Forgotten Realms: Birthright
Ability Requirements: Dexterity 12, Intelligence 13, Charisma 15
Armour: Anything up to and including chain mail. Cannot use shields.
Bards are versatile arcane spellcasters, capable combatants, and artists. Bards create magic as they would art or song, using these harmoniously to either bolster their allies or hinder their enemies. Bards are among the most versatile of adventurers
Bards can be storytellers, musicians, enchanters, dancers, and lore keepers. They are prone to wanderlust, traveling from one place to another in search of knowledge or perhaps the desire to share their own sage advice. Some work in the service of others as ambassadors or spies, others are courtiers and entertainers. There are others still that charge headlong into battle beside their warrior brothers inflaming their passions and blood lust. Most bards, however, prefer the freedom and mobility of living by one’s own wit and whims. Most bards acquire their skills from years of training, either as apprentices of other bards, or by self taught practice.
Bards are common throughout Toril, especially in the Dalelands and the northern regions of Faerûn. Some of the world’s greatest magical and adventuring traditions are founded and supported by bards. The most notable being the Harpers,
- Musical Instrument: At 1st level, a Bard can choose one musical instrument (preferably a portable one). He can learn to play more instruments by spending non-weapon proficiency slots. A bard can learn two instruments for every slot spent.
- Cantrips: Cantrips are minor magical wonders that bards can perform outside of their normal spell progression. These can be cast a number of times per day equal to 4 + 1 per level + your character’s Insight bonus. A list of Cantrips can be found here.
Spells: Bards can cast arcane spells. They share the same spells as wizards, but their methods differ considerably.
Bards can choose to replace the verbal components of their spells with song, poetry or oratory. Likewise, they can replace their somatic components with the intricate play of their instruments. Thus, to the untrained eye, their casting can appear as song or performance. Their spell books do not necessarily resemble the arcane tomes carried by wizards. Instead, they can be written in the form of sheet music, poetry, prose or some other form of performance art. Consult the DM to determine what form your character’s spell book takes.
Bards start play without any spells in his or her books, as they cannot cast 1st level spells until they level, and do not automatically gain new spells when they level up, so as a result, they must collect their spells through other means. It is initially easier for them to acquire their racial and regional spells than others.
Bards don’t need the Read Magic spell to read their writings. Conversely, regular musicians or poets reading a bard’s spell book would still be able to read the melody or speak the words, but would overlook the special notations and arcane markings woven throughout the pages.
Bards who wish to cast spells must abide by the rules for casting in armour. There are of course ways to overcome this obstacle, but that’s something to explore in character.
- Healing Song: Bards can use soothing music or oration to cast restorative spells like priests of the same level. These spells are considered to be of the same spell level, and thus become accessible to the bard when he is able to cast that level of spell. These spells are considered arcane and of the school of necromancy. These include cure light wounds, cure moderate wounds, cure serious wounds, cure critical wounds and heal. In addition, bards can cast a cure minor wounds (the orison) as a cantrip. Mass healing spells are not available to bards, outside of Song of Perfection (see below). These restorative spells rely on the target being able to hear the music or oration uttered by the bard. Deaf creatures, or those without a sense of hearing are not affected by this type of magic.
- Bardic Larceny: A bard selects four thief abilities from bribe officials, climb walls, detect magic, detect illusion, detect noise, dig tunnel, escape bonds, find/remove traps, forge documents, hide in shadows, move silently, open locks, pick pockets, and read languages. The initial values of each skill are given under the thief class, and are modified by race, Dexterity, and armour. Larceny can only be used in light armour.
Unlike thieves, bards add nothing to these base values at 1st level. Each time a bard advances a level in experience, the player receives another 20 points to distribute to his character. No more than 10 of these points can be assigned to a single skill, and no skill can be raised above 95%.
- Countersong: Bards are able to counter sonic effects. Characters within 30 feet of the bard are immune to the effect as long as the bard performs the counter (which can be a song, oration, performance etc.) While doing this, the bard can perform no other action except a slow walk. If he is struck or fails a saving throw, his effort is ruined. To perform a countersong, the bard makes a saving throw vs. spell. Success means the countersong is effective and blocks the attack. Failure means the attack has its normal effect (everyone affected rolls saving throws, normal damage is inflicted, etc.). The bard can use this ability once per encounter or battle. This power does not affect verbal spell components or command words; it is effective against spells that involve explanations, commands, or suggestions.
- Influence Reactions: When performing before a group that is not attacking (and not intending to attack in just seconds), the bard can try to alter the mood of the listeners. He can try to soften their mood or make it uglier. The method can be whatever is most suitable to the situation at the moment – a fiery speech, collection of jokes, a sad tale, a fine tune played on a Vaasan nose-flute, or a heroic song from the old homeland. Everyone in the group listening must roll a saving throw vs. paralysation (if the crowd is large, make saving throws for groups of people using average hit dice). The die roll is modified by -1 for every three experience levels of the bard (round fractions down). If the saving throw fails, the group’s reaction can be shifted one level (see the Reactions section in the DMG), toward either the friendly or hostile end of the scale, at the player’s option. Those who make a successful saving throw have their reaction shifted one level toward the opposite end of the scale.
Inspiration: The music, poetry, and stories of the bard are inspirational, rallying friends and allies. If the exact nature of an impending threat is known, the bard can inspire his companions (immortalizing them in word and song), granting a + 1 bonus to attack and damage rolls, or a +1 bonus to saving throws, or a +1 bonus to morale (particularly useful in large battles) to those involved in melee. The bard must spend at least three full rounds singing or reciting before the battle begins. This affects those within a range of 10 feet per experience level of the bard.
The Bard’s inspiration bonus increases by +1 every six levels thereafter, so at 7th level it will be +2, at 13th level it will be +3 and so on.
The effect lasts one round per level. Once the effect wears off, it can’t be renewed if the participants are still in battle. However, troops who have withdrawn from combat can be re-inspired by the bard’s words.
- Lore: All bards receive the local history proficiency for free. Furthermore, bards have a 5% chance per level to identify the general purpose of any magical item. The bard need not handle the item but must examine it closely. Even if successful, the exact function of the item is not revealed, only its general nature. When the bard reaches level 5, and then again at level 10, 15, and 20, he gains a free non-weapon proficiency in any knowledge of his choice. These can be taken from lists outside of the Rogue class.
- Identify: Bards are experts in the history and lore of magical items. At 3rd level, they gain access to the Identify spell through their bardic college if they have not already found a copy.
- Countercharm: At 6th level, the bard gains the ability to use musical notes or words of power to disrupt mind-influencing effects. The bard can start a performance that lasts until the end of his next turn. During that time, the bard and any friendly creatures within 30 feet who can hear the bard gain +3 on saving throws against magical fear and charm effects. In addition, the bard can use a similar performance to grant those already affected by mind influencing effects of any kind a new saving throw against that effect (if allowed by the spell or effect) at a +3 to that save. If that new save fails, the bard’s ability will not be able to affect that spell or effect.
- Stronghold: Upon reaching 9th level, the bard can build a stronghold and attract followers. See the PHB for details.
- Read Magical Writings: At 10th level, a bard gains a limited ability to use magical and clerical scrolls, books and writings etc., that are not bardic in nature. A bard’s understanding of magical writings is far from complete, however. The bard has a 15 percent chance to read the scroll incorrectly and reverse the spell’s effect. This sort of malfunction is almost always detrimental to the bard and his party. It could be as simple as accidentally casting the reverse of the given spell or as complex as a foul-up on a fireball scroll, causing the ball of flame to be centred on the thief instead of its intended target. The exact effect is up to the DM (this is the sort of thing DMs enjoy, so expect the unexpected).
- Word of Power: At 11th level, a bard can utter a power word: stun against a single target once per day, with a range of 5 yards per level. The target of the power word is stunned for a duration dependent on its current hit points:
- Creatures with 1 to 30 hit points are stunned for 4d4 rounds.
- Creatures with 21 to 60 hit points are stunned for 2d4 rounds.
- Creatures with 61 to 90 hit points are stunned for 1d4 rounds.
- Creatures with over 90 hit points are not affected.
At 14th level, the bard can utter a power word, blind against a single target once per day, with a range of 5 yards per level. The blindness can be cured by a cure blindness or a dispel magic spell. The target is rendered sightless for a duration dependent on their current hit points:
- If the target has 25 or fewer hit points, the blindness is permanent until cured.
- If the target has 26 to 50 hit points, the blindness lasts for 1d4+1 turns.
- If the target has 51 to 100 hit points, the blindness lasts for 1d4+1 rounds.
- If the target has over 100 hit points, there is no effect.
At 17th level, the bard can utter a power word, kill against a single target once per day, with a range of 5 yards per 2 levels. If the target has 60 hit points or less, it is killed. Creatures with 61 or more hit points are unaffected.
All words of power can only affect creatures that can hear at the moment of utterance. Certain creatures are immune to these effects, such as undead, constructs and others.
- Legend Lore: By the time a bard reaches 16th level, he has expanded his knowledge on the magical lore of the world to a great degree. Through their bardic college, they receive the Legend Lore spell, to add to their spell book for free.
- Battle Cry: Upon reaching 18th level, bards have become so skilled at inspiring troops in battle, that they can light a furious fire of courage to all those who can hear them. After making a heroic speech or epic performance or three full rounds, the bard can grant all those who heard him a +3 to all attack and damage rolls, a +5 to morale checks, and 5 temporary hit points. Furthermore, those who heard him receive a +3 save vs all mind influencing effects. This effect lasts for 1 round per 3 levels.
- Song of Perfection: At 20th level, a bard can use music or oratory to heal allies of a number of conditions. The performance takes 1 turn to complete. All allies within 30 yards who can hear the performance are cured of all hit point damage. The performance also removes any blindness, deafness, or paralysation, and dispels any curses or charms on those affected. The bard can only use this power once per day.
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