The bards of Dungeons & Dragons can play more than a supporting role. The perfect build can create an epic Bard that the world won’t soon forget.
The bards of Dungeons and Dragons they have a mixed reputation. Generally seen as incredibly charismatic jerks who can talk about anyone without clothes, people don’t usually take Bards seriously, and that’s their first mistake. With Bard’s perfect build, these characters can easily become powerful members of an adventure party, all while recording their epic exploits for the sake of posterity.
Factors such as race, subclass, and background choices can affect a bard’s potential. There are also a number of intriguing feats that, when combined with the right attributes, can more or less turn a bard into whoever he needs to convince the world that he is. Bards tend to be characters of all kinds, which can be both a hindrance and a blessing. Taking the time to carefully consider the impact your character will have on the party and the world around them is an essential part of creating the perfect Bard.
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Amplify that charisma
Charisma is the most important stat in a bard’s repertoire. Not only does it guarantee epic performances in your chosen entertainment field, it grants the power to masterfully con, manipulate, charm, deceive and intimidate just about anyone they meet. This makes them the perfect person to launch into diplomatic situations that need a bit of finesse, including those times when the rest of the group may find themselves in a bind.
Almost all of a bard’s abilities, including the magic they wield, are based on charisma, so getting that charisma as high as possible as quickly as possible is a must. Not only does this increase your Spell Attack and Spell Save DC modifier, but a good base of Charisma offers a good boost to important skills like performance, deception, persuasion, and intimidation. The next most useful stat is Dexterity, as Bards must be agile, agile, and stealth enough while taunting someone’s eyes to escape.
There are a handful of standard breeds perfect for Bards, but the best by far is still the Half-Elf. Half-elves not only get an automatic +2 charisma boost, they also get two more +1 stat increases on other attributes. This is great for granting additional intelligence and dexterity, both of which are very useful for bards. Half-elves also have dark vision, additional skill upgrades, and the perk of being enchanted, which is perfect because they definitely need to be the most charming person on the field.
Eladrin, Elves, Drow, Tabaxi, Tieflings, Humans, Changelings, and Satyrs are other useful options, as they also get Charisma boosts and have access to a number of useful spells and abilities that a Bard could take advantage of. Take a closer look at these races, looking at their spells and abilities to determine which one best suits the type of bard you are creating.
Choosing the right university
Choosing a Bardic university grants access to the skills, spells, and abilities that will define the character throughout the campaign. As 5e continues to expand its many options for class specializations, College of Lore continues to be one of the best options for building outstanding Bards. It’s the perfect balance between virtually foolproof checks of skill and a near-unstoppable list of spells from other schools of magic that only keeps growing as the Bard levels up. Lore Bards also get access to one of the coolest features of D&D: Cutting words. This allows a character to use one of his bardic inspirations as a reaction to affect the results of an enemy’s attacks, skill checks, and damage rolls.
The College of Glamor is another powerful option, with intriguing perks like Mantle of Majesty and Unbreakable Majesty that allow them to stop pesky enemies in their path by ordering them to do their bidding or putting them at a disadvantage when the Bard attacks. Consider colleges carefully, looking at what each offers and thinking about how they will be useful.
All classes have the option to upgrade their basic skills or perform a feat at certain levels. There are a handful of feats that are particularly useful to bards. The Inspirational Leader pairs well with the Bard’s Song of Rest ability, granting the entire party temporary hit points after listening to an inspiring speech. War Caster is another great option, as it gives bards a bit more flexibility to cast spells when it comes to attacks of focus and opportunity. Finally, Actor ramps up Charisma a bit more, and since most Bards are always looking for opportunities to flex their acting muscles, he definitely fits in well.
Choosing the right skills is the difference between a mediocre and an amazing Bard. Bards don’t need to be athletic or know how to handle animals, so taking opportunities to improve your tests of skill in things like performance, persuasion, deception, and intimidation is an absolute must.
College of Lore’s experience feature allows bards the opportunity to double their proficiency in up to four skills by the time they reach level 10, which is just another great reason why college is the best option. These are the choices that will truly make a bard the kind of expert in all trades that is indispensable to the entire group. People will not hesitate to trust them when it comes to haggling, convincing, deceiving, and telling the epic stories of the adventures they go on together while saving worlds.
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