Wait, don’t leave yet! I admit, bards have a very deserved reputation as being kind of a crappy class, and if you’re still stuck in the land of 2.0 then you probably aren’t wrong about bards sucking. But modern bards are actually pretty awesome. There is a certain cheesiness and flair required to play a really good bard (cue cloak swish here) and there’s an inherent ambiguity to the class that makes it ridiculously fun and versatile in the hands of a good player.
Unlike with the other classes, you have to either have a solid idea of what you want to do with your bard… or else just wing it really well. But it’s worth it. You know why?
Because bards can do anything
That’s right, they are the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. Spellcasting? Check. Sneaking around? Check. Lying and convincing people of whatever you want? Check. Stabbing people? Check. Shooting people? Check. Knowing things? Check. The list could really go on, but let’s keep things moving, shall we?
Bards can kill dragons
All by themselves. Barefoot. In the snow. With nothing but a spear. Don’t believe me? Hope you have a high enough wisdom to beat the +20 bluff check to see if it’s a lie. After all, in the end, what you do doesn’t matter as much as what people believe you did. And with awesome bluff and persuasions, people will believe just about anything a bard says.
Bards are pretty
In older systems, your Charisma score directly influenced how pretty your character was. As everything a good bard does relates to Charisma… well, you see where I’m going with this, right? Basically, bards get all the girls. Or the guys. I’m not gonna judge.
Bards know everything
If it’s worth knowing, ask a bard. If it’s not worth knowing, ask the wizard. After all, while planar knowledge is good to know, wouldn’t you rather hear about the cool bar on the corner, or the magic shop with the half-off goods in the next town over?
In almost all systems, bards have Bardic Knowledge which basically is summed up with “I read it somewhere, I guess” and gives them a license to know literally anything that makes sense. They’re like walking encyclopedias with a few pages missing… who can also cast spells. And woo women. And sometimes hit things.
Bards get free stuff
They can literally sing for their room and board at most inns, and sometimes they can get discounts as well. Additionally, they can make money simply by singing and playing their instruments. Perhaps at the place already giving them free room and board. You can’t beat that.
Bards have more fun
They basically have a license to make puns and nonstop jokes. While you shouldn’t disrupt the game with your pranks, a good bard is going to be a little quirky, which gives you lots of room for goofing off and staying in character while you do it. The class is virtually built to play pranks on NPCs and PCs alike, and if your DM is good, they’ll roll with your unusual methods for more interesting gameplay.
In short, if you’ve never played a bard, it’s high time that you tried.