Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Bard, a Weird Fantasy Specialist

Hope there's room on the bandwagon for one more...

I've never liked the idea of the Bard class, but I've been reading the Prydain series out loud to my son, and the bard character Fflewdurr Fflamm starts to grow on you after a while.  The funny thing about Fflewdurr is that he really hates magic - he wouldn't be caught dead doing little druid or magic user tricks.  Then again, he's a pretty crappy bard, too.  However, I've warmed to the idea of wandering storytellers that gather bits and pieces of lore and can entertain folks with song and music.

Here's the approach I'd take to sliding the bard into a game; I'd use the LOTFP Specialist class (James' replacement for the Thief) and just add skills to cover the bard's mundane capabilities.  Presto chango, instant bard.  (A free version of the LOTFP rules are available here: Lamentations of the Flame Princess).

In case you haven't seen the LOTFP take on the thief, the specialist, the character assigns 2 points to their skills each level (they start with 4 skill points to assign).  It allows for a highly customizable specialist, and rewards a group that has multiple specialists - one could focus on bushcraft, stealth and sneak attack, the other could specialize in locks and traps.

Adding skills to the LOTFP skill list lets us cast the bard as a mundane jack-of-all-trades that knows how to perform and has picked up a bit of oddball knowledge.  Works really well as a skald, too, and doesn't require any new classes.

New skills:  ­ Performance (1 in 6), ­ Lore (1 in 6)

If the bard is able to perform for an audience for at least a half hour, he can add his performance skill as a charisma modifier to any reaction or morale roll for the audience members, as long as the roll isn't made more than a day after the performance.

Whenever the bard encounters an item with legendary significance, this skill may be used to try and identify the item and recall a piece of lore or history about it that would exist in song or poem.

I realize some folks want the bard to have magical capabilities; this can be achieved through magic items that can only be used by characters with sufficient skill in Performance.  Thus we can explain legendary bards like Orpheus, and have simpler magic items like lutes that can put monsters to sleep.