Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bards Suck in Combat? Another Sample from Obiri's Lab

Someone (Derobane!) commented at last nights game that bards suck in combat. Yes, they are good at helping others be awesome but solo they are not so great. NO! I say. In my Gish post about a month ago one of the builds I mention is a bard. This guy rocks combat and can be done in either a melee or archer variety. I think the melee is more interesting but its not hard to swap out the melee feats for the archery ones.

Dawnflower Dervish Awesome Bard    CR 11
Male Human (Keleshite) Bard (Dawnflower Dervish) 12
NG Medium Humanoid (Human)
Init +7; Senses Perception +15


AC 28, touch 19, flat-footed 21   (+9 armor, +7 Dex, +2 deflection)
hp 90 (12d8+24)
Fort +11, Ref +18, Will +11


Spd 30 ft.
Melee +2 Keen Scimitar +21/+16 (1d6+24/15-20/x2) and
   Gauntlet (from Armor) +19/+14 (1d3+15/20/x2) and
   Unarmed Strike +19/+14 (1d3+15/20/x2)
Special Attacks Bardic Performance (move action) (30 rounds/day), Bardic Performance: Countersong, Bardic Performance: Distraction, Bardic Performance: Fascinate (DC 20), Bardic Performance: Inspire Competence +4, Bardic Performance: Inspire Courage +3, Bardic Performance: Inspire Greatness (2 allies), Bardic Performance: Soothing Performance, Bardic Performance: Suggestion (DC 20), Battle Dance: Inspire Courage +6, Battle Dance: Inspire Greatness
Bard (Dawnflower Dervish) Spells Known (CL 12, +19 melee touch, +22 ranged touch):
4 (4/day) Invisibility, Greater (DC 18), Dimension Door, Freedom of Movement (DC 18), Heroic Finale (DC 18)
3 (5/day) Haste (DC 17), Glibness (DC 17), Cure Serious Wounds (DC 17), Slow (DC 17), Dispel Magic, Good Hope, Purging Finale (DC 17)
2 (6/day) Delay Poison (DC 16), Glitterdust (DC 16), Tongues (DC 16), Heroism (DC 16), Mirror Image (DC 16), Silence (DC 16), Revelation (DC 16), Bladed Dash (DC 16)
1 (6/day) Silent Image (DC 15), Unseen Servant, Comprehend Languages (DC 15), Grease (DC 15), Disguise Self (DC 15), Cure Light Wounds (DC 15), Feather Fall (DC 15), Saving Finale (DC 15), Vanish (DC 15)
0 (at will) Mage Hand, Mending, Read Magic (DC 14), Prestidigitation (DC 14), Detect Magic, Light


Str 10, Dex 21/25, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14/18
Base Atk +9; CMB +9; CMD 28
Feats Arcane Strike, Bard Weapon Proficiencies, Dervish Dance, Great Fortitude, Improved Unarmed Strike, Piranha Strike +6/-3, Skill Focus: Perform (Oratory), Snake Style, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +22, Bluff +24, Climb -2, Diplomacy +28, Disable Device +3, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +5, Fly +22, Handle Animal +7, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (Arcana) +15, Knowledge (Local) +15, Perception +15, Perform (Act) +7, Perform (Comedy) +7, Perform (Dance) +22, Perform (Keyboard Instruments) +7, Perform (Oratory) +28, Perform (Percussion Instruments) +7, Perform (Sing) +7, Perform (String Instruments) +24, Perform (Wind Instruments) +7, Ride +5, Sense Motive +28, Sleight of Hand +5, Stealth +5, Swim -2, Use Magic Device +18
Languages Common, Kelish
SQ Battle Dance (swift action), Circlet of Persuasion, Jack of All Trades: Trained skills (Ex), Mediative Whirl (3/day) (Ex), Spinning Spellcaster (Ex), Versatile Dance +22 (Ex), Versatile Oratory +28 (Ex), Versatile String Instruments +24 (Ex), Well Versed (Ex)
Combat Gear +2 Keen Scimitar, Celestial Armor; Other Gear Belt of Incredible Dexterity, +4, Circlet of Persuasion, Cloak of Resistance, +3, Handy Haversack (1 @ 3 lbs), Headband of Alluring Charisma, +4, Musical instrument, masterwork: String, Ring of Protection, +2


Arcane Strike As a swift action, add +1 damage, +1 per 5 caster levels and your weapons are treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Bardic Performance (move action) (30 rounds/day) Your performances can create magical effects.
Bardic Performance: Countersong (Su) Counter magical effects that depend on sound.
Bardic Performance: Distraction (Su) Counter magical effects that depend on sight.
Bardic Performance: Fascinate (DC 20) (Su) One or more creatures becomes fascinated with you.
Bardic Performance: Inspire Competence +4 (Su) +2 competence bonus for one ally on a skill check.
Bardic Performance: Soothing Performance (Su) Allies are healed and some conditions are removed.
Bardic Performance: Suggestion (DC 20) (Sp) Make a Suggestion to one Fascinated creature.
Battle Dance (swift action) A Dawnflower dervish is trained in the use of the Perform skill, especially dance, to create magical effects on himself. This works like bardic performance, except that the Dawnflower dervish’s performances grant double their normal bonuses, but thes
Battle Dance: Inspire Courage +6 (Su) Morale bonus on some saving throws, attack and damage rolls.
Battle Dance: Inspire Greatness (Su) Grants self 4 bonus hit dice, +4 to attacks and +2 to Fort saves.
Circlet of Persuasion +3 competence bonus to CHA-based checks (skills already included).
Dervish Dance Use Dex modifier instead of Str modifier with scimitar
Improved Unarmed Strike Unarmed strikes don't cause attacks of opportunity, and can be lethal.
Jack of All Trades: Trained skills (Ex) You may use all skills untrained.
Mediative Whirl (3/day) (Ex) Quicken a cure spell as a move action.
Piranha Strike +6/-3 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage with light weapons.
Snake Style Gain +2 on Sense Motive checks, and deal piercing damage with unarmed attacks
Spinning Spellcaster (Ex) +4 bonus on concentration checks to cast spells defensively.
Versatile Dance +22 (Ex) You may substitute the final value of your Perform: Dance skill for Acrobatics or Fly checks
Versatile Oratory +28 (Ex) You may substitute the final value of your Perform: Oratory skill for Diplomacy or Sense Motive checks
Versatile String Instruments +24 (Ex) You may substitute the final value of your Perform: String Instruments skill for Bluff or Diplomacy checks
Well Versed (Ex) +4 save vs. bardic performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects.
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Now keep in mind the above stats are a best case scenario. Battle Dance is running, but 18 rounds per day is enough to cover most scenarios. Arcane Strike is active which uses up the swift action which limits the use of Snake Style.

While this bard loses the group song buff, the rest of a bard's awesome buffingness remains. His AC should be pretty good with high Dex, and has access to things like Mirror Image and Snake Style to avoid attacks. His Saves are pretty good especially after self buffing. He has all of the party face skills, plus some knowledge skills.

Bards have a great spell list but with only a so-so Cha score, he focuses mainly on utility,buff, and defensive spells. Offensive spells are for the full casters.

So while my bard is not the wrecking crew the barbarian is, he still hits for around 30 and hits often with a very good attack bonus and as a high crit range. He'd also be a bit more fun to play since he does more then just thrash things in combat.


Derobane-bane said...

Nice build, very versatile. I like the options and utility. Truly bardic in a classic sense that this PC can do lots of things, just not as good as true archers, master melee guys, pro trappers or full casters.

The way I see it, if you want to be a bard, capitalize on their one solid advantageous strength: charm and charisma. Let the party archer do the shooting and let the bard do the talking. A bard with a 14/18 charisma is versatile. A bard with a 30 charisma is unstoppable.

Obiri said...

Would an extra 6 points on the social skills really make that much difference? You would be a great caster but that would be a completely different build.

For bards to do more then just buff others in combat they have to focus. Pump Cha and be a great caster, or pump Dex and go melee or archer.

Either way, buffing aside, I maintain that bards don't have to suck in combat.

Derobane-bane said...

Would an extra 6 points on the social skills really make that much of a difference?

I suppose it depends on who is DMing. In my mind, cha determines beauty and/or force of personality. If a player opts to sacrifice other stats that generally determine technical combat efficacy, I opt to award PCs with the benefits that come along with being wildly attractive people with personalities that could sell ice to eskimos or topple world governments. :)

Damián Guardia said...

piranha strike only works with simple weapons

Obiri said...

Piranha strike only works with light piercing weapons but your point is still valid. This is actually an early version of my latest PC. I ended up swapping piranha strike for Power attack which works.

Damián Guardia said...

how did you do to take your str to 13?

i have a similar character too:
halfling darwnflower dervish

1_ skill focus
3_ arcane strike
5_ risky striker
7_ fighter(unnarmed fighter)-> - ius - crane style - Cautious Fighter
9_ Outflank*
11_ Blundering Defense

can walk 30 feet and use adaptable luck(+Timely Inspiration or gallant inspiration) for critical confirmation rolls. but i think i need some power attack o similar to boost damage. thinking on flagbearer feat or urban barbarian but will ruin my spell and battle dance progression.

Obiri said...

We had a custom rule that campaign where every 4 levels you can either increase a stat by 1 or you could boost one stat the equivalent of another four points from the point buy.