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How to Create Great Pathfinder 2nd Edition Characters: Bard

Lem fighting off harpies.

I’m excited because here at Nerds on Earth, we’re getting ready to dive into some Pathfinder Society Scenarios! With Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2) being so new, I’m guessing that the scenarios themselves are going to take much longer than the prescribed estimates. I’d wager we’ll tack on an extra half hour just to double-check rules in order to make sure the scenarios are run as intended.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Pathfinder Society, it’s a great way to play a lot of Paizo content without necessarily committing to a full campaign or Adventure Path. Those are great too, as referenced by the awesome back catalog of First Edition Adventure Paths, but Pathfinder Society is an entirely different animal.

Basically you get to build a character, enter them into the Organized Play database, and then you gain experience and gold while playing pre-written modules. These scenarios are generally around four hours long and are designed to be played by characters within a specific level range. Your local game store probably has events where GMs will run these scenarios, so you get to play with a wide variety of people.

But that’s enough about Pathfinder Society! I’m chock-full of character concepts for Bards, and I can’t wait for you to read them. As usual, expect to discover five concepts, each complete with questions to help get your creativity going during the creation process. After that, I’ll list various mechanical info to give you a loose framework of what that concept might look like as a finished product.

You hear that? It’s the piper’s tune!

Pathfinder 2nd Edition Bard Class

With a flute in one hand and a shortsword int he other, this eccentrically-dressed blonde halfling smirks with confidence.
Lem, the 2E Iconic Bard

Bards are often portrayed with their musical instruments, playing righteous chords as they head into battle. Well, I won’t be the first to tell you that Bards don’t always need to be associated with music. People have made stand-up comedians, dancers, poets, and even belly-dancers. Anything that resembles a performance can be used as their primary focus.

In Pathfinder Second Edition, Bards are actually occult spellcasters, which really opens up the possibilities for how they could be portrayed. They are generally persuasive and command attention when they are in the middle of a performance. They tend to be eclectic, original, and creative, pushing the boundaries of what rigid society deems to be conforming. Some Bards might push the envelope too far and rely heavily on magic to the point where people see them as untrustworthy.

Each Bard follows a specific muse, which is what gives them the inspiration for their creative pursuits. Depending on a Bard’s focus, a muse can be a deity, creature, person, or idea. Bards also get access to composition spells, which infuse their performances with magic at the cost of Focus Points, a new resource in Second Edition.

Bards are awesome in that they are SO useful to have in a party. They have access to a great range of utilitarian spells, they excel in social situations, and their performances often allow their supporting cast to shine. Just don’t take them lightly; a Bard can captivate their audience, leaving you in a teary-eyed state of euphoria.

  FEY EMISSARY

A herald to your true muse, you would follow your fey leader to the far-reaching corners of Golarion. You regale their mighty deeds with unrivaled fanfare. Perhaps one day your loyalty will be rewarded with a seat among the most powerful of the First World. That is, if they deem you worthy enough to hold such a station.

Or maybe you conduct your dealings in the shadows, whispering sweet somethings to diplomats one second while entertaining guests the next. As long as progress is made towards the greater goal, your means are justified.

How did you become involved with the fey? Were you raised there by birth or were you adopted? Did you perform some service for someone of the First World in exchange for the opportunity to learn their secrets? Who is your muse? Is it the mysterious Eldest Ng, or is it a lesser fey? Maybe you’re more concerned with the First World in general.

What is your end-goal when dealing with the fey? How connected are you to the First World? Do you use an instrument in combination with your voice to announce the deeds of your patron? Has your connection with the fey granted you exclusive access or opportunity that you might not have ordinarily received? Do you carry a token associated with your muse? What about an instrument?

Pathmap

  • Muse: Enigma
  • Ability Scores: Charisma, Wisdom
  • Skills: First World Lore, Diplomacy, Stealth
  • Sample Spells: Forbidding Ward, Ghost Sound, Sigil, Chill Touch, Read Aura, Command (1st), Summon Fey (1st)
  • Bard Feats: Bardic Lore, Loremaster’s Etude (2nd), Triple Time (4th), Dire of Doom (6th), Know-It-All (8th), House of Imaginary Walls (10th), True Hypercognition (14th), Studious Capacity (16th), Deep Lore (18th), Fatal Aria (20th)

  TUMBLING ACROBAT

Step right up! You are flexible, agile, and a crowd-pleaser. Whether it’s somersaults, handstands, eggplants, or backflips, you always know how to keep your balance. Although, you might keep it interesting for spectators to feign a close-call every once in a while.

What are your signature tricks and where did you learn them? Did you have a mentor or a group of people who taught your abilities to you? Where you a part of a traveling circus or have you mostly been in the same place? Are you capable of doing maneuvers outside of the ‘tumbling’ genre? What about juggling, fire-eating, or sword-swallowing?

Are you a thrill-seeker? Are you in the business of making smiles or cashing checks? Do you have any combat experience? Where did you pick up that knowledge? Is your muse a particularly skilled acrobat? Do you get nervous about performing in front of crowds, or does adrenaline take over? Are there any tricks that you refuse to perform? Have you ever gotten seriously injured while rehearsing or during a show?

Pathmap

  • Muse: Maestro
  • Ability Scores: Dexterity, Strength
  • Skills: Circus Lore, Acrobatics, Athletics
  • Sample Spells: Detect Magic, Guidance, Mage Hand, Light, Prestidigitation, Telekinetic Projectile, Floating Disk (1st), True Strike (1st)
  • Bard Feats: Lingering Composition, Inspire Competence (2nd), Inspire Defense (4th), Steady Spellcasting (6th), Inspire Heroics (8th), Quickened Casting (10th), Inspirational Focus (12th), Allegro (14th), Effortless Concentration (16th), Eternal Composition (18th), Perfect Encore (20th)

  OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST

Everybody can use some motivation and reassurance, especially adventurers. Think about it – parties are constantly being bombarded with otherworldly horrors, gruesome spectacles, and apocalyptic shenanigans. These things can take a major toll on the psyches of ordinary heroes. And that’s where you come in.

Your specialty is helping people cope with the hardships of being an adventurer. Always there to be emotionally supportive and a shoulder to lean on, you know the right things to say and when to say them. After all, you’re questing with these people and you want to do what you can to maintain focus and stability.

Besides that, you’re also very good at resolving disputes among the party members. Whether it’s minor squabbles about loot or major party relationship schisms, you never let a situation get out of hand. You’re a bonafide hero-whisperer!

How long have you been adventuring? Do you actually have hands-on experience or did you learn most of your knowledge from firsthand accounts and books? Do you have formal training for what you do? What resources do you turn to when mediating situations?

Are people in awe of your skills? Do they compare your skills to a performance? Have you ever incorporated music into your sessions? Are you direct and to-the-point, or are you more subtle in your methods? Does religion play a part at all? How well do you personally cope with the constant stress of the adventuring life? Is there someone you turn to for guidance when things get especially rough?

Pathmap

  • Muse: Polymath
  • Ability Scores: Strength, Wisdom
  • Skills: Curse Lore, Diplomacy, Religion
  • Sample Spells: Shield, Dancing Lights, Daze, Message, Guidance, Sanctuary (1st), Soothe (1st)
  • Bard Feats: Versatile Performance, Esoteric Polymath (2nd), Versatile Signature (4th), Steady Spellcasting (6th), Eclectic Skill (8th), Quickened Casting (10th), Eclectic Polymath (12th), Soothing Ballad (14th), Effortless Concentration (16th), Impossible Polymath (18th), Fatal Aria (20th)

  VIRTUOSO PLAYWRIGHT

To be or not to be – it’s not even a question! You are a star of the stage, and would most certainly be a star of screen too if we weren’t in a fantasy setting. People make the pilgrimage from far and wide to see your plays, and you may even have something of a cult following.

It’s your way with words that’s truly magical. You have an uncanny ability to bring your vision to the stage and get your points across to the audience. Using broad gestures and a persuasive tone, people listen to you even if what you’re saying is little more than elegant gibberish.

Have you ever acted in your plays or do you avoid cameos all together? Do you have any common themes that a majority of your plays share? What’s the name of your most famous work? What other works serve as your inspiration? Are there any regional, cultural, or religious influences that you lean heavily on?

Are your productions grandiose affairs or smaller, more intimate showings? Have you been commissioned to write plays that address a specific issue or written something that could be considered propaganda? How is your skill with impersonations? Do you assist actors with their lines and characters? How do you handle people who can’t seem to capture the essence of the characters you create?

Pathmap

  • Muse: Maestro
  • Ability Scores: Charisma, Intelligence
  • Skills: Theater Lore, Society, Arcana
  • Sample Spells: Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Prestidigitation, Mage Hand, Telekinetic Projectile, Color Spray (1st), Illusory Disguise (1st)
  • Bard Feats: Lingering Composition, Cantrip Expansion (2nd), Melodious Spell (4th), Harmonize (6th), Inspire Heroics (8th), Quickened Casting (10th), Inspirational Focus (12th), Soothing Ballad (14th), Effortless Concentration (16th), Eternal Composition (18th), Symphony of the Muse (20th)

  INDUSTRIOUS MATHEMATICIAN

Lem by Tyler Walpole

Numbers speak to you. Literally? Probably not, but it’s certainly a possibility. Equations and their solutions come naturally to you, and you believe that the world is completely composed of a complex series of algorithms and formulae. Everything can be explained by applying the proper theorem – even the future.

You are captivating in a very unique way. Once you set your mind to solve a problem, you become possessed. The pursuit of knowledge drives you to transcend the boundaries of common understanding. Your research and calculations have contributed in major ways in multiple capacities. Maybe you’ve solved architectural problems or assisted in the development of handy household technologies. Confidence is your strong suit, because you are not prone to making errors. THAT would be a real spectacle.

Why do numbers mean so much to you? What are some of your most notable solutions or achievements? Has anybody famous employed your services? Do you have interest in becoming an educator or have you already gone down that path? How do you tackle new challenges and problems? Are you usually solving problems aloud or do you need peace and quiet to derive solutions?

Are you a product of the education system or have you always been a prodigy? Do any numbers hold special meaning to you? How’s your memory? Are you weighed down with mountains of textbooks in your travels? From a social perspective, are you generally liked or do people see your displays of knowledge as reflections of arrogance?

Pathmap

  • Muse: Polymath (c’mon, it’s in the name)
  • Ability Scores: Intelligence, Wisdom
  • Skills: Academia Lore, Intimidation, Deception
  • Sample Spells: Know Direction, Detect Magic, Chill Touch, Daze, Mage Hand, Unseen Servant (1st), Sleep (1st)
  • Bard Feats: Reach Spell, Esoteric Polymath (2nd), Versatile Signature (4th), Dirge of Doom (6th), Eclectic Skill (8th), Unusual Composition (10th), Inspirational Focus (12th), Allegro (14th), Effortless Concentration (16th), Impossible Polymath (18th), Fatal Aria (20th)

Pathfinder 2E Bard Class – Get in the Groove!

I’ve offered a few new suggestions that are outside the normal, instrumental Bard archetype. Some of them require you to get creative in how they conduct their performances and compositions, but I have faith in you!

Next week we’ll be talking about the Champion class, one I’m particularly excited about. Pathfinder Second Edition removed the Paladin class, making it a Cause – a ‘subclass’ of Champion. Tons of great character concepts are waiting in the wings.

Until then, stay groovy Pathfinders!

How to Create Great Pathfinder Second Edition Characters