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Old Screeds

The Bardic Caster: Selecting Spells [17 Nov 04]

The style, power, and capability of your bard PC is determined in large part by spell selection. Bards, like sorcerers, can spontaneously cast any spell they know, but the number they know is quite limited. Therefore, pick with care!

To maximize your bard’s potential, note that bards get some spells at a lower level than other casters get the same spell. For example Hideous Laughter (Called "Tasha’s Hideous Laughter" in the printed Players Handbook) is a second level wizard/sorcerer spell, but a first level spell for a bard. In my opinion, it is the bard’s best first level attack spell.

In fact, most of what I think are the best bard spells are those that the bard gets a level "early." In fact, the bard gets a handful of spells two levels early! Those are marked in bold below.

Here is a list of those "early gets" (including bard-only spells that compare in power (Glibness) and omitting weak bard-only spells (Lesser Confusion)). The next best class and level of the spell is noted in parentheses.

  • Level 1: Hideous Laughter (W2), Magic Mouth (W2), Obscure Object (W2), Undetectable Alignment (C2)
  • Level 2: Heroism (W3), Rage (W3), Suggestion (W3), Tongues (C3, W3)
  • Level 3: Charm Monster (W4), Confusion (W4), Crushing Despair (W4), Fear (W4), Lesser Geas (W4), Glibness (Bard only), Good Hope (Bard Only), Scrying (W4), Sculpt Sound (Bard only)
  • Level 4: Break Enchantment (P4, W5, C5), Dominate Person (W5), Hold Monster (W5), Legend Lore (W6), Modify Memory (Bard only), Zone of Silence (Bard only).
  • Level 5: Greater Dispel Magic (W6, C6), Greater Heroism (W6), Mislead (W6), Shadow Walk (W6), Song of Discord (Bard only), Mass Suggestion (W6)
  • Level 6: Mass Charm Monster (W8), Irresistible Dance (W8), Project Image (W7), Greater Scrying (C7, W7), Greater Shout (W8), Sympathetic Vibration (Bard only)

Note that most powerful attack spells at each level are Enchantments. If you choose to focus on them, make sure your Charisma is high (to boost spell DCs) and consider Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus in Enchantment.

Now, with all that said, you may not want to maximize your bard for potency. You may want to play an illusionist bard (a nice choice for gnomes), a healer bard (it's nifty to be the only arcane healer), or a sonic evoker. These and other choices can be great fun both to play and role-play.

This is the first part of a series on bards. Next week -- Why bards are better than wizards and sorcerers!

Home | This page last modified: 17 Nov 2004