Early Look: Bard Changes
Hello! We're here today to give you a first look at plans for significant changes to Bard coming up soon! This is pretty early in the process, so things are still subject to change; we'd love to know what you think!
BEFORE WE BEGIN:
Bard Songs of the modern era have been eroded in their usefulness as other buff and item effects have infringed upon their channels. They were meant to be a small, ever present bonus, and to instill the feeling that no matter what character you are playing, a Bard will help them excel at what they do best. In practice, however, they fall short - both on their effects and in how they actually feel to the player. It also takes a long time for a Bard to sing all of their songs, and most of them provide minimal - if any - bonuses for a very short period of time. Bards right now need a drastic change to bring them closer to pen and paper and to appropriate power levels, and we hope this accomplishes that goal in the most elegant way possible.
Recapture the feeling of a classical pen and paper Bard
Reduce the time it takes for a Bard to buff the party
Provide a meaningful reason as to why a party would want a Bard with them
Remove some of the not-quite-so-fun mechanics from the buff playstyle as a Bard
Help reduce strain on game performance by cleaning up the auras to play a lot nicer in a group
Clean up text inconsistencies and clear out bugs behind the scenes to make it easier to have future items/abilities affect Bard songs
Bards will no longer sing their songs individually, one at a time. Instead, their Single-Target Bard Songs will be collapsed into one "song" - known as their Bardic Inspiration - and their Area of Effect Bard Songs will simply be constantly pulsing from their location to all players. For example, the single target Bard Song “Inspire Heroics” is now automatically played (meaning its effects are added) when the Bard plays their Inspiration for their target - as long as the Bard meets the song’s Perform and level requirements.
Aria: these are the passive Chants and Inspire Courage/Greatness
Bardic Inspiration: these are the single target Bard songs
Bardic Aria will become active at Bard level 1, and contain Inspire Courage at first. Bards will gain access to Bardic Inspiration at Bard level 3, which will initially contain Inspire Competence. The active Bard songs that would be granted are instead changed to passive feats that display their effects are and how they are applied.
This is how the basic Bard Songs are changing by their effect:
Inspire Courage now grants a Music bonuses to Attack, Damage, saves versus Fear, and Universal Spell Power. These start at a base of +1 Attack, Damage, Saves vs Fear, and 3 Universal Spell Power. (Max values: Damage +8 (4 from Bard levels, 3 from Warchanter, 1 from Fatesinger), Attack +8 (4 from Bard Levels, 3 from Warchanter, 1 from Fatesinger), Saves vs Fear +8 (4 from Bard Levels, 3 from Warchanter, 1 from Fatesinger), Universal Spell Power 30 (4 from Bard Levels, 3 from Warchanter, 3 from Fatesinger - x3 per increment))
Inspire Competence now grants +4 Music bonuses to all Skills.
Inspire Greatness now grants Music bonuses to PRR and healing amplification, as well as 20 temporary HP. These can be increased from their base of +3 PRR, +10 healing amp, and base 20 temp HP. Healing Amp will stay at 10 no matter what, but Music of the Dead will add 10 Negative Amp, and Music of the Makers will add 10 repair amp. Temp HP will start at 20, but the 12th level core (Fighting Spirit) in Warchanter will change it to your Charisma bonus (double in Epics). (Max Values: PRR +12 (3 base, 6 from Warchanter, 3 from Fatesinger))
Inspire Heroics will give a +4 Music bonus to all Saves, +4 Music bonus to Armor Class, and +4% Music bonus to dodge.
This is the constantly playing music that follows the Bard from place to place. The Aria of a Bard is constantly active and requires no additional input from the player. This Aria is a large Area of Effect that matches the distance of the current Warchanter passive auras. The Aria is only active if the character has at least something that would be applied.
At Bard level 1, and with 3 ranks in perform, all players in the Aria receive the benefits of Inspire Courage.
At Bard level 9 and with 12 ranks in perform, all players in the Aria receive the benefits of Inspire Greatness.
Arcane Shield Chant is now part of the Aria, providing 2/4/6 to elemental resistance.
Ironskin Chant is now part of the Aria, providing DR 2/4/6 and adds 2/4/6 to the PRR granted from Inspire Greatness.
Reckless Chant is now part of the Aria, providing 2/4/6 Doublestrike, Doubleshot, and adds 2/4/6 to the Universal Spell power of Inspire Courage.
Expeditious Chant is now part of the Aria, providing 5/10/15% Action Boost bonus to Movement Speed.
Chant of Power is now part of the Aria, providing 2/4/6% melee and ranged damage and spell critical chance for all spells.
Inspire Excellence is now part of the Aria, providing a +2 Music bonus to each ability score.
Also, Aria from Fatesinger is getting a name change into "Ballad" so we can use Aria as the name for this game feature.
This is, essentially, one button for every single target bard song in the game. After a brief animation and some music - just like the old Bard Songs - this single Song will apply all of the previously available single target songs - and the short lasting Spellsinger songs - to one ally (or yourself) at the same time. This activation will cost one Bard Song, just like the old Bard Songs did.
These are separate than the always-on songs because of their relative power level, with one exception that I will explain further below. Elyd Edge’s Inspiring Echoes will now cause this single-target Bard Song to always also apply to you as well, regardless of who you have selected, instead of its original effect.
These all last for the same amount of time - which is now 1m plus 30s per Bard level. If you have an ability that "rides along" with a Bard Song - such as Frolic from the Song of Freedom - it's duration will be changed to match your Bard Songs and it will ride along with Bardic Inspiration instead. Effects and abilities that increase your Bard Song duration will increase both the base Bard Song effects in your Bardic Inspiration, as well as anything else that comes along with the ride.
At Bard level 3, and with 6 ranks of Perform, this will include Inspire Competence.
At Bard level 15 and with 18 ranks in perform, this will include Inspire Heroics.
Spell Song Vigor is now part of this song, restoring spell points over time.
Sustaining Song is now part of this song, restoring health. Music of the Dead will add to this, applying a negative energy heal to Undead characters (aka Pale Master Wizards). Music of the Makers will add to this as well, applying a repair heal to Constructs and Living Constructs (aka Warforged/Bladeforged and the Iron Defender Artificer pet). These all scale with Positive/Negative/Repair spell power, respectively. This was AoE, but now it is single target due to the technical complication of dynamically filtering undead-specific heal over time effects, as we need to be able to tell if you're a Pale Master at the time of application to avoid putting the wrong heal on you.
Spell Song Trance is now part of this song, granting +1 Music bonus to all DCs and 10% Music bonus spell discount.
Song of Arcane Might is now part of this song, granting +1 Music bonus to caster levels.
The Song Fragments from Fatesinger now apply to you when you use your Bardic Inspiration. They are otherwise unchanged in effect. The same is true for anything that used to trigger on any Bard Song - it now works on Bardic Inspiration instead. This includes single-shot effects such as Prodigy and Words of Encouragement.
There is now a new general feat, available to Bards level 12 and above (must have 15 trained ranks in Perform):
Improved Bardic Music: Inspire Greatness now grants an additional +1 to all Skills, and Inspire Heroics now grants an additional +1 to Armor Class, Dodge, and all Saves.
Lasting Inspiration (the Bard epic feat) will remain unchanged.
Fatesinger will continue to ONLY provide the old activated Song version of Inspire Courage (although it will be the new version of Inspire Courage's effect that lives entirely on the Music channels) - no Aria or Bardic Inspiration. Fatesinger's ride along buffs will trigger on both your Bardic Inspiration AND the Fatesinger Inspire Courage, so you'll still be able to make use of it if you are not a Bard.
A lot of Fatesinger's Abilities will scale your Bard Songs in new ways:
O Fortuna: +1/2/3 PRR from Inspire Greatness, +1/2/3 personal fort and reflex saves
Allure: +3/6/9 Universal Spell Power from Inspire Courage, +2/4/6 Perform, Haggle, and Bluff, and 1 Song
Tailwind: +0/0/1 Damage from Inspire Courage, +1/2/3 competence to damage for missile weapons
Lucidity: +0/0/1 Attack from Inspire Courage, +2/4/6 Concentration/Diplomacy, +1/2/3 UMD, +1 Song.
Warchanter's 12th level Core (Fighting Spirit) now reads: +10 HP, +1 Damage from Inspire Courage. Your Inspire Greatness now uses your Charisma score for its Temporary HP, double in epics.
Warchanter's 18th level Core (Victory Song) now reads: The range of your Bardic Aria is doubled. You have +20 HP, and Base Attack Bonus equal to your character level.
The Warchanter Capstone now reads: You have +25 HP, +2 Strength, and +2 Con. You can expend a Bard Song to scream the songs of your frozen ancestors, forcing enemies in an area to make a fortitude save versus Freeze or be slowed significantly. Either way, they take significant cold damage over time. This was changed due to the Warchanter capstone no longer making mechanical sense in the new Bard Song flow - there's no need to give Music bonuses when everything's already a Music bonus!
We hope very much that these changes preserve the spirit of a Bard without any of the old, less interactive parts. Drastically reduced buff time and increased buff effectiveness will go a long way to making Bards more team players, and new character options open up build diversity for players to explore. Please let us know what you think!