Talk:Fifth Party Member (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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I'm sorry to say it so directly, but this kind of build is exactly the reason why bards have a reputation of being useless. It's horrible! A little bit of bard here, a little bit of marshall there, some fighter levels on top... What exactly do you want to achieve here?

You write that you want to add some melee ability to your bard. What for? With light armor and nothing more than a few fighter levels the best thing you can achieve there is catch an AOO when you try to use your music or spells, or accidently stand in the way of a full attack and get maimed horribly. Just don't.

A well-build, straight 14th level bard gives his allies +4 to all attack and damage rolls (with the Song of the Heart feat from ECS, which is a must-have) and has 5th level spells. Look at the bard's 5th level spell list (SRD:Bard Spell List (Spells)), there is some really nice stuff, like Dream, Greater Dispel Magic, Mind Fog, and Shadow Evocation.

On top of that, the very handy Use Magic Device is a class skill for you, which means that you can easily be the support spellcaster. With a Wand of Scorching Ray or a Wand of Hold Monster you'll be much better than in melee.

So, now you now what your build is up against. You could probably build a decent melee bard, but you'd have to restart from scratch. A few hints:

  • Paladin of Freedom gives you some melee punch, and Charisma bonus to saving throws
  • there is a PrC that has some melee abilities and bardic music
  • think about what spells the bard should select as known spells
  • think about which aura the marshall should select
  • look for good prestige classes
  • look for attribute synergy. Bards usually have a good Cha, so look for classes that can use Cha
  • Take more care with feat selection. A bard usually takes more profit from Weapon Finesse than Weapon Focus.
  • At no point, your build incurs an XP penalty so far, so you could check for other races.

--Mkill 06:12, 17 July 2007 (MDT)

Thanks for the feedback. Now that i am thinking about it, its probably better to maybe do 2 or three lvls in marshal, then hit up the rest with bard. --EaTCarbS
A two-level dip in Marshall works very well with bard (and a high Cha). You can't have more than one major and one minor aura up at the same time anyway, so even if you only one each at 2nd level it isn't bad.
For minor Auras, I'd say the best are Demand Fortitude, Motivate Dexterity and Watchful Eye, as everyone in the party will benefit and not just the frontliners or spellcasters.
For major auras, they're all pretty good, but it's probably best to pick one you can't duplicate with bardic music, so I'd go for Hardy Soldiers.
I'd say third level is not worth it, but if you really want to do it grab Motivate Charisma here. Use the other minor aura normally, but in social situations, or when you need a really good Perform check, you can send the roll through the roof with double Charisma.
The other good thing about the Marshall levels is proficiency with martial weapons and all armors, so you can go for Battle Caster feat and composite longbow. Oh, and Marshalls have Perform as class skill! I'd still start as bard, though, for skill points. --Mkill 12:13, 17 July 2007 (MDT)
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