Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Bards

Bards suck.

67 comments:

  1. I like the concept of a bard-like dilettante who has a little magic, a little thievery, and a little fighting. A guy with a kind of Grey Mouser feel.
    But they insist on giving the character that bravely-bold-sir-robin stuff which is best left to NPCs.
    Currently, there is a retro-clone called Dark Dungeons. The dude who made it also recently released a much more house-ruled version called Darker Dungeons which has a homebrew class called the Mountebank. It's kind of like a generalist bard type without the annoying music stuff.

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  2. True story: I met a guy once who hated bards. At a convention. He was running a D&D game. He had pre-gens. One of them was a bard. I asked why he had a bard as a pre-gen if he hated them. He explained that he was going to kill off the bard character to prove to everyone that bards suck. I asked what would happen if the player turned out to be super-resourceful and did really well and survived. The DM assured me that this would not happen. That he would throw everything he had against the bard character until he died to prove that the bard would die. Because bards suck. No, the DM was not kidding. He was completely serious. I asked him why, if he hated bards so much, why didn't he just avoid them and leave them out of his game. He didn't seem to understand the question.

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  3. @billionsix

    Guy sounds like one of those moronic nerds who doesn't instinctively understand the difference between "aesthetically lame" and "mechanically ineffective".

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  4. I loled. Check out my review for Sucker Punch.

    http://therustydagger.blogspot.com/2011/03/sucker-punch-review.html

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  5. What about skalds? Viking bards are surely at least somewhat cool?

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  6. I don't know if this will do anything for anyone's opinion, but I am huge fan of Bards and would admit approx half of my characters (a solid dozen total since '04)had a splash of Bard if not full progression.
    I do agree that Bards, ESPECIALLY 3.0/3.5, are notorious for their terribleness. However, I am a huge proponent of the storyteller/chronicler archetype. As an adventurer or "princess saving bloke" they are not intended to fill main roles BUT, I would like to give a shout out to Paizo up on Pathfinder for re-worker the class into something that doesn't totally suck.
    If you care, I like
    http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/classes/bard.html#_bard
    for new rule set & mechanics ANDDDD
    http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG/advice/treantmonksGuideToBardsOptimization&page=1&source=search#0
    For an excellent build reference that gears a bard build towards 4th party member in a 4 person party.

    As far as singing or playing the lute or even storytelling, as I've utilized it in my most recent builds, as a skill set for adventuring, that's not the mindset I've taken over the last decade. To me, and I would argue other "bard enthusiasts," a bard is a party member who can combat, cast or know stuff just as well as anyone else in the group, BUT can also inspire his fellows and belittle his foes with great ease.
    I would argue, it's sort of like a High School English teacher with a History Minor. It's not a necessary aspect of the beast, but it can definitely lend insight and inspiration that would not otherwise come to the affected.

    In a less metaphory example, I have built, and seen bards built, into things that can outcast equiv level wizards and out melee equiv level fighters. Honestly. Some of us like our PVP. No not as far as firepower per spell, nor as blow to blow, BUT, when executed correctly, winning wizards duels and mortal combats(every now and then our group gets really into arena type encounters).

    Hope it wasn't too much of a ramble, but there's my bit.

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  7. At least they don't blow. (though, woodwind might say otherwise)

    As much as I love the concept of bards, I personally feel that they need be delegated into the NPC companion category. Though, I've had some good experiences with bards in less-combat oriented role-plays.

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  8. In my S&W game when someone says they wish this 'old' D&D game had bards I tell them to buy a mandolin and be a real class.

    If you want to be a bard you don't need a class to do it, just sing songs and recite bad poetry or whatever gets you off. If you want to 'chronicle' something then buy more ink and parchment, you don't need a class to do it.

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  9. Thanks Zak.

    Still, I like to think I was one of the only ones to make a Bard who (for one fleeting moment) used his skill set to save the day.

    Though I'm pretty sure he died not long after. It was probably a painful and embarrassing death.

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  10. Hide behind the wall of dead bards! *lol*

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  11. Sorry to disagree: Bards are awesome!

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  12. I was in a CoC game where someone used the skill "clowning" to kill the evil wizard and free the party. It was the one moment when bard skills saved the day, perfectly legitimately, and it was completely cool.

    But then, I've been in games where "driving saved the day, and there's no driver class.

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  13. So, Zak, is there a solution to this bad suckage or is it an intractable problem?

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  14. @jonathan

    It's not being able to sing that's the problem, it's calling it an adventuring skillset.

    If you want your fighter/thief to be able to play the lute, great. You want me to hire you to save the princess from the tower because you play the lute? fuck off.

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  15. @grumpy

    If there is a solution it will probably have be found by someone who finds the problem interesting.

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  16. It ain't what they do, it's the way that they do it.

    I like 4e bards. As a player. As a DM I hate the blighters. They've messed up more fights for me than I want to remember.

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  17. The problem transcends mechanics and system. It -is- what they do. They hold a lute. That is unconscionable.

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  18. Bard-hatred seems weird to me. I've wondered before, why is it that some people are okay with a fighter being anything he or she wants - soldier, amazon, berserker, knight - but a bard has to be some prick with a lute so has to suck? Even Zak S, perennial bard-hater, mentioned that he likes jesters, which is pretty clearly the same class, and doesn't involve any singing at all.

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  19. jesters do not have lutes -or- puffy shirts -or- hippie hair -or- music powers.

    A bard without those things is a just a fighter/thief which is fine.

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  20. A jester is absolutely a bard, they just substitute jokes and dirty limericks for songs. Unless you have a problem with the mechanics of those abilities, which is fair enough I guess.

    (Other possible bard archetypes: circus performer, fake mighty hero, romantic swashbuckler, gypsy, creepy murder-poet, con artist, jack-of-all-trades, hypercompetent manservant)

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  21. in AFG I have freeform multiclassing. My cousin plays such a multiclass and he decided unilaterally that the character was a bard, his spells were songs and poems, has a violin fetish (fetishes are special magic items) and created his spells to be bardic abilities. He never played a bard before. Everybody at the table was speechless, but in a good way.

    I like bards. I've played bards. The only reason I can see for being against them is being against unoptimal choices in RPGs.

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  22. I don't think they simply hold a lute.
    Or at least I don't think that's all they should do:
    What about Orpheus, Oisin, Taliesin...?
    Their music is magic, just of a different kind.
    Bards shouldn't be simply different fighter/thieves IMHO.
    And now for something completely different:
    "Brave Sir Robin ran away
    Bravely ran away away
    When danger reared its ugly head, He bravely turned his tail and fled
    Yes Brave Sir Robin turned about
    And gallantly he chickened out Bravely taking to his feet"
    Bards are awesome because they piss the fighters off :)

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  23. @john

    on the one hand, you ignored every criteria i listed for why bards suck and listed a bunch of people that would be far more tasteful and lose nothing as fighter/thieves.


    on the other hand, it's not important and it's 7 am.

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  24. Bards do suck, and it's because of the lute. The more you replace the lute with anything else, the most tolerable the bard becomes. I got longwinded about this a while ago.

    http://rjbs.manxome.org/rubric/entry/1798

    The good side to this is that it led to a long table discussion about what it would be like to have a party of bards "touring" dungeons and rocking them so hard...

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  25. @zak I guess what's confusing me is why those criteria for why bards suck are also the criteria for being a bard in your mind. But if you're not interested in talking about it then yeah, no reason to.

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  26. Sometimes sucking means fun.( Warp that however you may like.). Anyhow, I had what we termed a multi class "Bard-barian", back a few years, that was as blast to play. Yes, you kind of have to throw something extra in the mix to beef them up a little.

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  27. True. There is no meaningful conceptual space for a magic singing person in D&D. Even the prototype fantasy bard - Allan-a-Dale - was always the "...and Bob was there too" fifth wheel of the Merry Men.

    You wanna play a Fighter/MU/Thief like Gray Mouser? Then play one. Skalds, bards and troubadours are there to sing the praises of *real* heroes.

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  28. I'm with artikid. My concept of bards is with their bronze age origins - in Celtic society they were part of the same theocratic order as druids. In a culture with almost no written word they were charged with remembering EVERYTHING. All knowledge; mundane, divine and magical. And yes in folklore magic is almost always musical or poetical in nature - the word 'enchantment' contains the word 'chant' for a reason.

    This guy with a lute is not a bard. He is a minstrel. I do not like him.

    But I like real bards.

    Incidentally the Discworld graphic novel "The Last Hero" shows a very nice gradual transformation of a minstrel into a bard.

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  29. I have a friend who played a Dwarven bard. They used a drum instead of a lute. It was kind of cool.

    I have a character w/ a bard follower and having +3 to hit and +3 to damage every fight is really helpful. It's a matter of understanding the role the character plays in the group.

    Pathfinder also added some of the feats, like being able to add penalties to enemies, right into the bard class to give them some more versatility.

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  30. To echo Chris and Zak, Bard is a medieval proffesion, not PC class.

    Cut the musical/perfomance stuff from the 'bard' class and call it 'rogue', 'adventurer' or 'scoundrel' and then perhaps it would be okay.

    The issue as i see it is not that lutes are lame or music as magic is lame, rather that there shouldn't be a PC class around them, they should be something a PC can opt to do on top of their class.

    Least that's my two gp.

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  32. No, Zak, YOU suck. Wrote a song about it, like to hear it? Hear it go.

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  33. Bards would be cooler if they were more like Brütal Legend, or Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John.

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  34. Just started a game yesterday where the party is a band and they all multi class w a bard. :D

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  35. Hate the luter not the lute... as most adventurers are very happy with bag fulls of lute. Why, that is the very reason they go into dungeons in the first place, for all those piles and piles of lute.

    Fixing bards... something I will have to think about.

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  36. I played a bard once. Her chosen artistic form was the limerick. I wrote a writeup for the one session we played entirely in that form. It was awesome.

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  37. @Oddysey,

    This is why you continue to win at D&D. Also life.

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  38. @Da1Barker
    Just started a game yesterday where the party is a band and they all multi class w a bard

    That's hip. What's the band's name?

    Do they have roadies instead of henchmen?

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  39. Heh. you to watch Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hObKKGdx6zo

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  40. "Bard" is a special effect. Special effects are fun.

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  41. @john
    how is that confusing? all the ideas associated with the word "bard" that do not overlap in the venn diagram with "jester" or "fight/thief" are bad ideas. Because the word has a bunch of bad associations. any good associations it has are already taken by another class or archetype.

    that's why i can say--mechsnics or no "bards suck" as do "people who own telemarketing companies".

    "people who own telemarketing companies" share a number of characteristics with ordinary humans, but the specific things that make them "people who run telemarketing companies" rather than, say "people who own companies" make them automatically bad.

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  42. I want a Mongolian Throat Singer class.

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  43. Instrument based puns aside, and despite playing bards a lot in 2e, I sort of agree. Yes bards should not be a class. This is why, with my homebrew OSR, I don't have a bard class. However I do have an entertainer background which is available to any class (except Dwarven Adventurers).

    Backgrounds level up with a character's class and thus can be combined with them to match specific concepts. FoEx a classic theif would be a combination of one of the sneakier fighting man classes (barbarian or rogue) with a criminal background to get the pickpocketing and related abilities.

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  44. I apologize if this sounds like a criticism, but the footer on your posts are getting quite chunky.

    Bards are the Ritalin-junky-grade-school-kids of D&D.

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  45. @koep

    that is a criticism and it;s a legitimate one, especially when making a post that's 2 words long.

    however, judging form the comments it apparently hasn't interfered with the exchange of ideas so i'm letting it lie since i'm too lazy to change it

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  46. If a player is into roleplaying and acting a bit of a fool, the bard can be a fun class to play even if they lack behind other classes. Out of all the write ups for bards I've seen for D&D and other RPG's, I think the ones done in the old Arduin books had the most potential as their abilities were music related so they could do things like like sing for money, open locks by strumming their instrument or even ward off the undead and with a song. It's definitely a class that needs a good rewrite.

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  47. "Open locks by strumming their instrument"?

    That's everything that should never ever happen ever in anything ever for any reason.

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  48. Whoa, hold up there, Tolstoy, it's going to take awhile to read through your breathless work on the subject.

    What if the bard was named Robert Plant?

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  49. @jason

    (Robert Plant) minus (all musical developments since 1200 AD resulting in making Led Zeppelin sound like Led Zeppelin) plus (trying to kill a dragon) plus (not actually Robert Plant but a guy I know pretending to be him) equsls Sucky guy in puffy shirt

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  50. "That's everything that should never ever happen ever in anything ever for any reason."

    Why not?

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  51. @iron

    hey maybe you like brussel sprouts and Phish and Belle and Sebatian and beige carpeting and tom bombadil. maybe this is just a hopeless uphill battle.

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  52. Zak, I don't care if you love em or hate em, but If I didn't respect your opinion or views I wouldn't of asked cause I like to read what you have to say.Like I previously mentioned, Bards are that on class nobody has ever really gotten right and maybe they shouldn't be a class at all, yet it dose feel like they have a place in a fantasy setting, especially one in a medieval type world.

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  53. @iron

    playing a lute until a lock breaks just seems like one of the most on-the-face-of-it ridiculous, cheesy silly things that i can imagine. like playing badminton to make a dragon die. if you disagree, oh well

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  54. @Zak,

    It's all in the visuals. Playing a tuba to crack open a treasure chest is pretty fucking stupid. But stringing your elven made mandolin to an old tune written by the the first prince of thieves might fit alot better to your typical D&D world. And just like any spell or skills, your no going to be able to break every lock in town as many times as you want.

    Anyway, if you degree simply because and don' t want to explain anymore as to why, so be it.

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  55. @iron

    making it a mandolin makes the visuals no less appalling.

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  56. We agree on something: I don't like em' either.

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  57. "Open locks by strumming their instrument"?

    There are so many better ways to phrase that metaphor...

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  58. now now you two

    huth is a man of honor, and known to me

    and iron is clearly a serious fellow

    let us not fall out o'er a mere jest

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  59. Yeah, tying bards to a bravely-bold-sir-robin archetype (at the coining of which, above, I almost barfed in laughter) is reductive and silly. I like to think of bards as a dynamic and energizing personal presence of any kind. My favorite conception of the party bard is Jeff Winger on Commmunity - his presence in the group crystallizes their purpose, renews their ability to reject defeat, and enables them to proceed through moments of otherwise insurmountable crisis. Teachers, masters, gurus, are almost all bards. See also: Yoda, Barack Obama, Jim Jones, Giles from Buffy, and Charlie from Charlie's Angels.

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  60. good points, Dave. there is also Thom Merriln from Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series. He was the Queen of Andor's spymaster at one point.

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  61. I like Bards in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy - they're pretty good there and if I play one, I prefer the harp and/or singing over the lute as the bardic instrument.

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  62. What about fighter-thieves who play lutes on street corners to make money/listen for rumors?

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