View Full Version : Looking for a new take on teh bard class

September 14th, 2013, 23:32
Hey folks, this is a topic that has come up in my C&C Greyhawk game, and since I'm searching for answers that could easily come from any old school AD&D-ish game system, I figured I's ask here to see if anyone has any insights.

Basically, for me the Bard class in C&C is one of it's weakest points - suffice to say they are mostly a slightly less powerful fighter with a handful of special case abilities. A player and I really scoured through the many alternate Bard classes offered in the Crusader's Companion, and we came up with a bunch of great abilities for the bard that are directly related to their skills in musical and lore... in short:

Perform (basic musical, singing, or theatrical abilities for basic performances)
Gather Information (ability to research subjects both by literary as well as social means, like just asking around, etc.)
Intuit Meaning (understanding the underlying meaning in code, verse, lyrics, religious allegory, etc.)
Fascinate (3rd level; distract someone(s) for some time while performing)
Inspire Emotion (4th level; sort-of an emotional Jedi mind trick for things like 'believe this person' or 'hate this idea' or 'avenge this wrongdoing' etc.; # affected go up with level)

At this point the Abilities start turning more into types of songs, like the Song of Friendship which is basically a Charm spell, the Song of Persuasion which is a Suggestion spell, etc.

The problem is that I really don't want each type of spell to be it's own ability - I really want a spell like set of rules that define the way that Bards can learn and use - and create their own songs. I'd like he nature of the songs based around almost more of an illusion-type of thing. I don't want bards' songs to be really tied to arcane magic at all - it should be more of a charm/illusion type thing, where the music changes the listener's moods, plants ideas, changes outlooks, soothes savage beasts, inspires, changes perceptions of the real world... stuff like that.

Maybe at the higher levels, the beautiful or charming nature of the bard's performance could start bleeding into the realm of almost "faerie magic" where instead of affecting people's perceptions of things, maybe some of it will actually become real. Instead of being transported to a different time or place just mentally, when the songs ends you might find that you've actually traveled somewhere or sometime for real.

I'd like the nature of the songs to just be music and performance - nothing arcane... but the "magical" nature of the performance is what makes the songs work. I imagine Bards treating their songs the way a modern magician treats his illusions or some guitarists treat their "licks": you are somewhat protective of your material and techniques, as it takes a lot of work to perfect your craft... and you might have a trick or technique which is a somewhat signature one that you keep to yourself so you're the *only* one that knows how to do it. I also thing bards might share their craft in a congenial manner with other bards, give each other advice, etc.

I think perhaps many or even most bard songs should be "standards" among bards, kinda like pulling a rabbit out of a hat is for magicians. With music, sometimes the fact that a song is familiar can make a listener more receptive to it, while a new song might be harder for a listener to appreciate at first, but give it greater impact when they do finally get into the tune. With that in mind, I'm thinking that bard songs effects and difficulty of casting (in C&C, it's a Charisma check) should be based on the song being a standard. A new song, or perhaps a complicated or involved song, should have a higher difficulty rating to "cast" upon listeners, but when they are successful, they should have a more potent or powerful effect.

And yet, I don't want the bard primarily powerful for their spell-like abilities, but for their more practical abilities too... a mix of the two, which I think would make for a very interesting semi-spell caster type of class.

I have a clear idea of what I want - actually finding the game material or creating it is another matter!

I'd love to hear any thoughts or examples you have for defining the class this way... I'd *love* examples I could shamelessly steal and apply to my game! Any ideas?

September 15th, 2013, 14:12
I recommend looking at ArM 5ed for inspiration, specifically any spell using the intellego or imaginem descriptor. ArM uses a skill base for casting, meaning you should be able to tie to perform or whatever you like in your game. Some of these are good as spells, others as level based abilities, etc.