Some rogues follow the fancy path of the bard, an entertainer to the wealthy and powerful elite of Athas. You strive for flashy performances and exquisite works of art. Your poetics stir the hearts of your listeners. Your music raises their spirits or captures their sorrows. And your dances captivate them.
Few however can see that you are more than you seem; behind the veil of artistic ability, you lead a life of infiltration and assassination. You master the art of poisonmaking, espionage, and blackmailing. Occasionally, you tap into defiling magic to assist you on your wicked deeds.
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with a musical instrument of your choice and the poisoner's kit.
Starting at 3rd level, you can inspire or manipulate others through words, dance, or music. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn and expend one use of your Bardic Performance, a d6, which acts as a boon or hex.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once). You regain any expended uses when you finish a short or long rest. Additionally, your Bardic Performance die increases as you reach certain levels in this class. The die becomes a d8 at 9th level, and a d10 at 15th level.
Below is a list of uses for your Bardic Performance, in alphabetical order.
Combat. Choose one creature within 60 feet that can hear or see you. Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll a Bardic Performance die and add the number rolled to a weapon damage roll it just made. Alternatively, when an attack roll is made against the creature, it can use its reaction to roll the Bardic Performance die and add the number rolled to its AC against that attack, after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses.
Distraction. When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction instead of your bonus action and roll a Bardic Performance die. Subtract the number rolled from the creature's roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines the results of the creature's roll.
Dread. Choose one creature within 60 feet that can hear or see you. You roll a Bardic Performance die and that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw, subtracting the number you rolled. The saving throw DC equals 10 + your Charisma modifier. On a failed save, the creature is frightened for 1 minute.
Fascination. Choose one creature within 60 feet that can hear or see you. You roll a Bardic Performance die and that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw, subtracting the number you rolled. The saving throw DC equals 10 + your Charisma modifier. On a failed save, the creature is charmed for 1 minute.
Inspiration. Choose one creature within 60 feet that can hear or see you. Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll a Bardic Performance die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can decide to use Inspiration until after it rolls the d20, but must do so before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. A creature can have only one Inspiration at a time.
Respite. Choose up to five creatures within 60 feet that can hear or see you during a short rest, and roll a Bardic Performance die. At the end of the short rest, each of those creatures regains lost hit points equal to the number you rolled.
Venom. When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can roll a Bardic Performance die and force the creature to roll a Constitution saving throw, subtracting the number your rolled from the creature's saving throw. The DC is 10 + your Charisma modifier. On a failed save, the creature suffers poison damage equal to twice your Bardic Performance die.
Starting at 9th level, you gain the ability to adopt a creature's persona. When you slay a creature with an attack or a creature dies within 5 feet of you, you can magically capture its shadow using your reaction. The creature must be humanoid and Small or Medium in size.
After you capture a creature's shadow, you can form it into a disguise that allows you to take on its appearance and gain access to its surface memories. As an action, you take on the creature's appearance and can end it as a bonus action.
While you keep the shadow captured, you gain access to all information that the creature would freely share with a casual acquaintance. Information includes general details of its background and personal life, but does not include secrets. The information is enough that you can pass yourself off as the creature by drawing on its memories.
Your disguise is indiscernible to the casual observer. If a wary creature suspects something is amiss, you have advantage on any Charisma (Deception) checks you make to avoid detection.
The shadow you captured remains in your possession for seven days. When this duration ends, the disguise disappears but you keep the knowledge it granted. You can have only one shadow captured at a time, and you have to dismiss one before you can capture another.
At 13th level, your mastery at poisonmaking has induced you with strong resilience against poisons. You have resistance to poison damage and you're not affected by the poisoned condition.
At 17th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses for Bardic Performance left, you regain one use.
You weave the art of performance with the shady works of poisoning and assassinating. On one hand, people adore you for your captivating dance, your enthralling music, and your awe-inspiring words. You often attend gatherings of the rich and powerful and the nobility rarely refuses your talents.
On the other hand, people tremble when they happen upon you in a shadowy corner; for they know deep inside them that you've come to spill their blood. Or they remain totally oblivious to the poison you've slipped in their glass of wine they had a few minutes ago, and still smile at you as they slowly lose consciousness. Whatever methods you use, you always combine art with blood.
- Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Sleight of Hand
- Tool Proficiencies: One type of musical instrument, poisoner's kit
- Equipment: A musical instrument (of your choice), a vial of basic poison, a costume, and a belt pouch containing 15 cp.
Bards are first and foremost entertainers. Each one picks and specializes in one particular form of performance. Choose one specialty or roll on the table below to define your expertise as an entertainer.
Feature: Tool of the Nobility
You are always welcome as a gift to perform in a noble's court. At such a place, you receive free lodging and food of comfortable standard, provided that you perform every night or provide your skills in various wicked deeds for your mentor. You might even engage in two-faced games of espionage, selling the secrets you uncover to the highest bidder. Whatever your intentions may be, very rarely a noble will turn down your offer as a prospective entertainer for their rather boring nights.
Use the tables for the charlatan background in the Player's Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a bard.
The person you're associated with in your bonds might belong to the noble class, who probably is out there plotting against or in favor of you. Your overconfidence in flashy shows might be the source of your gambling habits.
Bards are members of a bizarre class of entertainers and storytellers prized by the aristocratic city dwellers. Free citizens all, bards tour through cities in groups or individually, then travel on, making a living with their wits and talents. It's also widely accepted that many bards lead double lives as notorious blackmailers, thieves, spies, and even assassins.
In the cities, bards often become tools of the nobility. They're commonly hired by one noble house and sent to another as a gift. The bards are sent not only to entertain, but usually to perform some other subtle task as well, such as robbery, espionage, or even assassination.
You can make a bard quickly by following these suggestions. First, Charisma should be your highest ability score, followed by Dexterity. Second, choose the entertainer background; alternatively, choose the Free Citizen social rank.
As a bard, you gain the following class features.
- Hit Dice: 1d8 per bard level
- Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Consitution modifier
- Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Consitution modifier per bard level after 1st
- Armor: Light armor
- Weapons: Simple weapons, quabones, scimitars, singing sticks
- Tools: Poisoner's kit and two from disguise kit, one musical instrument, scribe's supplies (forgery kit), or thieves' tools
- Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
- Skills: Choose any three
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a scimitar, (b) a quabone, or (c) any simple weapon
- (a) a musical instrument of your choice or (b) a kit that you're proficient with
- Carru leather armor, a bard's friend, and a poisoner's kit
You can inspire others through stirring words or music. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die.
Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can decide to use the Bardic Inspiration die after it makes the roll, but before the DM determines whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the Bardic Inspiration is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one Bardic Inspiration die at a time.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once). You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Your Bardic Inspiration die changes when you reach certain levels in this class. The die becomes a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 15th level.
You are an expert in poisons, knowledgeable in both their use and manufacture. Using easily obtained materials, you can craft a single application of poison. You choose whether your dose deals an extra 2d6 poison damage, or bestows some poisoning effect. It takes an action to use the poison, either by applying it on your weapon, slipping it into someone's food or drink, or blowing it towards someone. Once applied, the poison retains its potency for 1 minute before drying up or dissipating.
A creature subjected to your poison must roll a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, it suffers the effects you chose. On a successful save, it suffers half as much the poison damage and avoids any further effects. The saving throw DC for your crafted poisons is calculated as follows:
Poison save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
Brewing a poison is similar to crafting a nonmagical item. You need a poisoner's kit to practice your skill at poisonmaking and for every day of downtime you spend crafting your poison, you must pay 20 cp before you can make one dose.
The damage your poisons deal increases when you reach certain levels in this class. The damage becomes 3d6 at 5th level, 4d6 at 9th level, 5d6 at 13th level, and 6d6 at 17th level.
Each type of poison has its own debilitating effect.
Bard's Spit (Ingested). A creature subjected to this poison becomes poisoned for 8 hours.
Belgoi's Touch (Contact). A creature subjected to this poison has its Constitution reduced by 1d6 points and must repeat the saving throw at the start of each of its turns. On each successive failed save, the creature's Constitution is reduced by 1d6 points. If Constitution reaches 0, the creature dies. On a successful save, the poison's effect ends. The reduction lasts until the creature finishes a long rest.
Nightmare (Inhaled). A creature subjected to this poison becomes frightened for 1 minute.
Serpent Venom (Injury). Harvested from a plethora of poisonous serpents, a creature subjected to this poison becomes poisoned for 1 hour.
Slumber (Ingested). A creature subjected to this poison becomes poisoned for 1d6 hours. The poisoned creature is incapacitated.
|1st||+2||Bardic Inspiration (d6), Expert Poisoner|
|2nd||+2||Jack of All Trades, Song of Respite (d6)|
|3rd||+2||Bard's Tale, Expertise|
|4th||+2||Ability Score Improvement|
|5th||+3||Bardic Inspiration (d8), Font of Inspiration|
|6th||+3||Countercharm, Bard's Tale feature|
|8th||+3||Ability Score Improvement|
|9th||+4||Song of Respite (d8)|
|10th||+4||Bardic Inspiration (d10), Expertise, Magical Secrets|
|12th||+4||Ability Score Improvement|
|13th||+5||Song of Respite (d10), Master Poisoner|
|14th||+5||Bard's Tale feature|
|15th||+5||Bardic Inspiration (d12)|
|16th||+5||Ability Score Improvement|
|17th||+6||Song of Respite (d12)|
|19th||+6||Ability Score Improvement|
Spite (Inhaled). This particularly wicked poison is favored by bards who delight in watching their victims trying helplessly to fight them off. A creature subjected to this poison becomes poisoned for 1 minute. The poisoned creature is blinded.
Sun Sickness (Contact). A creature that comes into contact with this poison gains one level of exhaustion and becomes poisoned. The poisoned creature must repeat the saving throw every 24 hours, gaining another level of exhaustion on a failed save. Until this poison ends, the levels of exhaustion cannot be removed by any means. On a successful save, the effect ends and the creature can recover normally.
Thri-kreen Venom (Injury). Harvested from a dead or incapacitated thri-kreen, a creature subjected to this poison becomes poisoned for 1 minute. The poisoned creature is paralyzed.
Jack of All Trades
Starting at 2nd level, you can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to any ability check you make that doesn't already include your proficiency bonus.
Song of Respite
Beginning at 2nd level, you can use soothing music or oration to help revitalize your wounded allies during a short rest. At the end of a short rest, you and any friendly creatures that can hear your performance regain 1d6 hit points.
The hit points regained increase when you reach certain levels in this class: to 1d8 at 9th level, to 1d10 at 13th level, and to 1d12 at 17th level.
At 3rd level, you delve into the intricate meanings of a bard's tale of your choice: the Tale of Charms and the Tale of Shadows, both detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th and 14th level.
At 3rd level, choose two of your skill proficiencies. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.
At 10th level, you can choose another two skill proficiencies to gain this benefit.
Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th levei, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Font of Inspiration
Beginning when you reach 5th leveI, you regain all of your expended uses of Bardic Inspiration when you finish a short or long rest.
At 6th level, you gain the ability to use musical notes or words of power to disrupt mind-influencing effects. As an action, you can start a performance that lasts until the end of your next turn. During that time, you and any friendly creatures within 30 feet of you have advantage on saving throws against being frightened or charmed. A creature must be able to hear you to gain this benefit. The performance ends early if you are incapacitated or silenced or if you voluntarily end it (no action required).
By 10th level, you have tapped into magic and have gained knowledge on how to harness nature to create magical effects. Choose two spells from the wizard class. A spell you choose must be of a level you could cast if you were a wizard of the same level, or a cantrip.
When you choose your first spells, you also have to decide whether you're using defiling or preserving magic to fuel them. Once you've made your choice, you can't change it. When you cast a spell, you must finish a long rest before you can cast it again.
Charisma is you spellcasting ability for these spells. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus +
your Charisma modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
You learn two additional spells from the wizard class again at 18th level.
At 13th level, your mastery at poisonmaking has induced you with strong resilience against poisons. You have resistance on poison damage and you're not affected by the poisoned condition.
At 20th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses of Bardic Inspiration left, you regain one use.
To the casual listener, a tale is a fascinating story, a series of heroic events and people, meant to entertain and inspire. To the bard, however, it is much more than that. A tale speaks of a mystical person and its grand adventures, describes powers beyond the capabilities of mere mortals and how to achieve them, and the bard studies closely the esoteric meanings of these tales in hopes of unlocking their legendary secrets that lead to extraordinary powers. A few such tales have emerged as the most influential that most bards try to focus on.
Tale of Charms
The Tale of Charms speaks of a mighty bard tutored by whimsical creatures of the ancient world. Wherever she stood, she used her charms to delight and captivate anyone. Any who heard her beguiling voice would be fascinated and followed her every command, filled with courage and joy.
The bards who follow this tale are regarded with a mixture of awe and wonder. Their performances are the stuff of legend. They are so eloquent that a mere song or a few words of wisdom can cause captors to release the bard unharmed and lull furious monsters into complacency. The same charms that allows them to quell beasts can also bend minds and quite a few bards have turned their own hosts into thralls. Stories circulate of powerful nobles resting their entire wealth on the hands of their most beloved performer.
Mantle of Resolve
When you focus on the Tale of Charms at 3rd level, you learn a secret charm to inspire others to fight for you, by enthralling them with vigor and speed.
You may use a Bardic Inspiration die and grant yourself a wondrous, otherwordly appearance. When you do so, choose a number of allies you can see and who can hear you within 60 feet of you, up to a number of them equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of once). Each target regains an amount of hit points equal to the number you rolled. Additionally, each target may use its reaction to move up to its speed toward you, without provoking opportunity attacks. It must take the shortest, safest path to you. If the target didn't regain any hit points, it can alternatively use its reaction to add the number to its AC against one attack until the end of its next turn. The target must decide to use the bonus after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses.
Also at 3rd level, you learn a seductive performance that captivates almost anyone. If you perform for at least 10 minutes, you can attempt to inspire wonder in your audience by singing, reciting a poem, or dancing. At the end of the performance, choose a number of humanoids within 60 feet of you who watched and listened to all of it, up to a number of them equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one). Each target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be charmed by you. While charmed in this way, the target idolizes you, it speaks glowingly of you to anyone who speaks to it, and it hinders anyone who opposes you, avoiding violence unless it was already inclined to fight on your behalf. This effect ends on a target after 1 hour, if it takes any damage, if you attack it, or if it witnesses you attacking or damaging any of its allies.
If a target succeeds on its save against this effect, the target has no hint that you tried to charm it, but it is still mesmerised by your performance.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Mantle of Majesty
At 6th level, you gain the ability to cloak yourself in a majestic disguise that makes others want to serve you. As a bonus action, you take on an appearance of unearthly beauty for 1 minute. During this time, you can use a bonus action on each of your turn to utter commands that function as a command spell (use your spell save DC to calculate saving throw DCs). This effect lasts for 1 minute, and any creature charmed by you automatically fails its saving throw against the spell.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
At 14th level, you gain an otherworldly aspect to your appearance that makes you look more fierce and lovely. In addition to the command ability, you can use your charms as a sanctuary spell on yourself. If a creature fails its saving throw against this power, you also gain advantage on all Charisma checks against the creature for 1 minute, and it has disadvantage on any saving throw it makes against your checks or attacks on your next turn.
Once you use sanctuary with this feature, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest.
Tale of Shadows
The Tale of Shadows speaks of a mythical bard who made a pact with the Shadow people to gain immense power. He could walk and speak with the shadows, and reveal secrets so formidable that any who heard his whispers would kneel before him, out of fear of being exposed.
The bards who follow this tale are wolves among sheep. They use their knowledge and access to the Black so that they can uncover secrets and turn them against others through extortion and threats. Being natural parasites, they live off the community or the noble house they have settled on, using their reputation and their sinister skills to acquire wealth and power. The people who hire their services hate them, but they know such a bard is a master infiltrator and an extraordinary blackmailer. Deep down their souls, however, they fear them, as these bards have already instilled their dark powers unto them.
When you focus on the Tale of Shadows at 3rd level, you learn to distract, confuse, and otherwise sap the confidence and competence of thers. When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature's roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage. The creature is immune if it can't hear you or if it's immune to being charmed.
Also at 3rd level, you learn to infuse innocent-seeming words with an insidious meaning. A creatures that hears you speak can become plunged into fear and paranoia.
If you speak to a humanoid alone for at least 10 minutes, you can attempt to seed paranoia and fear into its mind. At the end of the conversation, the target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be frightened for the next hour, until it is attacked or damaged, or until it witnesses its allies being attacked or damaged. While frightened in this way, the target is paranoid and tries to avoid the company of others, including its allies. The target seeks out what it considers the safest, most secret place available to it and hides there.
If the target succeeds on its save, it has no hint that you tried to frighten it, but it still feels some dread by your words.
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Mantle of Whispers
At 6th level, you gain the ability to adopt a creature's persona. When you slay a creature with an attack or a creature dies within 5 feet of you, you can tap into the Black to capture its shadow using your reaction. You can capture only the shadow of a creature that is your creature type, such as humanoid, and your size (you can capture a Small or Medium shadow if you're Small), and you can have only one shadow captured at a time.
After you capture a creature's shadow, you can use your dark skills to weave it into a disguise that allows you to take on its appearance and gain access to its surface memories. As an action, you take on the creature's appearance for 1 hour or until you end this effect as a bonus action.
During that hour, you gain access to all information that the creature would freely share with a casual acquaintance. Information includes general details on its background and personal life, but does not include secrets. The information is enough that you can pass yourself off as the creature by drawing on its memories.
Another creature can see through this disguise by making a Wisdom (Insight) check opposed by your Charisma (Deception) check, though you gain a +5 bonus to your check.
The disguise and the knowledge it grants disappears when this ability's duration ends.
At 14th level, you gain the ability to weave a dark essence from the Black into your words and tap into a creature's deepest fears.
As an action, you magically whisper a phrase that only one creature of your choice within 30 feet of you can hear. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC. It automatically succeeds if it doesn't share a language with you or if it can't hear you. On a successful saving throw, your whisper sounds like unintelligible mumbling and has no effect.
If the target fails its saving throw, it is charmed by you for the next 8 hours or until you or your allies attack or damage it. It interprets the whispers as a description of its most mortifying secret. While you gain no knowledge of this secret, the target is convinced you know it.
While charmed in this way, the creature obeys your commands for fear that you'll reveal its secret. It wont's risk its life for you or fight for you, unless it was already inclined to do so. It grants you favors and gifts it would offer to a close friend.
When the effect ends, the creature has no understanding of why it held you in such fear, but it still bears some dread when it faces you.
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.