Exploring RPG Classes: The Bard

Completing Every Quest Without Drawing a Sword

When we talk about tabletop RPGs most of the people that are into them will immediately think of D&D. There’s something to be said about being the first and most popular of a genre. But when asked what’s the most influential D&D class, most would not, I could bet, say the Bard.

Bards are often seen as something that is not a protagonist or main hero. Often used as background characters, the ones that are the butt end of dirty “seducing a dragon” jokes. 

No, there’s no wrong way of playing your character if you are having fun and not offending anyone else on the table, but why should we limit the Bard to the slutty cheerleaders of the real heroes? 

Inspiration and Buffs – Is That All They Are Good For?

The most famous and used Bard ability (with Vicious Mockery as a close second) in D&D 5E is Bardic Inspiration. The power to make others succeed and thrive in hard checks. Being the one that gives that extra dice is mostly taken for granted when you think about it.

Most heroic journeys have those moral themes of “you can’t do anything by yourself”, but mostly the character that gets all fortune and glory is not the helper or the sidekick. So why should we keep looking at Bards as if they are one of those?

akamata bard
Disguised Akamata, from Loot Studios’ Tales of Ryūbōken.

Heroism (or Mischied) With Flair

There are lots of things a mainly social character such as a Bard can do. Of course he can use magic, heal, use a sword, and do lots of other stuff other classes can do. But there’s a reason you chose to roleplay a Bard. 

Maybe you think helping other party members does not have to come with a religious background or a love of nature. Maybe you think that Rogues are too gothy or take themselves too seriously. But perhaps you KNOW, deep inside, that words are as powerful as a flaming sword, and I’m not talking about the words that make meteors fall from the sky.

Playing a bard is about lying, convincing, charming, seducing, threatening, getting out of trouble, and, most of the time, using magic spells as just “a little help”.

Bards can do a lot of things, but, most importantly, they do it in a beautiful, creative and artsy way. And who is the person that doesn’t love creativity and art on a TTRPG table?

The Sword that Is Never Drawn

There are several jokes going around, including on a popular D&D stream, about Bard players not even knowing which dice to roll to stab someone with a sword. Some people will call that being a bad player. I would say: that’s damn impressive!

quarion bard
Quarion Moonwhisper, from Loot Studios’ Cult of Hunger.

If your character does what you want to do, somehow gets along with the party, is still well accepted, and almost never uses a blade, a bow or something like it, well, it means it knows its ways. 

Of course people think that, when you are playing a high fantasy game, the coolest thing you can do is throw around fireballs, sneak attacks, and/or stab someone in the face fifteen times in less than 8 seconds. But isn’t it impressive, if not even more, to solve the problem by making the dragon attack the necromancer? To make the princess get away from the enthralling of a dark lord by singing a song? To make the BBEG become an ally because you made him an offer he can’t refuse?

The power of getting along with all kinds of people, using your wits and fast-talk to destroy evil empires and still be loved by everyone in the crew is not for everyone. But those who use it well will always find space on gaming tables for their bards.

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