Baldur’s Gate 3 College of Lore Bard Build Guide – In this Baldur’s Gate 3 College of Lore Bard Build Guide, I’m going to cover my Bard Build for Early Access, and show 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 College of Lore 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 College of Lore Bard Build Guide
Unlike the College of Valour, College of Lore Bards don’t become as adept in Martial Combat since they aren’t endowed with certain Proficiencies. Their AC is generally lower and their Weapon choices are relatively limited. So instead of having several options to tackle enemies offensively in Combat, they need to be more careful to survive longer. However, despite this restriction, College of Lore Bards are more than capable of rising to the occasion by constantly buffing allies until they run out of Bardic Inspiration.
They also have numerous powerful Spells that can deal massive damage and incapacitate multiple targets due to their high Charisma. This Ability makes them get out of difficult dialogue situations unscathed since they’re able to trick NPCs so you’ll definitely want the College of Lore Bard in your party.
Baldur’s Gate 3 College of Lore Bard Character Creation
In this section, we’ll take a look at how to set up your Bard during Character Creation for the best results. You don’t have to follow this to the letter, and it’s likely this will change at the game’s full launch. 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 with Deception, Persuasion, Intimidation, and Performance. So you can pick the Criminal, Guild Artisan, or Noble.
For Race, you should seek out those that grant additional Charisma since it’s your Spellcasting Ability. Because of this, the first Race that works well for the Bard 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 Bard’s AC whereas Constitution raises max HP. Both of these should improve your resilience and survivability in combat.
Additionally, a decent Constitution improves the success rate of Constitution Saving Throws, which are necessary for Spells that require Concentration. As such, you should have 16 Dexterity and 14 Constitution at Level 1. You’ll notice that this setup is different from the College of Valour Bard, and it’s because, for this College of Lore Build, you’ll be wearing Light Armor all throughout. So the higher your Dexterity and Dexterity Modifier are, the better your AC will be. In this case, it’s going to be +3. Moreover, the Wood Half-Elf has Darkvision to enhance vision and therefore combat performance in the dark. You also gain access to enhanced Movement Speed and Stealth Proficiency.
The second Race to consider 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 those that fall under these Abilities is ideal. Dexterity has Acrobatics and Stealth. You’ll gain access to Sleight of Hand at Level 3, and I’ve already listed what Charisma Skills there are.
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. Next, Dexterity and Constitution are the Abilities you should focus on since you’re only proficient with Light Armor, which accounts for all of your Dexterity Modifier to boost 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 carry weight capacity and Skill Checks. Your Ability Spread should look something like this:
Baldur’s Gate 3 College of Lore Bard Level 1
As a Bonus Action, you gain Bardic Inspiration where you enthrall an ally with your 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 for now. In Baldur’s Gate 3’s combat, the bonus die will automatically be added to the target’s succeeding Attack Roll to increase their chances of hitting the enemy.
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 like 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 overwhelming you to push them away. However, be careful when casting Thunderwave if you have allies nearby because they will get caught in the crossfire.
Meanwhile, Dissonant Whispers is a powerful ranged Spell in which you deal 3-18 Psychic Damage and inflict Frightened against the target. In doing so, they’ll incur a Disadvantage on their Attack Rolls and won’t be able to move.
The next Spells to consider are Healing Word and Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. Healing Word lets you heal any party member you can see from a distance. Comparatively, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter leaves the target laughing like mad on the floor for up to 10 turns provided that you maintain Concentration. It makes them invaluable to their allies since they can’t do anything significant while Prone.
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 Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, but then you cast Dancing Lights next, you would stop “Concentrating” on Tasha’s Hideous Laughter 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 decent Constitution, otherwise, they’re 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 allows you to deal 1-4 Psychic Damage by hurling 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, you can substitute this for Light to infuse one mobile and resilient ally’s Equipment with an aura of light.
Baldur’s Gate 3 College of Lore Bard Level 2
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’re 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
Furthermore, you also gain Song of Rest that provides the party with HP as if you’ve triggered a Short Rest. If you have Wyll with you, then he’ll greatly benefit from this since his Spell Slots will be instantly replenished. With Song of Rest, you essentially save Short Rests for more critical and perilous situations.
From Level 2 onward, 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 College of Lore Bard Build, we won’t be unlearning Spells since the ones we’ve chosen are already essential in combat.
Here, you can pick Sleep, Faerie Fire, or Bane because they’re all good utility Spells. With Sleep, you’re able to affect several enemies or a single target as long as their collective HP doesn’t exceed 24. Doing so will let you focus on others. Faerie Fire prevents a target from turning Invisible while granting an Advantage on all Attack Rolls against them. And lastly, Bane imposes a 1d4 penalty on at most 3 foes’ Attack Rolls and Saving Throws, making their hits more likely to lead to failure. Just remember that Faerie Fire and Bane require Concentration.
Baldur’s Gate 3 College of Lore Bard Level 3
For this Build, we’re going to pick College of Lore, which grants Additional Proficiencies and Cutting Words rather than Martial Expertise provided by the College of Valour. Additional Proficiencies let you gain Arcana, Intimidation, and Sleight of Hand Proficiencies.
Meanwhile, Cutting Words imposes a 1d6 penalty on the target’s Attack Roll, damage, and Ability Check so there’s a high chance that their attack will miss or the damage they’ll deal won’t be as potent. At random moments, this lets you interfere with enemy attacks you can see, even against an ally, as long as you have a Bardic Inspiration charge.
At Level 3, you get to choose 2 more Skills that you’re already proficient in to further double their corresponding bonuses, allowing your success rate in Ability Checks to skyrocket. This makes roleplaying fun since you have much more control over the outcome.
Next, you’ll gain access to 1 Level 2 Spell. Here, you can select Cloud of Daggers or Shatter if you want to deal sustain or burst damage, respectively. Although Cloud of Daggers requires Concentration, it’s still incredible to have because the Spell can stay on the field for up to 10 turns. Here, you conjure daggers that continue to circle around and attack multiple adjacent enemies per round. As such, Cloud of Daggers is all the more useful in chokepoints like doorways. But note that it can also attack allies who are nearby so you need to be careful when positioning them.
Meanwhile, Shatter deals 3-24 Thunder Damage from afar.
Alternatively, you can go with Lesser Restoration if you prefer supporting the party because it allows you to remove any condition affecting them.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Level 4
At Level 4, you’ll gain another Level 2 Spell Slot as well as a Cantrip. Furthermore, you can pick a Feat, and here, 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. 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 pick Cloud of Daggers, Shatter, or Lesser Restoration, whichever you didn’t choose in the previous level.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Level 5
At Level 5, Bardic Inspiration has been further enhanced thanks to Font of Inspiration and Improved Bardic Inspiration. With Font of Inspiration, you can regain all Bardic Inspiration even after a Short Rest! I imagine this is going to be a game-changer in Baldur’s Gate 3’s launch since Long Rest won’t probably be as accessible as it currently is in Early Access. With Improved Bardic Inspiration, the bonus gained increases to 1d8 from 1d6. The same boost applies to Cutting Words.
As with the other spellcasters, the Bard gains access to 1 Level 3 Spell, and here I suggest taking Glyph of Warding. Glyph of Warding is an extremely potent offensive Spell that allows you to conjure circular glyphs on the floor whose effects will be triggered once the enemy moves so it’s more often than not, instant. You can choose from a series of effects including dealing huge 5-40 Fire Damage, Lightning Damage, or even pushing back everyone provided that they fail their Dexterity Saving Throws. But for the damage effects, remember that they’ll still take half the damage if they succeed with this roll. With Glyph of Warding, you’ll need to make sure that none of your allies are standing on the AoE, otherwise, they’ll also get hit.
When it comes to the College of Lore Bard’s Equipment, your Weapon Proficiency will remain the same. For safe measure and since you won’t be spending as much time in the melee range, you can equip the Longsword +1 or Rapier +1 together with a Light Crossbow. You’ll be casting offensive Spells and staying away from enemies as much as possible anyway.
In terms of Armor, you should wear the Spidersilk Armour, which you get after defeating Minthara in the Shattered Sanctum. This, together with your +3 Dexterity Modifier, should give you a total of 15 AC.
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. Alternatively, you can go for the Helmet of Grit from the Shattered Sanctum because this is another Light Armor. In case your HP dips to 50% or less, you receive an extra Bonus Action during your turn.
Lastly, there’s the Absolute’s Talisman that restores a portion of your HP when you deal damage as long as your HP is low.
From Levels 1 to 4, you’ll need to carefully manage Bardic Inspiration because it can easily be used up in challenging fights. It’s only when you hit Level 5 does this number increase to 4 and you’re able to replenish all of them upon taking a Short Rest. What’s more, is that Bardic Inspiration is a Bonus Action that doesn’t require Concentration so you’re able to cast a Concentration Spell in the same turn.
It’s worth remembering that Bardic Inspiration only lasts for 1 action. This means that the same character can reap the Attack Roll bonuses over and over again as long as you keep casting it on them, unlike Combat Inspiration, which is limited to 1 use before taking a Long Rest.
Lastly, none of the Bard’s Spells require Attack Rolls, meaning you won’t need to position yourself at least 2.5m above the target to gain the +2 bonus on High Ground. All Spells, even the alternatives, rely on either the enemy’s rolls to surpass the College of Lore Bard’s Spell Difficulty Class (or succeed in their Saving Throws) or maintain Concentration. In short, the higher your Charisma Modifier, the harder it will be to resist the effects of your Spells.
Stay tuned for more Baldur’s Gate 3 content as we update the other Builds, and be sure to drop by our Twitch Channel if you have questions about the game. If you need something specific, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 Wiki which is being worked on night and day!