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Utility, Effectiveness, and Niche of Bards AD&D vs 3.x vs 4 vs 5

What are you guys' opinions on Bard(s) in the tabletop versions of D&D in the thread title, but also crpgs, both Beamdog remastered ones and other ones.
It's rather difficult for me to justify using Bard characters in the D&D computer games (and probably tabletop too) considering it's a low number of party members generally. It makes me think almost like Bard's and Thieves should be a unified class. Or at least a Thief subclass which removes a Bard's more limited Arcane abilities but keeps their other skills.

Comments

  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,740
    Bards are usually much more similar to mages or sorcerers than they are to thieves. Their ability to cast spells stands out far more than the abilities they share with fighters or thieves.

    Bards are really awesome in 5th Edition, but in a lot of the 2nd and 3rd Edition video games, they're pretty meh. It depends on the game.

    ThacoBellSar_Yehudah
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    Bards are AMAZING. One of my favorite classes, easily. They are a lot better in BG than people give them credit for. When I played 3, my bard lvoe hadn't blossomed yet, and I've never played 4e, so I can't comment on those. They are stronger than ever in 5e.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,330
    OlvynChuru wrote: »
    Bards are usually much more similar to mages or sorcerers than they are to thieves. Their ability to cast spells stands out far more than the abilities they share with fighters or thieves.

    Bards are really awesome in 5th Edition, but in a lot of the 2nd and 3rd Edition video games, they're pretty meh. It depends on the game.

    Magic is just such an overwhelming ability it really seems to overshadow anything you could get from a more mundane class.

    It's pretty much a running joke how powerful Dungeons and Dragons Wizards are.

    Sar_Yehudah
  • ElysianEchoesElysianEchoes Member Posts: 475
    Anyone who has seen Gamers 2 knows just how useful bards can be.

    "Hide behind the wall of dead bards!"

    I've only played 2e, 3.xe, and 3.xe directives, so I can only speak on those.

    2e bards feel very limited to me. Not very many spell slots, can't even use them in armor. They don't contribute much unless you give them wands/explosive jewelry. At least in BG. Kits and IWD songs make them a bit more useful, but more useful than just taking another mage? I'm not so sure. I never played one in pnp but I imagine that we be far more fun.

    3.xe bards are closer to the Jack of all trades concept, I feel. I like that they get a little bit of healing spells, too. Still, without a good prestige class, I just don't think they're worth it. And the games don't really have any bard centric prestige classes I like.

    But I absolutely loved my Nimbic bard I was able to play table top for a while!

    I just don't think they translate well into a video game, in any edition. But they offer great opportunity for creativity and antics in pnp. A shame, really.

    Disclaimer: just my opinion ☺

    Sar_Yehudah
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,208
    Bards in 5E are killer. The only annoying thing about them is how many concentration spells they have. Definitely a very versatile class though.

    ChroniclerNimranThacoBellSar_Yehudah
  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 1,159
    I prefer both 1st and 2nd edition bards over later editions, mainly because I think their design fits better in the most common D&D settings.

    Bards should be focused on lore and knowledge instead of being only musicians who are able to do some sound-based magic. Therefore I feel their spellcasting should mage rules and depend on intelligence, instead of being charisma based.

    I feel that the most prominent D&D bard Finder Wyvernspur better fit the 2nd edition D&D model.

    Gameplay-wise I felt that the utility of bards always depended on type of campaign you ran. But they are quite powerful in BG1 and parts of BG 2, due to the being able to use wands and due to having higher caster levels than mages with the same XP. It's only at higher levels where they fall back compared to other classes, unless you abuse their trap HLAs.

    leeuxThacoBellSar_Yehudah
  • PsicoVicPsicoVic Member Posts: 749
    edited July 2019
    The Bard is one of the classes that evolved the most in D&D and d&D-based games. From a situationally useful dabbler mage with bonus lore, pickpocket and a (one) bard song they became something different: they evolved in a very specialized support class.

    You have the songs and inspirations gained per level, that affect all the party and offer combat bonuses, inmunities, improved skills and saving throws, etc. Songs that you can now cast from a different pool from spells and uses the bard´s signature skill: perform.

    Now the bards are not dabbler mages, they have their own spellbook that mixes divine, arcane and unique spells . Mostly focused in support and debuff spells. You can note that now the bard uses charisma to cast spells, so they do not compete for the same equipment with most caster classes and charisma also improves a fair number of their signature skills.

    They retain the lore bonus and a varied set of skills (including using magic device, all persuation skills, perform, knowledge, sneak and pickpocketing). They can cast with armor and still have the hit die (d6) and thaco of the thief/bard class.

    All of this make the bards the perfect class to support any party at any situation in most of the campaigns.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    Oh right, how could I forget 1e bards? The first prestige class. Yeah, those guys might be the most broken, overpowered class in any edition relative to what the other classes offer. 7+ levels of fighter, then thief, then druid just to unlock the class? Yeah, stupid powerful.

    Sar_Yehudah
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 135
    Thanks for the feedback. It's very helpful.

  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 135
    In all of the editions, and in dnd computer games, are there bars subclasses that make bards effective in melee?

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    @BelgarathMTH Not to mention the ridiculous stat requirements. I doubt many people ever got to play a bard in 1e.

    @Sar_Yehudah Well, there's the Blade kit, which is built around flashy swordplay. In 5e, a bard with high dex and using finesse weapons can wreck in melee right out the gate. Though a few levels in they can pick between two different specializations. School of lore and school of, uh, blade I think?

    BelgarathMTHleeuxPsicoVic
  • PsicoVicPsicoVic Member Posts: 749
    edited July 2019
    In all of the editions, and in dnd computer games, are there bars subclasses that make bards effective in melee?

    In NWN2 with 2 levels of fighter/barbarian, practiced caster and battle caster (allows you to cast spells in medium armor) your bard can be a decent second fighter. The radius of the curse song and inspirations in this game are short, so you need to go to the frontline anyway.

    EnialusMeliamne
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,208
    edited July 2019
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @BelgarathMTH Not to mention the ridiculous stat requirements. I doubt many people ever got to play a bard in 1e.

    @Sar_Yehudah Well, there's the Blade kit, which is built around flashy swordplay. In 5e, a bard with high dex and using finesse weapons can wreck in melee right out the gate. Though a few levels in they can pick between two different specializations. School of lore and school of, uh, blade I think?

    Xanathar's introduces a few more. The blade is the College of Swords.

    Also College of Valor also gets a second attack at level 6. So its also good for that.

    The College of Whispers also could be used as a melee character although I would probably take a level or two of fighter first.

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

    PsicoVicSar_YehudahEnialusMeliamne
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 135
    Hey guys, this is kind of getting into something that i've always never been a fan of... minmaxing. I really dislike it. I HATED having to do that to be 'competitive' back in the early-mid 2000's with NWN 1. I don't like taking that many classes, and I really dislike the dual classing system of having to level up classes separately. I much prefer multi-classing in Baldur's Gate where you are 2 classes simultaneously. Also I don't like the idea of more than two classes. minmaxing/powergaming essentially saps the fun out of it for me.

    I don't know if this sounds counter-intuitive considering the nature of RPGs. but remember the name. role-playing itself doesn't literally mean stats and builds.

    I'd like to see a mod which turns dual classing into the multiclassing of BG in NWN 1-2 and tabletop as well.

    I wanted to ask, in general, all editions of DnD tabletop and in DnD crpgs, both Beamdog and not, about the build of a Mage/Swashbuckler. It sounds like a good combination. The idea came to me while playing Ravenloft: Stone Prophet. The reason is you start with two characters and I believe end up swapping thru over time additional 2 more characters. I didn't know you got more than 2, but I wanted to be prepared. So I mage a Cleric/Fighter and Mage/Thief. I didn't make the latter a swashbuckler since that option wasn't available, but it is how it occurred to me. It's a first person game, which is extraordinarily clunky. I felt it necessary to largely max out my stats because of how difficult it is to navigate and control. This is especially true when dealing with multiple enemies surrounding you. it's an ancient game which requires dosbox. I ask about Mage/Swashbuckler for all editions of DnD please remember.

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

    ThacoBellelminsterPsicoVicDanacm
  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 855
    Well, you ask about the "utility" of bards (it's already clear they are the best for role-playing), and ask about 3rd Edition... you're going to get answers about min-maxing. 3E is basically all about min-maxing.

    Also be aware, at least in the context of the BG games, asking about Swash/mages is going to be about min-maxing as well, because that's a min-maxers' kit.

    Or the eternal argument: blade or fighter/mage multi. Everybody knows, fighter/mage the powergaming choice.

  • PsicoVicPsicoVic Member Posts: 749
    edited July 2019
    I think the best characterization for a swashbuckler/mage in a single class is the Magus of Pathfinder. It is literally a melee mage through and through, dual-wielding sword in one hand and spells in the other.
    https://rpgbot.net/pathfinder/characters/classes/magus/

    In D&D I´d say elven bladesinger. Also, good ones are Eldritch knights, Wychblade warlocks or Valor bards and the rest of options already in this thread.

    Funnily enough, in the PoE2 game, the best frontline tanks are multi-classed mages, but you have to create very creative backgrounds because knowing the mages in that world it makes zero sense XD

    RP-wise, I like my hotheaded Bard-barian of NWN2 the best: A fearless skald of the northern lands, ready to swing his ax beside his shield brothers and sing the battlesongs of Tempus right in the face of his enemies. I also found amusing the idea of an erudite barbarian.

    EnialusMeliamneSar_Yehudah
  • shabadooshabadoo Member Posts: 304
    I disagree that 3.5e was all about min/maxing. For instance, a fighter who wishes to make use of combat expertise and the other feats in that chain will be putting points into INT. Taking points from typical fighter stats, killing the min/max. I admit that min/maxing is rewarded in many cases, but is also punished in other ways.

  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 135
    Danacm wrote: »
    Well, you ask about the "utility" of bards (it's already clear they are the best for role-playing), and ask about 3rd Edition... you're going to get answers about min-maxing. 3E is basically all about min-maxing.

    Also be aware, at least in the context of the BG games, asking about Swash/mages is going to be about min-maxing as well, because that's a min-maxers' kit.

    Or the eternal argument: blade or fighter/mage multi. Everybody knows, fighter/mage the powergaming choice.

    Well the idea is not for powergaming but for solving a problem of only having two people in a party. I figured it can apply to tabletop, not just Ravenloft: Stone Prophet.

    It's not meant to dominate anyone in pvp.

  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 135
    Can anyone address the way multi-classing works? I want it to be simultaneous, not separate.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    Can anyone address the way multi-classing works? I want it to be simultaneous, not separate.

    Then play 2e. Anything newer ditched multiclassing for spastic dual classing and I hate it.

    elminsterAmmarCrevsDaak
  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 1,159
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    Can anyone address the way multi-classing works? I want it to be simultaneous, not separate.

    Then play 2e. Anything newer ditched multiclassing for spastic dual classing and I hate it.

    When looking at newer games, PoE 2 has a multiclass system which is very close to the 2nd edition multiclass though limited to only two classes.

    ThacoBellSar_YehudahCrevsDaak
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    Ammar wrote: »
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    Can anyone address the way multi-classing works? I want it to be simultaneous, not separate.

    Then play 2e. Anything newer ditched multiclassing for spastic dual classing and I hate it.

    When looking at newer games, PoE 2 has a multiclass system which is very close to the 2nd edition multiclass though limited to only two classes.

    This is true, and I LOVE PoE2 for it. I though this descussion was restricted to D&D though.

    Sar_Yehudah
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 135
    Ammar wrote: »
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    Can anyone address the way multi-classing works? I want it to be simultaneous, not separate.

    Then play 2e. Anything newer ditched multiclassing for spastic dual classing and I hate it.

    When looking at newer games, PoE 2 has a multiclass system which is very close to the 2nd edition multiclass though limited to only two classes.

    oh shit! I didn't know that!

    is there any way I can adapt 5e house rules to make it like that?

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