The Bard

A fresh take on the most mocked Player's Handbook class, the culmination of a four month project from the message boards.

3.5 Open Game Content


Music requires well pitched lyrics and intimate hand movements to affect those nearby. It can bring a happy person to tears, a sleeping person to attention, can trap a body and force it to dance. Much like magic. A bard bridges the gap between musician and magician, able to create powerful arcane effects through performance.

A bard is not a mere lounge singer or performing artist, he is a world traveler whose tales and songs channel magic in its purest form. An individual is shaped by the experiences in his life. As a collector of experience, a bard is constantly reshaping that which defines him. As such, a bard is not just an individual. He is an ever changing work of art.

Adventures: The bard lives with two hands in three pockets. The world offers its citizens so many wonders to behold, a bard yearns to experience them all, if only once. Adventures allow them to delve deeper underground, bring them to new countries and continents they may not know exist, and discover people, cultures, and stories to take along with them on their travels, perhaps to retell with a twist.

Characteristics: This thirst for the new is the only link connecting all bards. Some bards are militant individuals, using their naturally tapped powers to lead parties or even armies. Others are meddling tricksters, obsessed with their own ability to manipulate others. As driven as bards are to acquire knowledge, most are equally driven to share this knowledge. Their epic tales and heartbreaking songs unlock music’s potent ability to touch the soul.

Alignment: A bard’s musical abilities are dictated by their disposition. A bard can be of any alignment, but certain alignments tend to match up more often with certain bardic music schools. Lawful bards are usually rousing bards, leaders in combat and in the war room, or warchant bards, battlefield marchers loyal to the death and supportive of their fellow soldier. Neutral bards are usually sentry bards, borderline savages linked with animals and influenced by nature’s ambiance. Chaotic bards tend to te mesmerizing bards, slippery types that play with the minds of others, or minstrel bards, true artists whose antiestablishment attitude helped defined their craft.

Religion: A bard’s view on religious varies from individual to individual. Some are drawn to religion, relating to a sermon’s tendency to use music and boastful speeches to deliver a god’s will. Others are repulsed by it and the blind devotion that faith represents.

Background: Music can be learned, and it can also be inside of people. Some spend years honing their craft in a bard school, studying the subtlety of pitch and the history of song. Others are simply born with a voice that can make angles weep. It is not unheard of for a bard to take on an adventuring career completely unaware of his ability to influence others; things just tend to go their way.

Races: Most bards are from city-dwelling races that appreciate music as an art form, but bards of one type or another can be found in almost every intelligent race. Rousing bards are common among dwarves, with their powerful voices and great confidence. Most savage races like half-orcs and wood elves have sentry bards keeping watch on the villages or scouting ahead of the tribe’s hunters. Mesmerizing bards compliment gnomes’ natural illusion affinity. Orcs love having a Warchant bard lead a horde on the move. Humans enjoy the company of a minstrel bard to keep them entertained and let others know of their great conquests.

Other Classes: A bard’s best friend is a patient warrior. A beefy, brawny, fighter makes the most of a bard’s combat bonuses, and is easiest to manipulate. It goes without saying that a bard loves an easily-convinced ally. Bards have more in common with sorcerers than they do with wizards, but wizards can do so much that a bard cannot. A bard has a bit of healing magic, meaning it can relieve a cleric’s burden after a fight, and a cleric can use its magic in more varied ways. The only class that clashes with the bard is the rogue. A flamboyant musician singing on a battlefield does not blend well with a rogue’s sly tactics.

Role: The bard brings out the most in its allies. Tactically, it is at home right in the middle of the party so its area songs can affect the most allies, and so it is not in the thick of combat but not so far away so to be a non-factor in melee. A bard’s high charisma makes him an ideal leader or spokesperson.


The bard has the following game statistics:

Alignment: Any

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), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), 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 (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (None), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Additionally, the bard gets a set of skills exclusive to the class, Bardic Perform skills. There are five Bardic Perform skills, one for each Bardic Music School: Perform (Sentry Bard); Perform (Rousing Bard); Perform (Mesmerizing Bard); Perform (Warchant Bard); Perform (Minstrel Bard).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Int modifier) x4

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Int modifier


Table B1: The Bard        
Level Base Fort Ref Will Special
Attack Bonus Save Save Save
1st +0 0 2 2 Bardic music, Martial Weapon Proficiency
2nd +1 0 3 3 Speciality +1
3rd +2 1 3 3 Bardic knowledge
4th +3 1 4 4 Piece de Resistance 1/day
5th +3 1 4 4 Spell Song
6th +4 2 5 5 Inspiration and Influence – 1st lvl 
7th +5 2 5 5 Ambitious Imitation 1st lvl
8th +6/+1 2 6 6 Speciality +2
9th +6/+1 3 6 6 Martial Weapon Proficiency
10th +7/+2 3 7 7 Piece-de-Resistance 2/day
11th +8/+3 3 7 7 Interlude
12th +9/+4 4 8 8 Inspiration and Influence – 3rd lvl
13th +9/+4 4 8 8 Ambitious Imitation 3rd lvl
14th +10/+5 4 9 9 Speciality +3
15th +11/+6/+1 5 9 9 Martial Weapon Proficiency
16th +12/+7/+2 5 10 10 Piece-de-Resistance 3/day
17th +12/+7/+2 5 10 10 Encore
18th +13/+8/+3 6 11 11 Inspiration and Influence – 6th lvl
19th +14/+9/+4 6 11 11 Ambitious Imitation 6th lvl
20th +15/+10/+5 6 12 12 Musical Oneness, Speciality +4


Table B2: Bard Spells                    
Level Spells per Day Spells Known
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st 2 4
2nd 3 0 5 2*
3rd 3 1 6 3
4th 3 2 0 6 3 2*
5th 3 3 1 6 4 3
6th 3 3 2 6 4 3
7th 3 3 2 0 6 4 4 2*
8th 3 3 3 1 6 4 4 3
9th 3 3 2 0 6 4 4 3
10th 3 3 3 2 0 6 4 4 4 2*
11th 3 3 3 3 1 6 4 4 4 3
12th 3 3 3 3 2 6 4 4 4 3
13th 3 3 3 3 2 0 6 4 4 4 4 2*
14th 4 3 3 3 3 1 6 4 4 4 4 3
15th 4 3 3 3 3 2 6 4 4 4 4 3
16th 4 4 4 3 3 2 0 6 5 4 4 4 4 2*
17th 4 4 4 4 3 3 1 6 5 5 4 4 4 3
18th 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 6 5 5 5 4 4 3
19th 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 6 5 5 5 5 4 4
20th 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 6 5 5 5 5 5 4
*Provided the bard has a high enough Charisma score to have a bonus spell of this level.



All of the following are class features of the bard.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency: A bard is proficient with all simple weapons, light armor, and shields (except tower shields). 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, which are drawn from the bard spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. 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. 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 Table B2: Bard Spells. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score. When Table B2: Bard Spells indicates that the bard gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, 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 five 0-level spells and one 1st level spell of your choice. At most new bard levels, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table B2: Bard Spells. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a bard knows is not affected by his Charisma score; the numbers on Table B2: Bard Spells are fixed.)

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered sorcerer level after that (6th, 8th, 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. 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.

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 also be activated by reciting poetry, chanting, singing lyrical songs, singing melodies, 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 associated Perform skill to qualify; if a bard does not have the required number of ranks in an associated 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 unless the song specifically says otherwise. 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), spell trigger (such as wands), or command word. At fifth level, the bard learns to cast and sing at the same time. At 11th level, the bard learns to pause his song for a round to make an attack or skill check.

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.

Martial Weapon Proficiency: As dabblers in all subjects, bards are rarely limited to just the basics. This is as true about their casting as it is about their weapon proficiency. You gain Martial Weapon Proficiency as a bonus feat. The martial weapon chosen must be light or one-handed; you may not use this bonus feat be gain proficiency with a two-handed martial weapon. You gain an additional Martial Weapon Proficiency at 9th level and again at 15th level. Each time it is applied to a different light or one-handed martial weapon.

Speciality: All bards show a preference towards a certain instrument. Even if they are equally capable of playing any instrument handed to them, there is always one that speaks to them more personally. It isn’t a tool for playing notes to them, it is a channel for all of music’s possibilities.

At 2nd level, choose one bardic music school in which you have maximum ranks. This is your Speciality. You gain one additional use of bardic music per day to be used on a song from the school of your speciality and an additional use per day every six bard levels thereafter. A new skill is added to your class skill list. If you have no ranks in any other perform skill, you gain a unique speciality ability.

Bardic Knowledge: You may not live with your nose in a book, but you do keep your ear to the ground. Knowing a pinch of lemon really brings out a cheap ale’s tang could prove as useful as knowing that Princess Violet had an affair with a stable boy, even if you don’t know who Princess Violet is. Starting at 3rd level, you may make a special bardic knowledge check with a bonus equal to your bard level + your Intelligence modifier to see whether you know some relevant information on any topic presented to you. 

Any time a knowledge check can be made, a Bardic Knowledge check can substitute the actual knowledge skill the situation calls for. For example, you can use Bardic Knowledge in place of Knowledge (Religion) to recognize a holy symbol. DCs for Bardic Knowledge checks are always 5 higher than a standard knowledge skill check.

Piece de Resistance: A bard hears music in everything: Wind blowing through leaves; A cobbler hammering shoe nails; Bow strings being pulled back and launching arrows into a creature’s flesh. Starting at 4th level, once per day as a full round action, you may make a Bardic Perform check instead of an attack roll to hit in combat. You can use this ability more times per day at 10th and 16th level, as noted on Table B1: The Bard.

Spell Song: Bards are masters of subtly, music, and magic. Starting at 5th level, you can perform verbal and somatic components of a spells as you sing, allowing you to cast a spell and concentrate on a song in the same round. You can not cast a spell the same round you activate Bardic Music.

Influence and Inspiration: A bard leads a busy life. He entertains crowds, heals the sick, leads adventuring parties down dangerous paths, and –more often than not- saves damsels in distress. It is hard to be an expert on everything and keep up on the latest spells. Luckily, a bard doesn’t just pick up juicy rumours in crowds and interesting insights from his surroundings. A bard can learn new spells by watching others cast them, spells a bard normally couldn’t cast.

Beginning at 6th level, you can temporarily learn a new spell you have witnessed. Whenever you are aware of a spell being cast within 30 feet, you can make a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + spell level + 5 if it is not on the bard spell list) as an immediate action to learn the spell for one day. You can learn a number of spells in this way up to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1). You can learn a spell up to the level listed in Table B1: The Bard (1st level spells at 6th level, 3rd level spells at 12th level, and 6th level spells at 18th level). If you attempt to learn a spell higher than the highest level spell you can learn, the attempt automatically fails.

Ambitious Imitation: Starting at 7th level, you can make a psicraft check to learn psionic powers as though they were arcane spells. Ambitious Imitation works the same as influence and inspirations. Any psionic powers learned count towards the maximum number of spells a bard can learn from influence and inspirations.

Interlude: Beginning at 11th level, you learn to interrupt your bardic music for one round without stopping your performance. During that round, you may perform any action that requires less than one full round to perform, such as an attack or a skill check. If you return to singing the same song the following round, you do not expend a use of barding music. Interlude can only be used once during a bardic music performance.

Encore: Failure does not slow a bard’s resolve. Beginning at 17th level, when you  fail a skill check or attack roll, or when a spell or bardic music has been resisted, you have a better chance of succeeding on your next attempt. Any round in which you attempts an action that failed the previous round, you gain a +2 insight bonus on your next attempt (for skill checks and attack rolls) or a +2 insight bonus to the DC of the spell or song cast.

The circumstances must be exactly the same. For example, if you failed an open lock skill check to unlock a chest, you only gain a +2 insight bonus the next round if you are opening the exact same chest, not merely the next chest or another chest of the same design. Similarly, if you failed to charm someone with a charm person spell, you only add 2 to the DC of your next spell if you are casting charm person (not charm monster or another similar spell) against the same target.

You can attempt an encore even if your bardic music states that if a creature’s saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt the bardic music on that creature again for 24 hours.

Musical Oneness: After a career of tapping into music’s full magical potential, a bard becomes a being of pure musical energy.

Beginning at 20th level, your type changes to outsider and you become incorporeal. At will, you can turn into a being of colour and light or pitch darkness. A good bard radiates light as though the subject of a daylight spell. An evil bard absorbs light as though the subject of a darkness spell, however you ignore the concealment of any creatures within your lightless dome. Neutral bards may choose whether to create a light radius or a darkness radius when they activate Musical Oneness. Musical Oneness can be activated and deactivated at will. Activating and deactivating Musical Oneness is an immediate action.


Bardic Schools of Music

A bardic school of music is one of five groupings of bardic musics, each defined by a common theme. A bard may study any or all five schools, although this requires a great deal of dedication.

All bards choose a single school as his speciality, focusing slightly more on that aspect of his performances (see above). If desired, a bard may choose to exclude all schools of bardic musics but his speciality, unlocking abilities exclusive to that school.

The five bardic schools of music, and the Perform skill associated with each, are:

Mesmerizing : Perform (Mesmerizing Bard)

Minstrel : Perform (Minstrel Bard)

Rousing : Perform (Rousing Bard)

Sentry : Perform (Sentry Bard)

Warchant : Perform (Warchant Bard)

Jefferson Thacker

Before Perram joined Know Direction as the show’s first full time co-host, the podcast could have best been describe as a bunch of Pathfinder RPG stuff. Perram brings a knowledge of and love for Golarion to Know Direction, something any Pathfinder podcast is lacking without. On top of being a man on the pulse of the Pathfinder campaign setting, Perram is the founder of the superlative site for Pathfinder spellcasters, Perram’s Spellbook, a free web application that creates customized spell cards.

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