To begin my long list of characters, I have to show off a bard. It is my firm belief that bards are the best class in all games. That is not necessarily the strongest or most deadly; just best. I strive to make the best, most fun bard characters possible.
Quick note: this is the “short version” of this post. If you want to see my in depth, step-by-step process, you can read the long version (coming soon). It’s the same character, just with me being more longwinded. You can find the full character sheet on the right side of the page (the spells page doesn’t have room for Deep Lore to fit so there’s other spells to pick!).
My first bard is a generalist, sort of what people expect out of bards stereotypically: party face, jack-of-all-trades, knowledge-monkey, etc. Bards are de facto the best support class in the game with all the abilities they get out of the box. Other classes can specialize into support roles, but none have as many built-in features and options to be a power multiplier for a party.
Above all else, this build aims for versatility. Of all the roles they can fill, tanking and damage are perhaps bards’ least potent area, but with a few key spells and feats even those can be addressed. Now, it’s usually a bad idea to spread yourself too thin, but the approach here is to dabble in lots of areas and have ways to boost each when necessary. Have a solid foundation in lots of places which you can build on.
For example, this character spends two class feats and two skill feats to completely cover knowledge checks. Kreighton’s Cognitive Crossover means failed Recall checks get a second chance, and Unmistakable Lore prevents critical failures with bardic lore. Assured Knowledge and Enigma’s Knowledge give you a Recall check for free once a turn. Spells like share lore and pocket library give even more utility. And with that handful of resources, we can Recall knowledge on any subject, do it for free in combat, and if we fail to get info we get a second chance at a higher bonus.
The real boon here is in the spells. The occult spell list gives great options for control like gravity well, slow, and black tentacles, as well as versatile powerhouses like forceful hand and illusory creature. On top of that, esoteric polymath leaves an opening for grabbing that rarely-needed-but-direly-necessary-for-right-now spell. That alone allows for a huge amount of role swapping with a bit of foresight.
It’s important to make sure your skills and spells target a wide variety of things. If all of your debuffs target Fort saves or go against Fort DCs, you’ll do great against mages but fail miserably against brutes and the like. If all of your effects are mental or linguistic, you have nothing against mindless creatures or things that don’t share your languages. However, as long as you can identify creatures – something this build does exceedingly well – you can figure out if your enemies are resistant to something or weak to something else. Slow targets fortitude and reduces actions. Gravity well targets reflex and manipulates field placement. Most illusion spells go against will saves and do any number of things.
For this type of build, it’s best to grab items that increase performance and occultism, since those in turn count for a number of other skills. You can probably get away without an expensive weapon as you’ll have plenty of other stuff to do in combat between spells, compositions, skills, etc. Put the money towards some low-level wands instead, since you’ll have trick magic item.
Bards are obviously great jacks-of-all-trades, and they prove great at supporting an existing role or filling in any gaps a party might be lacking. Don’t spread yourself too thin, but if any class can comfortably dabble in different areas, bard can do so without losing its core identity.
- Filling in the BlanksI went over a method you can use to “mathematically” categorize a character concept or class. However, the class pyramid isn’t limited to this use. It can be a very versatile tool if you know how to use it.
- Make Love, Not WarlockLast in our trio of pseudo-warlocks uses the Psychic class. While there’s no exact copy of eldritch blast, Psychics are the superstars of cantrips and adding bonus effects on your spells.
- I CAST SWORD!Magus is all about combining spells and martial prowess, perfect for a Blade Warlock. Their signature ability Spellstrike has you attack a foe with a weapon and unleash a spell against them all at once.