Entering the realm of bard-dom…

halfling bard

I’ve played a lot of characters in D&D or its variants. Fighters, rangers, wizards, druids, sorcerers, rogues (or thieves), clerics, even a witch now.

But there are two classes I have rather deliberately and pointedly avoided for decades. Yes, decades.

One is the paladin. The other is the bard. I avoid them for entirely different reasons. I avoid the paladin because I find the role playing constraints and GM or other player expectations to be too severe. I’m not much of a “black and white” morality kind of guy, and paladins are all about that. But I haven’t played a bard because… well…

Bards suck.

I mean even in the Order of the Stick online webcomic (online webcomic, that’s redundant isn’t it? Oh well…) the bard is the comedy relief of the party. Even the fundamental concept of the bard strikes nothing but laughter into the heart of most gamers. “Look out, he’s going to … SING!”

But I’ve decided to take the plunge and will be playing a bard in an upcoming campaign, assuming we can find a time when everyone can play. Yes, a bard. A halfling bard at that. So I’ve decided not only to play a class that is woefully unsuited for combat, I’ve picked the least combat suitable race too.

“Sparky” is his name. I haven’t yet created a miniature for him, but I will. Hopefully it will turn out better than my crappy miniature for Gil the Wonder Gnome. It almost has to, really.

So, why a bard? Well, mostly because the party we have already has all the other standard roles all filled, and I just wanted to finally take the chance to play a class I’ve avoided forever.

I am doing what I can to make him a competent member of the team, but mostly his focus is going to be on performing, diplomacy, bluffing and sneaking around in the dark. In combat he’s mostly going to hide behind the big beefy dudes and fling a sling stone out from time to time. Having picked the “detective” archetype, my bard won’t even have the ability to buff the party with the bard’s signature ability, the “sing a song to buff the party” ability called “inspire courage.” That’s sort of deliberate, and I certainly won’t miss the taunts of “fight fight fight the ugly ogre” from the rest of the team. But without that ability Sparky will have to make up for his limitations in other ways.

To make this work I’m going to have to be quite clever and resourceful. I’m looking forward to it.

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2 thoughts on “Entering the realm of bard-dom…

  1. Bards are…special. I am given to understand the Pathfinder version is ‘better’, but I don’t really like it because it is freakin’ complicated! Have to keep track of spellcasting PLUS bardic music uses PLUS being a skillmonkey (versatile performance is useful, but you have to use a spreadsheet to plan your character) PLUS trying to impact the battlefield.

    I have a feeling you are wanting to crack this nut yourself instead of being given suggestions, so I’ll leave it at that. I have tried to make builds myself, and tended to end up ignoring spellcasting or bardic performance or some other aspect of the class because I couldn’t keep it all straight. Best of luck!

  2. The detective archetype also gives up “versatile performance” I think. In fact the bard detective is really more rogue than bard, but with bard spellcasting, and charisma based instead of dex based, so they can also be the party “face”. Sparky is mostly going to be the skill monkey, sneaky dude, party face sort of character. In combat he will provide some minor ranged ability and some bardic buffing. But primarily he will be a scout and a support character.

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