*
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
November 29, 2021, 02:58:35 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Donate

We Appreciate Your Support

Recent

Author Topic: Buff the Bard!  (Read 415 times)

Offline marcnelsonjr

  • Student
  • Posts: 16
Buff the Bard!
« on: October 25, 2021, 09:25:57 PM »
I've been playing a lot of 2E recently with my boys, and part of that was compiling all the spells/items/etc. into one spreadsheet so we have access to everything.

I noticed that the later expansions included spells or items to buff underpowered schools and soldiers. An example is Armour of Righteousness from ItBP. It gives +2 Armour to Thaumaturges in exchange for restricting their spell choices. Or Sickle of the Crow Master from MoM, which is a +1 Fight magic weapon which can only be carried by Crow Masters.

But one soldier that got left out was the Bard. His stat line is:
M6, F+2, S+0, A11, W+4, H12
He has the ability to boost Will rolls of soldiers within 6" and LoS and a cost of 100gc.

This is not a great deal, and I haven't come across anyone actually using a Bard. I have a few suggestions...

- Reduce the cost to 80gc. This would bring Bards into line with Assassins and Tunnel Fighters, other soldier types with inconsistent abilities. This is the most straightforward buff.

- Introduce some Bard-specific items. Something like:
"Singing Sword. This magic hand weapon grants +1 Fight and may only be carried by a Bard. While carrying this weapon, the Bard's bonus to Will rolls applies to friendly soldiers within 12" and is not affected by LoS."
This is a nice thematic buff in line with those granted by other soldier-specific items, but is pretty low-impact as it depends on finding this one specific magic weapon out of many.

- Add another ability. How about the Bard grants +10 Experience after every game he participates in and survives? Doesn't help with the cost, but at least you're getting some more bang for your buck.

Any other ideas? Maybe the poor old Bard will get something in Blood Legacy or Fireheart?
« Last Edit: October 27, 2021, 02:59:56 AM by marcnelsonjr »

Offline Grumpy Gnome

  • Scatterbrained Genius
  • Posts: 2937
    • The Grumpy Gnome
Re: Buff the Bard!
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2021, 06:44:44 AM »
I like these ideas. The Bard does seem underwhelming.
Home of the Grumpy Gnome

https://thegrumpygnome.home.blog/

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1377
Re: Buff the Bard!
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2021, 12:17:10 PM »
Thaumaturge armor is just leaning into the D&D paladin/war cleric trope and feels more like a sidegrade than a buff.  The crow master is expensive initially but anything that brings an extra warm body to every fight is inherently very strong, and a modest magic weapon is probably all the buff they needed, if they needed any at all.

That said, the bard's generally denigrated online but their effectiveness depends mostly on how many Will you're having to make each game.  That doesn't end at resisting enemy spells, many scenarios call for Will rolls to do stuff, and I know some folks have universally adopted the "locked treasures" thing using the Stargrave mechanics (at which point a model that buffs everyone's Will and starts at +4 themself starts becoming real good for your looting game.  But yeah, pretty sub-par when Will isn't important often enough.

Dropping the cost (maybe even to 75) is the most conservative way to improve the bard, and a good spot to start playtesting from.

The sword sounds fine and very fluffy, although I'm not sure how much it will really help since it might take a while to find one as loot or on the market - same issue the sickle has, right?  You could probably combine this with another buff without sweating it.  Alternately, you could make it a weapon than anyone can use (which keeps it from being useless to crews without a bard or interest in hiring one) and have it give a 6" "bard buff" to its wielder, and adding +6" more to the radius in the hands of an actual bard.

Extra XP from a soldier would (I think) be unique and pretty interesting, and 10 XP doesn't seem excessive to me.  Probably want to add text stating that bard XP doesn't count toward the general 300 XP limit per game like some similar effects (Stargrave's Study Prey power from Q37, for ex). 

Alternately, you could swap the XP buff for a larger amount of gold (maybe 20-25 gc) after every game as the bard "sings for their supper" in the settlements around Frostgrave.  Or maybe make it a 25-50 gc that can only be spent recruiting new soldiers, as they improve the crew's rep and draw mercenaries looking to join such a famous and successful group.  If you did either I'd leave the bard cost at 100 gc since he becomes an investment that will pay himself off in short order as long as you keep him healthy.

One thing I'd probably do regardless of anything else is to take the LoS requirement off of the bard buff altogether.  It's kind of silly for what's presumably a vocal/musical effect to need to see the beneficiary.  You could also play around with increasing the base radius (maybe to 9" and jumping to 15" with a singing sword) and see if that makes him worth 100gc along with either the XP or gc boost.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2021, 12:19:30 PM by Chief Lackey Rich »

Offline Grumpy Gnome

  • Scatterbrained Genius
  • Posts: 2937
    • The Grumpy Gnome
Re: Buff the Bard!
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2021, 05:30:35 PM »
Good suggestions as usual Rich. I always enjoy reading your input on game mechanics. I really like the idea that Bard brings in a small but stead income to the Wizard.

I am also particularly interested in your suggestion for Will related treasure locks inspired by Stargrave.

Perhaps the LoS requirement for Bards is that the other soldiers want the Bard to see them perform their legendary exploits?

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1377
Re: Buff the Bard!
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2021, 06:46:25 PM »
Good suggestions as usual Rich. I always enjoy reading your input on game mechanics. I really like the idea that Bard brings in a small but stead income to the Wizard.

Thanks.  Needs playetsting to figure out how much is enough but not too much.  Bard stats are really kind of terrible for 100gc but if they earn it back too fast that doesn't matter much except for teh opportunity cost of tying up a specialist slot.

Quote
I am also particularly interested in your suggestion for Will related treasure locks inspired by Stargrave.

Nothing much to it, just use the Stargrave mechanics for unlocking physical loot and give a +6 Will bonus to Thieves and Treasure hunters as though they had a set of picks ('cause they're good at looting, y'know?).  Pretty simple, I've seen a bunch of folks using it as homebrew tweak.

Quote
Perhaps the LoS requirement for Bards is that the other soldiers want the Bard to see them perform their legendary exploits?

Everybody wants to be right up by the stage, right?  :)

Mechanically dropping the LoS requirement would help the bard quite a lot, which is my main line of thought there.  Being able to stand your cheerleader out of view of ranged attacks and spells while still buffing nearby allies is a real help for keeping him alive.

Offline marcnelsonjr

  • Student
  • Posts: 16
Re: Buff the Bard!
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2021, 05:05:36 AM »
Good point, Rich - the more Will rolls there are, the better the Bard is.

So when do you roll for Will, i.e. when does the Bard's ability help you?

- swimming (!)
- using the Bottle of Dreams and Nightmares
- not taking damage from the Bottle of Null
- Ethereal creatures resisting the Ethereal Vacuum
- Demons resisting Banish
- attempting to attack a spellcaster who has cast Beauty
- resisting Blinding Light
- resisting Blink
- Animals/Constructs/Demons/Undead resisting Control spells
- shaking off Curse
- Undead resisting Destroy Undead
- resisting Fool's Gold
- shaking off Furious Quill
- resisting Mind Control
- resisting Petrify
- shaking off Plague of Insects
- resisting Planar Tear
- shaking off Slow
- resisting Steal Health
- resisting Strike Dead
- resisting Suggestion
- resisting Transpose
- picking up treasure in The Living Museum
- stopping the bell in The Summoning Bell
- activating with a treasure token in The Treasure Phantasmal
- avoiding damage in The Steam Vents
- resisting or earning mist tokens in The Swirling Mist
- avoiding damage on land as an Aquatic creature

And that's just in the base rules! I'll admit, there are more Will rolls than I would have thought.

I like the unlocking loot mechanic from Stargrave, but hadn't thought about porting it to FG. It does highlight the problem with the xGrave games using Will as the catch-all "other" stat, though. Why would a Bard (or a Medic from Stargrave) be particularly good at breaking locks? And if I were a thief, I'm not sure someone playing the lute in my ear would help me concentrate. :D

I'm realizing that the first step I should take is - hire a Bard! I'd like to see how they play in their current state.

Thank you for your input!

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1377
Re: Buff the Bard!
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2021, 02:02:28 PM »
Quote
I like the unlocking loot mechanic from Stargrave, but hadn't thought about porting it to FG. It does highlight the problem with the xGrave games using Will as the catch-all "other" stat, though. Why would a Bard (or a Medic from Stargrave) be particularly good at breaking locks?

Well, you could see it as picking locks rather than breaking them, so a feat of manual dexterity and smarts rather than brute force - but you could also make an argument that brute force (a Fight roll, in xGrave terms) should also be an option for beefy knuckleheads.  But yeah, the narrow range of stats makes for some quirky rules at times. 

I'm less fussed by the problems with Will rolls than with Fight being the basis for defense against ranged attacks, which forces you to add special rules to reflect models that are easier or harder targets than a human would be.  And the system isn't consistent about how it models that stuff.  For ex, Large models just take a Fight penalty when defending against shooting, but the crow master's crow has a terrible Fight score (it's a bird, after all), a high Armor to reflect it being hard to hit, and then a low Health to represent it being fragile.  It's nuts - why not just a rule like Large but inverted?  Hard target +2 or +4 or something, giving a Fight bonus for shooting defense?

Quote
And if I were a thief, I'm not sure someone playing the lute in my ear would help me concentrate.

D&D is responsible for some weird tropes around bards and musical inspiration.  Some things just shouldn't get a bonus that technically do, and I'm not just talking Stealth checks (which 3.0 was smart enough to exclude).  This joke is almost old enough to drink at this point:

https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0004.html

Offline marcnelsonjr

  • Student
  • Posts: 16
Re: Buff the Bard!
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2021, 02:20:14 PM »
https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0004.html

Thank you for that. Now I'll be singing to my Demons about not getting Banished. :)

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
28 Replies
19033 Views
Last post September 25, 2011, 09:58:29 AM
by Garanhir
27 Replies
3662 Views
Last post June 07, 2013, 03:06:49 AM
by Timbor
10 Replies
4767 Views
Last post June 12, 2015, 01:30:19 PM
by Captain Blood
0 Replies
498 Views
Last post December 03, 2015, 12:02:51 PM
by Fencing Frog
8 Replies
649 Views
Last post April 29, 2021, 07:56:27 AM
by The Grim Mariner