So, with the addition of "Xanathar's Guide to Everything", we were graced with a hefty collection of spells and subclasses, including some amazing Bard subclasses.
While "College of Glamour" offers support rivaling that of the infamous Lore Bard, and "College of Whispers" adds a sinister intent...the "College of Sword" subclass truly embraced the idea of a Bard who wishes to become a legendary hero, rather than idolize them through song or story.
By using their Inspiration to pull off elaborate "Flourishes", they contribute to damage, but also provide tactical support on the battlefield...deflecting attacks that would normally slay them on the spot, or by dancing across the battlefield for distraction and pushing enemies around.
While not as sturdy as Barbarians or Fighters, and perhaps not as elusive as Rogues, they do manage to meet them somewhere in the middle...while also having full spell casting to boot.
My question to this forum is...what sort of Sword Bard would you create? Do you take the "Dueling" or "Two Weapon" Fighting Styles? Do you prioritize "Dexterity" or "Charisma"? What sort of race do you choose? Which Feats? What did your Sword Bard do in your background? Were they an acrobat or pit fighter? A dashing vigilante, or menacing assassin?
And finally...what "Magical Secrets" do you choose to compliment their swordplay? Do you borrow the Ranger's sought-after "Steel Wind Strike" to become a flurry of stabs and slashes...or the legendary "Tenser's Transformation" from the Wizard spell list to become the embodiment of physical perfection...?
Let's hear those suggestions in the comments below!
My specific College of Swords Bard was a lightfoot Halfling named Wes Quickstep, who used a rapier and the Dueling fighting style. I chose Charisma over Dex as the primary stat, but in my opinion, both should be maximized. I never put much thought into feats for him besides feats that fit him thematically, and for RP reasons, rather than CoS Bard, but looking at the list, I think Defensive Duelist would actually be amazing when combined with Defensive Flourish. Maybe Mobile is another choice there, who knows, but like I said, I really focused more on what fit him rather than what fit the class.
In his background, he came from a family of travelling merchants. He was a natural at persuading, charming, bargaining, and all sorts of other tricks of the trade, and was going to go off to become a Bard of some other College - such as Lore, or Glamour, maybe - but that was before his family's merchant wagon was robbed. Practically defenseless, they lost almost everything, and Wes' father was killed in the process. His elder brother now the only other man left to take care of the wagon, and Wes' family, Wes vowed that he would never again stand idly by so he could be killed by some 'ruffian', and went into study to become a Blade. He's still a Bard - talk first, fight later - but when that fight does come, Wes is no slouch.
It isn't the best backstory ever but this wasn't a character I played very much - whipped him out for a oneshot once and have only really come up with a backstory in my mind.
You could roll with a skald style - a viking (barbarian tribe) oral historian who fights and chants in equal measure (eventually)
A geisha style musician and companion who allays suspicion of their violent capabilities before they strike with song and steel at the heart of their enemy (hello multiclass rogue assassin fancy meeting you here!)
A noble, the magic and charisma is just your dilettante lifestyle, the blade? thats for winning duels (bonus points if you can make your magic allow you to emulate batman. Use the magic secrets luke - and your must have item is a cloak of the bat of course)
The squire. Bards are bufftastic, so attach yourself to a fighter in your party as their squire, clean armour, look after the horses and subtely grant your lord and master/mistress aid in battle (heroism is great to begin with) when you learn how to use a sword then its part of your mistress/masters training you in the sword when sparring with him paying off.
Thats off the top of my head. If one resonates with you, run with it and make it your own!