A beginner's guide to playing a bard
Are you interested in traveling the lands making merry and singing your way through your adventures? A life as a bard may be the life you want.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Character Creation and Skills
- 3 Spells and Songs
- 3.1 What are spell songs?
- 3.2 Overview of Available Spells and Songs
- 4 Society
- 5 Instruments
- 6 Roleplaying a Bard
- 7 See Also
- 8 References
Bards are one of the three semi professions in Elanthia, this means that they hunt using a combination of physical and magical attacks. They are also a hybrid class, using magic from both elemental and mental spheres. The exclusive bard spells are sung, which is unique among all the professions. Instead of casting and stacking spells for a long time at once, bards sing their spells continually, periodically renewing them.
In general, bards have a number of very interesting spells and abilities. For instance, they are able to sing shields, weapons or armor into existence. They are also capable of purifying gems to improve their value or create orbs and they also possess the unique ability to learn about objects by singing to them.
Character Creation and Skills
While each race may have particular mechanical advantages or disadvantages when it comes to particular hunting styles as a bard (which are covered in detail elsewhere), one of the most important reasons to select a particular race is role play. If you like, you can be a Dwarven poet who writes long epics about ale; an Aelotoi loremaster who preserves the story of her people through song; a Forest gnome who just wants to share some limericks with the world; a Halfling who busks for tarts; or even something less stereotypical, you can do it. So choose the race you want to play and go from there.
New players should refer to the general guide on statistics for new players for an overview of all the statistics available to them as well as general advice for setting their statistics if they have not already done so.
The primary and mana statistics for bards are influence and aura. This means that when setting statistics, bards will receive a free +10 points to each of influence and aura and these statistics will have twice the effect on the number of training points (TP) a bard receives at each level compared to the other statistics. In addition, these statistics will both affect how many mana points they have.
In general, there are two extreme cases for setting statistics. One extreme is to set statistics for maximum growth while the other involves setting statistics for maximum TPs and enjoyment or playability at lower levels. For bards, setting statistics for maximum TPs would mean setting aura and influence statistics high at the outset. This means that the character will generally have fewer total statistic points at high level, since these have the highest growth rate. Most players try to strike a balance between these two extremes (sometimes by optimizing their total number of statistics points for mid-level play, around levels 50-60).
Determining the best way to set statistics for growth is very easy to do using a stat cruncher, but it is not generally recommended to set statistics this way, since it makes a character very challenging to play early on (especially for new players). There is also not very much to discuss since there are generally few ways of doing it.
When setting statistics for early level playability, it is helpful to consider the character's race (which changes statistic growth rates and bonuses) and intended hunting style for a particular character. All lower-level bards will primarily engage in some sort of physical combat, whether melee or ranged. These are both affected by a character's strength statistic, albeit in different ways. For melee weapons users, strength affects their total attack strength (or AS) and only indirectly affects their roundtime (RT), by changing how easily they become encumbered. Meanwhile, strength directly affects a ranged weapons user's RT and their dexterity statistic affects their AS. For melee weapons users, their agility and dexterity bonuses affect their RT. In general, all bards who use melee combat will want to set all three of these statistics relatively high at lower levels and those who use ranged will want to make sure their strength and dexterity are reasonable.
Other statistics which can be useful to set high early on include discipline and logic, which together help determine the size of one's experience pool and the latter also determines a character's rate of experience absorption. A reasonable setting for constitution is also advisable since this determines a character's total number of health points.
Here is a description of some of the skills you generally want to train during your life as a bard. This is intended to provide a broad overview since detailed guides for particular builds already exist (look here for details).
The training point (TP) costs for each skill are listed in many places, including the main bard page and the cost of physical and mental TPs (PTP/MTP). The values listed in all these places are for a full single training, skills that are trained beyond a full single training are subject to a penalty (an additional training is double the TP cost) so if one is considering to double train in a skill, one will pay three times the listed number of training points to do so.
Since all characters start at level zero, skills can be fully single trained (e.g. can have ranks in the skill equal to the character's level plus two) for the same cost as training a skill up to the character's level. Similarly, being fully double trained means that the character has ranks in a skill equal to twice their level plus four. However, there are some skills which should be kept equal to the character's level to reap the maximum benefit for the training points. This is referred to as being single trained as opposed to fully single trained here.
These are the skills that all bards should train every level. Since bards may choose a variety of different weapons (which necessitate learning different additional skills), this list is relatively short and the total cost is relatively low. In this and all training tables on this page Cost refers to the PTP/MTP cost to train a skill.
|1x||4/0||Physical Fitness||Necessary for full hitpoints, good as a cheap defense for maneuvers and for redux.|
|2x||Weapon Skill||Whatever the weapon choice, the training should be maxed out (fully doubled).|
|1x||0/17||Spell Research||Learning new spells, improving the effectiveness and duration of others.|
|1x||0/5||Harness Power||Should be exactly at the character's level (not fully 1x) for 3 mana at each level.|
Bards can use a variety of different weapons successfully and whichever one you choose is entirely up to you. However, no matter the weapon choice, its corresponding skill should be fully double trained. The cost to double train in a weapon each level ranges between 9/3 for edged weapons, thrown weapons or brawling to 21/6 for two handed weapons.
Depending on weapon choice, bards should choose additional skills to learn. For example, an edged weapon user will probably fully single train in shield use for an additional 5/0 TPs to increase their DS or an archer will fully double train in perception for 0/9 TPs to increase their AS.
Training in harness power will increase your mana pool by three with single training. This is very useful to bards, even if they primarily hunt using physical weapons since it allows a bard to sing more buff songs, increasing their attack and defensive capabilities.
Bards have access to both the bard base and minor elemental spell circles. Both of these circles contain useful spells and bards should fully single train in Spell Research. However, since it is not possible to use spells with a spell number higher than one's level, it is not recommended to train above one's level in either circle (training a little in the other circle, however, is recommended).
Due to the large number of beneficial songs at low levels, focusing on the bard base until title (level 20) is generally a good idea. Many bards then switch to the minor elemental spell circle until they learn the spell elemental targeting, at which point they should have enough magical power to use some of the more mana-intensive bard songs in combat.
Defensive Core Skills
The following is a list of skills which will provide a bard with additional defensive capabilities. While it is possible to train all of these skills at each level, many bards will not do so. In general, all bards should pick at least two or three of these skills to train at every level and these choices will depend on a particular bard's hunting style.
|1x||6/6||Dodging||Dodging helps one avoid incoming attacks entirely.|
|1x||8/4||Combat Maneuvers||Adds attack strength, defense or other special abilities.|
|1x||5/0||Shield Use||For bards who use a one handed weapon and are looking for something else to do with their other hand.|
|1x||0/3||Perception||It's relatively cheap, provides maneuver defense, helps spot traps.|
Since bards sing their spells and occasionally renew these songs, which brings them out of hiding, they necessarily hunt in the open. Thus, training in dodging is a good idea. Dodging increases DS and is a way to avoid being hit entirely. It is also not a very expensive skill to train for bards.
Note that bards also gain 20 effective ranks of dodging skill from Song of Mirrors (1019) and this bonus increases by one for every two ranks in bard base beyond the first 19. While this does help a bard dodge, the rate of increase is insufficient to make up for skipping this skill.
There are combat maneuvers that directly add to defensive strength (DS), target defense (TD) or general maneuver defenses (Combat Movement, Combat Focus and Cunning Defense, respectively) and training in a particular offensive combat maneuver also provides defense against that maneuver when it's used by an attacker.
In addition, while it is listed here as a defensive skill, single training in combat maneuvers is a must for melee weapons users since it adds +1 AS for every two ranks. Bards who are users of ranged weapons may wish to skip this skill entirely except to train in the defensive combat maneuvers (ranged users should be aware that Multi-Fire sounds cool, it is not actually very good).
In order to be successful using the Sonic Shield Song (1009), a bard needs to train in shield use. However, not all weapon choices require shields (e.g. Polearm and Two Weapon Combat users typically do not use shields), so it is not strictly necessary to train in this skill at all. However, if a bard chooses a hunting style that requires shield use, they should fully single train in this skill.
All characters, regardless of class, are required to train some perception. It is probably a good idea to get at least ten or twenty ranks of perception to effectively find hidden paths to new hunting grounds. Furthermore, bards are widely recognized as being among the best pickers in the game (second only to rogues) and if a bard wishes to pursue this skill, single training in perception would be to their advantage.
Of course this skill is also useful for maneuver defense and it's relatively cheap to learn. As mentioned earlier, bards who wish to hunt with ranged weapons should fully double train this skill (for +0/6 TPs).
These are skills that a bard can learn once and then forget about training ever again. Once again, the costs listed here are the costs to single train a skill each level.
|60||5/0||Armor Use||60 ranks is required to use augmented chain with minimal spell and maneuver hindrance.|
|10+||3/0||Climbing||For low- to mid-level hunting grounds, somewhere around 10-15 should be enough to get around. You can add more ranks as necessary.|
|5+||3/0||Swimming||For low to mid-level hunting grounds, somewhere around 5-10 should be enough to get around. You can add more ranks as necessary.|
|25||0/6||Elemental Mana Control or Mental Mana Control||24 ranks for perfect sharing and an additional one for double incanting ability.|
|25||0/8||Mental Lore, Telepathy||Each train adds +2 seconds to spell song duration, benefits to spells based on summation chart.|
It is very common for bards to wear augmented chain eventually, so training once or twice per level up to 60 ranks is typically recommended. For this skill, you can train new ranks in spurts, training enough armor use ranks to wear armor in the next AsG up from the one they currently wear all at once and then stop training in armor use for a few levels or so. Note that bards have the ability to create their own armor, so it is not necessary to continue buying new armor each time as long as the bard has sufficient mana to maintain their armor.
Since bards are hybrids, they can benefit from training in both Elemental Mana Control and Mental Mana Control. While mental mana control benefits one bard spell, it is not strictly necessary to train in either of these skills. However, these skills are useful for sharing mana with other characters and training in one of them can be especially useful if the bard has a hunting partner who shares one of these spheres (e.g. a wizard or sorcerer for elemental or an empath or monk for mental magic).
If a bard would like to share mana with others, training in elemental mana control is generally recommended since more professions have access to the elemental sphere than the mental sphere. There are situational breakpoints with these skills: training in 24 ranks of elemental mana control will give the best sharing with other well-trained characters; any of the Mana Control skills learned in blocks of ten (10) ranks will increase the mana recovered by one (+1) on each pulse.
Note that since Bards are considered a Hybrid profession, whichever Mana Control skill is higher will be counted at full ranks, while the other Realm will count only half. (For example, 30 ranks of MC: Elemental will yield +3 mana per pulse; the same character with 20 ranks of MC: Mental also will add only an additional +1 mana per pulse, for the secondary Realm.)
As a hybrid class, bards benefit from lore training in both elemental and mental spheres. As far as the elemental lores go, only Elemental Lore, Air is useful to bards. Training in this lore improves sonic gear (weapons, armor and shield) as well as providing benefits to a few other songs. This can be fully single trained, but depending on available training points at lower levels, one may prefer to forgo this in favour of the mental lores for a while.
Bards have two mental lores which can be useful. Mental Lore, Telepathy increases the duration of bard songs, which is especially beneficial for lower level bards with limited mana pools, as well as increasing the power of other spell songs. Training up to 25 ranks in this skill will give a bard an additional +5 AS from Kai's Triumph Song (1007), so this is often used as a stopping point. This rank also provides an additional second of RoundTime when using Song of Depression (1015). One more rank, for a total of 26, would provide an additional point of TD reduction with the same Song.
Mental Lore, Manipulation helps a bard purify gems, destroy enemy equipment, and eventually make heads explode in addition to benefits for other spells which can be explored in more detail in the lore chart.
Finally, these are additional skills that a bard should learn when they have TPs to spare (they should not sacrifice their core training for these skills).
|5||7/3||Multi-Opponent Combat||Enables mstrike for melee attacks on two opponents at once.|
|0/4||Magic Item Use||This skill increases the odds of activating magic items, increases duration of spells.|
|0/4||Arcane Symbols||Enables the use of scrolls, increases duration of spells invoked.|
|0/8||Mental Lore, Manipulation||Increases the benefits and abilities of spells.|
|1x||0/8||Elemental Lore, Air||Increases the benefits and abilities of spells, more flares for sonic gear.|
|0.5-1x||2/2||Survival||Helps skinning, helps foraging, helps move around in tricky places.|
|0.5-1x||2/1||First Aid||Helps skinning, decreases RT for eating herbs, allows effective wound tending.|
Some training in this skill provides additional protection against multiple foes, but more importantly, five ranks enables the melee weapons users to attack two opponents at once. Further training allows a bard to attack more opponents, but five ranks is generally sufficient (archers should basically not bother with this skill). Note that 10 ranks will offset one extra opponent in Force-on-Force calcuations.
Magic Item Use and Arcane Symbols
Both of these skills allow a bard to access spells they otherwise cannot access through either magical items or scrolls. Training in one or the other (or both) likely depends more on a bard's friends than anything else (e.g. a bard who is friends with a sorcerer might find scolls are especially useful).
First Aid and Survival
Both of these skills are relatively cheap and are reasonable to fit into a bard's training. However, while they are beneficial these skills are not necessarily trained by all bards. Bards who wish to obtain skinning tasks through the Adventurer's Guild should train at least 0.5x in a combination of these skills.
Otherwise, some training in first aid (maybe 10-20 ranks) is good for reducing the roundtime from eating herbs. This can be especially useful if a bard chooses to live in a town with a small population and therefore few empaths. Some survival training is helpful for bards who wish to hunt in marshy areas and wish to avoid being stuck or bards who wish to hunt in areas that cause weather-related damage.
Spells and Songs
Although bards are semis, not pures, they are often considered the most pure of the semis. They also have some fairly unique utility spells that are worth exploring and the spells from the bard base are cast in a relatively unusual way. As such, it is worthwhile to review the magic of bards in some detail.
What are spell songs?
Many of the spells in the bard base spell circle are actually spell songs, which are sung for a period of time instead of being cast once and left alone. As a result, whether you are a new player or simply new to being a bard, spell songs are a bit odd at first. It might help to think about other spells as a brief phrase the caster says before flicking their wrist and making it happen, while a bard's spell song is something the bard continually hums as they go along through life.
The primary difference between bard songs and other spells in Elanthia is that bard songs cannot be stacked (usually, while resting) until a maximum duration is reached. Instead, they are initiated and then renewed for some cost of magical power which is often much less than the initial casting cost. Most of the songs a bard would like to sing constantly are renewed automatically, but the maintenance required for the spell songs make them at least slightly more complicated than the spells in any other spell circle in the game (and possibly more difficult for new bards to maintain all at once). However, it is very easy to get the hang of them and have your bard humming along in no time at all.
Basically, there are three kinds of Songspells:
- those which have only an instant effect (such as destroying equipment or putting a creature to sleep);
- those which have a continuous effect, are included in the Bard's medley, have a cumulative Renewal cost, and--if enough are sung at the same time--possibly have a multi-song penalty (MSP) added (such as all of the Sonic equipment or boosters); and
- those which are initiated for their full mana cost and can be manually renewed (at a lower cost) for an immediate effect, but which will STOP on their own at the time the full medley renews. (Such as utility or attack spells.) They do NOT add to the total mana of the medley renewal, and do NOT calculate into MSP.
How do spell songs work?
To start singing most songs a bard uses the incant verb like they would for any other spell:
To see the songs a bard is currently singing, use the song verb to check the status of the songs. Doing this will yield a list of all the songs the bard is singing, indicate approximately how long it will be before the songs renew and the renewal cost of these songs. For example,
Here we see that this particular bard is singing a single song that was either started only recently or was recently renewed (note that it is possible to use spell active to check the exact time remaining on your song). In addition, note that although Fortitude Song (1003) costs three mana to cast initially, its renewal cost is only one mana.
When a bard's songs renew, they will see this message:
And they will note that the appropriate amount of mana has been deducted from their total. Spell songs are thus relatively simple to keep running all the time since many of them are renewed automatically.
Managing Songs with a Small Mana Pool
However, lower level bards may encounter issues with their mana pool if they sing too many songs at once. This is due both to the multi-song penalty (MSP) and to increased maintenance costs for renewal with more ranks in bard base (this is a trade-off for other improvements to the spell songs).
The MSP is an additional mana cost for renewal which applies whenever a bard is singing more than three songs (with an increasingly higher penalty for additional songs). The exact mana cost from this penalty depends on the total number of songs being sung, the number of ranks a bard has in the bard base spell circle as well as the bard's discipline and logic statistics. However, only songs that are renewed count for MSP.
To save mana while continuing to sing songs, a bard might find it useful to stop singing a spell song with a low upfront cost, such as Fortitude Song (1003) and resume singing it after their songs have renewed. To stop singing a spell song, a bard should use the stop verb just like they would for any other spell:
If a bard stops a Song, depending on which it is, the effects may have different timing than the medley renewal. For example:
- All of the Sonic equipment--be it shield or weapon or armor--will vanish immediately upon stoppage.
- Fortitude, Valor, Mirrors, and Kai's, three defensive and one offensive, will continue to provide their benefit until a little bit after renewal of the remaining medley. Thus, it is possible to stop singing one of these songs just before renewal and start singing it again once the others have renewed to save mana while still receiving the benefits of having their songs running all the time.
- On the other hand, the effect of Power (to boost off-node mana recovery up as though you were on a node, and augment on-node recovery by ten (+10)) ends for the Bard immediately, but others in his group will still receive the benefit through the full duration of his medley. No extra time is gained, as is the case with the previous group of spells.
Fortitude (at 3 mana to start) is therefore extremely popular for this tactic, and always a good choice to drop when trying to avoid MSP. Other songs that have a high cost--be they utility with renewal nearly equal to starting cost, or defensive with many Songs known--will also work well, when the total of the renewal + MSP would equal or exceed the cost to simply start the Song in the first place.
A canny Bard who would otherwise be subject to substantial MSP costs (normally +12 mana per extra song) can in this way use several more songs. It is vital to stop just before the renewal and then re-start them each individually afterward. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS TIMING.
A specific example
If the Bard is subject to more than two (>2) points of MSP, Song of Power is an excellent choice for this tactic. As the renewal cost of this song is high (15 mana) compared to the casting cost (18 mana), any time the MSP is 3 mana or more, the Bard will use less mana by stopping and restarting the song.
- TO REPEAT: CAREFUL TIMING IS ESSENTIAL when trying to make use of this tactic at any time, and especialy so with this particular song. Failure can result in nerve damage (due to using too much mana). One of the normal consequences of Song of Power being renewed with the medley, can include injury or death.
A bard may wish to refrain from singing all of their songs at once until they are much more experienced (both so their mana pools are bigger and their songs last longer); as well, the Sonic equipment may not yet be better than inexpensive off-the-shelf physical gear. Additionally, if a bard finds that they do not have enough mana remaining to renew their songs and their songs are about to renew, the bard may wish to stop singing some songs with a high renewal cost (such as Kai's Triumph, which can be costly depending on the number of bard base ranks known) or, if resting, a bard can use stop singing to stop singing all of their songs at once. This may be preferable to suffering nervous system injuries caused by attempting renewal with insufficient mana.
Overview of Available Spells and Songs
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All three of the Sonic Equipment Songs--Shield, Weapon, and Armor--function in the same way: they provide their base magical bonus (+10 each in the case of Shield and Weapon, +15 in the case of Armor) and then also provide an additional bonus of "(# of Songs Known) / 2". UNlike most other spells, these do NOT count only "spells above this one's level," and rounding works.
So Sonic Shield, at 9 Songs known, would be (+10 [base effect] + 9/2 == +10 + 4.5 ==) +15 when first learned.
By the time the Bard can sing Sonic Armor (14 Songs known), the Shield and Weapon will be at (+10 + 14/2 ==) +17, while the Armor will start at (+15 + 14/2 ==) +22.
Since armor and shields are both very easy to find in the +20-+25 range, off-the-shelf, and possibly with added benefits (flares or padding or alteration or lightened or...), it is seldom recommended that the Bard actually use their Sonic Armor or Sonic Shield until the bonuses start getting into the range where a physical item would be very expensive. This usually happens around the +30/6x Enchanted mark, or for an established player with extensive resources, even +35/7x Enchanted.
Sonic Weapon is different.
- First, the weapon can always be used by the Bard against the Undead, but it will always have a flat +10 bonus, and no flares at all.
- Second--against non-Undead targets--it has what is usually regarded as, hands down, the best flares in the game. Very few other weapons--usually extremely expensive, Auction-level items; or transitory feras weapons (which self-destruct after a certain number of swings)--can flare on consecutive swings. Sonic Weapons do so on a regular basis.
- Third, training Elemental Lore:Air ranks gives the Bard a chance for the weapon to flare a second time.
- Fourth, these are two completely independent chances to flare. (Paladins, for example, can use a spell on their weapons to have a chance at a second flare, but that second flare will occur only if the weapon flares the first time. Not so here.)
So it is possible for a Bard to see a "first" flare, or a "second" flare, and even have a single swing generate both flares.
The messages are identical for melee weapons, or for spellcasting Bards while holding a Sonic Runestaff when casting an attack spell.
There are other advantages to using the various Sonic Equipment Songs:
- All three greatly reduce the Bard's level of Encumbrance, allowing more equipment (scrolls, wands, whathaveyou) or found treasure to be carried;
- in addition to the pure weight/Encumbrance benefit, Ranks of Elemental Lore:Air can reduce the effective size of the Sonic Shield, allowing (for example, at 50 ranks of Lore) the use of a Sonic Tower shield with the Dodging DS hindrance effects of a regular Medium shield;
- the Armor always has at least one rank of critical protection against heat, cold, and electrical flares/effects (and training in Elemental Lore:Air can increase that protection);
- the Weapon can never be Disarmed from the Bard;
- the Shield can now be worn for as much as 60 seconds, before dissipating for not being in the Bard's hand;
- similarly, the Weapon can be dropped and it will remain hovering in the air in that room until the Bard takes it in-hand again, and this also lasts for up to 60 seconds.
Both of the last two effects are to permit the Bard to empty a hand--for gathering looted treasure, pulling out a wand or scroll to activate, whatever--for a brief period, rather than having to stop/re-start the Song(s) each time.
Attack Spells and Songs
Here is a brief summary of the attack songs available to bards and some situations where they can be useful. Additional information on each spell can be found on the individual spell pages.
Bard Base Attack Songs
- Holding Song (1001): Lowers a target's DS by 10%, can affect multiple creatures.
- Vibration Chant (1002): Can force a target to drop a weapon or shield with the possibility of item destruction and injury (including possible stuns). Good against creatures that carry items.
- Lullabye (1005): Sing a target to sleep or into a restful state, making them easier to attack later on (or making them leave the bard alone, at least). Works at half effect on the demonic and undead.
- Stunning Shout (1008): Inflicts raw damage, a critical, and can possibly stun or disorient a target as well.
- Song of Depression (1015): All not joined to the caster suffer -20 TD and receive additional RT for their actions.
- Song of Rage (1016): Forces a target into offensive stance, lowering their defenses. Also forces the target to engage the bard singing this song (possibly useful in group hunts when another group member is injured or performing some task that results in RT or other vulnerability).
- Song of Sonic Disruption (1030): An extremely destructive song that can inflict disruption injuries on all who are not in the bard's group. This song is stronger while playing an instrument (especially a two handed one).
Song of Noise (1017) is not quite an attack spell, however, it makes it difficult for everything in the room to cast spells. This song is therefore useful when hunting creatures that cast nasty spells. However, it also makes it difficult for members of a bard's group to cast spells, so bards should perhaps avoid singing this song while hunting with other casters, and it makes song renewal difficult as well, so bards should be sure to stop this song before renewal and resume singing it after renewal.
Minor Elemental Attack Spells
- Elemental Blast (409): Blasts a target with elemental energy.
- Elemental Wave (410): Possible knockdown of all ungrouped targets.
- Weapon Deflection (412): A target suffers -25 AS. While this spell is used by some creatures, bards can usually do better for a lower mana cost with Vibration Chant.
- Elemental Saturation (413): A target suffers -25 TD.
- Elemental Strike (415): Hits a target with elemental energy, possibly inflicts a critical injury.
- Elemental Dispel (417): Can cause a target to forget a prepared spell, make one of its spells fall or make it lose all of its mana. This is another spell that some creatures cast and is not so common for adventurers to use.
- Major Elemental Wave (435): Like elemental wave, except much better and with a possibility to critically injure ungrouped targets.
Out of these spells, the elemental waves are probably the most popular for adventurers to use with the others being used much less, if at all.
Magical Hunting Notes
While bards are the most magical of the semi professions and have a lot of attack spells, they do not typically have sufficient mana pools to maintain their buff songs while also using a lot of magical attacks at low levels. As a result, lower level bards (prior to about level 30) may avoid magical attacks for the most part (possibly making exceptions for a bit of Vibration Chant or Lullabye) and rely primarily on physical attacks for their hunts.
Buff spells are spells which enhance a character's AS, CS, DS or TD. These are typically spells that an adventurer will cast on themselves before going out to hunt or in the case of bards, sing throughout a hunt. Here is a brief summary of the buff spells available to bards.
During the early levels, bards typically focus on the Bard Base spell circle, through which they can access a number of very useful buff songs. None of these songs can be stacked, as spellsongs are renewed automatically when their initial duration elapses unless otherwise noted. They are also all self-cast, with some songs providing benefits to the bard's group where indicated.
- Fortitude Song (1003): +10 DS against melee, ranged and bolt, self cast.
- Song of Luck (1006): Improves the luck of the bard and their group (e.g. against maneuvers).
- Kai's Triumph Song (1007): +10 AS, available to group.
- Song of Valor (1010): +10 DS against melee, ranged, bolt, aids against sheer fear, self cast.
- Song of Mirrors (1019): +20 Dodge, self cast.
- Song of Tonis (1035): +20 Dodge ranks, -1 second round time, available to group, 60 second duration, not renewed automatically (refreshable).
If these spells are known to you:
- It is typically useful to continue singing 1003, 1006, 1007, 1010 and 1019 while hunting.
- Bards with low total mana might want to stop singing songs while resting.
- Bards with low total mana might want to avoid 1006 until they acquire more.
- If a bard is subject to the multi-song penalty while hunting, it can also be useful to stop singing 1003 before song renewal and reapply after.
After learning Traveler's Song (1020), bards will sometimes shift to studying the Minor Elemental spell circle, which gives them access to even more buff spells. The following buff spells are stackable and not self-cast limited, unless otherwise noted.
- Elemental Defense I (401): +5 DS, +5 elemental TD.
- Presence (402): Enhances some activities that require perception. Self-cast limited and non-stackable with a 5 minute duration.
- Lock Pick Enhancement (403): Enhances lock picking skill. This spell is stackable with short duration.
- Disarm Enhancement (404): Enhances disarming trap skill and aim (aiding ranged weapon users). This spell is stackable with short duration.
- Elemental Defense II (406): +10 DS, +10 elemental TD.
- Elemental Defense III (414)/Mass Elemental Defense (419): +20 DS, +15 elemental TD. Can be cast at a single character (414) or at a group (419), but it's the same spell so the effects are not cumulative (e.g. do not waste your mana casting 414 at people when you've already cast 419 while in a group with them).
- Elemental Targeting (425): +25 AS, +25 CS, self-cast limited. This is the best overall offensive attack buff spell in the game. If you know it, you should have it running all the time.
- Elemental Barrier (430): +15 DS, +15 elemental TD, self-cast limited.
If these spells are known to you:
- It is typically useful to stack 401, 406, 414, 425 and 430 on yourself while resting and prior to going out for a hunt.
- 404 can be stacked for archers offering benefits similar to 613.
- If there are others around, you can offer 419 instead of casting 414 on yourself if desired.
Note that since many of these spells are not self-cast limited and this circle is shared by other professions (especially sorcerers and wizards), it is possible to ask other adventurers for assistance if you do not yet know these spells. Do not be shy about asking your friends for help with some silveries, brights and guards, even if these are spells that you will eventually learn yourself.
There are three societies in Elanthia: the Order of Voln, the Council of Light and the Guardians of Sunfist; membership in these societies is mutually exclusive. All impart members with some sorts of bonus to AS, DS and TD as well as other mechanical benefits and drawbacks which are briefly summarized in the New Players' Guide. It is worthwhile to note that since bards are able to create weapons that don't need to be blessed and can easily transport groups to town, some of the major benefits of joining the Order of Voln are a bit redundant.
However, there is not necessarily a single society which is best for all bards, so bards can and do join whichever society they find suits them the best. While it is always a good idea to join a society as soon as possible, it is a good idea to consider both the mechanical benefits and roleplay decisions when choosing a society (or a player can choose a society for the mechanical benefits and roleplay from there). Thus, if a bard decides that she would really enjoy liberating the souls of the undead, joining Voln may be the way to go, even if another society might be better for her mechanically.
With a lot of practice, bards can become masterful musicians and many bards become adept at playing multiple families of instruments (there are six in the game). While learning instruments is useful for role play, instruments also offer benefits for some bard spellsongs:
To take full advantage of the benefits conferred by an instrument, it is necessary to be an adept player of an instrument one is playing while singing the spell. There is an excellent guide for learning to play instruments, which provides a great deal of detail including how long one should practice an instrument to achieve proficiency.
Roleplaying a Bard
Stuff goes here.
- Bard (main article)
- New Players' Guide (a comprehensive beginner's guide for new players of any profession)
- Comprehensive Bard Guide
- The Art of Roleplaying in GemStone IV (guide)
- Player Guide Contest