Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Prydain Project - Bard (Version 1 - standalone class)

This is version 1 of the Bard class for the Prydain Project - I will follow up with a "kit" or "prestige class" approach later, and will choose one to use in the Prydain Project.  In the meantime, for your use I present: The Bard.

I've taken the liberty of adapting the OD&D Bard class originally published in The Strategic Review (Vol.2, No.1 - Feb 1976).  As written, I think the original is over the top.  I've toned it down and raised the XP required for advancement.  The Bard becomes a Fighter with access to a limited range of spells and the special abilities of Charm and Lore in return for reduced access to weapons and armor and reduced hit points.

Spells /level
Level Title       XP 1 2 3
Charm     Lore
1 Rhymer 0 - - -
10% 10%
2 Lyrist 2,000 1 - -
20% 20%
3 Harper 4,000 1 - -
30% 30%
4 Chanter 8,000 2 - -
40% 40%
5 Lore Keeper 16,000 2 - -
50% 50%
6 Minstrel 32,000 2 1 -
60% 60%
7 Annalist 64,000 2 1 -
70% 70%
8 Poet 120,000 2 2 -
80% 80%
9 Counselor 240,000 2 2 -
90% 90%
10* Lore Master 360,000 2 2 1
100% 100%
11* Bard 480,000 2 2 1
110% 110%
12* Master Bard 600,000 2 2 2
120% 120%
13* Master Bard 13 720,000 2 2 2
130% 130%
14* Master Bard 14 840,000 3 2 2
140% 140%

* Constitution adjustments no longer apply.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level, 9d6 maximum; +1 hp per level thereafter.
Saving Throws: Save as Fighter of same level
If playing to levels above 14, spells per level will reach a maximum of 3 spells per level.

Bards may not use plate mail or shields, and may not use 2-handed melee weapons.

Bards must return to the Master College to study and practice in order to advance a level.

After initial apprenticeship with a high level Bard, a youth will travel to a Master College such as the one at Caer Dathyl to study and take a series of tests to qualify for entry into the rolls of the College (i.e. to become a Rhymer).  

With these credentials in hand, a Bard is free to travel and can legally claim hospitality at the hall of any Lawful or Neutral lord - even Chaotic lords are often willing to allow a Bard to play for supper, but the Bard would be wise to be wary of ulterior motives or treachery (cf The Book of Three, and Fflewddur Fflam's imprisonment in Spiral Castle).  Bards can also often barter for food and shelter with more humble folk, but such folk are under no obligation to oblige and word of a Bard who abuses the hospitality of commoners is likely to spread.

As their knowledge of lore and the hidden Bardic mysteries advances, Bards gain some limited magical ability in the form of special songs and chants that have unusual effects (see Bard Spells below).  These songs are never written down and are passed from Bard to Bard within the confines of the College (thus the need to return in order to advance a level).  Each morning, the Bard must consult an inner muse to review and rehearse the songs that will be used that day to press them into memory.

The Bards of Prydain are respected keepers of lore and law in addition to their function as entertainers.  As such, although a true Druid might be preferred high level Bards are sometimes called upon to arbitrate minor disputes or settle matters of law.

On reaching 12th Level a Master Bard may establish a new College where a library and collection of instruments may be accumulated, attracting scribes, craftsmen and Bardic apprentices from across Prydain.  The College may be located in a stronghold built by the Master Bard, or in space set aside by a lord willing to sponsor the project.

Charm: Once per level each day, a Bard may attempt to charm an audience of creatures within hearing (60' radius) with eloquent speech or skillful musical performance. This ability will have no effect if the Bard cannot be heard, and creatures normally immune to charm effects are not affected.  Roll once against the Bard's chance to charm.  A result equal to or less than the chance indicates that affected creatures are mesmerized and do nothing but listen to the Bard for so long as the Bard continues speaking/performing, or until the effect is disrupted by a loud noise or attack.  For each creature, adjust the chance by -10% for each HD above the first (thus the chance to charm a 3rd level Fighter is -20%).  Magical instruments might increase the chance.  Roll a new reaction roll when the Bard stops speaking/performing and the charm ends - if the charm effect was disrupted by an attack from the Bard's allies, the result is automatically hostile.

Lore: Bards are students of history, legend, and lore, and as such have a chance of being able to recall pertinent information about notable people, places or items (including both magic items and those of merely historical significance).  Examples of information that might be revealed include: the relationship between notable NPCs, rumours about a notable NPC, rumours or legends about a location or famous item/artifact, the means of activating a magic item, the meaning of heraldic devices or symbols, the history of noble families.  Lore cannot be used to identify magic items other than in very general terms (and cannot be used to detect their magical properties at all) but at the DM's discretion might allow the Bard to make limited use (half power or less) of a magic item normally restricted to another class.  The Lore ability may also be used to interpret ancient writings or those written in obscure languages.

Bard Spells

Level 1
1. Read Languages
2. Read Magic
3. Ventriloquism
4. Charm Person
5. Remove Fear

Level 2
1. Web
2. Locate (C)
3. Clairvoyance
4. Speak with Animal
5. Snake Charm

Level 3
1. Confusion
2. Predict Weather (C)
3. Speak with Plants (C)
4. Obscure (C)
5. Locate Object

(Spells marked C are actually listed in the BECMI Companion set)

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