It is said that music has a special magic, and the bard proves that saying true. Wandering across the land, gathering lore, telling stories, working magic with his music, and living on the gratitude of his audience–such is the life of a bard. When chance or opportunity draws them into a conflict, bards serve as diplomats, negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies.

A bard's magic comes from the heart. If his heart is good, a bard brings hope and courage to the downtrodden and uses his tricks, music, and magic to thwart the schemes of evildoers. If the nobles of the land are corrupt, the good bard is an enemy of the state, cunningly evading capture and raising the spirits of the oppressed.

But music can spring from an evil heart as well. Evil bards forego blatant violence in favor of manipulation, holding sway over the hearts and minds of others and taking what enraptured audiences "willingly" give.

Adventures: Bards see adventures as opportunities to learn. They practice their many skills and abilities, and they especially relish the opportunity to enter a long-forgotten tomb, to discover ancient works of magic, to decipher old tomes, to travel to strange places, to encounter exotic creatures, and to learn new songs and stories. Bards love to accompany heroes (and villains), joining their entourage to witness their deeds firsthand–a bard who can tell a marvelous story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. Indeed, after telling so many stories about heroes doing mighty deeds, many bards take these themes to heart and assume heroic roles themselves.

Characteristics: A bard brings forth magic from his soul, not from a book. He can cast only a small number of spells, but he can do so without selecting or preparing them in advance. His magic emphasizes charms and illusions over the more dramatic evocation spells that wizards and sorcerers often use.

In addition to spells, a bard works magic with his music and poetry. He can encourage allies, hold his audiences rapt, and counter magical effects that rely on speech or sound.

Bards have some of the skills that rogues have, although bards they are not as focused on skill mastery as rogues are. A bard listens to stories as well as telling them, of course, so he has a vast knowledge of local events and noteworthy items.

Alignment: Bards are wanderers, guided by whim and intuition rather than by tradition or law. The spontaneous talent, magic, and lifestyle of the bard are incompatible with a lawful alignment.

Religion: Bards revere Fharlanghn (god of roads). They sometimes camp near his wayside shrines, hoping to earn some coin from the travelers who stop to leave offerings for the god. Many bards, even those who are not elves, worship Corellon Larethian, god of elves and patron of poetry and music. Many good bards are partial to Pelor (god of the sun), believing that he watches over them in their travels. Bards given to chaos and occasional larceny favor Olidammara (god of thieves). Those who have turned to evil ways are known to worship Erythnul (the god of slaughter), though few will admit to it. In any event, bards spend so much time on the road that, while they may be devoted to a deity, they are rarely devoted to any particular temple.

Background: An apprentice bard learns his skills from a single experienced bard, whom he follows and serves until he is ready to strike out on his own. Many bards were once young runaways or orphans, befriended by wandering bards who became their mentors. Since bards occasionally congregate in informal "colleges," the apprentice bard may meet many of the more prominent bards in the area. Still, the bard has no strong allegiance to bards as a whole.

In fact, some bards are highly competitive with other bards, jealous of their reputations and defensive about their territories.

Races: Bards are commonly human, gnome, elf, or half-elf. Humans take well to the wandering life and adapt easily to new lands and customs. Gnomes have a sense of humor and trickery that lends itself to a bardic career. Elves are talented in music and magic, so the career of the bard comes naturally to them. A bard's wandering ways suit many half-elves, who often feel like strangers even when at home.

Half-orcs, even those raised among humans, find themselves ill suited to the demands of a bard's career. There are no bardic traditions among dwarves, or halflings, though occasional individuals of these races find teachers to train them in the ways of the bard. Bards are exceedingly rare among the savage humanoids, except among centaurs. Centaur bards sometimes train the children of humans or other humanoids.

Other Classes: A bard works well with companions of other classes. He often serves as the spokesman of the party, using his social skills for the party's benefit. In a party without a wizard or sorcerer, the bard contributes his magic. In a party without a rogue, he uses his skills.

A bard is curious about the ways of more focused or dedicated adventurers, so he often tries to pick up pointers from fighters, sorcerers, and rogues.

Role: The bard is perhaps the ultimate generalist. In most adventuring groups, he works best in a supporting role. He can't usually match the stealth of the ranger or the rogue, the spellcasting power of the cleric or the wizard, or the combat prowess of the barbarian or the fighter.

However, he makes all the other characters better at what they do, and he can often fill in for another character when needed.

For a typical group of four characters, the bard is perhaps the most useful fifth character to consider adding, and he can make a great team leader.

Game Rule Information

Bards have the following game statistics.

Abilities: Charisma determines how powerful a spell a bard can cast, how many spells he can cast per day, and how hard those spells are to resist. Charisma, Dexterity, and Intelligence are important for many of the bard's class skills.

Alignment: Any nonlawful.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills: The bard's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Int/Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight Of Hand (Dex), Speak Language, Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Int modifier) × 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the bard.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A bard is proficient with all simple weapons, plus the longsword, rapier, sap, short sword, shortbow, and whip. Bards are proficient with light armor and shields (except tower shields).

Because the somatic components required for bard spells are relatively simple, a bard can cast bard spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance.

However, like any other arcane spellcaster, a bard wearing medium or heavy armor or using a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component (most do). A multiclass bard still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.

Spells: A bard casts arcane spells (the same type of spells available to sorcerers and wizards), which are drawn from the bard spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time, the way a wizard or cleric must. Every bard spell has a verbal component (singing, reciting, or music).

To learn or cast a spell, a bard must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level (Cha 10 for 0-level spells, Cha 11 for 1stlevel spells, and so forth). The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a bard's spell is 10 + the spell level + the bard's Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a bard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on the accompanying table. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score. When the spells per day table indicates that the bard gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level (for instance, 1stlevel spells for a 2nd-level bard), he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Charisma score for that spell level.

The bard's selection of spells is extremely limited. A bard begins play knowing four 0-level spells (also called cantrips) of your choice.

At most new bard levels, he gains one or more new spells (unlike spells per day, the number of spells a bard knows is not affected by his Charisma score; the numbers listed are fixed). Upon reaching 5th level, and at every third bard level after that (8th, 11th, and so on), a bard can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the bard "loses" the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least two levels lower than the highest-level bard spell the bard can cast. For instance, upon reaching 5th level, a bard could trade a single 0-level spell (two spell levels below the highest-level bard spell he can cast, which is 2nd) for a different 0-level spell. At 8th level, he could trade in a single 0-level or 1st-level spell (since he now can cast 3rd-level bard spells) for a different spell of the same level. A bard may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

As noted above, a bard need not prepare his spells in advance. He can cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not yet used up his allotment of spells per day for the spell's level. For example, at 1st level, Gimble the bard can cast two 0-level spells per day for being 1st level. However, he knows four 0-level spells: detect magic, ghost sound, light, and read magic. Thus, on any given day, he can cast some combination of those four spells a total of two times. He does not have to decide ahead of time which spells he'll cast.

Bardic Knowledge: A bard picks up a lot of stray knowledge while wandering the land and learning stories from other bards. He may make a special bardic knowledge check with a bonus equal to his bard level + his Intelligence modifier to see whether he knows some relevant information about local notable people, legendary items, or noteworthy places. (If the bard has 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (history), he gains a +2 bonus on this check.)

DC Type of Knowledge Examples
10 Common, known by at least a substantial minority of the local population. A local mayor's reputation for drinking; common legends about a powerful place of mystery.
20 Uncommon but available, known by only a few people in the area. A local priest's shady past; legends about a powerful magic item.
25 Obscure, known by few, hard to come by. A knight's family history; legends about a minor place of mystery or magic item.
30 Extremely obscure, known by very few, possibly forgotten by most who once knew it, possibly known only by those who don't understand the significance of the knowledge. A mighty wizard's childhood nickname; the history of a petty magic item.

A successful bardic knowledge check will not reveal the powers of a magic item but may give a hint as to its general function. A bard may not take 10 or take 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random. The DM can determine the Difficulty Class of the check by referring to the table above.

Bardic Music: Once per day per bard level, a bard can use his song or poetics to produce magical effects on those around him (usually including himself, if desired). While these abilities fall under the category of bardic music and the descriptions discuss singing or playing instruments, they can all be activated by reciting poetry, chanting, singing lyrical songs, singing melodies (fa-la-la, and so forth), whistling, playing an instrument, or playing an instrument in combination with some spoken performance. Each ability requires both a minimum bard level and a minimum number of ranks in the Perform skill to qualify; if a bard does not have the required number of ranks in at least one Perform skill, he does not gain the bardic music ability until he acquires the needed ranks.

Starting a bardic music effect is a standard action. Some bardic music abilities require concentration, which means the bard must take a standard action each round to maintain the ability. Even while using bardic music that doesn't require concentration, a bard cannot cast spells, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), or activate magic items by magic word (such as wands). Just as for casting a spell with a verbal component, a deaf bard has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to use bardic music. If he fails, the attempt still counts against his daily limit.

Countersong (Su): A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to counter magical effects that depend on sound (but not spells that simply have verbal components). Each round of the countersong, he makes a Perform check. Any creature within 30 feet of the bard (including the bard himself ) that is affected by a sonic or language-dependent magical attack (such as a sound burst or command spell) may use the bard's Perform check result in place of its saving throw if, after the saving throw is rolled, the Perform check result proves to be higher. If a creature within range of the countersong is already under the effect of a noninstantaneous sonic or language-dependent magical attack, it gains another saving throw against the effect each round it hears the countersong, but it must use the bard's Perform check result for the save. Countersong has no effect against effects that don't allow saves. The bard may keep up the countersong for 10 rounds.

Fascinate (Sp): A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the bard, and able to pay attention to him. The bard must also be able to see the creature. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents the ability from working. For every three levels a bard attains beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with a single use of this ability (two at 4th level, three at 7th level, and so on).

To use the ability, a bard makes a Perform check. His check result is the DC for each affected creature's Will save against the effect. If a creature's saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. If its saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and listens to the song, taking no other actions, for as long as the bard continues to play and concentrate (up to a maximum of 1 round per bard level). While fascinated, a target takes a –4 penalty on skill checks made as reactions, such as Listen and Spot checks. Any potential threat requires the bard to make another Perform check and allows the creature a new saving throw against a DC equal to the new Perform check result. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a ranged weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect. Fascinate is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.

Inspire Courage (Su): A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use song or poetics to inspire courage in his allies (including himself ), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to hear the bard sing.

The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 8th level, and every six bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by 1 (+2 at 8th, +3 at 14th, and +4 at 20th). Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability.

Inspire Competence (Su): A bard of 3rd level or higher with 6 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to help an ally succeed at a task. The ally must be within 30 feet and able to see and hear the bard. The bard must also be able to see the ally.

Depending on the task that the ally has at hand, the bard may use his bardic music to lift the ally's spirits, to help him or her focus mentally, or in some other way. The ally gets a +2 competence bonus on skill checks with a particular skill as long as he or she continues to hear the bard's music. The DM may rule that certain uses of this ability are infeasible–chanting to make a rogue move more quietly, for example, is self-defeating. The effect lasts as long as the bard concentrates, up to a maximum of 2 minutes. A bard can't inspire competence in himself. Inspire competence is a mind-affecting ability.

Suggestion (Sp): A bard of 6th level or higher with 9 or more ranks in a Perform skill can make a suggestion (as the spell) to a creature that he has already fascinated. Using this ability does not break the bard's concentration on the fascinate effect, nor does it allow a second saving throw against the fascinate effect. Making a suggestion doesn't count against a bard's daily limit on bardic music performances. A Will saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 bard's level + bard's Cha modifier) negates the effect. This ability affects only a single creature (but see mass suggestion, below). Suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language dependent ability.

Inspire Greatness (Su): A bard of 9th level or higher with 12 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poetics to inspire greatness in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet, granting him or her extra fighting capability. For every three levels a bard attains beyond 9th, he can target one additional ally with a single use of this ability (two at 12th level, three at 15th, four at 18th). To inspire greatness, a bard must sing and an ally must hear him sing. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter. A creature inspired with greatness gains 2 bonus Hit Dice (d10s), the commensurate number of temporary hit points (apply the target's Constitution modifier, if any, to these bonus Hit Dice), a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls, and a +1 competence bonus on Fortitude saves. The bonus Hit Dice count as regular Hit Dice for determining the effect of spells such as sleep. Inspire greatness is a mind-affecting ability.

Song of Freedom (Sp): A bard of 12th level or higher with 15 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poetics to create an effect equivalent to the break enchantment spell (caster level equals the character's bard level). Using this ability requires 1 minute of uninterrupted concentration and music, and it functions on a single target within 30 feet. A bard can't use song of freedom on himself.

Inspire Heroics (Su): A bard of 15th level or higher with 18 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poetics to inspire tremendous heroism in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet, allowing that creature to fight bravely even against overwhelming odds. For every three bard levels the character attains beyond 15th, he can inspire heroics in one additional creature. To inspire heroics, a bard must sing and an ally must hear the bard sing for a full round. A creature so inspired gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws and a +4 dodge bonus to AC. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for up to 5 rounds thereafter. Inspire heroics is a mind-affecting ability.

Mass Suggestion (Sp): This ability functions like suggestion, above, except that a bard of 18th level or higher with 21 or more ranks in a Perform skill can make the suggestion simultaneously to any number of creatures that he has already fascinated. Mass suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language-dependent ability.


A bard who becomes lawful in alignment cannot progress in levels as a bard, though he retains all his bard abilities.

Level Progression

Level Base Attack Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Bardic Music, Bardic Knowledge, Countersong, Fascinate, Inspire Courage +1
2 +1 +0 +3 +3 0
3 +2 +1 +3 +3 Inspire Competence
4 +3 +1 +4 +4 0
5 +3 +1 +4 +4 0
6 +4 +2 +5 +5 Suggestion
7 +5 +2 +5 +5 0
8 +6/+1 +2 +6 +6 Inspire Courage +2
9 +6/+1 +3 +6 +6 Inspire Greatness
10 +7/+2 +3 +7 +7 0
11 +8/+3 +3 +7 +7 0
12 +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 Song Of Freedom
13 +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 0
14 +10/+5 +4 +9 +9 Inspire Courage +3
15 +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +9 Inspire Heroics
16 +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 0
17 +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 0
18 +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +11 Mass Suggestion
19 +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +11 0
20 +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +12 Inspire Courage +4

Spells Per Day

Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2
2 3 0
3 3 1
4 3 2 0
5 3 3 1
6 3 3 2
7 3 3 2 0
8 3 3 3 1
9 3 3 3 2
10 3 3 3 2 0
11 3 3 3 3 1
12 3 3 3 3 2
13 3 3 3 3 2 0
14 4 3 3 3 3 1
15 4 4 3 3 3 2
16 4 4 4 3 3 2 0
17 4 4 4 4 3 3 1
18 4 4 4 4 4 3 2
19 4 4 4 4 4 4 3
20 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

Spells Known

Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 4
2 5 2
3 6 3
4 6 3 2
5 6 4 3
6 6 4 3
7 6 4 4 2
8 6 4 4 3
9 6 4 4 3
10 6 4 4 4 2
11 6 4 4 4 3
12 6 4 4 4 3
13 6 4 4 4 4 2
14 6 4 4 4 4 3
15 6 4 4 4 4 3
16 6 5 4 4 4 4 2
17 6 5 5 4 4 4 3
18 6 5 5 5 4 4 3
19 6 5 5 5 5 4 4
20 6 5 5 5 5 5 4

Starting Packages

Race: Gnome.
Armor: Studded leather (+3 AC, armor check penalty –1, arcane spell failure chance n/a, speed 20 ft., 10 lb.).
Weapons: Longsword (1d6, crit 19–20/×2, 2 lb., one-handed, slashing).
Light crossbow (1d6, crit 19–20/×2, range inc. 80 ft., 2 lb., piercing).
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 6 + Int modifier.

Skill Ranks Ability Armor Check Penalty
Perform (string instruments) 4 Cha
Spellcraft 4 Int
Use Magic Device 4 Cha
Gather Information 4 Cha
Listen 4 Wis
Decipher Script 4 Int
Diplomacy 4 Cha
Knowledge (any one) 4 Int
Sleight of Hand 4 Dex -1
Disguise 4 Cha

Feat: If Dexterity is 13 or higher, Dodge; if Dexterity is 12 or lower, Improved Initiative instead.
Spells Known: 0 level – detect magic, ghost sound, light, read magic.
Gear: Backpack with waterskin, one day's trail rations, bedroll, sack, and flint and steel. Three torches. Case with 10 crossbow bolts. Lute (common). Spell component pouch.
Gold: 2d4 gp.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License