Bard College: Skeldaning

skaldCollege of Skeldaning

Bards of the College of Skeldaning are warrior-poets who inspire others to ever greater acts of heroism with their own actions. They are chroniclers of greatness, like other bards, but also perform great deeds of their own. Skalds share much with bards from the College of Valor, but focus less on keeping the old tales alive than making new ones. As much as a skald might like to insert themselves into the story, their true power lies in helping others to become greater than they imagined they could be. When a bard of the College of Skeldaning grants Bardic Inspiration, it is often with a single blast on a horn, the beat of a drum, or a keening.

Bonus Proficiencies
This feature works as the College of Valor: at 3rd level, add proficiency with medium armor, shields, martial weapons.

Bardic inspiration
This feature works as the College of Valor: at 3rd level, add Bardic Inspiration die to damage or AC after the die are rolled.

Doomsong
At 6th level, you gain the ability to affect foes with your Bardic Inspiration. At any time during the duration, you can choose to subtract your Bardic Inspiration die from any d20 roll the target makes, after the die is rolled but before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails.

Call the Clan
At 6th level, you can apply your Bardic Inspiration die to multiple creatures. Choose a number of creatures that can hear you, up to your Charisma modifier. Each creature gains a Bardic Inspiration die one die type smaller than you are able to grant individual creatures: a d6 at 6th level, a d8 at 10th level, and a d10 at 12th level. When you use Bardic Inspiration in this way, you can choose to include yourself among the creatures targeted.

Arise the Fallen
At 14th level, you gain the ability to grant Bardic Inspiration die to unconscious creatures at 0 hit points. When a creature gains Bardic Inspiration in this way, it can use the die to gain temporary hit points.

Hacking the Skald

The College of Valor is almost the skald, enough that it makes sense to keep the first two abilities the same. At 6th level, though a College of Valor bard becomes a combat force on their own, which doesn’t fit the spirit of the skald, to me. The skald should be the bagpipe player, the guy at the back with the curved horn, the woman ululating alongside the fighters. The skald should be able to inspire multiple people (something no bard college can do), and should be able to strike fear into their enemies. That means shifting the way Bardic Inspiration works, a little bit. Still, I didn’t want to overpower it. I like the idea that a skald can grant more powerful die to a single creature, or spread the wealth a little bit.

A 5e bard doesn’t need be a musician. They can be an orator, a dancer, a collector of knowledge. The music is secondary. You can see this in the colleges: out of eight college features in the PHB, only two use Bardic Inspiration. I wanted to College of Skeldaning to be all about Inspiration. It’s easy to see that as becoming a one-trick pony that uses Inspiration all the time, in every combat, probably multiple times. I think that’s good: it doubles down on what makes the bard unique. It puts the music at the front of the class. The College of Valor is a one-trick pony, too, after all: that trick just happens to be getting extra attacks and doing more damage.

The Pathfinder skald has been described as one of the most “metal” classes in the game, and I wanted to see if the 5e bard, the uber-geek of the 5e classes, could be made more metal, too. (I mean “geek” in the best way: the 5e bard is all about skills-use, research, sarcasm, and so on. Even the College of Valor bard, with the extra attacks, still relies on expertise and secrets. Nothing wrong with that!) For me, this is about more than translating the PF mechanics to 5e (although it’s that, too, with Doomsong and Arise the Fallen). It’s about making the bard as inspiring as possible.

Next time: The Hellbred: a 5e race for your Hell’s Rebels game

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