Bard Song Ideas

Share an idea or post some constructive criticism for the server.
Vogelens
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Vogelens » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:56 am

I am very curious about these numbers, as there is literally nothing a bard can do, that any other class cannot do better, from a mechanical point of view in dungeons.
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Loreweaver » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:24 pm

Sure. It is of course true that the bard's main strength, the ability to stand in for whatever role is missing from a party, can be circumvented by logging in with a character of the desired class instead. But that has little to do with roleplay or narrative, and requires an elaborate character stable besides where you'd just need one bard.

The most straightforward comparison is with the fighter class, so that's the one I'll focus on. In this example, we'll assume a level 8 bard (DEX 14, CHA 14) is trying to replace a level 8 fighter taking advantage of the fighter proficiencies, HP and AC. The fighter uses a solid martial weapon (e.g. a Longsword), the heaviest armour (Full Plate) and the biggest shield (Tower Shield). The bard similarly uses the heaviest they can find (Longsword, Breastplate, Tower Shield).

The fighter has +2 bab (but no extra attack), +16 HP, +3 AC, +4 fortitude and 5 bonus feats.
The bard has +22 skillpoints (and a wider selection), +8 to item identification, +4 Reflex and Will, 8x10 rounds of bard song, 3 level 0 spellslots, 4 level 1 spellslots, 4 level 2 spellslots and 1 level 3 spellslot.

- By spending 11 skillpoints on Perform, the bard can use their song to give the party +2 AB for 6-8 encounters per day. I think this compares favourably to the fighter's personal +2 AB.
- By using cantrips to cast Cure Minor Wounds, the bard heals +12 HP per day. The fighter can survive a larger amount of damage in a short period of time, but the healing can be shared with others. It would be a minor advantage for the fighter, but if this is a concern for the bard they can take, say, Cure Light Wounds for an average +10 HP per casting to tip the scales further in their favour.
- By spending 11 skillpoints on Balance, the bard can Tumble for a damage penalty and (with this equipment) an average +1.8 AC. This only makes up for half of the AC difference, but consider they can use their level 1 slots to cast Mage Armour 3-4 times per day. This grants +3 vs Slashing and Bludgeoning attacks, and so the bard is superior to the fighter against these types in exchange for an increased vulnerability to piercing damage. A good deal overall.
- The loss of Fortitude is noticeable on the front lines, but the extra Will is a fair exchange.
- The level 2 and 3 spells can be used on the likes of Cat's Grace (not much use in this setup, but using lighter armour has advantages), Ghostly Visage or Greater Magic Weapon. They give a significant bonus to combat prowess for a reasonable period of time, long enough at least that the bard can cast them in advance of combat without worrying about arcane spell failure. That is good for 2-3 combat feats in my estimation.
- Instead of the last 2-3 combat feats, the bard gets +4 Reflex and +8 to item identification. Feat for feat (see Lightning Reflexes, Relic Hunter etc.) that's a four feat equivalent. However, because this doesn't directly relate to combat and isn't the sort of thing a fighter would typically prioritize, we might say that although the value of the bard's abilities is at least as great as that of the fighter's, the fighter's got a 1-2 feat advantage when it comes to applying their full skillset to fighting.

Of course, the fighter has other advantages:
- Buffs from another partymember (or potion) will stack with a fighter's abilities, but not necessarily with a bard's spells.
- The ability to roll with 12 DEX and 8 CHA means the fighter can spend more attribute points on STR or CON.
- The fighter knows which role is expected from them and can pursue it without distractions, while bards typically aren't built specifically for combat. This is a matter of choice however, rather than a real limitation.

On the other hand, the bard can select more spells than the ones mentioned in the example above, and will pick up different bard songs. Because they don't need to memorize in advance, they can use their full allotment of spellslots and songs in whatever way is most beneficial to the party given the party's situation. If AC is more important than AB, for instance, they might use their +2 AC song or cast Displacement rather than Greater Magic Weapon, or for want of a rogue they may give a cross-class negating +5 skill bonus to a partymember dabbling in lock or trap skills. The same basic song is quite helpful when healing kits come out after a rough skirmish or bite kits are needed to neutralize a poison, and in this way the bard can trade combat prowess for more pressing advantages, directly building on the strengths of the other partymembers.

One last comparison: assuming our fighter picks up Improved Expertise, Dodge and Improved Defense their AC total might come to 27. That's a respectable number, but if it's AC you want then consider that a halfing bard (still DEX 14, but now we'll give them +2 from race and +2 from levels) in a chain shirt with a large shield (total -4 skill penalty) who picks up Improved Expertise is also at 27. Throw in Balance (+1) and Tumble (average of 2.55, let's say +2) for AC 30. That's before spells and songs to boost AC, HP or concealment, and so is both sustainable and leaves plenty of room for adaptability depending on whether more AC is needed (a halfling ranger can do the same thing, but with a more limited spell selection, a better martial baseline and a valuable animal companion - different enough I think that they don't compete).

Certainly the fighter will do more damage while on the defensive (and while not on the defensive), but there is no reason to believe that a bard is less survivable in a fight if they choose to focus on survivability, nor does it have to cost them disproportionately (in this case, 2 feats, INT 13+ and 11 points in Balance - if INT was a dumpstat, the act of raising it pays for the skillpoints already). They have a good start. Their skills, songs and spells allow for a variety of effects, with their spell list being one of the most versatile around.
Spending all your feats on getting a +4 bonus on your songs is absolutely useful, but don't think that singing is your only option if you want to contribute. In my opinion, a weak bard is simply one who spreads themselves too thinly trying to be decent at too many roles. Pick a couple and do them right, dabble in the rest.

Silver Snow
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Silver Snow » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:53 pm

As much as I myself enjoy theorycrafting and number crunching, and while I certainly have some counters to that reasoning above, I'd prefer that this thread remain on topic. That is to say, about the actionable changes we can consider for bard songs as bard songs were the main point of discontent in previous discussions. I see far too many of these threads devolve into anecdotal counter-examples that very little actionable use comes out of it, and so that is why I started with some unambiguous numerical suggestions that we could pare down to something people are comfortable with.

The last statement we have from you LW is this:
At this point, the Bard's future is still unclear. It is possible that their songs will be converted to combat modes, allowing more control over when a song starts or ends. It's also not unlikely that different songs will be tied to different skills, with Perform offering a lesser bonus to all songs. Instruments will probably go from being required to providing a further bonus, with different songs favouring different instruments as per one of Toros' suggestions.
..which some of my suggestions here were based around.

It'd be wonderful if we could get some input in from the other bard players, as in the other thread it was mostly their voices that were discussing the issues the class faces at present.

Silver Snow
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Bards (continued)

Postby Silver Snow » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:52 pm

A lot's been said on the subject of improving bards, I'll leave most of that for other threads rather than drudge those up.

I've got two new suggestions:
1) Add some bard-centric skill/spell focuses or other feats in the list of "bonus" songs, right now it's just bard songs that mostly go unused and the likes of Extra Music or Lingering Song. Maybe Skill Focus: Perform or something like that so people can get more mileage out of some of those skills.

2) Reduce the Area of Effect of the Relentless Pace bard song, that gives an extra action to a random person in the area of effect. A smaller AoE would let people "aim" it better, rather than give the sorcerer with a sling an extra attack, instead of the frontliners. As it is it's too huge and utterly random.

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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Loreweaver » Sun May 28, 2017 9:46 am

The present intention for the bard song is as follows:

Bard song becomes a 'combat mode' style ability which can be used for up to 10 turns a day. While wielding an instrument, this counts down at half its normal speed for an effective total of 20 turns. The Extra Music feat adds a further base 5 turns/day of use.

When starting a bard song, there is a 5 round warm-up period which does not count towards the time spent singing.
When ending a bard song, effects stop immediately.
When changing immediately from one song to another, the old song stops as normal but the warm-up period is reduced to 1 round.
With the Lingering Song feat, all songs use a 1-round warm-up period unless the bard has not been singing at all for 10 turns or more. Additionally, song effects last for 1 round after the bard stops singing or changes to a new song.
Each time the bard sings, it consumes at least 5 rounds of daily uses, even if it's only used very briefly or the bard wields an instrument. However, the bard can change directly between songs without resetting this minimum.

Bard song strength increases according to the formula 1 + (Bardic Knowledge/2), up to a maximum of the bard's CHA. An additional feat will be introduced which allows the bard to count their CHA as 2 points higher than it actually is for this purpose. E8 feats will include the ability to gain a further +2 effective CHA.

In addition to their beneficial effects, bard songs will have a penalty. These can be negated for allies/enemies through Perform, although a bard cannot negate the penalty for themself, as below.
The maximum number of creatures affected by a bard song will be (d20 + Perform)/3. If there are more targets than this, not all will be affected. The bard is always the last to be affected by their own song.
If the song needs to affect no more than (d20 + Perform)/5 creatures, the penalty is halved for all creatures (except the bard, if appropriate). If the song needs to affect no more than (d20 + Perform)/7 creatures, only the bard suffers any negative effects.

A feat will be introduced to allow a bard to use both a buffing and a curse song at the same time, but with a -3 penalty to Bardic Knowledge. It is also worth noting that bard song can be used simultaneously with other modes like Power Attack or Stealth, though in case of the latter a skill penalty can be expected.
The bard song continues to function poorly with conditions like silence, deafness and mind spell immunity.

Existing songs would be changed in the following manner:

Sharpen Focus: +1 (up to +5) to all saving throws, but a 30% penalty to speed
Inspire Courage: +1 (up to +5) to AB, but a -2 AC penalty
War Dance: +1 (up to +5) to AC, but a -2 AB penalty
Furious Vibrations: +d2 (up to +d10) sonic damage on weapons, but 40% physical damage vulnerability
Countersong: 5% (up to 25%) chance to remove Hold, Dominate and Charm effects from allies each round and +1 (up to +5) to saves vs Mind-Affecting Spells, but d6 damage per effect removed.
Numb Senses: 15% (up to 75%) sonic damage immunity, but struck by Silence and Deafness (which does not hinder this bard song).
Fascinate: -1 (up to -5) to enemy saving throws, but +30% movement speed increase.
Disorientation: -1 (up to +5) to enemy AB but +2 AC
Mesmerize: -1 (up to +5) to enemy AC but +2 AB
Support Act: 20% (up to 100%) sonic damage vulnerability to enemies, but +10% physical damage immunity
Marching Tune: 10% (up to 50%) movement speed increase, but -2 to physical attributes
Soothing Melody: +d2 (up to +d10) temporary HP every 5 rounds, but -2 to mental attributes
Charmed Performance: +2 (up to +10) plus 5 SR, but -2 to all saving throws.
Inspire Greatness: +1 (up to +5) to a chosen attribute, but -2 to another random attribute.
Overwhelm Senses: +d2 (up to +d10) sonic damage per round, but affects allies too when indoors (not mitigated by Perform)
Relentless Pace: Removed, will be transferred to Inspire Competence: +1 (up to +5) Skill but 80% elemental vulnerability.
Inspire Competence: No longer the base bard song, that will now be a +1 (up to +5) save vs Fear song without penalties.

Additionally, curse songs become available which lower skills, SR and movement speed, as well as songs which have a chance to unsummon creatures and possibly transfer knowledge of a bard's general feats to allies.

Silver Snow
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Silver Snow » Sun May 28, 2017 1:55 pm

I appreciate the amount of thought put into this, and the willingness to work in old player ideas into a comprehensive system that can house them. In general I think this approach will benefit bards and make them more dynamic to play. I think there is some tweaking to be done with the balance of bonus vs penalty, but ultimately I think it can work out. I have a small list of questions/discussion points:

1) Can you elaborate what Bardic Knowledge is in this context? I didn't see it described, is it just a knowledge skill or another attribute somewhere? It seems pretty key.

2) I think it is interesting that bards will essentially go from being best with large groups to being best with small ones. Maybe that makes sense, but it's a shift to be considered. The reason I say this is that with small groups bards can levy pretty decent bonuses with minimal penalties, and everyone is being as active as they can be. In larger groups, 5-6+, everyone will be taking the full penalties of the bard song, and given the varying combat roles some will be getting bonuses they need while others don't benefit as much from bonuses and instead just get hit with the penalties (i.e., AC song to support the two frontliners while the 4 bards/rangers/casters in the back support, now with lower AB and no use for their AC). I'm not inherently opposed to the shift, but I foresee it influencing song choice based on minimizing penalties rather than improving strengths.

3) In Vanilla NWN Bard/Curse song are an aura effect, while in TER it has been an AoE cast with a set duration. For this rules change, which would it be? I used to be able to cast the song and have its effect leave any radius I had, while I stayed behind. It's not so with an aura, and I think an aura may make more sense and improve the dynamic playstyle this rules change is trying to bring out. It also has the benefit of giving a visible radius and helping the bard focus his/her efforts. As the duration is bard-centered now, rather than fire and forget, it also I think makes the calculations easier. In either case, both options are alright but I think the aura is more fun, fits the theme, and more effective.

4) When discussing curse songs, I think that some of the songs above should already be factored into those. The large majority of those songs are player-supporting, with only a few like Fascinate, Disorient, Mesmerize, and Overwhelm senses being against enemy creatures. Perhaps those can be put under the "curse song" label to clearly delineate them? They are still fairly niche and this change may make them more prevalent.

5) Would curse songs work as just another bard song mode as in vanilla nwn? Or would they be an additional effect chosen before hand on top of the existing bard song so that when one goes up the other does? I'd prefer it the first way, because it does play on that flexibility aspect that I think is the strength of this bard suggestion. If that is the case, would it count towards the time used up by bard songs, or have its own separate timer?

I think that's all I have off the top of my head, I imagine that it's not made its way to actually being created yet but I think there are some useful things to consider first.

PS: What do you mean bard songs can't give stealth bonuses? Here's a great example to the contrary right here (Spoilers for anyone who wants to watch Galavant): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLrpb8Z ... annel=Jack

Ostheim
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Ostheim » Sun May 28, 2017 2:13 pm

I dunno if I'd ever want a bard along anymore if there was this random chance of penalties for them existing and doing what bards are supposed to do, but I can't be assed to math this out and see how likely it actually is.
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Vogelens
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Vogelens » Sun May 28, 2017 2:25 pm

I agree with this, to be honest. Especially with some penalties hitting certain classes hard. They can negate this with the perform check but I rather not take the risk, or have it be some math-based thing what gives good benefits and what not.

I personally do not see bards as welcome addition to the group this way.
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Loreweaver » Sun May 28, 2017 4:19 pm

To clarify some terminology, a curse song would be any song which imposes debuffs on enemies.

Bardic Knowledge is a feat granted to Bards and Harper Scouts - effectively, it represents the combined level in these classes.

As far as their relation to party size is concerned, low level bards have relatively small bonuses so mitigating the penalties by working in smaller venues is wise. They can work larger parties, but need to have awareness of when the bonus outweighs the penalties. At higher level this becomes increasingly less relevant; it's easier to entertain a large group but also, the stronger effects mean penalties are a more acceptable trade.

Silver Snow
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Re: Bard Song Ideas

Postby Silver Snow » Wed May 31, 2017 3:39 pm

I will echo the concerns above, that right now the highest level bard I know of is only level 5. I think that the cutoffs for reducing the penalties may be a bit too high, especially for low levels. Bards strengths before have been emphasized in larger groups, where that small +1 or +2 AB bonus for 6 people adds up and is a decent value, and makes up for the fact that you otherwise have a character that does not contribute to the party in a conventional way. They aren't a true mage and get few spells to support a party, they cannot really do well in the thick of combat unless you invest heavily in means to do that.
A higher level bard still has a large discrepancy between him/her and his fighter buddy, but if those buffs last longer and the spells are better, then that's more acceptable of a trade-off.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that until you get to higher levels it is very difficult to do many dungeons with a few people of similar level if one of them is a bard, because you lose out on a potential tank, damage-dealer, rogue, healer, things that are otherwise near essential, all for bonuses that at that stage are not game-changing. With the proposed change, lower level bards would be very discouraged from using their songs in large parties entirely, which I think would defeat the purpose and discourage players.

Perhaps it can be calculated as: The negative penalty scales to to the positive penalty or level, such that at level 1-3 it would be a -1 AC penalty to inspire courage regardless, but at level 4 it becomes a -2 penalty. The mitigation qualifications always would subtract a set number from it, like 1, and so this would reward bards at low levels who focus on high perform, as they more frequently can support larger groups with less penalties. At the same time, it does not too severely punish those who don't, and scales better. Obviously the concept would have to be adjusted for each song, not all are as linear as the AB/AC songs.

I think that if I were making a bard now, with these rules, I would hesitate to use my main bardic ability in a normal sized group because unless I roll above average I would do more harm than good.


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