Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Bard (ACKS Class)

There's been a lot of bards over the years, from the hot mess that was the 1E bard to the standardization of the 4E version. I'm going to combine a little bit of everything here, utilizing my Half Value Spellcasting and Ovatic Spellcasting rules. A little fighter, a little thief, a splash of mage and a pinch of druid.

I'm cheating, really, reskinning my Fortune Hunter class. At the end of the day, they're both sides of the same die - versatile adventurers out to experience all there is, and probably steal some of it.

Minstrel, skald, lyrist, archivist, rimer, allegorist, bard.

There are many names across the world for the men and women who leave their homes, often never to return, spreading the history and legends of disparate cultures to all whom would listen. Every bard, knowingly or not, shares a common brotherhood, stretching back to antiquity. Sages posit that the bardic tradition began just as humanity was pulling itself up from an animal state, as a desire to have history and traditions took root in the mind. It survived subjugation by earlier, more advanced races as an undercurrent of hope, and continued to blossom into what it is today. In the wildlands amongst the barbarian tribes it appears as an ancestral tradition, tied in with the history of the group, and much closer to those primeval sources. In more civilized parts of the world, it may manifest as a guild or a college of learning, steeped in the understanding of the current day, yet still connected to a more soulful past.

At first level, bards hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws by two points every four levels of experience, as thieves.

Bards may wear leather armor or lighter, but may not carry shields. They can fight with a weapon in one hand, or with two weapons simultaneously  but do not favor the bulk of two-handed weapons. Due to their breadth of training, bards are only familiar with a small subset of weapons, depending on their local traditions. They choose from any 2 of the following 7 categories: (i) axes; (ii) bows/crossbows; (iii) flails/hammers/maces; (iv) swords/daggers; (v) spears/pole arms; (vi) bolas/darts/nets/slings/saps/staffs; (vii) any combination of 3 weapons. They may use any magical item usable by thieves.

Bards are a uniquely human affair. They are introduced to the arcane arts of the elves and other fey races, and at 4th level may begin casting arcane spells as a mage of one-quarter their character level, as on the class table below. Their unique take on arcane magic, as well as limited power, allow them to cast in any armor with which they are proficient. They also may dabble in the arcane, and attempt to use wands, staves, and other magic items only usable by mages. The bard must make a proficiency throw at 18+, or the attempt backfires in a way left to the GM's humor. The throw required reduces by 2 per level, to a minimum of 3+.

Bardic tradition also has strong ties to druidism, that most ancient of ovatic magicks, and are the only people outside of the druidic hierarchy to know the druid's cant. At 1st level, the bard may cast as a druid of one-quarter their level, as shown on the class table below, in any armor in which they are proficient.

Each bard, depending on the traditions of their culture, is trained in a specific type of performance, whether song, musical instrument, chant, or dance. Over time, this skill becomes weaved into the fabrics of the bard's spellcasting - bards may never learn the secrets of quiet magic. Their passion for their art and earnest performance of inspirational tales, poems, or songs allow them to inspire courage in their allies. Extorting their allies to greatness for one round (outside of battle) grants allies within 50' a +1 bonus to attack throws, damage rolls, morale rolls, and saves versus magical fear. This lasts for 10 minute (1 turn). The bard can only put on this sort of exhibition once per day per class level for any given character, and cannot affect characters already engaged in combat.

Bards are introduced to a wealth of legends and lore, at at 1st level may identify ancient runes, artifacts, and recall esoteric history on a proficiency throw of 18+, which reduces by 1 per level. They have a love of ancient lore and obscure texts, and at 3rd level, they may read languages as a thief, with a proficiency throw of 5+. At 5th level, their thirst for rumor allows them to hear noises as a thief of their level - bard are forever seeking a new tales, tall or not, and their ears drink in all manner of murmurings.

A bard who leads any of his henchman or hired mercenaries directly grant them a +1 bonus to their morale score, as the bard's presence assures they will be a part of his chronicles of battle, and they'll be responsible for their representation in tales and song.

At 7th level, the bard's time spent studying the natural and unnatural world result in a knowledge of fey secrets, granting them a +2 bonus to saving throws.

Upon reaching 9th level, the bard can establish a hall and rule his own domain. When the hall is complete, up to 1d4+1x10 0 level mercenaries and 1d6 bards of 1st-3rd level will come to apply for jobs and training. If hired, they must be paid standard rates for mercenaries.

Please take a look at the ACKS rulebook for templates (pg 27, ACKSPC pg 60) and proficiency lists (ACKS pg 56) - no reason for more duplication of work.

DESIGN NOTES: Less weapon wielding ability, as we're building off of Fighting 1a in order to abuse the class creation rules. A lot more versatility - both Arcane and Ovatic spellcasting are infinite-list repertoire based, so there's a lot of flexibility in spell choice that should make for interesting play. It's expensive to manage though. And we don't give up anything from the default ACKS Bard, except needing a few more XPs to level.
Traditionalists may wish to limit this Bard to Illusion spells - there's a fan-submitted Illusionist on Autarch's site  that would get you there.
ACKS BUILD POINTS: Hit Dice 1, Fighting 1a, Thievery 1, Half-Value Spellcasting 1
TRADEOFFS: 3 Thief skills - 2 traded for skills at 3,5,7. 1 from Fighting Style (shield), Armor from Unrestricted to Narrow for 2 more custom powers.
HOUSE RULES USED: Half Value Spellcasting, Ovatic Spellcasting

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