Baldur’s Gate 3 Builds: Bard Class Guide – In this Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Build Guide, I’m going to be covering my Bard Build for Early Access, and showing you what I’ve found to work best. I’ll be doing more Build Guides at the launch of Baldur’s Gate 3, but for now, let’s look at how you can use a Bard effectively in the first Act of the game.
Best Bard Builds Features
- Abilities: Charisma, Dexterity
- Subclasses: College of Lore & College of Valour
- Unique Feature: Bardic Inspiration
- Spells: Support & Attack Spells
- Hit Die: +8 HP + CON Modifier per level
Baldur’s Gate 3 Builds: Bard Class Guide
Bards wield magic differently compared to other casters in that they seamlessly weave it into the captivating tales they tell and the beautiful tunes they play. Due to their high Charisma, they can easily inspire comrades while crippling foes in and out of Combat. Bards are also adept at protecting themselves from taking too much damage by casting buffs and improving the type of Armor they wear. Unlike Wizards of the Evocation School who focus on primarily casting offensive Spells, Bards often make use of crowd control abilities to manipulate the direction of the fight.
Because of their natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge, they always have the upper hand in any situation, making them a jack of all trades. Bards are proficient in Simple, Finesse, and some Ranged Weapons. Depending on their Subclass, they can either wear Light or Medium Armor.
Bard Character Creation
In this section, we’ll take a look at how to set up your Bard during Character Creation for best results. You don’t have to follow this to the letter, and it’s likely this will change at full launch of the game. However, this will hold you in good stead during Early Access.
For Background, I suggest taking the rest of the Charisma Skills since Bards need a good amount of this Ability for their Spells to land on targets and to bolster the success rate of dazzling NPCs in dialogue. These are Deception, Persuasion, Intimidation, and Performance.
For Race, your priority should be seeking out those that grant additional Charisma since it is your Spellcasting Ability. Because of this, the first Race that works well for the Bard Class is the Wood Half-Elf. Not only do you gain +2 Charisma, but you can also allocate 1 point each to Dexterity and Constitution, which are your next essential Abilities. Dexterity is a must in order to maximize the Armour Class (AC) of the Bard whereas Constitution raises their max HP. Both of these should improve your resilience and survivability in combat.
Additionally, a higher Constitution increases the success rate of Constitution Saving Throws, which are necessary for Spells that require Concentration. As such, you should have 14 Dexterity and 16 Constitution at Level 1. Dexterity is set at 14 to gain +2 Dexterity Modifier, which is enough when equipping Medium Armor. And you gain this Armor Proficiency upon choosing the College of Valour Subclass. Moreover, the Wood Half-Elf has Darkvision to improve your line of sight, thereby ensuring that Spells within a specific range will land on the targets. You also gain access to enhanced Movement Speed and Stealth Proficiency.
The second Race to consider for the Bard Class is the Human since you essentially gain +1 point for each of your Abilities. And last but not least is the Lolth-Sworn or Seldarine Drow since they grant +1 Charisma and +2 Dexterity together with Superior Darkvision to see and perform better in the dark.
Skills and Musical Instrument
For Skills, again, it’s not super important, but you’ll have high Charisma and Dexterity, so selecting Skills that fall under these Abilities is ideal. Dexterity has Acrobatics, Stealth, and Sleight of Hand, and I’ve already listed what Charisma Skills there are.
You can also choose from a variety of Musical Instruments such as the Lyre, Violin, and Lute, to name a few. This improves the way you cast Spells due to its entertainment value but these instruments shouldn’t impact your performance in combat.
Your primary Ability as a Bard is Charisma as it makes your Spells more effective. For this reason, you’ll want to invest at least 16 points into this Ability during Character Creation, and likely 18 later on. Other than this, Dexterity and Constitution are the Abilities you should focus on for better durability since you’re initially only proficient with Light Armor, which doesn’t significantly raise your AC.
You can then add points into Strength, Wisdom, or Intelligence but remember that it won’t matter as much since they don’t influence your Spells. However, it’s worth considering that they impact the outcome of your Skill Checks and carry weight capacity. Your Ability Spread should look something like this:
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Level 1 Bardic Inspiration, Spells, and Cantrips
As a Bonus Action, you gain Bardic Inspiration in which you enthrall an ally with your magical songs, thereby granting them a 1d6 bonus to their Attack Roll, Ability Check, or Saving Throw. You can use this Class Feature 3 times and replenish it by taking a Long Rest. In Baldur’s Gate 3’s combat, for instance, the bonus die will automatically be added to the target’s next Attack Roll to increase their chances of hitting the enemy. To be able to continually use this bonus, the Bard will have to recast Bardic Inspiration on the same character.
Bard Level 1 Spells
During Character Creation you’ll be given Cantrips and Spells to choose from. But unlike Wizards, you won’t have to “Prepare” Spells from a Known Spell List to use them. Instead, you learn a limited number of Spells, which are readily available not unlike the Sorcerer Class. As such, you have to be very selective about the ones you intend to learn since Bards don’t have access to ALL of their Spells.
At Level 1, you can select 4 of them. I highly recommend choosing Thunderwave and Dissonant Whispers as your offensive Spells. Thunderwave is a great AoE Spell that lets you knock back enemies, allowing you to potentially kill them. Due to its short range, you ought to use this against those who are moving close to you to push them away. However, be careful when casting Thunderwave if you have allies nearby because they can get caught in the crossfire.
Dissonant Whispers, on the other hand, is a powerful ranged Spell in which you deal 3-18 Psychic Damage and inflict Frightened against the target. In doing so, they will incur a Disadvantage on their Attack Rolls.
The next set of Spells to consider is Healing Word and Heroism. Healing Word lets you heal any party member you can see from a distance. Comparatively, Heroism is a new Enchantment Spell that provides a nearby ally with temporary HP for 10 turns while preventing them from being subjected to the effects of Frightened. But note that this requires Concentration.
Concentration is broken if you cast another Cantrip or Spell that also requires Concentration. You can tell which these are because it will say so on the Spell itself. For example, if you cast Heroism, but then you cast Dancing Lights next, you would stop “Concentrating” on Heroism and begin Concentrating on Dancing Lights.
If you take damage while Concentrating on a Spell, you must make a Constitution Saving Throw, and if you fail, then the effect of that Spell ends. Should you succeed in your Saving Throw, however, you maintain your Concentration and the Spell continues. This is why it’s vital for Bards to have a high Constitution because of the Spells that require this Ability and they are wasted if it’s constantly broken.
Bard Level 1 Cantrips
At Level 1, you’ll be able to choose 2 Cantrips. I highly recommend Vicious Mockery and Dancing Lights. Vicious Mockery is a new Cantrip that allows you to deal 1-4 Psychic Damage and hurl a series of insults against the target to impose a Disadvantage on their next Attack Roll. Meanwhile, with Dancing Lights, you can summon a wisp of light for allies who are not adept at seeing and attacking well in the dark. To avoid casting two Spells that require Concentration at the start, you can substitute this for Light to infuse one mobile and resilient party member’s Equipment with an aura of light.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Level 2 Class Features and Spells
Jack of All Trades
At Level 2, you gain Jack of All Trades, which lets you add half of your Proficiency Bonus, rounded down, to specific Skills that you do not have proficiency in. So in Early Access, you get a +1 bonus to say Perception, as long as you are not proficient with it. Jack of All Trades is a decent feature of the Bard because this turns you into an all-around character, making non-combat encounters relatively easier to deal with.
Song of Rest
At this level, you also gain Song of Rest that provides you and your allies with HP as if you have triggered a Short Rest. If you have Wyll in the party, then he will greatly benefit from this since his Spell Slots will be replenished. With Song of Rest, you essentially save Short Rests for more critical and perilous situations.
From Level 2 onwards, you’ll be able to unlearn and learn old and new Spells, respectively, via the Replacement Spell, similar to the Sorcerer. Unlearning a Spell lets you select what you wish to remove from your list. As a replacement, you’ll get to pick one Spell when you level up. Alternatively, if you want to keep your current list, you can simply ignore this feature and continue to learn new Spells. In this Bard Build Guide, we won’t be unlearning Spells since the ones we’ve chosen are essential in combat.
Among the available Spells, I suggest choosing Tasha’s Hideous Laughter to inflict continual fits of laughter against a target, preventing them from attacking or doing anything significant in combat since they’ll be Prone and Incapacitated. However, remember that this requires Concentration so you will need to balance it out with Heroism, depending on what your priority is.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Level 3 Subclass, Class Feature, and Spells
For the Bard Class, there are 2 Subclasses to choose from, namely College of Lore or College of Valour. Your decision depends on the feature you would like to focus on whether it’s Cutting Words or Combat Inspiration, respectively. With the College of Lore, you are pursuing truth and knowledge, letting you gain 3 extra Skill Proficiencies. In encounters, you can use Cutting Words to impose a penalty on the enemy’s Attack Roll, Ability Check, and damage by subtracting 1d6 from any of these rolls so there’s a high chance that their attack will miss or the damage they’ll deal won’t be as potent.
Comparatively, the College of Valour, which I suggest, grants essential perks that not only help the Bard survive longer but make them more equipped at martial combat since they gain Martial Weapon, Shield, and Medium Armor Proficiencies. What’s more is they can use Combat Inspiration, which improves Bardic Inspiration. Rather than only adding up 1d6 to an ally’s Attack Roll, Ability Check, or Saving Throw, they can choose to add this on their succeeding Weapon Damage Roll or to boost AC.
You must decide which among these actions should be taken by the target, that is if it’s better to improve their attack, do more damage with their Weapon, or enhance their defenses. Remember, however, that Combat Inspiration only lasts for 1 action.
At Level 3, you can choose 2 Skills that you are already proficient in to further double their corresponding bonuses, allowing your success rate in Ability Checks to skyrocket. This makes roleplaying fun since you are able to control the outcome, more often than not.
Next, a decent Spell to take is Phantasmal Force, which effectively deals 1-6 Psychic Damage every turn for 10 turns. What makes this Concentration Spell flexible is that if Gale, for example, were to cast Fire Bolt against the same target, Phantasmal Force’s damage type adapts. So rather than inflicting Psychic Damage in the succeeding rounds, Fire Damage will be dealt against them. This is a good Spell because it has the potential to automatically kill an enemy with low HP without needing to execute an extra action to do so.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Level 4 Feat and Spells
At Level 4, you’ll gain another Level 2 Spell Slot as well as a Cantrip. Furthermore, you can pick a Feat, and I highly recommend selecting Ability Improvement to raise Charisma to 18. As a Bard, you should prioritize boosting this as much as possible to improve the effectiveness of your Spells.
For the Cantrip, Blade Ward is good in cases when enemies get too close to you or your allies. What happens is the target gains resistance to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing Damage, thereby reducing the damage they take by half.
For the Spell, you can choose Lesser Restoration or Shatter depending on your focus so if you wish to support the party further, then Lesser Restoration is the better option in order to remove a Condition affecting them. Alternatively, if you intend to deal greater ranged damage, then pick Shatter to inflict 3-24 Thunder Damage.
When it comes to the Bard’s Equipment, you’ll most likely want a One-Handed Weapon with a Shield as an alternative to Thunderwave and another to deal ranged damage like a Light Crossbow since you have a decent Dexterity Score. For the One-Handed Martial Weapon, wielding the Steelforged Sword from the Blighted Village is sufficient to deal damage up close as it lets you deal 5-10 Piercing Damage together with Flourish to impose a Disadvantage on the target’s Attack Rolls.
For Accessories, you ought to prioritize the Cap of Curing, which can be obtained from the Gilded Chest near the Druid Grove. This is perfect for the Bard because it also lets you heal allies for a small amount of HP when you use Combat or Bardic Inspiration on them. Another decent Accessory is the Absolute’s Talisman from the Shattered Sanctum since this restores a portion of your HP when you deal damage as long as your HP is low.
The Bard is an amazing Class who is more suited for a support role rather than dealing massive amounts of damage. Between their buffs and debuffs, they are the perfect party member who can empower allies or wreak havoc upon enemies. With the College of Valour Subclass, you’re able to provide a ton of options to the party in terms of improving their attack, damage, or AC.
As a Bard, you’ll only need to manage Bardic Inspiration as this can easily be consumed in a single challenging encounter and it doesn’t increase in number when you level up. If you’re facing multiple enemies, be sure to use Combat or Bardic Inspiration to either enhance your party member’s hit rate or Weapon damage when battling it out against a specific powerful creature. Doing so will increase the chances of putting them down faster to end the encounter sooner. Luckily, there are no restrictions to the amount of Long Rests you can take in Early Access so as long as you have enough Camp Supplies, then you will always be ready to inspire allies with your melodies.
Lastly, remember that Dissonant Whispers, Thunderwave, and Vicious Mockery are your most potent Spells and Cantrip for most encounters because not only do they deal decent damage, but they also inflict a certain Condition or impose a Disadvantage on your foes.
Stay tuned for more Baldur’s Gate 3 content as we take a look at Classes and Builds, and be sure to drop by our Twitch Channel if you have questions about the game. Be sure to check our previous Builds, namely the Barbarian and Sorcerer! If you need something specific, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 Wiki which is being worked on night and day!