Saturday, April 5, 2014

Everyone's Favorite Class

An experimental, untested class for your favorite retroclone.

Above Awesomesauce by William Blake

The Bard


Examples: Skalds, Troubadours, Warrior-Poets, Master Manipulators, Cult Leaders, Mountebanks, Wandering Minstrels, Con Artists, Savvy Politicians, Libertines, and Charming Rapscallions.

Requirements: Charisma 10, Wisdom 10

Who is this?
This is the person who knows that a well-placed smile or just the right words have far more power than a sword or a spell. He/she can pick up on very subtle social cues, and always seems to know the right things to say.

Bards are also typically performers of some kind: whether the formal recitation of epic poetry, erotic dance, historical lecture, proselytizing, playing an instrument, juggling, gossip, or anything in between.

Weapons and Armor Allowed - Any.
Advancement - As Thief.
Hit Dice - 1d6.
THAC0/BAB/Attacks - As Thief.
Saving Throw/s - As Cleric.
Alignment - Any.

Class Abilities :
Level 1 - Preposterously Charming - Bards have a permanent +2 on all Reaction Rolls (in addition to whatever bonus his/her Charisma may provide).
Level 2 - Inspire - Once per day per level, Bards can provide a +(½ of Bard's Level rounded down)* to a single action attempted by a companion. For every +1 (or +5%) given the Bard must spend 1 minute boosting the confidence of his/her companion. This can take the form a few words and a pat on the back, a brief recounting of a cultural hero's accomplishments, or a well chosen greeting card. The Bard can opt to give less than the full bonus as time-saving measure.
*For less granular systems like Lamentations of the Flame Princess's Specialist skills, have the character roll two dice and take the better of the two.
Level 3 - Mesmerizing Performance - Once per day, Bards can use a performance to achieve the equivalent of a Charm Person spell. Only a single sapient creature with at least neutral regards towards the performer can be affected. The affected need not understand the language of the performance (if any), unless language is somehow key to the performance. For instance, the movements of a dancer are obviously not language specific and even a poet could possibly rely on the rhythm and sound of his works to woo across languages; however, for a gossip or a lecturing professor, language would remain a barrier.

You probably don't want to play this class if...
  • your group never uses reaction rolls. 
  • even sapient monsters are always considered hostile.
  • you don't want to talk your way through the campaign world.

Are the Bard's abilities magic?
If your setting has that Tolkienian conceit that words and music are a type of magic, then sure it's probably magic. If not, then the character probably just has Jim Jones, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mae West, or Oprah Winfrey** levels of charisma/charm/social-acumen.

What about the Jack of All Trades character? 
Just play a LotFP Specialist.

What about Bardic Magic?
Just play an Elf who sings.

Questions, Comment, Vitriol, Dirty Jokes, and All Other Forms of Feedback are Welcome.

Enjoy. 

**Personally, I despise Oprah, but it is pretty obvious a fuck-ton of other people do not. Actually I had a bit of a hard time coming up with a good generic list of charismatic women. I can think of plenty of examples of individual females I find to be highly charismatic, but few of them are generally known. I don't expect many of you know who Poly Styrene was. Anyway, I really didn't expect trying to generate that short list of examples to become an object lesson of gender bias; possibly revealing some vestigial bit of my own gender bias. Interesting.***
*** YMMV.