Last Updated on October 19, 2023
So, you’ve made a decision to step into the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons as a half-elf bard, and you’re determined to be more than just the next half-elf-on-the-shelf. While bards are often portrayed as comedic reliefs and the life of the party, they can be a complex class to master, like that one peculiar cousin at the mage family reunion. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through creating the ultimate half-elf bard, exploring different bardic colleges, and offering tips on roleplaying your character.
Before we delve into the intricacies of creating your character, it’s essential to have a copy of the Player’s Handbook at your disposal. It contains all the information you need to build your character effectively, including race and class details.
Creating Your Half-Elf Bard
Unleash the Magic of a Half-Elf Bard
Not just anyone who performs tricks or plays music can be a bard. Bards have a unique way of weaving magic through their music, words, and actions, and their backstories are often as captivating as the stories they tell. The race of your character, the Half-Elf, provides a distinct charm to your bard’s persona.
Half-elves are known for their charisma, diplomacy, dark vision, and other advantages based on their elf heritage. To create a well-balanced half-elf bard, prioritize your Charisma score, followed by Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Strength. Your build shares some similarities with that of a Rogue, but you rely more on your wits and charm.
Bardic Colleges: Where Do You Belong?
Bardic colleges serve as subcategories that showcase your character’s major strengths and talents. In D&D 5e, several bardic colleges can shape your character:
- College of Lore: If your character embodies the wisdom and eloquence of great philosophers like Aristotle or Socrates, this college is your domain. Lore bards are adept at knowledge and truth-seeking, gaining proficiency in three skills of their choice, and acquiring unique abilities such as Cutting Words and Additional Magical Secrets.
- College of Valor: The most common portrayal of bards, these storytellers and singers are often the comedic relief in the party. Valor bards gain proficiency in medium armor, shields, and martial weapons, along with combat abilities like Combat Inspiration and Extra Attack.
- College of Creation: These all-powerful bards bring “music is in our souls” to life by creating nonliving things with their songs. Abilities like Note of Potential and Performance of Creation make them unique, and they even gain immunity to poison, psychic damage, exhaustion, fear, and charm.
- College of Eloquence: Dubbed the college of dramatic lawyers, these bards can break or make a person with their words. With abilities like Silver Tongue and Unfailing Inspiration, they can sway any situation in their favor.
- College of Glamour: Charismatic to the core, these bards can turn their stunning beauty into charisma. Tutored by fey creatures, they can become instant superstars or cult leaders with abilities like Mantle of Majesty and Enthralling Performance.
- College of Swords: Blade masters of both entertainment and combat, these bards gain proficiency with medium armor and the scimitar, and they can even use their melee weapon as a spellcasting focus. With Fighting Styles and Blade Flourishes, they excel in both melee combat and performance.
- College of Whispers: Ideal for those who want to be spies and information brokers, Whispers bards wield Psychic Blades and have a range of abilities like Word of Terror and Mantle of Whispers.
These colleges not only determine your character’s strengths but also add depth and flavor to their backstory and personality. Don’t hesitate to ask your Dungeon Master (DM) if you’d like to explore alternative options beyond the official Player’s Handbook.
How to Play a Half Elf Bard
Key Statistics and Traits
- Hit Dice: 1d8 per bard level.
- Hit Points: At 1st level, you have 8 + your Constitution modifier. For higher levels, it’s 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per bard level after 1st.
- Spellcasting: Your spell save DC is calculated as 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. Your spell attack modifier is your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
- Special Advantages: Half-elves have an advantage in speed, dark vision, and saving throws against being charmed and put to sleep, giving them a unique edge in the game.
As a bard, you’ll be endowed with various abilities that set you apart:
- Spellcasting: Bards wield magic through their music and performance, granting them a diverse range of spells to choose from.
- Bardic Inspiration: Your cheerleading skills can boost the morale of your teammates or any creature within a 60-foot radius. The exact effects can vary, so check with your DM to see what creative uses can be allowed.
- Jack of All Trades: You can add half your proficiency bonus to any abilities you’re not proficient in, making you a versatile character who excels even in areas you’re not an expert in.
- Song of Rest: Your musical talents extend to healing, providing additional benefits to your party during rests.
Outside of Combat
Half-elves have unique traits, much like humans and elves, and their upbringing can significantly influence their outlook on life. They value personal freedom, self-expression, and forming bonds with other races, regardless of hierarchy or status.
Roleplaying as a Half-Elf Bard
Half-elves mature at the same rate as humans but live much longer, often exceeding 180 years. This extended lifespan can lead to a restless existence as they witness the shorter lives of their companions. Roleplaying your character can involve exploring your moral alignment and reflecting on your character’s experiences and background.
Choosing an Elf Heritage
When selecting an elf heritage, it’s crucial to consider the tolerance and characteristics of the specific elf subrace, as elves can be quite insular and racially prejudiced. Half-elves are often seen as abominations due to the constant reincarnation of elf souls. Some elf subraces, like Grayhawk, Valley, Silvanesti, Wood, and Sun elves, may be even less accepting of half-elves. This can impact where your character was raised and how they were treated.
Embrace Your Bardic Calling
Half-elves make excellent bards due to their inherent creativity and love for self-expression. When embracing the bardic path, consider what kind of bard you want to be. What is your specialty in performance? What is your ultimate goal as a bard, and what stories do you have to tell? Half-elves often become wanderers or diplomats, naturally fitting into the bardic lifestyle.
Half-elves can speak Elvish and one or two additional languages. As a bard, your linguistic skills come in handy for telling your tales to a diverse range of audiences.
In summary, playing a half-elf bard in Dungeons & Dragons 5e offers a unique blend of charisma, creativity, and musical magic. With a versatile skill set and a rich backstory, you can craft a compelling character that stands out in the world of D&D. Embrace your heritage, choose your bardic college wisely, and let your imagination soar as you embark on epic adventures in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
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