Character Creation Guide – Bard

Amidst the quiet rustle of leaves in an ancient, enchanted forest, a gentle strum of a lute resonates through the air. The tender melody weaves through the trees, caressing the hearts of the creatures dwelling within.

A female bard holding her instrument in a forest.

With each note, the forest seems to come alive, the ancient trees swaying to the rhythm, the animals perched in solemn attention. The serene glade is filled with the soft glow of twilight, casting a warm hue on the wandering minstrel at its heart.

Her name was Lyria, a bard of the Whispering Grove, whose music carried the whispers of nature and the stories of old. As the melody flowed from her fingers, it carried with it tales of love, loss, and the eternal dance of the cosmos.

Now, as she ventured forth into the realm of adventure, her lute was her companion, her voice a spell, and her tales a bridge between the mundane and the magical.


In the world of Dungeons & Dragons, the Bard class embodies the spirit of adventure mixed with a touch of magic, whimsy, and the power of a well-spun tale.

With a heart filled with song and a mind sharp with lore, a Bard brings a unique blend of magic, combat ability, and charismatic influence to any party.

This guide aims to explore the diverse paths a Bard can tread, delving into the various subclasses, the synergy between races and the Bard’s versatile abilities, and the feats that can further refine a Bard’s mastery over magic and music.

Whether you are a player seeking to captivate hearts with song or a Dungeon Master desiring to weave the richness of Bardic lore into your campaign, this guide seeks to be a harmonious chord amidst the grand symphony of character creation.

Introduction To Bards

In the boundless realms of Dungeons & Dragons, the Bard is a class of creativity, versatility, and a dash of roguish charm. With a lute in hand and a spell at their fingertips, Bards are masters at controlling the battlefield, supporting their allies, and confounding their foes all while reciting an epic poem or serenading the stars.

A male bard laughing in a tavern.

Role in a Party

A Bard’s primary role in a party is that of a versatile supporter, capable of both healing wounds and boosting allies’ abilities. Their spellcasting, centered around the College of their choice, offers a wide array of options for both combat and social situations.

Their performances can inspire allies to greater heights, soothe the restless spirits of the dead, or even charm the most ferocious of beasts.

In addition to their magical prowess, Bards are often the face of the party, using their charisma to negotiate, deceive, or gather information, making them invaluable in navigating the social landscapes the party may encounter.

Their jack-of-all-trades nature also makes them adaptable to many situations, filling roles in the party that might otherwise be lacking.

Key Abilities And Stats

The Bard’s versatility and charm are reflected in their key abilities which form the core of their spellcasting and interactions:

  • Charisma: The primary spellcasting ability for Bards, Charisma also aids in most social interactions.
  • Dexterity: Important for AC, ranged attack rolls, and many of the Bard’s skills.
  • Constitution: Helpful for maintaining concentration on spells and overall survivability.

Class Features

The Bard’s eclectic set of class features provides a mixture of magical and martial capabilities. Here’s a breakdown of the primary class features:

  • Hit Dice: 1d8 per Bard level
  • Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
  • Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per Bard level after 1st

Proficiencies

  • Armor: Light armor
  • Weapons: Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords
  • Tools: Three musical instruments of your choice
  • Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
  • Skills: Choose any three

Core Class Features

  • Spellcasting: Bards have access to a wide range of spells and can cast spells in any armor thanks to their Bardic training.
  • Bardic Inspiration
    • At 1st level, you can inspire others through stirring words or music. As a bonus action, you can give one creature other than yourself within 60 feet an inspiration die (initially a d6). The creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. This feature’s die becomes a d8 at 6th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 14th level.
  • Jack of All Trades (2nd level)
    • You can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to any ability check you make that doesn’t already include your proficiency bonus.
  • Song of Rest (2nd level)
    • During a short rest, if you or any friendly creatures who can hear your performance regain hit points by spending hit dice, each of those creatures regains an extra 1d6 hit points. The extra hit points increase as you level up.
  • Bard College (3rd level)
    • At 3rd level, you choose a Bard College, which is a subclass that represents your bardic expertise.
  • Expertise (3rd level)
    • Choose two of your skill proficiencies. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.
  • Ability Score Improvement (4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level)
    • You can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1.
  • Countercharm (6th level)
    • You gain the ability to use your musical notes or words of power to disrupt mind-influencing effects.
  • Magical Secrets (10th, 14th, and 18th level)
    • Choose two spells from any class, including this one. The spells count as bard spells for you.
  • Superior Inspiration (20th level)
    • When you roll initiative and have no uses of Bardic Inspiration left, you regain one use.

Subclasses

Bards can choose a College at 3rd level which represents the way in which they use their musical and magical talents:

College of Lore (Player’s Handbook): Bards of the College of Lore are skilled storytellers and collectors of knowledge. They have a deep passion for uncovering secrets and ancient tales. They gain additional proficiencies and can learn spells from any class.

College of Valor (Player’s Handbook): Valor Bards are inspired by heroic tales and are unafraid to dive into the thick of battle. They are both performers and fighters, gaining abilities that bolster their combat capabilities and aid their allies.

College of Glamour (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): These Bards draw their power from the Feywild and are masters of enchantment and charm. They can weave entrancing performances and manipulate the emotions of their audience.

College of Swords (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): Bards of this college are skilled blade dancers, combining their martial prowess with their performance skills. They use their weapons as both instruments and tools of war.

College of Whispers (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): Whisper Bards use their music and performance to manipulate and intimidate. They are adept at sowing paranoia and fear, and they can steal the shadows of those they slay to disguise themselves.

College of Eloquence (Mythic Odysseys of Theros; Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything): Masters of oratory, Bards of the College of Eloquence are skilled diplomats and negotiators. They can use their words to pacify creatures and inspire allies.

College of Creation (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything): Drawing inspiration from the Song of Creation, these Bards bring objects to life and shape reality through their performances. They can animate objects and inspire creativity.

College of Spirits (Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft): Bards of the College of Spirits communicate with the spirits of the dead, channeling their stories and powers. They can use a Spiritual Focus and invoke the tales of spirits to gain various effects.

These descriptions are meant to provide a general sense of the theme and flavor of each subclass. For a detailed understanding of each College’s abilities and how they function in-game, one should refer to the respective sourcebook.

Race Recommendations

Certain races naturally gravitate towards the bardic arts due to their innate talents or cultural proclivities:

  • Half-Elf: With their mixed heritage, half-elves naturally have a boost in Charisma and benefit from versatility in skill choices, making them natural bards.
  • Tiefling: With their infernal heritage granting them a bonus to Charisma and innate spellcasting abilities, Tieflings can become enchanting bards.
  • Tabaxi: These feline beings are natural storytellers, and their bonus to Charisma and Dexterity makes them agile and charming performers.

Feat Recommendations

  • Actor: Enhances a Bard’s ability to impersonate others and boosts Charisma.
  • Inspiring Leader: A Bard can inspire their allies with a rousing speech, granting temporary hit points.
  • Linguist: Enhancing a Bard’s role as a communicator and mediator.

Equipment And Gear

  • Instruments: A Bard’s musical instrument is not only a tool for performance but also a focus for their spellcasting. Lutes, flutes, and drums are common choices.
  • Armor: Light armor like leather armor allows the Bard to remain mobile.
  • Weapons: Rapiers or longswords for melee and hand crossbows for ranged attacks are popular choices.

Roleplaying Tips

Embrace the charisma and flair of your Bard. Whether telling tall tales in a tavern or calming a tense negotiation with a song, a Bard’s strength often lies outside of combat.

Combat Tactics

Bards can support their allies with spells like “Healing Word” or “Inspire Courage” and control the battlefield with spells like “Hypnotic Pattern” or “Hold Person.”

Party Synergy

Bards excel when they can enhance the abilities of their allies, making them great in combination with classes that benefit from buffs or need a bit of versatility in their tactics.

Conclusion

The Bard class offers a unique blend of magic, combat, and charm. With their versatile skill set, they can adapt to nearly any situation, making them invaluable members of any adventuring party.

A female bard holding her instrument in a tavern.

Whether charming a dragon, singing tales of ancient heroes, or casting spells that turn the tide of battle, Bards are the heartbeat of any D&D campaign, ensuring the story is always accompanied by a captivating tune.

Dungeons & Dragons, its logo, and its respective trademarks and copyrights are the property of Wizards of the Coast. This article is not endorsed by, affiliated with, sponsored by, or specifically approved by Wizards of the Coast.

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