Support bards are unusual, in that they are a type of build dedicated entirely to party support. Bards of this type will very rarely even make a kill, and yet they are a very effective and desired addition to a party, particularly once you enter into the Hells areas and beyond. The role of a support bard is to buff their party, debuff enemies, help remove negative status effects such as petrification or stun and pick up knocked down allies - and that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Bard song can improve the attack bonus, armour class, skills and saves of all allies, with a long duration and many uses per day. Curse song can provide maluses of to those same things of your enemies. Just by keeping your party buffed with song, and making sure your enemies are cursed with curse song, you can start to have a huge influence on both party defense and offense. Bards also have some useful, mainly support based spells which you can use to aid your teammates, from dropping spell resistance, to lowering saves yet further, to healing and regenerative spells. The Epic Bard spells are also some of the most useful party support epics around, many of which are considered almost required in several areas.
Bard is the class for you if you like to dedicate yourself completely to the support of your team; keeping everyone alive, buffed and in optimum fighting condition can be a challenge, and that itself can be very rewarding. Playing support bard means you will rarely ever make a kill yourself, but you can be safe in the knowledge that you facilitated every other kill that your party made, and that is not something many other classes can lay claim to. Playing a bard is also a good indication that you are a responsible, party minded player, and you will often find getting on hell runs a lot easier if you are playing a selfless support class such as this.
Build Advantages (level 60):
5 Higher Ground Epic Spells: Illusion (Possum's Farce), Enchantment (Hear Me Roar), Transmutation (Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken), Necromancy (Dirge of the Deathless), Conjuration (Calling of the Heart).
Colossal Auras (60 Charisma with +14 gear).
Good defenses: 80% Concealment, 118-124 AC.
Excellent saves: 75-80.
Higher Ground Class Edits
Firstly, If you want to know more about Bards, you can find all the custom changes on Higher Ground here.
For more information about your Bard spells, check here.
Custom Epic Spells
To know more about the Higher Ground Custom Epic Spells, check here.
To access all of the Bard custom spells, you will need to download a small hak pack. This is completely optional, but is highly reccomended to enhance your enjoyment for this, and any other builds you make on Higher Ground, as it will open up many new spells and abilities which you can use.
The following quests (which can be obtained by talking to the NPC's in the two Tavern's in the Ascension Docks) can be a fun and rewarding way to gain experience for your character.
Defeating certain enemies while you start your quest to immortality and beyond can earn you accomplishment tags, which provide you with some permanent character bonuses which will serve you well from pre epic levels through to legendary levels and beyond.
Before taking level 20, you will need an alignment change, from neutral good to lawful good. This can be achieved by visiting level 3 of the crypts just south of ascension. Once you have taken level 20, you need to change alignment again, from lawful good back to neutral good. If you need help finding this area, use the !newbie channel to ask for assistance.
There's so much to consider!
Don't worry if this seems like a lot of information to take in. If you have any questions, need hints or tips, or aren't quite sure what to do next, you will find plenty of helpful and friendly people to provide guidance via the !newbie channel.
The following section break each level down in terms of which skills, feats and ability points you should take on each level.
- Gnomes who have any Bard level have Bard as their favored class rather than Wizard. - All gnomes receive 2 additional skill point per level. Skills points prior to 41 will be granted upon taking level 41.
Subrace: Fire Gnome
- STR -2, CHA +2, resist fire 5/-; can firewalk; speaks Ignan.
- Swap to Lawful at level 19. - Swap to Neutral at level 20.
Adds two levels to Bard Songs (62)
Applies penalties to enemies
Greater Spell Focus: Illusion
+2 DC to Illusion
Spell Focus: Enchantment
+2 DC to Enchantment
Spell Focus: Transmutation
+2 DC to Transmutation
Spell Focus: Necromancy
+2 DC to Necromancy
Metamagic: Extend Spell
Cast spells one slot higher for double it's normal duration
The following stats are what you will be able to achieve with optimal gear. If you manage to conquer the Nine Hells, you can actually exceed these stats - ask if you're curious!
You will not be able to achieve these stats immediately due to gearing constraints, but the more you persevere, the more items you will accrue, and the stronger you will grow. Hard work and persistance will see you rewarded with greater power!
AC in 'URs' quality
AC in 'BURs' quality
Raises Armour Class by +1 for every 40 points of this skill you have (including buffs)
Higher concentration lowers the risk of having spells disrupted by taking damage
There are many discipline checks on Higher ground, varying from knockdown checks to other nasty special attacks that can shred your armour! A must for any build
Improves your Healing Circle spell. Allows use of healing kits in areas where you cannot cast spells or drink potions (this is a very rare scenario but not a non existant one)
Allows you to identify items you find - Bards often play the role of "banker" on a run, collecting loot to split with the party when the run is completed
Reduces the amount of damage taken from critical hits
Higher ranks provide greater bonuses from song, and larger maluses for curse song
To use persuade, first you need to use the "!opt tauntpersuade" command. You can then use the taunt ability (radial menu, special abilities) to attempt to lower an opponent's spell resistance. This is checked by an opposed roll between your persuade and the target's concentration. This, in combination with bestow curse is a great ability to use on high spell resistance targets
Allows you to steal heal potions from certain enemies, stopping them from healing
Required for counterspelling
Increases your armour class and prevents attacks of opportunity when you move around in combat
Use Magic Device
Allows you to use spell scrolls, such as Greater Sanctuary or Mordenkainen's Disjunction
Song and Curse Configuration
Use the !Bardsong command to configure your song. An example:
41 (+3 AB)
41 (-3 AB)
63 (+4 AC)
63 (-4 AC)
57 (+8 DMG)
13 (-3 DMG)
33 (+2 Fort, +2 Reflex, +3 Will)
63 (-4 Fort, -4 Reflex, -5 Will)
63 (+21 Skills)
63 (-21 Skills)
Miscellaneous Character Enchantments
When you achieve level 41+ you will be permitted to use a Spell Tome, which will grant you a free Epic Spell Focus. For this build, the recommended tome is Conjuration. Spell Tomes can be found on the Arcane Academy or Ssithrakh run, which is a Legendary area.
Higher Ground is notorious for the many powerful Dragons scattered around throughout it's many areas. These can be found as early as pre-epic, and as late as the Nine Hells and Elysium! Some of these dragons will drop their blood when you kill them. Open subraces can drink the blood to add useful feats or ameliorate certain penalties - for this Bard, a useful choice might be the blood which grants the Dodge feat. However, Dragon blood also has another use which you can utilise to enhance your character. If you're curious about this mysterious process, ask in-game about Dragon blood and its uses.
There are a number of artifacts which can be applied to your character which provide a number of beneficial effects. These can be rather hard to come by, and many builds do not have one - even level 60's! For this build, there is no stand out choice of artifact; however, you might consider a Constitution artifact, which provides extra hp, true poison immunity and the ability to inflict a fire vulnerability every 5 minutes; a Speed artifact, which increases your run speed; a Wisdom artifact for +2 wisdom and true fear imunity; or an Intelligence artifact for confusion immunity. All of these would be viable choices, and are sometimes sold in the auction chests on the servers, which you can browse here (along with other potentially useful gear), so start saving your pennies! Stat artifacts can be used at level 55+. However, do not worry if you cannot get one - these are to be considered a luxury, not a requirement.
General Gearing Guidelines:
It's somewhat pointless giving a shopping list of items to wear, because how you gear your Bard will depend greatly upon what you can find/buy/beg/borrow. In general though you should try to maximise your main stats (Charisma, Dexterity and Constitution are your three primary stats as a Bard, to maximise DC, AC, health points and saves) as well as your secondary ones (Strength and Wisdom, to maximise your carrying capacity and will save). Maximising stats becomes easier as you gain in levels and find better gear. One particular item which you should make every effort to get is the Aria of the Unfaltering armour, which can be found in the Uroboros run on a miniboss. If you manage to procure this armour, you can drop the Ethereal visage spell, and rely on extended displacement instead. This build, whilst fully functional without, is intended to be used with this armour, so try and go on as many Uroboros runs as you can!
You will also want to wear items with ac as high as possible in the following categories: Deflect (Helm, Cloak, Belt, Bracer), Armour (Armour, Bracer), Natural (Amulet), Dodge (Boots) and Shield (Shield). This will ensure your armour class is as high as possible with your available gear.
Items with spellslot gear can be useful in giving you more casting stamina between rests, although this is not as important for a support bard as other caster classes. You can find items with spellslots on many runs, but most notably:
The Maze of the Ancients (Level 41+)
Myconids (Level 40+)
Pit of Moliation (Level 55+)
Avernus (Level 55+)
Finally, damage reduction/immunity/soak can all help increase your character survivability. These three types of damage decreasing properties all stack with eachother, so if you wear all three, your character will benefit in terms of survivability. Many items have these properties on them, especially once you get to Legendary levels. It should be notied that damage immunity % DOES stack on multiple items, so the more you can fit, the better. Damage resistance and damage soak/reduction do NOT stack with other instances of the same type; for example an item with 10/- to all physical damage, and a second item with 15/- to all physical damage would not stack with one another - only the highest (15/-) woud apply. Likewise, +15/10 soak would not stack with +15/20 soak - only the +15/20 would apply, even if you wore both.
Expeditious Retreat. Increases your run speed - very handy for quickly cursing enemies and retreating.
Protection from Alignment. Provides mindspell immunity versus either good or evil alignments. Only currently useful in early levels and the abyss, but worth taking none the less.
Amplify. Inflicts a sonic vulnerability on the enemy you cast it on, forcing them to take more sonic damage.
Joyful Noise. Dispels silence, curse song and bard song on a target, and provides immunity to those effects for one round. Useful to aid a silenced ally, or to remove a curse song effect. Be wary of removing your own bard song at the wrong time too, though!
Silver Tongue. Grants your target a bonus to persuade equal to your charisma modifier. Cast this on yourself to increase the effectiveness of your persuade skill.
Sticky Fingers. Grants your target a bonus to pick pocket equal to your charisma modifier. Cast this on yourself to increase the effectiveness of your pick pocket skill.
Ghostly Visage. Your number one escape spell - provides 5 rounds of etherealness (just like greater sanctuary) with 59 caster levels and Lsf: Illusion. Has no cooldown timer, so it's great for escaping and repositioning to a position of advantage. Can be extended, which increases the duration to 10 rounds, or one minute.
Endure Elements. 9% elemental immunity (10% if pure).
Deafening Clang. Adds extra sonic damage to your allies weapons. Has nice synergy with Amplify.
Iron Grasp. Casting this on an ally prevents some disarm checks. Worth extending to increase the relatively short duration.
Silence. Can be cast on a friendly summon or partymate providing him an aura which silences enemies, rendering them incapable of casting spells.
Clarity. Provides mind immunity for the duration of the spell, also removes any mind effects the target is currently suffering, such as a daze or stun effect. Also used to remove the Berserk status, which causes allies to charge headlong into battle whether it's wise to do so or not!
Bestow Curse. -11 Spell Resistence on enemies (-12 if pure). Also has the potential to drop their ability scores.
Displacement. Grants 55% concealment (with legendary spell focus Illusion) - ask your party who would like this. Generally those who will request it will be clerics, strength tanks and other classes who do not receive their own conceal or benefit greatly from Mass Camouflage.
Keen Edge. Applies the keen property to slashing weapons, which increased their critical threat range, making them crit more often and thus increasing party damage. Also works on non slashing weapons with Greater Spell Focus: Transmutation, or higher.
Remove Disease. Removes any diseases your party may suffer from. You can pick up all manner of nasty diseases from pre epic levels to level 60 areas, and none of them are pleasant! Using this spell can help you in a plethora of ways, from removing a strength drain, to preventing infernal insect larvae from erupting from your body. Yikes!
Remove Curse. Another type of malus which can cause you problems from pre epic levels to the very endgame - this spell will remove curse effects, from cursed items which cannot be removed by other means, to calling you back from entrappment in a maze spell!
Greater Magic Weapon. With ESF: Enchantment, provised a weapon buff granting +13 enhancement bonus for your allies weapons.
Shadow Conjuration. A versatile spell, which you can toggle to cast a number of different spells. These include Mage Armour, for buffing summons, Darkness, and Summon Shadow, which summons a shadow creature to fight for you.
Mass Cure Light Wounds. An area of effect spell which heals allies. Handy to cast on a group of tanks in melee. Based upon heal skill.
Break Enchantment. Removes bigby spells on the target, including epics after the caster is dead. Useful against Rakshasas.
Legend Lore. Grants a large bonus to your Lore skill.
Rainbow Pattern. A persistent aoe which acts as a trap; enemies running into the trap face a chance of being dazed.
Stone Shatter. An instakill spell for constructs; failing a fortitude save destroys them, whilst making the save still results in them taking sonic damage.
Ethereal Visage. A bard/mage's number one defensive buff. Provides concealment against attacks, damage soak and spell immunity dependant upon caster level. Also grants extra conceal based upon illusion foci. This build receives 80% conceal and level 6 spell immunity at level 60 (85% conceal if you're lucky to find an item which increases your caster level by +1). * Note. If you manage to attain a set of the Aria of the Unfaltering then you may wish to swap Ethereal Visage for Mass Cure Moderate Wounds instead.
Hearling Circle. Provides a personal aura which grants large amounts of regeneration to friendlies around you. Based upon heal skill. The duration is low, so extending (extend spell) is a good option.
Wail of Doom. Enemies targetted with this spell receive a penalty of -3 attack bonus, damage, skills and saves. Does not stack with prayer, so this is mainly useful when there is no one around who can cast it.
Greater Dispelling. Can be used to attempt to dispel enemies (which without abjuration foci, is unlikely). A more likely use is to be used as a universal counter spell for any spell of level 6 or lower.
Lesser Mind Blank. Similar to Clarity, however has a longer duration and provides a one time only immunity to some nasty mind effects which normally ignore mind immunity. Does not remove berserk status, as with clarity.
Mindfog. A persistent aoe which lowers enemy will saves if they fail an initial will save. This is very useful when your party has a Mage who likes to attack will saves (Enchanters or Evokers normally) or a Turner.
Energy Buffer. Useful self buff that gives resistence to all elements.
Shades. A versatile spell, which you can toggle to cast a number of different spells. These include Cone of cold (aoe cold damage), fireball (aoe fire damage), wall of fire (creates a small impenetrable stone barrier) and summon shadow (summons a shadow creature to fight for you).
Least Spell Mantle. A useful buff which renders you immune to spells as long as it is intact. It won't soak many spell levels though, so be prepared to recast it if there are a lot flung your way!
Ice Storm. An area of effect damage spell which deals cold and bludgeoning damage to enemies within it's range.
Summon Creature VI. Summons an elemental ally to aid you in battle.
Custom Epic Spells:
Possum's Farce (Illusion):
Grants an instant ressurection to your party members a few times per day should they die.
Hear Me Roar (Enchantment):
Protects against, and removes all silence and deafness effects within it's area of effect - on allies and enemies alike. Great for removing silence which is fflicting a party mate. Also great for removing the deafness effect from an enemy whom you would like to curse! This may not seem useful but it is very handy on a select few runs.
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken (Transmutation):
Provides a stat and skill check bonus to all allies within the area of effect versus knockdown effects. Useful from levels 41-60 and beyond.
Dirge of the Deathless (Necromancy):
Grants true critical immunity to all allies within the small aura around the bard. Those in the large outer aura receive critical hit reduction, which greatly reduces critical hit damage taken. This spell also provides feat level fear immunity, which works on a number of effects which item based fear immunity will not.
Calling of the Heart (Conjuration):
Summons an invincible helper which heals allies and curest them of negative statuses, picks them up if they get knocked down and also acts as something of a tank. This lasts just under 3 minutes, so use it wisely!
As you progress on Higher Ground, the chances are you will come across potential ways in which you can improve your character build - namely subrace improvements. Thankfully, due to the reincarnation system, you won't be forced into starting your character from scratch (although you might decide that would be fun to do!). These can come from a potential number of sources:
Secret Subraces. As the name implies, the means of obtaining these is a secret! However, ask in game for guidance.
Ultrarare Subraces.These drop in legendary areas as subrace books.
Beyond Ultrarare Subraces. As with Ultrarare subraces, but these only drop in level 55+ endgame areas, notably the Nine Hells, the five visitable layers of the Abyss, Elysium, Aboleths and Rona.
As a Bard, you have several options available to you in each tier of subrace. Here are some of the most beneficial for this build:
Siren (Secret). BC: Bard (20%). STR -2, CON -2, DEX +2, CHA +2. Free feat: Lingering Song, Extra Music. Breathes water, speaks Sirensong.
Chaos Gnome (Ultrarare). FC: Bard. Base SR 15 +1/lvl. DEX +2, CHA +4. Free feat: Spell Focus - Enchantment, Curse Song.
Shard (Beyond Ultrarare). FC: Bard. DEX +4, CON +4, CHA +4. Free feat: Lasting Inspiration, Extra Music, Lingering Song. Increased base movement rate - very fast.
Each of these subraces would provide significant upgrades to your character. In each case, the build would have to be slightly tweaked to be optimum.
This is one of a series of builds co designed by Xiayu and Excruciator, designed around a strong party backbone, including all "core" roles. Cores are classes which form the spine of a party, and, while it's not essential to have them all, you will normally have two or three of the four core classes in any party going to the Hells or beyond. Before that party requirements are a lot more loose, but it's good practice to realise the importance of core classes as early as possible.
The following links detail some other builds we liked to fit common and often requested party roles. They are all open race builds - take a look and see what you like!
Something I'd like you to comment on is the lack of spell penetration. The epics you chose are pretty nice but doesn't the lack of spell pen feats burn you later on? Spell pen start becoming a real factor as soon as you enter the desert. You do have an opportunity to use a spell penetration tome. Feel free to disagree. You certainly have the D/C to support yourself in this build. The healing spirit IS a pretty nice bonus.
The guide and formatting are nice. I was kind of hoping this was going to be a rapier wit bard tell you the truth. I'm going to let YOU comment on the spell pen thing and then I'll cast the final judgement on this.
This build is a support bard: its role is to keep party buffs up all the time and enemies debuffed.
I feel that bestow curse (-11 Spell Resistance) and Persuade (-6 Spell Resistance) is enough on this build to drop Spell Penetration feats, since it is not a real "caster" bard and the only spell you want to land on enemies is Wail of Doom. I prefer another epic spell instead, especially on an open subrace bard. (This is based on personal experience with my bard, never really needed it).
Since I wanted a build that focused on party support, I didn't even think about melee bard. Bard is a full time role: between debuffs (bestow curse, persuade, mords scrolls), healing and restores (mind blank, PT2, remove curse/disease, stone to flesh scrolls, etc) there is not really enough time to fight. Not only that, but rapier wit bards are much more reliant on gear than a support one, which doesn't seem like a good idea for a new player.
This, of course, is just my take on bard. I have been playing a very similar one for a really long time and I understand that not many people enjoy playing support based builds that get no damage or kills on runs but I still find it fun enough to play.
I have to back up Xiayu. The bard I have has epic spell penetration, but about the only offensive spell I use is Wail of Doom.
And while it is possible to play a melee bard it is also possible to play as full time support bard. There are so many things you can do to help your party that there can be very little time to do anything else.
I asked about the spell pen because most BUR builds of the same type take it. Her comments are valuable for players considering this build. She obviously plays this kind of a bard. But, the new player may be a bit dismayed at the lack of solo power in a largely support build. Definitely not my cup of tea, but I'm glad its on the forum.
Since I wanted a build that focused on party support, I didn't even think about melee bard. Bard is a full time role: between debuffs (bestow curse, persuade, mords scrolls), healing and restores (mind blank, PT2, remove curse/disease, stone to flesh scrolls, etc) there is not really enough time to fight.
Objectively speaking, all of the things other that you list could be done by other party members and/or aren't of great necessity. But, the fact of the matter is, if the bard doesn't do the more important things you list, they often don't get done, or are done with severe lack of haste. In short, the game has evolved in such a way that (i.e. the metagame is) that a nearly pure support bard not only is invaluable but arguably optimal. Whether it is fun or not is up to individual taste.