As described in my other thread: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... (How do I make that a link? I see an "insert link" button, but it's greyed out, so I can't use it)
I'm pretty new to 4e, and I've been invited relatively last minute to join a campaign starting tomorrow, so I need to build a character fast. The big caveat is that since our group is all 4e newbies, the DM has decided we'll only use the Players Handbook and Players Handbook 2 for making our characters. The rest of the group had a character creation session before I was invited to join, so based on what they're playing, and my own preference, I wanted a primarily non-melee leader or controller.
Based on the thread I mentioned above, I've decided to go with a Cunning Bard. But being new to 4e, I don't know much about the class, so I've got a ton of questions.
1. Do bards need a ranged weapon? They're proficient with some of them, but looking at their powers, it looks like they can get away with just casting Vicious Mockery or another spell every turn and it'll be just as good (if not better) than shooting arrows at the bad guys. I'm used to Pathfinder bards who are primarily archers when they aren't using spells, so the idea of a bard who doesn't run out of spells and thus doesn’t need a plan for what to do when he's not casting spells is new to me.
2. Do bards need strength? It looks like bards do benefit from carrying a melee weapon, even if they don't intend to use it very often. But it also looks like their melee attacks are going to use cha based spells instead of the melee basic attack. So is strength good for anything other than making sure your chainmail doesn't slow you down (carrying capacity)? Which brings me to my next question...
3. Does a bard really need chain mail? I know it's the best armor that bards are proficient with, but if I’m travelling with 5 melee combatants, and I'm standing in the back with the sorcerer, then is it really worth the effort? After all, it does weigh you down, and hurts stealth, swim, and climb checks.
4. Do bards need dex? This goes back to #1. If I'm not using a ranged weapon, then dex really only affects initiative and stealth. And I haven't decided yet if I'm going to be a stealthy bard or not, though I'm leaning towards not.
5. Since I've already asked about str and dex (the bard dump stats, if I understand correctly), let's talk other stats. Cha is obviously the most important, followed by int for a Cunning Bard, and then con is probably still third. But how important is int, really? Is it worth sacrificing points that could be spent on con and wis (which seems useful for perception, insight, and heal) to try and really max out your int, or is it better to spread the points around, while still making sure int is slightly higher than the others?
6. And that kinda ties into race, since that will affect stats. What race should I go with?
Before picking a race, it's worth noting what type of personality I want my character to have, since that relates to choice of race. I picture an outgoing, friendly character, who will probably be the party's "face" for social situations. So even though tieflings have the cha/int stat bonuses, the image of an intimidating horned creature just doesn't jive with how I’d picture and play my character. And for that matter, gnomes have the same stat bonuses, but they’re more stealthy and reserved than what I envision for a character who probably wants to always be the center of attention.
I’m kind of leaning towards half-elf, since they get the cha bonus, diplomacy bonus, and that dilettante thing to grab an extra power from another class. But again, that goes back to how important it is to max out int by going for a race with cha/int bonuses instead of the cha/con of a half-elf, since my stat priority is probably Cha > Int > Con > Wis > Dex > Str. If I do go half-elf, what’s a good at-will from another class (PHB and PHB2 only) to grab as an encounter power? I was thinking maybe one of the sorcerer powers, since they have cha based at-wills that can hurt multiple foes at once, which is something bards normally can’t do, but I’m very much open to other suggestions.
Remember that I’m only using PHB and PHB2, so eladrin doesn’t get the cha bonus. I actually emailed my DM to ask if he’d let me use my copy of Heroes of Fallen Lands to make an eladrin character, so I could get the cha/int bonus playing one of them, but I’m not sure I’d definitely do it, even if he says it’s ok. Like I said, I’m leaning towards half-elf, but the bonus to con instead of int is a minor sticking point.
That leaves human as the only other obvious choice. They only get one stat bonus, which would obviously go on cha. They get some nice race bonuses (defenses, extra skill training), but their biggest advantage seems to be the extra feat at first level. Which I guess leads into the next question.
7. What feats are good for a bard?
8. What rituals are good for a bard? Given the casting cost, I can’t see using these very often, at least at first level. Is it even worth picking up components during character creation, or save that for later when I have more money?
9. Which class power choices do you think are the highlights that I should definitely take? I’ve already decided on Vicious Mockery, since it’s a damage/debuff combo. Slightly less damage than Misdirected Mark, but with a straight -2, rather than just giving a mark. I figure I should pick one of the melee spells as my second at-will, even though I don’t intend to use it very much, just so I have it if necessary. Other than that, Stirring Shout looks like a GREAT daily, and Blunder looks like a good encounter power, though there are other good options.
10. Just to make sure I understand this, there’s no point in picking up a wand until I can afford one that’s actually magical, right? Which leads me to wonder why a non-magical wand is in the equipment lists as available to buy for 7 gp or whatever it was.
11. On the other hand, a non-magical instrument is still useful for rituals, song of rest, etc, though I’ll probably want to get a magical one as soon as I can afford it.
Well, I’ve babbled long enough. It probably sounds like I’m a total munchkin trying this hard to come up with a good character, but I’m actually focused very much on role playing during the actual gaming sessions. I just think part of the fun of RPG games is customizing and working on characters between sessions, which is when I come up with ways to optimize my character to be more useful to the group. And in this case, I really don’t know squat about the bard class in 4e, so I have a ton to learn.
Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any advice.