Bardic Colleges, for non-Bards (5e Variant Rule)

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What Is A Bardic College[edit]

Eager to learn and often fond of company, most bards organized themselves into loosely bound fellowships known as colleges, which helped to preserve each bard's individual knowledge and pass them on to others. Some of the most common colleges are listed below.

Remember: You're still not an actual Bard[edit]

You may or may not know how to sing or to play any particular instrument. Nor are you necessarily particularly inspiring. You do not possess the Bardic Inspiration feature.

Because other characters do not actually possess Bardic Inspiration Dice, all Bardic Inspiration abilities granted to these Characters--unless otherwise noted--may be used once per short rest.

If an individual class description gives different rules for these rage-based abilities, use the specific rule, rather than the general one.

When an ability would reference the die size for Bardic inspiration dice use what a bard would possess at the same level.

Problematic Class Abilities[edit]

The Bardic Archetypes presented in the players handbook contain 3 features which may become problematic (in terms of game balance) when applied to other classes:

  • Bonus Proficiencies: 3 free proficiencies is a big deal. the Paladin, Ranger, Rouge, and Wizard classes have had this feature replaced.
  • Extra Attack: When this feature is applied to a class which already possesses the Extra Attack feature (Barbarian, Monk, Paladin, Ranger) this can be too similar to the actual fighter, who also receives another Extra Attack at level 11. Instead, replace the 2nd instance of Extra Attack with Action Surge, as possessed by a level 2 fighter.
  • Battle Magic: utterly useless to non-spellcasters. Many classes, however, are offered the option of learning Additional Magical Secrets: it is suggested that such characters choose to learn Cantrips, as they are not actually granted any spell slots with which to cast higher level spells.

Individual Class Descriptions[edit]

Barbarian[edit]

Receives level 3 bonus proficiencies at level 3.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 6.

Level 6 college feature is moved to level 10.

Level 14 College feature is gained at level 14, as normal.

Cleric[edit]

Receives level 3 bonus proficiencies at level 1.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 2, as a channel divinity option. Any other abilities gained which would function from the use of a bardic inspiration die may be powered by a Channel Divinity use instead. The die size for Bardic inspiration dice is equal to what a bard would possess at the same level.

Level 6 College feature is gained, as normal, at level 6.

Level 14 College feature is moved to level 17.

Finally, at level 8 the Cleric may learns their choice of either the Bard's Song of Rest, Countercharm, or Additional Magical Secrets ability.

Druid[edit]

Receives level 3 bonus proficiencies at level 2.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 2.

Level 6 college feature is gained at level 6. Level 14 College feature is gained at level 14, as normal.

Finally, at level 10 the Druid may learns their choice of either the Bard's Song of Rest, Countercharm or Additional Magical Secrets ability.

Fighter[edit]

The Bardic College Features are largely redundant/incompatible, when applied to a Fighter.

Monk[edit]

Receives level 3 bonus proficiencies at level 3.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 6.

Level 6 college feature is gained at level 11.

Level 14 College feature is gained at level 17.

Paladin[edit]

Does not Receive level 3 bonus proficiencies.

Receives 1 proficiency of own choice at level 3.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 3, as a channel divinity option. Any other abilities gained which would function from the use of a bardic inspiration die may be powered by a Channel Divinity use instead.

Level 6 College feature is gained at level 15.

Level 14 College feature is learned early, at level 7.

Finally, at level 20 the Paladin gains 2 additional Bardic inspiration dice, and learns the Bard's Song of Rest, and Countercharm abilities.

Ranger[edit]

Does not Receive level 3 bonus proficiencies.

Receives 1 proficiency of own choice at level 3.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 3.

Level 6 College feature is gained at level 11.

Level 14 College feature is learned at level 15.

Finally, at level 7 the Ranger learns their choice of the Bard's Song of Rest, Countercharm or Additional Magical Secrets abilities.

Rogue[edit]

Does not Receive level 3 bonus proficiencies.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 3.

Level 6 College feature is gained at level 9.

Level 14 College feature is learned at level 17.

Finally, at level 3 the Rogue learns the Jack of all Trades ability of a Bard, and at level 13 the Rogue learns their choice of the Bard's Song of Rest, Countercharm, or "Additional Magical Secrets" abilities.

Sorcerer[edit]

Receives level 3 bonus proficiencies at level 1.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 1.

The Sorcerer may expend 2 Sorcery Points in place of a Bardic Inspiration die.

Level 6 College feature is gained at level 6, as normal.

Level 14 College feature is learned at level 14, as normal.

Finally, at level 18 the Sorcerer learns the Bard's Song of Rest, and Countercharm abilities.

Warlock[edit]

Receives level 3 feature at level 1.

Receives level 6, 10 and 14 features, all at their normal levels.

Wizard[edit]

Does not Receive level 3 bonus proficiencies.

Receives 1 proficiency of own choice at level 2.

Receives other level 3 college feature at level 2.

Level 6 College feature is gained at level 6.

Level 14 College feature is learned at level 14.

Finally, at level 10 the Wizard learns the Bard's Song of Rest, and Countercharm abilities.

Classes Not Fit for a Bardic Archetype[edit]

Fighter: The existing bardic colleges either make the bard behave more like a fighter--which the fighter already does very well--or make them a better spellcaster--which the Eldritch Knight does for a Fighter much better than this would. Additional 3rd party Colleges may be appropriate, but 3rd party archetypes exist for the fighter as well.

All: heavy provisions have had to be made to consider bardic abilities playable on other classes at all. Game balance is not guaranteed.


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