The Ultimate Bard 5e Guide to Dungeons and Dragons

Posted by Ted Cory on

But, bards are also much more than that when it comes to protecting and aiding their fellow adventurers. Their songs double as spells that aid friends and afflict foes. If you like to control the speed of a fight, bolstering your allies’ strength and debuffing enemies to crush them more easily, then this class is for you. We composed some tips on what makes the bard class tick in 5th Edition.

These tips focus on how you can use your friends to protect you and make them beefier.

Bards lead from the rear, but lead nonetheless. Not a tank, like your fighter or Paladin, maybe, but the bard can certainly boost the group HP and help keep the whole party alive and fighting longer. Take the Inspiring Leader feat (given you’ve met the Charisma prerequisite) and buff the whole party’s hit points, including your own. Headed into that ominous room that you’re sure is a boss fight, or perhaps a particularly difficult horde of undead?

Take 10 minutes to offer encouragement (and HP) to the whole group before bashing baddies. Hold Person or Hold Monster work great to incapacitate a foe to keep them out of the fight a while. Help keep the party in control of the fight, and keep your enemies at bay by removing one from combat completely. If an enemy would otherwise approach and decimate one of your teammates, a well-timed hold could completely change the course of the battle.

Speaking of combat prowess, Magical Secrets (open at 10th level) broadens the bard’s available spell options beyond the simple buffs and debuffs you may be used to up to this point. The bard’s strengths won’t be in some of the heavy-hitting damage spells like a Wizard might use. But, a spell-like Heroism offers an extra combat boost for your tank or primary DPS ally to keep them in the fight longer (and hopefully keep the attention off of you).
A bard’s best powers are proxies, controlling enemies and uplifting allies. If your party comes across a fight they’d rather avoid altogether, however, or if you’d rather come back later to deal with a combat scenario - use Sleep or Calm Emotions. Even in situations where not all creatures would be affected by Sleep, this spell can still take one or two creatures out of the fight and make combat more manageable. Calm Emotions can open the party up to dialogue or other non-combat scenario options - provided someone can communicate with your would-be attackers.

Bard Class Abilities and Spell Selection

Your bread and butter, as a bard, will be in skill-modifiers. Bards are proficient with essentially every skill, and you’ll be the go-to party member to volunteer (or be volunteered) for almost any non-physical check. Take specific language or lore knowledge to get information from NPCs or otherwise help advance the story.

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Last updated: January 27, 2019

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