The Bard's Handbook

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The Bard's Handbook

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/EPIC_Gallery/Gallery1/44199_C1_bard.jpg)

Index:

Attributes/Races
Class Features/Alternative Class Features
Feats
Skills
Spells

Note: This is under construction. Help me out with links, builds, strategies and anything you can think of that would prove useful.

Attributes


  • Strength: Bards are able to go melee with their buffs, but this is not a first priority.
  • Dexterity: Some of your skills are keyed off this attribute. Also helps your initiative rolls and possibly your to hit ability. As above, this isn't a first priority, but try to keep it at decent levels.
  • Constitution: Helps constitution saves and hit points. All characters benefit from a big score in this attribute and bards are not an exception.
  • Intelligence: Bards are skill-monkeys at heart and getting bonus points helps them fulfill that role.
  • Wisdom: You can dump this attribute. You have strong will save and only a few of your skills are tied to this ability.
  • Charisma: This is your first priority. Charisma determines spellcasting and several key bard skills (use magic device, bluff, diplomacy, perform).

Races


  • Human: Receive a bonus feat, a significant bonus to the feat starved bard and a bonus skill point per level. Also helps multiclassing with his favored class.
  • Gnomes: This is a great race for bards. Small size is a benefit, since it helps your attack and sneak abilities. The constitution bonus is always welcome and strength penalty doesn't hurt you significantly. The +1 bonus to illusion spells DC and bonus spells per day are great, too.
  • Half-Elf: Yup, that's right! Bards must be one of the rare few classes that can fit half-elf in, but only if the great alternative class levels from races of destiny are available to you. Other non-conventional half-elves may be more worth it, such as half-drow, forestlord half-elf or even deepwyrm half-drow.
  • Illumian RoD: The power sigils help skillful characters like bards. The combinations though are a little bad.
  • Dream Dwarf RoS: This is an option if you want to get a dwarven race (in case you want to qualify for a certain prestige class, feat, etc). It has some flavor with the bardic sage variant bardic class.
  • Spellscale RotD: One of the few races that have a charisma bonus, but comes at the cost of constitution. Aside from that, the bonuses are not impressive. A notable ability however is blood quickening, which gives you a bonus to half your class level to a certain check and the use of a metamagic feat some times per day. Particularly good aspects are those of Hlal, Io and Lendys.

The following are recomended *only* if LA buyoff is allowed


  • Jaebrin MM V: Nice ability adjustments, immunity to enchantments and various other smaller benefits along with a will debuffing bite that is charisma based.
  • Aasimar: Great because of its outsider type (in combination of alter self and similar spells). Now you can really dump wisdom completely. Various smaller benefits. It's worth noting that this is better that its non LA cousin, because you just lose 3000 XP at 3rd level to buy it off and keep the outsider type. Eventually you will get back the lost XP.
  • Chaos Gnome RoS: Nice ability modifiers, immunities and spell-like abilities. The luck reroll ability comes handy if you use skills a lot and the spell power is handy.
  • Catfolk RotW: Believe it or not, catfolks get a charisma bonus! The other abilities have little synergy with bardic abilities, but the +4 dexterity is huge.
  • Draconic Creature template RotD: Great bonuses and the dragonblood subtype that opens up several feats and prestige classes. If LA buyoff this is a great addition to several base races, such as human or gnome.

Class Features


  • Weapon Proficiency: Bards are proficient in all simple weapons. While they are not proficient with martial weapons, they get free weapon proficiencies in longsword, rapier, sap, sword sword, shortbow and whip.
  • Armor Proficiency: Light armor and all shields except tower shields. You ignore arcane spell failure from light armor.
  • Bardic Knowledge: Make a special knowledge check with a bonus equal to your bard level + intelligence modifier. It's a great ability if you want to know various interesting stuff, but it mostly affects the role playing aspects of your character. If you want to optimize this, make sure to get at least five ranks in knowledge (history), as that will give you a +2 bonus to the check.
  • Bardic Music: Bards have the unique ability of producing magical poetic effects. A bard is able to use his bardic music once per bard level per day. This is actually o collection of songs which are unlocked if the minimum bard level and minimum perform ranks are met. This is why maxing out perform is essential for any bard.
    • Countersong (Su): This provides you and allies within 30ft a protective buffer. It would be better if it provided protection against a wider range of spells, but as is, it's not good.
    • Fascinate (Sp): Meh, it doesn't work if the subjects are threatened, but it has some usability as you need to fascinate a target to use your suggestion ability.
    • Inspire Courage (Su): This mind-affecting ability is one of the best songs bards get. The bonuses are twofold, as this improves both your saves versus fear and attack and weapon damage rolls. The bonuses are morale, so it will stack with most other bonuses. Here's a thread with ways to optimize inspire courage to a terrifying degree. Note that this is a mind-affecting ability, so it won't work on some characters, like undead, warforged and classes that offer immunity to those effects.
    • Inspire Competence (Su): This improves a skill of a specific ally. The problem is that the bonus is competence and really small. Also characters who want to optimize a certain skill check use custom magic items that grant competence bonus.
    • Suggestion (Su): Suggestion is a great spell and it only requires you to fascinate a target to use this ability.
    • Inspire Greatness (Su): I like this ability, not because of the bonuses on saves and attack rolls. Don't get me wrong, both areas always are glad to receive a boost, but the bonuses are competence. What really shines for this ability is the 2 bonus hit dice people affected receive. That is an average of 11 bonus hit points and the difference between life and death in certain situations (like spells that only check your hit dice , like dictum, holy word, etc).
    • Song of Freedom (Sp): Handy for the occasional curse or enchantment, but not anything special. You can produce many break enchantment spells of course, but only a few (if any) times will be really needed per day. You can't use this ability on yourself and the fact that most bards will generally have multiclassed to something else by this level, makes it less appealing.
    • Inspire Heroics (Su): Nice ability, as morale bonuses to save are not often and dodge bonuses always stack.
    • Mass Suggestion (Sp): Great if you want to control crowds, but remember that you can't fascinate creatures that are threatened.


Variant Classes


  • Bardic Sage UA: Gain bonus divination spells (total 7, one for each level you are capable of casting). To determine if you can cast a spell, you must have an intelligence of 10 + spell level, although spell DCs and other abilities (such as bonus spells) are still related to charisma. Finally get some bonus spells on your spell list and a flat +2 bonus on bardic knowledge checks. The downside is that you have poor reflex saves and you must have at least one neutral component in your alignment and cannot be chaotic or lawful. Moreover some of your songs only last 3 rounds after you stop singing. This class variant is useful to bards that are going to be multiclassing early. Reflex saves are not that important generally and you can get over the bardic music duration problem, just by selecting one feat, lingering song CV.
  • Divine Bard UA: Unfortunately this variant is bad, because it increases MAD. If you have the points to spend though, this comes handy because divine spells have no spellcasting failure and the expanded spell list has some nice spells. Use this if you want to enter a skillful/bard prestige class that has divine spellcasting requirement. Note that divine bards can't cast spells with an alignment component that doesn't match his. Thus the best alignments are chaotic good/evil.
  • Savage Bard UA: This is a nice variant class. Fortitude saves are far better than reflex ones. You are illiterate, but it's only 2 skill points to get around that. The main problem is that your spell lists are customized. Loss of summon monster spells, the main source of expanding your spell list (through spell-like abilities your summons get). Prestigitation is also a good spell, but losing it won't hurt you. You do gain the summon nature's ally spells, insect plague, creeping doom and the very good reincarnate. You also lose two class skills (decipher script and speak language), but both are not in any way essential to a bard. Survival on the other hand has much more applications in a game (not to mention that you become an instant tracker by acquiring a familiar with track and scent). My vote goes to savage bard.
  • Fey Bard UA: If divine bard is bad, this sucks. It can only be used in builds to fill requirements. Don't even consider it for a normal bard build.

Alternative Class Features


  • Spellbreaker Song CM: You lose countersong, but this is already bad. This is no better, but spells with verbal components are much more common than the ones countersong protects you from. The sad thing is that you need concentration to maintain it and it only lasts 3 rounds.
  • Healing Hymn CC: Don't do it! It's a trap! Losing fascinate also denies you access to suggestion and mass suggestion.
  • Hymn of Fortification CC: I prefer this ability much more than inspire competence. The majority of enemies is evil and if you team up with a summoner, this is an easy way to get protection from evil.
  • Bardic Knack PHB II: You lose bardic knowledge and gain this wonderful ability. Check with your DM if you can stack levels that grant bardic knowledge (or a similar ability) for this. Twenty levels of bardic knack plus the feat jack of all trades would be like having all skills maxed out as cross class skills minus 1 rank (cross class skill maximum is 11.5 and you get 10.5 with the mentioned abilities). This gives you space to maybe have a lower intelligence score and focus on important skills while dumping stuff like hide, move silently, spot, listen.
  • Inspire Awe : Unfortunately inspire courage is one of the best songs out there. This is good at later levels, but it remains [fear] and [mind-affecting] so be warned that many creatures will be immune to it.
  • Loresong DS: I still prefer bardic knack if you want to trade your bardic knowledge, but this is pretty solid and eventually you'll gain quite a few uses. A +4 bonus on a attack, check or save significantly boosts you defensively and it even protects from disarming/tripping/etc. Note that the bonus is insight though.
  • Mimicking Song DS: Anything to replace countersong is going to be probably useful. This song grants an unnamed bonus to move silently checks of you and your allies that improves as you level, up to a maximum of +10 at 20th level. I can't figure out how singing provides you with a move silently bonus, but note that this is absolutely cool and useful if you want to play elan.
  • Undead Bardic Knowledge ECR: This is nice in a undead campaign, it's probably a nice trade.
  • Inspire Turning ECR: Clerics can easily optimize their turning check. This is even worse than inspire competence.
  • Repel Domination ECR: Loss of suggestion hurts, but you can offset somewhat the loss with your spells. This is nice in an undead themed campaign, as it seems that's always active. Also because it makes undead creatures shaken until the end of the encounter, multiple saves against a creature's effects may render it frightened or even panicked (the ability doesn't note that this effect doesn't stack).

Substitution Levels


  • Planar Bard PlH
    • 3rd level: Planar Inspiration is a nice and quick buff if you are plane hopping a lot and protects multiple allies. I prefer this ability than inspire competence as it lasts 24 hours.
    • 6th level: Meh, this is too specific to be useful. If you think that you will be doing this job a lot, take it. I find suggestion a lot better though.
    • Note that if you later gain mass suggestion and have selected this power, you gain suggestion instead.
    • 12h level: Too random to be exploitable, but effects like the timeless trait are perfect for activities like crafting. You can just keep rolling until you get the desirable effect.

  • Half-Elf Bard RoD
    • 1st level: Lose worthless countersong to get the ability to use bardic music to produce a calm emotions effect. This has combat uses, as it cancels inspire courage and barbarian rage and suppresses morale bonuses. The DC is your diplomacy check, which is easily optimized to really high amounts.
    • 6th level: Suggestions don't take up additional bardic music performances, but this can be used in combat (against a single target only probably, as if your allies are ready for battle you won't be able to fascinate enemies). I think i'll go with suggestion.
    • 8th level: Secrets of the Diplomat gives you command, zone of truth and sending as spells known, replacing a 4th level spell known for you. All are useful spells, so why not, it's a fair trade.

  • Gnome Bard RoS
    • 1st level: Gnome cantrips is fair trade, you'd probably get those anyway. Counter fear is surprisingly good, as skill checks are easily optimized. If you are found fighting creatures that usually use fear effects, this is an good song. It replaces countersong which is a bad idea anyway.
    • 3rd level: Inspire competence isn't a very good song and this isn't either. Better swap your inspire competence for an alternative class feature.
    • 6th level: Phantasmal song is an area fear effect with a scalling bonus. Great for a party that uses fear stacking effects, or even on its own to debuff multiple targets and help your casters/trippers.
    • 11th level: Ok you must be joking. Get color spray, touch of idiocy and phantasmal killer as spells known in exchange for a 4th level spell known and the ability to swap spells at that level? At 14th level you'll want to swap color spray for something more useful.

  • Spellscale Bard RotD
    • 1st level: This isn't a dragon specific bardic knowledge. You just gain a bonus to your bardic knowledge checks with effects related to dragons, as long as you keep a knowledge (arcana) number of ranks equal to or greater than your bard class level. If you are a spellscale, take it.
    • 3rd level: Absolutely better than inspire competence. This is great when used on an arcane spellcaster that produces long lasting buffs.
    • 6th level: Gain a +2 DC to your suggestion ability and give up a 2nd level spell known. I don't like limiting my spell selection, but if you think that you need the boost, it won't hurt you much.

Combat


  • Improved Disarm PHB: You optimize your to hit roll by singing inspire courage. Your whip proficiency helps a lot here. Improved disarm is probably better than its trip counterpart, as that requires physical strength you won't probably have.
  • Arcane Strike CW: You lack both high level spells and high spells per day to make this work. It's a bad choice obviously. Leave it to gishes and duskblades.
  • Snowflake Wardance Frost: This ability transforms bards into melee monsters. However you do need to fight with one handed slashing weapons, carry no shield and wear armor no heavier than light. It gives you your charisma modifier to attack rolls and lasts for a number of rounds equal to your perform ranks.
  • Combat Panache PHB II: Nice charismatic maneuvers to use in combat that distract and confuse. Remember that this is a fighter bonus feat, so you can gain access to this through the spell heroics.
  • Goad CV: Cause opponent you threaten to attack only you. You can get this feat through heroics.

General


  • Leadership PHB: Any character with a high charisma score benefits from this feat. It has endless possibilities and is one of the most exploitable mechanics in the whole game.
  • Track PHB: Not terribly useful, but you can fill an additional party role. Works with savage bards. MIC introduces a cheap item that grants you this feat, so you shouldn't waste a feat slot on it if the book's allowed.
  • Devoted Performer CV: A feat that stacks paladin and bard levels for certain effects. You can multiclass freely between the two classes while retaining your lawful alignment.
  • Extra Music : You gain so many bardic music per day, this won't be necessary. You may want to consider it at early levels if retraining is allowed and get rid of it later.
  • Jack of All Trades CV: Extremely useful combined with the alternate class feature bardic knack. If you get 20 levels of bardic knowledge and trade them to the alternate feature, you essentially can make all skill checks as if they were maxed out cross class skills for you (or at least very close, minus 1 rank).
  • Mobile Spellcasting CV: Flyby Attack is so much better than this.
  • Obscure Lore CV: Meh, bardic knowledge has limited use in optimized play.
  • Obtain Familiar CA: With the high amount of skills bards receive, their familiars will rock in various roles (scout, tracker, etc). Be sure to select one that speaks, probably raven.
  • Knowledge Devotion CC: Skillful classes like bards benefit from this feat, transforming their skill points into combat bonuses.
  • Melodic Casting CM: This is phenomenal! A must for bards. Its benefits are twofold: First you make perform checks (yay!) instead of concentration when casting spells or using spell-like abilities, which means that it actively reduces MAD. Second, and most importantly, you can cast spells and activate magical items that require spell completion or command word while using bardic music. Unfortunately you can't use wands with this ability (they use the spell trigger activation method).
  • Nymph's Kiss BoED: Bonus skill point per level, bonus to saving throws against spells and a bonus to charisma related checks? Yes please! The only problem is that it need you to be good and bars access to vile feats.
  • Vow of Nonviolence/Peace BoED: You can play a bard that doesn't actually need to cause harm to opponents quite effectively. This will boost your DCs dramatically. Note that it will cause you roleplaying problems and it's assumed that you're an experienced player to use it.
  • Words of Creation BoED: This feat is widely used to optimize your inspire courage amount. The attribute requirements are somewhat steep, but it focuses on your important ones, so it doesn't increase MAD. It requires you to be of good alignment, with the relevant benefits and drawbacks.
  • Dragonsong Drc: Bonus to perform checks and to the DC of abilities that are based on song or poetics.
  • Draconic Aura DM: Cool and pretty versatile ability, that can boost some of the weak areas of your party. Insight, presence, senses and vigor are great options.
  • Imperious Command DotU: Bards can be easily optimized to demoralize. Imperious command is an impressive feat to debuff or disable characters and help your allies. You need however to have intimidate as a class skill for this feat to work.
  • Daunting Presence LM: Charisma effect that makes opponents shaken. Debuffs and can be used to stack fear effects. You can gain this feat through the infamous spell heroics, as it is a fighter feat.
  • Darkstalker LoM: Especially useful to sneaky bards, this boosts your hiding skills to work against creatures with other senses.
  • Arcane Flourish PHB II: Don't bother.
  • Master Manipulator PHB II: Get cool social skill functions with this feat. You can use your charm to distract and confuse targets while your party is doing dirty stuff.
  • Wanderer's Diplomacy PHB II: As above.
  • Trivial Knowledge RoS: Great if you couple it with knowledge devotion. Even it requires a specific race, it isn't much of a limitation, gnomes make great bards.

Magic


  • Extend Spell PHB: Great metamagic feat that doubles the duration of your buffs at a low price.
  • Disguise Spell CV: It's a nice option, but with the introduction of conceal spellcasting in complete scoundrel, this gets trumped. Conceal spellcasting even stops AoOs, but it is defined by your sleight of hand check.
  • Extraordinary Concentration : Quite a few bard spells require concentration. This is a great option for spellcasters general.
  • Arcane Preparation CA: If you have invested in metamagic feats to use with spells in combat, this is going to help. It also makes you able to enter prestige classes that require casters that prepare spells.
  • Extra Spell CA: With the limited bard spell selection, this is a solid option if you need a certain spell. You can even retrain it later and select the spell normally.
  • Captivating Melody CM: This is a nice option to boost the power of your spells. You are going to have a lot illusion and/or enchantment spells anyway and the DC is easy to hit (maximum 21 with normal bard spells). Note that in case of classes with different spellcasting ability (for example sublime chord), you need different bardic music attempts.
  • Rapid Metamagic CM: This is handy for spontaneous casters that use metamagic feats.
  • Coercive Spell DotU: It's not actually suggested to take this, but wands with swift action spells that deal damage are ideal for debuff on-the-fly. With the rule's compendium new ruling, that wands take the same amount of time with the spell contained inside to activate, the above is doable if you use online stuff, specifically Kaupaer's Quickblast.
  • Enchanting Song RoS: Captivating melody is strictly better, since this requires a worthless spell focus.
  • Misleading Song RoS: Ditto.
  • Metamagic Song RoS: If it didn't have a spell level cap, this would be a lot more useful, but as is, it's average.
  • Versatile Spellcaster RotD: This is a nice option on many levels. You make the most of it when spending two 1st level slots for one 2nd level one.

Bardic Music


  • Green Ear CV: You can affect plants with your mind-affecting bardic music-like abilities, but they receive a huge save against them. I only find this useful for allies with the plant subtype, so that they receive the bonuses of your songs. For example, a druid/bard pair with greenbound summoning, this feat and optimized inspire courage can produce really impressive summons.
  • Lingering Song CV: This is a really good feat for buffer bards, you do have the bardic music per day to spend after all. The correct use of this is to activate a song and the round after that activate a different one. A battle hardly lasts more than 1 minute, so you got it covered.
  • Subsonics CV: Check with your DM. If this makes you able to use bardic music when you are silenced, it's good if you get silenced a lot, or if your party is using a lot of stealth.
  • Versatile Performer CV: Actually perform is a broad category of skills, just like knowledges. Hopefully this isn't needed, but if you can't use your selected perform category (for example, you have selected perform [singing] and you have a problem with your voice or your instrument's strings are broken), this helps to equalize all skills.
  • Chant of Fortitude CV: Meh, one bardic music for 1 round of the diehard feat and a feat slot is pretty weak.
  • Ironskin Chant CV: Again, i love damage reduction, but it's just for one round and for a single ally.
  • Lyric Spell CV: You have some bardic music attempts to expend and this feat is really versatile.
  • Chant of the Long Road CS: You can spend your feats or bardic music attempts per day on far better abilities.
  • Chord of distraction CS: This is a hard one. The effect is ok if used in a sneaky party along with a character with heavy sneak attack, but there are far better options to get one flat-footed. Moreover, three bardic music attempts for this effect isn't worth the trade for me.
  • Epic of the Lost King CS: This is nice if fatigue or exhaustion effects are used against your party, as those are heavy debuffs, but in my opinion it's pretty situational. There are also other ways of removing those effects.
  • Sound of Silence CS: This is actually good! It's nice for debuffing effectively spellcasters, other buffs or even other characters. The deafen conditions bestow the following penalties: -4 to initiative, automatically fail listen checks and 20% spell failure when casting spells with verbal components. You can use it to tweak the initiative sequence, getting your high initiative allies act two times in a row, use it on opponents to help your sneaky allies or on spellcasters (20% spell failure is close to 1/5 spells).
  • Warning Shout CS: Grant a single ally some bonus to reflex saves and evasion for one round for two bardic music per day? Not worth it.
  • Dragonfire Inspiration DM: Wow, you can boost the damage of your allies impressively with this ability. If you spend another feat to draconic heritage to a dragon with an obscure energy type (like force or sonic), your extra damage will be even more difficult to resist.
  • Ice Harmonics Frost: Unless you are going to adventure in snowy areas or you are able to produce ice easily, this is pretty much worthless.
  • Haunting Melody HoH: Nice effect that activates by spending a bardic music performance. You can render opponents shaken with a DC that scales depending on your bard level and the duration is based on your perform ranks. Great for fear stacking party tactics.
  • Requiem LM: As with green ear, but this has more offensive applications. You can even bestow fear effects to undead with this. Because undead player characters are more common, you'll gonna need this if you want to be influenced by your own songs.
  • Music of the Outer Planes LoM: This is ok if you are in an aberration-heavy campaign, but not so useful otherwise.
  • Arcane Accompaniment PHB II: Lingering song is strictly better.
  • Inspire Spellpower RoS: It's not that useful, +1 caster level is average.

Class Skills


  • Appraise: Don't bother with this skill. You may want however to spend some ranks in it for the magical appraisal skill trick.
  • Balance: Spend 5 ranks in balance, so that you won't be flat-footed when balancing.
  • Bluff: This skill has many social uses, but make sure to spend 5 ranks for the great synergy bonuses. It's worth it to max it out.
  • Climb: Romeo surely had ranks in this skill. It's up to you :P.
  • Concentration: This is an essential skill to any spellcaster. You can skip it only if you select melodic casting.
  • Craft: What does a charismatic musician has to do with crafting? Skip it :P.
  • Decipher Script: Only put ranks in here if you want to fulfill a requirement.
  • Diplomacy: You can easily have an optimized check in this skill, due to the synergy bonuses. Not only it's useful in many social situations, you can use it to haggle according to complete adventurer, which gives you a 10% reduction on the asking price.
  • Disguise: This is nice to have, but you can get a really huge modifier with spells.
  • Escape Artist: If your size is small, you may want to spent some ranks here to help your grapple checks.
  • Gather Information: You may want to spend some skill points here. Typically bards are people who can learn stuff by snooping around.
  • Hide: Straightforward. Spies generally make use of this frequently.
  • Jump: Duh.
  • Knowledges: Personally i max out one specific knowledge (arcana, religion or nature probably - depending on the character's flavor) and spend at least one rank in the rest knowledges, especially those that have to do with identifying creature types. Collector of Stories is a nice skill trick to use with a wide array of knowledges.
  • Listen: It's a given if you are going to be a scout. Weirdly enough, bards haven't got spot as a class skill.
  • Move Silently: This is usually paired with hide.
  • Perform: This is the most important skill to the bard. I'd actually max out perform in more than one instrument, like singing/string instruments.
  • Profession: Oh come on :P.
  • Sense Motive: Spend at least 5 ranks for the synergy bonus to diplomacy.
  • Sleight of Hand: If you are using the conceal spellcasting skill trick, you'll may want to spend a few ranks here. Otherwise, it's not that useful, unless of course you like picking up stuff.
  • Speak Language: Not worth spending a lot of ranks here. Pick up a few weird languages to communicate with your allies with more secrecy. Make sure to pick up most popular languages, as many bard abilities and spells are language dependant.
  • Spellcraft: This shouldn't bother you, but it is usually listed as a requirement for prestige classes and feats. A few ranks will do the trick.
  • Swim: I think romeo could swim, too :P.
  • Tumble: Spend a few ranks here, as it makes you able to maneuver in the battlefield safely, without provoking AoOs.
  • Use Magic Device: Absolutely max this out. It's one of the most versatile skills you'll have. It has great possibilities.

Skill Tricks


  • Collector of Stories Since it is best to spend a rank in each monster-identifying knowledge and this easily boosts all of them, it's a nice skill trick to have.
  • Conceal Spellcasting: Great if you're dealing with counterspellers, if you need to get an offensive spell without others noticing. Maybe it works while you are in stealth.
  • False Theurgy: I like this better than conceal spellcasting, at least if you don't want people to understand what spell you are casting. There is no roll involved.
  • Listen to this: Nice to have if you are scouting/spying.
0-Level Spells

Bard cantrips are important at low level, since you'll be using them a lot. Be sure to pick up prestigitation, summon instrument, detect magic and songbird.
1st Level Spells

Charm person helps getting people obey your commands. You can employ some disabling spells, like hideous laughter or grease. Silent image is an awesome multi-purpose spell, great when dealing with less intelligent opponents. Improvisation is a must and you can share it with you familiar if you have one. Inspirational Boost is essential if you are planning on optimizing inspire courage. Shock and Awe is great on a wand, no save and if you have optimized your initiative modifier almost ensures that your party will act first. Targeting ray along with inspire courage is great coupled with allies that trade accuracy for extra attacks (like manyshot archers).
2nd Level Spells

Alter self is an awesome offensive/defensive/utility spell. Animal messenger is useful on a eternal wand for your messaging needs. Glitterdust wins battles. Mirror image is a nice defensive buff. Curse of impending blades is good on a eternal wand, but just compare it to a glitterdust. Dark way is another spell you can pick if you are delving into difficult dungeons, or you like climbing to ladies' balconies with ease (and rather flavourfuly). Entice gift is interesting when used on low-willed opponents to move them out of strategic position (e.g. flanking) or disarm them. Grace is average for bards. Harmonic Chorus is only good if another powerful spellcaster is in your party and it's situational. Iron silence is only good on a wand, don't take it as a spell known. Know vulnerabilities is nice. Lively step will increase your travelling speed, get it on an eternal wand if you want it bad. Reveille is great if you want to act like that pushing daisies guy, but get it on a stick. Sonorous Hum is perfect if you want to get multiple duration-concentration spells. Whirling Blade is awesome on a wand and as a spell known. Keeping blades with wand chambers that have eternal wands of whirling blade inside them is a nice idea. You can hit more enemies (and position better) if you apply sculpt spell to this.
3rd Level Spells

Dispel Magic is awesome, as always and you are a full caster. Glibness will almost ensure that your lies will go through. The first spell you should pick is haste though, too good to pass on that. Hymn of praise/infernal threnody during the buff period can add significant time to long duration buffs.
reserved #7
reserved #8
reserved #9
for the link .... and to help out




Bardic Items:

from Far Corners of the World 12/31/2004 Magic Items of the Lost City
[indent]Headband of Lore: Adventurers, especially those who intend to explore lost cities, covet headbands of lore. The wearer of a headband of lore gains a +5 competence bonus on all Knowledge checks (including bardic knowledge checks). The wearer must have at least one rank in the Knowledge skill she's using to take advantage of this bonus. Once a day, the wearer can use an analyze dweomer spell. Also once per day, the wearer can perform a legend lore on an item or site by studying it for 1 minute.

Moderate divination; CL 11th; Craft Wondrous Item, identify, legend lore; Price 50,000 gp.
[/indent]

from Far Corners of the World 06/12/2004 Foundations of Stone:Magic Items of the Mountains
[indent]Alphorn of Thunder: This devastating magic alphorn can shrink down to the size of a flute upon the owner's command. In this form, it functions admirably as a masterwork flute, and it grants a +2 circumstance bonus on Perform (wind instrument) checks.

In its true form, the alphorn of thunder is a 15-foot-long instrument that weighs nearly 100 pounds. Although it functions as a masterwork alphorn in this form, its true power is much more destructive. Any user can use an alphorn of thunder to generate a single blast of sound that emanates from the end of the horn (any point 15 feet away from the character) and affects all creatures and objects in this area with a shout spell. A user can activate this ability up to three times per day.

In the hands of someone with at least 9 ranks in Perform (wind instrument), the alphorn of thunder can cast call lightning, up to three times per day.

If the user is a bard, the shout ability upgrades to greater shout, and the call lightning ability upgrades to call lightning storm.

Strong evocation; CL 10th; Craft Wondrous Item, call lightning, shout, creator must have at least one level of bard; Price 90,000 gp; Weight 1 lb. (as flute) or 100 lb. (as alphorn).
[/indent]

from Far Corners of the World 06/27/2003 Toxic Paradise: Magic Items of the Rainforest
[indent]Ring of Exploration: This plain bronze ring is highly valued by anyone who explores the far corners of the world, but they are especially useful for those who seek to penetrate jungle interiors since they protect from disease and poison as well as solve the problem of passing through dense undergrowth.

The wearer of a ring of exploration remains at a comfortable temperature during the most extreme weather conditions, as if he had endure elements (cold) and endure elements (fire) cast on her (negating 5 points of cold and fire damage per round).

The ring also continually provides its wearer with life-sustaining nourishment exactly as does a ring of sustenance.

The ring grants the woodland stride ability to its wearer, allowing the wearer to pass through natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain (as long as it's not magically manipulated) at her normal speed without suffering damage or other impairment.

Finally, the wearer constantly knows what direction north lies in and can unerringly retrace her steps back to the exact point at which she last put on the ring, with no chance of becoming lost.

Caster Level: 7th; Prerequisites: Forge Ring, create foodandwater, endure elements, freedom of movement, know direction; Market Price: 41,000 gp.
[/indent]


Bard Spells:
from Far Corners of the World 10/22/2004 Spells of the Lost City
[indent]Ruin Delver's Fortune
Transmutation
Level: Bard 4
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 free action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1d4 rounds

More than other classes, bards are drawn by the mysteries and allure promised by the lost city. The thrill of discovering a forgotten civilization, of defeating strange and unusual monsters, of surviving perilous and deadly traps, and of restoring ancient legends from bygone ages are what the best of the epic bard tales are built on. Yet the field research into these areas can be quite dangerous. Bards who make their living on discovery and exploration often take pains to learn ruin delver's fortune as soon as possible, for it can often make the difference between life or death.

You can cast ruin delver's fortune as a free action, even when it's not your turn. Casting this spell counts toward the limit of one quickened spell per round. When the spell is cast, you call upon your hidden reserve of skill and love of life to enhance your abilities for a short period to cope with sudden peril. Choose from one of the following effects when you cast the spell. Once chosen, the effect cannot be changed for the duration of the spell. The benefits granted by ruin delver's fortune are fleeting, but often the benefits granted are just enough to get you out of a tight spot.

Gain an insight bonus on Fortitude saving throws equal to your Charisma modifier; also gain immunity to poison.
Gain an insight bonus on Reflex saving throws equal to your Charisma modifier; also gain the evasion class ability.
Gain an insight bonus on Will saving throws equal to your Charisma modifier; also gain immunity to fear effects.
Cure 2d8 + your Charisma modifier hit points of damage.
Gain spell resistance equal to your bard level + your Charisma modifier.
Gain an insight bonus to your Armor Class equal to your Charisma modifier.
Once the spell's duration expires, the surge of energy and skill vanishes, leaving you hollow and depressed. You become fatigued (see Glossary) unless you make a successful DC 15 Constitution check.
[/indent]

from Far Corners of the World 01/31/2004 The Lost Coast: Spells of the Tides
[indent]Sirine's Grace
Evocation
Level: Brd 4, Drd 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

Sirine's grace infuses you with the otherworldly grace and fey magic of the sirines that dwell along the shores of the Lost Coast. As this spell is cast, these energies suffuse your body and enhance your physical characteristics, granting you a +4 enhancement bonus to Charisma and Dexterity.

For the duration of this spell, you gain a deflection bonus equal to your Charisma modifier to your Armor Class and a +8 bonus on Perform checks. You also gain a supernatural touch attack that you can invoke once per round as a free action. Anyone hit by your touch attack takes 1d4 points of temporary Intelligence damage (or 2d4 points on a critical hit). Alternatively, you can use this touch attack to restore 1d6 points of temporary Intelligence damage caused by this spell or by a sirines touch.

Material Component: A lock of hair, freely given to you by a living sirine.
[/indent]

from Far Corners of the World 10/17/2003Fire and Ash: Spells of the Volcano
[indent]Fire Dance
Evocation [Fire]
Level: Brd 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal (see text)
Area: You and up to one ally per 3 caster levels, all of whom must be within 40 ft. of you; see text
Duration: Up to 1 round/level (see text)

The fire dance spell inspires you with the primal power of a volcanic explosion and catapults you into a wild and violent dance. When you cast this spell, you must immediately make a Perform (dance) check (DC 15). If successful, your body begins glowing with fiery light, smoke wreaths your hair and trails your flailing limbs, and your stomping feet generate a low rumbling sound. Each round you must make a new Perform (dance) check, and each round the DC for success increases by +2.

As long as you continue to make successful Perform (dance) checks, your dance continues. You radiate bright light to a radius of 40 feet and emit shadowy light an additional 40 feet. Each round, you make your Perform (dance) check as a standard action. You also can use a move action to move a distance equal to your land speed each round, but you cannot take any other action apart from maintaining the dance. You gain an insight bonus equal to your Charisma modifier to your Armor Class and Reflex saving throws while you dance, and you are immune to fire damage. A creature that successfully damages you with a natural weapon or light weapon automatically takes 1d6 points of fire damage. The fire dance fires the blood and spirit of your allies as well; you may select up to one ally per three caster levels when you initially cast the spell. As long as you continue to dance and the chosen allies remain within 40 feet of you at the end of their turn, they gain a +2 morale bonus on attack rolls and Will saving throws (but no other benefits from this spell).

Once you fail a Perform (dance) check, or once a number of rounds equal to your level have passed, the dance ends. The fiery energies of the volcano you have collected in your body do not dissipate, however, and you can direct this energy from your outstretched hands as a single ray of brilliant heat. You can target anything within 120 feet with this ray, striking with a ranged touch attack. If you hit, the ray deals 1d6 points of fire damage per successful Perform (dance) check you made during the fire dance. If you choose not to fire the ray, the energy instead suffuses your body and heals 1d6 points of damage per successful Perform (dance) check you made during the fire dance. If the spell ended because you failed a Perform (dance) check, you immediately become fatigued.

You cannot voluntarily end the fire dance. If the dance is dispelled or otherwise interrupted by magic, the spell's effects immediately end and you become fatigued; you do not generate a ray of heat or gain any healing.
[/indent]

from Far Corners of the World 01/24/2003 Snow and Ice: Spells of the Frozen Lands
[indent]Snowsong
Enchantment [Compulsion, Mind-Affecting]
Level: Brd 6
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area: 15-ft. radius, 30-ft.-high cylinder
Duration: 10 minutes/level
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

Snowsong fills the area of effect with a soft snowfall that melts and evaporates on contact with anything solid. When you cast the spell, you must designate any creatures in the area of effect as allies or enemies.

While the snow falls, all allies in the area hear a soft, lilting song that bolsters their spirits and confidence. At the same time, as the snow strikes their flesh, it melts and washes away scars, wounds, and filth. Allies under the effect of the snow gain a +6 enhancement bonus to their Charisma scores, a +4 morale bonus on all checks and attack rolls, and a +2 insight bonus to their Armor Class. In addition, the snow imparts fast healing 1 and cold resistance 30 to all affected allies.

Enemies in the area of a snowsong have a much different experience. To them, the snow is bitterly cold and leaves scabs and angry welts when it lands on unprotected skin. They perceive the music as a discordant jangle of crashes, scrapes, and howls. As long as they remain in the area, they suffer a -6 enhancement penalty to their Charisma scores, a 20% miss chance to all melee attacks due to the swirling snow, and a 20% spell failure chance (for both divine and arcane spells) when casting any spells with a verbal component. In addition, enemies in the area suffer 1 additional point of cold damage each time they suffer damage from a physical or magical attack. Enemies can resist the effects of a snowsong with a successful Will saving throw.

These benefits remain in place as long as the spell persists and as long as the target remains in the spell's area. If a creature leaves the spell's area, all effects stop until it returns to the snowsong's area of effect.
[/indent]



:D
also id like to add to the races Section:

Elves: make great Bards, especially Star Elves:

Elf,Star(Races of Faerun)
+2Cha,-2 Con
Favored Class:Bard
different racial abilities than high elf..... will list later




Elf, High(PH p15)(MM p101)
+2 Dex,–2 Con
Fav Class:Wizard
• Medium Size
• 30’ movement
• Immunity to magic sleep
• +2 Racial bonus on Listen, Search, & Spot
checks.
• Automatic Search check if an Elf passes
within 5’ of a secret or concealed door
• Low-light Vision
• Automatic proficiency with all straight Bows
• Automatic proficiency with Longsword and Rapier
• +2 Racial bonus to saves vs. Enchantments



Elf, Gray(MM p103)
+2 Dex, +2 Int, –2 Str, –2 Con
Fav class:Wizard
• Medium Size
• 30’ movement
• Immunity to magic sleep
• +2 Racial bonus on Listen, Search, & Spot
checks.
• Automatic Search check if an Elf passes
within 5’ of a secret or concealed door
• Low-light Vision
• Automatic proficiency with all straight Bows
• Automatic proficiency with Longsword and Rapier
• +2 Racial bonus to saves vs. Enchantments


:D
Feats:

Battle caster + Light Armor = Bards in Mithral Full Plate

:D
A halfweight (underdark) armor is always considered light, so if you have a few more bucks, you can have your full plate even without a feat.
The Headband of Lore has been updated in the MIC.
Ruin Delver's Fortune and Sirine Grace are in the SC, Snowsong in Frostburn.

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Carnivore, I love your posts, but please use SBLOCKS. It's extremely annoying and space consuming otherwise.
The "word of creation" feat from book of exalted deeds is wery good for boosting inspire courage:D
I'll drop a build off here:
Basic Singing Bard

Any race Bard 9/ VirtuosoCV 1/ Sublime ChordCA 2/ Virtuoso +8
Feats:
1) Melodic CastingCM
3) Open
6) Song of the HeartECS
9) Words of CreationBoED
12) Practiced Spellcaster(Sublime Chord)
15) Open
18) Open

Good feats to fit in the open slots:
Captivating MelodyCM
Rapid MetamagicCM
Minor ShapeshiftCM
Extend SpellPHB

Must have Spells known:
Inspirational BoostSC
GlibnessPHB

Must have items:
Vest of LegendsDMG2
Badge of ValorMIC
Possiblly add Half-Elf to the list of races because of their racial substitution levels?
I know this is a work in progress, but I can't help but point out that under the "Class Skills" section Inspire Courage is listed twice. Perhaps you meant the last one to be Inspire Competence?
I know this is a work in progress, but I can't help but point out that under the "Class Skills" section Inspire Courage is listed twice. Perhaps you meant the last one to be Inspire Competence?

yup that's right ^^
thanks :D
Dictum Mortuum's Handbooks - My personal Character Optimization blog. 
Nerdy Meeples - A blog about reviewing and providing strategies on boardgames. 
I'll drop off a build here too

monk2/paladin17/bard1

Key feats: able learner (to keep your perform and UMD ranks up), devoted performer, ascetic knight, initate of milil

This character has the unarmed strike damage of a 19th level monk, smite damage of a 20th level paladin, and bardic music abilites of a 18th level bard

I recommend the Overwhelming Attack monk variant from UA to get power attack and improved bull rush to set you up for the divine might and shock trooper feats.
Hey guys!

This is an awesome coincidence, I was just thinking about playing as a bard and I found this topic on the first page.

I'd like to see here a more complete guide for bardic songs, because I'm still unsure of how it works. Stuff like:
- What can you do to use this ability besides singing?
Make a speech? Dance? Act? Do some fancy weapon moves (weapon drill) or acrobatic moves?
- What else can you do while using it?
Melee attacks, ranged attacks, cast a spell from your list, cast a spell from a magical item (a wand or a wondrous item), cast a quicked spell, aid other, do a full-round attack or a full-round defense, use a feat or a class ability?
- How to improve the effects of this ability?
- How can I acquire more songs?
feats, PrCs?
- What classes or PrCs synergize well with this ability?


Thanks.
you are right, we need to provide some perform info ^^
Dictum Mortuum's Handbooks - My personal Character Optimization blog. 
Nerdy Meeples - A blog about reviewing and providing strategies on boardgames. 
Here's an interesting feat worth noting.

Focused Performance (Dragon Magazine338 p39), aside from some bleh abilities that try to emulate a weaker version of Melodic Casting, there is one that shines out.

Individual Performance – spend 1 use to make a Bardic Music that normally affects multiple targets instead only affect one (cannot be you). This target receives 2x the normal bonuses / penalties. Requires a Perform check vs. DC (15 + Perform ranks required). Usable with Fascinate, Inspire Courage, Inspire Greatness, and Inspire Heroics.

DOUBLE the bonuses of your Inspire Courage for a mere perform DC check of 18.

Level 20 Bard:
5 Inspire Courage from levels
1 from Song of the Heart
1 from Inspiration Boost (SC)
1 from Badge of Valor
double that with Words of Creation
Now we repeat the bonuses of Words of Creation again!
Depending on the GM you will have an Inspire Courage of 21, although I'm not which would be allowed to be multiplied.

Combine that with your Dragonfire Inspiration to give an ally 21d6 of fun. =D

Maybe with 2 Bards, you can each do that to give yourselves 21d6 damage.
Races of Dragon - Feats:
Dragonfire Inspiration: Change morale bonus from inspire courage to d6 fire damage. So a bard with +3 inspire courage would have +3d6 fire damage.

In the same book, the one that gives the sonic version via dragon heritage (battle dragon)

I wouldn't pass off Healing Hymn as a bad thing.... It has +1 healed hp per perform rank. Suddenly, you're not such a bad main healer now.

Chain this with insignia of healing spell (races of destiny) and at lvl 7... you're giving off a nice 1d8+7+10 heal effect in an emergency no less to all your allies within long range.

I also like Crusader for a level for the steely resolve, along with access to the awesome feat: Song of the White Raven. Drop down inspire courage as a swift action is great.

Snowflake wardance (Frostburn) will give you + cha to hit, power attack your base attack away.

Eberron Campaign has feats to replace some bardsongs. For example you can drop suggestion for song of the heart and get a nice +1 to your inspire courage as a more skald type bard.
You could add the different bonuses from masterwork instruments in complete adventurer.

There's a whole section on instruments that give small bonuses to bard skills in there.
You should add an article on Sublime Chord & Virtuoso.
Doomspeak (Feat, Champions of Ruin) deserves mention. Expend a use of Bardic music to give an opponent a -10 penalty to attack, saves, ability checks, and skill checks for 1 round. Will save (DC 10+Character lvl+Cha mod) negates. The ability is also non-mind affecting (necromatic ability). Very strong debuff option in combination with a SoD caster.
Doomspeak (Feat, Champions of Ruin) deserves mention. Expend a use of Bardic music to give an opponent a -10 penalty to attack, saves, ability checks, and skill checks for 1 round. Will save (DC 10+Character lvl+Cha mod) negates. The ability is also non-mind affecting (necromatic ability). Very strong debuff option in combination with a SoD caster.

you are so very right, the DC is great.
I haven't included it yet, because i'm incorporating stuff from non-campaign specific books.
Dictum Mortuum's Handbooks - My personal Character Optimization blog. 
Nerdy Meeples - A blog about reviewing and providing strategies on boardgames. 
i love Doomspeak .... i had a character based on it ..... i will look for it ...

another feat that deserves mention :


Undead Empathy[General](Eb p61)req:Charisma 13
+4 bonus on Diplomacy checks to change the attitude of Intelligent Undead.
You can also use your Diplomacy to influence Mindless Undead (such as Skeletons, Zombies, etc.).Mindless Undead initially have the attitude of Hostile.
examples:[indent]
Stop a random Mindless Undead from attacking, Indifferent DC 25
Stop a Mindless Undead under orders from attacking, Friendly DC 35
Make a Mindless Undead abandon what it has been ordered to guard, Helpful DC 50[/indent]


:D
Another nice handbook taking shape : bravo !

Note: the Jaebrin (LA +1) bite is Con-based, not Cha-based.

You forgot the Never Outnumbered skill trick for fear stacking.

When you get around to FR books, Dreadful Wrath (PGtF) is a CO-approved feat for fear stacking. Especially since apparently the Rules Compendium says that the worst fear conditions lasts as long as the longest fear effect (I hope it's true - I read that in another thread) : so you make the opponent shaken for 1 minute with DW, then you make him cower for 1 minute using Imperious Command... And DW is over an area, like Demoralization enhanced by Never Outnumbered !

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Races of the Wild has Elf Dilettante, which is Jack of All Trades +1. Only draw back is Elf-blood or some 3 ranks in a skill that I forget. Which is absolutely no drawback for a Diplomancer.
Another nice handbook taking shape : bravo !

Note: the Jaebrin (LA +1) bite is Con-based, not Cha-based.

You forgot the Never Outnumbered skill trick for fear stacking.

When you get around to FR books, Dreadful Wrath (PGtF) is a CO-approved feat for fear stacking. Especially since apparently the Rules Compendium says that the worst fear conditions lasts as long as the longest fear effect (I hope it's true - I read that in another thread) : so you make the opponent shaken for 1 minute with DW, then you make him cower for 1 minute using Imperious Command... And DW is over an area, like Demoralization enhanced by Never Outnumbered !

jaebrin!
you are correct, they're awesome.

Strangely, intimidate is not a class skill for bards. That's why the skill is not included.

Races of the Wild has Elf Dilettante, which is Jack of All Trades +1. Only draw back is Elf-blood or some 3 ranks in a skill that I forget. Which is absolutely no drawback for a Diplomancer.

if you can get it with half-elf, that's ok.
otherwise it's not that good.
there aren't many elves (actually only one subrace) that are good for a bard.
Dictum Mortuum's Handbooks - My personal Character Optimization blog. 
Nerdy Meeples - A blog about reviewing and providing strategies on boardgames. 
if you can get it with half-elf, that's ok.
otherwise it's not that good.
there aren't many elves (actually only one subrace) that are good for a bard.

I'm not quite sure that's so. While I'm not 100% sure about each of the 11 flavors of elf, I do know most have boosts to Dex and penalties to Con. The Con penalty sucks, but Dex is good for your ranged attacks and AC. I think it's an average race for Bards, not quite the no-brainer like Humans or Gnomes.
I noticed no mention of Weapon Finesse... if you are mentioning Snowflake Wardance you have to mention it. Its strictly better than Snowflake Wardance:
1. You don't blow a music use to activate it
2. You aren't limited to weilding a weapon in one hand (Snowflake Wardance requires one to weild slashing weapons in one hand, not just one-handed weapons: you can still use Rapiers two-handed, which works well in conjunction with Power Attack)
3. Its on all the time, and doesn't fatigue you at the end of it.

Power Attack is also a great feat on a Bard. You typically only want a 13 Str to get it, but it works well when used two-handed with either longsword or rapier. The buffs to attack are typically good enough from a Bard's list that they can get similar damage to the party Fighter.

Whisper Gnomes and Strongheart Halflings should be mentioned... The -2 Cha for Whisper Gnomes is only slightly painful, if self-buffs and no-save spells are used. Strongheart Halflings get +2 Dex with no Con cost, the bonus feat, small size for +1 AC, and +1 to hit with thrown weapons, making them about as viable as humans.
Yeah, snowflake wardance is only really good in bard gish novas with huge CHA synergies. I'd downgrade it as well.
Complete Adventurer

Fochlucan Lyrist
This is an extremely difficult class to enter, but it offers great class features. For more information check this thread. You can see a preview of the prestige class online, here.
Virtuoso
Easy requirements to enter, but note that intimidate is a cross-class skill to bards. One of the drawbacks is that you lose UMD as a class skill, but you do gain intimidate.

Class Features:
  • Bardic Music: Stacks for the number of times you can use your bardic music per day and for your most important song, inspire courage. But the best benefit is that you get fascinate for free! That means that you can swap it for an alternative class feature (healing hymn), since fascinate is more or less worthless without suggestion. Your suggestion ability will only be slightly delayed (1-2 levels).
  • Virtuoso Performance: You get special songs. You can use it 1/virtuoso level or by spending 2 bardic music per day. While using this ability you can activate magic items and cast spells normally, which is a great bonus. Unfortunately many songs require you to concentrate.
    • Persuasive Song: Meh, average. It just replaces the diplomacy check with perform (which is more easily optimized usually). The good news is that it affects everyone in a 30ft radius. While you probably won't be able to use it in combat, it's great reducing prices through haggling and similar uses.
    • Sustaining Song: This is not that good, but it can auto-stabilize or allies in 30ft radius. I wouldn't advice sustaining this song though.
    • Jarring Song: Now this is actually better. If you manage to hit high perform checks through optimization, you can easily disrupt spellcasters. It even affects multiple targets and doesn't hurt allies.
    • Song of Fury: If you are paired with a barbarian, or someone that has additional abilities that trigger when you enter a rage (like the great prestige class champion of Gwynharwyf or the feat raging luck), this is worth it. It affects any character that wishes to enter a rage, but make sure that you won't stop performing mid-battle, as the negative effects of leaving rage will come in effect.
    • Mindbending Melody: Sure, why not? The DC is ok and it's one less spell known for you.
    • Revealing Melody: This is good, because true seeing, although is a quite common spell, it only affects one person at a time and it has an expensive material component.


Sample Builds:
  • Bard 7/Virtuoso 2/Bard +1/Sublime Chord 2/Virtuoso +8
  • Bard 7/Virtuoso 1/Bard +2/Sublime Chord 2/Virtuoso +8


Complete Arcane

Seeker of the Song
Requirements are easy, but that skill focus is annoying, but at least you have to take it for perform. You lose quite a few class skills, like UMD.





[/SBLOCK]
Just a couple things you might want to add.

CAdv has those masterwork instruments that you can use to tweak you bardic music a little bit.

As far as races goes, the Dragonborn template should get a shout-out if for no better reason than it gives the dragonblood subtype, which is a pre-req for Dragonfire Inspiration. Throw in a single level of with the dragonblood sorcerer substitution to get Draconic heritage for free, and you can take Platinum Dragon as your Heritage- which has the energy descriptor of "any"- meaning that you can pick between fire, cold, electricity, acid, or sonic. Assuming that this works like the dragonborn breath weapon aspect, insofar as that you can pick the descriptor each time you use it, you could in theory start singing picking fire, next round singing a different song with a different energy descriptor, and because they are different types they should stack. It isn't hard to get upwards of +20d6 to each attack. This makes base races with natural attacks, and no LA (Kobolds and Kenku) extremely attractive. If you go this route, the spell Blood Wind from Spell Compendium is pretty good for your sorcerer spell- swift action to make natural attacks as ranged attacks for a round.

Assuming that no sane DM will let you do this, use your knowledge skills to identify the monster's weakness, and pick that energy type. There is a skill trick that grants +5 to checks to identify monsters that is usefull for this.
I noticed no mention of Weapon Finesse... if you are mentioning Snowflake Wardance you have to mention it. Its strictly better than Snowflake Wardance:
1. You don't blow a music use to activate it
2. You aren't limited to weilding a weapon in one hand (Snowflake Wardance requires one to weild slashing weapons in one hand, not just one-handed weapons: you can still use Rapiers two-handed, which works well in conjunction with Power Attack)
3. Its on all the time, and doesn't fatigue you at the end of it.

Power Attack is also a great feat on a Bard. You typically only want a 13 Str to get it, but it works well when used two-handed with either longsword or rapier. The buffs to attack are typically good enough from a Bard's list that they can get similar damage to the party Fighter.

Whisper Gnomes and Strongheart Halflings should be mentioned... The -2 Cha for Whisper Gnomes is only slightly painful, if self-buffs and no-save spells are used. Strongheart Halflings get +2 Dex with no Con cost, the bonus feat, small size for +1 AC, and +1 to hit with thrown weapons, making them about as viable as humans.

the whole point is that weapon finesse is not related to bards, while snowflake wardance is. I don't see why a bard needs to have high dex ratings, strength is better (as you don't need feats to spend feats to utilize weapons, when you are feat starved). Anyway, feycrafted weapons ftw.

But you guys are right, snowflake wardance is not that impressive.

I'll include more races, but i am quite reluctant for the whisper gnome. I mean, it's powerful alright, but reducing your best attribute isn't that good sometimes.
Dictum Mortuum's Handbooks - My personal Character Optimization blog. 
Nerdy Meeples - A blog about reviewing and providing strategies on boardgames. 
i still think Elves make Great Bards .... especially Star Elves, notice:

Elf, Star(UE p9)
+2 Cha, -2 Con
• Favored Class: Bard
• Medium Size
• 30’ movement
• Immunity to magic sleep
• +2 Racial bonus on Listen, Search, & Spot
checks.
• Automatic Search check if an Elf passes within
5’ of a secret or concealed door
• +2 Racial bonus to Will saves vs. Enchantments
• Low-Light Vision
• Extraplanar – Star Elves are considered natives of the
demi-plane Sildëyuir. If targeted with Banishment or a
similar spell, they are driven back to that plane
• From dusk until dawn, any weapon or armor a Star Elf
touches is considered to have the ‘Ghost-Touch’
ability .


:D