Bards in AthasEdit
From the shadowy corners of Athas’ most disreputable places hails the bard. Like their counterparts in other fantasy worlds, Athasian bards are the unquestioned masters of oral tradition and forgotten lore, but rather than sharing their lore with whoever will listen, Athasian bards guard their secrets as jealously as the sorcerer‐kings harbor their water and iron. Athasian bards may sell information to the highest bidder; they peddle their services and the fruits of their knowledge, but trade secrets are what give bards an edge on the uninitiated. Bards would rather die than reveal these secrets.
Meeting a bard can be an uneasy encounter, since one never knows how the bard has chosen to devote his multiple talents. Some bards master the art of making poisons, and survive by selling these poisons and their antidotes for those who have coin to pay. Some bards master the art of entertainment, using their performances to amuse nobles and templars and gain wealth. Some become assassins, mixing their knowledge of poison and stealth to become hired hands. Bards’ unique position in the Athasian society means they often overhear conversations between high‐ranking templars or nobles, or they may have treated an injured person that prefers to remain anonymous. Respectable folk despise them; the powerful fear them; but in the Athasian cities, everyone eventually comes to need their services.
Athasian bards use songs and tales as their tools of trade. A bard is a person of wit and camaraderie. Despite having few other talents to offer, the bard is a welcome source of entertainment and information across Athas. However, bards are noted to be extremely untrustworthy and even ruthless―they often sell their skills as assassins and poison alchemists to the highest bidder.
In the cities, bards often become tools of the nobility. They’re commonly hired by one noble house and sent to another as a gift. The bards are sent not only to entertain, but usually to perform some other subtle task as well (such as robbery, espionage, or even assassination). Nobles consider it rude to turn down the gift of a bard or bard company. However, when presented with a troop of bards from one’s worst enemy, it’s sometimes better to be rude and turn them away, for the consequences of their visit could be downright deadly. To get around this, the noble who hired them sometimes disguises their approach by having another noble send them. A very complicated collage of intrigue and deceit is often woven wherever bards are involved.
The way a bard behaves depends on his individual sense of morality. Some think nothing of adopting false identities, smuggling forbidden goods, or even coldblooded assassination. Other bards find themselves driven to use their skills to entertain and help people. Bards can become great leaders. With their quick wits and great charisma, bards would be natural leaders were it not for their inconstancy. If a bard manages to earn the trust of companions, they value his leadership. Lacking that trust, a bard rarely leads for long.
Bards don’t organize together, but they often linger around the same places, which end up getting known as the Bard’s Quarter in most city‐states. A bard joining an organization probably has a specific goal (or target) in mind and rakes a position that best allows him to attain it. A long‐term commitment to such a group rarely appeals to a bard.
Common folk ten to have a hard time differentiating bards from rogues. Bards further confuse the issue by regularly adopting false identities and hiding their varied abilities. Thus, the reaction a bard gets from those he meets depends on what he is pretending to be at a time. Individuals who know about the bard class and the reputation that comes with it have an initial attitude one step more hostile than normal. Templars in particular look poorly upon bards, since they know of the various illegal activities they usually perform.
Role: Bards receive numerous abilities they can use to survive. Many become masters of poisons, selling their illegal substances to anyone. Alone of the classes, bards hold the secrets of alchemy, creating fiery concoctions and mysterious mixes. Bards are master smugglers, selling spell components and other illegal items in the Merchant’s Quarters of the city‐states. All bards, however, have some degree of entertainment skill. The songs of most bards can dazzle a crowd, or incite them to riot. Bards tend to learn to play a variety of instruments, or recite poetry or old legends by campfire. They can be acrobats, performing dazzling displays of physical prowess. They are often called upon as sources of information.
Character Build: Charisma is the most important ability for a bard, because many of their abilities and skills are affected by it. A high Dexterity improves the bard’s defensive ability. Intelligence is also important because it bolster the numbers of skills he has access.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: You are proficient in all simple weapons, and the following additional weapons: bard’s friend, crossbow (any), garrote, greater blowgun, whip and widow’s knife. You are proficient in light armor, but not shields.
Bardic Performance: This is exactly like the bard class feature ability of the same name. (Pathfinder Core Rulebook p.35)
Bardic Knowledge: This is exactly like the bard class feature ability of the same name. (Pathfinder Core Rulebook p.35)
Smuggler: You receive a +1 insight bonus to Bluff and Sleight of Hand checks for every two bard levels.
Poison Use: Bards are trained in the use of poisons, and as of 2nd level, never risk accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a blade.
Streetsmart: When you reach 2nd level, you get a +2 competence bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate checks.
Quickdraw: Bards learn to strike quickly and without warning. At 3rd level, you gain Quickdraw as a bonus feat.
Trade Secrets: At every 4th level you learn a trade secret chosen from the list below.
Alchemy Dealer: Pay one‐half of the market price for raw materials needed to craft alchemical items.
Accurate: When you attack an armored opponent, your accuracy allows you to ignore 1 point of natural armor bonus to AC or 1 point of armor bonus to AC. This trade secret may be chosen more than once, and its effects stack.
Agile: You receive a +1 dodge bonus to AC. This trade secret may be chosen more than once, and its effects stack.
Coolheaded: You may take 10 on Bluff and Diplomacy checks.
Improvised Materials: You can craft poisons from raw materials at hand instead of relying on specific ingredients. Doing so increases the Craft (poisonmaking) check DC by 5 but otherwise has no effect on the poisonʹs potency.
Poison Dealer: Pay one‐half of the market price for raw materials needed to craft poisons.
Poisonbane: You receive a +4 insight bonus to Craft (alchemy) checks when creating antitoxin and poison antidotes.
Poison Resistance: You receive a +4 bonus to saving throws against poisons.
Scorpion’s Touch: Add +1 to the save DC of all poisons applied by you. This trade secret may be chosen more than once, and its effects stack.
Skilled: Add one‐half your bard level (rounded down) as a competence bonus to one of the following skills: Appraise, Bluff, Craft, Diplomacy, Heal, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive or Sleight of Hand. This trade secret may be chosen more than once, each time it applies to a different skill.
Smokestick Application: You can combine inhaled poisons with smokesticks. All creatures within the area the smokestick covers (10‐ft. cube) are affected by the poison you applied to the smokestick.
Versatile: Select any two non‐class skills. These are now considered class skills for you.
Mental Resistance (Ex): Bards carry many dark secrets they would prefer remain secret. This, combined with a large amount of knowledge based on half‐truths and false rumors makes your mind unreliable to those who would seek to mentally affect it. At 5th level you receive a +2 morale bonus to saves made against telepathic powers and enchantment/charm spells.
Improved Poison Use (Ex): At 6th level, you can apply poison to a weapon as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity.
Quick Thinking: Bards often find themselves in a tight spot where they have to act quickly, whether it is to escape a templar patrol or strike first when in confrontation with a foe. At 6th level, you get a +2 bonus on initiative checks. This bonus increases by 2 at 11th and 16th level.
Chance: Bards live on the edge in many ways. At 7th level you may reroll one single d20 roll once per day, but have to keep the latter result―for better or for worse. At 14th level you may use this ability two times per day.
Speed Reactions: Beginning at 9th level, when you use the attack action or full attack action in melee, you may subtract a number from all melee attack rolls and add the same number to your initiative. This number may not exceed your base attack bonus. You may not make ranged attacks this round. The initiative increase takes effect on the next round. The new initiative is your initiative for the remainder of the combat, unless you were to use speed reactions again, which would increase your initiative further.
Slippery Mind: This is exactly like the rogue special ability of the same name.
Defensive Roll: At 15th level you learn how to avoid a potentially lethal blow. You gain the ability to reduce damage from a knockout blow. This is exactly like the rogue special ability of the same name.
Awareness (Ex): At 17th level, you are never caught flat‐footed and always act in the surprise round.
Mind Blank (Ex): At 18th level your mind becomes completely sealed against involuntary intrusion as per the mindblank spell. This spell‐like ability is always considered active.
The Athasian BardEdit
Hit die: d8
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Int modifier.
|1||+0||+2||+2||+2||Bardic performance, bardic knowledge, smuggler, countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire courage+1|
|2||+1||+3||+3||+3||Poison use, streetsmart|
|3||+2||+3||+3||+3||Quickdraw, Inspire competence+2|
|5||+3||+4||+4||+4||Mental resistance, inspire courage+2|
|6||+4||+5||+5||+5||Quick thinking+2, improved poison use, suggestion|
|7||+5||+5||+5||+5||Chance 1/day, inspire competence+3|
|8||+6/+1||+6||+6||+6||Trade secret, dirge of doom|
|9||+6/+1||+6||+6||+6||Speed reactions, inspire greatness|
|11||+8/+3||+7||+7||+7||Quick thinking+4, inspire competence+4, inspire courage+3|
|12||+9/+4||+8||+8||+8||Trade secret, soothing performance|
|14||+10/+5||+9||+9||+9||Chance 2/day, frightening tune|
|15||+11/+6/+1||+9||+9||+9||Defensive roll, inspire competence+5, inspire heroics|
|16||+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+10||Trade secret, quick thinking+6|
|17||+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+10||Awareness, inspire courage+4|
|18||+13/+8/+3||+11||+11||+11||Mindblank, mass suggestion|
|20||+15/+10/+5||+12||+12||+12||Trade secret, deadly performance|