Age of Heroes
Sculptures in Greece and Egypt alike depict bards, musicians of supreme skill roaming freely between the cities and earning a living from their talents or engaged in service to the nobility or military. Ancient cultures understood the power of music on the battlefield and a Greek phalanx would have an accompanying bard who would sing inspiring songs for the warriors.
Even the Spartans had a deep appreciation for music. Their singing, men and women’s, was known as the best in Hellas, and their army marched to the tune of flute players who played different songs to change the armies formation in battle. They compared the beauty and perfection of voices in harmony to be much akin to the perfectly coordinated movements of the Spartan Phalanx.
The musicians of the ancient world use music to serve their Gods. Music not only has magical powers in its own right, it assists magical activities such as use of the Prayer skill. Such bards as the legendary Orpheus can play music so powerful as to lull dragons to sleep.
Bards are the heralds and messengers of the ancient world, travelling from city to city, bringing with them gossip, song and the legends of civilisation. Each bard can hold in his memory many thousands of verses and it needs to be. The tales of old are always learned by rote and very rarely written down, as writing is still a comparatively rare skill.
Deity: Usually Apollo, Dionysus, Hermes, Bastet or Hathor.
Hit Die: d6.
The bard’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are
- Acrobatics (Dex)
- Appraise (Int)
- Bluff (Cha)
- Climb (Str)
- Craft (Int)
- Debate (Int)
- Disguise (Cha)
- Escape Artist (Dex)
- Gather Information (Cha)
- Knowledge (any) (Int)
- Perception (Wis)
- Perform (Cha)
- Profession (Wis)
- Sense Motive (Wis)
- Sleight of Hand (Dex)
- Stealth (Dex)
- Speak Language (n/a)
- Rhetoric (Cha)
- Swim (Str)
Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Int modifier) x 4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the bard.
Weapon and Armour Proficiency:
A bard is proficient with all simple weapons and one martial weapon of his choice. He is not proficient with armour or shields.
A bard may make a special bardic knowledge check with a bonus equal to his bard level plus his Intelligence modifier to see whether he can recall some relevant information about local notables, legendary items or places. If the bard has five or more ranks in Knowledge (history), he gains a +2 synergy bonus on this check. A successful bardic knowledge check will not reveal the powers of a divine item but may give a hint as to its deity of origin. A bard may not take 10 or take 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random.
Once per day per bard level, a bard can use his song or poems to reproduce magical effects on those around him, often including himself, if desired. While these abilities fall under the category of bardic music and the descriptions discuss singing or playing instruments, they can all be activated by reciting poetry, chanting, singing lyrical songs, singing melodies, whistling, playing an instrument or playing an instrument in combination with some spoken performance. Each ability requires both a minimum bard level and a minimum number of ranks in the Perform skill to use. If a bard does not have the required number of ranks in at least one Perform skill, he may not use the bardic music ability until he acquires the needed ranks. Utilizing a bardic music effect is a standard action. Some bardic music abilities require concentration, which means the bard must take a standard action each round to maintain the ability.
A bard with three or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poems to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the bard and able to pay attention to him. The bard must also be able to see the creature. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents the ability from working. For every three levels a bard attains beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with a single use of this ability. To use the ability, a bard makes a Perform check. His check result is the DC for each affected creature’s Will save against the effect. If a creature’s saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. If its saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and listens to the song, taking no other actions, for as long as the bard continues to play and concentrate (up to a maximum of one round per bard level). While fascinated, a target takes a -4 penalty on skill checks made as reactions, such as Listen and Spot checks. Any potential threat requires the bard to make another Perform check and allows the creature a new saving throw against a DC equal to the new Perform check result. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell or aiming a ranged weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect. Fascinate is a bewitchment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.
A bard with three or more ranks in a Perform skill can use song or poems to inspire courage in his allies, including himself, bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to hear the bard sing. The effect lasts for as long as the ally can hear the bard’s song and for five rounds thereafter. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. Inspire Courage is a mind-affecting ability.
Song of Devotion:
A bard of 2nd level or higher with four or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poems to assist another person’s religious observances. To be affected, an ally must be able to hear the bard sing. The effect lasts for as long as the bard continues singing. All Prayer checks made by allies of the bard who can hear him sing are made at a +1 morale bonus. The Song of Devotion is a mind affecting ability.
A bard of 2nd level or higher with six or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poems to help an ally succeed at a task. The ally must be within 30 feet and able to see and hear the bard. The bard must also be able to see the ally. The ally gets a +2 competence bonus on skill checks with one particular skill, to be determined before any rolls are made, as long as they can hear the bard’s music. Certain uses of this ability are infeasible. The effect lasts as long as the bard concentrates, up to a maximum of two minutes. A bard cannot inspire competence in himself. Inspire Competence is a mind-affecting ability.
The bard learns to stay out of the way of trouble. As he is not a combatant by nature, he has to make sure that he can survive if combat should find him. He receives the indicated bonus to all Active Defense checks.
A bard with nine or more ranks in a Perform skill can dominate the will (as the spell) of a creature that he has already fascinated (see above). Using this ability does not break the bard’s concentration on the fascinate effect, nor does it allow a second saving throw against the fascinate effect. Dominating another’s will does not count against a bard’s daily limit on bardic music performances.
A Will saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 bard’s level + bard’s Cha modifier) negates the effect. This ability affects only a single creature (but see Mass Domination, below). Dominate Will is a bewitchment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language dependent ability.
Song of Pleading:
A bard with 10 or more ranks in a Perform skill can play his music so as to move a person’s heart and persuade them to grant the bard’s request. This is done on such occasions as making an appeal for mercy on another person’s behalf, petitioning a ruler to let a captive go free or begging a conqueror to show mercy. The most spectacular use of this class feature was when Orpheus successfully used his music to persuade grim Hades to let the shade of Euridyce leave the underworld and have a second chance at life. The bard makes a Perform skill check to represent his petition, to which he also adds his Rhetoric skill ranks as a circumstance bonus. The total is then treated as if it were the result of a Rhetoric skill check.
A bard with 12 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use music or poems to inspire greatness in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet, granting them extra fighting capability. For every three levels a bard attains beyond 9th, he can target one additional ally with a single use of this ability (two at 12th level, three at 15th, four at 18th). To inspire greatness, a bard must sing and an ally must hear his song. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for five rounds thereafter. A creature inspired with greatness gains (2d10 + the character’s Constitution modifier) temporary hit points, a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls and a +1 competence bonus on Fortitude saves. Inspire Greatness is a mind-affecting ability.
Song of Freedom:
A bard can use music or poems to free a single creature from the effects of a single magical effect. The bard must succeed a Perform check the DC of which is equal to the casting roll of the being who originally enchanted the target creature. Using this ability requires one minute of uninterrupted concentration and music and functions only on a single enchantment placed on a target within 30 feet. A bard cannot use Song of Freedom on himself.
A bard can use music or poems to inspire tremendous heroism in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet. To inspire heroics, a bard must sing and an ally must hear the bard sing for a full round. A creature so inspired gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws and a +4 dodge bonus to Active Defense. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for up to five rounds thereafter. Inspire Heroics is a mind-affecting ability.
Song of Slumber:
A bard must have the Perform skill maxed out to use this ability. The bard may use soothing music and/or song to lull a creature to sleep. The creature must first be fascinated by the bard’s performance. For every round that the bard continues playing, the creature must make additional saving throws against the music’s effect. As soon as it fails, it falls into an enchanted sleep where it remains for as long as the bard continues to play. The creature automatically wakes 1d4+1 rounds after the music ceases.
This ability functions as Dominate Will, above, except that a bard of 10th level or higher with maxed ranks in a Perform skill can simultaneously dominate the will of any number of creatures that he has already fascinated (see above). Mass Dominate is a bewitchment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language-dependent ability.