Iconic Design: Can’t Get Enough Assistance!

Welcome to Iconic Design, Private Sanctuary’s source for innovative and evocative character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, Alex is going to be sharing his tentative Reign of Winter bard build.

Usually by the time I’ve shared a build with you, I have most of the kinks out of it. Well today, for the Holiday Season, you’re going to get something COMPLETELY different. This is a build that is super off-the-presses. Even more interestingly, this is a build that I designed not for PFS, but for an Adventure Path that I’m currently playing in: Reign of Winter. As a result, you’ll get to see a little bit of my “planning for the party” mentality as I design this character. And yes, before you ask, I’m a kitsune. Did you really think I’d be anything else when the Player’s Guide says, “This is a great AP to play non-Core races in?” Of course not. Let’s get to it!

Build Concept

Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.

  • Bard: I really wanted to be a skill focused support character for Reign of Winter, and I’ve always wanted to play a bard.
  • Cavalier (Daring Champion): About the time I decided that I actually wanted to play a battle herald, not just a bard, I realized something really silly that I could do that really changed my build’s focus. That silly thing is daring champion. I don’t plan on taking many levels of cavalier (just two for the aid allies order ability), but daring champion does the thing I want at Level 1; it trades the mount class feature (what I would consider a huge liability in Reign of Winter) for champion’s finesse, which is basically swashbuckler’s finesse. Since I’m already getting “Weapon Finesse” for free, that left me with two options: focus on Dex-based melee or dip into ranged combat. My party has a dedicated Dex damage dealing (an unchained rogue, soon to be multiclassed into swashbuckler) as well as a dedicated archer (one of those terrifying two-bow kathasa rangers), so I decided that being the guy who was passable in both would be a fun niche for me in melee.
  • Battle Herald: If you couldn’t tell, I really like this prestige class. Not to mention that all the best aid another builds use the battle herald because of the teamwork inspiring command.

All right, that’s the bones for you. Now let’s look at the meat.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: bard 5 / cavalier (daring champion) 2
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Covering Fire (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Arcane Strike (5th), Combat Expertise (7th)
  • Abilities: bardic knowledge, bardic performance (countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +2, inspire courage +5), challenge 1/day, champion’s finesse, lore master 1/day, order of the dragon, tactician, versatile performance, well versed
  • Order Abilities: aid allies (2nd)
  • Versatile Performance: sing (2nd)
  • Bard 2nd-Level Spells Known (3): gallant inspiration, hold person, mirror image
  • Bard 1st-Level Spells Known (4): charm person, ear-piercing scream, liberating command, saving finale
  • Bard Cantrips Known (6): detect magic, mending, prestidigitation, read magic, sift, spark

At low-levels, most of the game is setting up the basic components to the build. Point-Blank Shot and Precise Shot are vital to anyone even thinking about attacking at range, Arcane Strike is excellent for its interactions with the gloves of arcane mastery, and I’m picking up Combat Expertise to qualify for an ability I’m taking at 8th level (see mid levels). The interesting feat in this grouping, however, is Covering Fire, my tactician bonus feat. Covering Fire allows me to use ranged attacks when making aid another attempts, even against opponents that I don’t threaten. Basically, when making an aid another attempt, I pick one ally and make the check. If I succeed, my chosen ally gains my aid another bonus against the next attack made by whatever opponent I’ve chosen. And yes, as implied Covering Fire only works on aid another attempts made to boost AC. Now, what’s really nice is that the benefit that I’ve just mentioned doesn’t actually NEED my chosen ally to have Covering Fire to work. I can simply choose an ally, grant it the bonus, and be on my way if I roll 10 or better. So why is this a teamwork feat? Because if my allies have Covering Fire, I automatically grant THEM the benefits of my aid another attempt too.

So yes, if I use tactician, my entire party gains the feat. Which means my entire party gains the AC bonus from my aid another attempt. Fan. Freaking. Tastic. Sure, it only lasts for a couple of rounds (I’m only a Level 2 cavalier for now), but an ability like this in the right build can completely shut down an enemy in the right combat. Which we’ll see more of in later levels….

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: bard 7 / cavalier (daring champion) 2/ battle herald 5
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Covering Fire (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Arcane Strike (5th), Combat Expertise (7th), Lingering Performance (9th), Swift Aid (11th), Virtuous Creed: protection (13th)
  • Abilities: banner, bardic knowledge, bardic performance (countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +3, inspire courage +5, suggestion), challenge 1/day, champion’s finesse, easy march, improved leadership, inspire greatness, inspiring command +2, lore master 1/day, order of the dragon, tactician, versatile performance, voice of authority, well versed
  • Bardic Masterpieces: Battle Song of the People’s Revolt: Harrying Partners (6th)
  • Inspiring Commands: teamwork (1st), sound the charge (3rd), shake it off (5th)
  • Order Abilities: aid allies (2nd)
  • Versatile Performance: sing (2nd), oratory (6th)
  • Bard 3rd-Level Spells Known (2): coordinated effort, haste
  • Bard 2nd-Level Spells Known (4): gallant inspiration, hold person, mirror image, Battle Song of the People’s Revolt
  • Bard 1st-Level Spells Known (5): charm person, ear-piercing scream, liberating command, saving finale
  • Bard Cantrips Known (6): detect magic, mending, prestidigitation, read magic, sift, spark

First big note: yes, I took the coordinated effort spell. It’s the only reason I made sure to go up to bard 7 with this build. When I’m out of tactician, I want to be able to spread my awesome teamwork feat, after all. Second, yes. I traded one of my 2nd level bard spells known for Battle Song of the People’s Revolt. It HAD to be the 2nd level spell slot gained at 6th level because at that point I have precisely the right base attack bonus to meet the feat’s prerequisites. Not I can use a bardic masterpiece to grant my allies Harrying Partners, which means that any aid another bonus that I grant lasts until the start of my next turn. Combined with Covering Fire and coordinated effort, I can very easily grant three separate characters a substantial AC bonus against all attacks a specific opponent makes until the start of my next turn.

Now, as I mentioned before, my party has a kathasa bow nomad ranger. This is basically an alien who fights with two bows, combining archery with two-weapon fighting. Imagine being able to use an insane aid another combo on this character to grant it massive bonuses to hit (via Harrying Partners, which requires the Combat Expertise feat that I took at 7th level). Currently it isn’t clear whether I can maintain a bardic performance and a bardic masterpiece at the same time, but I can 100% maintain an inspiring command while benefiting from a bardic performance via the Lingering Performance feat, which basically assures that I can have the teamwork inspiring command and my Harrying Partners feat active at the same time. Its going to stick to have to wait a level to have both, but such is the nature of progression.

The other new additions from the battle herald are basically the same as those from Friday’s build. The same several inspiring commands shine, and I took the same feats for the same reasons. With nothing else to say, let’s look at the end game to see how this build wraps up.

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: bard 8 / cavalier (daring champion) 2/ battle herald 10
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Covering Fire (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Arcane Strike (5th), Lingering Performance (7th), Combat Expertise (9th), Swift Aid (11th), Virtuous Creed: protection (13th), FREEBIE (Bonus), Scribe Scroll (15th), Improved Precise Shot (17th), Extra Performance (19th)
  • Abilities: banner, bardic knowledge, bardic performance (countersong, dirge of doom, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +3, inspire courage +5, suggestion), challenge 1/day, champion’s finesse, complex commands, demanding challenge, easy march, improved leadership, inspire greatness, inspire last stand, inspiring command +4, lore master 1/day, order of the dragon, persistent commands, tactician, versatile performance, voice of authority, well versed
  • Bardic Masterpieces: Battle Song of the People’s Revolt: Harrying Partners (6th)
  • Inspiring Commands: teamwork (1st), sound the charge (3rd), shake it off (5th), none shall fall (7th), keep your heads (9th)
  • Order Abilities: aid allies (2nd)
  • Versatile Performance: sing (2nd), oratory (6th)
  • Bard 3rd-Level Spells Known (3): coordinated effort, haste, fly
  • Bard 2nd-Level Spells Known (4): gallant inspiration, hold person, mirror image, Battle Song of the People’s Revolt
  • Bard 1st-Level Spells Known (5): charm person, ear-piercing scream, liberating command, saving finale
  • Bard Cantrips Known (6): detect magic, mending, prestidigitation, read magic, sift, spark

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary here. I am taking Scribe Scroll so I can make myself some scrolls of coordinated effort (though I might do Craft Wand instead because I’ll have the gold at that level and casting per casting, wands are more cost effective than scrolls). After that, I’m just taking feats that I * might * need. My build is basically complete when I get the ability to have Harrying Partners and the teamwork inspiring command up at the same time.

At 14th level, I get a bonus teamwork feat from my battle herald class. I haven’t decided what I want to do with it yet; I might take Harrying Partners so I can spread the feat via coordinated effort without needing to start a performance to get it. I we also have a rogue and a bloodrager in the party, so I might take Outflank just to buff those characters on occasion. We’ll see. For all I know Reign of Winter will be over at 14th level, after all.

Before I sign off with this build, I thought I’d show the magic items that make this build possible as well as the bonuses it provides. Its basically the same as what I listed for my previous build (Friday’s), but with one exception:

  • Gloves of Arcane Striking: You can add the damage bonus from the Arcane Strike feat to the bonus that you provide to allies with aid another. If you choose AC, you add the damage bonus from the feat to the aided ally’s AC. If you choose attack, your ally adds the damage bonus from the feat to the damage of its attack, should it hit.
  • With that, let’s see where this build is in assisting:
  • Early Levels: AC +5 (aid allies +1, gloves of arcane striking +2), ATK +4 (aid allies +1, benevolent weapon +1)
  • Mid Levels: AC +9 (aid allies +1, gloves of arcane striking +2, ring of tactical precision +2, Virtuous Creed +2, inspiring command +2), ATK +8 (aid allies +1, ring of tactical precision +1, benevolent weapon +2, inspiring command +2)
  • End Game: AC +13 (aid allies +1, gloves of arcane striking +2, ring of tactical precision +2, Virtuous Creed +2, inspiring command +4), ATK +11 (aid allies +1, ring of tactical precision +1, benevolent weapon +5, inspiring command +4)

That’s just NASTY.

Thanks for joining me for Iconic Design! Normally today we’d have an installment of Guidance for you to enjoy, but doing all Iconic Designs during the week of the holidays is something of a tradition for me. Make sure you come back next week for another installment of Guidance. In the meantime, what do you think of this build? I haven’t 100% cemented myself to it, so any thoughts and ideas that you might have are definitely interesting to me. I’d like to make a special shout-out to my fellow Philadelphia PFS player Greg E for giving me the idea for this build (he has a bard who is VERY similar to this one), as well as to Robyn A for running Reign of Winter for us. Also, my friend and VL James McTeague is moving from Philadelphia this week, giving up the role of Philadelphia VL and instead becoming a VO for Online Organized Play. No matter where you go, friend, please remember that you’ll be missed and remembered fondly!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander Augunas lives outside of Philadelphia, USA where he tries to make a living as an educator. When he's not shaping the future leaders of tomorrow, Alex is a freelance writer for esteemed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game publishers such as Paizo, Inc, Radiance House, Raging Swan Press, and more, and also acts as a co-host and blogger on the Know Direction Network, where he has earned the nickname, "The Everyman Gamer." Recently, Alex has forayed into the realm of self-publishing through his company, Everyman Gaming, LLC.

1 Comment

  1. ok this is even better than the last one 🙂 I love aid another builds

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