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D&D 3E
Two Questions... 
27th-Mar-2006 02:26 pm
Evil Drew
Question number the first: Do any of you think that the bard class has been nerfed? It seems like it's a might underpowered to me, but I can't put my finger on exactly why. It jsut seems that, when compared to other classes, the abilities are lacking. Opinions?

Question number the second: Synergies and feats that give you bonuses to things... Mostly the feats... Are they as pointelss as they seem to me? A plus two bonus to a skill or two, or even a saving throw, doesn't seem very worthwhile, especially in the face of things like Improved Initiative, NEcropolis-Born, and Spell hand are out there and up for grabs. Why would you settle for a paltry plus + to ride and handle animal with Animal Affinity when you can just buy a Military Saddle and spend the feat on ride-by attack, which is, you know, useful. I think that the bonuses should be increasted to at least +4 to make these feats worth taking. Opinions?
Comments 
27th-Mar-2006 06:45 pm (UTC)
To allow for differences of opinion on character creation: I wouldn't have a character take Ride-by attack without having something in his background that said "cavalry training", or years of experience doing that sort of thing (I don't know if Centaurs get that feat, but it makes sense for them, seeing as how they're built that way). Some people build their characters so they will be as efficient and powerful as possible, others build them so they fit an image in their minds that isn't necessarily as well-built or finely-crafted as something somebody else would come up with.
27th-Mar-2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
If you are just doing the SRD or limited expansions, the synergy is a godsend. I had a halfling rogue who had a +48 to hide, base doff of synergies, minor feast and the like. And that was at level 8.

My other elven ranger had a +21 to ride by level 7, which was VERY handy in the wild where ride checks were common. It even got to the point that my checks were waived because if it wasn't something EXTREME, my character could get past it.

Of course, if you are going hog wild, go for it and don't worry about the synergies. There are feats and magic items that are out there that blow synergies out of the water, but you will be suprised that a little +2 could make the difference between stealing a priceless gem and getting a dagger between the eyes.
27th-Mar-2006 07:04 pm (UTC) - Eh?
They aren't pointless at all. Need an commoner or aristocrat NPC to be able to compete with a PC in something? Give them max ranks in a skill+ Skill Focus+one of the dual stat abilities. At 2nd level, an NPC could reach high numbers pretty easily at 2nd or 3rd level. It's all about the type of challenge you want to give players.
28th-Mar-2006 06:08 am (UTC) - Re: Eh?
Anonymous
That's all well and good, but I was asking in terms of player feats. They might have their uses, but there's always a better feat one could take.
27th-Mar-2006 07:59 pm (UTC)
I always wanted to play a bard, I love the flavor/story of them, but they really do seem a little soft. Whoopee, I can erm...bless the party. Lalalalalala...plus one. *yawn*
27th-Mar-2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
Bards are fantastic if you 1) play them as the party diplomat (particularly as a half-elf using Races of Destiny) and/or 2) combine them with a prestige class such as Seeker of the Song or (my favorite) Sublime Chord.
27th-Mar-2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
See, *my* favorite is Seeker of the Song. But I'm sure Sublime Chords are very nice, too. ;-)

And I wholeheartedly agree about the party diplomat thing. My bard Gwen (gwen_ysalla) is about the only intelligent person *in* the party....well, that's not quite fair. But of the players who play their characters forcefully, she's the only one with a lick of sense. (Wisdom 7 fighter, wot?) So I'm a big fan of the Diplomacy check....and the ass-whoopin' Dirge of Frozen Loss when things get tough.
27th-Mar-2006 10:07 pm (UTC)
I enjoy being able to cast Wish as a Bard, so ...

Are you a half-elf with all the crazy cool Races of Destiny things?
28th-Mar-2006 06:11 am (UTC)
Fine, if you're playing a very low-combat game, but why would I play a bard when I could play a rogue, have all the same skills, and get sneak attack? Or a sorcerer with Skill Focus: Diplomacy, and have good spells, or a fighter with a high cha and max ranks in Intimidate and get the same result?
27th-Mar-2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
Bards are my 2nd favorite class to play (after rogues)-- they're great if you're looking at being a generalist, or if the party is lacking in multiple classes-- a bard isn't as good at a special set as a fighter, rogue, cleric or wizard, but if you've got a party with 3 fighters and a wizard, having a bard to play rogue and medic is a godsend. There lack of specificity is their strong point. I prefer to take perform (oratory) or perform (singing) with a bard, so that way I can have her participate in combat as well as boost the party. They got improved quite a bit in the 3.5 upgrade.
27th-Mar-2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
Too bad bards can't cover the rogue's key role (trapfinding/disarming).

They do work fine as face-men or scouts, though.
28th-Mar-2006 06:13 am (UTC)
But they're still lacking... smoething... i mean, maybe if they had a better spell progression, or a beter BAB, or more skill points, or something, but there's jsut that lack.
28th-Mar-2006 01:46 pm (UTC)
For better spell progression, see the Sublime Chord prestige class from Complete Adventurer.
27th-Mar-2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
I like bards in that at low levels they can be a lot of things at once. Their armor allowance lets them be better fighter mages at low levels than a fighter/mage and they get cure spells on top of that. For me the music is just icing.

As for the skill bonus feats, it does a lot to pull feats out of the "feats are for fighting" rut they had in 3.5. They're also great for maxing out a skill if you want to focus in a certain area.

In my experience the spell-like feats such as Necropolis Born and Soul of the North aren't as great as they seem, especially if you're playing a caster. The catch is that they never increase in caster level, so you're stuck with a shoddy 1st-level spell with only 1st-level effects for the rest of your career. Admittedly surprising a guy with a chill touch from your heavily armored fighter might be interesting, but getting stuck with a Tenser's Floating Disc that only holds 100lbs is kind of a bummer. Some of these spells lose a lot of practicality when they don't scale with level.
27th-Mar-2006 10:22 pm (UTC)
I've wondered about these feats as well. I think the next campaign I DM, I am going to let everyone take a 'skill' feat at first level (like what FR does with regional feats). I'm also trying to decide whether to just let the bonus stand, or have some additional effect from a character having the feat. For example, I think there should be a difference between a figther with 'stealthy' and a fighter with 2 ranks in Hide & Move Silently. There would be no *rules* for this, but it would be an incentive none the less.
28th-Mar-2006 01:23 am (UTC)
The bonuses awarded by the feats are not skill ranks: sometimes that is a disadvantages (qualifying for prestige classes or synergy bonuses, although some are themselves the requirements for prestige classes) but they do allow you to hit Take 10 or Take 20 breakpoints either 2 or 4 levels before you would have been able to otherwise (assuming maxed out skills: otherwise there is a (human and half-human) feat that just gives you 5 skill points in Races of destiny, though if one or both of the skills is cross class Stealthy is cheaper!). They are more like situational +4 stat bonuses.
27th-Mar-2006 10:49 pm (UTC)
My only experience with the 3.X Bard is in my current campaign, and it's someone else who's playing her. To the uninitiated, the character seems pretty damn useless. But the player herself is a closet casual gamer, so I suspect that she could be a whole hell of a lot more effective if she would put some effort into it.

Synergy bonuses are a great way to boost an important skill up higher than the maximum normally allowed, especially when the skill in question is a cross-class skill. Sure, it's min-maxing to take 5 ranks in something you'll never use just to get a +2 to something you will use, but there you go.

So far as feats that give skill bonuses are concerned...there are many feats in general which are a waste, and would never be taken if they weren't the first in a particular tree (such as Dodge). The skill feats aren't the only culprits of this. I hope 4th edition addresses this problem and either (a) makes all feats equal in power or (b) gives more feats per level, as in Green Ronin's True20.
27th-Mar-2006 11:18 pm (UTC)
Most of the standard feats aren't all that great, they are nice little additions that flavour the character (although that gives me an image of the feat "Seasoned"- makes the creature that kills you enjoy it's meal more:>). Look at weapon focus, it's a small bonus but useful and gives an idea of the type of person involved.
I've found synergies and a couple of skill feats have made a huge difference to my rogue who's working as a sailor-about 3 levels worth of skill points difference (int 16 too so that's a fair bit); and means that some of the skills are actually achievable at lowish levels.


Bards are quite good in 3.5 (the DID suck in 3, I feel), the only problem is without a real area of expertise it's difficult to have them shine in the same way as most other characters. I agree that that does leave a feeling of being less good, but from experience of seeing them played they're quite nice; and a good way into some prestige classes earlier than a sorcerer of wizard/fighter.
28th-Mar-2006 04:38 am (UTC)
It seems like it's a might underpowered to me, but I can't put my finger on exactly why. It jsut seems that, when compared to other classes, the abilities are lacking. Opinions?

Oh, it is nerfed. But the Bard's also the most veristile class in the game.

Question number the second: Synergies and feats that give you bonuses to things... Mostly the feats... Are they as pointelss as they seem to me?

Nope. They might be sub-optimal, but they're useful in many ways.

Since Synergies are FREE, they're not really that pointless.

The Feats, such as Alertness and its bretheren, are useful either (1) when you've got a feat-heavy charcter that wants to gain some cross-class skills (Think a fighter picking up Alerntess) or (2) when you've got a skill-heavy charctert that really wants to push up those skills (think of a Rouge with max ranks in Hide, plus Skill Focus Hide, plus Stealthy. That could be as much as a +13 to Hide, at 1st level!)
28th-Mar-2006 02:13 pm (UTC)
Answer number the first: I don't think the Bard is underpowered. The Bard class can be utilized to do pretty much anything that every other character class can do (other than dealing with Undead and smiting evil...but everybody can "smite" evil, they just can't Smite evil. ;D) and always have a little something left over. Bards are mostly fill in.

Answer number the second: +2 to two skills, or +2 to a single saving throw can be the difference between passing and failing. For the skill feats, such as Animal Affinity, Alertness, etc.- you're getting the bonus to two skills, which is why the bonus is only a +2. Increasing the bonus to +4 (even if you decided to split that, and make only one of them +4, and the other +2) unbalances things. A +4 to one skill makes the "skill feats" more potent than Skill Focus ( X ) which grants a glorious +3.

Not only that, but by increasing the bonus to 4, you make the feats seem almost too good to be true.
28th-Mar-2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
But all of the classes in the PHB are supposed to be created equal, and be on even offting, but I think that a Bard would always lose the proverbial fight against any other class.

Be that as it may, there's always, always, always a better feat out there to take than Stealthy, or Animal Affinity. There's nothing that makes these feats worth taking, unless they're a requirement for a PrC. Hmmm... I could -get + to handle animal, or I could crit on a 17-20... The crit's going to win every time, for me. While the plus two might come in handy once in a while, having my character alive to reach the next level involves the killings of monsters who would kill me, and means there are better feat chpoices.
28th-Mar-2006 06:44 pm (UTC)
I don't know that a Bard would lose a fight against any other class. They have a decent fighting capability, the same as a Rogue or a Cleric, and a fair amount of spells (I'll argue this to the end of time!) at their disposal.

Also their Bardic music abilities and Bardic knowledge ensure that they've always got something to do, no matter the situation. Bard is the true Jack of all Trades class, and if it seems like they aren't any of the iconic character types, it's because they aren't. =)
(Deleted comment)
28th-Mar-2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I love the concept, but all classes are supposed to be equal. Brd1 vs Bbn1 or Rog1 or Sor1 or Clr1 or Rgr1, or anythign else means that the bard loses, I'll almost guarantee it.
29th-Mar-2006 01:21 am (UTC)
What about a human bard with Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus: Enchantment casting Charm Person on that first-level fighter?

Wait, crap, bards don't get first-level spells at first level.

But even move it up to third level characters, and the fighter has a paltry what, +1 Will save?

Different characters have different strengths. Bards don't have a specific strength--what they have is versatility.
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