Monday, August 3, 2015

New BX Character Class: The Bard (Version II)

This version of the bard character class comes mainly out of the Welsh tradition of the bard known mainly through the stories in the Mabinogion tetralogy, though it also acknowledges the illusionist connection given to the Mabinogion by more contemporary authors. This version of the bard character class requires use of AEC rules.

[Please note: While this class is new for B/X, it is an adaptation and revision of the AD&D bard created by Jeff Goelz in Dragon Magazine #56, which was a "revision of the bard class" from the AD&D PHB, which was based upon the bard class introducted by Doug Schwegman in Strategic Review Vol. II, No. 1.]

The bard is the quintessential entertainer—a musician, charmer, and loremaster.

The prime requisites of a bard are Intelligence and Wisdom. If a bard has a score of 13 or greater in both Intelligence and Wisdeom, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a bard has a Wisdom 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 table as fighters, but the same saving throw table as magic-users.

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 wear only leather armor and may use a wooden shield. However, a bard is not permitted to actively use a shield while charming (as it requires the use of both hands to play his or her instrument). 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. A bard must always have a stringed instrument, which is required for all charming attempts (see below). A bard may not be in an adventuring party with another bard (though two or more bards may gather to practice). Like rangers, bards lead a vagabond life, and may only possess what they can carry on their person, but will buy the most exquisite instrument he or or she can afford. A bard must have a minimum Charisma score of 9.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The bard has command over several special capabilities, including the use of illusionist and druid spells, the power to influence others through song with the accompaniment of an instrument, an extensive knowledge of lore, and the ability to read and understand languages.
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.

Other Song Effects: Through song, the bard is able to influence others in the following ways:
Counteract Charms. The performance of a bard will automatically counteract the charms of a harpy. Additionally, the preemptive playing of a bard will provide a +1 bonus to all saving throws by the bard’s party vs. charm and charm-like effects. Use of this ability requires the bard to play his or her instrument. The benefits of this song do not begin until the second round after the bard begins the song.

Boost Morale. The bard may perform a song that boosts the morale of the members of the bard’s party, providing a +1 bonus to morale, “to hit” rolls, and damage rolls while the bard is performing. This same song will also cause enemies within hearing range to incur a –1 penalty to morale, “to hit” rolls, and damage rolls. Use of this ability requires only the bards voice, allowing the bard to engage in melee while performing this song. The benefits of this song do not begin until the second round after the bard begins singing.
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 Languages: As a bard rises in level, he or she becomes more able to read unknown languages and comprehend them. The percentage indicated notes both the chance the bard has to comprehend the language, as well as how much of what is written will be understandable by the bard should the attempt succeed. This skill does not provide the ability to speak languages or comprehend them when spoken. The bard will automatically be able to read 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 illusionist and druid spells. 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 illusionist spells, or rest and prayer for druid spells).
A bard is cannot employ hirelings or henchmen until he or she reaches name (9th) level.

Upon reaching 10th level (Master Bard), a bard is able to assume an animal shape (as a druid), three times a day.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Guess you must be pretty shameless to copy this straight out of Dragon magazine #56 without giving the actual author Jeff Goelz any credit and call it "new".