Hello all! I have just started a new campaign with some friends. The team make is half-orc grave domain cleric (me), a dwarf barbarian, a wood elf ranger, a half-elf rogue, and a half-elf bard. Currently our bard is a little distressed as she feels she doesn't fit into the group well. She wasn't aware of the entire team make-up before we started and feels that with the ranger and the rogue her character doesn't have much use. What could we do to make her character feel like a key part of the group, and what makeup could she be that differs from the rest of us enough that it feels fresh and fun?
Well the Grave domain cleric is a bit more of an offensive cleric, bard can be a great assist in healing, she will be giving everyone extra free healing when taking rests if they are using HD to restore health and always always have her remember to give out her inspiration which is very useful. Though the rogue is good at a lot of skills that bard is ALSO very good with skills maybe have her pick her expertise options so they do not overlap with the rogues (or vice versa suggest the rogues picks around the bards choices). Not sure if you are at lvl 3 for subclasses, but College of Glamour, or Lore are good options if she wants to be more caster oriented.
Something else about being a bard is they are naturally good at the charisma abilities, she can be the spokeswoman for the group when trying to persuade and things like that outside of combat. Is there something in particular she is being frustrated by?
In all honesty you guys have a great class mix in your group, really nicely balanced.
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I think Bard is easily underestimated. One of its class features is called Jack of All Trades and that holds true, they can do a bit of everything. You can damage, heal, and bring a whole load of utility to the group through your large choice of spells and well-timed use of Bardic inspiration.
HeroZero above me also makes a great point - of all the characters you have in the party, only the bard should be stacking charisma. With the highest Charisma of the group she should be first choice to handle most conversation-based challenges. Additionally, playing music makes for a great distraction in urban areas if the rest of the group need to sneak through to somewhere, and can also impress nobility to earn access to places, or simply make money.
Rogue and Ranger don't really fill the role of the bard, perhaps that will become more clear to her as she gains levels. The Bard is primarily a spellcaster.
Bards can also be underappreciated - they don't get the flashy spells of wizard, or the best heals of the Cleric, but everything they do adds up. They oil the cogs of your party's war machine. Make sure you show the bard some love, IC and OOC!
Yeah, I wanted to have some utility and healing ability, but wanted to be a front-line wall sort of character as well. We are only level 2 right now (2 sessions in also) I think one of her main issues is gear overlap. Her and I have been talking a lot today and she seems pretty pumped to go College of Lore.
Wow, how is she not feeling like an important character?
Quick break down of "normally expected roles" for the Race/Class you have
Half Orc-Cleric: Healer/Tank, Group buffs and wading into things. Depending on build could serve as a face (seems unlikely but IDK how much you threw into CHA)?
Dwarf Barbarian: Fighter/Tank, Hit things to death and wading into things
Elven Ranger: Ranged Fighter/Support, Hit things from a distance, support the party during exploration, depending on subclass they might have some support spells/debuffs
Half-Elf Rogue: Support/Skills, a solid damage dealer with lots of skills/non-combat functionality. If a CHA build, could be a face
For a bard in this situation, you can serve as a primary/secondary face character and a primary debuffer. The Rogue/Ranger/Bard might be a good stealth sub-party. Bard's really shine with their ability to constantly be doing several things in a turn (Do a move, Throw out a healing word/inspiration die, and attack/vicious mockery)
Your group doesn't have an arcane caster, and only has one other full caster. Not to rag on anyone, but this is a PERFECT place for a bard to be since it can so easily fill in any gaps your mostly caster-less group has with it's flexible spell list. If nothing else, at low level just spam sleep at the start of every combat and laugh at how easy combats can be. Cast fairie fire to make sure your rogue is always sneak attacking. Sit back with a short bow taking pot shots when you run out of spells, or spam Vicious mockery to debuff their guy. Use minor illusion for everything!
Bards are great because they can always find SOME way of being useful in a group. I've always found the best reason to play them is so you'll always be relevant.
I actually got introduced to DnD through the Bard class, and went with a Lore bard because we started our campaign before Xanathar's came out. Bards can actually have a ton of utility. Mine's pretty much our default caster, and with the College of Lore and the Magic-oriented feats, you can learn nearly every spell in the game (subject to the normal limitations, but class means nothing). She's probably going to be forever squishy, but she'll be your ranged attacker and healer. There's nothing quite as therapeutic as being able to drop a Fireball from a distance after a long day of work. The bard should be your charisma user and social situation person.
What she does will also depend on your campaign setting. If it's Curse of Strahd, well, the party will be thankful for all of that doubling up because it's a pretty unforgiving setting (levels 1-3 are called "Death House").
One thing people forget about in this edition is that Bards are full casters (as opposed to previous editions, where they only went up to 6th-level spells). Forgetting about all their skills and class abilities, they're some of the best casters in the game. Magical Secrets is the key here, allowing them to pull any spells they want from any list they want. And while the Bard spell list itself might not have some of the best spells that other classes get, it's very versatile and is especially good for control (enchantment spells). Especially for a party without a Wizard, the Bard will prove incredibly useful.
Now stack back in the roles of skill monkey, supporting healer, party face, potential for comic relief, and BARDIC INSPIRATION (never let the Bard forget about their bonus action!), and there's no way the party Bard goes unappreciated.
First off, I have to say that I really appreciate the feedback here guys!
Secondly, I have been talking to her all day about this, and kind of throwing in things that you all have said as well to give her multiple ideas and perspectives from other people as well. At first she was reluctant to go College of Lore because she felt it wouldn't fit in the group well (how, I'm not sure because I was hyped for her to do that). Now I think after reading more into it she is way excited. I think it's possible at these early levels she though that everything would be covered and she didn't really have a place in the party. That and I believe she was a little miffed that it seemed like there would be huge competition for gear between her, the ranger, and the rogue.
I've been somewhat trying to get her in the mindset of, don't worry too much about what other people are playing, play what YOU want to play. Before she was worried about the ranger and the rogue out-doing her, now she feels like she will be the one to out-do them, which I think put a healthy sense of friendly competition into how she is going to tool this character.
I think Madame Mix-a-Little will fit into our group just fine
"What she does will also depend on your campaign setting. If it's Curse of Strahd, well, the party will be thankful for all of that doubling up because it's a pretty unforgiving setting (levels 1-3 are called "Death House"). "
That and I believe she was a little miffed that it seemed like there would be huge competition for gear between her, the ranger, and the rogue.
Not really? As a full caster class, after tier 1 play you're not really going to be using a weapon (Vicious mockery is 2d4 plus disadvantage), and your armor shouldn't be coming into play very much (WTF are you doing in the front lines with both a barb and cleric in your party!?). I've found most of the gear I want as a bard is wondrous items like handy haversacks or RoPs, which everyone wants. Get some studded leather and a short bow for the early levels and let magic take care of things from there.
The thing to remember is that bards aren't just jacks-of-all-trades. They have enough class features and spells that are either unique to them or useful in any quantity that they're never redundant. You can never have too much Bardic Inspiration or Expertise. Dissonant Whispers is mostly exclusive to bards and is extremely useful in parties with heavy-hitting melee characters (e.g. rogues, barbarians, paladins, two-handed fighters.) Faerie Fire is another limited-availability spell that's extremely useful for attackers, and counters invisible (a LOT of spells require sight to work.) Bane is a good choice for tough monsters, and if the bard's using it the cleric's free to cast something else.
The bard spell list includes a huge selection of spells from every other class, so bards can cover almost any kind of gap in spell selection. The main thing they're missing is revival spells, necromancies and damaging evocations, but clerics cover the former and the latter two aren't essential in a party that's got plenty of heavy-hitters.
I had this idea for a Lore Bard. Pick lots of spells that let you summon creatures. Lv 6 options include Animate Dead, Conjure Animals, Find Familiar, Find Steed. Lv 10 options include Conjure Minor Elementals, Conjure Woodland Beings, Giant Insect, Guardian of Faith, Mordenkainen's Hound. I think it would be fun and provides another way to distiguish your bard in combat. Imagine that scene from the movie "The Mask" where they sing "Cuban Pete" but then also you ride around a magic creature you summoned.
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