[D & D] Unconventional Bards


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(I was going to put up a picture of Mickey from the Rocky movies, but I couldn't find a good one).

"You're doing good, kid, but keep your shield higher and in front of you. And where's the heart, the desire? You've got to want it more than the other guy if you're going to win!


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I am currently playing in a nautical-themed D&D game. I wanted to make a character similar to the pilot Starbuck (Moby Dick, not BSG), based largely on descriptions such as this:
Herman Melville said:
“Pull, pull, my good boys,” said Starbuck, in the lowest possible but intensest concentrated whisper to his men; while the sharp fixed glance from his eyes darted straight ahead of the bow, almost seemed as two visible needles in two unerring binnacle compasses. He did not say much to his crew, though, nor did his crew say anything to him. Only the silence of the boat was at intervals startlingly pierced by one of his peculiar whispers, now harsh with command, now soft with entreaty.
Bardic music with stage whisper as his perform skill seemed like a close match. And the more I looked into it, the more the class fit. Bardic knowledge could represent the things he had seen and tales had heard while sailing the high seas. A number of the spells seemed appropriate, or at least appropriate if there was magic in Moby Dick. Particularly ones like Remove Fear and Animate Rope.


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The Delusionist: Max out Intimidate and Sleight of Hand, and use Perform (Act) to do charlatan tricks. You need to constantly have Prestidigitation "on" (not that hard for a 0-level spell with a long duration).

Now, you dramatically overact everything. Use Prestidigitation to add special effects wherever appropriate (and several places that aren't appropriate). Use Sleight of Hand to pull off "magic tricks" that Prestidigitation can't handle. Use Intimidate to convince the enemy that you are the Big Bad (TM) of the party (which mean you probably ought to also have ways of surviving when they turn the big guns on you).

Your party will feel better. They might not be fighting on the side of right, but at least they know they're on the Side of Cool (TM). Your enemies will be demoralized. And, they will focus on you, allowing the actual firepower in your party to accomplish a lot more without being so defensive.

Even outside of combat, a healthy dose of confidence, backed up with a bit of dazzle, can carry you a long way. Just one caveat, though. Don't let your party think that this reputation is actually going to your head. Remind them (and remember yourself) that this is just an act, to keep your enemies off-guard.


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I was thinking about how you could make a bumbling hero that still seemed to survive and even prosper despite his complete ineptitude. Keep in mind that I'm thinking of a fighter who is bad at fighting, or even a rogue or a mage or cleric that was equally bad at doing any of those. What’s the key to all these, they are really bad in their chosen and appeared profession… why you might ask? Because the character's actual profession is that of a Bard! Here is an idea I had:

You give him stats to a comparable average person, maybe he is slightly intelligent or even slight in anything else, but why is it he bumbles along and still manages to survive beasts and brigands… because of that horrendously high charisma!

Now with stats decided, you have to realize that somehow this bumbling idiot has even survived wild animal encounters… I suggest the Perform (Nonsensical Ramble) skill, or simply blather. With this he can perform his bard suggestion or mood altering abilities by simply speaking out his fear of death or trying to plead with an angry hungry bear. This will equal afford him the capabilities needed against brigands and cutthroats, who feel so sorry for the sod that they just let him go, or take him prisoner. His other bard abilities explain why anyone would keep him in an adventuring party… his incessant need to boast himself up with songs like "Jocksir the Mighty…" sung completely out of key [remember he has Perform (blather) not singing] can be used to improve party moral [with bonuses to attacks] as they laugh and relax at just how ridiculous his singing and claims are.

Now some of you might think that bards aren't that bad of fighters [second to fighters and other actual combatants] so how do you model that… well by giving him equipment he is absolutely not proficient in! Using Jocksir as an example, you deck out your bard in full plate, give him a shield and a bastard sword [and make him use it one handed] and suddenly you have a completely useless fighter that can still be a great help to the party, and isn't gonna get too hurt by those that simply can be handled by the rest of the party. This works equally well with clerics and wizards since the bard is inherently an inferior version of all three.

The one thing our bumbling idiot is good for is taking the heat off the party, he can attract the attention of the parties enemies, and still survive to do it again, and can make for an excellent diversion, as a fully armor clad sword wielding opponent is still something to concern yourself with, until your rolling over laughing at his complete ineptitude… mean while the meat of the force moves on past and does as they please! If bards had a theme song, it would be sung by me, and you would love to hate it!!

"If you have the stereo on, why would you turn up the volume on the TV?"
"Cause I like to party."


Lost in his own museum
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I got a couple of themes but no stats to back them. do with them as you please.

The Appalacian Mountain man: He plays the banjo and the jug, maybe the washboard and is a right congenial old man that spills stories about his youth and how it was back in the day. He has nothing but kind words to diffuse every situation.

The Snake Oil salesman: "You got trouble friends, the kind that can only be cured by Dr. Best's Beneficial Balm!" He's not much more than a liar but he's very good at what he does and that's convince everyone else that he has their best interest at heart and that with a quick swig of his curative you too can increase your hit potential.

The Mentalist: He reads your thoughts and makes a career out of blindfolding himself in taverns and naming the items his assistant holds in the air from the patrons. And in the D&D verse, he gets some divination to help him out.

Elvis the movie character: He's a knight or a soldier or a farm boy or a race car driver but when the dramatic moment arrives, he grabs a guitar out of nowhere and plays a hit song and the girls go wild.

Erik Sieurin

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Elvis the movie character: He's a knight or a soldier or a farm boy or a race car driver but when the dramatic moment arrives, he grabs a guitar out of nowhere and plays a hit song and the girls go wild.

Love it!

And with every character a gestalt bard + something else, you have a Bollywood movie!



Half-Elven King of Shadow
The Old Salt: A sea dog who has been everywhere and seen nearly everything. Whether he is keeping spirits up with an old story while sitting around the fire, warning the crew of the dangers of whichever exotic land they find themselves in or finding rumors of great riches to be had, he is a boon to the party.

A good example of this concept in action would be Mr. Gibbs from "Pirates of the Carribean". He obviously know a lot about old pirate treasure, superstitions and monsters (Bardic Knowledge) and he's no mean storyteller. He can also do a rousing speech and bark orders out quite well, to boot.
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