Need some Bard help (first timer)

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Okay so me and some of my friends are going to play DnD for the first time (most of us - but no one really has that much experience) and it is going to be a fun little game. But I am a Character Optimizer at everything else I do and I have been putting in the research and this is what I have so far and was wanting to ask some Questions.

The premise I was going for is Cunning Bard focusing heavy on Implements. We are using the simplified character sheets since this is most of our first times.

Okay so what I have so far

Class: Bard
Race: Eladrin
Class Feature: Virtue of Cunning

Stats
Str: 8(-1)
Con: 13(+1)
Dex: 10(+0)
Int: 18(+4)
Wis: 11(+0)
Cha: 18(+4) 

I've trained in Arcana (duh?), Acrobatics, Perception, Bluff, Diplomacy, Streetwise. I kind of want Acrobatics too, but I don't know what I should give up for it, or if I will really need it. Our DM (one of the few people who have actually played DnD at least once) claims that it is important since my str is so low, but my research on this forum hasn't led me to believe that.

At Will: Viscious Mockery, Staggering Note*
Encounter: Blunder
Daily: Stirring Shout
Feats: Ritual Caster**, Advantage of Cunning

*I really want Staggering Note (defined as the Bard's "staple power" according to the stickied Bard's Handbook), but I don't know if the DM will allow the Dragon Magazines (initial plan was just PHB1/2/3, but we have since opened it up a little more i.e. +CHA on Eladrin). I will try to talk him into it BUT just in case, PHB2 recomended Misdirected Mark which according to the Bard Handbook is "situational". Any recommendations here would be awesome. Would help if I understood what the "Mark" does more clearly.

**This I don't understand that well. Do I have the Ritual book in my inventory as an item or is it just something I "know" or something? And the actual rituals are my choice right? If that is the case I chose Traveler's Chant and Create Campsite (no other non bard level 1 in PHB - if there is something else just tell me the book and page number please)

I am totally lost on starting equip especially. There are SO many options and I really don't know exactly what I need. Valourous/Prescient Bards seem easier in this regard (longsword/bow). Is there a songblade that is affordable enough to start with (if that is even the best option for implements - wands maybe)? What type of armor should I get? Should I get standard adventurer's kit? How about the Climbing Kit? Will I ever need to use my weapon to hit something as an Implement Bard or will I be mainly casting my spells? Do I need a ranged weapon?

To keep it simple I would like to keep multi-classing OUT of this first char (I played Neverwinter Nights 2 and other games and my Bards ALWAYS multiclassed, but the pen and paper DnD is a little more complicated (pretty much based on sheer amount of content). 
First off welcome to the forums and to the game.

Secondly you said acrobatics twice, did you mean athletics instead for one of those two?

Third.  Marks is pretty plain in what it does, but a lot of defender classes have things they can do  that are dependant on mark.  Mark itself just gives the following:

The [marked] creature takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls for any attack that doesn’t include the marking creature as a target.

A fighter, for example, is able to make a Combat Challenge and smack a creature marked by it with a melee basic attack if they shift or attack someone else while they are marked by that character.

Traveler's Chat works well, but the ritual "Tenser's Floating Disc" can be gotten on a bard iirc.  I've seen so many uses for that ritual its fairly silly.

Starting equipment will be fairly plain.  You should definately invest in an adventurer's kit a wand implement, a weapon, a light shield and armor.

Lastly a note on multiclassing.  Multiclassing (MCing) is very easy in 4e.  It does open up a lot of options but basically it is just one feat that gives you something small.  You don't just multiclass into a class, you actually choose a specific feat in order to do so.  For instance if you wanted to multiclass into warlord you could take the feat Resourceful Leader or the feat Bravura Leader (there are a lot more, just using those two as an example).  Both give you a small boon and allow you to qualify as a warlord for certain feats, paragon paths and items. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here

Secondly you said acrobatics twice, did you mean athletics instead for one of those two?



He just really likes acrobatics.

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!


Secondly you said acrobatics twice, did you mean athletics instead for one of those two?



He just really likes acrobatics.


Who doesn't?

As for athletics, it can often be useful if you eve need to climb something or jump over/across something. Having a strength penalty, and an armor check penalty, probably means that terrain may be a hindrance to you. My advice is actually just stay away from those things and zap away. Have your party members help you after combat.

Your 1st level feat should probably be Bard of All Trades, this will go a LONG way towards helping your skills (remember it stacks with the +1 you get for being a bard, so you end up with +4 to all untrained skills, and +5 to trained ones).
You may also consider moving some stats around so you have small stat bonuses in most skills. Try 16,14,14,13,10,8; put the 16 and 14 in cha/int. Put the other 14 in st or con, (i'd recommend con) this will help your Fort defense and give you more hp's and surges. The 13 could probably go to dex (you may want it later for DIS), with 10 and 8 in int and str, resp.

For starting rituals - i would definately recommend "Comrad's Succor", and i honestly cannot tell you how amazingly useful it is for your first few games.

For starting gear, get a wand, hide armor, a light shield, and an adventurer's kit.
Spend at least 20-30 gold on healing reagents (you'll need them for Comrad's Succor).
To answer your other weapon questions, you will probably never need a melee weapon, and you will probably never need a ranged weapon (since you can cast spells with your wand). I've played a cunning bard for 15 levels, and only carried a wand and i never needed a melee weapon or ranged one. The wand did just fine (but to be fair, i had a mundane dagger in case i ever needed to cut a rope or something. I think i used it once). From an optimization standpoint, you can probably do a little better than a wand, but it's more than fine for now.


And, if you can't take Staggering Note, you'll do fine with Cutting Words (i've put it to really good use in a party that didn't have anyone with a good Melee Basic attack).


That should be enough to get you started.

FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
I would suggest Expertise at level 1.  For lots of Leader-style powers, they don't do anything on a miss.  Hitting is important, especially for a leader.

Bargle wrote:
This is CharOp. We not only assume block-of-tofu monsters, but also block-of-tofu DMs.
 

Zelink wrote:
You're already refluffing, why not refluff to something that doesn't suck?
I've trained in Arcana (duh?), Acrobatics, Perception, Bluff, Diplomacy, Streetwise. I kind of want Acrobatics too, but I don't know what I should give up for it, or if I will really need it. Our DM (one of the few people who have actually played DnD at least once) claims that it is important since my str is so low, but my research on this forum hasn't led me to believe that.



With Bard of All Trades and the +1 to untrained skills...

Bards often want to train in skills that have benefits only if they're trained in them. i.e. Acrobatics(when falling) and Arcana(detect magic)

As an Eladrin, though, you can teleport out of grabs or terrain issues, so it isn't as big of a deal as it might seem. 
As said many times on these boards, the desire to exclude content is a carryover from other editions. In 4e, the dragon content and splashbooks aren't all that horribly overpowered, the game it self is decently balanced. The splashbooks and dragon content also help fix some of the classes.


Ask your DM to allow everything, so all players can make choices to create characters they would like to play, and perhaps a specific feature that he/she deems too dangerous can then individually be banned. 
Thanks to everyone for all of the awesome advice. +1 to these forums so far. I did mean athletics, but with my racial teleport and taking Bard of All Trades as recommended I am not as worried about it anymore. The DM has also allowed the use of all content so I will be taking Staggering Note for sure.

@Onikoni

I am liking your stat build I think I am going to use it instead. Also I am going to use Comrade's Succor based on your suggestion. It seems > Create Campsite. Thanks a lot your post was very helpful. Especially the starting equipment. I think I am going to try to squeeze in an instrument for rituals as well for general rp reasons (haven't calced the gold cost of your starting item recommendations yet).

I do however have a question about rituals in general. So far this is the only thing that is confusing me still. The format that they are listed in the PHB is not explained clearly. Is the focus (instrument) used up (as in destroyed) during the ritual? Or do I only have to own the focus? Having under the "Cost" part is confusing me. I also noticed you did not recommend one in your recommended starting equipment? I was under the assumption that my rituals required one.

Also what is the "Market Price" listed mean. Have I mentioned rituals are the most confusing part of the game for me yet lol?

And (sorry for so many questions btw) what is "DIS". Like I said I am really new and don't know all the abbreviations.

Again thanks everyone. I will be playing in like 1-2 weeks. Just waiting for the DM to finish the dungeon.

Edit: Found the answers to some of my questions on my own and more questions arose.
Some rituals have a focus, a lot of rituals do not.  Each ritual that needs a focus will say so somewhere in the cost section.  The focus is not used up when you do the ritual, but you have to have it in order for the ritual to work.

Market Price means the cost that ritual would be if you bought it from an open market.  Scrolls (1 time use rituals) are the same price.

DIS - Dual Implement Spellcaster.  It is a feat that improves damage on characters who can use an implement in each hand.

Any other questions? 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
 I think I am going to try to squeeze in an instrument for rituals as well for general rp reasons (haven't calced the gold cost of your starting item recommendations yet).

I do however have a question about rituals in general. So far this is the only thing that is confusing me still. The format that they are listed in the PHB is not explained clearly. Is the focus (instrument) used up (as in destroyed) during the ritual? Or do I only have to own the focus? Having under the "Cost" part is confusing me. I also noticed you did not recommend one in your recommended starting equipment? I was under the assumption that my rituals required one.



Several bard rituals will require a instrument (and some of them will require an instrument with a specific cost). I probably should have mentioned it, and it is definately useful for other reasons (like RP). It wouldn't hurt to grab one now (they are pretty cheap).

The other thing you should eventually do is figure out if your party is going to have another ritual caster besides yourself. If so, it is usually a good idea for you to each take a few ritual types and focus on them. This will help divide the costs and spread the bookkeeping around.
Aslo, get your party involved, rituals benefit everyone and most parties will be fine to chip in and share the cost of rituals and components (including focii).

And i think Matyr answered the rest of your questions.  
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Awesome thanks guys. We are playing this Wed or Thurs depending on everyones schedules. Wish me luck!
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