March 28, 2016

Divine Bard

Bardic College
Comments from the Finger: This was always a weird class variation from 3.5, and I'm still unsure why it was so notable. Regardless, the theme works exceptionally well in practice and, if you really want to play a cleric AND a bard, this is the subclass for you.

College of Divinity

Bards spin great stories and sing legendary songs. Yet some travel not to bring merriment among their audiences, but salvation. Bards that join the College of Divinity swear allegiance to a deity in much the same way a cleric does, dedicating themselves to the use of evangelism. From that moment on, their stories are those of the gods and their songs are those of the saints. Divine bards seek a better afterlife and a better world, and travel in much the same way as regular bards, but carry a far more uplifting message.

Bonus Proficiencies
When you join the College of Divinity at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with shields and the Religion skill. Also, you can use a holy symbol (found in chapter 5 of the Player's Handbook) as a spellcasting focus.

Sacred Spells
Beginning when you enter this college at 3rd level, you gain access to spells normally reserved for clerics and paladins. These divine spells count as bard spells for you but don’t count against the number of bard spells you know.

Divinity College Bonus Spells
Spell Level   Spells
1st bless, sanctuary
2nd augury, prayer of healing
3rd daylight, revivify
4th banishment, divination

Divine Inspiration
By 3rd level, you've learned how to rouse your allies with sacred visions. As a reaction when an ally that can see or hear you within 60 feet makes an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw, you can use your reaction to give that creature a Bardic Inspiration die, which it can use on that roll immediately.

Divine Strike
Starting at 6th level, once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d6 radiant damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d6.

Divine Intervention
By 14th level, you can petition the gods to directly intervene in the affairs of mortals. When a creature you can see within 60 feet rolls a 1 or 20 on an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw, you can expend a Bardic Inspiration die to swap a rolled 20 for a 1, or vice versa. After using this ability, you must complete a short or long rest before using it again.

Changelog: 3/28/16: Bonus Spells: Changed to progress with spell level, rather than bard level.


  1. Interesting subclass. One thing I was curious about, why are the bonus spells a level lower than those granted by other classes at a similar level? Other classes get bonus spells of the spell level they just unlocked, 2nd level spells at 3rd character level, 3rd level spells at 5th character level and so on. Also, most Bard features that allow extra spells, Magical Secrets and the similar Lore Bard feature for example, allow the Bard to choose their spells, albeit from any list. The bonus spells here stand out in that they offer no choice regardless of what deity your Bard might worship.

    What if this Bard had something like the Favored Soul does and instead of being forced into those spells they can choose a cleric domain and get the spells granted to that domain? Or better yet, let the Bard choose a single Cleric spell at the level they would gain a bonus spell. You don't get as many but you can choose which spells you pick up.

    1. @Spell Choice: I don't necessarily agree that this particular bard should be able to choose his bonus spells. It makes sense in the context of the College of Lore, which is all gaining tons of general knowledge, but this bard should specifically be tied town to generally cleric-y spells to enforce the theme. After all, the razor swings both ways on this: if we allow him to choose his own spells, there's no guarantee that the cleric spells he chooses will align with his character, nor is there a guarantee that the bard will select cleric-y spells (he could choose spells already available to him, or spells also available to wizards, for example.)

      As for the levels, I used the paladin spell progression as a template (which was almost certainly a mistake on my part.) I'll go ahead and change this progression to scale with spell level, rather than class level.

    2. This Bard would still be tied to "Cleric-y" spells with my suggestion, especially since those spells will still be coming from the Cleric list. It wouldn't be able to pick Wizard spells because those are on a different list. As for picking spells that are already available to the Bard, well, who cares? If a player wants to take Cure Wounds as a bonus spell and use their normal progression for something different, why shouldn't they?

      I still don't think allowing Cleric domains is going to hurt the theme of this subclass. If anything it should enhance it while still giving the player a choice in who their Bard serves and how it plays. I would replace the current Sacred Spells feature with something like this:

      "At 3rd level you swear allegiance to a deity and gain the power to spread that deity's gospel. Pick a cleric domain associated with your chosen deity. You gain the bonus spells listed in that domain at the level a cleric would gain them. These count as Bard spells for you and do not count against your spells known. You can not replace these spells as you gain levels."

    3. My goal for these spells are that they should give the class some iconic cleric tools, which is why everything on the list isn't already on the bard list. If I just make it an option to use the iconic cleric spells, then players have to go out of their way to get that dimension of the class.

      @Choosing spells from cleric list: When I say that you could get access to wizard spells, I mean you could get access to spells that are not iconic cleric spells, but are spells that are on both on the cleric list and on other lists. You could grab detect magic and dispel magic instead of bless and revivify, which is fine if you're choosing them to roleplay, but more people will use that choice for optimization.

      @Choosing cleric domains: How many cleric domain spells are actually iconic cleric spells? Won't this become exploitable if someone picks a domain that grants lots of non-cleric spells? I mean, the goal of this feature is to enforce the theme of the class, not to give you a free selection of new spells.

    4. @Powergaming: If your player's pick up the Divine Bard while worshipping a god of storms and don't pick up the appropriate domain but instead something contrary to their god because of the strength of the spell, then you punch them in the face. Like, seriously, this is homebrew. It is a possible option rather than something that is being offerd hands-down to everyone playing. A DM can always simply say, "No, you're not actually do anything in regards to your patron deity, so either shape up or change this to something else."

      @Iconic Cleric Spells: And what makes Daylight particularly 'iconic' for a bard that's playing the Divine Bard of a goddess of love, darkness, and trickery? Or Banishment for the god of fire and the forge? The list you have them getting access to right now isn't particularly iconic for anything other than an AD&D understanding of clerics, and would honestly strike me as less flavorful for a majority of gods that I would apply this archetype to.

    5. @Clerics:
      I get the feeling we're approaching the idea of a cleric from different directions. You've been describing a cleric as being necessarily associated with a particular deity, which the character should thematically associate with. In my mind, that's not a core part of a cleric, just a side-dish, if you will. For example, it's totally fine for a cleric to just be a cleric of 'good' or 'all the gods' in the rules; there's no restriction behind having a strong alignment with a particular god. My goal with this subclass is to blend some of the general cleric flavor into the bard, without forcing a load of specificity into it as well.

      But thematically, things can go either way, table-to-table. Some tables will demand a specific god association for any religious belief, others not.

      @Domain Spell Mechanics: Here's the real gist of the problem: it's a mechanical rabbit-hole, Derek. Allowing a general pick of cleric domains introduces a ton of spells to the bard class that this subclass not prepared to be balanced for. I didn't weight this feature to be particularly powerful, and if there's the possibility that this can yield far more powerful spells, I need to nerf the rest of the class just to account for that.

      Even if you comb the core cleric domains and determine them to be on-par for balance, there's no way for me to predict that domains released in future Wizard products (or even domains released on this blog) won't include spells that will make this subclass too powerful. There's just too many variables to predict for, and I'd prefer something I know can be balanced in the long run.

      Seriously, though: fantastic discussion and some amazing comments. If I can find a way to reconcile these different directions on the feature, I'm totally making it happen.

  2. On Divine Strike, is that only for melee attacks? I was thinking of using this as part of a caster multiclass, and it's useless to that. Maybe it could be changed to say "when you hit a creature with an attack" that way it could be equally useful for melee and casters.

    1. It's a weapon attack, meaning a ranged or melee attack made with a weapon. The current wording was taken precisely from the cleric feature of the same name, and it has the same intention: to buff weapon damage, not cantrip damage.

    2. Didn't realize that was a cleric feature, thought you had made it yourself. Thanks for the reply and explanation.

    3. It's all good. Hope you enjoy the class regardless

    4. It's all good. Hope you enjoy the class regardless

  3. I wonder how paladin(14)/bard(6) would synergise
    imoproved divine smite +1d8 radiant +1d6, plus whatever smites and divine smite you use I can see some fairly crazy combos there

  4. I knew there had to be some homebrew about fufilling the role of a pastor who suddenly starts roasting you mid sermon with vicious mockery ala "thou art a little bitch jacob, SO SAYETH THE LORD AMEN!" Thank you for having this.