Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Prydain Project - Bard (Version 2 - a kit-based approach)

This is version 2 of the Bard class for the Prydain Project - I started off with a stand-alone class approach to the Bard that was based on the old OD&D class published in Strategic Review back in '76.  

I'm still not completely sure which one I will ultimately use in the campaign.  On the one hand, I like the clean B/X simplicity of the stand-alone, on the other hand this version allows some variety in Bard backgrounds as well as making them more powerful later on (better spell advancement).  Speaking of which, I would probably use the spell list here for both.
Spells /level
LevelTitle      XP123
Charm    Lore
7/8Lore Keeper64,00021-
9/10Lore Master240,000221
11/12*Master Bard 11th480,000322
12/13*Master Bard 12th600,000333
13/14*Master Bard 13th720,000333
14/15*Master Bard 14th840,000333

* Constitution adjustments no longer apply.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level, 6d6 maximum (in addition to any HD gained in the original class); +1 hp per level thereafter.

Saving Throws: Save as Fighter of same level.  
To Hit: Fights as Cleric of same level.

Bards that began play as Thieves retain Thieves' Skills and they continue to improve as the character advances in level. The level after the slash is the equivalent Thief level for such a character.

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.

On obtaining the minimum experience points to achieve 4th level a Fighter may choose to become a 4th level Bard instead.  (Note: at the DM's option, Thieves might also be allowed to become Bards - in this case, the character must have enough experience to become 5th level in order to qualify) The character must 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 Harper).  

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.

Bards may use magic items available to their original class (Fighter or Thief).

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 11th 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.  Charisma bonus: The chance to charm is increased by +5% for each +1 bonus from high Charisma.

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.  Each successful use of the Lore ability will yield 1 fact (true or legendary) or rumour about the item, place or person being considered.  Each level, the Bard may try a number of times equal to level, however any failure indicates that no more may be learned until the Bard has gained a new level.  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.  Wisdom bonus: The chance of knowing lore is increased by +5% for each +1 bonus from high Wisdom.

Bard Spells

Level 1
1. Read Languages (B)
2. Entangle (see below)
3. Ventriloquism (B)
4. Charm Person (B)
5. Remove Fear (B)

Level 2
1. Read Magic (B)
2. Locate (C)
3. Predict Weather (C)
4. Speak with Animal (X)
5. Snake Charm (X)

Level 3
1. Confusion (X)
2. Clairvoyance (X)
3. Speak with Plants (C)
4. Obscure (C)
5. Locate Object (B)

(Spells are marked to indicate the set in which they are described: B=Basic, X=Expert, C=Companion)

Range: 90'
Duration: 1 turn
Effect: Grasses, weeds vines, bushes and even supple trees in an area 30' diameter wrap, twist and entwine around creatures passing through them, slowing them to half movement. Small creatures must save vs wands or be trapped when passing through the area of effect. 

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