Bard

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Bards are one of the most crucial classes for legendary level runs due to their bard/curse song ability and epics like UUU. They are primarily focused on party support, but offensive battle bards are also possible.

Contents

HG Customization

Bard and Curse Song Effects
Level AB Dam W F R HP AC Sk
  • Legendary BAB: +12
  • Forum Class Ability Board
  • Bards can now exchange the Extra Spell Known (Level 6) feat for Epic Spell Focus feats in epic levels by using the !charedit command. This swap is no longer available once you take your first legendary level.
  • Additional Feat Options: Bards are able to take Epic Spell Focus, Epic Spell Penetration, and Auto Still Spell feats during legendary levels. During Epic levels Bards cannot take Epic Spell Focus, they have to wait until Legendary Levels to do so.
  • Additional Skill Points: Bards receive an additional skill point per level. Skill points for levels prior to 41 will be granted upon taking level 41.
  • Additional Spell Options: Bards can learn extra spells in legendary levels. They gain an extra 1st level spell known at Bard 23, an extra 2nd at Bard 26, and so on up to an extra 6th at Bard 38. Only pre-LL bard levels count in this calculation. In addition, Bards can take the 'Extra Spell Known' feat to let them take one extra spell for each rank in the feat.
  • Spell Items: There are items in the mod which allow the Bard to cast certain spells they could not normally cast, including Great Thunderclap, Horrid Wilting, and Power Word Stun.
  • Artist: The Artist feat, if taken at first level, adds an effective two levels to Bard songs, allowing up to level 62 Bard Song and Curse Song. This does not affect the damage reduction or spell resistance decrease abilities from having 30 base Charisma. During Legendary Levels there is another feat called Legendary Artist, this adds one effective level to your song, allowing up to level 63 Bard Song and Curse Song with both Artist feats.
  • Bard Song has an altered progression, which can be seen from the collapsible table on the right. Curse song has been rescaled to have the same effects as bard song, except they are penalties to enemies.
    • The required Perform skill for Bard Song is equal to twice the Bard Song level. If you do not have the required Perform skill, your Bard Song level will be limited to what your Perform skill allows.
    • In addition to its normal effects, Bard Song grants a damage reduction effect if the Bard's base Charisma is 30 or higher, granting damage reduction of (CL / 2), at a soak of +(CL / 4), and absorbing up to (CL * 25) hp, to a maximum of 30/+15 soak that can absorb 1500 points before disappearing at level 60.
  • Bard Song and Curse Song can be customized using the !bardsong command and now use a point buy system to allocate effects. Use !bardsong in game to receive a more indepth explanation of the system.
    • Bards on HG are given a pool of 'song points' that they can allocate between AB, AC, Damage, Saves and Skills components of their bard song (10 points per Bard level including LL, or 8 per Harper Scout level) to change the effective level of the Bard Song in a particular area. Other effects, such as temporary HP use ordinary CL to determine their effective level. Bards also receive a separate pool of identical points to allocate to Curse Song.
    • Bards can only buy song levels 10 levels higher than their bard class level (including LL). Bard Song levels 61-63 can only be accessed using Artist and LL Artist.
    • Higher levels of song become increasingly expensive, like the ability score buy system at character generation. This table shows the increasing cost of each song level.
Level Cost Level Cost Level Cost Level Cost Level Cost Level Cost
1-15 1 16-30 2 31-40 3 41-50 4 51-55 5 56-60 6
  • Bard Song duration is now based off charisma: 1 round per CHA mod. Lingering Song adds 5 rounds to this total. Lasting Inspiration multiplies all of that by 5 (the order of those two feats has been changed so that LS is applied before LI).
  • Spell Changes for Bards
  • Epic Bard Spells
  • Paragon Bard Spells

Bard Types

For more builds, see the Builds Page.

Caster bards are Charisma focused and receive a colossal Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken (UUU) radius along with roughly 40 rounds of it each rest. They are support based characters and rely on constant use of spells and abilities to aid party defense and damage output. They often have between 4-5 epics and sometimes spell penetration feats.

Dex bards lack the colossal UUU radius and supportive casting and are instead focused on melee.

Rapier Wit bards attempt to bridge the gap between the melee qualities of Dex bards and the offensive power of Charisma focused Caster bards, making use of the Rapier Wit feat and Divine Might to make them viable tanks in their own right, gaining the full power of bard epics, though typically only limited to 3-4 to make room for weapon fighting feats. With subraces having either FC/BC Bard or Human being used as a main race, these builds do not suffer from an experience penalty combining Bard and Paladin levels (and in the case of Siren, actually seeing a 20% experience bonus). Without substantial investment in dexterity and strength, these characters are dependent on spells and equipment to maintain defense.

Uni bards provide another angle on party support in that they can also make excellent tanks. Uni bards are generally done at demi x1 or x2, but can be done earlier to a lesser extent. Generally they cap their CHA at 42 (30 unbuffed) for medium sized epics, and put points in DEX/STR/CON. A uni-bard can make all normal stat checks for hells while having ~1k HP, 134-142AC, 85% conceal, and decent immunity. They sacrifice offensive and debuffing casting for the ability to be a front line tank. There are many variants on class setup, but they are generally 39bard/1pal, or 40bard.

Play Guide

Curse and Bard Song

It is not enough to simply use bard song after each rest. When your party members die they will immediately need a new song to ameliorate end-game area AC and AB penalties, and it is your job to find them and sing again. If possible this is made far easier through use of a log watcher which shows who in the party died and when. Lacking a log watcher you simply need to keep an eye out for Possum's Farce firing off (the pink flash), party members without visible party buffs such as shunt, and those lacking the song animation. If a party is spread out and you need to find someone you know has died so you can sing for them, use an action such as Assist Other or a Saintsblood Pearl to send your character to them.

Possibly even more important than bard song is curse song, which among other things drops enemy AC, AB and saves. Depending on your confidence you can pull spawns yourself and curse them as soon as they appear, or get a tank to pull. Often you will need multiple curses to get every enemy. After cursing many enemies will head directly for you so placement is important. When your bard epics are not required and there are no knockdown (KD) enemies present you can Ghostly Visage GV quickly so that each enemy finds a new target, the Bluff skill is also good at getting enemies to stop attacking you. If you are having trouble staying alive, spam Mass Cure Wounds on yourself and the party, it's a better option than running away and leaving the party without KD preventing Epics.

Buffing

Your own buffs should be kept short and sweet so that when you are killed during a run you can song, buff and quickly be back into party support mode. Ethereal Visage or Displacement, Energy Buffer and Expeditious Retreat (in that order) are really all you need on your auto-caster. There are other buffs which you can cast as you please (Healing Circle, Endure Elements) but post-death the above three are the most important.

Just as important as your own buffs are your party buffs. At the beginning of each run you should ask the rest of the party what buffs they require and in what quantities. Buffs such as Greater Magic Weapon (GMW), Keen and Deafening Clang will usually only need to be cast once each run. You will however need to continually refresh Displacement and Clairaudience/Clairvoyance (C/C) after each rest or death. This table can be filled in at the beginning of each run so you know exactly who needs what. This makes life a lot easier, as after each rest you go through the list and cast Displacement and C/C on all who asked for it. Generally GMW, Keen and Clang won't need to be refreshed as they recast themselves, though on occasion they will expire, perhaps when you are off map. When this happens go through the list and refresh everyone's weapon buffs at once. Note: DO NOT cast Improved Heroism on staffmasters, as it cancels Tenser's Transformation.

Epics and UUU

Probably the most important epic you have is the KD preventing UUU. While only the bard gets the complete knockdown immunity, your allies get a significant boost to stat (e.g. Strength, Dex) checks. Also, you can use PT2 (player tool 2) (Assist Other) to pick up people. It can be found in the radial menu, and should have a spot on your first quickbar. Note also that since UUU is a swift action you can put it up at the same time you curse. It is a good idea to have the Curse and UUU hotkeys next to each other so that the moment a Pit Fiend spawns you can instantly have it cursed and KD Immunity up for your party. It can also be a good idea to inquire at the start of run as to whether each tank is Dex, Str, or Uni so that in the event the party becomes split up you know who does not require KD immunity for a particular enemy.

Epics such as Hear Me Roar (Silence Immunity) and Dirge of the Deathless (Critical Hit Immunity) operate in a similar manner, providing some form of protection to your party in a radius. Like UUU both are swift actions and you will need to wait 5 seconds after turning UUU on before you can turn the next on. While you are waiting you should queue up some party support buffs (addressed in next section) and the next epic can be turned on while you are casting. Hear Me Roar is of limited use in the Hells as very few enemies do silence, until Nessus, where it becomes near necessary. Silence is very common in Elysium and Aboleths and the other casters of the party will love you for using HMR and allowing them to cast. Dirge of the Deathless is mostly used to reduce the amount of damage the party takes from critical hits and is handy for tough fights. It also grants special fear immunity that prevents the fear effects of enemies in end-game areas of the mod such as Aboleths, Elysium and the Abyss. It protects against Devastating Critical effect of Camizus, Excruciarch Inquisitors and Quimath.

Which epic to turn on first depends on which enemies are present. In the case of Silence or Dev Crit enemies being mixed in with KD enemies it becomes difficult to choose. Casters will prefer HMR so they can cast and tanks will like DoD but there is a good chance if you don't turn UUU on first, you or they will be knocked down very quickly and you will be beaten to death as you lay defenseless on your back, burning a Possum's Farce and having to start the whole process again. For this reason it is often best to make UUU the first epic that is turned on.

Additional Duties

Once everything is cursed and your using UUU, there are a huge range of abilities you can use. Good bards will have a list of things in their mind to further aid their party. Different people have different play styles and will do certain things more often than others. Here's a list of possible things you can do.

  • Gust: Many dangers come in the form of gustable clouds. Have these either on a scroll or as one of your actual spells so you can gust away the Petrification webs of Arachills and the save lowering Nightmare clouds. If you have evocation focuses you can even kill winds and fumes.
  • Stillsound: Don't underestimate this special little book, which casts Power Word: Stun at the cost of one song use. It is useful for enemies that are vulnerable to stun, including Narzugon and Molydeus.
  • Amplify: Most tanks will have weapons with sonic damage on them from song and clang, so giving tough enemies a 30-60% weakness to sonic is never a bad thing. It has to beat spell resistance so make sure whatever you're hitting with it has been NB'd or Bestowed before you try it.
  • Bluff: Apart from lowering enemy AB, Bluffing an enemy has a good chance of making them attack something else. It can be used to great effect to get tough enemies such as Pit Fiends to attack tanks instead of yourself or other squishies like the Druid. It is a swift action so you can use it while casting.
  • Persuade: Its also a swift action like Bluff, except it offers an SR drop of 6 that stacks with other forms of SR lowering (NB/Mord/Bestow). It is very handy.
  • Restore: Not yourself though. On layers where immunity lowering enemies are common (most of them) it can be nice for you to periodically cast restore on a random tank to reduce the amount of damage they are taking. If you see someone spamming heals and struggling to stay alive as an Infernal Machine beats them silly, restore them, this will remove their vulnerabilities and postpone their imminent death.
  • Mass Cure Wounds: When possible instead of using a heal pack try using a Mass Cure Wounds, this way you not only heal yourself but also your party members. On layers where enemies use mass damage spells (Stygia and Earthquakes) these are especially good to spam as all members of the party continually take large amounts of damage.
  • Bestow and Mords: Mostly mords will only be used to take the buffs off enemies that spawn with a full set of buffs (Paragon Rakshasa, Ursinal) as Bestow offers a better SR drop. It can be good to as soon as a spawn is cursed use bestow on any of the harder mobs (PF's and Malebs in particular) so that Casters can immediately start casting damage spells at it while the druid attempts to land Nature's Balance.
  • Assist Other: Despite your best efforts to keep UUU on everyone, someone will inevitably be knocked down. So quickslot this (is found on radial under 'Special Abilities') and target it on the portrait of whoever says 'KD' in the chat log. Keep your camera zoomed in and have it ready to use as soon someone falls over, they will be highly impressed at getting Un-KDed without even having to say anything.
  • Stone to Flesh: Get someone to scribe a set of these scrolls for you. When someone exclaims, "Stoned!" over chat, cancel your current actions (assuming it was just heals and restores) and unstone quickly, else they will be quickly killed, lacking any form of Dodge or Dex AC.
  • Black Blade Of Disaster: Have someone scribe you a set of these too. During tough spawns you can drop a BBoD so some enemies attack it instead of your party. As you come to learn spawn points better you will be able to plant BBoDs in advance to catch spawns and split up mobs, making your group's jobs much easier.
  • Wail Of Doom: Same as a Cleric's Prayer Spell, this lowers the saves of all enemies it lands on, and is of great aid to casters. Note however that it does not actually stack with a Cleric's Prayer, so if you have a good Cleric in party, this will mostly be unnecessary.
  • Recast Buffs: As party members die, or Rakshasas Mord, rebuff the people who asked for buffs at the start of the run.

Surviving After Death

To avoid dying again immediately after you are resurrected, you need to be very quick with your epics and buffs. How you go about this depends on what opponents you are facing. If you rolled a one against a near death Narzugon and all that remains are scattered Barbazu, feel free to run away in GS and rebuff there. Your party doesn't require you, so it's okay to rebuff on the other side of the map.

If you die in the midst of Pitfiends and Malebranches while keeping UUU up you can't run away: to do so is leaving your party without UUU and letting them down. Assuming the rest of your party is surviving okay and has song, start with your own buffs. Following your resurrection you have a quick few seconds of invulnerability, don't waste them. If you haven't cast Ethereal Visage by the time it expires then everything will be hitting you. So make sure it's either quickslotted or first on the autocaster. Upon being resurrected you should immediately turn UUU on as well, since you can't buff while knocked down and neither can other players stand up without it. You can buff and turn UUU on at the same time so have your fingers poised to buff and epic the moment you are raised.

If you die in the midst of a tough spawn and have observed a lot of people have been dieing and probably don't have bard song, sometimes it can be best to forgo your own buffs and use the moments following your resurrection to use bard song. Sure your going to get obliterated in seven seconds, but there's a better chance your party members won't. There's no point casting Ethereal Visage when the tanks can't stand up without song, sending all the tough enemies in your direction. With only displacement you won't last long against them anyway.

Sometimes casting GS and going on rez duty is good too, but tread carefully around enemies that do KD. They can knock you down in GS, which helps no one.

Banking

Since you possess good Lore and Treasure Scent many parties will expect you to bank, but don't feel you have to. Most parties will have someone who doesn't mind banking. If you do want to bank a run you are unfamiliar with, simply ask people to point out loot spots and matrixes so you don't miss them.

Treasure Scent slightly boosts the odds of good loot dropping so it's nice to cast it before popping each loot spot. If the spot is a dud then Treasure Scent will not cancel itself and you can continue to the next loot spot. Treasure Scent can slow down a run significantly so to keep things smooth, cast it and start popping loot spots as spawns are finishing and only Near Death enemies are left. 'Poop' as left by mini-bosses and paragons is unaffected by Treasure Scent.

Building a Bard

Splashing

Pure bards and splash bards are both equally viable. With LSF Illusion pure bards can get 85% (effectively 72% against blindfight enemies) whereas those that splash only 80% (effectively 64% against blindfight enemies). That said, splashing in classes such as Paladin, Monk or Rogue offer a lot of benefits. One level of paladin is very popular as it lets the Bard add their Cha Mod to their saves which frees up feats that can be spent on more spell focuses.

Spell Focuses

Most bards will have Epic Spell Focuses in between 3-6 schools. Almost all bards will need to take ESF: Transumation, Illusion, Necromancy and Enchantment as the Epic Spells they provide are a core component of playing a bard.

  • Abjuration: Not a popular choice for bards, it benefits very few spells and the Epic is rather lackluster.
  • Conjuration: Quite popular as a support epic due to the Healing Spirit Epic Spell it gives which restores and resurrects allies for (Cha / 2) rounds.
  • Divination: Useful, but not mandatory. Gives the Epic spell "Winter is Coming," which stones enemies in a Large radius around you. Divination focuses also boost mass C/C.
  • Enchantment: Gives the Hear Me Roar epic, which gives Silence immunity to everything within its aura. At Nessus, Aboleths and Elysium it is priceless as there are enemies that will silence you, stopping you from using Song, Curse and spells, similarly your party members will not be able to cast either. Immunity to this effect is very useful. Also boosts the potency of the GMW spell, some bards will take LSF Ench so they can cast it at +14.
  • Evocation: Very popular due to the Epic Spell it gives. The ungustable epic cloud does a lot of damage and is excellent on bosses, needs to be placed carefully however as it can destroy parties when KB mobs enter it.
  • Illusion: Another necessity for all Bards. Apart from Possum's Farce, this also gives a big boost to your Ethereal Visage spell. LSF Illusion will give add a further 3% over FSF Illusion, for a total of 85%.
  • Necromancy: The Necromancy epic, Dirge of the Deathless grants crit and fear immunity to party members in an aura. The fear immunity component is very useful in Elysium, Aboleths and the Abyss where there are fear effects that items cannot protect against.
  • Transmutation: Gives the UUU Epic Spell and hence is a necessity for all Bards. All allies in the full effect radius receive +4 to ability checks against knockdown, increasing +1 at casterlevel 48, 52, 56 and 60. They receive twice that bonus to skill checks against knockdown. The bard is made immune to knockdown.

Skills

Bards have a lot of options in regards to what skills they can pick. This list shows the popular options. The '(Max)' tag indicates the skill needs to be maxed to be effective.

  • Bluff (Max): Gives you ability to make enemies stop attacking you and attack someone else. Very useful.
  • Concentration (Max): So your spell casting doesn't get interrupted. Also protects against some checks.
  • Discipline (Max): Protects against a lot checks through LL areas of the mod such as KD, disarm and slagging.
  • Heal: Adds extra healing ability to Healing Circle and Mass Cure Wounds spells.
  • Lore: So you can identify items and appraise gems. Also increase loot bonus of Treasure Scent if you use it.
  • Listen (Max): Reduces enemy concealment so that Amplify is easier to land. Far from being an essential build element.
  • Parry(Max): Reduces damage you take from critical hits.
  • Perform (Max): Needed so that your Song and Curse Song are sung at full level.
  • Persuade (Max): Lets you drop enemy SR by 6, the drop stacks with all other SR drops.
  • Pick Pocket (Max): With this you can Pickpocket the Heals off of strong enemies and bosses. Makes a lot of boss fights a lot quicker and is very useful at Elysium.
  • Taunt (Max): Used to be a popular choice on bards due to AC drop it creates on enemies. Since it now has a good chance of making enemies switch targets and attack you, it is less popular. If you can stand the heat, tanks will love you for it.
  • Tumble (Max): For AC orientated bards this is a must. With 60 ranks it gives +12 AC.
  • UMD: So you can use scrolls and wands. You will only need 20-30 points in this skill.

Spells

Which spells you pick depend largely on whether you are a dex or caster bard (and if you have SP feats). Below is a list of suggested spells. Note that at some levels there will be more spells than you can take, as usual, which you pick comes down to play style.

Level One:

  • Amplify: Has to make a touch attack (listen skill helps) and beat SR but it lowers sonic immunity by 30%. It does 60% on a failed will save but you will rarely make that.
  • Grease: Lacking SP or high CHA you won't KD anything, but it still slows things down and is good for catching enemies in choke points.
  • Sticky Fingers: CHA Mod bonus to PP. Good if you took the PP skill and lack the gear to max it.
  • Expeditious Retreat: Bonus to movement speed, excellent for moving around spawns quickly.
  • Joyful Noise: Theoretically good for dispelling silence and dealing with worms without HMR.

Level Two:

  • Know Vulnerabilities: Lore/2 DC so lack of Cha Mod doesn't affect this spell. Handy in game if a party can't decide what element heals an enemy.
  • Ghostly Visage: Etherealness without a cooldown timer, this will be one of your best friends. It is perfect for using to quickly redirect a tough group of enemies onto other party members before you start Amplifying individual enemies. (Note that GS/GV won't work while epic radius spells are activated).
  • Deafening Clang: Extra sonic damage for tanks. Adds lots of good damage.
  • Endure Elements: A very mini mini-shunt. Good to cast on party members after they die to give them a little bit of extra immunity.
  • Sound Burst: 30d4 sonic damage boosted by lore. Good for doing a little bit of damage.
  • Heroism: Gives a little bit of extra AB for amplify attempts, or for Dex Bards.

Level Three:

  • Displacement: 55% concealment for party members. This is great to cast on tanks (especially after dieing) without their own concealment. You will need this spell to cast EV when using Uro/Mala Bard armor as well.
  • GMW: A lot of clerics will outdo your enchantment, so you won't use it that often, but it is excellent when you lack a cleric. Also good for buffing secondary weapons of party members.
  • Keen Edge: Like GMW, doesn't get used that often but it is still very handy for when party members lack keen on their own weapons.
  • Remove Curse: This is for Aboleths, to free people from the Maze Prisons. Very important if you are heading to Aboleths, can drop it if your not however.
  • Bestow Curse: You will have a hard time landing the ability score drop, but it is good for the -12 SR drop without the risk of AOE mording all your party members.
  • Wounding Whispers: 20% Sonic Immunity and a little bit of damage. Beware that it creates partywide kickback when enemies like Infernal Machines hit you. 20% is not particularly crucial and is often dropped in favor of a more useful spell.
  • Treasure Scent: A slightly greater chance of popping better loot, a lot of players like bards to have this.
  • Gust of Wind: You won't kill anything with it, but it's nice to be able to cast it quickly as a spell. These can be replaced with gust scrolls if you want to taken a different Level Three spell.

Level Four:

  • Shadow Conjuration: This is for Darkness (only used at Elysium) and for some lowbie buffing abilities.
  • Shout: Like Soundburst it can do some damage, but its also lootbreaking, so be careful where you point it. Handy for blowing holes in badly placed walls.
  • Stone Shatter: Like Gust, you probably won't kill anything with this, but fishing for 1's and getting a single kill on a Dis run can be fun. This is actually an excellent spell to have if you go to Elysium since it gets people out of the Ice Prisons that Dragonkin Sorcers make.
  • War Cry: Gives a little bit of extra AB for amplify attempts, or for Dex Bards.
  • Legend Lore: Good if you lack lore gear and want to max the skill for KV/Treasure Scent.

Level Five:

  • Ethereal Visage: Your own concealment, for most bards this is their main form of defense.
  • Healing Circle: Nice regen for you and your party members.
  • Wail of Doom: This has the same effect as the Cleric Prayer spell. The two don't stack, but it is useful to help fill in for a Cleric if your party lacks one.
  • Mass Cure Moderate Wounds: Good to spam around your party, especially when everyone is taking large amounts of damage from a single source (EQ at Styg, miniboss Gelugon KB)
  • Improved Heroism: Yet more AB for amplify if you need it.

Level Six:

  • Mass CC: +7 Listen for tanks of the party, and yourself. This increases to +10 if you have SF:Divination (Harp, Dachy Lute).
  • Mass Curse Serious Wounds: Same as Moderate Wounds at level 5, except better.
  • Energy Buffer: 60/- elemental resists, helps a lot for survivability.
  • Dirge: This only works on a roll of 1, but I still absolutely love spamming this on bosses. -30% Phys immunities is pretty good. If you are going to drop a 6th level spell for something else, drop this one.
  • Shades: This is actually a pretty good spell to take since it gives you Wall of Fire (the mini wall) which can be of great help in a lot of runs.
  • Ice Storm: Loot breaking cold damage. Tia Harp empowers it automatically but I'm not a fan.
  • Energy Immunity: 15% to a single element, or +20% with SF:Abjuration. Probably not a bad choice over Dirge.

See Also

Bard Build Forums

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