Why Bard is the Greatest Class Ever

Table of Contents

Bards are awesome 

Bards are unpredictable – this one always bring a barrel on adventures just to mess with the DM’s mind.

Here at Dungeon Mastering we try to foster a community where we can engage in intellectual discussion and all views are respected, even if not agreed with. One of the points of disagreement around here is the value of bards. One of my colleagues has a well documented anti-bard bias. Another has a less documented opinion that bards are crunchy and delicious. Well I intend to settle the argument right now, bards are the greatest class in D&D and if you don’t agree your opinion is wrong.

Let me break it down for you:

Bards are Indie: For many years and many editions the charisma attribute was cursed to joke status among gamers. One of the sole devotees of this underestimate stats were the bard class and they were ridiculed for it. Now that charisma has gone mainstream everyone is jumping on the bandwagon – we’re looking at you  4e Warlord, is 4e Warlock, and 4e Rogue. It’s okay though, charisma sold out so bards are not that into it anymore, they have a new ability score. They would tell you what it is, but it’s pretty underground, you wouldn’t have heard of it.

Bards Make Great Come-With-Guys: In an earlier article my bard-hating colleague asked the question “Do you really want me to ask a fighter surrounded by 6 orcs if he’d rather have back-up or hear a tune?”. Allow me to phrase that another way, how often in your life have you wished you had a soundtrack? If you were slicing up orcs left and right, wouldn’t someone shredding on a lute really get your blood pumping? I’ve never slaughtered monsters before, but I know I take my MP3 player every time I go to the gym. Lets say you get overwhelmed and can’t handle it, that bard is going to write a great song about you. He will embellish a bit, throw in a damsel in distress and a few dragons to the story and suddenly people will be singing your praises for years.

Bards are Selfless: So much of a bard’s power is tied up in making his friends look good. When you only dealt that dragon a killing blow due to the bard’s +1 bonus or just barely made that tumble check to avoid looking like an idiot thanks to some inspiring music, everyone just assumes it was your natural talent winning the day. The bard isn’t greedy, he doesn’t take credit for your victories or tries to steal your kills, he just helps you be the best you can be. Plus there is no better person for talking you up to guys or ladies you are interested in.

Bards Can Do Anything They Set Their Minds To: There’s a wonderful quote from the science fiction author Robert Heinlein “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” Except for programing a computer (they’re taking night classes) that sounds like it could be the resume of a bard. Bards might not be able to do a particular thing as well a specialist, but they can fill in any skill you are lacking and provide valuable assistance to your specialist in that field, two d20s are better than one!

Bards Annoy Your DM: Bards are a wonderful class if you like to frustrate your DM while he tries to tell a story. They excel at seducing the barmaids, prying info away from the DM with bardic knowledge, running afoul with the law and just generally mucking about the plot. Alternatively, if for some strange reason you don’t like raising your DM’s blood pressure, bards make great characters for progressing through a plot. Bardic knowledge allows your DM to pass along important information in an organic way and bards have the social skills to converse with tavern drunks or court nobles without causing a brawl at either setting. Regardless if you use the powers for good or evil, bards make fantastic roleplaying characters.

Don’t think bards are the greatest class to ever fill a character sheet? Feel free to express your (incorrect) opinion in the comments.

57 thoughts on “Why Bard is the Greatest Class Ever”

  1. So cool,
    I still play with Mialee.
    Last we had a kinda big combat, and we leveld 2 times,
    we are a lvl 6 group now.
    my character has some awesomely funny flaws:
    Very Curious:
    If I see something weid, and I fail on my Will save I’ll run afer it or talk to it, even if it is lawfull evil!
    Spamming facts:
    I want to tell things in the heat of combat,
    I want to help, so I’m looking for usefull facts, but I say things loudly.
    ‘Do you know cobolts eat spiders?’
    ‘Do you know some ogers cry if they can’t fight?’
    ‘Do you know…’
    But it could also be in this way:
    We have an very hard battle.
    After we finally beat the monster I say:
    ‘You know, if we did it in that way, we could have beaten him with a few attacks.’

  2. My qualms with the bard do not rest in my belief that the class sucks. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I think the bard class is kind of a jack-or-all-trades, who is good at almost everything, and makes a very solid adventuring character. The bard is too good, in fact. I think the bard makes a good character but a boring one. I like a character with flaws and weaknesses, and, to keep things balanced, also has incredible, nearly immeasurable strengths, to boot. I mean, what’s the point of having an adventuring party, at all, if you can do nearly everything you really need to all on your own?

    But that’s just me.

    <3 Dani

  3. I always tell my new players that bards are a nice class, because my experimented players all keep saying bards sucks at everything. In fact, I love having a bard in my game’s party because it always spices things up. It’s weird that DMing takes out all these bard articles, ‘cus I’ve been wanting to play a bard for a little while and made a character sheet yesterday.

  4. Got here from the Amping Up Your Bard post. I am so glad; I always love finding fellow bard-ites. Bards FTW 100%.

    I play DnD for a short time now.
    I play a Half-Elf bard names Mialee.
    Okay, i’m still a newbie, but I love my character!

  6. I agree My character is a high level female elf bard, and I can say with the utmost confidence that being a bard is lots of fun!

  7. @Toord: The admitted wrongness of your opinion lies the belief that adaptability is not itself a form of power. A foe who cannot divine your next move can waste untold resources ineffectually trying to counter it. Sure, a jack-of-all-trades takes more cunning to play effectively, but for those of us who love to think outside the box, it can be more than worth the effort.

    “Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively. They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow…they have form but are formless. They are skilled in both planning and adapting and need not fear the result of a thousand battles; for they win in advance, defeating those that have already lost.” — Sun Tzu, Chinese Warrior

  8. I agree with Drunkenhellhound. I was dissappointed that when I took a look at 4.0 the first entry for classes I saw was Cleric. I looked back and forth, thinking I had skipped through and missed it but the bard wasn’t there. Barbarian seemed to be missing as well.

  9. Ive never been a bard, but with the group i play with, we still play 3.5 so i still have the chance. ive just never gotten around to it and everytime i think about it , i just think of somethin id rather be.

    its stupid its not in 4.0 though..

  10. “Bards? Leaders? It sounds weird…”

    Mostly because “Leader” is a misleading term for the role. It’s not hard to imagine a Bard granting the ability to spend a healing surge, providing bonuses to the party, granting extra saving throws, etc. In that sense, Warlord is the Bard-for-the-masses class… you get to help and don’t feel gross for having to use a harp to do it.

    However, I can also imagine a Bard as a controller, greatly hampering groups of monsters at a time. And really, the game needs more controllers :)

  11. I have never been annoyed by bards when I DM – in fact, I love them. They’re great little mines of plot bombs.

  12. @Nicholas: 4e bards are bound to be a Leader class and will therefore continue the tradition of being totally awesome while also being totally useful in a 4-man party.

  13. @Toord: That’s true, but it is really only a problem in groups of four. If we’re assuming the traditional party of healer, thief, fighter and arcane magic user there is really no place for the bard. However, if you only have 3 people you need a class that can take on two of those roles like a bard can. If you have 5 or more the bard is a valuable back-up to the primary person in each role. In either case, the bard brings his own specialty as something a party spokesman.

  14. I’m my humble (and wrong) opinion the problem with bards is that they fall in the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. Sure, they get a bunch of skill points to use and they’re songs can be invaluable in certain combat situations. They can get train skills to use magical devices such as wands and scrolls. They can hypnotize, fascinate and so forth. But at the end of the day a group would choose a healer over a bard, a rogue over a bard and a fighter over a bard. Bards *can* fulfill those roles, they cannot excel at those things.

  15. @Geek’s Dream Girl: I’m glad it did, that was exactly the sort of underground snobbery I was getting at. Plus I got to see a funny skit. I love bards in EQ, they were one of the most creative things that game did. Seems odd that no other MMOs (as far as I know) picked up the bard mantle and did something similar.

    I must admit I’m surprised at the amount of bard love. I expected to be burned at the stake as a heretic.

  16. My party used to laugh at my Bard character, until his +30 to speech (and a little roleplaying on my part) kept getting them free horses, lodging, and plot information.

    And, in a party of 9, that bonus from bard song really starts to make a difference.

    Sadly ever since Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising, my group’s opinion of bards has again fell.

  17. @Jordon Ross: You speak the truth, sir. I recommend you check out page 135 of the Adventurer’s Vault. Hedge Wizard’s Gloves: all the fun of mage hand and prestidigitation without a lifetime of magical study.

  18. Bards are awesome i will give you that. But there is one class that i find more fun to play and more powerful to fight with.


    Now I know what your thinking. You are thinking HAHAHAHAHHA What a pussy. ANd your right because wizards are frail. But They have one thing that all other classes have not…


    Thats right mage hand. You can flip the bird and sustain it with miner actions. You can pull a lever. You can push a book off of a bookshelf to kill an enemy minion (Improvised weapon. True story). You can grab some hot barmaid booty and she would be none the wiser. Or if all else fails you can just beat off with it.

    Also they have another thing. Prestidigitation. Thats right if you look in the wizard spells they have one part to that incantation that says and i quote you can “Flavor some meat”. Ya. I dont even need to explain why that one has caused many jokes in my campaign.

  19. I have always been a huge fan of the Bard… my first character was a Bard, and she has forever changed my life for the better. When I first decided to play a Bard (she was an elf, not a half-elf), there were a lot of groans from the surrounding group, but they learned eventually what I feel is a critical component of the Bard: to be effective, you have to know how to understand how that class fits into a group. The Bard is a very good support class because you are that jack-of-all-trades kind of class… you CAN do a little bit of everything, but you should usually let the experts do their thing first; let the Fighter soften up the bad guy, don’t just go storming in all lutes blazing. Let the Cleric handle the big wounds, and do some clean-up with your little healing spells. Best of all is the soundtrack component. There have been so many times that just a little +2 boost to attack has made a huge difference in the outcome of the battle.

    One of the things I love about the bard is that it’s an adaptable class. You can be as involved as you want to be in the roleplaying. Just ask Vanir, who took bards to a whole new level when he created BatLoaf (http://www.stupidranger.com/labels/bat%20loaf.php). If you’re an out-there-in-the-spotlight kind of player, there are LOADS of rolelplaying opportunities with a Bard. If you’re a little more of a helping-out-from-the-shadows character, there’s still plenty of opportunities because you can still be effective from the shadows, unlike a Fighter who really needs to be out in the open, especially when the Owlbears come calling.

  20. I’m and admitted Bard-hater. I realise now in my graying years that it was for all the same reasons I thought the smart athletes were jerks, or the cute girls who didn’t talk to me where batches. It was all jealousy. Here I’d be, with my sword rusting from blood (i don’t know… a salt water elemental?) just about to either win or die gloriously, and up trots some Half-Elf (they were always Half-Elves) with a pipe organ who just happens to have all the perfect stats in all the perfect places and wins like Prince Achilles.

    Half-Elf Bard with Scimitars, Ambidexterity, and Two-Weapon Fighting was more like a Dues Ex Machina than anything else.

    After reading this article, though, I’m a changed man. I’m a believer. I’m ready to put away my Merlin Cap and let someone else DM just so I can Bard it up.

  21. Well let me tell you Bards are cool…doesn’t make a differnece if I’m the DB or a player character. Back in the “Hay Day” of D&D when you had to pick up fighter, thief and magic user level before you became a bard. I used wreck shop with Spinedorf Gigglestag the halfing bard extraordinare. Talk abour awesome. I used to make tapes (yes cassette tapes) for each gaming session and play the music at the appropiate moment, my DM hated me and adored it all at the same time. I tell you what, let them give me the Bard, Monl and Druid…I may be completely inspired to go full 4E

    I like Bards

  22. I loved the soundtrack function for bards too. My desired soundtrack in real life is all Rage Against the Machine though.

  23. meh…

    Bards have always had some issues fitting in with a lot of the adventuring groups.

    Since I haven’t seen the official version of the 4th edition Bard, I’m going to reserve an opinion till then.

    Though to be honest, the biggest problem with Bards is when that one guy (every group seems to have one) that wanted to play the chaotic neutral half-elven magic-user/fighter/thief wants to play a Bard after your persuasive argument enhanced with a frozen yet wet mackerel convinced him that his first choice wouldn’t be allowed. (That was just imagery, I have never actually beaten someone with a fish, just thought about it…)

    Actually I’m hoping the Bard will fit in well, but my campaign is trying to be a non-tolkien, non-medieval European setting, so we’ll have to see about that.

  24. I don’t follow your blog too much since I don’t play a D&D system, but I wanted to throw a few hearts at you. Bard has been my favorite class since I-don’t-know-when.

    Bards are all about dabbling. And as a player, you get to have a taste in each world as you sneak behind the rogue, attack the kobold with a longsword, cast an attack spell, bandage the dumb fighter, and sweet-talk the Old Man to giving more gold all in a single day. You’re not encumbered by expensive armor, deities, a criminal record/association with a crime ring, or are monitored by a mage guild. You’re not only ABLE to do anything, but FREE to.

    Bards really are Chaotic Awesome.

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