Bard

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Chamber Music for an adoring audience of one.

Description

Untold wonders and secrets exist for those skillful enough to discover them. Through cleverness, talent, and magic, these cunning few unravel the wiles of the world, becoming adept in the arts of persuasion, manipulation, and inspiration. Typically masters of one or many forms of artistry, bards possess an uncanny ability to know more than they should and use what they learn to keep themselves and their allies ever one step ahead of danger. Bards are quick-witted and captivating, and their skills might lead them down many paths, be they gamblers or jacks-of-all-trades, scholars or performers, leaders or scoundrels, or even all of the above. For bards, every day brings its own opportunities, adventures, and challenges, and only by bucking the odds, knowing the most, and being the best might they claim the treasures of each.

Role: Bards capably confuse and confound their foes while inspiring their allies to ever-greater daring. While accomplished with both weapons and magic, the true strength of bards lies outside melee, where they can support their companions and undermine their foes without fear of interruptions to their performances.

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d6

Starting Wealth: 250 gp

Bailiwick Skill: Either Spellcraft or Spycraft. Once selected, this cannot be changed, except through the Reselection rules.

Skill Ranks Per Level: 7 + Int modifier.

Recommended Ability Score Priority:

  • Charisma: primary; used for spells, social skills, harmony and staccato damage.
  • Dexterity: secondary; used for ranged to-hit, AC, and dex-based skills.
  • Intelligence: tertiary; used for skill points, and knowledge skills.
  • Constitution: low priority.
  • Strength: low priority.
  • Wisdom: low priority.

Table: Bard

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Harmony / Staccato Inspire Courage Song of Steel Bonus Special 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th
1st +0 0 2 2 1d4 1d4 - Bardic Knowledge, Bardic Performance, Cantrips, Countersong, Distraction, Fascinate, Harmony, Inspire Courage 1 - - - - - - - - - -
2nd +1 0 3 3 1d6 1d4 +1 Versatile Performance, Well-Versed, Song of Steel (Performance) 2 - - - - - - - - - -
3rd +1 1 3 3 2d6 1d4 +2 Inspire Competence (Performance), Staccato, Mana Burn 3 - - - - - - - - - -
4th +2 1 4 4 2d6+1 1d4 +2 Palliative Command (Performance) 4 1 - - - - - - - - -
5th +2 1 4 4 3d6 1d6 +3 Lore Master 1/day 4 2 - - - - - - - - -
6th +3 2 5 5 3d6+1 1d6 +3 Suggestion (Performance) 4 3 - - - - - - - - -
7th +3 2 5 5 4d6 1d6 +4 Bonus Metamagic Feat 4 3 1 - - - - - - - -
8th +4 2 6 6 4d6+2 1d6 +4 Dissonance (Performance) 4 4 2 - - - - - - - -
9th +4 3 6 6 5d6+1 1d8 +5 Inspire Greatness (Performance) 5 4 3 - - - - - - - -
10th +5 3 7 7 5d6+3 1d8 +5 Jack-Of-All-Trades 5 4 3 1 - - - - - - -
11th +5 3 7 7 6d6+2 1d8 +6 Lore Master 2/day 5 4 4 2 - - - - - - -
12th +6/+1 4 8 8 6d6+5 1d8 +6 Soothing Performance (Performance) 1 hp/round 5 5 4 3 - - - - - - -
13th +6/+1 4 8 8 7d6+5 1d10 +7 5 5 4 3 1 - - - - - -
14th +7/+2 4 9 9 7d6+8 1d10 +7 Haunting Ballad (Performance) 5 5 4 4 2 - - - - - -
15th +7/+2 5 9 9 8d6+9 1d10 +8 Inspire Heroics (Performance), Soothing Performance (Performance) 2 hp/round 5 5 5 4 3 - - - - - -
16th +8/+3 5 10 10 8d6+13 1d10 +8 Palliative Utterance (Performance) 5 5 5 4 3 1 - - - - -
17th +8/+3 5 10 10 9d6+14 1d12 +9 Lore Master 3/day 5 5 5 4 4 2 - - - - -
18th +9/+4 6 11 11 9d6+20 1d12 +9 Mass Suggestion (Performance) 5 5 5 5 4 3 - - - - -
19th +9/+4 6 11 11 10d6+22 1d12 +10 Jack-Of-All-Trades 5 5 5 5 5 4 - - - - -
20th +10/+5 6 12 12 10d6+29 1d12 +10 Deadly Performance (Performance), Soothing Performance (Performance) 5 hp/round 5 5 5 5 5 5 - - - - -
Level BAB Fort Ref Will Harmony / Staccato / Symphony Inspire Courage Song of Steel Bonus Special 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th
21st +11/+6 7 13 13 11d6+33 2d6 +10 Sostenuto 5 5 5 5 5 5 1 - - - -
22nd +11/+6 7 13 13 11d6+41 2d6 +10 Bonus Metamagic Feat 5 5 5 5 5 5 2 - - - -
23rd +12/+7 8 14 14 12d6+46 2d6 +10 Forte 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 - - - -
24th +12/+7 8 14 14 12d6+54 2d6 +10 Symphony 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 1 - - -
25th +13/+8 9 15 15 13d6+58 2d8 +10 Soothing Performance (Performance) 7 hp/round 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 2 - - -
26th +13/+8 9 15 15 13d6+66 2d8 +10 Piano 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 - - -
27th +14/+9 10 16 16 14d6+71 2d8 +10 Reprise 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 1 - -
28th +14/+9 10 16 16 14d6+79 2d8 +10 Bonus Metamagic Feat, Grand Symphony 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 2 - -
29th +15/+10 11 17 17 15d6+83 2d10 +10 Mezzo-Forte 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 - -
30th +15/+10 11 17 17 15d6+92 2d10 +10 Soothing Performance (Performance) 9 hp/round 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 1 -
31st +16/+11 12 18 18 16d6+98 2d10 +10 Mythopoetic Symphony 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 2 -
32nd +16/+11 12 18 18 16d6+107 2d10 +10 Pianissimo 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 -
33rd +17/+12 13 19 19 17d6+112 2d12 +10 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 1
34th +17/+12 13 19 19 17d6+121 2d12 +10 Bonus Metamagic Feat 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 2
35th +18/+13 14 20 20 18d6+127 2d12 +10 Fortissimo 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3
36th Apotheosis!

Class Abilities

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

A bard is proficient with all simple weapons, plus the longsword, rapier, sap, shortsword, shortbow, and whip (only the 'whip', not the exotic whips). Bards are also proficient with light armor and light shields. A bard can cast bard spells while wearing light armor and using a light shield without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. Like any other arcane spell caster, a bard wearing medium or heavy armor incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component. A multiclass bard still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.

Natural Talent (Ex)

At 1st level, all characters receive two natural Natural Talent skills: one in their bailiwick skill, and one in any other skill of their choice. Natural talent allows you to re-map a skill to use any ability score you wish, rather than the ability score it normally uses. You may not select a skill for natural talent that you cannot put ranks into (such as a bailiwick skill not available to your class). Natural talent skills never suffer an armor check penalty, even if the chosen ability modifier is STR or DEX.

All characters receive an additional natural talent skill at character (not class) levels 11, 21, and 31. Additional natural talents may also be gained through Self-Improvement.

Spells

Beginning at 1st level, a bard casts arcane spells drawn from the bard spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. Every bard spell has a verbal component (singing, reciting, or music). To learn or cast a spell, a bard must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class (DC) for a saving throw against a bard's spell is 10 + the spell level + the bard's Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a bard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Bard. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score (as detailed on Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

The bard's selection of spells is extremely limited. A bard begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of the bard's choice. At each new bard level, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Bard Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a bard knows is not affected by his Charisma score).

Upon reaching 5th level, and at every third bard level after that (8th, 11th, and so on), a bard can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the bard loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least one level lower than the highest-level bard spell the bard can cast. A bard may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

A bard need not prepare his spells in advance. He can cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not yet used up his allotment of spells per day for the spell's level.

Table: Bard Spells Known

Level 0th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st 4 2 - - - - -
2nd 5 3 - - - - -
3rd 6 4 - - - - -
4th 6 4 2 - - - -
5th 6 4 3 - - - -
6th 6 4 4 - - - -
7th 6 5 4 2 - - -
8th 6 5 4 3 - - -
9th 6 5 4 4 - - -
10th 6 5 5 4 2 - -
11th 6 6 5 4 3 - -
12th 6 6 5 4 4 - -
13th 6 6 5 5 4 2 -
14th 6 6 6 5 4 3 -
15th 6 6 6 5 4 4 -
16th 6 6 6 5 5 4 2
17th 6 6 6 6 5 4 3
18th 6 6 6 6 5 4 4
19th 6 6 6 6 5 5 4
20th 6 6 6 6 6 5 5

Cantrips (Sp)

Bard's learn a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells, as noted on Table: Bard Spells Known under "Spells Known." These spells are cast like any other spell, but they do not consume any slots and may be used again.

Bardic Knowledge (Ex)

A bard adds a +1 training bonus to all Knowledge skill checks and may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained. This bonus improves to +2 at 10th level, +3 at 20th level, and +4 at 30th level.

Bardic Performance (Ex, Stance)

Beginning at 1st level, a bard is trained to use the Perform skill to create magical effects on those around him, including himself, if desired. To initiate one of his performances, he enters a Stance, which follows the rules for stances, except as described below. Each round, the bard can produce any one of the types of bardic performance that he has mastered, as indicated by his level.

Entering a Bardic Performance

Entering the stance of a bardic performance is a standard action, but it can be maintained each round as a free action. Entering a stance does not provoke attacks of opportunity. A Bardic Performance requires the bard to be standing, wielding an Instrument (see below), occupies both hands, and requires the Bard to have all their actions available each round to maintain the Stance.

At 7th level, a bard can enter the stance of a bardic performance as a move action instead of a standard action. At 13th level, a bard can initiate the stance of a bardic performance as a swift action.

Ending a Performance

Ending a bardic performance requires an immediate action (or a swift action if done during the bard's turn) and can trigger a finale (see below). A performance cannot be ended the same round it was begun, and the same performance cannot be ended and then re-started in the same round. However, a bard can end one performance and begin a different one in the same round, assuming he has enough actions to do so. A bardic performance is disrupted if he is knocked out of his stance (see Stance rules). If the performance stance is disrupted, the bard must use another standard action to re-initiate the stance (unless he has the higher level abilities which reduce this to lesser action types). A disrupted performance does not trigger the performance's finale (see below).

Additional Performance Rules

As with all stances, a bard cannot have more than one bardic performance in effect at one time. While in the bardic performance stance, the bardic abilities Harmony or Staccato may be used, as long as the bard has adequate actions to do so.

Allies must be within the range of the performance (typically 30 feet, but see the performance's description) to gain the benefits of the performance. Depending on the Perform skill specialization being used with the stance, allies will also require line of sight for visual-based performance (e.g. dance) or line of effect for audible performances (e.g. percussion). Some performance types require both line of sight and line of effect (e.g. acting).

If a bardic performance has audible components, the targets must be able to hear the bard for the performance to have any effect, and such performances are language dependent. A deaf bard has a 20% change to fail when attempting to use a bardic performance with an audible component. This check is made at the beginning of his turn each round, and is not an action. If he fails this check, the performance grants no benefits or effects until a successful check is made on a subsequent round. Deaf creatures are immune to bardic performances with audible components.

If a bardic performance has a visual component, the targets must have line of sight to the bard for the performance to have any effect. A blind bard has a 50% chance to fail when attempting to use a bardic performance with a visual component. This check is made at the beginning of his turn each round, and is not an action. If he fails this check, the performance grants no benefits or effects until a successful check is made on a subsequent round. Blind creatures are immune to bardic performances with visual components.

Bard Instruments

In order to use their Performance skill and enter a Performance Stance, a bard must wield an Instrument with both hands. This may be a traditional instrument such as a lute, violin, or flute, or it may be any other Instrument which the Bard uses to focus his Performance. It can be an item of clothing such as a signature hat which is manipulated about the body, as used by Fred Astaire, it can be an artifact such as Yorick's Skull to which he declaims dramatically, it can be a scarf which is held and manipulated to emphasize the performance, or anything else the player wishes.

Note that you can, if you wish, declare you are a martially-oriented Bard and use a Sword and Shield (for example) as your instrument, and this is perfectly legitimate! However, this has the major caveat that when you are using your sword and shield as your Bardic instrument to maintain a Stance, you CANNOT also use it as a weapon and shield, with the single exception of the "Song of Steel" Bardic Performance.

In addition to allowing the use of their Performance skill to enter a Performance Stance, a Bard's Instrument can, optionally, be enchanted to act as a light shield. This has the advantage that they can gain a shield bonus without having to put their Instrument away, and vice versa. In such cases, the Instrument can only be used for one function at a time, much as a Shield with Shield Spikes: IE, if you are using it with one hand defensively as a shield, you may not wield it with both hands as an Instrument to Perform in that same round.

Magic bard instruments are a subset of magical shields which follow modified rules for their construction. Like normal shields, Bard instruments may have one or more magic properties in addition to an enhancement bonus. Bardic Instruments may also be made with any dweomermetal, with the caveat that the properties of the dweomermetal only apply in rounds when the Instrument is being used as a shield.

The magic properties for a Bard Instrument being used as a shield may be chosen as for any other shield, following the same rules as magic shield properties for the number of properties which may be added (i.e. campaign limits must be followed as to the maximum amount of properties which are allowed). The cost to create a magic instrument is the same as the cost for a comparably enchanted magic shield (the cost of the instrument itself, plus the cost for the absolute bonus of the total number of magic weapon properties being applied).

Finales (Su)

During combat, as an Immediate action, the bard may end her performance and gain a Finale effect. Note that 'ending a performance' is not the same as having the stance disrupted, and disrupted stances do not allow the bard to gain a Finale effect. The Finale may not be used in same round that the performance starts. A new performance may begin the same round a Finale is used, but it must be a different performance than the one just ended. The bard is never obligated to use the finale when ending a performance, though voluntarily ending a performance always costs an immediate/swift action. Finales may only be used during combat (while there is an initiative order).

Types of Bardic Performance

Each of the Bardic Performance types described below is a stance, and follows all of the rules of Stances. Once the selected stance is entered, the bard may sustain it each round as a free action, or end it as an immediate (or swift) action to gain its finale effect. If the stance is disrupted, the finale may not be used, and the stance must be re-initiated. If the bard wishes to change the stance he is using to a different performance, he must end the current stance, and initiate the new stance as a standard action (or a move action at 7th level, or swift action at 13th). If the stance is disrupted, the interrupted performance may be re-initiated or a different performance may be initiated if the bard so chooses. The only legal way to end a performance and begin a new one is to either spend an immediate action to end it (and get the Finale benefit if eligible) or have the stance disrupted.

Bardic Performance Type of Ability SR Applies? Level Acquired
Countersong Su - 1st
Distraction Su - 1st
Fascinate Su - 1st
Inspire Courage Su - 1st
Song of Steel Ex - 2nd
Inspire Competence Su - 3rd
Palliative Command Su - 4th
Suggestion Sp Yes 6th
Dissonance Su - 8th
Inspire Greatness Su - 9th
Soothing Performance Su - 12th
Haunting Ballad Sp Yes 14th
Inspire Heroics Su - 15th
Palliative Utterance Su - 16th
Mass Suggestion Sp Yes 18th
Deadly Performance Su - 20th

Implements

The Bard is one of the classes which is allowed to use Implements to boost their magical ranged touch attacks. The bard's bardic instrument may be enchanted as an implement, in addition to any other enchantments it may have. See the Crafting Magic Implements page for more details.

Harmony (Sp)

Starting at 1st level, any time during combat that the bard is maintaining a performance stance (including surprise rounds), a bard may magically strike at his enemies with illusory shadows of his performance as a standard action, in addition to the effects of the Stance. The range of the attack is Close (25 ft + 5 ft/two levels (round down)) and it is a Ranged Touch Attack that follows all the rules of ray attacks.

As a ranged touch attack, Harmony may be boosted if the Bard has an Implement in their hand when the ability is used. If their Implement is also their Instrument, this usage does not interrupt their performance.

Targets of Harmony must have a mind to affect (i.e. an INT score of at least 1), though the bard need not share a language with the target. Harmony is a spell-like ability that provokes AOO's unless a Spellcraft check to Concentrate is made to defensively cast (DC of 10 + (spell level x 4)). Harmony is treated as though it belongs to the illusion school of spells, even though it is not a spell, for purposes of feats like Spell Focus. Harmony is also subject to Spell Resistance if the target creature(s) have it. Unlike most spell-like abilities, bards can get a bonus attack with Harmony while under the effects of Haste (Spell) or similar effects, when making a full attack action.

If the target is successfully struck by Harmony, the Bard may first Slide the target 1 square as forced movement. As with all forced movement, this ignores difficult terrain, never provokes attacks of opportunity, and may be negated if the target elects to fall Prone. In addition to the slide, Harmony inflicts 1d6 + CHA modifier of psychic (energy, uncommon) damage at level 1, and this damage increases by 1d6 at each odd level, as detailed in Table: Bard.

Beginning at level 8, the bard may use harmony twice during a full attack action. The second attack is at BAB - 5. Beginning at level 21, the Bard may use Harmony three times during a full attack action, although the third attack is made at -10. Harmony may never be used in the same round as Staccato or any of the Symphony abilities, unless an action point is used.

Versatile Performance (Ex)

At 2nd level, a bard can use any one of his Perform skills as a substitute for all checks made against one of the skills listed below. Any time a check is required for that skill, the bard makes a check against his Perform skill instead. Note that the Bard isn't actually using the Perform skill (e.g. playing an instrument) to make the skill check. Instead, he is using various epiphanies he has achieved in his music to inspire his ability with the chosen skill. Only one of the skills listed below may be selected at 2nd level, but any of the Bard's Perform skills may be used in place of that skill.

The skills that may be selected for substitution by your Perform skill are:

  • Acrobatics
  • Barter
  • Bluff
  • Diplomacy
  • Disguise
  • Handle Animal
  • Intimidate
  • Sense Motive

Every 2 levels after 2nd level (e.g. 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th), the bard can select one additional skill from the list above to substitute with any of his Perform skills.

Well-Versed (Ex)

At 2nd level, the bard becomes resistant to the bardic performance of others, and to sonic effects in general. The bard gains a +4 bonus on saving throws made against bardic performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects.

Staccato (Su)

Starting at 3rd level, in or out of their Bardic Stance, the Bard may attempt to strike at his enemies with sound as a standard action. This is a supernatural ability, does not provoke, and affects one square within a 15-foot cone. All creatures and objects in the designated square are affected. The rest of the 15-foot cone is unaffected. Staccato is an area of effect, and thus does increased damage to creatures vulnerable to such effects, like swarms. Staccato may be a loud shout, a piercing scream, a shattering clap of the hands, a snap of the fingers, or anything else the Bard desires.

Staccato inflicts 2d6 + CHA modifier points of Sonic (energy, common) damage at Level 3, and this damage increases by 1d6 at each odd level. Victims of Staccato are allowed a Fort save, DC 10 + half the Bard's level + CHA mod, for half damage. Staccato is treated as though it belongs to the conjuration school of spells, even though it is not a spell, for purposes of feats like Spell Focus. Staccato is not subject to Spell Resistance.

Alternatively, Staccato can also be used to make a Sunder check against a single worn, wielded, or unattended object in the chosen square, instead of dealing damage. If he attempts to sunder a worn or wielded object, the bard must succeed on a Spellcraft check to Concentrate, versus a DC of the wielder's Maneuver Defense. If he attempts to sunder an unattended object, he must overcome the object's Sunder DC. If the bard chooses to perform a Sunder, he cannot also deal damage with the same Staccato attack.

Beginning at 11th level, Staccato may affect up to 2 squares within the fifteen foot cone. The bard may choose to deal damage to one square and sunder an object in another, or deal damage to both squares, or sunder one object in each of the two squares, or he may place both squares' effects on the same target, dealing damage and sundering one object in the same square.

Note that no single creature can take damage from a Staccato more than once per Staccato attack. That is, a size large creature, despite taking up multiple squares, can only take a single Staccato's damage one time, even if both squares of its effect are placed in different squares of the large creature.

At 21st level, the bard may damage up to three squares and/or sunder up to three objects within the 15-foot cone.

Staccato may never be used in the same round as Harmony (or any of the Symphony abilities) unless an action point is used.

Mana Burn (Sp)

Beginning at 3rd level, you can push structured portions of your aura into the casting of a spell, burning up one or more additional spells as part of the casting action of the spell being cast. These additional spells cannot be cantrips (or orisons, or powerful cantrips), but can be any other spell you have memorized, or spell slot you have available. Burned spells are used up for the day, exactly as though they had been cast. For each additional spell you burn in the casting, you increase the spell circle of the spell by one step, increasing the spell's damage scaling.

A spell's Spell Circle is a measure of how much damage it does, relative to the caster's character level. If a spell has a spell circle listed, it will be highlighted in orange in the spell's description. The only way to increase a spell's circle is by mana burning one or more additional spells at the same time that the spell is being cast (as part of the same action). For each extra spell burned, the spell's circle moves up one step on the damage scale.

There is also a maximum spell circle you can raise a given spell, based on your character level. This maximum is: (total character level + 1) ÷ 2, round down. Note that this is NOT based on the character's caster level or class level, but their total character level, making this a highly attractive option for multi-classed, dual-classed, and demi-caster characters (such as paladins, bards, and rangers).

Spell Circle Min Char Lvl Damage Per Character Level Caps At:
1st 1 1d4 per character level 5d4 (at char lvl 5)
2nd 3 1d6 per character level 6d6 (at char lvl 6)
3rd 5 1d6 per character level 10d6 (at char lvl 10)
4th 7 1d6+1 per character level 12d6+12 (at char lvl 12)
5th 9 1d6+1 per character level 15d6+15 (at char lvl 15)
6th 11 1d6+2 per character level 16d6+32 (at char lvl 16)
7th 13 1d6+2 per character level 20d6+40 (at char lvl 20)
8th 15 1d6+3 per character level 21d6+63 (at char lvl 21)
9th 17 1d6+3 per character level 25d6+75 (at char lvl 25)
10th 19 1d6+4 per character level 25d6+100 (at char lvl 25)
11th 21 1d6+5 per character level 25d6+125 (at char lvl 25)
12th 23 1d6+6 per character level 27d6+162 (at char lvl 27)
13th 25 1d6+7 per character level 27d6+189 (at char lvl 27)
14th 27 1d6+8 per character level 29d6+232 (at char lvl 29)
15th 29 1d6+9 per character level 29d6+261 (at char lvl 29)
16th 31 1d6+10 per character level 30d6+300 (at char lvl 30)
17th 33 1d6+11 per character level 30d6+330 (at char lvl 30)
18th 35 1d6+12 per character level 30d6+360 (at char lvl 30)

A few notes about mana burning:

  • If a spell does not have a damage circle listed, it cannot be mana burned. In such cases, the only way to increase its damage is increasing your caster level, applying one or more metamagic feats, or by using methods described in the spell itself.
  • A spell's damage circle can be different than the spell's spell level. Mana burning doesn't affect spell level — only spell circle.
  • Memorizing a spell in a higher level slot (or using a higher level spell slot) than the minimum required does not raise the spell's circle. This means that adding metamagic feats to a spell when memorizing it has no effect on the spells base Circle damage.
  • Metamagic feats stack normally when used at the same time as mana burning, and only escalate the 'base' spell slot. All benefits of the metamagic feat apply to the effects of the spell's circle after all mana burning has been done.
For example, you can memorize or cast a Perfected Fireball (using a ninth level spell slot), but it only deals circle 3 damage, which is then maximized and doubled (because of Perfected). If you also burn 14 additional spells of any spell level to increase the Perfected Fireball's Circle 3 damage to Circle 17 damage (assuming you are high enough level to throw around Circle 17 damage), it deals maximized Circle 17 damage, doubled. Expensive, yes, but that fireball will cast shadows on the Sun....
  • If a spell has more than one damage circle listed (such as a spell that deals damage and also has a synergy), then mana burning during the casting raises all damage circles equally based on the number of additional spells mana burned.
For example, if a spell deals Circle 2 damage when cast, and also have a synergy that deals Circle 4 damage when triggered, if you mana burn 3 additional spells when casting this spell, it instead deals Circle 5 damage when cast, and Circle 7 damage when the synergy is triggered.
  • Some spells may have a custom damage profile for their base circle. Such spells may be mana burned as normal if they have a Circle listed, and the first 'step up' moves them to the standard damage model listed in the table above.

Lore Master (Ex)

At 5th level, the bard becomes a master of lore and can take 10 on any Knowledge skill check that he has ranks in. A bard can choose not to take 10 and can instead roll normally. In addition, once per day, the bard can take 20 on any Knowledge skill check he has ranks in as a standard action. He can use this ability one additional time per day for every six levels he possesses beyond 5th, to a maximum of three times per day at 17th level. This ability may also be used on the Spellcraft and Spycraft skills when they are used for knowledge checks, assuming the bard has ranks in these skills.

Bonus Metamagic Feat

At 7th level, Bards may choose one bonus feat from the list of non-epic metamagic feats. The bard must meet any prerequisites that the feat requires.

Jack of All Trades (Ex)

At 10th level, the bard can use any skill, even if the skill normally requires her to be trained. At 16th level, the bard gains one additional skill as a Natural Talent, allowing her to remap it to the ability modifier of the bard's choice, instead of the modifier normally used by the skill. At 19th level, the bard can take 10 on any skill check, even if it is not normally allowed.

Sostenuto (Ex)

With Sostenuto, the bard may end his performance as a swift action, but the performance lingers to the end of the Bard's next turn. Any other requirement, such as range or specific conditions, must still be met for the effect to continue, and if the Performance has a Finale, it is lost.

During this time, the bard may initiate a new performance and thus gain the benefits of both performances. As per the bardic performance rules, the bard may not begin the same performance just ended, but must instead perform a different performance. Also, the bard may never end a performance the same round in which it was begun.

An example of Sostenuto in action might be:

  • Round 1: Use Swift Action to begin "Inspire Courage"
  • Round 2: Use Swift Action to end "Inspire Courage" to trigger Lingering Performance. Use Swift Action to "Inspire Greatness". Inspire Courage Lingers.
  • Round 3: Use Swift Action to end "Inspire Greatness" to trigger Lingering Performance. Use Swift Action to "Inspire Courage". Inspire Greatness Lingers.

You may never have more than two performances running at the same time.

Note: At level 27, the Reprise ability allows you to begin and end a performance in the same round! This allows you to have two Performances running even during the first round of a combat.

Spells

Beginning at level 21, and every level thereafter, bards receive spell slots above level 6 so that metamagic feats may be applied to their higher level spells.

Bard Spells Known

At 22nd level and every even numbered level thereafter, Bards may choose another spell from the list of Bard spells. They may choose any spell they wish between spell levels 0 and 6. Bards never gain spells higher than sixth level.

Bonus Epic Metamagic Feat

At 22nd, 28th, and 34th levels, Bards may choose one bonus feat from the list of metamagic feats. The bard must meet any prerequisites that the feat requires, but the feat may be selected from the epic or non-epic metamagic feats, as the bard wishes.

Forte (Ex)

At level 23, the range of the bard's performance expands by 10 feet. In most cases, this brings the range to 40 feet instead of 30 feet. Refer to the specific bardic performance entry for the base range.

Symphony (Sp)

At level 24, as a standard action, the bard may produce a destructive Symphony which deals sonic (energy, common) damage equal to the bard's Staccato damage as a twenty foot cone, or a twenty foot radius centered on the Bard. The Bard is immune to damage created by his own Symphony ability. This is treated as though it belongs to the conjuration school of spells, even though it is not a spell, for purposes of feats like Spell Focus. Symphony is not subject to Spell Resistance. Symphony harms all enemy creatures caught in the area of effect to a maximum of 5 creatures, though they are allowed a Will save (DC 10 + half the bard's level + CHA mod) for half damage. This attack does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If used as a full-attack action, Symphony may be used up to three times per round, following the same number of attacks as a Staccato.

Piano (Ex)

At level 26, the bard can reduce the radius of his bardic performance to 15 feet, but may perform without visual or audible components. While using bardic performance thusly, the bard and his party take no stealth penalties from the performance, and the performance cannot be countersong-ed. Furthermore, the bard may enter a stealth stance at the same time as he is using a performance stance with the Piano ability, assuming he meets the conditions required for stealth.

Reprise (Ex)

At level 27, the bard may begin the same bardic performance in the same round in which he used that performance's finale. The bard may also perform the finale of a performance that he began this round. This means it is now possible to get the effects of a particular performance's finale each round (during combat).

Grand Symphony (Sp; Sonic)

At level 28, as a standard action, the bard may produce a destructive Grand Symphony which deals sonic damage equal to the bard's Staccato damage as a thirty foot cone. The Bard is immune to damage created by his own Grand Symphony ability. This is treated as though it belongs to the conjuration school of spells, even though it is not a spell, for purposes of feats like Spell Focus. Grand Symphony is not subject to Spell Resistance. Grand Symphony harms all enemy creatures caught in the area of effect to a maximum of 5 creatures, though they are allowed a Will save (DC 10 + half the bard's level + CHA mod) for half damage. This attack does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If used as a full-attack action, Grand Symphony may be used up to three times per round.

Mezzo-Forte (Ex)

At level 29, the range of the bard's performance expands by an additional 10 feet (for a total of +20 feet, counting Forte). In most cases, this brings the range to 50 feet. Refer to the specific bardic performance entry for the base range.

Mythopoetic Symphony (Su)

At level 31, as a standard action, the bard may produce a destructive Mythopoetic Symphony which deals sonic damage equal to the bard's Staccato damage as a sixty foot cone. The Bard is immune to damage created by his own Mythopoetic Symphony ability. This is treated as though it belongs to the conjuration school of spells, even though it is not a spell, for purposes of feats like Spell Focus. Mythopoetic Symphony is not subject to Spell Resistance. Mythopoetic Symphony harms all enemy creatures caught in the area of effect to a maximum of 5 creatures, though they are allowed a Will save (DC 10 + half the bard's level + CHA mod) for half damage. This attack does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If used as a full-attack action, Mythopoetic Symphony may be used up to three times per round.

Pianissimo (Ex)

At level 32, the bard can reduce the radius of his bardic performance to 30 feet, but may perform without visual or audible components. While using bardic performance thusly, the bard and his party take no stealth penalties from the performance, and the performance cannot be countersong-ed. Furthermore, the bard may enter a stealth stance at the same time as he is using a performance stance with the Pianissimo ability.

Fortissimo (Ex)

At level 35, the range of the bard's performance expands by an additional 10 feet (for a total of +30 feet, counting Forte and Mezzo-Forte). In most cases, this brings the range to 60 feet. Refer to the specific bardic performance entry for the base range.

Apotheosis

You are a rock god. Only, seriously, you really are.