Bards are artists first and foremost, and they practice magic just as they practice song, drama, or poetry. They have a clear sense of how people perceive reality, so they master charm magic and some illusions. Sagas of great heroes are part of a bard's repertoire, and most bards follow the example of many fables and become skilled in a variety of fields. A bard's artistic ability, knowledge of lore, and arcane might are widely respected, particularly among the world's rulers.

Art and magic share a sublime beauty, and, as a bard, you seek the place where the two meet. You might be a naturally talented wanderer who casts impressive spells almost instinctively, a student of a bardic college who learned ordered systems of magic and epic poetry, a warrior skald who mixes skill at arms with thundering music, a dashing performer known for putting on a good show even for your enemies, or a perfectionist who seeks the consummate formula that blends art and magic into a higher force.

A steady rhythm beats in the back of your mind as you brandish your sword. Your eyes and ears pick up the motion of the villains that surround you, and one glance tells you everything you need to know to defeat them. You whistle three staccato notes, letting your allies know the symphony of battle is about to begin.

Bard Overview


Your powers are a mix of ranged, melee, and close attacks, giving you plenty of options whether you choose to lead from the front or the rear. Your attacks can provide bonuses and extra movement to you and your allies, or they can charm and deceive your enemies.


Many bards revere Corellon, patron of both artists and wielders of arcane magic. Cunning bards also honor Avandra and Sehanine, who are credited with inspiring trickery in the heroes of old. Valorous bards are more likely to revere Bahamut, Kord, or Moradin. Evil bards often worship Lolth, Tiamat, or Zehir.


Half-elves are sometimes said to be the best bards, partly because their ability score bonuses favor the valorous bard and partly because their Dilettante racial trait complements the bard's Multiclass Versatility. Gnomes and tieflings both make excellent cunning bards.

Class Traits

Role: Leader. Your spells inspire and invigorate your allies. Your spells also include significant control elements, making controller a natural secondary role.
Power Source: Arcane. You channel magical power through words and music, studying long and hard to master the power contained in the lore and sagas of old.
Key Abilities: Charisma, Intelligence, Constitution

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather, hide, chainmail; light shield
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, longsword, scimitar, short sword, simple ranged, military ranged
Implements: Wands
Bonus to Defense: +1 Reflex, +1 Will

Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution score
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges per Day: 7 + Constitution modifier

Trained Skills: Arcana. From the class skills list below, choose four more trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Arcana (Int), Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Dungeoneering (Wis), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Nature (Wis), Perception (Wis), Religion (Int), Streetwise (Cha)

Class Features: Bardic Training, Bardic Virtue, majestic word, Multiclass Versatility, Skill Versatility, Song of Rest, words of friendship

Creating a Bard

Your choice of ability scores, class features, and powers suggests one of two builds based on the storied virtues of cunning and valor. All bards use Charisma for their attacks. Intelligence increases the effect of tricky attacks, and Constitution is best for powers that inspire allies.

Cunning Bard

The heroes of the past whom you hold as exemplars overcame adversity and escaped danger using their wits, by tricking their foes and concocting cunning stratagems. You seek to emulate those heroes, combining your winning personality with a keen intellect. You use Charisma for your attack powers, so make it your highest score, followed by Intelligence to improve the effects of your tricky powers. Constitution is a good third score. Look for powers that let you put your cunning to work. Most cunning bards focus on ranged attack powers, using a wand from a safe distance to orchestrate the flow of battle.

Suggested Class Feature: Virtue of Cunning
Suggested Feat: Advantage of Cunning
Suggested Skills: Arcana, Bluff, Intimidate, Perception, Streetwise
Suggested At-Will Powers: misdirected mark, vicious mockery
Suggested Encounter Power: blunder
Suggested Daily Power: stirring shout

Bard Class Features

Bards have the following class features.

Bardic Training

You gain the Ritual Caster feat as a bonus feat, allowing you to use magical rituals. You own a ritual book, and it contains two rituals of your choice that you have mastered: one 1st-level ritual that has bard as a prerequisite (see Chapter 4) and another 1st-level ritual.

In addition, you can perform one bard ritual per day of your level or lower without expending components, although you must pay any other costs and use any focus required by the ritual. At 11th level, you can perform two bard rituals per day of your level or lower without expending components; at 21st level, you can perform three.

Bardic Virtue

Bards praise many virtues in their stories, telling tales of people whose particular qualities set them above common folk. The valor of dauntless heroes and the cunning of great minds are among these virtues, and a bard can choose to emphasize either quality.

Choose one of the following options. The choice you make gives you the benefit described below and also provides bonuses to certain bard powers, as detailed in those powers.

Virtue of Cunning: Once per round, when an enemy attack misses an ally within a number of squares of you equal to 5 + your Intelligence modifier, you can slide that ally 1 square as a free action.

Virtue of Valor: When any ally within 10 squares of you reduces an enemy to 0 hit points or bloodies an enemy, you can grant temporary hit points to that ally as a free action. The number of temporary hit points equals 2 + your Constitution modifier at 1st level, 5 + your Constitution modifier at 11th level, and 8 + your Constitution modifier at 21st level.

Majestic Word

The arcane power of a bard's voice can heal allies. You gain the majestic word power.

Multiclass Versatility

You can choose multiclass feats from several classes.

Skill Versatility

You gain a +1 bonus to untrained skill checks.

Song of Rest

When you play an instrument or sing during a short rest, you and each ally who can hear you are affected by your Song of Rest. When an affected character spends healing surges at the end of the rest, that character regains additional hit points equal to your Charisma modifier with each healing surge. A character can be affected by only one Song of Rest at a time.

Words of Friendship

Bards use magic to honey their words and turn the simplest argument into a compelling oration. You gain the words of friendship power.


Bards use wands to direct and control their spells. When you wield a magic wand, you can add its enhancement bonus to the attack rolls and the damage rolls of bard powers and bard paragon path powers that have the implement keyword. Without a wand, you can still use these powers.

Songblades and some magic musical instruments (see Chapter 3) can be used as implements for bard powers and bard paragon path powers. Bards treasure these magic musical instruments not only for the power they offer, but for the wondrous melodies they produce in the hands of a skilled musician.

Bard Powers

Your powers are called spells, and you create them by gracefully mixing art, magic, and weapon skill.

Character Classes
Player's Handbook ClericFighterPaladinRangerRogueWarlockWarlordWizard
Player's Handbook 2 AvengerBarbarianBardDruidInvokerShamanSorcererWarden
Player's Handbook 3 ArdentBattlemindMonkPsionRunepriestSeeker
Setting-Specific Artificer (Eberron Player's Guide) ✦ Swordmage (Forgotten Realms Player's Guide)
Character Classes

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