Globe2.4.bmp “Laughing to herself as she tuned her cittern, the gnome sang a song for the gathered nobles. Her music relaxed them, brought smiles to their faces and made them forget their cares. Now, she thought, now, they will hear our words more favorably.”


Music holds great magic, although few realize this power, and even fewer know how to tap into its potential. Some take the bard as a simple minstrel with nothing more to offer than a few songs to warm the heart and, in truth, this is an apt description of a beginning bard. However, as she progresses in knowledge and skill, the bard becomes a more formidable spellcaster and combatant, using those powers together in ways that no one else can. Bards are often free spirits, wanderers, and intellectuals. They appreciate creativity, freedom, and individuality over structure and order.

Bards explore new territories and old ruins to learn more about their world. In addition to being masters of music, they are keepers of lore as well – often incorporating this knowledge into their songs. Bards are knowledgeable and broadly skilled – yet still unique. For example, they maneuver in light armor more like fighters than mages, yet they do not rely on strength alone. Their music is magical, but more flexible than the spells of wizards or sorcerers. They are almost as skilled as rogues in certain areas but lack their penchant for sneak attacking or using mechanical devices. If they have a primary focus, it lies in music, which, in turn, provides them with powers of diplomacy and charm.


Background: Bards, it is said, are born, not made. Still, their skills and knowledge result from long years of training and study, usually as apprentices to skilled masters. Occasionally, a particularly famous bard will found a college that serves as a school and guild for a large number of other bards.


Other Classes: Bards have few equals when it comes to dealing with others, making friends, handling diplomacy, and conducting negotiations. They also facilitate and support their comrades, as their songs and powers help their allies as well as themselves. Skilled in so many areas, they often can fill in where a group of adventurers seems to have a deficiency. No matter what niche they might fill, however, they usually act as speakers for the party, thanks to their deft social touch and winning nature. They get along equally well with all other classes, although their music often leaves wizards and sorcerers scratching their heads, as it does not work in the same way as traditional spellcasting.

Bard Archetypes

First Age:
NPCs: Jaaqueel the Swimmer

Second Age:
NPCs: The loremaster. The herald. The skald. The pied piper.

Third Age:
NPCs: Richie Van Richtensplunkenana. The agitator. The wandering troubadour. The poet.

Fourth Age:
NPCs: “Clapstick” Jack Three Balls



Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Intelligence modifier) x4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Intelligence modifier
Class Skills: Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (any) (int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (any) (Int), Listen (Wis), Perform (any) (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Sneak (Dex), Speak Language (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Hit Die: d6


Class Features

Armor Proficiency: Light, medium and shields. Unlike traditional bards and other magic-users, a bard can cast spellsongs while wearing armor or using a shield, suffering no chance of spellsong failure if the total armor check penalty affecting him is -3 or better. Otherwise, she suffers arcane spellsong failure as normal.

Bardic Knowledge: A bard picks up a lot of stray knowledge while wandering the land and learning stories from other bards. A bard may make a special bardic knowledge check with a bonus equal to his level plus his Intelligence modifier to see whether he knows some relevant information about local notable people, legendary items, or noteworthy places. This check does not reveal the powers of a magic item but may give a hint as to its general function. The bard may not take 10 or take 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random.

For example, DC 10 Common knowledge, known by at least a substantial minority of the local population (the mayor’s reputation for whoring or common legends about a powerful place of mystery).


For example, DC 20 Uncommon but available knowledge, known by only a few in the area (a local priest’s shady past or legends about a powerful magic item).

For example, DC 25 Obscure knowledge, known by few and hard to come by (a knight’s family history or legends about a minor place of mystery or magic item).

For example, DC 30 Extremely obscure knowledge known by very few, forgotten by most who once knew it, or known only by those who don’t understand its significance (a mighty wizard’s childhood nickname or the history of a fairly inconsequential magic item).

Spellsongs: A bard casts arcane spellsongs according to his level. Spellsongs are similar to spells, divided into three types: spellnotes, spellchords, and spellmelodies (otherwise called notes, chords, and melodies). They all have verbal components, but no somatic or material ones.

Spellnotes are quick, single notes of magical song that can be cast as move actions. That means a bard can perform a standard action in the same round that he casts a spellnote. He could, for example, cast a spellnote and then make a single attack, move up to her his speed, or even cast another spellnote or spellchord.

Spellchords are more complex spellsongs, involving a drawn-out combination of notes. These are cast as standard action. And they truly are “chords” of song; while most singers can sustain only a single note at a time, bards can sing multiple notes simultaneously (for mundane performances as well as in spellsong casting).

Spellmelodies are the most complex spellsongs and take a full round to cast.


Except where noted, always treat spellsongs as spells for such purposes as dispel magic, detect magic, spell resistance, and so on. If a spell-level equivalent is needed, treat spellnotes as 1st level, spellchords as 3rd level, and spellmelodies as 5th level. Metamagic feats do not affect spellsongs, but eldritch feats do.

Similar to the way sorcerers cast spells, a bard need not prepare spellsongs beforehand or keep a spellbook. Bards receive bonus spellsongs for high Charisma. To cast a spellsong a bard must have a Charisma score of at least 11 for notes, 13 for chords, and 15 for melodies. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a bard’s spellsong is 11 + Charisma modifier for chords, and 15 + Charisma modifier for melodies.

Spellnotes can be combined into spellchords, and spellchords can be combined to make spellmelodies. A bard can expend five spellnote slots for the day to create a spellchord, or three spellchord slots to create a spellmelody. Likewise, a single chord can power five notes, and using one melody slot, a bard can cast three chords or 15 notes.

Unlike other spellcasters, bards can combine their talents easily to produce powerful magic. Multiple bards can contribute notes, for example, to create a spellchord effect that they all know. The spellsong’s effects are based on the highest-level bard’s level and ability score for determining parameters of the spellsong that depend on them (in particular, save Difficulty Classes). Further, if a saving throw is called for, for every two bards involved, the Difficulty Class to resist the spellsong increases by +1.

Spellsongs can be used to make spell-completion and other magic items, including scrolls, potions, wands, and so on, assuming the bard has the correct item creation feats. For costs, treat spellnotes as 1st-level spells, spellchords as 3rd-level spells, and spellmelodies as 5th-level spells.

Feats such as Spell Focus or any metamagic feat do not affect spellsongs. Bards have access to special feats that modify the effects of their spellsongs.


Weapon Proficiency: Simple. Additionally, the bard is proficient with one of the following weapons: longbow, composite longbow, longsword, rapier, sap, composite short bow, short sword, shortbow, or whip.

Weave Notes: A bard of at least 5th level can expend two spellnote slots to cast a single spellnote with one of the following three enhancements (selected prior to casting):

1. A 50 percent increase in duration and range.
2. A +2 bonus to saving throw Difficulty Class.
3. A 50 percent increase in damage.

Evasion: At 9th level and up, a bard can dodge and avoid even magical and unusual attacks with agility. If a bard makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally inflicts half damage on a successful save (such as a fireball), the bard suffers no damage. Evasion applies only if the bard wears light armor or no armor. A helpless bard (such as one who is unconscious or paralyzed) does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Weave Chords: A bard of at least 12th level can expend two spellchord slots to cast a single spellchord with one of the following three enhancements (selected prior to casting):

1. A 50 percent increase in duration and range.
2. A +2 bonus to saving throw Difficulty Class.
3. A 50 percent increase in damage.

Improved Evasion: At 17th level, a bard’s evasion ability improves. He still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks such as fireballs, but henceforth he suffers only half damage on a failed save. A helpless bard (such as one who is unconscious or paralyzed) does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Weave Melodies: A bard of at least 20th level can expend two spellmelody slots to cast a single spellmelody with one of the following three enhancements (selected prior to casting):

1. A 50 percent increase in duration and range.
2. A +2 bonus to saving throw Difficulty Class.
3. A 50 percent increase in damage.


Bardic Spellsongs


Burst of Speed: Your speed increases by +10 feet or more.
Countersong: You counter sonic effects.
Cushion Fall: Target falls up to 20 feet/level safely.
Deflect Blow: Attack roll against target suffers -4 penalty.
Destroy With Sound: Destroys object.
Influence: Targets react to you more favorably.
Inspire Courage: Allies gain +1 bonus to attack and weapon damage rolls.
Minor Healing: Heals 1d6 points of damage.
Misdirected Sound: Sound seems to come from elsewhere.
Momentary Charm: Humanoid becomes friend for a short period.
Momentary Disappearance: You become invisible for a short period.
Momentary Protection: Target gains +1 or higher deflection bonus to Armor Class.
Obfuscation: You gain a +5 bonus to Sneak checks.
Off Balance: Target suffers penalty and may fall down.
Personal Knowledge: Learn fact about creatures.
Sonic Dart: Ranged touch attack inflicts 1d6 points of damage.
Sonic Stab: Touch attack inflicts 1d8 points of damage + 1 point/caster level.
Songstrike: Cone of sonic energy inflicts 1d4 points of damage/three caster levels.
Stun: Target is stunned for 1 round.
True Language: All can understand you.
Whisper: You send a whispered message at range.


Alter Sounds: You change sounds in an area.
Charm: Humanoid becomes friend.
Counter Silence: Dispels magical silence.
Create Object: Creates small object.
Disappear: You become invisible.
Disguise: Changes your appearance.
Disrupt Thoughts: Target can only defend himself.
Enhance Physical Form: Target gains bonus to Constitution, Dexterity, or Strength.
Fascinate: Targets take no actions.
Fumble Field: All in area suffer penalties and spell failure.
Heal Wound: Heals 3d6 points of damage.
Inspire Competence: You give ally a +2 bonus.
Levitation Chord: Target floats in the air.
Minor Wall of Sound: Creates sonic wall.
Oathchord: Magically seals an agreement.
Recall Tale: Gives detail on a particular subject.
Sense Auras: See magic auras and invisible objects or creatures.
Sense Lies: Sense whether subject is lying.
Silent Chord: Creates an area of magical silence.
Slumber: 3d4 Hit Dice of creatures fall asleep.
Sonic Blast: Cone of sonic energy inflicts 1d4 points of damage/level.
Sonic Lance: Creates melee weapon that inflicts 1d4 points of damage/two levels.
Suggestive Chord: Target is compelled to take a particular action.
Swift Song: You gain an additional action each round.


Destroy Utterly With Sound: Target disintegrates or suffers 5d6 points of damage.
Disrupt Body: Target is paralyzed.
Disrupt Magic: Magical effects are canceled.
Find Creature: Locates subject.
Harmony of Flight: Target flies.
Remove Condition: Alleviates unwanted condition.
Sonic Sword: Creates melee weapon that inflicts 1d6 points of damage/two levels and stuns.
Sonic Wall: Creates impervious wall of sonic energy.
Soothe the Savage Beast: Living creature becomes friend.

The Bard character class by Gary Gygax was first published in The Strategic Review (Vol. 2, No.1) and has since evolved through many iterations of our game. This version of the class is derived from the one written by Monte Cook and published in The Complete Book of Eldritch Might.

Artwork by Penko Gelev, Martin McKenna, Ovopack and Sam Wood. Used with love and not permission.

Cartography by Ian Hewitt.