- 1 BEGINNER BARD FAQ
- 2 1. RACES
- 3 Arial
- 4 Elf
- 5 Human/ Halfie
- 6 Wood Elf
- 7 Weapon skills
- 8 Scrolls/Talismans
- 9 Flourish
- 10 Pick Lock
- 11 Roundhouse
- 12 Shield Block
- 13 Pugil
- 14 Sing
- 15 A Capella
- 16 Tune
- 17 Sneak
- 18 Evade
- 19 Charismatic Prelude
- 20 Adagio
- 21 Piercing Dissonance
- 22 Chant of Resilience
- 23 Battaglia
- 24 Canticle of the Gods
- 25 Elven Adagio
- 26 Lullaby
- 27 Languid Carol
- 28 Anthem Resistance
- 29 Riddle of Revelation
- 30 Cacophonous Clamor
- 31 Reveille
- 32 Pastoral of the Mind
- 33 Tranquil Serenade
- 34 Requiem
- 35 Elegy of Tears
- 36 Bagatelle of Bravado
- 37 Laborious Lament
- 38 Vibrato
- 39 Nocturne of Fright
- 40 Apocalyptic
- 41 Fantasia
- 42 Symphonic Echoes
- 43 Dirge of Solitude
- 44 Grand Nocturne
- 45 Proficient Vocalist:
- 46 Proficient Instrumentalist:
- 47 Tavern Brawler:
- 48 Frightful Fiend:
- 49 Dancer:
- 50 Swashbuckler:
- 51 Erode Confidence:
- 52 Force of Personality:
- 53 Distortion Opportunist:
- 54 Depths of Depression:
- 55 Insinuative Overture:
- 56 Psychological Insight:
- 57 Glory Hound:
- 58 Wandering Minstrel
- 59 habitual drunk
- 60 Sounder of the Knell
- 61 Shield of Words
- 61.1 7. Tactics
- 61.2 8. Survivability
- 61.3 9. Cabal Choice
- 61.4 10. General Info
- 61.5 Most importantly, have fun out in the fields, even when things don't go your way. Just look at is as a chance for more fun rp! Its a game meant to be enjoyed and the staff and players generally do a lot to keep it that way, so play on. I'll try to update this with more relevant information from my more successful bards when I have the time.
BEGINNER BARD FAQ
//Disclaimer: Vets probably won't find anything overly useful in here and may disagree, but this is what I believe to be a decent introduction to the class for someone new to it. Lots of the specific information can be found in helpfiles already- such as race stats, edges, skills, and songs. So the information will be more general and observations on them, but you can go to specific helpfiles on them for more information. I've not played a centaur and don't know enough about them to comment on how they play as bards, so I'm omitting them here.//
1. Race Choices (Pros / Cons)
3. Songs (general info / PK Usefulness)
4. Choosing a Repertoire
5. Basic Gearing Ideas/ Instruments
9. Cabal choice
10. General Info
Str: 19 Wis: 20 Dex: 25 Con: 18 Int: 22 Cha: 18
Pros An arial bard has certain distinct advantages. Their 25 dex will make them decent in melee as bards that use instruments rely on parry and dodge for their defenses primarily. This means an arial bard will likely fare slightly better in most melee situations than all other races, but the trade off is weaker songs generally. Inherent flight is also useful, though wingsweep is perhaps less useful since their songs already do area affects. I would say the best cabal for arials would be Battle, simply for the perma flight inherent.
An arial bard can serve as a tank for groups because of their high dex and defenses, and if you wear a shield or staff you can be ultra defensive, though you'll not be able to sing until you get the a capella skill at rank 30. The same goes for all other races, though humans and half breeds are probably the worst since they have the lowest dex.
Arials also have the windsong edge which only they can take, which increases potency of songs when under open sky, which is probably a must take edge for any arial bard. Also, given their int, they can get a decent amount of hp by converting extra pracs to trains and training hp, at the expense of taking longer to perfect skills/songs. You can probably get 750-900 naturally depending on how many trains you put into hp.
Cons - Lowest charisma of any of the bards means they will have the least effective songs compared to other bards. - Racial vulns and hydrophobia. - 300 xp penalty. - Short lifespans, though this is really not important unless you anticipate a 400+ hour character.
Str: 18 Wis: 21 Dex: 23 Con: 16 Int: 25 Cha: 21
Pros Elven bards are a decent choice since they have good dex and their high int will make them learn skills and songs relatively quickly. They also get a bonus to romantic repertoire, and have the elven romance edge available which gives them a further bonus to romantic repertoires, so though they only have 21 cha, in the romantic repertoire they sing as if they have a 22 or 23.
Swiftstrike is also useful, as bards only get second attack, it will generate occasional extra attacks, though not as often as an elven warrior does. Perma sneak is nice as well as it can help in landing non-combat songs on expecting enemies (lullaby, grand nocturne for example) as some people forget to renew sneak before reengaging in combat quickly.
They do fairly well in melee defense because of their decent dex and the occasional swiftstrike, and if you can manage to stay light you can expect to be fairly defensive, as is true of any bard with the possible exception of humans and halfies which have average dexterity.
Con - Low con means lower hp, though again, funneling extra pracs and trains into hp will get you over 750 easily. You just have to rely on gear to keep your stats maxed if you put all trains into hp. - High xp penalty makes them time consuming to hero, though bards are almost always sought after for grouping because they are one of the best offensive and defensive support classes, so the penalty is not so bad. - Iron vuln is easily exploited and almost always will be when people fight you. - Good only limits in a sense what you can do and you really need to be careful in paying attention to your surroundings when singing. - Area songs may hit good aligned mobs you do not notice when you are struck somewhere. (no golden grimoire style edge exists for bards to my knowledge) Not a major concern, as it happens, but generally good aligns should not be harming other good aligns, even inadvertently. This can make playing Battle more difficult. - Tribunal can be mitigated a bit by the troubadour edge.
Str: 20 / 19 Wis: 20 / 21 Dex: 20 / 21 Con: 20 / 19 Int: 20 / 21 Cha: 23
Pros - No xp penalty means quickest leveling. They also have the highest charisma though there are no edges specifically for them. (elven romance, windsong, woodsong). - Humans have no vulns. Halfies have partial metal vulns in return for quiet movement, and slightly better stats (int, wis and dex being more useful for a bard than strength and con) - Probably the easiest bard to start with as they learn quick, have no vulns and can be any alignment/ethos. - High charisma negates the need for taking edges that the other races do to sing as if they had 23 charisma, so essentially they will be some of the most effective singers.
Cons - Generally the worst in melee for bards because they have the lowest dex and so won't dodge as well as the other races. - Having to practice twice makes them actually have about the same hp since they do not get as many trains, so the higher con is negated by the lower int. - I managed to get 813 natural hp on my last halfie bard, which is about the higher end of the range you can get with any bard. - Halfie seems superior to human for purposes of bards just for the higher bas int/dex, though the gear limitation of the partial vulns could be a deterrent to some.
Str: 19 Wis: 21 Dex: 24 Con: 17 Int: 23 Cha: 22
Pros Wood-elven bards are a decent choice since they have good dex and their high int will make them learn skills and songs relatively quickly. They also have 22 cha, but no inherent bonuses. They also have quiet movement, and being neutral makes it a little easier to deal with songs hitting innocents. Wood song will also give them a bonus in forests, potentially making an outlander bard particularly tough. Acute visiion is actually very useful in seeing any hidden mobs in the same wilderness room as you. They will also have decent hp for the same reason as elves, needing to only prac one time for things, and slightly better con and dex.
Con - Similar to high elves, except no swiftstrike and no inherent repertoire bonus, but in exchange no good align concerns and slightly higher max charisma. - Low con means lower hp, though again, funneling extra pracs and trains into hp will get you over 750 easily. - High xp penalty makes them time consuming to hero. - Iron vuln.
~This will be just some notes on certain skills, since there is overlap and not many bard only skills. Generally just observations, and usefulness I've found in them.~
TIP: Bards have 38 skills (The main page does not list a capella for some reason, but it is level 30 and requires a prac) and 27 songs. That means 55 pracs out of the 155 you'll get. Of those Skills, Recall/lore/sing don't require Practices. (and sneak for elves) So you're down to needing 52 practices needed. Additionally, you have non stock skills like ones garnered from obs/commerce xp that you may want to attribute pracs to. When going through your char, keep this in mind: Every saved prac can equal 1 extra hp if you do it right. Look at the PBF for Salyeris (keeping in mind she was in Battle) to see what I don't waste practices on. And as is shown, I ended with 0 pracs. That means nothing wasted on the char. I also avoid practicing certain skills until I either perfect a skill I want skill learns to go to or I hit hero. Again, just a way to maximize the bonuses you get.
Even as a halfie there are things I practice once instead of twice for the purpose of maximizing hp. I try to ensure I have no wasted pracs when I hit hero. You get 155 pracs over a lifetime, so you want to practice 45 or 55 songs & skills I practice 23 songs and leave 32 for skills which translates to 100 extra hp for my char. Throw in trains and you're at an additional 230 hp. ~Skills I forego practicing include Mimic & panhandle (RP based skills) Pen, Elbow, Kick, Knee. That's 6 saved pracs. I also omit 4 songs. That's 10 saved. (Haggle, Scrolls, and Talismans also for Battleragers)
As always, master all of these, even if you plan on only using one. Staff may be difficult since it requires two hands, but the rest is fairly easy.
These are also very useful skills unless you go village in which case you don't practice them. There are lots of useful preps that can be done with talismans, and scrolls can be invaluable as well in the right circumstances. Gear can take you far, but these push a bard over the top to the true maximum of their potential.
The actual utility of this can vary but it does not make much difference in the fight but probably want to practice it since it's skill% can determine if you can take certain edges. Easy to practice, just remember to do it in every fight.
Up to preference really, some take it some don't from what I have seen, and actual utility may vary. Keys are often easy to find, but may be useful in some situations, but personally, I've never really used it much. More helpful in Battle where you won't have access to pass door.
Two round lag move has a broad range of damage it can do and has a chance to lag. Really useful against flying enemies as it can lag them. Hits fairly reliably, though often for low damage and lagging is not reliable enough to really seal kills. More of a skill to use in a group when you can not trip, otherwise probably better with high damage songs that lag you for the same amount of time.
It depends on your style really. If you plan on always using an instrument still probably want to practice. Generally only useful in pk if you plan on forgoing instruments or if you get silenced since you will usually be singing most of the time. Also useful for tanking while learning as it can make you extremely defensive, and learns fairly quickly.
Don't really need to practice unless you plan on using staves. The damage is nice for learning or when mana is low, but it does not reliably land and staff is not really as defensive as sword shield if you're tanking mobs. Need this for the wandering minstrel edge.
Will perfect over time, and need it perfect at 30 to get the second tier of songs. I've never seen a need to spam songs to perfect it, even with a halfie.
Must have, since you will have times when you have no instrument. Songs get better as the skill % go up, but don't expect it to be anywhere near as powerful as singing with an instrument.
It takes a small amount of time, but noticeable differences in song effects for the first song after tuning. Edges can make it quicker, and generally also a necessary skill for bards. Always tune before prep songs and before fiending slept opponents to ensure the best results.
Always sneak once you have it, stealth is your best friend as it will often let you get off the first song before they notice you are there.
Learn evade the first rank you get it and act as the tank while you rank. You should be able to master/perfect evade pretty easily as a bard, especially a non-human/halfie.
~As above, there are also songs I do not bother practicing when playing a bard, I only practice 23 of them. The ones I skip are as follows:~ ~Charismatic prelude, Adagio*, Cacophonous Clamor, Elegy of Tears.~
==Travelers March== Restores movement. Useful and easily perfected. Can remove the hobble maledict for yourself and groupmates.
Charisma. If charisma is maxed does not appear to aid further, but no harm in having it up as it is cheap to sing and has a 24-hour duration.
Weak healing song that might bestow other healing effects according to the help file but it generally will only remove a very narrow set of affects like demoralize and despair styles. Still useful as it is your main healing song early on.
- I would say you don't really need to practice this for healing since you get elven fairly soon after. The ability to remove some demoralize and despair affects is sometimes useful, and so this might be a good use of a practice if you have one to spare.
Early damage song, 2/3 rounds for 20 mana. Extremely useful in early pk, as two trips and this may kill lots of people given how hard it hits at such a low level. Generally ignored at higher levels once you learn vibrato and overture, but may have use because of low mana cost. It can destroy glass items in inventory with an edge. I believe it is piercing damage type, but not able to readily confirm that.
Chant of Resilience
Negative armor and save mental. Gets stronger as you level, low cost, another bard song you'll generally always keep up. Useful when fighting other bards and transmuters given the general rarity of save-mental. No noticeable damage reduction though.
+hit + dam. -hit-dam to non-groupmates. AGGRESSIVE. I've been killed many times singing this around mobs I shouldn't because I forget to look around my surroundings. Can not renew it while affected by it, or by berserk or frenzy. Has its uses, but allies can not berserk under it. 2 round lag makes it less useful to sing in a fight but may be worthwhile for the negative bonuses.
Canticle of the Gods
Similar to bless, + hit, save spell. It can be sung while blessed. Another song you should always have up. Can sing in combat.
15 mana, Main healing song. 2 round lag. Gets up to around 70/80 hit points per song at hero level, but repertoire/instruments will affect this.
Non-aggressive area sleep. 30 mana. With quiet movement or sneak you can put groups to sleep. Most songs will impact people while they sleep, so you can maledict them before you fight or fiend them. One of the bard's most powerful songs, also great in mobs exploring as can avoid having to fight multiple foes. Works better on calm people, not so much on people you just struck. I.e. hit, flee, return lullaby, probably won't sleep them. Can sing to people already asleep as well to extend the duration, I.e. they go to sleep, you sing this they are now in bard sleep.
-str can be significant, at least -10 around hero levels usually. AGGRESSIVE. Good for strength disarms, or if you already slept them. Useful against melee classes in combat may sing even if already in a fight.
Damage reduction, one round lag, 30 mana. Does about 1/3 reduction, the reason everyone wants to group with you is this song + elven adagio. Always have this up whenever possible. Lasts 10-18 hours at Hero.
Riddle of Revelation
Reveals anyone in the room, may take several tries. Works on invis, camo, hiding and duo. Most hidden chars will move away after you sing it once, but good for drawing out mobs that might be there, non-aggressive. Keeps them visible for a decent amount of time as well
Non-aggressive, essentially a form of deafen (an edge can make it true deafen temporarily), though I don't use it much it probably has a lot of use.
Wakes people put to sleep against their will, even if you put them to sleep. Does not work reliably, but a good thing to have just in case. Can wake up physical sleeps too, like blackjack/choke. Can sing in combat. 1 round lag I believe.
Pastoral of the Mind
Heals mana, costs 40 mp, you can not regenerate mana with this as you will never, that I have seen at least, recover the cost of singing it. It is the only way to restore mana outside of a healer though, so extremely useful for groupmates, and the cost is negligible as you do recover as well, so the real cost is about 10-25 depending on rep and skill.
DOES NOT WORK IN PK. Against mobs, attempts to calm them down. Even aggressive mobs can be calmed, but not every mob can be. If you fail five times, you probably can not calm them. 25 mana one round lag. Has saved me many many times. Most calmed enemies will not strike you but may resume attacks when the song wears off. Some will remain entrance aggro to people who enter after you I.E. Seantryn Blademaster will assassinate/attack someone who walks in if you are in there and have calmed him.
It can only be sung over a player's corpse, has a long effect under which your mana recovery will be extremely high. Should sing it over every PC corpse you see, can not sing if already affected by it though. With sounder of the knells you will experience a significant increase in regen, but need a high PK count to get this edge (believe it is 100)
Elegy of Tears
Works on all, even out of PK range. Prevents scanning. It has some uses and can be especially fun for annoying out of range characters and RP reasons. Non-Aggressive.
Bagatelle of Bravado
Can sing in combat, one round lag. + Morale + hp + save breath + save paralysis. Expensive, but well worth it as it boosts max hp significantly. Hard to keep up all the time, lasts about 12 hours once mastered.
Significant dex malediction. Useful in pk, low mana, 2 round lag.
40 mana blast attack song. 2 round lag. More consistent higher damage than piercing dissonance, with a chance to lag (depending largely on rep/instrument), though generally rare for it to do so outside of epic repertoire. Decent damage, good when fighting fire or ice immune foes, or vuln blunt.
Nocturne of Fright
Makes anyone fighting you flee. 2 round lag. Useful especially if you get entwined, as causes the attacker to flee giving you a chance to escape. Also useful for fiended foes, as fleeing makes the fiend stronger slightly. Minotaurs are immune to fear so this will not affect them.
Fire, Ice or Mental based damage. 30 mana. 2 round lag. Random as to what you call forth. Fiery doom can immolate, Icy doom can sap move, Highest damage. Ball of Ice/Fire regular damage. Fiery/Icy illusion is mental damage, lowest tier. The main damage song at hero because of the lower cost and higher damage potential than vibrato. Middle tier is usually an Oblit/Devastate.
Non-Aggressive. Can not see room descriptions, can not use cabal powers as they are cut off from their item. Powers on them already will not be eliminated. Very powerful song, especially on certain cabal people, like ragers. Can see people in the room though, but can be disorienting and makes it harder for them to getaway.
Miss attacks/skills/spells. One round lag, aggressive. Always always always use this, as it will make you even harder to hit. Generally, 1/3 of things will miss. It lasts for about 6 hours.
Dirge of Solitude
The player can not see what affects them, can not tell their own health mana move, can't tell how hard they are hit. Players affected by this will often flee or die if they are overconfident since they will have no idea about how the fight is going. high cost, but a great song. Lasts 6-10 hours.
Creates a mental attacker (potentially) in everyone in the room in your range. Player only. 150 mana. 2 rounds of lag, but can't be sung in combat, and when you sing it most everyone will flee and teleport so as to not fight you and the fiend. Fiend can not be escaped, it must be killed, but dies if you do. The deadliest skill of a bard, especially a tragic rep. It can come in three forms. Weakest will die quick, but since only the bard knows the strength of the fiend you have an advantage. The middle can kill dumber races, powerful ones can kill almost anyone, especially if they were slept and all the other songs are on them. Lullaby, sing them up, fiend, kills lots of characters. That said, it will also get you killed lots of times, as some people will go right for you instead of the fiend, or if someone sees through it, they will start on you while you are lagged, so careful when using on people not asleep. Once perfected, still will not always work in conjuring a fiend, especially on higher int races. Once you land one, has a 24 hour period before you can sing again. People already engaged in fighting other PCs will be far less likely to have it landed on them, usually, it is seen through or weak.
//My bards have been tragics and a romantic mostly. I found tragic better for fiends that would actually kill people, where as romantic was a bit more well rounded, but fiends were generally weaker. For a beginner Probably avoid tragic, as fiending is nice, but not as great for exploration and learning. Then again, if you want to dive into PK and get some kills, I have to imagine solo tragic is the way to go if for nothing more than fiend will kill people even at full health if they are not ready for it and you get a strong one.//
- I'll name some non-area explore higher level instruments to help as well for each repertoire.**
==General:== Song helpfiles will tell you the types of repertoires that are better for singing them, so look to that. They will also tell you which ones are not so good, so below you will see just some general notes.
==Preferred:== All bards can pick one style as their preferred, which gives them a boost to songs when singing in that repertiore. Can only choose once and then is set for life, can take an egde to change preferred but hard to imagine it being a good use of edge points considering all the good bard edges there are.
==Switching Repertoires:== Each repertoire is better for certain songs than others, and usually it is pretty apparent. You can change repertoires, but probably want to use the preferred (you select early on, and can take an edge to change it one time). Given the time it takes to switch, and the cool down before you can switch again, I seldom do it, outside of rp related reasons or if I know someone has taken an edge to resist my repertoire type.
==Romantic:== Is the average repertoire. Not really great at anything, but not bad at anything either. Most elves take this because of their inherent bonus, plus their is an elven romance edge that makes it better as well. Generally a utility style, not a bad choice for learning. Also allows for the serenade edge. Instruments are pretty common, harps and lyres usually will be romantic or tragic. Some good instruments: Harp sold in Voralian City, Lute From South Darien Guildmaster, Lyre of the Sun from Drah Melkhur (or whatever that keep is named)
==Epic:== Best for inspirational songs, and for damage I would say. Battaglias, Bagatelles are going to be best with this repertoire. There is an edge for epic preferred bards as well, warsinger. Instruments like drums and horns are usually good for this style. Some Good Instruments: Blue dragon Horn: Udgaard Guildmaster, Horns of Valor from Battlefield, Drum of the Ho'Kan, Elf Skinned Base Drum
==Tragic:== The malediction repertoire, this one is best for laments and carols, and then they have the most powerful nocturne. The real reason people play tragic is for the nocturne, but there are no tragic preferred edges. Instruments like harps and lyres are also good here usually too. Some Good instruments: Ghostly Lute: High Lords, Death Reed Harp from Battlefields, Worn Black lyre: Arkham Guildguard, Jeweled Harp: Red-Gold Dragon in Evermoon
==Comedic:== Highest healing out of all repertoires, and many bards go with this one. One drawback many people say is difficulty of getting instruments. Has an edge to boost damage, killing joke. Some Good instruments: Silver Harmonica: Wastes of Nonveil in the Oasis, Silver Piccolo from Darsylon (This rep has the least amount of readily available instruments.)
5. BASIC GEARING STRATEGY
//I won't put specific information on items in here, there are plenty of resources for that and in truth a bard can be played in many ways, so really gear will depend on what you want to do with them. I'll just put general things down that are useful to know in how they relate to playing a bard.//
==Instruments:== There are so many instruments out there you'll never have trouble finding them. Also, most bard guilds will have them as well, so look around and you can generally find one for any rep style. I will say this, not all instruments are equal, and should always look at it to determine if you think it is good for a certain style. Another easy thing to do is ask other bards, most have come across lots of instruments, so can probably point you to them. Given only bards use them, most will be in place, except for the very powerful ones. You can also do an instrument compare to determine what instruments might be better suited to certain repertoires.
==Str Gear:== Depends on your class, but if you plan on melee being a focus probably want a decent amount of strength over your racial max, maybe 5-10 to deal with one or maybe two maledictions, and to use a light weapon if you can come across one, preferably no disarm or no remove. It is pretty easy to find, and lots of it will have other bonuses as well, so not something you need to be overly concerned about.
==Dex Gear:== Since bards use instruments, they rely on parry and dodge for defenses. This means you need to keep your dex maxed, and I like to get about 10 over my racial max. This may sound like a lot, but dex items tend to give 2-3, and if you avoid wearing -dex gear you can manage this pretty easily. Here I will mention one piece of gear, silver bracelets from Ysigarth. They are chaotic only, but they give dex and charisma and save spell, and can be gotten at an early title. Get two until you find something better, but these are great since they are non-limited, you can always get them and are good for regearing or keeping in a container in case you lose other ones.
==Int Gear:== Wear enough to keep int maxed, that's all you need as -int is not common in most battles, and you just want it maxed for learning/training purposes. Fairly easy to find +int gear, and lots of it is +2 which is usually enough for most races.
==Wis Gear:== Same as Int, wear enough to keep it maxed, but again, not a vital stat so no need to go overboard with it. Wis goes up as you age so it will max out overtime almost every time.
==Con Gear:== Maxed out for leveling purposes, but otherwise not entirely a necessity. However, learn where non-limited +con gear is. Rot is an annoying supplication, but you can easily keep about +15 con worth of gear in a container. Since I hate rot, here is some common gear you can get to keep in a container that should help you survive rot even if your base is say 4.
Mithril pendants x2 + 4 con Neck (graveyard) Bramblefield belt + 2 con Waist (Bramblefield merchants) Rose rings x2 + 4 con Ring (anti evil- Barovia) Juggling Balls + 2 con Held (Aldevari) Cloak Endurance + 3 con About (Mayor Dagdan) Thick Jerkin + 3 con Body (Arial Graverobber below Arkham) Thick Iron Bracer x 2 + 4 con Wrist (Wastelands) Dwarven gear sold in Akan is often also + con, the helm and boots are good pieces to carry around.
And there are others you'll find, and note not all this is wearable by ay an elf, half-elf, an evil or a half-drow. So you should be able to avoid rot deaths, which if you're new you will die to since you may not know exactly what it does. Also, lots of hp gear is also con.
==Cha Gear:== Many instruments are + cha, and with the prelude up should be easy to keep cha maxed. But you always want this maxed, and probably without having the prelude up in case you forget to sing it. Luckily, lots of things give charisma that you can and will use as a bard. Silver bracelets for example.
==+Hit gear:== More important than dam for a bard in my opinion, don't really need to gear directly for it because of battaglia and canticle, but want to be able to get your hit roll in the mid forties with songs at least. Lots of dex gear is + hit, while str tends to be + dam, so again, gear to preference.
==+Dam gear:== Since I find songs are more the damage and tools of the trade for a bard, a massive dam roll is not entirely necessary. You're never going to hit as hard as a warrior, and you only get second attack so you won't get many melee strikes anyway. Might be fun to be a 90 dam roll bard, but your songs are still going to be your primary tool. With Battaglia and decent gear, you'll be in the high 20's which is generally enough. Battleragers & imperials can maybe do a little more with dam roll because of their skill sets making them more melee based offensive though.
==+Hp Gear:== Most bards gear for this, for the simple reason that bards are targets. In a group, they will almost always kill you first, since you can heal your group, and hit all in the opposing group and maledict them. A bard should wear about + 200 hp in gear if they can manage it, but really there is no limit. You can sing to beat people, so the more hp you have the longer you can fight, or at least remain alive to try and flee.
==+Mp Gear:== Depends on race, generally you have enough mp, so don't need to worry too much. Can't say I would ever suggest gearing for it directly, since the lowest int any bard can have is 20 (human).
==-Svs Gear:== Go for spell. Always go for save spell, as it is the most important. Than mental, than paralysis, than breath (Most players can't use breath, but most everyone has something that save spell will help against outside of ragers.) Try to keep it at divine (-50) before bless and canticle. You won't save them all, but you will enough to make it noticeable. Mental is nice for transmuters and other bards.
There is a help file that will list all of the bard edges, and in them, you can see generally what they will do. What you will not see is how expensive they are in edge points, but you can see requirements using discuss prereq guild master 'edge name'. If it comes up, you can learn it, and it will tell you what you need. If there is a skill %, it maybe 90 or 95. Stats, you can max with gear for purposes of learning edges. So if it comes up, but not on your list, just not enough points.
I can't speak to all the edges, hard to imagine anyone taking them all, but I will mention the ones I have tried.//
If you are going to be a non-instrument using bard, you have to take this. Hard to quantify %'s, but the difference is very noticeable. Will not make you as good as a base instrument, however, but no instrument allows for a shield. Few bards go this route though because the edges are necessary to make them viable. EXPENSIVE
Useful in that it helps non-rep instruments a bit better. So a tragic instrument will perform better in a comedic rep for instance. However, if you have an instrument suited to the rep, you get no bonus. So kind of useless in that most reps you can find an instrument for, but comes in handy for regearing quick. EXPENSIVE
Better elbow, kick, knee, h2h, and roundhouses. Got it from an Imm as a reward, do not think I would waste edge points on it though. Added damage is nice, but generally never going to be as good as a song, and vibrato is blunt as well. Did not notice roundhouse lagging more often either, so really just a damage boost from what I have seen can hit mangles with a roundhouse normally. I can't determine the cost since I was given it.
Stronger fiends. I took this with a tragic rep. Created a tier 3 fiend noticeably more often with this edge, and also seemed far less likely for others to resist it entirely, even elves and high int races generally got hit. On dumber races almost always got third-tier fiends. VERY EXPENSIVE (On par with the costliest edges in the game)
Drains move and gives a bonus to songs sung a capella only. Will not work with certain dex maledictions. Some bards take this as a back up for when they have wrists broken or otherwise have no instrument. Not a large bonus, but essential to a non-instrument bard. Coupled with vocalist, I find it is about 85-90% as good as a decent instrument. MODERATE.
Switches charisma for dex for dodging and evading, so only good for humans and halfies. Not an entirely noticeable difference, but probably more so for a human since it'll bump from 20 to 23. EXPENSIVE (Daev has stated that dex maledictions do negate this to a degree, in other words this edge adds to you dex up to your charisma max- but does not simply replace cha for dex.)
Stackable -morale to opponents during combat with players. Fires about once every 4 rounds on average. Useful with Depths of depression which does more damage to foes with lower morale. MODERATE
Force of Personality:
Uses charisma for resistance mental instead of int. Generally a great edge for halfies/humans I found. I suggest any bard human or half-human take the force of personality edge to make up for low save mental. I find it makes a significant difference, and most other bards can't nocturne you, or will only get a weak one if they do. One char was successfully nocturned once in the life, through about 20 attempts. That one was by an Imm. It was dead in about 5 rounds. Killed another human bard with one, however, conjured a powerful in them. MODERATE
Bard gets more out of symphonic echoes, more attacks will strike the air. I did not notice a major difference, but it is there. Generally, you'll distort most opponents, so this just makes it better for you. MODERATE-HIGH
Depths of Depression:
More damage to foes with poor morale. Need Erode confidence for this to really be useful, and even then the damage boost will not be noticeable unless you can erode them 3-5 times. After that, you should do more damage, and the longer you fight, the more this will help you. MODERATE-HIGH
Call fire or ice depending on foe. More chance to hit a vuln or to hit one they do not resist. I still saw a lot of fire on fire giants, ice on Felars and so on, but I'd say it does help some. Useful to take when you have nothing else to take, but generally not entirely useful unless you fight a lot of foes with a vuln or resistance to these. MODERATE.
Better songs against high int characters, essentially allow you to cut through their int based mental resistance. Somewhat useful for nocturnes on high int races that normally have a good natural resistance to it, but need a high int race to take. MODERATE-HIGH
Better recovery fighting tough foes, high pk characters. I did not notice this really kicking in so much since most fights won't last more than an hour or so, and the recovery I saw was never vastly improved so as to really make a difference. MODERATE.
Noticeably better fighting with staff in terms of parrying and landing pugil strikes. It is also a very cheap edge, likely because staves are two-handed and so you sing a capella. Probably I would not advise it being worthwhile, as an acapella bard can have better defenses with sword and shield, but with perhaps the Eagle Marked Staff I could see this being viable. That said, I took it and do use staves as there is a very nice staff that can never be str disarmed, which is a good back up weapon, but I also have played two non-instrument bards.
I will include alcohol tolerance here as well. Generally, useless edges as they just increase drinking capacity, but since you can just drink when you need to to stay tipsy not really worthwhile. It also removes the - dex maledicts from being drunk.
Sounder of the Knell
Need 100 pk wins to take this edge. Makes your requiem extremely potent for regen. It also increases the duration to 200 hours. Will only get the enhanced requiem over corpses you create/land the killing blow against.
Shield of Words
A fairly expensive edge, adds a few hours duration to your protective/prep songs. Anthem, canticle, chant, bagatelle all have an increased duration but does not make the affect any stronger. I would say for the cost, it's not worth it as having to renew songs a little more often does not save you enough mana overall to justify the cost.
//I am by no means a PK master. My characters have all been terrible in that aspect, even Thendrell, who was probably one of the strongest paladins around in terms of what he had (3 virtues and a tattoo). PK is a skill hard to learn, but you get better as you do it and you can learn a lot even when you lose. I didn't even know to use bash with Zannon, a sword spec storm giant. But anyway, these are general tactics that have worked with my bards in PK. Mobs are fairly easy and straightforward.//
Editted from the original to add: So I also played a few more bards after I wrote this and did have some success with them, so this info does work for something. :)
1. Sleep. It is the bards best friend. It buys you time, it allows you to sing them up and if you have it fiend them. That can kill most people, and at worst most will flee. Really, always sneak so as to try and land the sleep, as many people will be spamming bash or trip or something to draw you into combat before you sing. Sneak eliminates them seeing you enter, and can let you sing before they know you're there. Know that most who you sleep will call for help if caballed, but you also will have 5 hours at least to sing or call friends as well. And you can brandish, recite on them to maladict them beyond being able to do anything (i.e. scourge, plague, poison, curse, damnation, intoxication are just some of the maladicts you can get from scrolls/talismans)
2. Grand Nocturne. It will save your life. It will also get you killed. Depending on the situation, many times you can use a nocturne to drive foes away, especially ones you know they have the upper hand. Flyto shifter for example, hits you unprepared, can flee return nocturne, and use the time they deal with it to get away if you need to. It is also a good tactic to deal with large groups, but generally if you fail to put a fiend on one of them, you may well die given the lag time of the song and someone redirecting/bashing you right after. Singing it to perfect health people will almost never kill them, but most people will flee anyway because fighting a fiend and a bard is difficult. Also, only you know the fiend's strength, and most are cautious, and even a normal fiend will last long enough to be a problem if they remain and don't kill it quickly. With the removal of mental vulns from all races, fiends are not insta-deaths on certainr aces like they once were, but they remain a potent weapon when used correctly to seal kills, as opposed to opening fights.
3. Groupmates are your friend. You are viable solo, but also a great ally as you make your allies stronger, can keep them alive, and can put out high damage. Generally a bard's one drawback is lagging, you have trip and roundhouse and an unreliable vibrato, so you will have trouble keeping people in combat. Groupmates hitting them, while you sing is a great way to bring down tough opponents. People in combat will not hit you if you sing non-damage songs, so you can sing echoes/carol/lament on them while another fights lags them, then drop a fiend or damage song on them.
4. Solo fighting makes landing kills difficult sometimes. However, using nocturne mid-fight is a decent tactic, but if you miss it, you might die as you're still lagged even if they see through it, so they might hit you then lag you out.
5. Find prep talismans/potions. You can utlize haste talismans sold in Seantryn if you can afford them, and generally you should be able to have a reliable amount of flight/stoneskin/protection/enlarge & reduce on hand to use as needed. Try to keep 1 shield and 1 aura talisman handy as well as there will be certain fights where you'll need the greater damage reduction.
6. Try to control the battlefield. Not all terrain suits a bard's fighting style depending on the opponent, and area songs make it easy for people to hide behind things to get an advantage against you. Try to lead fights to empty rooms where you can sing without drawing other things onto you, and it's also often a useful tactic to flee by foot at times. They may think you have no recall/teleport methods and give chase. Run them around a little, while taking time to sing healing songs, and then let them catch you and turn the tables on them. (Maybe stack on an extra level of dam redux or two if you didn't have it before) Bards don't have great burst damage or lag options, so to land kills solo you're generally going to have to take some risk yourself of getting killed.
This is just some general tips on how to live as a character with a big target on them in most group fights raid situations. Bards can play offensive or defensive depending on your preference, and if you know how to prep you can last a long time and wear foes down. However, some general tips are useful to ensure you survive.
1. Teleport/transportation potions. Carry two at all times. Get in trouble, flee, quaff. Better than return as it works even when cursed. Generally you want to have an exit strategy in any fight.
2. Flee. If you did not start the fight, generally you are at a disadvantage. Especially a bard, as you rely on songs for the upper hand, and if they are prepped for you it's an uphill battle. If you don't think you can win, there is no shame in fleeing. If you get bashed, first command is flee, as you may only get one chance. That said, fleeing can also allow time for their preps to drop, while giving you time to put up your own. Many a fight can be swung by stalling and delaying.
3. Use caution. If you see an enemy in the area, chances are they have seen you too. If they are not moving, chances are they are spamming a move to strike you when you enter the room. So don't enter, or make sure you sneak when you do and try and land a lullaby. Sneaking is a bards friend, always sneak whenever possible.
4. Find allies. A bard alone is a fight many people don't want because of grand nocturne and all the other songs they have, but a bard with a friend is a much tougher fight, and that can deter a lot of people from trying to pick you off. However, don't let your guard down in groups, make liberal use of the where command and make sure to stay on top of keeping songs renewed and hp at a high level.
5. Carry talismans. Talismans can be brandished in combat. So a Staff of return can get you out of a fight you can't flee from, like say an entwine or a locked room, (note that not all talismans can be brandished in combat, if the spell can not be cast in combat the talisman will not work either i.e. a group teleport talisman). The staff of return is sold in the high tower of sorcery and is almost a necessity of any bard. Protection/prep talismans that grant aura/shield/flight/haste are also quite valuable. Whirling staves are sold in Seantryn, and though expensive, allows you to haste yourself and your group, so are often well worth the cost.
6. Prep for fights. A bard has the capacity to have massive damage reduction fairly easily. Anthem, protection, stoneskin are easy. Finding shield an aura talisman is also fairly easy and they can not be dispelled, nor can anthem. Anthem is not enough to keep you alive meleeing a warrior. Anthem protection stoneskin shield and aura is, easier to survive a fight that lasts 20 rounds compared to one where you can only last 5.
9. Cabal Choice
Bards can be any cabal, since they can be any alignment or ethos. I can't speak as to which is superior, but I can say a little in general and I'll list what characters of mine I played in the cabal. If you like a certain cabal or come up with some interesting character design, I encourage you to try it. Most of my characters have lived long lives because I came up with a concept that was open-ended so I could evolve them as I wanted to as I played them.//
EMPIRE: Blade sect. I played Xiersel- only got to Elite. Being Warmaster seems useful for a bard, as does having a generally fair amount of allies. Imperial defense just makes them better at staying alive and would generally be the real perk of an imperial bard that was not in the council. Plus tactics could generate some auto abilities that really would enhance the bards melee ability. Human Halfie are best here.
TRIBUNAL: Need to take troubadour edge so you don't break the laws when you sing (songs will only hit wanted people in town) Seems kind of bland to me to be a tribunal in general, and needing an edge to play one effectively seems even more of a drawback to tribunal bard, which is why you seldom see them. I have never played a tribunal bard. Human/Halfie would be best.
BATTLE: I played Salyeris and Salenya (pwiped at a young age). They love bards as they can not prep, your songs are their preps, and anthem plus resistance is a good amount of reduction. Lots of bards have been successful in battle, for that reason. Probably do not want to go goody for battle, as killing mages often does not care for the type of mage you kill, and nocturning other goodies, because they are next to a mage, is generally a good way to get turned neutral. I would say here you should go as Arial or Wood elf.
OUTLANDER: I have not played an Outlander. Seems to have a perk in that you can camouflage yourself, lots of bards find a spot, wait for a foe, sleep them, sing them up and fiend. To me it seems again a bit bland, and forgoing shops to buy preps can be a little tedious, especially for a bard that needs preps most of the time if they want to survive tougher fights. I would suggest wood elf here.
FORTRESS: I played Teriseta. Been done lots also. Can go Maran or Acolyte fairly well, since bards can be great in offense or support. Just need to be wary of surroundings when singing. Probably the friendliest cabal, since good characters tend to help more so than evil ones. I would probably take an elf here.
SCION: I played Kalisda. You get nightfist (Hit/Dam) and nightwalker. None of the uber powers of scion are available to you as you are not a mage, though a nightwalker is great in that they will strike, and when you flee, it might give you a chance to come in with a song like nocturne or echoes. I would say you have to be really competent to pull this off well though. Human/Halfie would be the best.
NEXUS: I played Allysia. You don't really pass any noticeable benefit except that mages can cast while deaf if they are bonded to you, so really the best perk of being in Nexus is vanguard, or bonding to gain from your bondmate. I will say, a nexus bard can follow a bonded pair, and really make an almost unstoppable trio though. I would take a wood elf given Battle is your main enemy, which is heavily melee oriented against you.
HERALD: I played Lasentia. It's herald. Really, what else matters if you're playing a herald, you know why you selected this cabal. and it's not to be a badass. So do whatever seems fun to you.
10. General Info
//Nothing special here, just a comment or two about bards and how to play them.// -Stay tipsy, it boosts songs and mana recovery. Being drunk still gives a bonus, but incurs a -2 dex penalty. There are edges related to alcohol drinking, just somthing to keep in mind.
- Bash is your enemy. A bashing giant can and will kill you, without you ever getting a command. Even with echoes on them, they will bash and just outmelee you lots of times. That said, fighting underwater elimates the ability to bash, which is a useful thing. Bards are generally vulnerable to lag, and if you can not distort early there is a good chance you will lose control of a fight and will lose before you get a chance to flee.
- Flee quaff. Can't say this enough. Fleeing, you may take a step back into a bash spamming giant when you do get that one flee off. So flee and quaff. Better to live to fight another day. Also, a staff of return is sometimes better, as you don't have to worry about parting blowor failing to escape.
- Bards are fun because they are versatile, and while they can do anything effectively, it ts probably best fo figure out your own play style and build a bard to suit that. Also, bards are victims often because of what they can do. So expect people to hit you in large fights.
- Evil can be fun, but running up and randomly nocturning people, especially two people already fighting, is a good way to make enemies, and getting that kind of reputation will generally not be good for a character.
- You can write bard notes, and people will ask you to do this for them. Use discretion, but try to be helpful as lots of times these notes serve a purpose. But don't abuse this privilege to do crappy things as it says in the helpfile. If there is something worth writing and sending, do so, but don't spam notes to all, as when this happens people tend to just start ignoring all notes from you.
Most importantly, have fun out in the fields, even when things don't go your way. Just look at is as a chance for more fun rp! Its a game meant to be enjoyed and the staff and players generally do a lot to keep it that way, so play on. I'll try to update this with more relevant information from my more successful bards when I have the time.
Good luck to you! ~Zannon