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Bard

You are a master of artistry, a scholar of hidden secrets, and a captivating persuader. Using powerful performances, you influence minds and elevate souls to new levels of heroics. You might use your powers to become a charismatic leader, or perhaps a counselor, manipulator, scholar, scoundrel, or virtuoso. While your versatility allows some to consider you a jack-of-all-trades and a beguiling ne’er-do-well who spends too much time in taverns, it’s dangerous to dismiss you as a master of none.

Key Ability Charisma

Hit Points 8 plus your Constitution modifier

Proficiencies

Expert Perception

Saving Throws

Trained Fortitude, Reflex

Expert Will

Skills

Trained a number of skills equal to 7 plus your Intelligence modifier

Weapons

Trained all simple weapons plus the longsword, rapier, sap, shortsword, short-bow, and whip

Armor

Trained light armor and in shields

Spells

Trained occult spell rolls and DCs and in attack rolls for occult spells

Signature Skills

  • Crafting
  • Deception
  • Diplomacy
  • Intimidation
  • Occultism
  • Performance
  • Society

Playing a Bard

Players of bard characters might approach gameplay in the following ways:

  • During combat, you use magical performances to alter the odds in your group’s favor. You can alternate between helpful spells, attacks, and healing as needed.
  • During social encounters, you persuade, prevaricate, and threaten with ease.
  • While exploring, you’re a font of knowledge and you perform to assist allies.
  • In downtime, you can earn money and prestige with your performances, gaining a name for yourself and acquiring patrons. You might even found a bardic college of your own!

Roleplaying a Bard

Bards know obscure lore, perform skillfully, and have silver tongues.

If You’re a Bard, You Likely…

  • Have a passion for your art so strong you forge a spiritual connection.
  • Take point when tact and nonviolent solutions are required.
  • Follow your muse, whether it’s a fey creature, a philosophical concept, a psychic force, or a deity of art or music, and you follow it to learn secret lore that few others have.

Others Probably…

  • Underestimate you compared to other spellcasters, believing you are little more than a foppish minstrel and overlooking the subtle power of your magic.
  • Relish the opportunity to invite you to social events, either as a performer or a guest, but still consider you to be something of a curiosity in their social circles.
  • Respond favorably to your social charm and abilities but remain suspicious of your mental magic.
Table 3–5: Bard Advancement
Level Class Features
1 Ancestry feat, background, first compositions, initial proficiencies, muse, occult spellcasting, spell repertoire
2 Bard feat, skill feat
3 2nd-level spells, spontaneous heightening, general feat, skill increase
4 Bard feat, skill feat
5 3rd-level spells, ability boosts, ancestry feat, skill increase
6 Bard feat, skill feat
7 4th-level spells, general feat, skill increase
8 Bard feat, skill feat
9 5th-level spells, ancestry feat, skill increase
10 Bard feat, ability boosts, skill feat
11 6th-level spells, general feat, skill increase
12 Expert spellcaster, skill feat
12 7th-level spells, ancestry feat, skill increase
14 Bard feat, skill feat
15 8th-level spells, ability boosts, general feat, skill increase
16 Master spellcaster, skill feat
17 9th-level spells, ancestry feat, skill increase
18 Bard feat, skill feat
19 Legendary spellcaster, general feat, skill increase
20 Bard feat, ability boosts, skill feat

Class Features

You gain these abilities as a bard. Abilities gained at higher levels list the requisite levels next to the features’ names.

Occult Spellcasting

You have the power to cast occult spells using the Cast a Spell activity, and you gain access to the Material Casting, Somatic Casting, and Verbal Casting actions (see Casting Spells on page 195). Because you’re a bard, you can usually play an instrument as part of your Material Casting and Somatic Casting actions, so you usually don’t need spell components or another hand free. You can usually also play an instrument for your Verbal Casting actions rather than speaking.

Each day, you can cast up to two 1st-level spells. The number of spells you can cast each day are called your spell slots. You must know spells to cast them, and you learn them via the spell repertoire class feature. As you increase in level as a bard, your number of spells per day and the highest level of spells you can cast from spell slots increases, as shown on the Bard Spells per Day table on page 65.

Some of your spells require you to attempt a spell roll to see how effective they are, or have your enemies roll against your spell DC. Since your key ability is Charisma, your spell rolls and spell DCs use your Charisma modifier. See page 291 for details on calculating your spell rolls and spell DCs.

Heightening Spells

When you get spell slots of 2nd level and higher, you can heighten lower-level spells to higher levels. You must learn them at the new level to do so, as described on page 192. The spontaneous heightening class feature lets you select two spells you can heighten freely.

Cantrips

Some of your spells are cantrips. A cantrip is a special type of spell that doesn’t use spell slots. You can cast a cantrip at will, any number of times per day. A cantrip is always automatically heightened to the highest level of spell you can cast as a bard. For example, as a 1st-level bard, the highest level of spell you can cast is 1st, so your cantrips are 1st-level spells. As a 5th-level bard, the highest level of spell you can cast is 3rd, so your cantrips are 3rd-level spells.

Spell Repertoire

At 1st level, you learn one 1st-level occult spell of your choice and four occult cantrips of your choice. You choose these from the common spells on the occult spell list in this book (see page 200) or from other occult spells to which you have access. You can cast any spell in your spell repertoire by using a spell slot of an appropriate spell level.

You add to this spell repertoire as you increase in level.

Each time you get a spell slot from Table 3–6, you add a spell to your spell repertoire of the same level. So when you reach 2nd level, you select another 1st-level spell; at 3rd level, you select two 2nd-level spells, and at 4th level you select a 2nd-level spell.

Though you gain them at the same rate, your spell slots and spell repertoire are separate. If a feat or other ability adds a spell to your spell repertoire, it wouldn’t give you another spell slot, and vice versa.

Swapping Spells in Your Repertoire

As you gain new spells in your repertoire, you might want to replace some of the spells you previously learned. Each time you level up and learn new spells, you can swap out one of your old spells for a different spell of the same level.

This spell can be a cantrip. You can also swap out spells by retraining during downtime (see page 318).

First Compositions

Compositions are a special type of spell that require you to use the Performance skill as a part of their casting.

At 1st level, bards gain two types of composition spells: composition cantrips and composition powers (which both have the composition trait). You gain the inspire courage composition cantrip (see page 233), which boosts your allies’ attacks, damage, and defense against fear.

This is in addition to the cantrips you choose from the occult list. Feats can give you more composition cantrips.

Unlike other cantrips, you can’t swap out compositions gained from bard feats at a later level, unless you swap out the specific feat via retraining (see page 318).

You can also cast a composition power called counter performance (see page 212) that protects against auditory and visual effects. You have a pool of Spell Points you can spend to cast this spell. Your maximum number of Spell Points is equal to your key ability modifier (minimum 0).

You regain all your Spell Points during your daily preparations. You can cast counter performance only by spending 1 Spell Point, not using spell slots. This power is automatically heightened to the highest level of spell you can cast.

Some bard feats let you learn more composition powers, and such feats typically increase your pool of Spell Points.

Muses

As a bard, you have a muse that leads you to great things, which might be a physical creature, a deity, a philosophy, or something more nebulous. While there are nearly as many different muses as there are bards, muses grant a limited number of different abilities to bards based on their theme.

Lore: Your muse drives you to uncover the hidden secrets of the multiverse. You gain the Bardic Lore feat and add true strike to your spell repertoire.

Maestro: Your muse inspires you to ever-greater heights of performance. You gain the Lingering Composition feat and add soothe to your spell repertoire.

Polymath: Your muse flits about to almost every skill and pursuit. You gain the Versatile Performance feat and add summon monster to your spell repertoire.

Bard Feats 2nd

At 2nd level, you gain a bard class feat (see page 66).

You gain another at 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 14th, 18th, and 20th levels.

Table 3–6: Bard Spells Per Day
Your Level Spell Level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1 2
2 3
3 3 2
4 3 3
5 3 3 2
6 3 3 3 — 7 3 3 3 2
8 3 3 3 3
9 3 3 3 3 2
10 3 3 3 3 3
11 3 3 3 3 3 2
12 3 3 3 3 3 3
13 3 3 3 3 3 3 2
14 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
15 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2
16 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
17 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2
18 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
19 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
20 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

Skill Feats 2nd

At 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, you gain a skill feat. Skill feats can be found in Chapter 5 and have the skill trait. You must be trained or better in the corresponding skill to select a skill feat.

Spontaneous Heightening 3rd

You learn to freely heighten some of your spells, even if you know only the base version of the spell. During your daily preparations (see page 192), you can select up to two spells you know. You can cast those spells using any applicable higher-level spell slots you have, heightening the spell to the level of spell slot used, even if you don’t ordinarily know the spell at the higher level.

General Feats 3rd

At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, you gain a general feat. General feats are listed in Chapter 5.

Skill Increases 3rd

At 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, you gain a skill increase. You can use this increase to either become trained in one skill you’re untrained in, or become an expert in one skill in which you’re already trained.

If you are at least 7th level, you can use this increase to become a master in a signature skill in which you’re already an expert. If you are at least 15th level, you can use this increase to become legendary in a signature skill in which you’re already a master.

Ability Boosts 5th

At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, you boost four different ability scores. You can use these ability boosts to increase your ability scores above 18. Boosting an ability score increases it by 1 if it’s already 18 or above, or by 2 if it starts out below 18.

Ancestry Feats 5th

In addition to the ancestry feat you started with, you gain an ancestry feat at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The list of ancestry feats available to you can be found in your ancestry’s entry in Chapter 2.

Expert Spellcaster 12th

Your proficiency rank for spell rolls, spell DCs, and attack rolls for occult spells increases to expert.

Master Spellcaster 16th

Your proficiency rank for spell rolls, spell DCs, and attack rolls for occult spells increases to master.

Legendary Spellcaster 19th

Your proficiency rank for spell rolls, spell DCs, and attack rolls for occult spells increases to legendary.

Bard Feats

If you need to look up a bard feat by name instead of by level, use this table.

Feat Level

  • Additional Heightening 8
  • Allegro 14
  • Bardic Lore 1
  • Cantrip Expansion 4
  • Dirge of Doom 6
  • Eclectic Skill 8
  • Esoteric Scholar 2
  • Fatal Aria 20
  • Harmonize 6
  • House of Imaginary Walls 10
  • Inspire Competence 2
  • Inspire Heroics 8
  • Lingering Composition 1
  • Loremaster’s Recall 2
  • Melodious Spell 8
  • Mental Prowess 8
  • Mental Stronghold 14
  • Soothing Ballad 14
  • Steady Spellcasting 4
  • Symphony of the Muse 20
  • Triple Time 4
  • Unusual Composition 10
  • Versatile Performance 1

Bard Feats

At every level that you gain a bard feat, you can select one of the following feats. You must satisfy any prerequisites before selecting the feat.

1st Level

Bardic Lore Feat 1

Your eclectic studies inform you on just about any topic. You are trained in Bardic Lore, a special lore skill that can be used only to Recall Knowledge, but can be used to Recall Knowledge on any topic. If you are legendary in Occultism, you become an expert in Bardic Lore, but you can’t increase your proficiency rank in Bardic Lore by any other means.

Lingering Composition Feat 1

By adding a flourish, you can make your compositions last longer. You learn the lingering composition composition power (see page 235), which you can cast at a cost of 1 Spell Point. Increase your Spell Point pool by 2.

Versatile Performance Feat 1

In social situations, you can rely on the grandeur of your performances rather than ordinary social skills. You can use Performance instead of Diplomacy to Make an Impression and instead of Intimidation to Demoralize. You can also use an acting performance instead of Deception to Impersonate.

2nd Level

Esoteric Scholar Feat 2

Prerequisite(s) Versatile Performance

You keep a book of occult spells similar to a wizard’s spellbook. You add all the spells in your repertoire to this book for free, and you can add additional occult spells to the book by paying the appropriate cost and using your Occultism skill, similarly to how a wizard can Learn Arcane Spells and add those spells to his spellbook.

During your daily preparations, choose any one spell from your spellbook. If the spell you choose is already in your spell repertoire, you can heighten it with spontaneous heightening that day. If it isn’t in your repertoire, treat it as though it were in it for that day.

Inspire Competence Feat 2

Prerequisite(s): Lingering Composition

You learn the inspire competence composition cantrip (see page 233), which magically aids your allies’ skill checks.

Loremaster’s Recall Feat 2

Prerequisite(s): Bardic Lore

You can magically unlock more memories, making it more likely you can remember something. You learn the loremaster’s recall power (see page 236), which you can cast at a cost of 1 Spell Point. Increase your Spell Point pool by 1.

4th Level

Cantrip Expansion Feat 4

Add two additional cantrips of your choice from the occult spell list to your spell repertoire.

Steady Spellcasting Feat 4

Your spells are disrupted by reactions (see page 196) only if you take damage equal to or greater than double your character level.

Key Terms

Many bard abilities use these terms.

Composition: To cast a composition cantrip or power, you use a type of Performance (see page 154). If the spell includes Verbal Casting, you must use an auditory performance, and if it includes Somatic Casting, you must use a visual one. The spell gains all the traits of the performance you used. You can cast no more than one composition spell each turn, and you can have only one active at a time. If you cast a new composition spell, ongoing effects from your previous composition spell end immediately.

Metamagic: Metamagic feats trigger when you begin casting a spell and typically require you to spend an extra spellcasting action to alter the spell’s effects. You can’t use metamagic feats if adding an action to the spell would make the spell require more actions than you have remaining on your turn. Because most metamagic feats have the same trigger, you usually can use only one metamagic feat per spell.

Triple Time Feat 4

You learn the tripletime composition cantrip (see page 266), which makes you and your allies move more quickly for a round.

6th Level

Dirge of Doom Feat 6

You learn the dirge of doom composition cantrip (see page 216), which frightens your enemies.

Harmonize Feat 6

Prerequisite(s): Lingering Composition

Magical harmonies maintain your compositions.

You learn the harmonize power (see page 229), which you can cast at a cost of 1 Spell Point. Increase your Spell Point pool by 1.

8th Level

Additional Heightening Feat 8

You can heighten additional spells. During your daily preparations, when selecting spells for spontaneous heightening, you can select up to four spells, instead of two.

Eclectic Skill Feat 8

Prerequisite(s): Versatile Performance, Master Occultism

You can attempt any skill check that normally requires you to be trained, even if you are untrained. If you are legendary in Occultism, you can also attempt any skill check that normally requires you to be an expert, even if you are untrained or trained.

Inspire Heroics Feat 8

Prerequisite(s): Lingering Composition

You learn the inspire heroics power (see page 233), which you can cast at a cost of 1 Spell Point. Increase your Spell Point pool by 2.

Melodious Spell Feat 8

Trigger You begin casting a bard spell that has a maximum of 2 spellcasting actions.

Add a Verbal Casting action to the casting of the triggering spell and attempt a Performance check against all observers’ Perception DCs. If your Performance check is successful against an observer’s Perception DC, that observer doesn’t notice that you are casting a spell. This conceals only the spell’s spellcasting actions, not any of the spell’s physical effects, so an observer might still see a ray streak out from you or see you disappear if you turn invisible.

Mental Prowess Feat 8

Prerequisite(s): Expert in Will saves, Bardic Lore

Your proficiency rank for Will saves increases to master.

When you succeed at a Will save, treat it as a critical success instead.

10th Level

House of Imaginary Walls Feat 10

You learn the house of imaginary walls composition cantrip (see page 230).

Unusual Composition Feat 10

Prerequisite(s): Versatile Performance

Trigger You begin casting a composition spell that has a maximum of 2 spellcasting actions.

You use a different kind of performance than usual for the composition in order to change any of its Somatic Casting actions to Verbal Casting actions or vice versa, and adding an additional spellcasting action of the appropriate type. As usual for composition spells, this changes whether the composition is auditory or visual.

14th Level

Allegro Feat 14

You can quicken your allies. You learn the allegro composition cantrip (see page 204).

Mental Stronghold Feat 14

Prerequisite(s): Master in Will saves, Bardic Lore

Your mind is a fortress. You become legendary at Will saves.

When you critically fail a Will save, treat it as a failure instead, and when you fail a Will save against an effect that deals damage, halve the damage you take.

Soothing Ballad Feat 14

You learn the soothing ballad composition power (see page 257), which you can cast at a cost of 2 Spell Points.

Increase your Spell Point pool by 2.

20th Level

Fatal Aria Feat 20

You learn the fatal aria composition power (see page 223), which you can cast at a cost of 2 Spell Points.

Increase your Spell Point pool by 2.

Symphony Of The Muse Feat 20

Prerequisite(s): Harmonize

You are able to weave countless performances together into a solo symphony. You are no longer limited to a single composition each turn or a single composition at a time; when you use a new composition, all previous compositions’ effects remain.