Oh the D&D 5e Bard…
The lute playing…
Spell casting player character class!
In earlier editions the Bard was considered a joke class that nobody took seriously. But now it is one of the classes most associated with Dungeons and Dragons, so much so that Chris Pine’s character… the lead role in the Dungeons and Dragon: Honor Among Thieves…was a Bard!
It is one of the most popular for new players wanting to try a hand at magic, and if you are one of the 4 types of players, you should give it a try!
Players That Want to Have Silly Fun
In D&D campaigns, Bard characters are known for getting drunk, convincing general store owners to give a good discount, playing great music that gets everyone dancing, and then ending the night with a good romp in the hay with the tavern maid.
Translation… they are a TON of fun to role play!
Bard’s are often the “comic relief” for an adventuring party that usually includes righteous knight of light and backstabbing edge lord. They tell jokes, play tricks, and talk their way out of dangerous situations the party has no hope of solving with the sword.
Need more proof? Look no further than their spell list, which is a “who’s who” of all the most fun spells in D&D 5e:
Vicious Mockery: THE Bard cantrip…insult them so well they take psychic damage.
Gift of Gab: Undo whatever you said in the past 6 seconds for everyone 5 feet around you.
Nathair’s Mischief: Fill a cube with random fey and draconic magic… and see what happens!
Leomund’s Tiny Hut: Create a little, impenetrable shelter safe in any environment.
But another reason they are good for new players is because their spellcasting is SIMPLE.
Level up = Learn a new spell.
Its WAY easier than Wizards, Cleric, and Druid’s who have to choose their spells from a huge list after every long rest. It’s even easier than Sorcerer’s rule-breaking meta-magic and Warlock’s Pact Magic and invocations.
Players With An Appreciation for the Arts
You know how in the Chronicles of Narnia (specifically the Magician’s Nephew) and in the Silmarillion the divine beings sing creation into existence? They use art and beauty to bring forth creation from nothing?
Well, the creation myths of Dungeons and Dragons lore aren’t as clear… but it DOES state that “the primordial Words of Creation still resound throughout the cosmos”. And Bards cast their magic by using the goodness, truth, and beauty (high five Plato) of art to tap into these beautiful first causes (high five Aristotle).
Granted, the text states that it is specifically WORDS… but just about every D&D player I have met allows a lot of creative liberty and lets Bard’s cast with ANY form of art.
So… do you really, REALLY love any of the high arts? Are you obsessed with music, painting, dance, or architecture?
Image of a medieval performer, or a group of performers one singing, one dancing, one playing an instrument
Then you can play a character that is immersed from head to toe, role-playing to mechanics, in that form of art!
And just like art in the real world, your Bard’s heart brings rest to souls with the Song of Rest class ability: perform your art during a short rest, and your entire party gets to roll an extra die when trying to restore hit points. It starts as a d6, but becomes a 1d8 at 9th level, to 1d10 at 13th level, and to 1d12 at 17th level.
Players That Want to Be The “Skill Master”
Fighters fight better than anyone. Clerics heal better than anyone. And Warlocks communicate with primordial horrors beyond comprehension better than anyone.
(Everyone’s got something…)
So what is the Bard’s “thing” other than being a silly goose?
Dem Bards got SKILLZ.
Every character in D&D has scores for their 6 abilities. And every class has certain abilities for their martial attacks and spell casting.
But those abilities ALSO are used for your skills, and there are 18 skills in D&D 5e. You refer to these skills whenever your character needs to roll for anything other than an attack or saving throw.
So how does the Bard have an advantage?
The Bard has “Jack of All Trades”, which allows them to add their ½ of their proficiency bonus to ANY skill check. Doesn't matter your character’s background or personality… they just have a natural knack for doing ALL things. By level 20, Bard’s add +3 to EVERYTHING.
But that’s not all… Bards also have Expertise… which allows them to DOUBLE their proficiency bonus to 2 of their skill checks. They can choose two more skills to expertise in at level 10.
Which means, assuming the Bard has an 18 in Charisma… by level ten they could have a + 12 (ahem… PLUS TWELVE!!!!) to Persuasion, Performance, Deception, and Intimidation.
So yeah… Bards are VERY competent individuals!
Players Who Want To Lean HEAVY into Role - Play
Charisma is a controversial ability in D&D 5e… despite 3 other classes using it as their primary casting ability, each class that uses it has a different definition. That said… the Bard is the ULTIMATE, archetypical charisma based caster.
And in the Bard’s case, Charisma means “the ability to master all things that influence people”. Through beauty, music, and poetry… the Bard inspires and captivates all around them:
College of Creation: A philosophical and religious bard that doesn’t just use the god’s creation… but connects with the gods through creation and imitates their creative spirit. Heal, conjure items, and place masses in awe (enchant).
College of Eloquence: Become Cicero, Chaucer, or Lenin. Move the masses with your rhetoric and (basically) NEVER fail a Persuasion of Deception check ever again.
College of Glamor: For the drama king/queen that lives for the stage. A Fey inspired bard that enchants with otherworldly charm and beauty.
College of Lore: The bardiest bard that ever barded. You gain MORE skills… your insults can be heard FARTHER away… and you can learn MORE spells.
College of Spirits: Let your art be a spiritual conduit that brings the power of occult and myth to life. An unpredictable and esoteric blend of Divination and Necromancy magic.
College of Swords: The “FIGHTER/bard blend”... an offensively minded bard who is a master of bladed weapons… like a circus sword swallower who can also fence. Gain fighting styles and deal damage/raise your AC.
College of Valor: The “fighter/BARD” blend… get yourself some armor and weapons so you can handle yourself in a fight. These Bard’s tell tales of heroes past and add Bardic Inspiration die to damage rolls of your fellow party members.
College of Whispers: Entertain and make friends… AND COMMIT ESPIONAGE. Knowledge is power you can use to manipulate, and use your magic to infuse your words with fearful psychic damage.
For incredibly detailed information on how each of these Bard subclasses work, please refer to this link to RPGBOT.
Love how casting sounds? What to try a different caster?
Check out some of our other posts on the D&D character classes:
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Based out of Spokane, Riley is a freelance copywriter that combines his love of reading, writing, and people into something useful! He is thankful to be applying his passion for imaginative role-playing to help DnD related businesses communicate their value in the best way possible. He's kinda like a bard giving inspiration, except without the annoying pop covers!