Monday, August 26, 2013

Campaign Design - Prestige Classes: Prestige Bard

(from Unearthed Arcana)

The prestige bard is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. She relies on wit, agility, and no small amount of magic to see her through her daring adventures. Virtually all characters who become prestige bards are already multiclass characters, usually mixing rogue or scout and wizard or sorcerer. Some dabble in barbarian or fighter as well, depending on their social backgrounds. Bards may serve as heralds, tale-tellers, spies, ne'er-do-wells, or all of the above. Some work in troupes, others form colleges, but most share a strong streak of independence. Compared to the standard character class, the prestige bard gains her bardic music abilities later in her career, but has a greater range of spells available.

Bards in the Freeholds are an important feature of the life of the illiterate masses in the Freeholds. While most members of Player Character classes (except barbarians) are literate as a matter of course, all members of Non-Player Character classes except the adept and aristocrat are illiterate by default. As a result, the stories, songs, and poems told by bards have great importance. Many bards are halflings as a result of their penchant for wandering, and many others are gnomes as a result of their love of learning new things. Though most bards are far too independent minded to undergo formal training, the majority are affiliated with one of the loose fraternities, more commonly known as colleges, of bards that are scattered across the remains of the Sky Empire and beyond. In the Freeholds, the most prominent bardic college is the Fochlocan College headed by the bard Ådon which is located in Dinas Emrys. The most famous bardic college is the High College of Anstruþ, located in Donega.

Hit Die: d6.
Luck Die: d8.

To qualify to become a bard, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
  • Alignment: Any nonlawful.
  • Base Attack Bonus: +3.
  • Skills: Knowledge (any one) 4+ ranks, Perform (any one) 8+ ranks.
  • Special: Ability to cast at least one 1st-level arcane spell from each of the divination, enchantment, and illusion schools.

Class Skills
  • Skill List: The bard's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (any)(all skills taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (any)(all skills taken individually) (Cha), Profession (any)(all skills taken individually) (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (None), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
  • Note: Because the Three Worlds campaign uses the Skills by Character house rule, the list of class skills given here is only included for the sake of completeness, and is not used by characters in the campaign setting.
  • Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Intelligence modifier.
Class Features
All the following are class features of the prestige bard class.
  • Base Attack Bonus: Average. A prestige bard gains +¾ base attack bonus per class level.
  • Base Fortitude Save Bonus: Poor. A prestige bard gains a +13 base Fortitude save bonus per class level.
  • Base Reflex Save Bonus: Good. A prestige bard gains a +½ base Reflex save bonus per class level.
  • Base Will Save Bonus: Good. A prestige bard gains a +½ base Will save bonus per class level.
  • Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A prestige bard is proficient with all simple weapons, plus the longsword, rapier, sap, short sword, shortbow, and whip. Bards are proficient with light armor and shields (except tower shields). Armor check penalties for armor heavier than leather apply to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Pick Pocket, and Tumble. A bard can cast bard spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. However, like any other arcane spell caster, a bard wearing medium or heavy armor or using a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component (most do). A multi-class bard still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.
  • Spellcasting: When a new prestige bard level is gained (except at 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 13th level), the character gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if she had also gained a level in whatever arcane spell casting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. A prestige bard casts arcane spells from the schools of divination, enchantment, and illusion at +2 caster level. She casts arcane spells from the schools of evocation and necromancy at -2 caster level.
  • Spells: The prestige bard adds some spells to his class spell list for any one arcane spell casting class he belonged to before he added the prestige class. Regardless of his original arcane spell casting class, he adds the following spells to his list of available spells. He still needs to learn (and, if appropriate, prepare) these additional spells to cast them, and for all other purposes he is treated exactly as a caster of the appropriate level in his original arcane spell casting class with respect to what spells are on his class spell list.

    • 0th Level: Know direction, lullaby, summon instrument.
    • 1st Level: Allegro, cure light wounds, distort speech, focusing chant, healthful rest, herald’s call, inspirational boost, joyful noise, lesser confusion, phantom threat, remove fear, undetectable alignment.
    • 2nd Level: Calm emotions, cure moderate wounds, enthrall, force whip, insidious rhythm, iron silence, sound burst, swift invisibility, tactical precision, wave of grief.
    • 3rd Level: Cure serious wounds, dirge of discord, dissonant chord, glibness, harmonic chorus, hymn of praise, infernal threnody, sculpt sound, speak with animals, speechlink.
    • 4th Level: Cure critical wounds, listening coin, modify memory, neutralize poison, repel vermin, speak with plants, zone of silence.
    • 5th Level: Improvisation, mass cure light wounds, song of discord, wail of doom, war cry.
    • 6th Level: Mass cure moderate wounds, protégé, sympathetic vibration.

  • Bardic Versatility: Some bards are masters of many skills, while others know an assortment of random things. At 1st level, a bard must choose one of the following two abilities, and this choice may not be changed thereafter:

    • Bardic Knack (Ex): When making any skill check, a bard with this ability can use ½ her caster level (rounded up) in place of the number of ranks she has in the skill (even if that number is 0). A bard cannot take 10 on checks when they use bardic knack (to take 10, one must have actual ranks). If the skill does not allow untrained checks, the bard must have at least 1 actual rank to attempt the check.

    • Bardic Knowledge (Ex): A bard may make a special bardic knowledge check with a bonus equal to his bard level + his Intelligence modifier to see whether he knows some relevant information about local notable people, legendary items, or noteworthy places. If the bard has 5 or more ranks in Knowledge: History, he gains a +2 bonus on this check. A successful bardic knowledge check will not reveal the powers of a magic item but may give a hint as to its general function. A bard may not take 10 or take 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random.

      DCType of Knowledge
      10Common, known by at least a substantial minority of the local population.
      20Uncommon but available, known by only a few people legends.
      25Obscure, known by few, hard to come by.
      30Extremely obscure, known by very few, possibly forgotten by most who once knew it, possibly known only by those who don’t understand the significance of the knowledge.

  • Bardic Music: Once per day per bard level, a bard can use song, chants, musical instruments, or dance to produce magical effects on those around him (usually including himself, if desired). Each ability requires minimum bard level and a minimum number of ranks in the appropriate Perform skill to qualify; if a bard does not have the required number of ranks in the correct type of Perform skill, he does not gain the bardic music ability until he acquires the needed ranks. Starting a bardic music effect is a standard action.

    The majority of a bard's performances are not magical and are the product of simple training. The wide range of performance types in a bard's repertoire are of the non-magical variety - sufficient for entertaining audiences, but lacking the true power of an arcane performing style. To draw upon their unique magical abilities, bards must use one of the mystical performance types. There are four types of mystical performance, and every bard must choose one mystical style (and the associated feat) when the take their first level in the class:

    • Bardic Chanting: The chant is a spoken, rhythmic version of a song, or in some cases a complex percussive rhythm of wordless syllables. The key skills for all abilities of this mystic performance type are Perform: Chant or Perform: Poetry.

    • Bardic Dancing: Bardic dances tend to be very acrobatic, involving somersaults, flips, spins, and other moves requiring considerable agility and athletic prowess. The key skill for all abilities of this mystic performance type is Perform: Dancing

    • Bardic Instrumentals: The bard plays an instrument of some kind, almost always an easily portable, durable instrument such as a trumpet, flute, or lyre. More complex instruments are available, but adventuring bards generally find them too cumbersome and delicate to use during their travels. The key skills for all abilities of this mystic performance type is the Perform skill specialized in any type of instrument.

    • Bardic Singing: The bard may sing songs or sequences of notes to create enchanting performances. The key skill for all abilities of this mystic performance type is Perform: Singing.

    A bard receives the first of these feats for free at their first bard level. Other mystical performances must be learned by taking the appropriate feats and once learned they provide access to a new set of abilities provided the bard has sufficient ranks in the appropriate Perform skill. For each of the four types of performance, bards learn arcane gestures, lyrics, rhythms, and musical notes that directly interact with the magical energies of the world. By carefully constructing their performances, bards are able to use their mastery over such forces to alter, enhance, or even destroy magical effects. The synergies between one or more types of performance are also used to improve the chances of success when one type is used to reinforce the mystical performance of another, allowing the same or multiple bards to bolster their performance skills.

    By using their bardic music skills, bard can also affect the spells of both allied and enemy spellcasters using bardic performance effects.

Prestige Bard
LevelSpecialSpells per Day
1stBardic music, bardic versatility
2nd-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
4th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
5th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
6th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
8th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
9th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
10th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
11th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
12th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
14th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class
15th-+1 level of existing arcane spell casting class

A bard who becomes lawful in alignment cannot progress in levels as a bard, though he retains all his bard abilities.

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