Human Bard Guide (DND 5E)

The Bard class in Dungeons and Dragons 5E is incredibly versatile, with access to every skill, expertise, full casting, and a decent set of proficiencies. Bards can fill multiple roles in a party, ranging from support and magical options with College of Lore, to front-line melee characters with College of Swords and College of Valor. Bards excel as Faces and Scouts, Controllers, and Support casters. However, they tend to lack in damage output and durability. The emphasis on the Performance skill from previous editions has diminished, but it can still add fun and flavor to the gameplay.

Human Bard Guide (DND 5E)

Key Takeaways:

  • Dungeons and Dragons Bards are versatile and can fill various roles in a party.
  • Choosing the right Bardic College can determine the playstyle and abilities of the character.
  • Bards excel in skills, spellcasting, and supporting their allies.
  • Consider the race, ability scores, and starting equipment when creating a Bard character.
  • Optimize Bard spells and abilities to complement the desired playstyle and benefit the party.

How to Play a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons

Playing a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons involves utilizing their versatile abilities and skills. Bards can be effective in combat, diplomacy, and exploration, making them valuable assets to any adventuring party. When building your Bard character, there are a few key factors to consider.

Choosing the Bard College Subclass

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is selecting your Bard College subclass. This choice will determine the unique features and abilities your Bard gains as they level up. The College of Lore offers additional spells and magical secrets, making it an excellent choice for those who want to focus on spellcasting and support. On the other hand, the College of Valor or College of Swords provide combat-focused abilities, allowing Bards to excel in melee combat alongside their spellcasting abilities.

Maximizing Charisma

As a Bard, your primary ability score is Charisma. This governs your spellcasting abilities, as well as your skills in persuasion, deception, and performance. It’s essential to prioritize Charisma when assigning ability scores during character creation and leveling up. A high Charisma score will enhance your spellcasting effectiveness and make you more adept at influencing others.

Starting Equipment

When starting out as a Bard, your equipment can play a significant role in shaping your character’s playstyle. Bards generally have proficiency in light armor, which allows for increased mobility and access to spellcasting abilities. Consider equipping yourself with weapons that suit your desired approach. A rapier can provide a reliable melee option, while a longbow can allow for attacks from range. It’s also beneficial to have a musical instrument on hand, as Bards often use their musical talents to cast spells and enhance their abilities.

Choosing Spells

As a Bard, you have access to a wide variety of spells. When selecting spells for your Bard character, consider the party’s composition and the challenges you anticipate facing. Bards have a mix of enchantment, illusion, and support spells, making them versatile spellcasters. Choose spells that complement your preferred playstyle and provide utility to your party. Don’t forget to prepare spells each day based on the spells known and spell slots you have available.

“Playing a Bard is a dynamic and engaging experience. Harness the power of your versatile abilities, maximize your Charisma, choose the right starting equipment, and select spells that suit your playstyle. With these considerations in mind, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a captivating and influential Bard in your Dungeons and Dragons adventures!”

To assist you in understanding the key elements of playing a Bard, refer to the table below:

Aspect Considerations
Bard College Choose a subclass that aligns with your desired playstyle, such as the College of Lore or College of Valor.
Ability Scores Maximize Charisma to bolster your spellcasting and social skills.
Starting Equipment Equip light armor, a versatile weapon, and a musical instrument.
Spell Selection Choose spells that complement your playstyle, utility, and support your party.

By following these guidelines, you’ll have a solid foundation for playing a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons. Embrace your creative side, weave captivating tales through your performances, and watch as your Bard becomes a force to be reckoned with in any adventure!

Bard Spells and Abilities

Bards in Dungeons and Dragons are known for their magical prowess and versatile abilities. As full casters, Bards use their Charisma as the casting ability, allowing them to weave spells that shape the outcome of battles and interactions. With each level gained, Bards unlock new spells and expand their repertoire of magical capabilities.

One of the key abilities that sets Bards apart is Bardic Inspiration. This unique feature allows Bards to provide their allies with bonus dice on ability checks, attack rolls, or saving throws. The dice size increases as Bards level up, providing even greater support to their companions. Whether it’s bolstering a fellow party member’s strength or enhancing their defense, Bardic Inspiration is a versatile tool for turning the tides of combat.

Another notable Bard ability is Jack of All Trades. This feature grants Bards the ability to add half their proficiency bonus to ability checks they are not proficient in. This wide range of expertise allows Bards to be resourceful and adaptable in a variety of situations, making them valuable assets to any adventuring party.

As Bards progress in levels, they also gain access to the Magical Secrets class feature. This grants them the ability to choose additional spells from any class, further expanding their magical versatility. This unique ability allows Bards to tailor their abilities to suit their playstyle, whether it’s adding powerful offensive spells or unlocking utility spells that aid in exploration or diplomacy.

Bard Spells

Here are some examples of Bard spells that showcase their diverse magical abilities:

  • Dissonant Whispers: A spell that forces a target to flee in panic, dealing damage and potentially provoking attacks of opportunity from nearby allies. This spell combines control and damage-dealing capabilities.
  • Healing Word: A spell that allows Bards to use their magic to heal wounded allies, providing a crucial support role in keeping the party standing strong.
  • Suggestion: With this spell, Bards can charm and influence the actions of creatures, subtly persuading them to follow a course of action suggested by the Bard.
  • Thunderwave: Bards can unleash a powerful wave of thunderous energy, damaging and potentially pushing back enemies in a wide area of effect. This spell is perfect for crowd control and creating space in combat.

These are just a few examples of the diverse and impactful spells available to Bards. With their spellcasting abilities and unique class features, Bards can excel in a variety of situations and playstyles, making them a dynamic and engaging class to play in Dungeons and Dragons 5E.

Bard Races and Ability Scores

When creating a Bard character in Dungeons and Dragons 5E, choosing the right race can have a significant impact on their abilities and playstyle. Certain races provide bonuses to key ability scores that are beneficial for Bards. Here are some recommended races for Bards:

  1. Half-Elf: Half-Elves make versatile Bards due to their bonus to Charisma along with two additional ability score increases. This allows them to excel in spellcasting, social interactions, and other essential Bard skills.
  2. Tiefling: Tieflings also have a bonus to Charisma, making them strong choices for Bards. Additionally, their unique racial abilities, such as Infernal Legacy, can enhance a Bard’s spellcasting capabilities.
  3. Aasimar: Aasimar shares similar advantages with Tieflings, offering a bonus to Charisma and access to unique racial abilities that can enhance a Bard’s spellcasting or social skills. Their celestial heritage adds a touch of divine power to the Bard’s repertoire.
  4. Variant Human: Variant Humans can be powerful choices for Bards due to their bonus feat and flexibility in ability score distribution. This allows players to customize their Bard character even further based on their playstyle and desired focus.

These races provide excellent options for creating dynamic and effective Bard characters in DND 5E.


Bard Skills and Expertise

Bards in Dungeons and Dragons possess a vast array of skills, granting them proficiency in every skill available. This versatility allows Bards to excel in various abilities, making them valuable assets to any party. When creating a Bard character, it is essential to carefully select skills that align with the desired playstyle and complement their strengths.

One of the unique features of the Bard class is Expertise. This ability allows Bards to choose specific skills in which they can double their proficiency bonus, further amplifying their expertise. By specializing in certain areas, such as persuasion, stealth, or perception, Bards can enhance their effectiveness in key aspects of gameplay.

With their high skill proficiencies, Bards make excellent face characters, adept at gathering information and influencing non-player characters (NPCs). Their charming personalities and wide range of skills enable them to navigate social encounters with finesse. Whether it’s negotiating with a powerful merchant or charming their way into a secretive organization, Bards have the tools to become master manipulators and influencers.

Bard Skills Table

Skill Associated Ability
Acrobatics Dexterity
Animal Handling Wisdom
Arcana Intelligence
Athletics Strength
Deception Charisma
History Intelligence
Insight Wisdom
Intimidation Charisma
Investigation Intelligence
Medicine Wisdom
Nature Intelligence
Perception Wisdom
Performance Charisma
Persuasion Charisma
Religion Intelligence
Sleight of Hand Dexterity
Stealth Dexterity
Survival Wisdom

Whether dazzling audiences with their musical talents, charming their way through social encounters, or uncovering hidden secrets, Bards combine their skills and expertise to shape the outcome of their adventures.

Bard Backgrounds and Feats

Backgrounds are an essential aspect of a Bard’s character development, shaping their backstory and providing additional skills, equipment, and role-playing opportunities. Choosing the right background can enrich the narrative and enhance a Bard’s abilities. Some recommended backgrounds for Bards include:

  • Entertainer: This background is perfect for Bards who love to captivate audiences with their performances. It offers proficiency in the Acrobatics and Performance skills and provides a musical instrument as starting equipment.
  • Courtier: Bards with a flair for politics and diplomacy can benefit from the Courtier background. It grants proficiency in Persuasion and Insight skills, as well as knowledge of two additional languages.
  • Charlatan: Bards with a knack for deception and trickery can find the Charlatan background appealing. It provides proficiency in Deception and Sleight of Hand skills, along with forgery tools to facilitate cunning schemes.

Harnessing feats can also significantly enhance a Bard’s abilities and provide additional utility or combat options. Here are a couple of noteworthy Bard feats:

Inspiring Leader: This feat allows Bards to inspire their allies with their words of encouragement. By spending 10 minutes to deliver an inspiring speech, a Bard can grant temporary hit points to a number of creatures equal to their Charisma modifier + their level. This feat not only boosts the party’s survivability in combat but also adds a touch of leadership to a Bard’s persona.

Linguist: Bards who wish to expand their linguistic prowess can benefit from the Linguist feat. This feat allows a Bard to learn three additional languages, as well as to create, decipher, and understand secret codes. It adds depth to a Bard’s role-playing versatility and opens doors to diverse cultural encounters.

Backgrounds for Bard Characters:

Background Proficient Skills Starting Equipment
Entertainer Acrobatics, Performance Musical instrument
Courtier Persuasion, Insight Two additional languages
Charlatan Deception, Sleight of Hand Forgery tools

Notable Bard Feats:

Feat Description
Inspiring Leader Grant temporary hit points to allies with an inspiring speech.
Linguist Learn three additional languages and master secret codes.

Bard Weapons and Armor

Bards in Dungeons and Dragons have proficiency in light armor and a limited selection of weapons. While they are not typically regarded as front-line fighters, Bards can still hold their own in combat.

Light armor is the preferred choice for Bards, as it allows them to maintain mobility and easy access to their spells. This is crucial for Bards, as their spellcasting abilities play a significant role in their effectiveness.

When it comes to weapons, Bards have a few reliable options. The rapier and longsword are popular choices for Bards who prefer melee combat. These weapons provide good damage potential without sacrificing mobility.

It’s important to note that the Bard’s strength lies not only in their weapon proficiency, but also in their spellcasting and support abilities. Bards can enhance their combat capabilities through spells like dissonant whispers or heat metal, which can be devastating to their enemies.

Additionally, Bards can use their Bardic Inspiration feature to bolster their allies in battle, providing them with bonus dice on attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws.

Bard Weapon and Armor Proficiencies

Armor Weapons
Light armor Rapier
Simple weapons
Hand crossbow

As shown in the table above, Bards have proficiency in light armor, rapiers, longswords, shortswords, simple weapons, and hand crossbows. This selection allows Bards to choose the equipment that best complements their preferred playstyle and party dynamic.

While Bards may not possess the heavy armor or extensive weapon options of other classes, their versatility in spells and support abilities makes them a valuable asset in any adventuring party.

Multiclassing as a Bard

Multiclassing can open up exciting possibilities and enhance the versatility of a Bard character in Dungeons and Dragons 5E. By combining the Bard class with another class, players can create unique character combinations that suit their desired playstyle and bring new abilities to the table. However, careful consideration should be given to the synergy between the Bard class and the chosen multiclass option, taking into account the impact on Bard abilities and spellcasting.

When deciding to multiclass as a Bard, players should think about how the new class complements their Bard abilities and spellcasting. Some popular multiclass options for Bards include:

  1. Bard/Rogue: Combining with the Rogue class can give Bards access to increased skill expertise and make them exceptional at sneaking around and performing skill-based tasks. The Bard’s versatility in supporting the party and the Rogue’s finesse in combat can create a well-rounded character.
  2. Bard/Warlock: Multiclassing with the Warlock class can provide additional spellcasting options for Bards. Warlocks have a unique spellcasting mechanic and gain access to powerful Eldritch Invocations, which can complement a Bard’s spellcasting abilities and add more variety to their repertoire of magical capabilities.

It is important to plan out the levels and progression of the multiclass character to ensure a balanced and effective build. Mixing classes requires careful consideration of ability score improvements, spell slots, and class features. Balancing the levels between the Bard class and the chosen multiclass option is crucial to maintain the character’s overall effectiveness in combat, spellcasting, and other aspects of gameplay.

Remember, multiclassing as a Bard can bring exciting new possibilities to your character, but it requires thoughtful planning and understanding of how the classes synergize. Experimenting with different multiclass combinations can result in unique and captivating characters that bring a new level of versatility and flavor to your Dungeons and Dragons adventures.

Bard Magic Items

Magic items can greatly enhance a Bard’s spellcasting and abilities, providing additional powers and enhancing existing skills. These items can be crucial in elevating a Bard’s effectiveness in various situations. Below are some common magic items that are particularly beneficial for Bards:

Instruments of the Bards

Instruments of the Bards are enchanted musical instruments that grant extra spellcasting abilities and bonuses to Charisma-based rolls. These instruments resonate with the Bard’s magical abilities, allowing them to evoke powerful melodies and wield the power of music in their spellcasting. Different Instruments of the Bards offer unique benefits, such as additional spells or increased spell save DCs, enabling Bards to become even more versatile and captivating performers.

Mantle of Spell Resistance

The Mantle of Spell Resistance provides increased protection against enemy spellcasting. This magic item grants advantage on saving throws against spells, making Bards more resilient in combat situations. With this protective garment, Bards can better withstand the onslaught of magical attacks and maintain their focus on supporting their allies and casting spells that shape the battlefield.

Cloak of Displacement

The Cloak of Displacement enhances a Bard’s survivability in combat. When wearing this magical cloak, the Bard appears to be constantly shifting and wavering, making it difficult for enemies to land accurate attacks. The Cloak of Displacement grants disadvantage on attack rolls against the Bard, granting them an increased chance of avoiding damage and maintaining concentration on crucial spells.

These common magic items offer valuable enhancements to a Bard’s spellcasting, survivability, and overall effectiveness. By choosing the right magic items, Bards can further elevate their performance and become true powerhouses in any adventure.

Common Magic Items for Bards

Common magic items can greatly enhance a Bard’s abilities and spellcasting, providing them with unique advantages in their adventures. Here are some of the commonly sought-after magic items for Bards:

Hat of Wizardry

The Hat of Wizardry is a versatile magic item that allows Bards to expand their spell selection beyond their usual repertoire. By wearing this enchanted hat, Bards gain the ability to cast a few wizard spells, opening up new possibilities for their magical abilities.

Eversmoking Bottle

The Eversmoking Bottle is a handy magical tool that can create a continuous and thick cloud of smoke when opened. Bards can utilize this magical smoke for stealthy maneuvers, providing cover or distractions in various situations.

Pipe of Smoke Monsters

The Pipe of Smoke Monsters is another item that allows Bards to harness the power of smoke. When played by a skilled musician, this enchanted pipe can summon creatures made of smoke, adding an element of surprise and utility to the Bard’s repertoire.

Rhythm-Maker’s Drum

The Rhythm-Maker’s Drum is a magical instrument that enhances a Bard’s Bardic Inspiration abilities. When played, this drum imbues the Bard’s performance with an irresistible rhythm, providing even greater bonuses to their allies as they channel their inspiration.

Tongue-Up Flute

The Tongue-Up Flute is a fascinating magic item that allows Bards to understand and communicate with any creature that has a language. By playing this flute, Bards can bridge the gap between different beings, facilitating negotiations or gathering valuable information.

These common magic items can significantly enhance a Bard’s versatility and effectiveness in their Dungeons and Dragons adventures. By utilizing these enchanted tools, Bards can expand their spellcasting options, create distractions or cover, and enhance their Bardic Inspiration abilities, further solidifying their role as charismatic and talented performers.

Magic Item Description
Hat of Wizardry An enchanted hat that allows Bards to cast wizard spells beyond their usual repertoire.
Eversmoking Bottle A magical bottle that creates a continuous cloud of thick smoke when opened.
Pipe of Smoke Monsters A pipe that summons creatures made of smoke when played by a skilled musician.
Rhythm-Maker’s Drum A magical drum that enhances a Bard’s Bardic Inspiration abilities with an irresistible rhythm.
Tongue-Up Flute A flute that allows Bards to understand and communicate with any creature that has a language.

Rare Magic Items for Bards

Rare magic items are highly coveted by Bards, as they offer unparalleled enhancements and bonuses to their abilities. These powerful artifacts can elevate a Bard’s performance to new heights, granting them access to unique spells and empowering their spellcasting prowess. Let’s explore some of the rare magic items that are particularly sought after by Bards.

Instrument of the Planes

The Instrument of the Planes is a legendary magical instrument that opens portals to different planes of existence. When a Bard attunes to this item, they gain the ability to cast plane-related spells and create magical effects tied to specific planes. This extraordinary instrument expands a Bard’s repertoire, allowing them to summon creatures from other planes, travel swiftly between dimensions, and tap into incredible sources of magical power.

Staff of Power

The Staff of Power is a potent arcane artifact that greatly augments a Bard’s spellcasting abilities. This rare magic item serves as a focus for a Bard’s magical energies, bolstering their spells and increasing the potency of their magical effects. In addition to enhancing spellcasting, the Staff of Power also grants the wielder additional defensive capabilities, providing a shield against harmful spells and abilities. With this staff in hand, a Bard becomes a formidable force on the battlefield and an indomitable font of arcane power.

Mantle of the Second Skin

The Mantle of the Second Skin is a coveted item among Bards who seek to enhance their skills and survivability. This rare magic item grants its wearer extraordinary protection, rendering them resistant to various types of damage. Additionally, the Mantle of the Second Skin enhances the Bard’s natural charisma and charm, making their performances even more captivating and persuasive. With this enchanting mantle adorning them, Bards become both resilient warriors and irresistible socialites.

Mantle of the Inspirating Leader

The Mantle of the Inspirating Leader is a prized possession for Bards who specialize in support and inspiration. This rare magic item amplifies the Bard’s ability to inspire and motivate their allies, significantly enhancing the effects of their Bardic Inspiration. The mantle emanates an aura of charisma and inspiration, enveloping the Bard and their companions in an empowering presence. With this mantle donned, a Bard becomes the ultimate beacon of hope and encouragement, leading their party to victory with unwavering determination.

These are just a few examples of the rare magic items that can greatly benefit Bards in their adventures. Whether wielded for their spellcasting prowess, defense, or support abilities, these artifacts amplify a Bard’s unique talents and make them truly exceptional within their party.


The Human Bard Guide (DND 5E) provides a comprehensive overview of playing a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons 5E. Bards are versatile and adaptable characters, capable of excelling in various roles within a party. By selecting the right race, abilities, skills, and equipment, players can create powerful and engaging Bard characters. Bards have access to a wide range of spells and abilities, allowing them to contribute to combat, exploration, and social interactions. Whether supporting their allies with Bardic Inspiration or casting spells to control the battlefield, Bards bring charisma and creativity to every adventure.


What is a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons?

Bards in Dungeons and Dragons are versatile characters with access to every skill, expertise, full casting, and a decent set of proficiencies. They can fill multiple roles in a party and excel as Faces and Scouts, Controllers, and Support casters.

How do you play a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons?

Playing a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons involves utilizing their versatile abilities and skills. Bards can be effective in combat, diplomacy, and exploration. When building a Bard character, it is important to consider the College subclass, ability scores, and starting equipment.

What spells and abilities do Bards have?

Bards in Dungeons and Dragons are full casters, using Charisma as their casting ability. They have a limited number of spells known but can replace one spell known every level. Bards also have unique abilities like Bardic Inspiration and Jack of All Trades.

What are the best races for Bards in DND 5E?

Races that provide bonuses to Charisma, Dexterity, or Constitution can be beneficial for Bards. Some recommended races for Bards include Half-Elf, Tiefling, Aasimar, and Variant Human.

What skills and expertise should a Bard have?

Bards have access to every skill in the game and can excel in a wide range of abilities. When creating a Bard character, it is crucial to select skills that complement the desired playstyle. Expertise is a unique Bard class feature that allows them to double their proficiency bonus on selected skills.

What backgrounds and feats are recommended for Bards?

Backgrounds like Entertainer, Courtier, and Charlatan can shape a Bard’s backstory and provide additional skill proficiencies and role-playing opportunities. Feats like Inspiring Leader or Linguist can enhance a Bard’s abilities and provide additional utility or combat options.

What weapons and armor are suitable for Bards?

Bards have proficiency in light armor and a limited selection of weapons. While not front-line fighters, Bards can still hold their own in combat. Light armor allows them to maintain mobility, and weapons like rapiers or longswords provide reliable damage options.

How can you multiclass as a Bard?

Multiclassing as a Bard can provide unique character combinations and expand versatility. When multiclassing, it is important to consider the desired playstyle and how the new class synergizes with Bard abilities and spellcasting.

What are some recommended magic items for Bards?

Magic items like Instruments of the Bards, Mantle of Spell Resistance, and Cloak of Displacement can supplement a Bard’s spellcasting and enhance their abilities. Choosing the right magic items can greatly enhance a Bard’s effectiveness in various situations.

What are some common magic items for Bards?

Common magic items like Hat of Wizardry, Eversmoking Bottle, or Rhythm-Maker’s Drum can enhance a Bard’s abilities and spellcasting.

What are some rare magic items for Bards?

Rare magic items like Instrument of the Planes or Staff of Power offer more powerful enhancements and bonuses to a Bard’s abilities and spellcasting.

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