trade-off, so the access of bards to curative spells without a decent reason is out of step with the flavour we are going for in Ill Winds. For all intents and purposes, while a bard’s inherent arcane potential is the conduit for the god’s favour, the healing magics they cast come from an external source. In earlier editions of the game, bards belonged to the Old Faith, and in that paradigm their curative magics would have been druidic in nature. Those who receive instruction from mentors of the colleges of the Old Lore would still do so, but bards of other training and temperament must receive that element of their magic from a god of another faith.

Bard

Ill Winds Over Verbobonc Haligaunt