The Ultimate List of Tips and Tricks for Bards in Dungeons and Dragons 5E
A party just isn't complete without a bard.
We've assembled the biggest list of Tips Tricks and Strategies for Bards in DND !
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Are you a songbird? A storyteller? Do you relish the opportunity to share your party’s heroic adventures with patrons at the inn or tavern you’ve found on your journey? If so, you might just be a bard at heart. Bards are the tale weavers, the minstrels of the world of Dungeons and Dragons.
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.
Bards for Protection
These tips focus on how you can use your friends to protect you and and make them beefier.
Bards lead from the rear, but lead nonetheless. Not a tank, like your fighter or paladin may be, 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.
Bards in Combat
If you’re the College of Valor type - take the Medium Armor Master or Heavily Armored feat and dive directly into combat. With Extra Attack and Battle Magic, and the right equipment, you can go head-to-head with most foes and fill a frontlines Buff-DPS hybrid role. Couple this build with the True Strike cantrip for a chance to hit twice with each roll. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and if you’re able to take down enemies quickly with the right combat prowess, you won’t need to spend as much time protecting others.
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.
Bards for Utility
The bard personally shines in many non-combat situations. If you’re using a College of Lore build, remember to offer to do skill checks in as many situations as possible for the party. Skill checks offer the DM chances to flesh out story and world building aspects of the campaign. They also give your party additional insights into your quest or at least the immediate area and NPCs. Don’t forget that your Jack of All Trades passive applies to Dispel Magic, Counterspell, Initiative, and Telekinesis ability checks - so use these skills as needed to undo harmful effects on party members or to attempt to pull that lever from across the room.
Invisibility, Jump, or Knock are all situationally-useful utility spells to broaden any bard’s abilities - by broadening those of the whole party. Make your healer or glass cannon invisible to give them a chance to get into position before a fight. Give your rogue Jump and allow them to easily traverse rough or impassable terrain and find a way to help the party across. No thieves tools handy? Use knock to open a simple door or chest in the dungeon and keep the action moving.
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. Work with the DM to determine if your character would already have education or innate knowledge within the world they created, and remember to ask about those skill checks regularly.
Be mindful of typical spells like Cure Wounds (or Healing Word, if you’d rather use the bonus action to heal for less, but be able to attack). You should give some situational spells serious consideration here, too. Faerie Fire is great for finding invisible enemies (provided they fail the dex save), and the spell gives the party advantage against afflicted creatures. Etherealness offers you mobility, and works as a ‘get out of jail free’ spell. Bards really have no shortage of utility power, but much of your utility toolkit will be situational. Keep Ritual Casting in mind, however, to cast some of these spells without them taking up a spell slot. Ritual casting forces you to use the lowest rank and takes an extra 10 minutes to cast. Some of these non-combat or situational spells won’t lose luster cast this way.
In Conclusion - Bards Rock
If you want to be a good ally and a strong, multifaceted force of boosted skills for the whole party, consider rolling a bard at the start of your next campaign with our DnD Bard Dice. The bard’s biggest strengths are in helping make the whole party stronger when they need it most. And, not just a combat-savvy class, a good bard can help the party overcome traps, puzzles, and even that tight-lipped NPC holding out on giving the group that one important, missing piece of lore for your quest. Bards are natural leaders - a balanced class with wits to match the sharpness of their blades.
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We would be remiss if we didn't give at least one example of a Bard who properly demonstrated their true abilities.
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We present to you, Scanlan Shorthalt from the beloved Critical Role: