Iconic Design: The Spooniest Fox You’ll Meet

Ap 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, we’re going to be looking at a build for Alex’s Reign of Winter bard.

Hello and welcome to another installment of Iconic Design.

We at the Know Direction Network absolutely LOVE Adventure Paths, and most of us are involved in one or more of them. Currently, James Ballod and I are playing in Reign of Winter with a group of mutual friends, and today I’ve decided to share my bard build for Iconic Design.

As always, please remember that my personal builds are subject to more change then most that I do; they often reflect my current thoughts on mechanics and abilities at the time, but those may change based upon the needs of the adventure or new products that come out between now and the next time that I gain a level. With that in mind, let’s dive right in to the build!

Build Concept

I actually had a couple of rules in mind when I built Zanzo Xitan, my bard. You ready for them?

  • Bard: I wanted to play a bard because I love skills and we had no arcane spellcasters in our group. But also because I enjoy making my enemies better and having neat tricks up my sleeve. Bard is pretty good for that!
  • NO ARCHETYPES: I absolutely REFUSED to take archetypes for this build. Why? I wanted bardic knowledge and versatile performance. That requirement basically knocks out 4/5ths of bard archetypes in the game. (See Monday’s Gibbering Mouth on bard archetypes and variety for more info for my thoughts on this subject.)

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get started!

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: bard 7
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Rapid Shot (5th), Arcane Strike (7th)
  • Abilities: bardic knowledge, bardic performance (countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +3, inspire courage +2, suggestion), lore master 1/day, versatile performance well-versed
  • Versatile Performance: sing (2nd), string (6th)
  • Bard 3rd-Level Spells Known (2): dispel magic, haste
  • Bard 2nd-Level Spells Known (4): glitterdust, grease, heroism, hold person
  • Bard 1st-Level Spells Known (5): charm person, ear-piercing scream, grease, liberating command, hideous laughter, saving finale
  • Bard Cantrips Known (6): detect magic, mage hand, mending, prestidigitation, read magic, sift

My basic strategy when playing a spellcaster is to have an answer for every occasion, which typically means, “Have a spell that someone is vulnerable to.” Looking at my list, my big choices are hold person/hideous laughter, grease, and ear-piercing scream. Grease lets me REALLY ruin a fighter’s day by making him drop his weapon, while ear-piercing scream has a pretty good shot at dazing an enemy spellcaster. Hold person and hideous laughter allow me to stop enemies from acting.

Aside from those spells, I picked up several buff spells (heroism is my big one, but I also like saving finale and liberating command) as well as glitterdust, because we have no way of countering invisibility in our party, but unlike see invisibility, glitterdust has practical applications for fighting anything via blinding it and preventing Stealth. For my versatile performance, I decided my character was a singer, and I actually try (poorly) to sing in character when I can. Even though it isn’t a great combo, I took strings as my second performance because they made sense to me from a story standpoint; what can I say, I like the string/bow string combo!

Speaking of that, archery. I really like archer bards because it lets me stay in the back and cast spells while still having something to contribute if I want to fight. I can’t see archery staying a high priority for this character, but its fun while it lasts!

Not much else to talk about in the mid levels; let’s move on.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: bard 14
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Rapid Shot (5th), Arcane Strike (7th), Leadership (9th), Manyshot (11th), Lingering Performance (13th)
  • Abilities: bardic knowledge, bardic performance (countersong, dirge of doom, distraction, fascinate, frightening tune, inspire competence +4, inspire courage +3, inspire greatness, soothing performance, suggestion), jack-of-all-trades, lore master 2/day, versatile performance well-versed
  • Versatile Performance: sing (2nd), string (6th), dance (10th), comedy (14th)
  • Bard 5th-Level Spells Known (3): bard’s escape, greater harrowing, shadowbard
  • Bard 4th-Level Spells Known (4): freedom of movement, hold monster, greater invisibility, truespeak
  • Bard 3rd-Level Spells Known (5): daylight, dispel magic, harrowing, haste, jester’s jaunt
  • Bard 2nd-Level Spells Known (6): glitterdust, grease, heroism, hold person, sense vitals, silence
  • Bard 1st-Level Spells Known (6): charm person, ear-piercing scream, grease, liberating command, hideous laughter, saving finale
  • Bard Cantrips Known (6): detect magic, mage hand, mending, prestidigitation, read magic, sift

Mid levels gets cool for my bard, mostly because I get a bunch of neat utility spells, like freedom of movement, daylight, and haste. Jester’s haunt is pretty cool because not only can I move enemies, but I can even move allies or even myself. It’s a very useful ability with a lot of utility that you get a full spell level before dimension door. Speaking of dimension door, I chose to hold out for bard’s escape, because that spell is AWESOME. Its basically a GTFO card, and my party is TOTALLY going to need that to survive Reign of Winter. I also picked up some neat spells, like sense vitals, dispel magic, and harrowing (Zanzo is a Varisian kitsune, so it fits).

In terms of feats, I picked Leadership because APs give you TONS of opportunities to recruit cool characters (maybe I’ll recruit that winter wolf character…), and it seems cool for that reason. I also grabbed Manyshot because its an awesome archery feat as well as Lingering Performance because its arguably one of the best bard feats in the game.

With that in mind, let’s check out the endgame!

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: bard 20
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Rapid Shot (5th), Arcane Strike (7th), Leadership (9th), Manyshot (11th), Lingering Performance (13th), Harmonic Spell (15th), Clustered Shot (17th), FREEBIE (19th)
  • Abilities: bardic knowledge, bardic performance (countersong, deadly performance, dirge of doom, distraction, fascinate, frightening tune, inspire competence +6, inspire courage +4, inspire greatness, inspire heroics, mass suggestion, soothing performance, suggestion), jack-of-all-trades, lore master 3/day, versatile performance well-versed
  • Versatile Performance: sing (2nd), string (6th), dance (10th), comedy (14th), ANY (18th)
  • Bard 6th-Level Spells Known (5): brilliant inspiration, greater scrying, greater shout, mass cure moderate wounds, pied piping
  • Bard 5th-Level Spells Known (5): bard’s escape, greater grease, greater harrowing, heroic finale, resonating word, shadowbard
  • Bard 4th-Level Spells Known (6): breat enchantment, freedom of movement, hold monster, greater invisibility, truespeak, ANY ONE
  • Bard 3rd-Level Spells Known (6): daylight, dispel magic, harrowing, haste, jester’s jaunt, ANY ONE
  • Bard 2nd-Level Spells Known (6): glitterdust, grease, heroism, hold person, sense vitals, silence
  • Bard 1st-Level Spells Known (6): charm person, ear-piercing scream, grease, liberating command, hideous laughter, saving finale
  • Bard Cantrips Known (6): detect magic, mage hand, mending, prestidigitation, read magic, sift

Endgame!

Nothing too fancy here. Again, I’m picking up a bunch of buff spells and make-my-opponents-cry spells, and I’m also focusing more on the performance side of things for my feats. I don’t really have formulated plans for this tier because Reign of Winter ends at 15th level, but if we ever kept playing the characters, I would probably want something like this.

Bard is actually one of those classes that I’m not great at building because bards don’t really have much to go off of (I think most of the bardic masterpieces aren’t worth what you trade for them, for instance). So if you have any thoughts or comments, readers, I’ve love to hear them below. How do you build your bards? What makes bards fun for you? Leave your comments and questions below, and I’ll see you back here on Friday for another installment of Iconic Design! Take care.

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.

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1 Comment

  1. What race? You never mentioned it…also, in the “class” paragraph you mentioned you enjoy “making your enemies better”…I assume you meant ‘allies’ (or possibly ‘bitter’)? Sorry to nitpick, but otherwise I really dig the build!

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