Iconic Design — PF2E Bard

Hello, everyone!

We’ve had Pathfinder Second Edition for about a month now, but no Pathfinder Second Edition Iconic Designs! Simply put, this is due to the fact that it takes FOREVER to write a Second Edition iconic design. There’s just so much to account for over 20 levels, in fact there’s so much that I might end up cutting the level from 20 to 12. Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that my friend Julia is looking to start an actual play podcast next year, and this is my current character sketch for the character I’m going to play in that campaign. When building him, I wanted to try and get as close to a Steven Universe build as possible (hence the title image), so let’s see what I’ve manged to do!

Build Concept

  • Ability Scores

    • Str 14; Dex 14; Con 10; Int 12; Wis 10; Cha 18
    • 5th Level: Str, Dex, Con, Cha
    • 10th Level: Str, Dex, Con, Cha
    • 15th Level: Con, Int Wis Cha
    • 20th Level: Con, Int, Wis, Cha
  • Ancestry

    • Human
    • Skilled (Diplomacy)
    • Feats: General Training: Shield Block (1st), Clever Improviser (5th), Incredible Improvisation (9th), Cooperative Nature (13th), Cooperative Soul (17th)
  • Background

    • Entertainer
    • Ability Boosts: Charisma, Intelligence (free)
    • Feat: Fascinating Performance (1st)
  • Class

    • Bard (Fighter)
    • Class Feats: Lingering Performance (Muse; 1st); Fighter Dedication (2nd); Inspire Defense (4th); Harmonize (6th); Inspire Heroics (8th); Basic Maneuver: Reactive Shield (10th); Advanced Maneuver: Shield Warden (12th); allegro (14th); Advanced Maneuver: Quick Shield Block (16th); Eternal Composition (18th); Symphony of the Muses (20th)
    • General Feats: Sign Language (3rd); Read Lips (7th); Canny Acumen: Fortitude (11th); Fleet (15th); Feather Step (19th)
    • Composition
      • Cantrips: inspire courage (1st), inspire defense (4th), allegro (14th)
      • Spells: counter performance (1st)
    • Spells
      • 10th (2): alter reality, time stop
      • 9th (3): foresight, unfathomable song, wail of the banshee
      • 8th (3): dream council, spirit song (signature), teleport
      • 7th (3): possession, prismatic spray, retrocognition (signature)
      • 6th (3): collective transposition (signature), zealous conviction, teleport
      • 5th (3): cloak of colors, death wardshadow blast (signature)
      • 4th (3): dimension door (signature), fly, telepathy
      • 3rd (3): haste, heroism (signature), invisibility sphere
      • 2nd (3): dispel magic, hideous laughter, restoration (signature)
      • 1st (3): soothe (Muse, Signature), color spray, magic missile, sanctuary
      • Cantrips (5) daze, forbidding ward, guidance, mage hand, shield
  • Skills

    • Background Skills: Performance, Theater Lore
    • Class Skills: Acrobatics (reassigned from Performance), Athletics, Deception, Medicine, Occultism, Society, Stealth
    • Other Skills: Diplomacy (Heritage)
    • Skill Increases: Performance to Expert (3rd); Diplomacy to Expert (Heritage, 5th);  Society to Expert (5th); Performance to Master (7th); Diplomacy to Master (9th); Society to Master (11th); Stealth to Expert (13th); Performance to Legendary (15th); Diplomacy to Legendary (17th); Stealth to Master (19th)
    • Skill Feats: Group Impression (2nd); Glad Hand (4th); Virtuosic Performance, Sing (6th); Powerful Leap (8th); Cat Fall (10th); Continual Recovery (12th); Hobnobber (14th); Legendary Performer (16th); Legendary Negotiator (18th); Swift Sneak (20th)

Play Guide

Okay, wow. That’s even MORE stuff then I thought once you type it all out!

The basic idea is that this is a bard with a shield. I went human so I could grab the Shield Block feat at 1st level by taking the General Training human feat, then at 2nd level when there were no bard feats I wanted I picked up Fighter Dedication to get a much-needed boost to my attacks. Plus free martial weapon proficiency; always nice! As my build levels up, its feats are mostly focused on combining composition cantrips together to maximize the amount of buffing I can do for my allies. I also manage to pick up Shield Warden, which lets me use my Shield Block to protect my allies. Between that and inspire heroics combined with inspire defense, I can end up maxing out at +5 to AC to an ally by 17th level, which is pretty handy. Additionally, I have useful tricks like forbidding ward (which I could use in a boss fight to give an ally more AC) and cooperative spirit, which helps when I decide to aid others.

My spells are mostly themed around buffing and healing, but I tried to pick up some neat Steven Universe style tricks where I could. For example, things like dream council and possession are abilities Steven uses in the show, and I also thought that teleport was a cute way to do the gem teleportation pads. My skill feats and increases are mostly geared to make my character a singing diplomatic god with a few other helpful skills in there, like Society or Stealth.

Overall I’m pretty satisfied with this build, but I think that this article sort of reveals some issues that PF2 has — there’s really no way to do a simple character design. This article took me hours to write, and while I’m sure it’ll get easier in time the hyper compartmentalization of options sort of led to this difficulty. It was difficult to go step-by-step in making a high-level character because I had to constantly go back and revise choices I made based on new information. For example, I wanted to take Unconventional Improviser (a 3rd level feat), but I found out that if I waited until 5th level I could take it as a human ancestry feat and get that same feat, but better. This might not be as big of an issue in play, as the book has a general rule somewhere that states if a new option gives you something you already have, you basically can free retrain the old option. (I can’t remember where in that 600 page goliath the rule is, however.) However, this makes actually writing an article tough due to all the cross-referencing. Plus I basically NEED to tell you my skills, as I need to make sure that I qualify for things when I say I qualify for them.

So yeah, not sure if I’m going to do this again. We’ll see! Next time I’m going to do a starfinder build for Luis Loza’s adorable otterfolk! (Assuming I get my subscriber’s PDF before next week; I’M STILL WAITING! D:) 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 Alexs Twitter, @AlJAug.

Creative Commons Credit: TITLE by NAME

Alex Augunas

Alexander "Alex" Augunas is an author and behavioral health worker living outside of Philadelphia in the United States. He has contributed to gaming products published by Paizo, Inc, Kobold Press, Legendary Games, Raging Swan Press, Rogue Genius Games, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as the owner and publisher of Everybody Games (formerly Everyman Gaming). At the Know Direction Network, he is the author of Guidance and a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond. You can see Alex's exploits at http://www.everybodygames.net, or support him personally on Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/eversagarpg.