The bard makes his way in life by his charm, talent, and wit. A good bard should be glib of tongue, light of heart, and fleet of foot (when all else fails). In precise historical terms, the title “bard” applies only to certain groups of Celtic poets who sang the history of their tribes in long, recitative poems. These bards, found mainly in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, filled many important roles in their society. They were storehouses of tribal history, reporters of news, messengers, and even ambassadors to other tribes. However, in the AD&D game, the bard is a more generalized character. Indeed, every culture has its storyteller or poet, whether he is called bard, skald, fili, jongleur, or something else.

Base Class Statistics:

  • Ability Requirements: Aim 12, Knowledge 13, Leadership 15
  • Alignments: Any Neutral (LN, NG, TN, NE, CN)
  • Experience Chart: Rogue
  • Hit Dice: d6
    • Maximum Hit Dice: 10d6
    • Additional Hit Points: +2 per level beyond 10th
  • Attack: Rogue
  • Saves:
    • Paralyzation/Poison/Death: as Rogue
    • Rods/Staves/Wands: as Rogue
    • Petrification/Polymorph: as Rogue
    • Breath Weapon: as Rogue
    • Spell: as Rogue
  • Proficiencies:
    • Weapons, Initial: 2
    • Weapons, Advancement: +1 per 4 levels
    • Non-Weapon, Initial: 6
    • Weapons, Advancement: +1 per 2 levels
    • Non-weapon Proficiency Groups: Academic, Social, Performance, and Larceny
    • Bonus Proficiencies: Arcanology, Singing, Musical Instrument (any one), Literacy, Local History
  • Allowed Weapons: Any
  • Allowed Armor: Chainmail or lighter, no shields

Class Features:

All bards are proficient singers, chanters, or vocalists and can play a musical instrument of the player’s choice (preferably one that is portable). Additional instruments can be learned by spending proficiency slots, the bard can learn two instruments for every proficiency slot spent.

Like Thieves, Bards are exceptional climbers. They do not suffer the normal penalty for free climbing (climing without tools), and gain a bonus to Climbing checks equal to their AC bonus from Balance if any.

In his travels, a bard also manages to learn a few wizard spells. Like a wizard, a bard’s Reason and Knowledge determine the number of spells he can know and the chance to know any given spell. These he keeps in his spell book, abiding by all the restrictions on memorization and spell use that bind a wizard. The Table below lists the number of spells a bard can cast at each level.

Since bards are dabblers rather than full-time wizards, their spells tend to be gained by serendipity and happenstance. In no case can a bard choose to specialize in a school of magic. Beginning bards are unable to cast spells, but begin with a spellbook containing a single Path of the player’s choice. The bard can add new spells to his spell book as he finds them, but he does not automatically gain additional spells or paths as he advances in level. All spells beyond those he starts with must be found during the course of adventuring. The bard’s casting level is equal to his current level.

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

Influence Reactions: When performing for an audience, the bard can attempt to alter the mood of his listeners. Such an audience must not be attacking or preparing for an immediate attack. The bard must be singing, chanting, spinning a tale, reciting a powerful oratory, or playing a tune on an instrument with which he is proficient. The intended effect of the performance is determined by the bard’s player; he may want to make the audience friendlier or more hostile, for instance. After a length of time (1d10 rounds is suggested), all NPCs able to hear the performance (regardless of whether or not they are paying attention) must roll a saving throw vs. paralyzation. For small groups, roll individual saving throws. For large groups, the DM may split the audience into groups of ten or so and roll a separate saving throw for each group. There is a -1 penalty to the saving throw for every three levels of experience of the bard. Those failing the roll have their reactions adjusted one level (from friendly to indifferent, for example) in the desired direction (see NPC Reactions). Those whose saving throws succeed have their reactions adjusted one level in the direction opposite from that intended by the bard.

Rally Allies: To use this ability, the bard must know the nature of the upcoming combat. A bard can’t rally allies if there is no obvious opponent. Rallying allies is done is much the same manner as influencing reactions. The bard sings heroic songs or weaves inspiring tales about how his comrades will overcome their foes and win the day. Such heroic recitals always take at least three rounds, and the audience must be in close proximity to the bard for the effects to occur (within a 10-foot radius per level of the bard). When complete, all the affected allies automatically receive one of the following three benefits (as decided by the bard’s player): +1 to attack rolls, +1 to saving throws, or +2 to morale. The chosen effect lasts one round per level of the bard. The effects can be renewed by the bard, even during the same encounter, but combatants have to return to within the bard’s radius and listen to his tales for another three rounds. It is impossible to rally allies who are actively battling opponents.

Note that the benefit applies only to the specific encounter that the bard sings about. It does not apply to a ranger who hears the tale, rides off on his horse to warn the rear guard, and is then ambushed by wandering bandits.

Counter Song: Another powerful use of story, song, or tale when voiced by a bard is that of counter song. This is the intricate art of canceling the effects of hostile sound, whether it be songs, chants, wails, or even commands and suggestions from magical spells. In order to sing the proper counter song or chant the proper counter poem, a bard must concentrate intensely. He may perform no additional actions other than a slow (half speed) walk. If he is struck by an attack or fails a saving throw, his attempt is ruined. The exertion is such that only one counter song may be attempted per encounter or battle.

Success of the counter song is realized only if the bard rolls a successful saving throw vs. spell. If this is successful, the hostile sounds have no effects within 30 feet of the bard. If the saving throw fails, the bard’s attempt is fruitless and the hostile sounds have their standard effects (applicable saving throws and other defenses still apply).

Counter singing does not prevent hostile spellcasters from reading scrolls, using magical item command words, or casting spells (even spells with verbal components). Counter singing does prevent all other hostile sounds from functioning, including spell effects that require the caster to speak (e.g., command, quest, suggestion, tongues, etc.).

Being something of a warrior, a bard can build a stronghold and attract followers upon reaching 9th level. The bard attracts 10d6 soldiers (1st-level fighters) into his service. They arrive over a period of time, but they are not automatically replaced if lost in battle. Of course, a bard can build a stronghold any time, but no followers arrive until he reaches 9th level.

Upon reaching 10th level, a bard can attempt to use any magical devices of written nature-scrolls, books, etc. His understanding of magic is imperfect, so the bard must make a successful Literacy check. On a failed check, the scroll backfires in some way. This sort of malfunction is almost always detrimental to the thief and his party. It could be as simple as accidentally casting the reverse of the given spell or as complex as a foul-up on a fireball scroll, causing the ball of flame to be centered on the thief instead of its intended target.


Dwarves and halflings are highly nonmagical. These two demi-bards are not allowed to cast spells. They also fail to receive the 10th-level bard ability to use any written magical item.

However, as demi-bards, these two races possess the curiosity of all bards. This leads them to study the workings of magic—granting them Spellcraft as an additional bonus non-weapon proficiency. Although this doesn’t result in the acquisition of magical powers, it enables them to gain special resistances to spells they understand.

If a halfling or dwarf is able to find a spell and learn it (i.e., succeed with their “chance to learn spells” roll), they become highly resistant to the effects of that spell. Of course, these two races can learn to resist only spells of the same level as bards are typically able to cast. Thus, a 2nd-level dwarf or halfling demi-bard can learn how to resist the effects of all 1st-level spells that he has learned. Of course, the demi-bard is still limited to the number of spells he can learn to counter. This limit is set by his “Maximum Number of Spells per level” based on his Reason score.

When a dwarf or halfling demi-bard is subjected to a learned spell’s effects, he can roll his “chance to learn spells” in an attempt to thwart the spell’s effects. This roll is in addition to all other saving throws normally allowed. This does not cancel the spell; it simply prevents it from having any effect upon the dwarf or halfling demi-bard.


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