Sunday, August 2, 2015

New BX Character Class: The Bard (Version I)

This version of the bard character class incorporates aspects of the norse ‘skald’ (a warrior/historian), the celtic ‘bard’ (from the druidic tradition), and the southern european ‘minstrel’ along with the French jongleur (both entertainers and sometime scoundrels). This version of the bard is differentiated from the other in that this version possesses thieves’ abilities.

The bard is nothing if not versatile—a jack-of-all-trades and a font of knowledge, capable of both combat and and magic.

The prime requisites of a bard are Dexterity and Intelligence. If a bard has a score of 13 or greater in both Intelligence and Dexterity, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a bard has a Dexterity of 13 or greater AND an Intelligence of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Bards use the same attack and saving tables as thieves.

RESTRICTIONS: Bards may use any weapon with the following exceptions: they are prohibited from using any two-handed weapon except a quarterstaff, and they may not use bows of any sort (including crossbows). Bards may not use a shield. Bards may wear only leather armor, except they may wear magical or elfin chain. However, wearing chain armor (even magical or elfin) reduces the bard’s chances to move silently and climb sheer services to 0%. Bards may only use those magic items generally permitted to fighters and thieves, any magical weapons or armor used must also adhere to the general restrictions for use by bards. Bards get no “to hit” or damage bonus when striking from behind. A bard must always have a stringed instrument, which is required for all charming attempts (see below). A bard must have a minimum Charisma score of 9.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The bard is both an amateur thief and magic-user, and the bard’s music has the ability to charm.
Charm: This ability provides the bard a chance, through his or her music, to mesmerize all creatures within hearing range. Undead are immune to this charm, and this ability does not affect the bard’s own party. Additionally, the chance to charm any creature is modified by –5% for each HD/level above 4. To determine if the charm attempt works, roll percentage dice. All those within hearing range whose adjusted percentage is equal to or greater than the roll will remain mesmerized as long as the bard continues performing. This ability may be used once per day per level.

Lore: Bards have a chance to know about the legends and lore surrounding people, places and things (including runes). This includes the ability to know what certain objects are, what they do, where they were manufactured, etc., including magical items (even the properties of intelligent swords). Use of the item is not required to know any information about it, as the information comes from the bard’s knowledge and experience.

Read Magic: This percentage represents the chance for a bard to be able to read and cast spells from magic-user/elf scrolls. A failed roll indicates that unexpected result happens when the scroll is read, creating potentially disastrous effects (at the DM’s discretion).

Comprehend Languages: As a bard rises in level, he or she becomes more able to comprehend unknown languages when they are spoken. The percentage noted is the chance the bard will accurately comprehend any single use of a language which is unknown to the bard, even if the bard has heard the language used before. This skill does not provide the ability to read or write languages. The bard will automatically comprehend any language that is actually known by the bard.

Additional Languages: In addition to the languages provided a bard by a high Intelligence, the bard will learn to read, write, and speak a number of additional languages. Bards with an Intelligence of 8 or less will only be able to read and write these additional language as indicated by the penalties for that Ability Score (e.g., a bard with an Intelligence of 4-5 will only be able to speak the additional language, but will not be able to read or write that language).

Spell Use: Bards are able to use a number of magic-user spells (or druid spells, if using AEC rules). Although the bardic ability to charm requires only the use of the bard’s instrument, the use of spells is subject to the same requirements as the spell type being used by the bard (i.e., rest and memorization for magic-user spells, or rest and prayer for druid spells).

Thieves’ Abilities: Bards are able to perform thieves’ abilities at a skill level of approximately half that of thieves (e.g., a 6th level bard uses thieves’ abilities about as well as a 3rd level thief).
As a bard rises in experience level, he or she will attract a number of wayfarers who will follow (and serve) the bard on his or her journeys. Every three levels, beginning at 4th level (i.e., at 4th, 7th, 10th, and so on) the bard should roll on the appropriate table below to determine the type of wayfarer attracted:
BX/LL (roll 1d10)
AEC (roll 1d10)
The wayfarer will join the bard as a first level character, and remain in the bard’s company until the character (or the bard) dies. Wayfarers need not be paid (though the bard may choose to pay them or share treasure with them). Furthermore, should a wayfarer die, he or she will never be replaced. All of a bard’s followers (including hired henchmen and other retainers) benefit from a +3 loyalty bonus (in addition to the bard’s standard Charisma modifiers).


  1. "Bards use the same attack and saving tables as clerics/thieves."

    Clerics and thieves don't use the same save table.

  2. I like the class. I would probably drop the charm special ability since they already get access to charm person at first level. For me I'd prefer a save rather then a % roll.

    1. Agreed. No use having it twice unless it increases the ability.

    2. The bard's musical charm ability is more of a "mass mesmerize" ability that is directly tied to his music. It affects all in hearing range, but only as long as he continues to play.

      By comparison, the charm person and charm monster spells only affect a single creature, and the charm effect duration is based on the INT of the affected person or the HD of the affected creature (often lasting weeks or months).

      They really seem like 2 different abilities to me. I will concede the name "charm" for the bard's ability is misleading (given its really more of a "mass mesmerize" effect), but the word "charm" is more in keeping with the spirit of the bard (and is the word chosen by most of the earlier versions of the bard, including the one that inspired this class).

  3. The only changes I'd make personally are "magical and elfin chain mail" (just to specify) and add the quarterstaff to list of available weapons - because it is technically a two-handed weapon.

    1. Agreed. Especially with any differences in the 2 types of armour.
      Quarterstaff: Yup. 2-handed. But I've noticed over the decades I've played; most people don't give it much respect unless it's buffed in some way.
      They just seem to think it's a 'walking stick'.
      Still; quite a nice addition to LL.