“Tell me again,” yelled the Dwarf, “why we need a ruddy Bard!”
“Pardon,” shouted Nireb, “I can’t hear you for all this singing!”
The Elven Sorceress by their side just smiled. “Well I like it. “
She pointed across the fields to the orchards. The villages had heard the song and begun to run toward the party, their baskets laden with ripe Autumn fruits.
“And so do they.”
Well here’s a funny thing. Almost two years ago – September 27, 2006 to be precise – I was moaning about Bards in Third Edition D&D and suggesting ways to make them cool and usable without all that doublet and hose nonsense. I suggested re-imagining the class as Knight-Commanders, wily leaders of men who used their training and knowledge of great battles from history to aid their allies in combat.
Fast forward to Fourth Edition and the Bard is no more, to be replaced with the Warlord, characters who are….. wily leaders of men who used their training and knowledge of great battles from history to aid their allies in combat. Honestly, it’s like they were reading my blog or somethin’!
That’s all well and good for me, but what about all you Bard lovers out there? Is there a way to do this in reverse and turn your Warlord Class back into that fancy-pants droopy Bard you know and love? Hell yes!
Here’s Garin the Green, singing Minstrel and wandering vagabond. He earned the epithet “the Green” from his demanding Eldarin Music Teacher who insisted that his voice sounds like a young sapling – full of sap and trying too hard to reach the light. Thankfully, he’s improved since then but the nickname has stuck.
As a half-elf – the archetypal rootless Bard race – he’s got 18 Charisma, a winning smile and the Group Diplomacy schtick. Having him around gives a +1 Diplomacy bonus to his allies (within 10 squares) so it’s easy to see the benefit of having this Bard around to big-up your words. Add in his Deft Strike per Encounter shamelessly stolen from the Rogue Class (thanks to his Dilettante nature) for a touch of the swashbucker to his fighting style.
With decent skill ranks in Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate, Garin’s songs can inspire, bring fear or sway his listeners, depending on his intentions and effect he’s aiming for, and Inspiring Word is straight out of Bard 101.
4e lacks both Profession and Perform skills, but that’s no great loss in play. If you really want to see how much money your Bard makes while singing in a local tavern (perhaps as part of a Skill Challenge) then make a Diplomacy check and award 5 copper, silver or gold (depending in the wealth of the clientèle) per point the DC is exceeded by. Grant a +1 or +2 bonus to skill checks if the Bard’s musical instrument of choice is of fine quality, and apply a -1 or -2 if he doesn’t use it (or the strings break).
All that remains is to give a little Bardic flavour text to his Warlord Powers.
Commander’s Strike: “Friend Borin, watch your back or you’re out of my story for good!”
Furious Smash: “Tergel, this one said your mother was a gnome! How did he know that?”
Guarding Attack: “Ah, the Old Nerath stance. You keep attacking from the left. That’s easy to deflect. See?”
Bastion of Defense: “For Tergel’s League! Oh, we’ll sing songs this day!”
At second level, Garin would take the Ritual Casting feat and begin to learn a few simple magic tricks from passing Wizards.
Bard = Warlord. See?
DAZ Studio, no postwork.
Garin the Green Lawful Good Male Half-Elf Warlord-1
Str 11, Con 12, Dex 12, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 18
HP24, bloodied 12, surges 6 x 8/day
AC 15 (leather & small shield), Fort 12, Ref 13, Will 15, Squares 6, Low-light vision, Skill Training (Bluff)
Longsword: +3 vs AC, 1d8, versatile
Crossbow: +3 vs AC, 1d8+1, range 15/30, Load minor
Commander’s Strike/at-will, Furious Smash/at-will +3 vs fortitude
Inspiring Word/enc x2, Guarding Attack/enc +3 vs AC, Deft Strike/enc +4 vs AC
Bastion of Defense/day +3 vs AC
Dilettante (Rogue), Dual Heritage, Group Diplomacy, Combat Leader, Inspiring Word
Bluff +9, Diplomacy +11, Heal +6, History +7, Insight +3, Intimidate +9