So...how "arcane" should the bard be? What is a bard to you?

I thought it would be cool to open up discussion on the bard.  I think shared opinions on what a bard "is" would be interesting, be they opinions on mechanical distinctions, narrative "place" in the world, or any other germane considerations.

But specifically, in light of recent comments by Mearls regarding the bard, I think discussing how "arcane" the bard is is a discussion worth having.

I don't think it is presumptuous to state that the vast majority of players view the bard as at least partially arcane, and that magic of some form is a major component of the class identity.  But exactly how magical is the class (to you)?

If I were designing 5e, I would probably be designing a unified mechanic at a system level that applies to all the classes (akin to 4e, though maybe not exactly alike in specific implementation).  However, that ship has clearly sailed, and given the established design paradigm of 5e so far, I think bards are best served not as a "spellcaster" in the traditional sense.  Basically, I don't see spell slots or spell points as evocative of a bard.

As far as a stereotypical "place" in the world, I view the bard as an explorer and chronicler, the one who knows the legends and fables, sees the truth in the tall tales, and goes on adventures to uncover those mysteries while writing new stories about himself and his companions. 

Stereotypically, I view the bard as being musical, though I personally like the idea of being able to easily refluff the bards musical skill as some other performance, like oratory/rhetoric, or performance.  What is important is that there is an undercurrent of storytelling to the bard's art.  I am reminded of Tolkien, and the frequent songs and poems featured in his books.  Not only are the songs described as providing succor or inspiration to the weary hearts of the listeners, but they explain moments of history and legend, connecting the present to the past.  Not to mention that song and music is fundamental and functionally equivalent to creation in Middle-Earth, what with the gods essentially singing Middle-Earth into existence.  For me the bard is decidedly NOT the parody that Elan from Giant in the Playground ("Bluff! Bluff! Bluff the Stupid Orc!").  When the bard is weaving his magic, he is telling a story, tying it to the experiences of the party.

In a way, the bard is very "meta".  He is telling the story in the story, much like how Tolkien uses the framing device of "The Red Book" in the LotR saga.  Within the text, Bilbo and Frodo write the Red Book, leaving some pages for Sam.  Their respective entries are "There And Back Again" and "The Lord of the Rings" which are in effect the texts themselves.  The novels are presented to us by Tolkien with him in the role of bard/historian.  Tolkien effectively presents his words as theirs, and their words as his.

I don't see the bard as a "spell prep" sort of guy.  I think the bard is best served as being impomptu, and off-the-cuff.  Mearls mentioned the warlock as a possible guideline.  While I don't think the specific implementation of the warlock (magic abilities fueled by "favors" from a pact), the at-will essence of the warlock is, I feel, the right direction.

I don't see the bard as even having spells in the traditional i.e. wizard sense.  I don't see the bard as being a weak wizard who can sing.  I think that the magic should come from the song itself.  Words and music have power, and resonate with the very rhythm and frequency of the world.  The bard doesn't merely chant or recite like a wizard does.  He gets in tune to the harmony of things, and lets his song resonate with the song of creation.

As magical as that seems, I don't view the bard as being overtly magical.  I don't imagine visual waves of magic emanating from the bard, like I do with the wizard or cleric.  I certainly don't see magical colored notes wafting through the air!  No, the bard's magic is subtle and is felt, rather than seen.  It has more similarities to charm or illusion magic, but it isn't meant to deceive or coerce.  Rather, it changes the way you feel, on the inside.  It is inspiring, and demoralizing, and it invites self-reflection.

If I were to get into the nitty-gritty mechanical details, I would favor a few effective, infinitely repeatable abilities of broad applicability but limited influence.  Something akin to the fighter's CS or the warlock's invocation mechanic, in that the character possesses a few abilities that can be performed, with limits, again and again and again.  I probably wouldn't have it expressed in the form of spendable dice.  As a mechanical wrinkle, I think a duration mechanic that can extend effects ("I'm still siiiiiniiiiing!") would be a nice thing to set the class apart.  As well, there should be a "ritualized" form of bardic magic, when the party sits down and rests, and the bard imparts them with a tale well told, or a song well sung.

On top of that, a means to seek out and interpret knowledge is essential to getting that historian aspect.

Moreover, since the class isn't slinging spells left and right, having a general competence in combat is warranted.  I imagine the bard is the class best served on its own, if ever a class had to go solo.  Light armor, agile, and capable of not only defending itself with a blade (and possibly shield), but striking down those that threaten it.  I would say at least as melee-capable as the rogue, without the spike damage of a sneak attack.

What say you, everybody?
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
The most important aspect of the bard in my mind is the role as a lore keeper, educator, and story teller, a travelling beacon of the light of reason, in the battle against ignorance the bard is the first one in and the last one out.

Arcane magic should be merely one of the many lores avaliable to a bard and not something that defines every bard.

IF I was forced to make the call myself I'd say that bardic magic has more in common with that of the druid or the witch than that of the wizard.
I like the spell-casting, and not just the "arcane" kind (one of my favourite characters was a 2nd Ed Al-Qadim Bard/Rawun kit), I also dig the "druidical tutelage" action of 1st Ed.

I've sorta stuck with the jack of all trades bard presented in 2e. They've travelled the world, seen a bit of this and that, and dabbled in things. Learned a few secrets along the way and paid for it by singing for their supper.


It makes perfect sense for them to have borrowed bits and pieces from all over the rest of the game because that's probably exactly how they got their abilities.


I liked their approach to the bard in 3e because it gave prestige classes that could let them focus on one thing or another (ostensibly anyway. Didn't really turn out that way). So you'd go bard and then jump to a really song focused PrC or a magic focused PrC or whatever. You don't need PrCs to do that but I liked the basic notion of a proper generalist that could then choose to focus on one area or another.


The particularly awesome potential in the bard like I said is you can't really be sure what kind of bard you're dealing with in game. Maybe they're really song/inspiration focused, maybe they're powerful magic users, maybe they're skill monkeys. There's a lot of variety.



As for the specifics of the article and your post, I'd be totally cool with making them more song focused or have them shed magic entirely so long as it didn't come at the cost of that variety. Basically I'd want to opt out and focus on more magic or more physical skills/combat stuff.

I think your take on the bard is nice, but very specific. A good starting point, or default (please don't let the default discussion respawn!), but I would like to see an even broader class.
The wizardly bard, while not my favorite, makes sense too what with his knowledge gathering and all.
On the other end of the spectrum I want to see a fighter using wits and psychology in conjunction with a heavy blade cutting tunes in the air (and the flesh of enemies). Mostly though I want to rid the class of the Elanish
I would say you're close Fox, but as to the question of how magical does the Bard need to be only one answer? How about a sliding scale. Some like their Bard magicless, the idea Foxface presents is a middle ground and the 4e Bard is the magical extreme (full caster).
I think your take on the bard is nice, but very specific. A good starting point, or default (please don't let the default discussion respawn!), but I would like to see an even broader class. The wizardly bard, while not my favorite, makes sense too what with his knowledge gathering and all. On the other end of the spectrum I want to see a fighter using wits and psychology in conjunction with a heavy blade cutting tunes in the air (and the flesh of enemies). Mostly though I want to rid the class of the Elanish



Oh I agree, my take on the bard is very specific.  It is, in essence, my take.  What I hoped came across is that how one could reflavor it to be more or less magical.  Looking at pure mechanics, I'm seeking simple repeatable effects (the specifics I leave up to the designers, though I favor bonuses to attacks, defenses, skill checks, and a modicum of inspirational healing).  Precisely how those effects are described is up to the player and DM.  Personally, I describe it as I did in my post.

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I would say you're close Fox, but as to the question of how magical does the Bard need to be only one answer? How about a sliding scale. Some like their Bard magicless, the idea Foxface presents is a middle ground and the 4e Bard is the magical extreme (full caster).



You know, I never viewed the 4e bard as being "magical extreme".  While a few of the powers are overtly magical, the vast majority of them were basically songs and words expressed in battle, most of which either inspired allies, or demoralized or fooled enemies.

To be honest, the 4e bard was the first bard that I played that didn't feel like he was a singing wizard.

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I think they should boil the bard down to it's basic elements like they have with every other class, and then give them archetype choices. Basic elements include Music or Oration of some sort and generally an aptitude for lore and skills. From there let the different kind of bards be the deciding factor. For instance a Skald is a rough and tough poet, viking/icelandic origin. So let him gain ability that represent as such. Armor and weapon proficiencies, more combat related music, maybe less spells, etc. Charltons, musicians, storytellers, and lore keepers alike share the same basic bones, but different ways of going about their craft. As far as spells go, it's either all or nothing. In my experience taking spells out sometimes drastically imbalances some archetypes, ergo I would say keep spells in but perhaps differ the amount given per archetype.

A good example of this is pathfinder's take on bard archetypes. I think it's a step in the right direction.
My two copper.
i really like the idea of the bard's songs being their 'spells'. they should be distinct entities in the game (things not in the wizard/cleric spell list).

i think that songs could be the core of the class, with melee and magical dabbling being the sub classes. the martial bard would be a sort of swashbuckling off-fighter, while the magic dabbler would have the ability to cast some cantrips from the wizard list as well as having access to ritualls and scroll use.
I always viewed music as the first form of magic that mortals ever mastered.  Even in the real world, music has a profound effect on how people behave and think.  After all, "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast."  Music is the most common form of magic, but Music-as-magic, as the bard wields it, is the most arcane magic.  it is the ultimate expression of "The Art," and yet, most wizards would struggle to attempt to use it.

To me, Bardic music borders on the divine.  Some cultures believe the universe was sung into existence.  Bards are the people who, whether through instruction or natural talent, are able to tap into that magical potential of music and wield it as deftly as a warrior wields a sword.

That said, I don't care for the prancing troubadour stereotype of the bard.  I have a drow skald in my homebrew world who specializes in dirges and funeral marches, which she hums, rather than sings.  She's also a hell of a storyteller, which she does without music.  Let the dandies in the taverns do their song and dance for chump change.
I'm all in favor of the bard losing any association with arcane magic. Let them return to using druid spells, stealing like thieves and fighting tooe to toe with the best warriors in the game. 

That's where the Bard belongs. 2e ruined them and WotC made them worse. 
Ruined some may say, but really they introduced the urban bard while removing the Celtic bard. I hope there will be room for the wild as well as the civilized bard in Next. Satyrs exemplify one type of bard that is definitely not arcane, I'd say.
To me the Bard is obviously Psionic.

A strictly mental class focusing on mental effects, telepathic charmer, empath, esp of psychic knowledge, even deploying telekinetic effects involving the force of sound, sometimes even light.

A psychic healer.

Essentially, the Bard charges the voice to resonate suggestive, psychic effects.  
Wow, this thread really has me thinking now. I agree, that first and foremost the bard should be a storyteller, a performer, an adventurer and a collecter of lost law and stories. To this end, I'd suggest two core mechanics.

Something that helps out with the adventure/law part, whether this is skill bonuses or some other interesting mechanic.

My second would be related to the performance and storytelling. Give the class some central system which allows him to manipulate the world with his performance.
The ability to lift spirits/heal/demoralise/charm/decieve/give advantage etc. I'd say build it something like the Skald's Aura from 4e - having effects that could be added onto it, or through it, using a system like Warlock Invocations. 
I think this is the big central thing to the Bard. The ability to weave magic through song.



From there, I'd like to see something a little more complex. Create a series of 'Bardic Paths' one which emphasises the Martial Bard, another to emphasise the Adventuring Bard another to emphasise the Arcane bard and one more the emphasis the Divine Bard - I believe Pathfinder did something similar to this?

(This could work either like the Clerics Domain choice or...
Something that you could pick level by level, so level 1&2 martial, level 3 arcane or...
Have a variety of options to pick at each level, of which there are several of each type.)

(When I say level by level I mean by step, so it may only get increases or choice at 1 3 6 9 etc.)

I see bardic magic as some sort of middle way between the wizard and sorcerer.

Bards are a very lore focused class and it would seem fitting that they mostly learn their magic arts, in contrast to just acting by instinct like a sorcerer does. At the same time the bard does not have the scientific pure reason approach like wizards but are more improvised within the bounds of their system.

I picture bardic magic as the precursor to wiardry. I see some ancient world where the only spellcasters were those with innate power like sorcerers, then came bards (and maybe arcane/primal druids) who found magic in patterns, emotions, and sounds. Much later the first wizards emerged to study, refine and codify the magical effects that bards and sorcerers use without understanding them.

I would like to see a bardic casting system that is part sorcery, part wizardry. Maybe they can learn spells from scrolls and tomes, and from other bards, or even wizards and sorcerers. But once learned they cast them in a more improvised manner, maybe using spellpoints?

In my mind the performances of bards does not have to be the same thing as their magic. I find it quite hard to believe when some bard recites a "Poem of heroism" during a few seconds in the middle of a battle..  Instead I picture that their magic depends on an understanding of a secret underlying harmony in the world, which they gain by practicing their performances.
To me the Bard is obviously Psionic.

A strictly mental class focusing on mental effects, telepathic charmer, empath, esp of psychic knowledge, even deploying telekinetic effects involving the force of sound, sometimes even light.

A psychic healer.

Essentially, the Bard charges the voice to resonate suggestive, psychic effects.  



This is a very interesting way of lookig at bardic charms and suggestions. It could be a nice alternate bard concept.

What Haldrik said makes terribly good sense. I still don't like it (as a core choice). I guess I'm nostalgic...
The mechanical aspects of the bard I can agree fit the warlock method very nicely, whatever route the player chooses for the bard. At least in regards to resource management.
I like your take foxface. It is a great description.

Bard as the generalist skill monkey never made any sense to me. Social skill monkey though? Yup he should read emotions, lies, flaws and boons of personality better than anybody. And be manipulative enough to affect them.

I like to think of them as the ultimate controllers (not in the 4e sense of the word). Being able to inspire allies and despair foes. Musical instruments could be a nice addition but should not be required.

Im a bit one sided on bards I suppose. When I hear of bards I imagine folks using their voice as a weapon and not necessarily music. I know others see them as artists like painters or dancers but to me it was always about the voice. Lol, I simply cannot imagine a mute bard. In our games they were always singers, demagogues, orators/storytellers but never mute. I guess that affects my impression of them greatly but I cant help it.
I quite like Haldrik's take as well. It should be a class option at the very least. I could totally make a PrC out of it.
I view the core bard as chronicler of deeds, a travelling minstrel who sets out to record history, and ends up making it. A bard succeeds through his wit, knowledge, and bravado. On this basis the core of the bard should be: lore knowledge, diplomacy, and performance skill of some kind. Personally I would keep the performance aspects non-combat. They rpovide party buffs after a rest.

Then use traditions or specialties to give the bard more traditional roles. The healer bard, the arcane bard, or depending on the setting, a bard who's music taps directly into the weave of magic.
But exactly how magical is the class (to you)?



Damn foxface, you should have written the legends and lore on bards! What you said and the way you describe them is great! I totally agree with you.

For a class like the bard, I think it's easy to get lost trying to match up the conceptual and the mechanical. I don't think anyone expects the player of a bard to actually recount the tales and stories known to his character in game. But the perception is that to play the bard WELL, you have to be better at roleplaying and more creative than the average player. This is unfortunate and I hope clever mechanics can bridge the gap from player to character.

A bard should be a 'magical rogue'. In the sense that, a rogue relies on sheer skill and luck to do his special stuff, whereas the bard relies on magical skill and luck to do his special stuff. The skill set, however, is different.

The bard's abilities fall into a few categories: Buffs for allies, debuffs for enemies, Enchantments & Charms, Illusions, and Utility. Mechanically, these abilities should be available very frequently and many (but not all) should require die rolls and opposed checks. A low cooldown would work best. Many spells that require a die roll to succeed might be "reliable" in the 4e sense. A miss or failure means the ability doesn't go on cooldown. But that particular enemy is temporarily immune to that ability. Example: the bard tries to charm a guard. He doesn't fall for the bard's jedi mind tricks, but the bard might try again on another guard.

I love the idea of flexible abilities. Upon using one ability the bard can choose from several different effects. Like Slight of Hand can be used to pickpocket or palm something, the bard has abilities that can be used in a variety of different situations. It is in this way that a bard is the true renaissance man, the jack of all trades.

A Bard is not part wizard, part rogue, part cleric, part fighter. A bard has a trick or solution for almost any situation. And those solutions aren't just lesser versions of wizard spells, either!!! They are uniquely bardlike and equally as powerful.

The bard is arcane in the sense that his powers aren't divine. The bard doesn't learn spells by studying, but he does do his own version of research, in the form of history, cultural tales, and exploring artistic creativity.

His spells come from uttering arcane words like a wizard. The uttering of them taps into a similar power. But his words aren't formulae. They are based on sheer force of will (charisma). He wills these spell effects into existence, and uses the magic of his art as fuel. A bard's art can be expressed in many forms: a song, a poem, spoken word, epic tales and legends, dance, and other visual/physical art.

Here's how I imagine a bard's spell works: A bard can buff his ally in battle by remembering a painting he once saw of a knight slaying the evil ogre king. That motivation could just as easily have been a song or a story of the same event. Regardless of the medium, the magic comes from the power of that moment in history. The fate of the kingdom changed that day, when the Ogre Wars were finally over. The bard merely taps into that moment. He channels the arcane energy from that moment and bestows great courage to his ally. In a way, he is turning memories and feelings into tangible effects.

Channeling such a moment is strenuous. The bard is briefly exhausted (overwhelmed) from the intensity of it. Hence, the spell has a brief cooldown.

The bard is a decent combatant in his own right. He doesn't always use light, finesse weapons though. Bards come in many flavors and their selection of weapons reflects that. Mechanically, I'd give the bard different options of weapon proficiency at creation. I love the idea of the 7-ft tall Mountain Man Bard with a Greatsword just as much as I love the Wood Elf Bard with an Elven Thinblade.

Bards have no restrictions about casting spells in armor. If they want to wear plate, they can do so. But they're probably not proficient in plate at first level. I'd go with Light and Medium armors.

But most importantly, the bard uses his spells and abilities to enhance himself and others in Exploration, Interaction, and in Combat. He is brave and daring, but might have a weakness for a good story.

That's my bard.

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I always viewed music as the first form of magic that mortals ever mastered.  Even in the real world, music has a profound effect on how people behave and think.  After all, "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast."  Music is the most common form of magic, but Music-as-magic, as the bard wields it, is the most arcane magic.  it is the ultimate expression of "The Art," and yet, most wizards would struggle to attempt to use it.



As a musician, I definitely give you +1 for that!

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I believe Bards should be arcane spellcasters and loremasters. Wether they cast Wizard spells or unique Bardspell powers i am open for any methods.

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I vision the bard as the magical side of a rogue, via travel and interactions with communities, they have a broad range of skills that are developed with a focus on social skills. From a magical standpoint the bard uses recitations (the bard version of learning and memorizing magic) so they have a mechanism to draw upon the various arcane and divine lores. It would be a combination of ritual and spell casting, with a focus on oratory, songs, and performances. This helps the bard learn diverse magical lores, while at the same time keeping a low profile. In combat the bard would favor indirect techniques that use the bard's wit.
A bard has been this to me:



Anyone who can make the concept not this ridiculous gets my full support.  I also want to avoid this:


D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Regarding the Arcane/Psionic/Druidic 'powersource' part of the discussion..

I see the Bard's magic as a "way to do magic" rather than a specifier of "what magic is channeled using that way of doing magic".

A bunch of different Bards drawing on the magic of nature, psionics, arcane currents, innate dragon-magic, infernal energies or shadows and sorrow... they are all bards (although the end result and taste in music may differ..)

Just like an enchanter and a necromancer are both wizards, using the scholarly approach to magic, there may be many types of bards using the musical/harmonious approach to magic in different ways.

Wizards - scholarly magic - spell prep, spellbooks, learning spells
Sorcerers - innate magic - a few innate spell-like abilities
Warlocks - granted power - a few specific granted powers
Bards - harmonious magic - maybe something inbetween sorcerer and wizard, instinctive use of lore





















IntuitiveControlled
'Spell-like ability'SorcererWarlock
Magic working,
spell or ritual
BardWizard



I posted this elsewhere at some pointm but if you've read THIS:

www.adventuresinscifipublishing.com/2010...

That is the bard I'd want to see.  Barris makes me want to play a bard.  Everything about D&D rules stops me.  No one that has ever played one (that I have witnessed) has ever felt they did much to help themselves, or the party and therefore they have switched.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

to me before 4th edition the bard was a arcane caster.
he dabled in wizardry becouse that is a kind of magic that can be learned, and to me the bard was about learning a bit of everything.
Scorcery is somthing you have to have been born with.
divine comes with strings attached having to folow rules of your god.



 
he dabled in wizardry becouse that is a kind of magic that can be learned

...by learning to look up the spells in the back of the PHB
Scorcery is somthing you have to have been born with.

...born with the ability to figure out how to manipulate a book, to go look up the spells in the back of the PHB
divine comes with strings attached having to folow rules of your god.

Thou Shalt open up the PHB.  Thine spells art in the back threreof.
My two very favorite bards I've ever had at my table were an epic-addled delusional warrior and a fast-talking lovable coward.

In other words, a Don Quixote and a Rincewind.

Now, what do Don Quixote and Rincewind have in common?  The world is a story to them.  Events are expected to mold themselves to narrative necessity.  Now, in Don Quixote's case, Renaissance Spain isn't really like that, but with his conviction and force of personality he can often convince it to play along with him for a while (quite a while, with Sancho Panza).  Don Quixote is fully immersed in his own tale, not quite conscious of the part he plays in guiding it.  Rincewind, on the other hand, lives on the Discworld, which very much is like that.  And Rincewind is miserably conscious of it:  he is the only sane man in a universe that is not only populated but run by Don Quixotes.  He does not guide his story - oh, how he wishes he could! - but because he is somewhat detached from and aware of the narrative tropes going on all around him, sometimes he can see opportunities to exploit them.

This, then, is the bard:  a character who uses the power of stories to change the world.  The game can be agnostic about whether its world is like the Disc, where narrative is a universal force and the bard is just more attuned to it than most, or like Spain, where it's all mundane reality until the bard comes along and makes it a narrative.  But there is magic in D&D, so the bard can be a little more effective than Don Quixote.  The landlord will not go back to beating the boy as soon as the bard leaves, if for no other reason than the bard put a geas on him.

This bardic power can have many names:  I've described it in terms of tropes and narratives; but a more traditional in-universe explanation could put it as the magic of fortune, fate, or destiny; or you could even go the other direction and make the bard explicitly medium-aware, messing with the D&D game itself.  However you phrase it, it is the power to control events over when the bard should have no control, not through brute force like the wizard, but through seeming serendipity.  Not big on the conjurations and explosions, but unsurpassed in the manipulation of behavior, perception, and the dice.
I like this thread. I hadn't really given a lot of thought on how bardic "magic" can really be by any "power source": martial, primal, arcane, divine, psionic, et al. Similarly, bards do not have to be a "jack of all trades", that is simply one option. One aspect, IMO, is a constant, however: bards want/need to be the center of attention, for good or bad. I'd like to see that be reinforced with the class mechanics.

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I always viewed music as the first form of magic that mortals ever mastered.  Even in the real world, music has a profound effect on how people behave and think.  After all, "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast."  Music is the most common form of magic, but Music-as-magic, as the bard wields it, is the most arcane magic.  it is the ultimate expression of "The Art," and yet, most wizards would struggle to attempt to use it.



As a musician, I definitely give you +1 for that!




Total, Allan Holdsworth definitely cast a charm spell on me with Three Sheets to the Wind that's duration is still going 25 years later.
I like this thread. I hadn't really given a lot of thought on how bardic "magic" can really be by any "power source": martial, primal, arcane, divine, psionic, et al. Similarly, bards do not have to be a "jack of all trades", that is simply one option. One aspect, IMO, is a constant, however: bards want/need to be the center of attention, for good or bad. I'd like to see that be reinforced with the class mechanics.



Terrible idea.  You should never be forced to play any character in a particular way.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I hope WotC realizes that these are all several takes on the bard, and doesn't go with their old standby of the "other bard" being a warrior-skald.

My personal view is that a bard's arcane magic is a side effect of them having bits of random lore.  They know how to read spells off scrolls (since 2nd edition) and they have a random chance of knowing almost anything (since 1st edition), so it's not surprising that they'd take some of that knowledge and pick out some spells to focus on.

Which spells?  Definitely spells that deal with sound and music, since that's their forte.  Their other two categories are charm spells and buffs.  Charms make sense (starting from spells like Enthrall and Suggestion--and even the 1e bard had this power); buffs aren't thematically relevant but go along with their role, as defined by their music abilities.

Now, there's nothing in my mind that ties bards to the arcane tradition in particular.  It's just that arcane magic is the type that's granted by knowledge, and it only makes sense that bards get their magic via knowledge.  I strongly dislike making bards kind of inherently magical a la 3rd edition (pseudo-sorcerers).  Spellbooks always made more sense to me, but I can get behind them knowing a random smattering of stuff off the tops of their heads.  A druidic tradition is a little different, but clerics and druids in 1e were more studious than blessed.  

In truth... I don't even see much use for an "arcane/divine" dichotomy.  Give each class a spell list.  They may or may not overlap, but when a cleric casts Cat's Grace, it's a cleric spell; for a druid, it's a druid spell; for a wizard, a wizard spell; and for a bard, a bard spell.  Wizards can't cast spells in armor, but a bard can cast a spell they share with wizards in armor because they produce magical effects in different ways.

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I agree with the notion that the bard's spells are picked up somewhat randomly, but this doesn't go along with its music magic, which also makes sense.
The first idea looks like intelligence magic, though, and I don't think it's going to get that. It will be charisma based in which case, the arty magic makes more sense than the randomly picked up knowledge.
One aspect, IMO, is a constant, however: bards want/need to be the center of attention, for good or bad. I'd like to see that be reinforced with the class mechanics.


Bard as tank?

That'd be... different.
Which spells?  Definitely spells that deal with sound and music, since that's their forte.  Their other two categories are charm spells and buffs.  Charms make sense (starting from spells like Enthrall and Suggestion--and even the 1e bard had this power); buffs aren't thematically relevant but go along with their role, as defined by their music abilities.

Also movement and positioning. These are very important to dance and theatre, therefore well in scope for the bard.

In truth... I don't even see much use for an "arcane/divine" dichotomy.  Give each class a spell list.  They may or may not overlap, but when a cleric casts Cat's Grace, it's a cleric spell; for a druid, it's a druid spell; for a wizard, a wizard spell; and for a bard, a bard spell.  Wizards can't cast spells in armor, but a bard can cast a spell they share with wizards in armor because they produce magical effects in different ways.

That's a popular view, but if the lists can overlap it makes sense to have a single catalog of all the spells, and if you do that some people assume this means there's some single class that can take *any* spell like they could in... um... never... and that would be bad so we absolutely cannot do it.

(The odd thing is, most of the people taking that position seem to be fans of prior editions that HAD a single catalog of all spells and then class-specific lists of which spells were available. I could sort of understand that sort of error from people who began with 4E and had no exposure to 1E, 2E, or 3E.)
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I like to see the bard as primarily a rogue type. His magic is mostly illuisions and charms that can help him out, but aren't a prime focus of the class.
One aspect, IMO, is a constant, however: bards want/need to be the center of attention, for good or bad. I'd like to see that be reinforced with the class mechanics.

Bard as tank?

That'd be... different.

Well, I'd not equate center of attention with tank, but I can see how you got there. I should have qualified what I meant a little better. Bards, IMO, are, by intent, people who stand out. When they perform, it draws people in. Even if the performance is primarily a personal focus (like a dervish dancer), it should not go unnoticed. Mechanically, I'd like to see features that affect the "audience" of the performance.

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I like this thread. I hadn't really given a lot of thought on how bardic "magic" can really be by any "power source": martial, primal, arcane, divine, psionic, et al. Similarly, bards do not have to be a "jack of all trades", that is simply one option. One aspect, IMO, is a constant, however: bards want/need to be the center of attention, for good or bad. I'd like to see that be reinforced with the class mechanics.

Terrible idea.  You should never be forced to play any character in a particular way.

See my post above (40).

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