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Bard Subclasses 5e & Colleges

Bards are one of my favorite classes to play. They have a fun mix of spells and utility as playable characters, and they make excellent support characters. Their ability set makes them extremely useful to have in the party, and they often can be the difference between victory and a Total Party Kill. 

The Bard’s subclasses are called Colleges. Each Bard College has a different specialization from spellcaster, stealth builds, and even melee builds. Whatever play style you’re going for, the Bard has a College for you. 

Complete List of Bard Subclasses

Here is a list of Bard Subclasses in 5e DnD:

  • The College of Lore
  • The College of Valor
  • The College of Creation
  • The College of Eloquence
  • The College of Glamour
  • The College of Swords
  • The College of Whispers
  • The College of Spirits

GameCows Ranking System

There are a lot of abilities and class features, and it can get rather confusing. Here at Gamecows, we’re going to use a simple ranking system.

  • GameCows Ranking: 1 – This ability or feature is extremely useful and a must-have ability.
  • GameCows Ranking: 2 – This ability is ok and generally useful in most situations.
  • GameCows Ranking: 3 – This ability is only going to be useful in certain situations. Only get it if you think it’s cool.

College of Lore

The College of Lore is one of the standard Bard Subclasses that can be found in the Player’s Handbook. It may not be the most exciting subclass, but it’s a tried and true option. 

Bards of the College of Lore pursue knowledge above all else. Maybe they are planning to perfect their magnum opus, pursue lost historical knowledge, or simply look for long-lost legends. 

To that end, they make excellent traveling companions. They’ve amassed a wide variety of skills, spells, and knowledge that can help out in any situation. 

Bonus Proficiencies: The College of Lore grants 3 skill proficiencies of the player’s choice at level 3. 

Cutting Words

GameCows Ranking: 1

Also at 3rd level, you learn how to use your wit to distract, confuse, and otherwise sap the confidence and competence of others. When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature’s roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage. The creature is immune if it can’t hear you or if it’s immune to being charmed.

Source: Player’s Handbook

This is the opposite of the Bard’s inspiration. Like a bardic taunt. It takes the extremely versatile inspiration dice and turns them into a weapon against the enemy. It can be the difference between life and death if you’re close to avoiding an attack or taking too much damage.  

Additional Magical Secrets

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 6th level, you learn two spells of your choice from any class. A spell you choose must be of a level you can cast, as shown on the Bard table, or a cantrip. The chosen spells count as bard spells for you but don’t count against the number of bard spells you know.

Source: Player’s Handbook

This is incredibly useful. The Bard can hand pick 2 spells from any class adding even more to their already versatile spell list. You can customize your bard even further by adding a specific damage spell or utility spell that can combat weaknesses in the party. 

Peerless Skill

GameCows Ranking: 2

Starting at 14th level, when you make an ability check, you can expend one use of Bardic Inspiration. Roll a Bardic Inspiration die and add the number rolled to your ability check. You can choose to do so after you roll the die for the ability check, but before the DM tells you whether you succeed or fail.

Source: Player’s Handbook

For the final ability of the College of Lore, the Bard basically can use their Bardic Inspiration on themselves. It’s not the most exciting 14th level ability, but when you absolutely positively need to pass an ability check, it’s extremely useful. It’s just not as cool an ability as you would expect from the Bard, which is typically a very boisterous class.

It’s useful. It’s just not really cool. 

College of Valor

Bards of the College of Valor travel and explore the world looking for tales of bravery and heroes. They know the best way to find these stories is to be with courageous warriors to witness their deeds firsthand.

The Bards of Valor heavily favor martial skills to better survive when seeking out heroic stories so that they can immortalize them in their works. 

The College of Valor is the second Bard College that can be found in the Player’s Handbook

Bonus Proficiencies: When choosing the College of Valor, the Bard gains proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons. 

Combat Inspiration

GameCows Ranking: 2

Also at 3rd level, you learn to inspire others in battle. A creature that has a Bardic Inspiration die from you can roll that die and add the number rolled to a weapon damage roll it just made. Alternatively, when an attack roll is made against the creature, it can use its reaction to roll the Bardic Inspiration die and add the number rolled to its AC against that attack, after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses.

Source: Player’s Handbook

Bardic Inspiration gets a bit of a boost. Now when inspired, the Bardic Die can be rolled to be added to weapon damage or AC to avoid attacks. It’s a nice little boost that gives inspiration more versatility. 

Extra Attack

GameCows Ranking: 1

Starting at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Source: Player’s Handbook

This is a nice bonus even if it’s not that exciting. However, it does force the Bard to become more of a melee fighter in the long run. 

Battle Magic

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 14th level, you have mastered the art of weaving spellcasting and weapon use into a single harmonious act. When you use your action to cast a bard spell, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.

Source: Player’s Handbook

This is really useful. Especially when combined with the War Caster Feat. The Bard can spam a Cantrip or higher spell and then make an attack at the same time. This is actually pretty devastating if used smartly. 

College of Creation

When the world was sung into existence the primordial song reverberated throughout the universe. The Bards of Creation revere this song and search out its existence in the world. The College of Creation allows the Bard to tap into that primordial song and create items out of thin air. 

This is the first of the Bard Colleges that can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Note of Potential

GameCows Ranking: 2

When you join the College of Creation at 3rd level, whenever you give a creature a Bardic Inspiration die, you can utter a note from the Song of Creation to create a Tiny mote of potential, which orbits within 5 feet of that creature. The mote is intangible and invulnerable, and it lasts until the Bardic Inspiration die is lost. The mote looks like a musical note, a star, a flower, or another symbol of art or life that you choose.

When the creature uses the Bardic Inspiration die, the mote provides an additional effect based on whether the die benefits an ability check, an attack roll, or a saving throw, as detailed below:

Ability Check. When the creature rolls the Bardic Inspiration die to add it to an ability check, the creature can roll the Bardic Inspiration die again and choose which roll to use, as the mote pops and emits colorful, harmless sparks for a moment.

Attack Roll. Immediately after the creature rolls the Bardic Inspiration die to add it to an attack roll against a target, the mote thunderously shatters. The target and each creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of it must succeed on a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC or take thunder damage equal to the number rolled on the Bardic Inspiration die.

Saving Throw. Immediately after the creature rolls the Bardic Inspiration die and adds it to a saving throw, the mote vanishes with the sound of soft music, causing the creature to gain temporary hit points equal to the number rolled on the Bardic Inspiration die plus your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1 temporary hit point).

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Note of Potential improves upon the Bard’s Inspiration Dice. It’s the most straightforward of the Creation Bard’s abilities and is actually pretty useful. Since Inspiration Dice are the Bard’s bread and butter, it’s always nice to get an added effect as well. 

Performance of Creation

GameCows Ranking: 3

Also at 3rd level, as an action, you can channel the magic of the Song of Creation to create one non magical item of your choice in an unoccupied space within 10 feet of you. The item must appear on a surface or in a liquid that can support it. The gp value of the item can’t be more than 20 times your bard level, and the item must be Medium or smaller. The item glimmers softly, and a creature can faintly hear music when touching it. The created item disappears after a number of hours equal to your proficiency bonus. For examples of items you can create, see the equipment chapter of the Player’s Handbook.

Once you create an item with this feature, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest, unless you expend a spell slot of 2nd level or higher to use this feature again. You can have only one item created by this feature at a time; if you use this action and already have an item from this feature, the first one immediately vanishes.

The size of the item you can create with this feature increases by one size category when you reach 6th level (Large) and 14th level (Huge).

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This is a bit of an odd ability. The Bard can create inanimate objects of varying degrees. It can be useful in certain situations, but probably the best use of this would be the ability to create spell components that are hard to find for spellcasters. 

Animating Performance

GameCows Ranking: 3

By 6th level, as an action, you can target a Large or smaller non magical item you can see within 30 feet of you and animate it. The animate item uses the Dancing Item stat block, which uses your proficiency bonus (PB). The item is friendly to you and your companions and obeys your commands. It lives for 1 hour, until it is reduced to 0 hit points, or until you die.

In combat, the item shares your initiative count, but it takes its turn immediately after yours. It can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it to take another action. That action can be one in its stat block or some other action. If you are incapacitated, the item can take any action of its choice, not just Dodge.

When you use your Bardic Inspiration feature, you can command the item as part of the same bonus action you use for Bardic Inspiration.

Once you animate an item with this feature, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest, unless you expend a spell slot of 3rd level or higher to use this feature again. You can have only one item animated by this feature at a time; if you use this action and already have a dancing item from this feature, the first one immediately becomes inanimate.

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This is another spell that has limited use unless the player is particularly clever. It’s one of the cooler things the Creation Bard can do, though. Having the ability to animate an item as a usable creature is extremely beneficial, but it’s just not as powerful as some of the other options. 

Creative Crescendo

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 14th level, when you use your Performance of Creation feature, you can create more than one item at once. The number of items equals your Charisma modifier (minimum of two items). If you create an item that would exceed that number, you choose which of the previously created items disappears. Only one of these items can be of the maximum size you can create; the rest must be Small or Tiny.

You are no longer limited by gp value when creating items with Performance of Creation.

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This improves the Creation Bard’s ability to create items and allows them to make even more items. If the DM allows it the Creation Bard can create some seriously destructive weapons. Maybe they create a cannon that’s ready to fire or some other firearm. If there’s no firearm, maybe a catapult or ballista. It’s a class that’s usefulness isn’t readily apparent, but it’s one where a creative player can create some unintentional destruction. 

College of Eloquence

The Bards of the College of Eloquence would be completely at home on stage at the Globe Theater or in the midst of high society. They use their words as a weapon and are able to manipulate and change the course of history with words instead of swords. They focus heavily on their Bardic Inspiration Dice. 

The College of Eloquence was first seen in the Mythic Odysseys of Theros but was later reprinted in Tashas’ Cauldron of Everything

Silver Tongue

GameCows Ranking: 3

Starting at 3rd level, you are a master at saying the right thing at the right time. When you make a Charisma (Persuasion) or Charisma (Deception) check, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10.

Source: Mythic Odysseys of Theros, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This is a nice ability but honestly has very limited use. The bard should have a high Charisma, but taking 10 on a charisma check isn’t the most exciting ability. 

Unsettling Words

GameCows Ranking: 2

Also at 3rd level, you can spin words laced with magic that unsettle a creature and cause it to doubt itself. As a bonus action, you can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration and choose one creature you can see within 60 feet of you. Roll the Bardic Inspiration die. The creature must subtract the number rolled from the next saving throw it makes before the start of your next turn.

Source: Mythic Odysseys of Theros, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This is one of those nice-to-have abilities. Some of the other Bard Colleges boost the Bardic Inspiration dice in multiple ways. Unsettling Words only lets the player use it for saving throws which again is more limited. 

Unfailing Inspiration

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 6th level, your inspiring words are so persuasive that others feel driven to succeed. When a creature adds one of your Bardic Inspiration dice to its ability check, attack roll, or saving throw and the roll fails, the creature can keep the Bardic Inspiration die.

Source: Mythic Odysseys of Theros, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This is a fantastic buff to Bardic Inspiration. Players shouldn’t have any fear in using their Inspiration dice. It ensures that no matter when a die is used it’ll at least be useful. 

Universal Speech

GameCows Ranking: 3

Also at 6th level, you have gained the ability to make your speech intelligible to any creature. As an action, choose one or more creatures within 60 feet of you, up to a number equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one creature). The chosen creatures can magically understand you, regardless of the language you speak, for 1 hour.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest, unless you expend a spell slot to use it again.

Source: Mythic Odysseys of Theros, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This is a fun RP ability. It negates the need to learn different languages and always puts an interpreter in your party. It can be useful in combat situations if you can talk your way out of a fight, but since the Bard already gets Unfailing Inspiration at level 6, it’s nice to get an RP ability in the mix as well. 

Infectious Inspiration

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 14th level, when you successfully inspire someone, the power of your eloquence can now spread to someone else. When a creature within 60 feet of you adds one of your Bardic Inspiration dice to its ability check, attack roll, or saving throw and the roll succeeds, you can use your reaction to encourage a different creature (other than yourself) that can hear you within 60 feet of you, giving it a Bardic Inspiration die without expending any of your Bardic Inspiration uses.

You can use this reaction a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Source: Mythic Odysseys of Theros, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This is an awesome ability. Extra uses of inspiration and it doesn’t require the player to actually do anything to use. This is a fantastic way to make use of the Bard’s upgraded Inspiration Dice. 

College of Glamour

Bards of the College of Glamour have spent time in the Fey realm or were in close contact with the Fey themselves. Their performances draw upon the power of the Fey and are dazzling and horrifying at the same time. 

The College of Glamour infuses the Bard with powers of the Fey. The College of Glamour subclass can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Mantle of Inspiration

GameCows Ranking: 1

When you join the College of Glamour at 3rd level, you gain the ability to weave a song of fey magic that imbues your allies with vigor and speed.

As a bonus action, you can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to grant yourself a wondrous appearance. When you do so, choose a number of creatures you can see and who can see you within 60 feet of you, up to a number equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one). Each of them gains 5 temporary hit points. When a creature gains these temporary hit points, it can immediately use its reaction to move up to its speed, without provoking opportunity attacks.

The number of temporary hit points increases when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 8 at 5th level, 11 at 10th level, and 14 at 15th level.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

This is an incredibly useful ability, especially at level 3. The ability to gain extra hit points and throw all of your melee fighters into the middle of a fighter or pull them out is incredibly powerful and useful. 

Enthralling Performance

GameCows Ranking: 2

Starting at 3rd level, you can charge your performance with seductive, fey magic.

If you perform for at least 1 minute, you can attempt to inspire wonder in your audience by singing, reciting a poem, or dancing. At the end of the performance, choose a number of humanoids within 60 feet of you who watched and listened to all of it, up to a number equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one). Each target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be charmed by you. While charmed in this way, the target idolizes you, it speaks glowingly of you to anyone who speaks to it, and it hinders anyone who opposes you, avoiding violence unless it was already inclined to fight on your behalf. This effect ends on a target after 1 hour, if it takes any damage, if you attack it, or if it witnesses you attacking or damaging any of its allies.

If a target succeeds on its saving throw, the target has no hint that you tried to charm it.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

This is a fantastic RP ability. It can make an easy distraction as the party gets away, or it can be useful to gather information in a new town. 

Mantle of Majesty

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 6th level, you gain the ability to cloak yourself in a fey magic that makes others want to serve you. As a bonus action, you cast Command, without expending a spell slot, and you take on an appearance of unearthly beauty for 1 minute or until your concentration ends (as if you were concentrating on a spell). During this time, you can cast Command as a bonus action on each of your turns, without expending a spell slot.

Any creature charmed by you automatically fails its saving throw against the Command you cast with this feature.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

This is extremely useful. Being able to use the command action once per turn is incredibly useful when in the hands of a crafty player. 

Unbreakable Majesty

GameCows Ranking: 2

At 14th level, your appearance permanently gains an otherworldly aspect that makes you look more lovely and fierce.

In addition, as a bonus action, you can assume a magically majestic presence for 1 minute or until you are incapacitated. For the duration, whenever any creature tries to attack you for the first time on a turn, the attacker must make a Charisma saving throw against your spell save DC. On a failed save, it can’t attack you on this turn, and it must choose a new target for its attack or the attack is wasted. On a successful save, it can attack you on this turn, but it has disadvantage on any saving throw it makes against your spells on your next turn.

Once you assume this majestic presence, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

I really like this ability. It can really change the flow of a fight when every creature has to roll a saving throw each turn. Even if they don’t have a high AC, throwing Bards with a huge Charisma into the fight can throw off multiple attacks. 

College of Swords

The College of Swords is another Bard College that relies heavily on melee combat. 

The Bard of Swords turns swordplay and acrobatics into art. A Fighter may be able to use a sword efficiently, but the Bard of Swords can do so while garnering applause from an audience. 

The Bard of Swords can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Bonus Proficiencies: A Bard of swords gains medium armor and scimitar proficiency. Their weapon can also be used as a spellcasting focus for their Bard spells. 

Fighting Style

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 3rd level, you adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.

Dueling. When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.

Two-Weapon Fighting. When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

Blade Flourish. At 3rd level, you learn to conduct impressive displays of martial prowess and speed.

Whenever you take the Attack action on your turn, your walking speed increases by 10 feet until the end of the turn, and if a weapon attack that you make as part of this action hits a creature, you can use one of the following Blade Flourish options of your choice. You can use only one Blade Flourish option per turn.

Defensive Flourish. You can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to cause the weapon to deal extra damage to the target you hit. The damage equals the number you roll on the Bardic Inspiration die. You also add the number rolled to your AC until the start of your next turn.

Slashing Flourish. You can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to cause the weapon to deal extra damage to the target you hit and to any other creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of you. The damage equals the number you roll on the Bardic Inspiration die.

Mobile Flourish. You can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to cause the weapon to deal extra damage to the target you hit. The damage equals the number you roll on the Bardic Inspiration die. You can also push the target up to 5 feet away from you, plus a number of feet equal to the number you roll on that die. You can then immediately use your reaction to move up to your walking speed to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the target.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

These abilities are absolutely essential if the Bard wants to become of any use on the battlefield. They’re going to need a little bit of a boost since they don’t have the hit dice that other martial classes have. 

Extra Attack

GameCows Ranking: 2

Starting at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

This is always a useful ability. It’s not flashy, but you can never say no to extra damage.

Master’s Flourish

GameCows Ranking: 1

Starting at 14th level, whenever you use a Blade Flourish option, you can roll a d6 and use it instead of expending a Bardic Inspiration die.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

This is a great ability. It lets the Bard spread out their inspiration dice and still lets them use their abilities. 

College of Whispers

Everybody loves a Bard or a Gleeman. They bring joy and fun to whatever village or city they go to. The College of Whispers understands this and uses it to its advantage. The Bard of Whispers pops up and plays songs, but then uses their position to gain information to steal secrets and extort. 

The Bard of Whispers doesn’t have a lot of direct combat potential, but they have some of the most thematically horrifying abilities. It’s rather impressive what they can do when it comes to manipulation and blackmail. 

The Bard College of Whispers can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Psychic Blades

GameCows Ranking: 1

When you join the College of Whispers at 3rd level, you gain the ability to make your weapon attacks magically toxic to a creature’s mind.

When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to deal an additional 2d6 psychic damage to that target. You can do so only once per round on your turn.

The psychic damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 3d6 at 5th level, 5d6 at 10th level, and 8d6 at 15th level.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

At level 3, 2d6 is a lot of extra damage to deal your foes. In addition, it’s psychic damage which a lot of creatures don’t have resistance to. 

Words of Terror

GameCows Ranking: 3

At 3rd level, you learn to infuse innocent-seeming words with an insidious magic that can inspire terror.

If you speak to a humanoid alone for at least 1 minute, you can attempt to seed paranoia and fear into its mind. At the end of the conversation, the target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be frightened of you or another creature of your choice. The target is frightened in this way for 1 hour, until it is attacked or damaged, or until it witnesses its allies being attacked or damaged.

If the target succeeds on its saving throw, the target has no hint that you tried to frighten it.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short rest or long rest.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

The Whispers Bard has some really interesting abilities and this is a fun one. It has zero utility in combat, but frightening away a guard or causing a ruckus beforehand is extremely useful, and a bit of fear in your enemies is always useful in RP situations. 

Mantle of Whispers

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 6th level, you gain the ability to adopt a humanoid’s persona. When a humanoid dies within 30 feet of you, you can magically capture its shadow using your reaction. You retain this shadow until you use it or you finish a long rest.

You can use the shadow as an action. When you do so, it vanishes, magically transforming into a disguise that appears on you. You now look like the dead person, but healthy and alive. This disguise lasts for 1 hour or until you end it as a bonus action.

While you’re in the disguise, you gain access to all information that the humanoid would freely share with a casual acquaintance. Such information includes general details on its background and personal life, but doesn’t include secrets. The information is enough that you can pass yourself off as the person by drawing on its memories.

Another creature can see through this disguise by succeeding on a Wisdom (Insight) check contested by your Charisma (Deception) check. You gain a +5 bonus to your check.

Once you capture a shadow with this feature, you can’t capture another one with it until you finish a short or long rest.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

This is one of those abilities you come across in DnD that is truly horrifying. You murder a person and then steal their face to assume their identity. It’s useful for subterfuge and infiltration situations where the Whispers Bard can simply walk in and have most of the memories of the deceased shadow they’re wearing. It’s really creepy but really useful. 

Shadow Lore

GameCows Ranking: 2

At 14th level, you gain the ability to weave dark magic into your words and tap into a creature’s deepest fears.

As an action, you magically whisper a phrase that only one creature of your choice within 30 feet of you can hear. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC. It automatically succeeds if it doesn’t share a language with you or if it can’t hear you. On a successful saving throw, your whisper sounds like unintelligible mumbling and has no effect.

If the target fails its saving throw, it is charmed by you for the next 8 hours or until you or your allies attack or damage it. It interprets the whispers as a description of its most mortifying secret.

While you gain no knowledge of this secret, the target is convinced you know it. While charmed in this way, the creature obeys your commands for fear that you will reveal its secret. It won’t risk its life for you or fight for you, unless it was already inclined to do so. It grants you favors and gifts it would offer to a close friend.

When the effect ends, the creature has no understanding of why it held you in such fear.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

This is another great RP feature of the Whisper College, but will only be useful in combat as a setup beforehand. Again, a smart player will be able to blackmail key figures in order to manipulate NPCs where they want them to be. 

College of Spirits

Bards of the Spirit have deep knowledge of the spirit world. Whether it’s through their ancestors or some kind of shamanic spirits, the Bard can channel their power through their songs and abilities. 

Their primary strength comes from their ability to talk with spirits. It’s like a tarot reader, but they can also light you on fire with a spell. 

The Bard of Spirits can be found in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.

Guiding Whispers

GameCows Ranking: 3

At 3rd level, you can reach out to spirits to guide you and others. You learn the Guidance cantrip, which doesn’t count against the number of bard cantrips you know. For you, it has a range of 60 feet when you cast it.

Source: Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

This is a nice-to-have ability, but not really a game-changing ability. 

Spiritual Focus

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 3rd level, you employ tools that aid you in channeling spirits, be they historical figures or fictional archetypes. You can use the following objects as a spellcasting focus for your bard spells: a candle, crystal ball, skull, spirit board, or tarokka deck.

Starting at 6th level, when you cast a bard spell that deals damage or restores hit points through the Spiritual Focus, roll a d6, and you gain a bonus to one damage or healing roll of the spell equal to the number rolled.

Source: Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

Thematically, Spiritual focus is fun, but it’s also a decent boost to healing and damage. 

Tales from Beyond

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 3rd level, you reach out to spirits who tell their tales through you. While you are holding your Spiritual Focus, you can use a bonus action to expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration and roll on the Spirit Tales table using your Bardic Inspiration die to determine the tale the spirits direct you to tell. You retain the tale in mind until you bestow the tale’s effect or you finish a short or long rest.

You can use an action to choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you (this can be you) to be the target of the tale’s effect. Once you do so, you can’t bestow the tale’s effect again until you roll it again.

You can retain only one of these tales in mind at a time, and rolling on the Spirit Tales table immediately ends the effect of the previous tale.

If the tale requires a saving throw, the DC equals your spell save DC.

Source: Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

Each of the tales gives the Bard a different ability. Tale of the Avenger adds a damage bonus when making attack roles. Tale of the Angel gives healing boosts. They’re all pretty useful and the wide variety of abilities is always a plus. 

Mystical Connection

GameCows Ranking: 1

At 14th level, you now have the ability to nudge the spirits of Tales from Beyond toward certain tales. Whenever you roll on the Spirit Tales table, you can roll the die twice and choose which of the two effects to bestow. If you roll the same number on both dice, you can ignore the number and choose any effect on the table.

Source: Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

This is a great boost to the Spirit Bard. It gives their spirit abilities a bit more leeway and takes into account a few bad rolls to make the ability more effective. 

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We hope you enjoyed this guide to the Bard Subclasses 5e, why not check out some of the other guides including Warlock Subclasses 5e, Monk Weapons 5e, and Summon Greater Demon 5e?

Bard Subclasses and Colleges in DnD 5e

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D&D Player’s Handbook
$49.95 $19.25

Buy on Amazon Buy at Noble Knight
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
12/09/2022 07:58 am GMT