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    Bard FAQ by DonJarlaxle

    Version: 2.03 | Updated: 02/22/08 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer - Bard Guide
    By: DonJarlaxle
    Version 2.03
    Game Version 1.10
    I. Introduction
    II. Selecting Your Race
    III. Stats: Born to Rock
    IV. Skills: More Than Strumming Your Lute
    V. Serenading Yourself and Your Party (and Busting Your Enemies' Eardrums)
    VI. Feats: How to Make Yourself Someone to Sing About
    VII. Singing's All Good, But Can You Spell?
    VIII. Music Career Just Not Working Out?
    IX. Single-class Bards
    	A. Celestial Thunder
    	B. Drow Blade
    X. Multiclass Builds
    	A. Battle Caster
    XI. Contact Info
    XII. Version History
    XIII. Permissions and Copyright
    I. Introduction
    "You spoony bard!" -- Tellah to Edward in Final Fantasy IV
    Don't you just love the 1990s? You know, when 2nd Edition AD&D changed the Bard
    from pure Celtic-inspired badassness to a sad excuse for a Thief with the magic
    capabilities of a gimped Mage. Or when Japanese RPGs like the Final Fantasy game
    mentioned above mercilessly lampooned the class' 2nd Ed.-inspired reputation as
    a useless dandy by giving the Bard character the unique ability to run from 
    battle so that his allies could win the day.
    Come to think of it, the 1990s weren't that great. Well, in some ways, anyway.
    Okay, back on track. This Bard ain't so spoony. Neverwinter Nights 2 gives him
    a bevy of songs that he doesn't have in pen-and-paper D&D, immensely boosting
    his usefulness and overall power. Add to this the improvements he got in his
    skill point totals between 3.0 and 3.5, and you've got a worthy character class.
    With this FAQ, hopefully you'll really be able to make him scream.
    Some notes, though. This FAQ assumes that you've already read the manual and
    have at least a base understanding of the way character creation and levelling
    works. It also assumes that you at least have a base knowledge of how the skills
    work, how the feats work, and the benefits of each character race. If you don't
    have such basic knowledge, read the manual, read another FAQ (such as a
    beginner's guide or walkthrough), or just play the game some and learn that way.
    II. Selecting Your Race
    Bards need a little bit of everything, seeing as how they are still in the mold
    of that "jack of all trades, master of none." Charisma is the stat that is
    universally important, which means you want to shun any race with a CHA penalty.
    So don't even think about playing a Shield Dwarf, Duergar, Half-Orc, Tiefling,
    or Deep Gnome.
    Don't play a Half-Elf, either. Those are just useless. Now that we have the bad
    Bard races out of the way, here are the races that make good Bards.
    Best Bard Races:
    - Human: No stat bonuses, but no penalties, either. The best thing a Human Bard
    has going is the ability to multiclass without penalty. Besides that, the
    extra skill point per level (4 extra at 1st level) is great for the Bard, who
    always has a use for more skill points. The 1st-level bonus feat is pretty much
    - Aasimar: +2 to CHA allows him to get his CHA to 16 (ideal CHA for any Bard) at
    the beginning on a 1-for-1 point buy. Those free +2 to WIS are ideal to put into
    other ability scores that need it more, such as STR or DEX. Level adjustment of
    +1 isn't that big a deal. If you're going pure Bard, particularly STR-based,
    Aasimar is possibly the best choice because of these factors. Multiclassers
    beware, however: the Aasimar's favored class is Paladin, so, barring prestige
    classes, a multiclassed Aasimar will eat an XP penalty.
    - Drow: Would be the best pure Bard race hands down if not for that +2 level
    adjustment. As it is, he's got some competition, but he is still easily a
    top-tier Bard race thanks to that +2 to DEX, INT and CHA, three very important
    Bard stats, as well as that lovely natural spell resistance. The Drow's favored
    class is Wizard, though, so multiclassing a Drow Bard will have some nasty
    ***EPIC NOTE*** A DEX-based TWF-ing Drow Bard qualifes for Perfect TWF more
    easily (read: with less takes of Great Dexterity) than all other races.
    Other Good Bard Races:
    - Moon Elf: DEX bonus helps with Armor Class, which is always nice for a Bard,
    plus the free weapon proficiencies in certain martial weapons are handy.
    Favored class is Wizard.
    - Rock Gnome: Bard is his favored class, and sure enough, he makes a very solid
    pick, particularly for a DEX-based Bard. CON bonus is always good, and +1 to
    attack from Small Stature either makes up for his STR penalty or adds to a DEX-
    based Bard's prowess. The Gnome's affinity for the Illusion magic school is good
    for Bards, since some of their better spells are Illusion spells. The fact that
    Bard is the Gnome's favored class makes multiclassing easy, too.
    - Strongheart Halfling: Extra feat like the Human (though not the bonus skill
    points). Favored class is Rogue.
    III. Stats: Born to Rock
    Bards do need a little of everything, as mentioned before. They need STR to
    carry stuff and do melee damage, DEX for defense, since they won't wear heavy
    armor, INT for skill points, CON for hit points and Concentration, and CHA for
    spells. Bards are what is called a MAD (multi-ability dependent) class because
    they need good scores in several stats to excel, just like Paladins, Rangers and
    Monks all do.
    Still, when all is said and done, Bards fall into two types: STR-based and
    DEX-based. In other words, how they will hit things. For when it comes to
    combat, Bards, despite their many talents, are physical combatants, first and
    foremost. They are not full casters and should not be built as such. They are
    spellswords, using their spells and songs to augment their combat abilities and
    debuff or inflict status ailments on their enemies, rather than for direct
    So, with all that said, here is a rundown of each stat, and what they mean for
    Strength: Should be a positive modifier in any case. As mentioned before,
    Bards are either going to be STR-based or DEX-based (with Weapon Finesse and
    archery) in terms of how they will hit people in combat. So if you're going
    STR-based, you'll want to start with at least a 14 STR (higher if you can), and
    then boost this as much as you can with levels. A DEX-based Bard can get away
    with a 10, but no lower.
    Dexterity: Should be at least a 14 in any case, even for a STR-based Bard.
    You'll never be in heavy armor, so you want at least a decent DEX score (again,
    14 at least) to help armor class. Obviously, a DEX-based Bard is going to raise
    this as high as possible.
    Constitution: You don't want a negative modifier at all, and you want a positive
    modifier of some sort if you can spare it at all. That said, a 12 in CON is
    typically adequate. The benefits of a CON higher than that are slightly
    overrated and not worth giving up stat points in other key areas. Although if
    you find yourself able to take this to the highest score you can in a 1-for-1
    point buy (14 for most races), with everything else satisfied, go right ahead.
    Intelligence: You NEVER want a negative modifier in this stat. NEVER. And that
    goes double for Bards, who have a fantastic skill list and want as many skill
    points as possible to spend on it. Bards do get 6 skill points per level in
    D&D 3.5 (and in NWN2), so a 10 INT isn't quite as crippling as it was in NWN1,
    but still, you want a positive modifier in INT if you can get it. INT of 12 is
    getting warmer, 14 is even better, and if you can get a 16 without much pain,
    great for you. Bards will always have a use for more skill points.
    Wisdom: I don't like taking a negative modifier in this stat because I don't
    like lowering my Will save. But if you have to, this is the stat to take the
    negative modifier in. A Will penalty isn't quite as crippling to Bards as it
    is to some other classes because Bards get a high Will save progression. Still,
    only take a negative modifier if you have to. A WIS of 10 is preferable.
    Charisma: Assuming you're going pure Bard or close to pure, CHA should be 16.
    No more, and no less. Bards get up to 6th-level spells, and a CHA of 16 will
    allow access to the Bard's entire spell list. CHA doesn't necessarily have to be
    16 when you start, but it should be sometime before you're Lv. 16. You're not
    a full caster, so don't raise CHA any higher than 16 at the expense of your
    physical stats.
    Here are some sample starting stat lines. Obviously, you can adjust these to
    taste and necessity, but these typically follow the principles I outlined above:
    Human (STR-based): STR 14, DEX 14, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 15
    Aasimar (STR-based): STR 16, DEX 14, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 16
    Aasimar (DEX-based): STR 10, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 16, WIS 10, CHA 16
    Drow (STR-based): STR 15, DEX 14, CON 12, INT 16, WIS 10, CHA 16
    Drow (DEX-based): STR 10, DEX 18, CON 12, INT 16, WIS 10, CHA 16
    IV. Skills: More Than Strumming Your Lute
    Bards get 6 skill points per level in D&D 3.5 and in NWN2, which is two more
    than what he had in NWN1. Those two extra skill points are huge for him. Only
    the Rogue has more, and only the Ranger has as many. Moreover, the Bard's skill
    list is almost as extensive as the Rogue's. In many cases, it seems like even
    the Bard's upgraded skill points total in 3.5, even with a 14 INT, isn't
    Absolutely Essential Skills:
    - Perform: If you don't take this, pick another class to play. I'm dead serious.
    The whole point of the Bard is to take advantage of his inspirations and songs,
    and all of those are governed by his Perform score.
    - Concentration: Bards have spells that are round/level duration buffs, debuffs
    and disruptors, and some useful spells that are instantaneous effect. Which
    means that they will have to cast in the middle of combat. Concentration helps
    those castings from fizzling out when taking damage.
    - Use Magic Device: You are one of only three classes (Rogue and Warlock being
    the others) that can take this as a class skill. And you should take this,
    indeed, allowing you to use a whole bunch of items that would otherwise be
    closed to you, such as mage's robes, certain forbidden weapons, wands, rods,
    scrolls, etc.
    Very Useful Skills:
    - Spellcraft: Would be even better if counterspelling were in this game. As it
    is, gives a good boost to saves vs. spells and allows you to discern what the
    enemy is casting at you.
    - Tumble: Allows you to avoid Attacks of Opportunity when moving, which can be
    a lifesaver. Also gives a modest AC boost (+2 at 20 ranks).
    - Diplomacy and/or Bluff: Bards are one of the best role-playing classes in
    the game because of their compulsory high CHA, which enhances handy conversation
    skills like Diplomacy and Bluff.
    Other Good Skills:
    - Listen: Helps detect stealthed enemies. Synergizes well with the 1st-level
    Amplify spell.
    - Lore: Bards already get Bardic Knowledge, which is like getting a free point
    in Lore every Bard level. Taking ranks in Lore on top of that makes the Bard a
    true loremaster. Kiss the Identify spell and shop identifies goodbye forever.
    - Sleight of Hand: Some shopkeepers in the original campaign have some nice
    items you can pick off.
    - Hide and Move Silently: One skill without the other is useless, which is why
    they are mentioned together. Stealth is actually more of a nicety rather than
    a necessity for a Bard, especially in comparison to some of his other skills.
    It's also not as vital for a Bard as it is for a Ranger, Rogue or Monk, all of
    which tend to be better at the whole scouting thing. Still, you can make a
    decent stealth Bard if you wish. The fact that Hide and Move Silently are class
    skills for a Bard also helps when qualifying for prestige classes.
    Iffy Skill to Note:
    - Taunt: It is used in many conversations in the original campaign, and quite
    frankly, that is Taunt's saving grace. Its battle application is not nearly as
    useful as in NWN1, since the range is terrible, repeated uses do not stack, the
    penalties are crap compared to the myriad other debuffs Bards get, and it draws
    Attacks of Opportunity. Were it not for its double life as a conversation skill,
    it would be absolutely worthless.
    V. Serenading Yourself and Your Party (and Busting Your Enemies' Eardrums)
    Bards, by definition, are all about performance. And bardic music, more than
    anything else, is the heart of the class's power and utility. Songs and
    inspirations can swing the battle entirely off balance in favor of the Bard
    and his party.
    Bardic performance abilities are the main area where the Bard differs very 
    strongly from his pen-and-paper form, and it's all for the better. Much, much,
    MUCH better.
    Curse Song, which must be taken as a feat, is the ultimate debuff, inflicting
    huge penalties to combat abilities (and even free cheap damage) to all enemies
    in the area. Now, combine that with complementary abilities that can do things
    like boost the Bard's and his allies' combat abilities by as much as Curse 
    Song reduces those of his enemies, and the seesaw of combat balance swings
    Bardic performance abilities are split into two categories: Songs and
    Inspirations. Songs have a limited duration (Curse Song is under this category),
    often 10 rounds (can be lengthened with Lingering Song), and a limited number of
    uses per day. Inspirations, on the other hand, are always active, and they
    affect the entire party as long as they're close to the Bard (as well as the
    bard himself). However, a Bard can only have one Inspiration on at a time, so
    sometimes it comes down to a choice in a situation.
    The manual does not explain the songs and inspirations in great detail, so I
    will go into detail on each one of those, as well as comment on them:
    - Inspire Courage: Earned at 1st level. Gives bonuses to both physical attack
    and damage. +1 bonuses to start, +2 at Bard 8, +3 at Bard 14, +4 at Bard 20,
    and +5 at Bard 26. This is the Inspiration you will use most often in combat.
    It allows you and your allies to kill much faster and easier. Obviously huge,
    especially when coupled with a Curse Song.
    - Inspire Competence: Earned at 2nd level. Gives bonuses to your and your
    allies' skills. +2 to start, +4 at Bard 11, +6 at Bard 19, and +8 at Bard 27.
    You'll use this a lot in non-combat situations. Conversations, assisting the
    party Rogue with trap disabling and unlocking, assisting with crafting, etc.
    - Inspire Defense: Earned at 5th level. Gives dodge AC bonus to you and your
    allies. +2 to start, +3 at Bard 10, +4 at Bard 15, +5 at Bard 20, +6 at Bard 25,
    and +7 at Bard 30. You won't use this quite as much as Inspire Courage. I can
    see situations where it might be useful, but more often than not in this game,
    even in the more dangerous battles, the best defense is a good offense, so
    Inspire Courage is overall the better choice.
    - Inspire Regeneration: Earned at 7th level. Regenerates your and your allies'
    hit points by a given amount of points per round. +1 to start, +2 at Bard 12,
    +3 at Bard 17, +4 at bard 22, and +5 at Bard 27. This is THE Inspiration to use
    between fights and takes a HUGE burden off of your party's Cleric.
    - Inspire Toughness: Earned at 8th level. Increases your and your allies' saving
    throws. +1 to start, +2 at Bard 13, +3 at Bard 18, +4 at Bard 23, and +5 at Bard
    28. This one's not that useful. Stick with Inspire Courage.
    - Inspire Slowing: Earned at 11th level. All enemies that come within 20 feet of
    the Bard must make a Will save against a DC of 13 + half Bard level + the Bard's
    CHA modifier. If they fail, their movement is slowed by 15%. At Bard 16, that
    movement penalty goes to 30%. This effect does not reduce enemy number of
    attacks or give attack penalties. This one is useless.
    - Inspire Jarring: Earned at 14th level. All enemies within 20 feet of the Bard
    are inflicted with a -4 to Concentration and -2 to Will saves. This one can
    actually be pretty useful. The -2 to Will saves gives the Bard's enchantment
    spells a markedly higher rate of success (especially coupled with Curse Song),
    and the -4 to Concentration is very handy in fights against magic users.
    - Curse Song: Must be taken as a feat. The ultimate debuff in NWN1, and it's as
    good as ever in NWN2. It's great from the start and only improves with Bard
    level and Perform score. At Lv. 16 and with a Perform score of 25 (with skill
    bonuses and all, not just ranks), you inflict upon your enemies penalties of
    -3 to attack, -3 to damage, -3 to saves and -5 to their Armor Class, and for
    good measure, a free 20 points of sonic damage to all enemies. Ouch.
    - Countersong: Earned at 1st level with 3 Perform ranks. Gives spell
    resistance to you or an ally for 10 rounds of 10 + your Bard level. Obviously
    pretty useful against magic users.
    - Fascinate: Earned at 1st level with 3 Perform ranks. All hostiles within
    90 feet of the Bard must make a Will Save against a DC of 11 + half Bard level
    + the Bard's CHA modifier. If they fail, they are dazed for 10 rounds. If they
    are attacked or within 10 feet of an enemy that is attacked, they snap out of
    their daze. This song has a cooldown period of 10 rounds before you can use
    it again. This could be useful to freeze enemies before casting an enchantment
    spell (ex. Sleep, Fear) that more assuredly disables enemies. The DC is pretty
    good (especially after a cast of Curse Song), so in fights against larger mobs,
    you might want to throw this out.
    - Haven Song: Earned at 3rd level with 6 Perform ranks. This is essentially
    a Sanctuary spell with potentially far better of a DC than a Cleric can get.
    Enemies that want to attack the Bard must make a Will save against a DC of 11 + 
    half Bard level + CHA modifier to do so. This effect lasts 10 rounds. Any 
    hostile action cancels the Haven Song effect. The first Bard song you'll really
    love. It's great for buffing in the middle of combat, but even better when you 
    consider that SINGING IS NOT A HOSTILE ACTION. That includes Curse Song! And 
    Fascinate! Which means you can walk into the middle of a mob with Haven Song 
    activated, sing your curses, Fascinate the mob with a nice penalty to Will saves
    already in effect (add Inspire Jarring for extra success), then come out of your
    Haven by dropping your enchantment spell of choice.
    - Cloud Mind: Earned at 6th level with 9 Perform ranks. This is a more
    powerful, single-target version of Fascinate. The Will save DC the enemy must
    make is 14 + half Bard level + CHA modifier. Plus any enemies attacked near
    the dazed enemy does not snap the enemy out of the daze. The effect lasts 10
    rounds, and the song has a cooldown period of 5 rounds before you can use it
    again. I don't get much use out of this one, personally.
    - Ironskin Chant: Earned at 9th level with 12 Perform ranks. Gives you and 
    allies DR of 5/- (that's 5 points against all physical attacks) for 4 rounds.
    Not too useful, unless by chance you don't have a Wizard or Druid that can cast
    the more powerful and long-lasting Stoneskin on the entire party.
    - Song of Freedom: Earned at 12th level with 15 Perform ranks. This breaks
    all enchantments and curses on you and your allies with a check of a d20 + your
    Bard level versus a DC of 11 + caster level of the curse or enchantment spell.
    Obviously useful when your party is cursed or under an enchantment spell.
    - Song of Heroism: Earned at 15th level with 18 Perform ranks. This grants
    a single target (you or an ally) a +4 to AC, a +4 to all saves, and +4 temporary
    hit points per level for 5 rounds. This song has a cooldown of 20 rounds between
    uses. Obviously huge. With Inspire Courage in effect, this covers defense for
    one character, preferably the member of the party that is charging in headlong
    into danger. This is the first of two songs that REALLY justifies the
    importance of the Lingering Song feat, so it will last 10 rounds.
    - Legionnaire's March: Earned at 18th level with 21 Perform ranks. This
    affects you and all allies within 60 feet. It grants all affected a +4 damage
    bonus in physical combat, and in addition sets everybody's base attack bonus
    equal to the highest member in the party. The effect lasts 10 rounds, and there
    is a cooldown period of 5 minutes game time (300 seconds, or 50 rounds) between
    uses. This is pretty obviously a badass ability of epic proportions. With a
    full BAB character in the party (such as a Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin or
    Ranger), this song gets even better, making you fight as well as your ally. But
    this song has an enormous cooldown period between uses, so use it wisely.
    Lingering Song is an absolute must here, so to make this song last 15 rounds.
    Epic Singing (these are all epic feats):
    - Chorus of Heroism: Not really a separate song, but actually a seriously
    badass upgrade to Song of Heroism, making it affect the entire party all at
    once. Available as soon as you hit Epic levels. A note for multiclassers: You
    can still take the feat in Epic levels as long as you have 15 Bard levels
    (and Song of Heroism, of course).
    - Song of Requiem: Must have 21 Bard levels and 24 Perform ranks. It lasts
    5 rounds (10 with Lingering Song) and inflicts all enemies within 20 feet
    with sonic damage once per every round it is in effect. There is no save
    against it, and the only way to reduce or eliminate the damage is reduction
    or immunity against sonic damage. The total damage inflicted per round is
    equal to twice your Perform skill, and this damage is spread between all
    your surrounding enemies (minimum damage caused is Perform skill divided by
    3). For example, if your Perform skill is 30, your song can do 60 points of
    damage to one enemy per round. If you're surrounded by four enemies, it'll
    do 15 points to each surrounding enemy (60/4). If you're surrounded by six
    or more, it'll do the minimum 10 points to all surrounding enemies. Great
    reward for staying a pure Bard for 21 levels, turning you into walking
    - Hymn of Requiem: An upgrade to Song of Requiem that requires 30 Perform
    ranks (so you'll be a 27th-level character when you qualify). Multiclassers
    take note that your Bard levels can be as low as 21 to get this, though. 
    Anyway, this upgrade makes your Song of Requiem heal your party by as many
    points as it damages your enemies every round. Just as the damage was among
    your enemies, the total healing (Perform x2) is divided equally among you and
    your party members, and the minimum healing per character is Perform/3. Now
    your Bard is a healing siphon.
    VI. Feats: How to Make Yourself Someone to Sing About
    Your feat selection will vary depending on whether you're going STR-based or
    DEX-based. You might also want to focus entirely on combat, or focus more on
    your music's power and duration. Or you might want to take a metamagic feat to
    enhance the duration of your buffing spells.
    Five feats are just plain essential for every Bard no matter what his focus is,
    though, which are:
    - Luck of Heroes: Can only take at 1st level. This is THE defensive feat to
    take. Period. If you're going to take ANY defense-boosting feat at all,
    make it this one. And really, you should take it.
    - Curse Song: Just in case you forgot about it already. I just had to mention
    it again because it really is that damn good.
    - Blind-Fight: A lifesaver of a feat against Rogues and enemies that can cast
    Invisibility. Absolutely necessary to maximize offensive and defensive potential
    of any melee combatant, which all Bards are, in the end.
    - Lingering Song: Makes songs last 5 rounds longer. This is a gamebreaking bonus
    with some of the Bard's more potent songs that have a large cooldown period
    afterwards, namely Song of Heroism and Legionnaire's March. You can go for a
    while without this feat, but once you hit Lv. 15 and get Song of Heroism, this
    feat becomes a must.
    - Toughness: Gained in status thanks to the lovely Epic Resilience (described
    below), and this feat is a prerequisite for it. You can delay taking this
    feat until Epic levels if you need to.
    In Epic levels, Bards get a few more feats that are universally essential:
    - Chorus of Heroism: Just a *small* reminder that, yes, you'd better take this.
    - Song of Requiem: Described in the Songs section above. Just take it.
    - Hymn of Requiem: Described in the Songs section above. Just take it.
    - Epic Toughness: Toughness required for it. +30 HP is nice, but it unlocks
    the real prize of ...
    - Epic Resilience: Never worry about that damn natural 1 on a saving throw ever
    again. More important for Bards than most since many of your songs and spells
    boost saves.
    - Great Strength/Dexterity: Great for when you have nothing else left to take.
    If you're a DEX-based dual-wielder, you may have to take a few Great Dexterity
    feats if you're going for Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting.
    These Epic feats aren't quite as essential, but are still nice:
    - Epic Prowess: +1 permanent bonus to attack rolls. Why not?
    ***MANUAL ERROR NOTE*** The manual tells a few lies, and it apparently lies
    about Bards qualifying for the Epic Spells Mass Fowl and Epic Gate. Even with
    the prescribed Spellcraft ranks, those spells (which are taken as feats) are
    For Those Looking to Be Better Musicians:
    - Skill Focus (Perform): +3 to Perform score. One thing to note: the maximum
    Curse Song penalties require 16 Bard levels AND a Perform score of 25.
    If you have Perform ranks maxed out for Lv. 16 (19 ranks), plus a CHA of 16
    (max spellcasting and +3 modifier), and this feat, you get the Perform score
    of 25 naturally, with no other enhancements needed. This is worthy to consider
    in a multiclass build, particularly. Not that a jacked-up Perform score isn't
    valuable otherwise (Curse Song sonic damage can still increase past the
    16-25 penalties cap, plus there's Song/Hymn of Requiem that only gets better
    with Perform score).
    Metamagic Feat of Note:
    - Extend Spell: The only metamagic feat worth taking for a Bard. It's a worthy
    consideration, though. Extended War Cries and Greater Heroisms are as good a
    use of 5th- and 6th-level spell uses as anything else.
    Essential for STR-based *MULTICLASSED* Bards:
    - Battle Caster: If you get Medium Armor Proficiency from taking a Fighter or
    Barbarian level, this feat is a no-brainer to take. Casting in Mithral Full
    Plate with impunity is pretty damn sexy no matter how you look at it. I
    wouldn't spend on Medium Armor Proficiency (and by extension, Battle Caster) as
    a pure Bard, though. You have precious few feats, and those are really better
    spent elsewhere. Pure Bards should just be content with the still-pretty-nice
    Mithral Breastplate.
    Noteworthy STR-based combat feats:
    - Power Attack: Your source of cheap extra damage, especially if you wield a
    single non-finessable weapon in two hands, in which case your damage bonus
    doubles. And with the legion AB boosts Bards get, you can afford the -3 to AB.
    Required to qualify for Blackguard, if you're going for that.
    - Cleave and Great Cleave: Not as essential as some will have you believe, but
    far from as worthless as others will have you believe. It's in the middle.
    Also, some misunderstand how Great Cleave works. It does not necessarily require
    you to kill every enemy in one hit to get any use out of it. It simply removes
    the once-per-round limitation of Cleave. Say, you are a Lv. 20 Bard with 3
    attacks per round. On your first hit, you kill an enemy, so you Great Cleave an
    adjacent foe. You do not kill that foe with the Great Cleave, but you kill him
    with the second attack in your normal routine, which follows. You get to Great
    Cleave again. If you didn't have Great Cleave, you would not get another Cleave
    Attack after you killed that second enemy. As is evident, the hits can add up
    over time and make some battles against rather dangerous enemies easier.
    ***MOTB CAMPAIGN NOTE*** If the expansion campaign is your primary concern,
    I'll go ahead and tell you that Cleave (unless you're going for Blackguard)
    and Great Cleave are not worth it. The significance of these feats diminishes
    severely when even the "scrubs" can survive flurries of hits doing 35-40 points
    of damage each.
    Absolutely essential for a DEX-based Bard:
    - Weapon Finesse: Goes without saying. You have to hit in melee, and this is
    how you're going to do it when boosting DEX.
    Noteworthy DEX-based combat feats:
    - Two-Weapon Fighting (and Improved/Greater/Perfect versions): Two-weapon
    fighting is a pretty good choice for Bards because of the numerous damage
    bonuses they get from their songs and spells, all of which get added in full
    with each hit. With more hits per round, that's just more hits that the Bard's
    damage bonuses will take effect. Beware that Perfect TWF requires a DEX of 25.
    A Drow will get PTWF with a couple small sacrifices, but other races will
    Other noteworthy combat feats:
    - Weapon Focus: Not truly essential, but every bit of attack bonus helps.
    - Improved Critical: Too bad Bards can't cast Keen Edge. So that makes this feat
    worth a look. If you're travelling with a Wizard who can cast Keen Edge, you can
    skip this feat in favor of something else.
    Iffy (for STR-based characters):
    - Knockdown and Improved Knockdown: These feats were once hideously broken.
    Now, with the expansion, they're barely even worth considering anymore. I
    suppose that's a good thing, though. The expansion versions of these feats
    require an attack roll, and moreover, have a cooldown timer of 12 seconds
    (2 rounds) between uses.
    Avoid These Feats (They really do suck):
    - Extra Music: You get enough uses of songs as you level up. Four extra really
    doesn't make a difference in the long run.
    - Armor Skin: Luck of Heroes is better and is available at 1st level, rather
    than Epic.
    VII. Singing's All Good, But Can You Spell?
    Bards cast spells spontaneously like a Sorceror does. Which means that a Bard's
    repertoire of spells is limited to the spells he chooses to know with each
    level, but it also means that he can cast a given spell in a level as often
    as he has castings for that level. The Bard's knowledge of spells is very
    limited per spell level, so he must choose wisely.
    One thing people might not know about is the ability to switch out spells. NWN2
    follows the D&D 3.5 rules regarding this. At Bard levels 5, 8, 11, 14, 17 and
    20, the Bard may switch out one (and ONLY one) spell that he knows and replace
    it with another spell from that spell level. The spell switched out must be 2
    levels lower than the maximum spell level the Bard can cast.
    One general guideline: I wouldn't select the animal buffs as a Bard. At all.
    In 3.5, and consequently NWN2, those do not stack on top of the enhancement
    gear you will no doubt be decked in over the course of your adventures.
    Failing that, you'll have a Wizard, Druid or Cleric that can cast those spells
    as needed without being "committed" to them.
    Most of a Bard's useful spells are either defenses, offensive buffs, debuffs,
    or status effects and enchantments. The debuffs and enchantments are especially
    effective after you've popped out a Curse Song and Inspire Jarring to drop
    their Will saves like a rock.
    Bards actually got treated pretty well in the expansion, spells-wise, getting
    some nice extra options especially in their higher levels, where they were
    lacking before the expansion came out.
    Here are the noteworthy spells by level:
    1st level:
    - Sleep: The ultimate spell at low levels, while your enemies are below 5 HD.
    Cause mobs of enemies to fall asleep, then coup de grace them. Bada bing. At
    Lv. 8, you switch this spell out, since by then it's long since useless.
    - Amplify: Adds +20 to Listen skill, which pretty much defeats all attempts at
    stealth, especially since you already have Listen as a class skill.
    - Remove Fear: Just what it says. Keeps your party from running around
    - Joyful Noise: Immunity to silence is good for a spellcaster.
    - Grease: Good low-level battlefield control spell.
    2nd level:
    - Mirror Image: Great defensive spell that is useful throughout your entire
    - Heroism: A nice, cheap +2 to attack, saves and skills. Just one of the many
    boosts in melee the Bard gets.
    - Hold Person: Good enchantment against humanoids to make them die really
    - Curse of Impending Blades: New for MotB, this is a great spell. It inflicts
    a -2 penalty to an enemy's armor class, there is no saving throw against it,
    and it can only be removed with a Remove Curse spell. Rangers and Wizards can
    cast it as well, though, so if you have one of those in the party, you can 
    hold off on selecting it.
    - Cloud of Bewilderment: Creates a cloud that stuns and blinds for 1d6 
    rounds. Beautiful, if you can lay it down in a situation where it won't affect
    your party.
    3rd level:
    - Displacement: 50% concealment? Which means 50% miss chance? Yes, please.
    - Confusion: Possibly makes the enemy do the dirty work for you by killing 
    each other. Or they may just stand there. In any case, this is a great
    staple enchantment, and you get access to it at about the time Sleep stops 
    being useful.
    - Haste: Pretty much THE buff for 3rd level in terms of offense. However, if
    you're traveling with a Wizard, you might be able to get away with delaying
    or ignoring this spell. Still worth considering, though.
    - Mass Curse of Impending Blades: Same effects as its 2nd-level brother,
    except it affects multiple enemies. Great spell, but consider who you're
    traveling with before committing to it early, as Rangers and Wizards can also
    cast it.
    - Slow: Better than Inspire Slowing, at least, as it removes one attack
    per round from the enemy and inflicts an attack penalty.
    4th level:
    - War Cry: Not only do you get yet another nice buff to your melee ability
    in the form of +2 to hit and damage, but you can make everyone uncontrollably
    scared of you in the process. It's a wonderful combo buff/enchantment,
    centered around you.
    - Greater Invisibility: Turn invisible, then have some 50% concealment goodness
    after you've hit something. Woohoo!
    - Shout: A core Player's Handbook spell that just now made it into MotB (hah).
    Does 5d6 sonic damage, but more importantly, it causes 2d6 rounds worth of
    deafness if the enemies fail their Fortitude saves. Deafness causes 20% spell
    failure, which is fairly significant against spellcasters. Great against
    the arcane spellcasters, especially, since their Fortitude saves tend to suck.
    - Hold Monster: To freeze what Hold Person won't freeze. Enables coup de grace.
    - Freedom of Movement: Pretty much everyone that can cast spells can cast this.
    But it's still better than any of the 4th-level spells remaining after you
    selected the above.
    5th level:
    - Greater Heroism: Extra hit points and +4 to hit, saves and skills. Great
    - Mind Fog: Drops enemies' Will saves by -10 as long as they're in the fog and
    for 2d6 rounds after. Interestingly, tests the Will save to negate the effect.
    It's still a wonderful spell to lay out after a Curse Song or Inspire Jarring.
    Follow through with your enchantment of choice (War Cry, Confusion, etc.)
    - Ethereal Visage: The 20/magic DR is actually overrated, as everyone and
    his mother will have enchanted weapons by the time you get this. However,
    ironically enough, the immunity to 2nd level spells and below is underrated,
    as almost all the spellcasters' 2nd-level arsenals have some debuffs and
    enchantments that stay effective even on up into the middle and high levels
    (hell, even Rangers have the no-save-allowed Curse of Impending Blades in
    their 2nd-level repertoires).
    - Song of Discord: Confusion with a range of effect centered around the Bard.
    Also, since it's a 5th-level spell, it also has a +2 advantage on its DC
    compared to plain ol' Confusion (a 3rd-level spell). Not super-high priority 
    if you already have Confusion, but hey, it's better than the other 5th-level 
    spells left.
    - Greater Dispel Magic: Good against anything that can buff with magic.
    6th level:
    - Dirge: -2 penalties to STR and DEX per round for anyone who enters the
    centered area of effect around the Bard, unless they make Fortitude saves. The
    effects of this spell become a more real threat to melee enemies after a
    Curse Song.
    - Greater Shout: Like its little brother, it's a Core spell that was only
    introduced with MotB. Go figure. Anyway, it sure helps to fatten up the Bard's
    previously lacking 6th-level list. The deafness effect lasts 4d6 rounds and it
    does 10d6 sonic damage. It also stuns for one round, which regular Shout does
    not do, so this spell is good against melee and spellcasting threats alike.
    Fortitude negates stunning and deafness. Again, best used after a Curse Song.
    - Energy Immunity: Almost too good. Worth taking even with a Cleric or Wizard
    in the party, who can use their own 6th level spell slots for their other 
    spells, instead.
    - Superior Resistance: New for MotB. A flat +6 to all saves for one target, 
    either an ally or yourself. This one actually is worth a pick.
    VIII. Music Career Just Not Working Out?
    There is only one reason for cherry-picking a few levels of Bard: to get the
    Red Dragon Disciple prestige class for those cheesy Red Dragon Disciple
    builds. Since RDD is a whole 'nother animal altogether, this guide won't go
    into those. We're interested in Bard-dominant builds, here.
    Other than those RDD abberations, the Bard class is meant to be taken pure or
    close to pure. Note that in Epic levels, feat selection is accelerated to every
    two levels (21, 23, 25, 27, 29). *In addition* to that acceleration, pure Bards
    get a bonus feat at class levels 23, 26 and 29. And unlike in NWN1, these pure
    class bonus feats are *NOT* restricted to a list. They work just like the
    general feats do.
    Multiclassing a Bard should be limited to a few levels in any given class, for
    example, to get Martial Weapons Proficiency for Eldritch Knight or Medium
    Armor Proficiency for Battle Caster.
    Another common goal for a multiclass is to get 6 attacks per round by Lv. 30,
    which a pure Bard doesn't get. This requires a larger sacrifice, however. To 
    get the BAB of 26 that is necessary for 6 attacks, you need at least 14 levels
    total of full BAB classes in your build, so the most Bard levels you'd be able
    to get for that to work would be 16.  16 Bard levels gives you the maximum 
    Curse Song penalties. No Legionnaire's March, though. Boo.
    You shouldn't dip below 15 Bard levels in any build (when you get the Song of
    Heroism). The rest of your songs and inspirations are still quite powerful at
    that level.
    Good multiclass choices include:
    - Fighter: 1 level of Fighter gets you Medium Armor Proficiency for free,
    Martial Weapons Proficiency for free, and a bonus feat of your choosing,
    which essentially makes up for the Battle Caster feat you will no doubt
    select. It will also help you qualify for Eldritch Knight. A one-level cherry
    pick of this class is very good for an "almost" pure STR-based Human Bard.
    - Barbarian: Another 1-level dip class for a Bard that wants Medium Armor
    Proficiency, Battle Caster, Martial Weapon Proficiency, and possible Eldritch
    Knight progression. Instead of a bonus feat, gets faster movement and Rage, 
    and a couple more hit points. Some prefer this over a Fighter level.
    - Eldritch Knight: The chief class you'll use if you're going for 26 BAB and
    6 attacks/round, as it boosts both your BAB and your spellcasting. One 
    Fighter, Barbarian, Blackguard or Divine Champion level will qualify you for
    this. If you're trying for the 26 BAB Bard builds, you should typically go
    for at least the full Lv. 20 Bard spellcasting (for that, your Bard and
    Eldritch Knight levels must add up to 21). Beyond Bard + EK = 21, you
    won't get any new spells, but you will increase your caster level, which 
    determines how hard you are to dispel, durations of spells, and your ability
    to penetrate Spell Resistance.
    - Blackguard: Must be evil, obviously. "Black-Bards" with 3 levels of this
    class are infamous. Where to start? How about Aura of Despair? An automatic
    -2 penalty to all enemies' saving throws within 10 feet that happens to stack
    with Curse Song. Yeah, that's pretty nasty. Dark Blessing at this class' 2nd
    level adds your CHA modifier to your saves. Those abilities alone are enough
    to consider a 3-level dip in this class. But wait, it gets even better.
    Blackguards gain Medium Armor Proficiency and Martial Weapon Proficiency
    for free, which means you get easy access to Battle Caster and Eldritch
    Knight to make up for the two entry feats for this class. And since
    Blackguard is a prestige class, which does not invoke a multiclass XP
    penalty, this works in favor of Aasimar and Drow. It's also a full BAB class,
    so if 6 attacks/round is your goal, this helps you toward it.
    I could go into detail about delaying the 3rd level of Blackguard for a level
    where you get a feat to take Divine Might, and later Epic Divine Might
    (STR 21, CHA 21), but that particular path is best for certain RDD builds,
    not builds where Bard is the dominant class.
    - Divine Champion: Another potential Eldritch Knight qualifier, as you do
    get free Martial Weapons Proficiency, and it's a full BAB class. However,
    you do not get Medium Armor Proficiency, so Battle Caster isn't an option.
    It is a prestige class, so Aasimar and Drow can take this without a
    multiclass XP penalty, and only at the cost of taking a Weapon Focus feat,
    which isn't bad. Four levels in this class can be pretty good, as you get
    free bonuses to saves as well as a couple of bonus feats to be used for
    Blind Fight or Improved Critical. Don't go beyond four levels, though, at
    least not until Epic levels, where Epic Toughness and Epic Prowess get added
    to the bonus feat list.
    IX. Single-class Bards
    A. Celestial Thunder
    Aasimar is probably the best overall for this type of pure Bard, a
    STR-based build.
    Race: Aasimar
    Starting Stats:
    STR 16
    DEX 14
    CON 12
    INT 14
    WIS 10
    CHA 16
    Skills: Perform, Concentration, Use Magic Device, Spellcraft, Tumble,
    Diplomacy (and/or Bluff), Listen, Lore
    Background: Ladies' Man/Flirt
    Level progression (all Bard):
    1) Luck of Heroes
    2) Sleep (1st), Grease (1st)
    3) Curse Song, Remove Fear (1st)
    4) STR +1 (17), Mirror Image (2nd), Heroism (2nd)
    5) Joyful Noise (1st), Hold Person (2nd)
    6) Blind-Fight
    7) Curse of Impending Blades (2nd), Displacement (3rd), Confusion (3rd)
    8) STR +1 (18), Amplify (1st, replacing Sleep), Haste (3rd)
    9) Skill Focus (Perform)
    10) Mass Curse of Impending Blades (3rd), War Cry (4th)*, 
    Greater Invisibility (4th)*
    * Note that NWN2 lets you select the spells at these levels, but if your 
    Charisma isn't high enough, you can't cast the spell until the level
    after you selected it. For example, at Lv. 10 you're allowed to select 
    War Cry (4th-level). But unless you have a CHA of 18 (+4 modifier, 
    corresponding to the score where you get 4th-level bonus spells), you 
    can't cast it until you're Lv. 11.
    11) Shout (4th)
    12) Improved Critical (Longsword), STR +1 (19)
    13) Hold Monster (4th), Greater Heroism (5th)*, Mind Fog (5th)*
    14) Ethereal Visage (5th)
    15) Lingering Song
    16) STR +1 (20), (Whatever 1st-level spell), Song of Discord (5th),
    Dirge (6th)*, Greater Shout (6th)*
    17) Cloud of Bewilderment (2nd), Energy Immunity (6th)
    18) Extend Spell, Slow (3rd)
    19) Freedom of Movement (4th), Superior Resistance (6th)
    20) STR +1 (21), Greater Dispel Magic (5th)
    21) Song of Requiem
    23) Chorus of Heroism, Toughness (bonus)
    24) STR +1 (22)
    25) Epic Toughness
    26) Epic Resilience (bonus)
    27) Hymn of Requiem
    28) STR +1 (23)
    29) Great Strength (24), Epic Prowess (bonus)
    Final stats (no gear/buffs):
    STR 24
    DEX 14
    CON 12
    INT 14
    WIS 10
    CHA 16
    B. Drow Blade
    Sadly, you've got to make sacrifices, and in this build, that sacrifice
    is Luck of Heroes.
    Race: Drow
    Starting Stats:
    STR 10
    DEX 18
    CON 12
    INT 16
    WIS 10
    CHA 16
    Skills: Perform, Concentration, Use Magic Device, Spellcraft, Tumble,
    Diplomacy (and/or Bluff), Listen, Lore
    Background: Ladies' Man/Flirt
    Level progression (all Bard):
    1) Weapon Finesse
    2) Sleep (1st), Grease (1st)
    3) Curse Song, Remove Fear (1st)
    4) DEX +1 (19), Mirror Image (2nd), Heroism (2nd)
    5) Joyful Noise (1st), Hold Person (2nd)
    6) Blind-Fight
    7) Curse of Impending Blades (2nd), Displacement (3rd), Confusion (3rd)
    8) DEX +1 (20), Amplify (1st, replacing Sleep), Haste (3rd)
    9) Two-Weapon Fighting
    10) Mass Curse of Impending Blades (3rd), War Cry (4th)*, 
    Greater Invisibility (4th)*
    11) Shout (4th)
    12) Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, DEX +1 (21)
    13) Hold Monster (4th), Greater Heroism (5th)*, Mind Fog (5th)*
    14) Ethereal Visage (5th)
    15) Lingering Song
    16) DEX +1 (22), (Whatever 1st-level spell), Song of Discord (5th),
    Dirge (6th)*, Greater Shout (6th)*
    17) Cloud of Bewilderment (2nd), Energy Immunity (6th)
    18) Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Slow (3rd)
    19) Freedom of Movement (4th), Superior Resistance (6th)
    20) DEX +1 (23), Greater Dispel Magic (5th)
    21) Song of Requiem
    23) Chorus of Heroism, Toughness (bonus)
    24) DEX +1 (24)
    25) Epic Toughness
    26) Epic Resilience (bonus)
    27) Hymn of Requiem
    28) DEX +1 (25)
    29) Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting, Great Dexterity (26) (bonus)
    Final stats:
    STR 10
    DEX 26
    CON 12
    INT 16
    WIS 10
    CHA 16
    X. Multiclass Builds
    A. Battle Caster (Bard 29/Fighter 1)
    This almost-pure Bard adds a Fighter level, which allows easy access to
    Battle Caster. Must be Human to avoid a multiclass XP penalty. A variant
    of this is to take a Barbarian level instead, which results in one less
    feat (nix Extend Spell or Improved Critical in that case).
    Race: Human
    Starting Stats:
    STR 14
    DEX 14
    CON 12
    INT 14
    WIS 10
    CHA 15
    Skills: Perform, Concentration, Use Magic Device, Spellcraft, Tumble,
    Diplomacy (and/or Bluff), Listen, Lore
    Background: Ladies' Man/Flirt
    Level progression:
    1) Bard 1 - Luck of Heroes, Curse Song
    2) Ftr 1 - Blind-Fight
    3) Bard 2 - Battle Caster, Sleep (1st), Grease (1st)
    4) Bard 3 - CHA +1 (16), Remove Fear (1st)
    5) Bard 4 - Mirror Image (2nd), Heroism (2nd)
    6) Bard 5 - Skill Focus (Perform), Joyful Noise (1st), Hold Person (2nd)
    7) Bard 6
    8) Bard 7 - STR +1 (15), Curse of Impending Blades (2nd), Displacement (3rd),
    Confusion (3rd)
    9) Bard 8 - Lingering Song, Amplify (1st, replacing Sleep), Haste (3rd)
    10) Bard 9
    11) Bard 10 - Mass Curse of Impending Blades (3rd), War Cry (4th)*, 
    Greater Invisibility (4th)*
    12) Bard 11 - Improved Critical (weapon of choice), STR +1 (16), Shout (4th)
    13) Bard 12
    14) Bard 13 - Hold Monster (4th), Greater Heroism (5th)*, Mind Fog (5th)*
    15) Bard 14 - Extend Spell, Ethereal Visage (5th)
    16) Bard 15 - STR +1 (17)
    17) Bard 16 - (Whatever 1st-level spell), Song of Discord (5th),
    Dirge (6th)*, Greater Shout (6th)*
    18) Bard 17 - Toughness, Cloud of Bewilderment (2nd), Energy Immunity (6th)
    19) Bard 18 - Slow (3rd)
    20) Bard 19 - STR +1 (18), Freedom of Movement (4th), 
    Superior Resistance (6th)
    21) Bard 20 - Chorus of Heroism, Greater Dispel Magic (5th)
    22) Bard 21
    23) Bard 22 - Song of Requiem
    24) Bard 23 - STR +1 (19), Epic Toughness (bonus)
    25) Bard 24 - Epic Resilience
    26) Bard 25
    27) Bard 26 - Hymn of Requiem (bonus), Epic Prowess
    28) Bard 27 - STR +1 (20)
    29) Bard 28 - Great Strength (21)
    30) Bard 29 - Great Strength (22) (bonus)
    Final stats (no gear/buffs):
    STR 22
    DEX 14
    CON 12
    INT 14
    WIS 10
    CHA 16
    XI. Contact Info
    E-mail: elbrigadier@comcast.net. Suggestions, rebuttals, etc. to this FAQ should
    be titled, "ATTN: NWN2 Bard FAQ."
    XII. Version History
    Version 2.03 - Expanded the multiclassing and builds sections.
    Version 2.02 - Rewrote some stuff, added some sample Bard builds.
    Version 2.01 - Updated description of Knockdown and Improved Knockdown.
    Version 2.00 - Bumping up a full number for all MotB-compatible editions.
    	     - Added a few notes here and there.
    Version 1.00 (MotB) - First full MotB-compatible edition.
    Version 1.03 - Moved Version History to the end. Why? Because I don't think
    	       too many people care to read it.
    	     - Updated for game patch 1.04.
    Version 1.02 - Added notes about Knockdown and Improved Knockdown.
    Version 1.01 - Minor edits to multiclassing section.
    	     - Slight changes in philosophy in the feats section.
    Version 1.00 - First edition of the Bard Guide.
    XIII. Permissions and Copyright
    This FAQ will be hosted on the following sites:
    Permission to reproduce this FAQ must be granted by me, and will be granted on
    a case-for-case basis.
    (c) Drew Garcia, 2007, 2008

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