The Bard, Reworked
While the traditional thief operates by stealth and subterfurge, a bard specialises in manipulating others; swindles, confidence games, bluffs and salesmanship are the bread and butter of a bard. They may or may not carry a lute and recite poetry - though a great many do, as the life of a wandering minstrel or court musician is an ideal setting for the silver-tongued bard. Whatever path they walk, they make up for their lack of martial prowess by shining in other areas.
The prime requisite of a bard is Charisma; a high Intelligence and Dexterity score are also very useful to a bard. The former alllows them to take more nonweapon proficencies, while the latter is useful when the going gets rough. When levelling, this reimagined bard class uses the same experience table as "vanilla" bards. Bards use the same hit die and attack tables as thieves, and receive the same number of weapon and nonweapon proficiencies. They are not limited in what they may spend their weapon proficiencies on, and may take any weapon proficiency that makes sense in the context of their background.
Whereas a thief lives or dies by his ability to move silently or pick a lock, the bard relies on intuition, instinct and sheer dumb luck to save his hide. At first level, the bard receives 2 luck points; at every level thereafter, their maximum luck points increase by 2. Luck points can be spent as frivolously as the bard desires, but only regenerate at a rate of 1 point each day - meaning that it is entirely possible for your luck to "run out" within an adventure.
By spending a luck point, you can do one of the following things:
- When making a saving throw, roll 2d20 and use the higher result.
- When making an ability check or proficiency check, roll 2d20 and use the lower result.
- When attacked by an enemy, you may force them to roll 2d20 and use the lower result.
- Double your chances of succeeding a bardic lore check or reading a wizard scroll.
Spending luck points does not require initiative or take any time, but they must be spent before the dice are rolled.
During character creation, bards receive the normal pool of nonweapon proficiencies (modified by their Intelligence) and may spend them as they please. However, they also receive additional NWPs from a limited pool as they gain levels. At first level, and every 2 levels thereafter, the bard receives a free NWP from the following selection:
- Ancient History
- Artistic Ability
- Languages, Modern
- Languages, Ancient
- Local History
- Musical Instrument
- Reading Lips
- Tightrope Walking
If the player feels that an NWP not listed here falls within the bard's purview, he may petition the DM to include it as an eligible option. The bard can choose an NWP they already have for their free NWP; in this case, the score is improved by 1.
As a master of manipulation, a bard has the ability to influence NPCs or monsters that can understand him. When talking to or performing for a group of such individuals, the bard can attempt to improve their reactions by one stage. All those listening to the bard must make a saving throw vs. spell - for large groups, use the average saving throw of the group. Swaying large crowds can be easier than persuading an individual, after all.
If the saving throw fails, the individual or group has their reaction roll adjusted by one step in the direction desired by the bard. A bard proselytising to a crowd or lifting the spirits of a group of levees will be trying to improve their reaction. A bard trying to rile up the peasant mob or taunt an intelligent monster will be trying to worsen the reaction. If the target(s) pass their saving throw, their reaction is the same as it would normally be.
The bardic ability to influence others can also be used in combat, albeit in a different form. By performing for their comrades for a full 3 rounds just before or during a battle, they can grant any allies within earshot various bonuses for the duration of the battle. NPCs affected by a bard's performance receive a +2 bonus to morale, while PCs in the bard's party receive temporary hit dice until the end of the battle. The number of HD received by party members is as follows:
|Bard Level||Temporary HD Granted|
For example, a wizard (d4 hit die) who hears a 5th-level bard's performance will gain 2d4 temporary hit points that last until the end of the battle. These temporary hit dice are not affected by Constitution, and do not increase your effective level for the purposes of spellcasting or anything else. Any damage dealt to an affected character is subtracted from the temporary hit dice first; only when they are expended is actual damage taken.
Anyone under the effects of the bard's performance is also immune to magical attacks based on song, poetry or spoken words - examples include the song of a sirine or a Suggestion spell.
Bards tend to pick up a smattering of just about everything in their travels and are storehouses of obscure facts, useless trivia and half-forgotten tales. When encountering a strange item, mysterious location or just about any topic, a bard has a 5% chance per level of remembering something about it. A bard's lore is not infallible, however. At the DM's option, a bard who fails their lore check may remember some half-truth or rumour that turns out to be just plain false.
Bardic lore also gives a bard the ability to puzzle out magical writings at a rate of 1 spell level per day. Spellbooks can be understood so that the bard has detailed knowledge of the spells they contain, but cannot be used by a bard. Scrolls can be used by a bard, with a 10% chance per level of success. If the spell fails, the magical energies of the scroll are wasted. Bards of 10th level and above can cast spells from scrolls without any chance of failure.