Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Bards

Welcome to the Tower of the Archmage’s April A to Z Challenge!

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “B” the number “2” and the support of readers like you.

Thank you.

The bard never much appealed to me as a class in D&D. It just never seemed to fit in anywhere, usually being a hodgepodge of abilities from the other classes. They possess limited fighting ability, limited roguish ability, and some odd magical power all wrapped up with music and storytelling.

I’m just going to put this out there – lutes, ocarinas, bagpipes, drums, etc. do not belong in a dungeon. For that matter, neither does the Bard!

This Bard is great for games though!

I totally understand the drive to have a debonair dabbler in magic, a swashbuckling type that’s just a little more fantastic than your average rogue, but the bard makes a poor template to base it on. A better strategy would be to make a magic dabbler that could be interpreted as a bard.

I would love to put such a class together for you, but most of the work has already been done. In the 2nd edition setting Birthright true wizards were rare as they needed the blood of a god in their veins in order to tap into true magic. Anyone who lacked that bloodline (most people) that was interested in studying the arcane arts became a magician. The magician character class had access to a broader variety of weapons than a wizard and a limited number and power of spells available to them (spells of Divination and Illusion of all levels, all other schools 1st and 2nd level spells only), as well as access to Rogues, Wizards, and General non-weapon proficiency groups.

Now, this magician character can be looked at in a variety of lights, depending on how the player chooses to run him. With a high enough charisma he could certainly act as a performer when not crawling around in dungeons. Alternately the character could be a hedge wizard who acts as the village wise man. The character could also be played as a noble dilettante who has toyed with both rapier and wand. It could even be used (with a slight tweaking of the spell & weapon list) to present a variation on the innately magical types (elves, dwarves, etc).

Hmmm... Ok, fine. I'll reinvent the wheel for the Rules Cyclopedia. Look for a new character class next month. Damn you A to Z Challenge, like I don't have enough to do already...


  1. I've never seen or played a Bard to any degree that I was happy with. Always found them a bit difficult to get my head around. I'm no musician or singer, not a great fan of poetry, but I do like stories.

    The bard needs more love. I need to a play a bard. Show us a new version, and I might try it out.

  2. As a writer, I like to portray bards/minstrels as a kind of red mage (i.e. they can both fight and use magic) that sing their spells in addition to performances