How To Play The Bard Class In Dungeons & Dragons 5E

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Bards are the ones known for their high charisma and great abilities with a musical instruments. They are the life of the party and the ones who elevate the morale of the party during a difficult fight. Their magic is in their words and their music.

This class is very versatile, with charm and illusion spells, they can have a support role in battle or hold their own by boosting their melee weapons and armor. But their main characteristic is their ability to sweet-talk anyone.

We already explained how to create a character in detail in our step-by-step guide, so now we’ll focus on the class’ best build and special features.

A Bard’s Background Story

Bards have a natural longing for traveling and learning about the unknown. They usually accompany heroes to collect stories during their adventures and learn about mysterious places, fantastic weapons, and creatures from other worlds. As travelers themselves, they might become a hero in a story as well.

The real background of a bard doesn’t have to be necessarily unique. They might have had a normal and stable life, but lie to others to make their story more interesting⏤after all, they are bards, and bards tell legendary stories regardless of whether they’re true or not.

The important thing is to know how your character learned the musical instrument. Another important question to ask is why they want to participate in the campaign’s adventure. What is their final goal?

The Class Features

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Bards are mainly spellcasters, but they can defend themselves when the need arises by using melee and ranged weapons. They are capable of using rituals and a spellcasting focus.

  • Bardic Inspiration: Your character can inspire members of their party as a bonus action and they can add a D6 to a die roll.
  • Jack of All Trades: Bards can add half of your proficiency bonus to any ability check that they don’t have proficiency.
  • Song of Rest: You can help your party in a short rest. They spend one or more Hit Dice to regain HP and everyone regains an extra 1d6 hit points.
  • Expertise: Your character can choose two new skill proficiencies.
  • Font of Inspiration: You regain all of your expended uses of Bardic Inspiration when you finish a short rest.
  • Countercharm: You give advantage to allies on saving throws against being frightened or charmed.
  • Magical Secrets: Bards can choose two spells from any class. A spell they choose must be of a level you can cast, as shown on the Bard table, or a cantrip.
  • Superior Inspiration: When you roll initiative and have no uses of Bardic Inspiration left, you regain one use.

Joining A Bard College

Once your bard character reaches level three, they can choose between two bard associations know as colleges: the College of Lore and the College of Valor. Each college has different features that your character gains as they level up. If you consider other D&D books than the Essential Kit Rulebook, there are other eight possible colleges.

College Of Lore

The adepts of the College of Lore are known to collect knowledge and use it in the ballads to make the audience question everything they know. Their loyalty lies in the search for truth and beauty. The members meet in libraries and colleges to share what they learned. At festivals, they gather to expose corruption, lies, and poke fun at authorities.

At level three, they receive proficiency with three skills of your choice and learn the Cutting Words feature, which grants the character a reaction, when a creature rolls a die, to expand one of their Bard Inspiration die and subtract the number rolled from the creature’s roll.

At level six, your character learns two spells of your choice from any class. The chosen spell must be of a level you can cast, however. Finally, at level 14, when the bard makes an ability check, you can expend one use of Bardic Inspiration. Roll a Bardic Inspiration die and add the number rolled to your ability check.

College Of Valor

The bards from this college dedicate their lives to keeping the memory of great heroes alive for the next generations. They gather in taverns to sing about legendary stories and travel around the Forgotten Realms to witness the legends in person.

At level three, your character gains proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons. They also get Combat Inspiration, which lets a creature with Bardic Inspiration die roll that die and add the number rolled to the weapon damage roll it just made.

Alternatively, when an attack roll is made against the creature, it can use its reaction to roll the Bardic Inspiration die and add the number rolled to its AC against that attack, after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses.

At level six, the bard can attack twice as their action in a fight. Finally, at level 14, when your character uses an action to cast a bard spell, they can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.

Quick Build

The Essentials Kit Rulebook recommends that Charisma should be your highest ability score followed by Dexterity. Then choose the entertainer background. As for the spells, choose the dancing lights and vicious mockery cantrips and charm person, detect magic, healing word, and thunderwave for the first-level spells.