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Can a kitless Bard be a melee powerhouse?

I'm trying to start my first full run, and despite having a few things figured out in advance, like party members and key plot decisions spoiled to me, I'm having a hard time deciding what class my charname should be. My final BG2 party will probably consist of all the evil NPCs (Korgan, Edwin, Viconia, Dorn and Hexxat); it's not that I envisioned to be evil, but coincidentally I like them the most. As I wanted make my party the most distinct possible, covering all bases from roles to weapons shared and making them all diverse, I looked upon threads covering the roster and Bards came up a lot, and indeed a Bard charname would make a lot of sense. Also, I'm reading the Kingkiller Chronicles and Kvothe could be an awesome charname, so I'm taking much inspiration from him - tbh, I'm almost reproducing him - and I look forward to roleplay a class I never cared about before.

Still, there are a few qualms I have about bards. I know they are decent spell casters until high level magic starts to pour in. But for RP reasons, in spite of being an arcane second to Edwin, I'd also like to be a decent melee fighter, at least from BG2 onwards. I know, that's what Blades are for. But unfortunately I never liked kits, at least for charname. Sorry, but there's this thing that I can't stand opening the character screen and reading "Blade" instead of "Bard", or "Kensai" instead of "Fighter". Specialization schools are cool, tough.


TL;DR
So, is it possible to a kitless Bard be in a close fighting league with a Blade? How would a Bard would compare in melee to, let's say, Dorn and Korgan?

Comments

  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    If you don't want to do kits, your bard will never be anything near as good as Korgan or Dorn. They will completely overshadow you. The kits are great though, but if you don't like reading the name blade (bah!) but still wanna do a magic-using melee character, you might wanna go for a Fighter/Mage! They play similar to bards, and will provide multiple ways in which your character can contribute. You will still be the most diverse character in the game.

    Also if you are doing the romances, I find it hard to imagine that Viconia or Dorn would go for a foppish bard! A powerful Mage/Fighter on the other hand is definitely a strong build.

    If you every get over your dislike for kits, i strongly recommend blades. Its the most fun I ever had!

  • elementelement Member Posts: 833
    edited January 2014
    a kitless bard can be a capable fighter he will never be the best of course but he will be able to pull his weight. the lack of high level spells isn't as big of a problem as you may expect because you gain access to good enough spells to make the bard very effective such as tensors transformation and mislead. of course the blade will always be a better fighter but by no means does he make the vanilla bard meaningless. My full run through of the EEs was with vanilla bard and I never had a problem with his power level. Personally i've never been that fond of blades they just don't feel like a real bard to me but rather an alternative fighter/mage.

    BelgarathMTHQuartz
  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    edited January 2014
    The major drawback of a Bard in melee is limited number of attacks. The most you're going to be able to have effectively as an unkitted Bard is 2 (1 base + 1 for Belm/Kundane/Scarlet ninja-to). A Blade can dual wield effectively and use Offensive Spin to get to 4 attacks all doing maximum damage, which is a lot more useful.

    If you do really want to play an unkitted bard then I'd suggest either sticking as ranged, where Bows automatically set your attacks to 2, or using a hard-hitting 2-handed weapon to make the most of your limited number of attacks.

    I'm currently running a Blade through BG1 to play with the exact party you're planning on. She's still a bit fragile at level 6 but is starting to get a bit tougher. She's not the hardest hitting of the party at present, but getting her Strength up to 19 with the tome and a third Offensive Spin should sort that out.

  • TwaniTwani Member Posts: 640
    As hard as it is to say... no. A kitless bard will never come close to melee level.

    In honesty, a Blade will be eventually left behind by Krogan and Dorn. But a Blade can stand up much prouder then a regular Bard can; the Bard will be left behind back in BG levels. Blade's are basically the 'bard's answer to melee (or ranged!)', and well, Blade is a cool title! Why wouldn't you want to be a Blade? I promise it's more manly sounding! Or girly sounding! Or awesome sounding! Whatever you prefer, really.

    ...No?

    If you don't like the title Blade, I would as @booinyoureyes suggests go with a Fighter/Mage (dueled or multiclass, it matters not in the end). They'll reach as far as a bard can reach, if not farther. But Blade's are seriously awesome. H'D is a blade. Don't you want to be like H'D? He gets all the birds, I swear.

    booinyoureyes
  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    @corvino i think you mean 3 attacks normally (1 mainhand, 1 offhand, 1 extra from belm/scarlet ninja-to/kundane)
    In fact if you wield Scarlet Ninja-To and Kundane/Belm you get four attacks plus 1 from Offensive Spin=5 attacks that all do maximum damage

  • SkaffenSkaffen Member Posts: 709
    edited January 2014
    Not really if you go melee alone. In BG2 you will be able to get 4 attacks if you dual-wield speed weapons and you can cast your own improved haste to make it 8. But your thaco will suck and top out around 5ish (10 [email protected] 21, -2 dual wielding, +2 speed weapon, +3 or 4 strength, +1 gauntlets). So against some of the stronger opponents and almost anyone in ToB you will get regular misses. Probably better to go Crom or something mainhand and speed offhand with 2 / 4 "good" attacks - which will still do less damage per hit compared to GM Korgan at 3 unhasted...

    Ranged is not a viable option either. I was running the above party sans Edwin with my sorceress with Haer as my "archer" shooting nothing but special ammo all SoA including extra attack from offensive spin and finished with around 6% damage dealt (yes, I know he is set up as a melee character but he was the closest thing I could find to an archer among the evil compatible NPCs).

    If you want to be a significant damage dealer with your CHARNAME (and since you asked I assume you do... :) ) you need to be smart like Kvothe and go for a mix and throw in offensive spells like skull trap, do "suicide dashes" with stoneskin active and trigger 1-2 sunfires before the heavy hitters come in and you pick up your weapons, lay HLA traps (and for bonus points use harp of pandemonium to send enemies into them :) )...

    If you play it smart you can maybe come out at #3 and overtake Dork in the damage dealing. Edwin and Korgan will be very tough to beat! Viconia and Hexxat should be no big challenge. :)

  • ArchaosArchaos Member Posts: 1,421
    I think a kitless Bard would do pretty good, though what a Bard can do, a Blade can do better except Lore and Pick Pocket.

    I would get two weapons or a two-handed weapon, buff and tank. Armor spells, Shield, Mirror Image, Stoneskin, Contintencies, Tenser's Transformation, Haste.
    Then summon something and engage for total annihilation. Elven Chain is just icing on the cake.

    I like how Bards in the Baldur's Gate games are more like Eldritch Knights from 3E. Medium warriors, no armor, only arcane spells.

    JuliusBorisov
  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    I know the Blade has Offensive Spin, but is it really worth using over Improved Haste when you have plenty of both? If you're using a main weapon and a speed weapon you'll have 3 attacks/round, so 4 with spin or 6 with IH. Max damage is nice and all, but we're talking 2 whole attacks here. With that in mind, maybe Skald would be better? Cast Mislead and have your clone sing while you go to town. Cheesy, yes, but awesome.

    On the original topic: if you're using IH the Blade's only advantage is 3 pips in dual wielding. It means you'll probably have to use Tensor's to make up the difference but (theoretically) I think your capabilities will be similar.

  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    3 pips in dual wield can be fairly important if your THAC0 is as poor as a bard. A -2 penalty for the mainhand and -6 for offhand with only + in TWF is the major limiting factor for non-Blade bards dual wielding (ditto non-Swashbuckler/dual/multi Thieves).

    Also - improved haste only really kicks in regularly in mid SOA, by which point you've had a game and a half of combat advantage using the Blade. Defensive spin is still fairly useful throughout, a bonus -10 AC being nothing to sneeze at even in TOB.

    abacusbooinyoureyesFoggynano
  • kaffekoppenkaffekoppen Member Posts: 377
    I personally prefer taking all 3 pips in TWF as long as it's not a pure fighter. It really helped my figher/thief throughout BG1 and still helps halfway through SoA.

    For Haer'Dalis, I also have the third pip *and* I've given him the Cloak of Unerring Strikes (+2 to offhand).

  • MitchforkMitchfork Member Posts: 390
    nano said:

    I know the Blade has Offensive Spin, but is it really worth using over Improved Haste when you have plenty of both? If you're using a main weapon and a speed weapon you'll have 3 attacks/round, so 4 with spin or 6 with IH. Max damage is nice and all, but we're talking 2 whole attacks here. With that in mind, maybe Skald would be better? Cast Mislead and have your clone sing while you go to town. Cheesy, yes, but awesome.

    On the original topic: if you're using IH the Blade's only advantage is 3 pips in dual wielding. It means you'll probably have to use Tensor's to make up the difference but (theoretically) I think your capabilities will be similar.

    The way that Baldur's Gate handles your number of attacks when dual-wielding makes the math a little bit more complicated, since you only net 1 additional main-hand attack from IH vs. OS, so you're not actually doubling the attacks your better weapon will get. Crunching actual numbers will depend on the enchantment level of the weapons you have equipped and your damage bonuses from STR and other sources, though, since these inflate your average damage compared to your maximum damage.* In general though, I think you're right- and as you continue to get better weapons and better equipment IH pulls ahead even more.

    I think Offensive Spin does stay relevant, though- at least as long as the Blade/Bard himself would stay relevant in melee, anyway. The damage differential is not so much as to totally obviate it. The real kicker is that you only get IH at level 16 (1,320,000 XP), at which point you will have one use compared to 5 spins per day. You'll also be competing with other very good level 6 spells- Mislead, Protection from Magical Energy/Weapons, Tenser's Transformation, Contingency, Death Spell/Fog, etc. Additionally you'll really want to use IH on your better Fighters to get more mileage out of it, so OS exists as an option to let the Bard buff allies and himself simultaneously.

    If you use Rogue Rebalancing, I'm pretty sure you can Offensive Spin into two Whirlwind Attacks, acting like a mini-Critical Strike. (Regular Bards don't get Whirlwind, of course.) Not sure how detrimental the THAC0 penalty would be on this, though.

    To the OP: If you want melee potential Fighter/Mage multi or dual is probably going to be a much better bet than a Blade. You'll enjoy lower THAC0 and actual fighter APR bonuses that make Offensive Spin less useful in comparison. You'll also get all the higher-level magic (eventually). You'll progress slowly to start but by the middle of BG2 you won't be too far behind a Blade in number of spells and highest spell tier. You'll also have access to robes a lot sooner than the Blade (since it'll need to reach 3mil XP to get Use Any Item) which will make you better defensively (without buffs) and let you use the Robe of Vecna as soon as you can afford it, which is the best item in the game for a caster. You can definitely run with either, though- anything that gets scroll/wand/spell access is going to be good in this game.

    *E.G. a 1d8 weapon has 4.5 average and 8 max damage, so doubling attacks is only slightly better than maxing damage, and maxing is better considering the OS damage and THAC0 bonuses. a 1d8+5 weapon has 9.5 average and 13 damage, so doubling attacks is a lot better than maxing damage. These are all on average of course and don't take criticals into account.

    nanobooinyoureyes
  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    @Corvino, -2 thac0 to the main hand doesn't sound like a lot. But I don't play bards so I probably shouldn't be disputing this, heh. I just feel that if you're good at melee as the blade supposedly is, then you should still be decent with a small loss of thac0. If you suck at melee as the vanilla bard supposedly does, then a small boost in thac0 won't suddenly make you a beast. Though I agree that the blade is a better fighter than the bard, I suspect the difference is not nearly as pronounced as some people claim. (my personal experience has been that blades are mediocre at melee as well :p)

    As for timing and defensive spin, those are valid points. I dunno, I really want to like the Blade but I still feel a Bard is better off singing. You know, what would be really cool is if Defensive Spin made you deal damage against anyone that tried to hit you, like Fireshield.

    @Mitchfork, nothing to add here, good analysis as always.

  • kaffekoppenkaffekoppen Member Posts: 377
    I don't think blades are mediocre in melee, they just really depend on getting the right gear. An APR offhand is almost a must. A strength belt to improve on their bad THAC0 would be ideal. They won't be good at melee right away, but once they started getting geared and buffed up, all that will change.
    Mitchfork said:

    The way that Baldur's Gate handles your number of attacks when dual-wielding makes the math a little bit more complicated, since you only net 1 additional main-hand attack from IH vs. OS, so you're not actually doubling the attacks your better weapon will get.

    Extreme nitpicking here, but...

    Isn't this false if you are wielding two APR weapons, say Scarlet Ninja-To and Belm? I count 6 MH attacks with IH and only 4 with Offensive Spin.

    I'm just saying it because I've read that a lot of people like to use two +APR weapons on their blades to make up for their weak APR.

  • MitchforkMitchfork Member Posts: 390

    Mitchfork said:

    The way that Baldur's Gate handles your number of attacks when dual-wielding makes the math a little bit more complicated, since you only net 1 additional main-hand attack from IH vs. OS, so you're not actually doubling the attacks your better weapon will get.

    Extreme nitpicking here, but...

    Isn't this false if you are wielding two APR weapons, say Scarlet Ninja-To and Belm? I count 6 MH attacks with IH and only 4 with Offensive Spin.

    I'm just saying it because I've read that a lot of people like to use two +APR weapons on their blades to make up for their weak APR.
    That's true. You'll get two bonus main-hand attacks when comparing IH to OS, so Improved Haste becomes even better if you use that setup.

  • badbromancebadbromance Member Posts: 238
    Download RR you wont regret it!
    It ill allow up to 3 pips in Two Weapon Fighting and up to level 8 spells amongst other changes.
    It wont be as strong as a blade but wont be craptasic.

    I suggest you fFight Noober to make yourself feel like a Manly Vanilla Bard!!!

    booinyoureyes
  • mjsmjs Member Posts: 742
    actually if you're using two speed weapons (ie kundane and helm) doesn't your APR jump to 8 under IH? and under the same weapons set-up with OS you get 5 APR

    booinyoureyes
  • kaffekoppenkaffekoppen Member Posts: 377
    edited January 2014
    We're talking mainhand attacks. You get 1 APR base and 1 from each weapon so a total of 3 and 6 with IH.

    booinyoureyes
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,295
    edited January 2014
    If you are willing to be creative with it in can be, but it requires so much work that its probably not worth it to be on a practical level. Taking advantage of the spider form from Polymorph Self (5 APR), as well as Minor Sequencer (for a strength boost or for other spells), Continguency, Improved Haste, and UAI (for things like strength potions and potions of power) can make a kitless bard into a melee powerhouse in BG2. But its going to be a lot less work to just use a fighter though :D

    Post edited by elminster on
    kaffekoppenelementwizzywazzo
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