"Bards suck." -Leo, The Gamer's: Dorkness Rising
The bard. Just the very name of this class conjures up memories of uselessness in every version of D&D. Generalists in a game that is built around specialists, bards were fighter/thief/magic users that could then take the bard class in 1E, the joke that is Elan in 3E, and arcane healers (if ever there was an oxy moron) in 4E. But for D&DNext, it is quite possible that bards could be the most epic class. No, I'm serious. Stop laughing.
The problem with bards in 3E/Pathfinder: lack of strong base attack bonus so they do not hit as often as a fighter, they lack sneak attack so they do less damage than a rogue, they have 6 levels of spellcasting that focuses on enchantments and illusions. The best thing they have going for them is their bardic singing/performance. With it, they make others better. And that is exactly the key to the epicness of the bard in new edition.
A few weeks ago, Rodney Thompson told us about how there is not going to be an assumed increase in the ability to hit nor an assumed increase in armor class. As he spells out, that means that a large group of commoners can take on a dragon. While that is awesome in its own right, now add a bard to that mix. Imagine a bard making a group of 20 commoners even better at attacking a dragon. Say 10 of those 20 villagers hit and the bardic singing gives each a +2 to damage. So that bard just made those commoners did an extra 20 damage. Or what if the bard is one of the few classes that actually grant a +1 to hit. That might mean that 15 villagers hit instead of only 10.
Bards would suddenly become the champion of the common man. A single bard could turn the tide of battle. They could make an impossible fight of mass scale winable. And if there are mass combat rules, the most important move on either side is to stop the enemy's bards. They would be the most important character in the most epic of battles the game as ever seen.
That is just a possibility. What do you think? Share your thought in the comments below.