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Bard
Alignment
LG NG CG
LN N CN
LE NE CE

Bards are versatile arcane spellcasters, capable in combat, art, and magic alike. Bards practice magic as they would art or song, using their artistic talents to induce magical effects that either bolster their allies or hinder their enemies, typically through charms and illusions. In addition to their magical skills, bards are artistically talented and extraordinarily learned, possessing knowledge in a wide range of fields.[1] Bards are among the most versatile of characters, capable of learning from practically any trade.[2]

The most notable of the world's bards during the Era of Upheaval was likely Storm Silverhand of the Seven Sisters or Ningal of Unther.

CultureEdit

Both literally and figuratively enchanting bards draw upon, more than perhaps any other profession, the works of all who've come before them. Storytellers, musicians, enchanters, dancers, and lorekeepers bards are prone to wanderlust, traveling from one place to another in search of new lore or perhaps in the hopes of spreading what they already know.[3] Some come into the services of others as ambassadors or spies, but most bards prefer the freedom of mobility and living by one's whims,[4] though this is not without exception[5] and most bards acquire their skills as a result of training under previous bards drawing upon ancient traditions of lore and arcane magic.[4]

Bards have a reputation for being joyful and inspiring, though as with every skill their ability to charm and inspire has a darker side. Evil bards are manipulative and cunning, twisting the hearts of others either through magic or sheer charisma. Most bards though, regardless of their individual morals, have a strong distaste for blatant violence, at least when it can be avoided. To a bard the joys of life are in seeking knowledge or, better yet, witnessing the discovery of such knowledge firsthand. For this reason many bards are drawn to the adventuring lifestyle, hoping to witness the weaving of new tales firsthand - or perhaps even to instigate them.[4]

Bards are common throughout Toril, appearing most commonly in the Dalelands and North Faerûn, though they can also be found in large numbers in as diverse locations as Chult or Vaasa. Some of the world's greatest magical and adventuring traditions were propped up and supported by bards. The most notable of these, the Harpers, held a large numbers of bards within their ranks.[6]

The most common bards are humans and eladrin, as well as half-elves and half-eladrin to a lesser extent, the latter three drawing upon the ancient magical and musical traditions of the Tel-quessir to their benefit. On the other hand, few half-orcs, orcs, or goblinoids become bards, their ancient traditions less befitting of the bard's lifestyle. Nor, for that matter, are dwarven,[4] except for gold dwarves, though halfling[6] and gnomish bards are. Of all the races, half-elves, with their unusual combination of endurance and charm, are considered to have the best natural capability for a bard's lifestyle, though gnomes and tieflings also make excellent bards.[5]

Bards typically get along well with non-bards, in no small part due to their versatility and charm. In parties of adventurers most bards serve as spokesmen of sorts, due to their affinity for social interaction and skill at enchantment. Bards clash with few characters, having a little bit of something to offer just about anyone.[4]

Bards are drawn most often to the worship of gods of magic, such as Corellon, Selûne, or others. Good bards might worship Bahamut or Moradin. Less moralistic bards might be drawn to the worship of Lolth, Tiamat, or Zehir instead.[5]

AbilitiesEdit

Bards are among the most versatile of adventurers. While not necessarily as tough as a fighter, as skilled as a rogue, or as intelligent as a wizard, bards are widely capable in a number of different situations and are widely recognized as a sort of "jack-of-all-trades."[7] For instance, bards are better trained in weaponry than all other arcanists (including swordmages) trained in the use of all simple weapons, longswords, rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows.[8] Additionally, some bards exhibit proficiency in scimitars and martial ranged weapons as well.[9] Similarly, bards are naturally knowledgeable and have an uncanny ability for improvisation and trying new things. But unlike fighters or rogues, who might be similarly proficient, bards are capable of casting rituals and spells, including those normally only used by other spellcasters.[10]

Bards of all kinds learn to inspire virtue and ability in those around them. Exactly how frequently a bard can do this depends partially upon their strength of personality as well as their level of experience.[10] Some bards use their inspirational power to boost their allies' cunning or reflexes, while others might inspire and further the courage and valor in those with whom they fight.[11] In addition to this, experienced bards can also counteract the effects of spells designed to charm or frighten, providing magical aid to their allies.[7] Similarly, bards, through their music and arts, can soothe the nerves of their allies and, through their magic, heal their wounds and bolster their spirits, either at rest or in combat.[11]

Bards are, as a general rule, uncannily skilled advocates and diplomats. For many bards this is a result of their typically high charisma but some bards - including those who are less charming - can boost their persuasive power through magic. They do this by actually enchanting the very words they speak, making them sound even more persuasive and compelling than they would normally.[11]

Like other arcanists, bards usually use implements to increase the effectiveness of their spells[5] or to subsitute for their material cost.[12] Some bards use wands for this purpose, wielding them like a conductor's baton. Others use more specialized implements such as songblades.[5] Most however use a musical instrument, enchanted or mundane, focusing their magic through music.[8] Many bards particularly treasure this latter method[5] and believe their music taps into the Words of Creation themselves, sprinkling song and story with echoes of the universe's beginnings.[1]

Bard collegesEdit

Eager to learn and often fond of company, most bards organize themselves into loosely bound fellowships known as colleges, which help to preserve each bard's individual knowledge and pass them on to others. Some of the most common colleges are listed below.

College of LoreEdit

Given all bards’ love of learning it is little surprise that some bards prioritize it during their training. Bards belong to the College of Lore, also known as cunning bards,[11] collect bits of knowledge from every place they can find, be it academic writings or folk tales, gathering in universities and local festivals alike in their pursuit of lore. Bards of this tradition weave what tales and trivia they find into their stories and songs to entertain, as well as to illuminate that which they hold to be important. Uncompromising in their views, College of Lore bards' first loyalty is to the truth, which makes them valuable (if occasionally brazen) advisers.[7]

Cunning bards prefer a path of trickery and cunning, using charm and intellect together to overcome obstacles. As a result, while cunning bards are as charming as most other bards, they place less of an emphasis on vitality and more of one on intellectual pursuits.[11] Witty with insults and distracting barbs, bards from the College of Lore are capable of whittling the confidence of their opponents, reducing their effectiveness in various acts of skill or combat. Proficient in a greater number of skills than most bards, College of Lore bards are also uncommonly capable in those same skills and experienced bards of the tradition are rarely completely ineffectual at any given task.[13]

In addition to their peerless skill, bards from the College of Lore are also versatile spellcasters, capable of learning or imitating even more spells than a typical bard.[14] Many cunning bards prefer using wands as implements to cast ranged spells and nearly all have training as tacticians, coordinating their allies in the midst of a battle.[11] Cunning bards may also train to become summer rhymers.[15]

College of ValorEdit

Main article: Skald

College of Valor bards, also known as skalds,[14] or valorous bards, are daring adventurers, who would prefer to emulate the heroes they hear and learn of than to merely sing of them.[11] Frequently found in mead halls or other gatherings of warriors, skalds hope to witness heroic deeds firsthand so they may inspire future generations to similar heights.[14] Believing that the heart should come before the mind, valorous bards are often great leaders, inspiring others to acts of heroism as legends inspired them.[11]

Proficient in a greater number of weapons and armor than typical bards, bards from the College of Valor are also exceptionally skilled as warriors, capable of attacking more frequently and casting spells at the same time.[14] A valorous bard might neglect their intelligence to some small degree, though most of the tradition are still cunning, but they remain capable leaders while also improving their own durability. Many valorous bards prefer the use of short ranged spells and wield swords as their weapon of choice.[11] Valorous bards often make capable war chanters.[16]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 51. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  2. Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2, p. 66-67. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
  3. Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 51-52. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 26. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2, p. 67. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, p. 22. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 54. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 52. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  9. Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2, p. 66. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 53-54. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2, p. 67-68. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
  12. Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 203. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  13. Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 54-55. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, & Bruce R. Cordell (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition, p. 55. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  15. Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2, p. 79. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
  16. Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2, p. 81. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-5016-4.

External SourcesEdit

Core Classes
ArdentAvengerBarbarianBardBattlemindClericDruidFighterInvokerMonkPaladinPsionRangerRogueRunepriestSeekerShamanSorcererSpellscarredSwordmageWardenWarlockWarlordWizard
Priests
AvengerBardCleric (TemplarWarpriest) • DruidInvokerMonkPaladin (BlackguardCavalier) • Runepriest
Rogues
AssassinBardThief

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