Skip to content

Bard and Shaman Wasted Classes?

I keep playing other classes and enjoy the game. Then I look at the Bard and feel like it is a wasted character. Same for the Shaman. In order to use the Class function (Bard Song/Shamanic Dance) the character can do nothing else. Explain how this makes either if these classes useful in any way? The Bard has to continue singing, so therefore cannot attack, cast spells, or even pick a pocket, because he would have to stop sining and therefore whatever benefits of that song are lost. Same for the Shamanic Dance. Either keep dancing, hoping that you attract a spirit to aid you, or use the character like any other spellcaster. It would seem to me to be a waste of time to use either of these classes in BG: EE. Does this trend continue into BG2, IWD and IWD2? If so, what a waste of programming.

"Of course that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

And if I'm wrong, please point out to me where my mistakes are.



  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,338
    The two are a little different from each other in function.

    A bard can stop singing and immediately do something else. The song's effect doesn't go away instantly, either; songs activate once per round, with a duration of slightly more than a round (100 ticks = 6+2/3 seconds). For as long as that effect lasts, you're getting the song's benefit while you do something else. If you finish it quickly, you can go right back to singing and seamlessly keep the buff active.
    And there's even an item, available in SoD and possible to import to BG2, that increases song duration to a full three rounds. That really boosts your options for singing and taking other actions.
    Basically, a bard can interleave singing and other actions just fine. Or they can just stick to one or the other in any given encounter, because doing both takes a lot of focus. The song buffs are quite good; even the fear immunity and +1 luck from vanilla bard song will make a big difference. A bonus to hit and higher weapon damage dealt and lower spell damage taken all at once? Yes, please.

    A shaman can't go directly from dancing to other things; their buttons get greyed out while dancing. You can click the button to deactivate dancing and then move around, but you still have to wait before you can attack or cast spells. By the time those buttons reactivate, any spirits you've called up will be unsummoned. It's possible to move around a bit without unsummoning everything if you time things well, but that's all.
    As compensation, your caster side is much stronger - a shaman has full-power priest spellcasting. A shaman who never dances at all still contributes to the battle approximately as well as a pure druid or cleric.
    So when it comes to shaman tactics, dancing is secondary; you go with it when you're low on daily resources or when you specifically want the spirits for this battle. The rest of the time, you attack and cast spells.

    And in general, don't underestimate the value of tactical flexibility. A character may not be the best at any one thing, but being able to switch roles based on an encounter's needs is quite powerful. With the wide range of threats you face, an overspecialized party can struggle against unbalanced encounters that a more flexible party easily adapts to.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,008
    I completely agree with jmerry's comments and would add this: its not always about power or usefulness. A lot of characters, a lot of what happens are more about flavor. I think its fun to have characters that contribute just by existing, or by being with my party. It makes the journey more enjoyable. Bonus points if you have to get creative to figure out how to use the character, and it is so satisfying when a discover a flawed character can actually make a difference.

    If nothing else, you may have Sir Robin's minstrels documenting your adventure! "He bravely turned around and fled..."
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,338
    atcDave wrote: »
    If nothing else, you may have Sir Robin's minstrels documenting your adventure! "He bravely turned around and fled..."
    When Garrick fails a morale check:
    "Brave, brave Sir Garrick, Sir Garrick led the way. Brave, brave Sir Garrick, Sir Garrick ran away!"

    It's voiced, of course. And sung. To exactly the tune you're thinking of.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,008
    Garrick is a prime example!
  • DhariusDharius Member Posts: 574
    edited May 11
    I like Bards, and am quite receptive to Shamans too. With a full party including front liners both do just fine.
  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 451
    edited May 12
    Bard is an advanced class. NPC bards are, unfortunately, terrible representatives for the class - Garrick has abysmal INT, Eldoth has abysmal DEX.

    The power of the bard class in EE comes from its versatility - it can use most weapons/items, it can cast spells, and it has a song that dispels and protects the party from fear effects, and quite a few low level casters use Horror.
    The problem then is that bards start with mediocre THAC0 and spell progression, and this is where the "advanced" part comes in. The game is not about absolutes - the point is to get a certain stat thresholds where your THAC0/AC/damage per round is "good", and to do that you need to know your way around game mechanics, enemy stats and the placement of certain powerful gear and items.
    A PC bard with an enchanted longbow, the Bracers of Archery, Draw Upon Holy Might +18 starting DEX, a wand of paralyzation and Glitterdust is downright nasty in early game, for example, scaling well into end-game with tactical spell use. A blade can be all of that and use a throwing knife (for STR bonus) and Offensive Spin (for 3 APR and max damage per attack) and by end game can use Melf's Minute Meteors + Offensive Spin for scary damage. Either bard type can use some version of Polymorph Self for extra shenanigans, and a blade running around in Ogre Form + Offensive Spin or Jelly + Offensive Spin is downright nasty.

    The Skald is all about numbers. +2 THAC0 and damage doesn't seem impressive until you factor in a full party + 5 summoned creatures. That's 10 attacks per round or 20 extra damage from a bard just singing. So what if he casts Haste to give everyone 1 extra APR? What if he's playing with a warrior-heavy party?

    Jesters are hit-or-miss. Enchantments are kind of that way. Jesters also suffered a major blow from Invisibility not working with songs anymore.

    Shamans are complicated. The best that can be said about them is that early game you can use Charm Person/Mammal on forest creatures and use them to clear the map for you, and that they can be pretty scary outdoors as soon as they get Call Lightning. They're a bit better in BG2, but are kinda meh in BG1. BG2 has Call Woodland Beings spammage and party-wide Protection from Lightning/Wand of Lightning spammage shenanigans.
  • DhariusDharius Member Posts: 574
    edited May 12
    Yes. Bard + Wands = much goodness + rejoicing

    PS I am a fan of both Eldoth and Garrick and there are enough INT and DEX enhancing potions and other items in BGEE to overcome their (subjectively apparent) shortcomings. Nobody's perfect anyway :)
    Post edited by Dharius on
  • JordiJordi Member Posts: 13
    edited May 14
    In Throne of Bhaal there is a bard HLA named Enhanced Bard Song wich is the best buff in the game for figthers, i use it in a party with 3 to 4 fighters and it makes a difference. And it can't be dispelled.
  • TrouveurTrouveur Member Posts: 337
    Nuin wrote: »
    They're a bit better in BG2, but are kinda meh in BG1. BG2 has Call Woodland Beings spammage and party-wide Protection from Lightning/Wand of Lightning spammage shenanigans.
    In BGEE a half orc shaman with 19 strength can do great damage with throwing daggers, and can also use magical arrows with a shortbow.
    It's a good healer early one, and the shaman level 2 specific spell is a good one too.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 1,082
    Yeah, I don't agree with those who describe the shaman as weak. Their spell list is decent, a couple of their unique spells are useful, and the ability to be a half-orc substantially boosts their melee DPS in BG1 compared to a vanilla druid. Though if given the chance to go fighter/shaman, I'd likely do that over staying pure.
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,305
    Trouveur wrote: »
    Nuin wrote: »
    They're a bit better in BG2, but are kinda meh in BG1. BG2 has Call Woodland Beings spammage and party-wide Protection from Lightning/Wand of Lightning spammage shenanigans.
    In BGEE a half orc shaman with 19 strength can do great damage with throwing daggers, and can also use magical arrows with a shortbow.
    It's a good healer early one, and the shaman level 2 specific spell is a good one too.

    If your shaman is NG you can throw Azuredge also. Nice if you don't have a good fighter type in your party that has axe skill.
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,338
    Honestly, with Azuredge, "can you use it?" is basically the only concern. It does lousy damage (worse than even a nonmagical throwing axe), so there are only two reasons you ever pull it out. Either (a) you're up against something like an iron golem that needs +3 to hit but that you don't want to engage in melee, or (b) you want to get cheap one-hit kills on dangerous undead foes. Damage isn't a priority either way, and on a fighter type I'd be fine using it without proficiency.

    On this thread's topic, both bards and shamans can wield Azuredge if you choose a neutral good alignment. In the case of bards, non-good ones can also use the axe after Use Any Item.
  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 802
    For Shamans you also have to consider their unique spells (being able to rid someone of Confusion? A Magic damage nuke somewhere in between Skull Trap and Horrid Wilting?) and their weapon choices: no other Druid or Cleric get access to shortbows or axes which opens up more Arrows or Detonation, Dispelling, Biting, or in BG2 Gesen's...

    I will say Shamans are a bit lackluster in early BG1 but then again so are Druids until Call Lightning, so your mileage may vary.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,338
    Neverused wrote: »
    A Magic damage nuke somewhere in between Skull Trap and Horrid Wilting?

    Spirit Fire: up to 10d4 damage, save for half. Divine spell level 4. Standard area.

    Skull Trap: up to 20d6 damage, save for half. Arcane spell level 3. Small area, can be precast as a trap.
    Horrid Wilting: up to 20d8 damage, save for half, party-friendly. Arcane spell level 8. Standard area, big animation.
    Holy Smite: up to 20d4 damage, save for half, alignment-friendly. Divine spell level 3. Standard area.

    Spirit Fire is not a very impressive spell. It's certainly not worthy of that level of praise. Sure, it's an effect that druids don't normally get, and you'll use it on occasion for that reason, but Holy Smite on a non-evil cleric is usually much better.

    Some brief thoughts on the Shaman-specific spells:
    Level 1: Spirit Ward. Basically a "Protection From" spell tuned to a nonstandard source, plus better saves against the many debilitating effects of Enchantment spells. Useful, but situational - which is about as much as you can expect from a level 1 spell.
    Level 2: Writhing Fog. An area-denial spell dealing small amounts of damage. Head and shoulders above the usual level 2 druid spells, because they're terrible. Expect to use this one a lot.
    Level 3: Spiritual Clarity. A healing spell for mental status effects. And best of all, you don't need to specifically prepare it because of how the Shaman works. Another good situational spell.
    Level 4: Spirit Fire. Area damage. Not too much of it, but sometimes you just want to blast that pack of hobgoblins. Don't expect to use this one too much, because it shares a spell level with Call Woodland Beings.
    Level 5: Recall Spirit. Functionally identical to Raise Dead, except better because you're a spontaneous caster that doesn't have to prepare a slot that'll usually just go to waste.
    Level 6: Spiritual Lock. Like Feeblemind, only it doesn't last forever if not dispelled. It'll last the whole encounter unless you really drag things out, and that's good enough.
    Level 7: Ether Gate. Maze, only with a fixed 5-round duration. Not a bad spell, but you'll have quite a bit competing for those level 7 spell slots. Especially once HLAs start coming in.

    None of the Shaman spells are amazing stuff, but they're all useful effects you wouldn't normally get. And you get them for free; they don't take up any of your limited slots for known spells.
  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 802
    Ahh, I'm so used to SCS that I forgot how good regular Skull trap was. Main reason I used Spirit Fire often was how it bypasses Minor Globe of Invulnerability and often all of a mage's damage resistances until Globe of Invulnerability comes online. Damage was secondary to that, though still decent to layer on especially during SoD.
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,471
    I was able to beat BG1 on a no reload run with a shaman protagonist. It was the first time I had beaten the game on no reload with an evil party. Shaman is nice in that you can have druid spells on an evil party, something difficult otherwise. So it was quite useful.

    I actually found the shaman better than a single class druid. Access to better weapons. Both short bow and axes are a good choice. And the spell selection is boosted alongside sorcerer style casting. I do agree that the summoning skill was not great. It was just too unpredictable, especially bad on a no-reload run. But, it was never necessary. The shaman's other powers were more than sufficient.

    The shaman AOE spells do a great job of combining with things like web or grease. Writhing fog at level 2 really helped with what is otherwise a crap spell level for druids in BG2. A class with solid tactical flexibility in combat.
Sign In or Register to comment.