Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Guide – In this Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Guide, I’m going to be covering the Bard Class, including all 3 Subclasses, and providing you some useful information. I’ll be doing more Build Guides for Baldur’s Gate 3, but for now, let’s just look at how a Bard functions and its basics.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Guide Features
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Guide
Bards play a supporting role in many parties, but they can also handle dialogue effectively thanks to high Charisma, they can Lockpick and Disarm Traps thanks to decent Dexterity and lots of Skill Proficiencies, they can partake in melee or ranged combat quite effectively, and they can even cast some offensive spells if the need arises. In short, Bards are a bit of everything, and will likely find a home in any party you create.
Bards don’t choose a Subclass during Character Creation like some Classes, so every Bard starts with the same Class Features, and they will often take a Subclass that better fills the need of their party. Need more Spellcasting? Take College of Lore. Need more martial prowess? Take College of Valour or College of Swords. Bards have more flexibility than just about any Class in the game, and Bard Subclasses further illustrate this point.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Character Creation
In this Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Guide, we’ll take a look at how to set up your Bard during Character Creation for the best results. We’ll begin with Abilities first, since this is arguably the most important part, aside from choosing your Subclass.
Your primary Abilities as a Bard are Charisma, Dexterity and Constitution.
- Charisma determines how difficult it is for enemies to Save against your Spells, and it will improve Dialogue Skill Checks.
- Dexterity improves Armour Class, Initiative (which allows them to go sooner in combat), it improves Attack Rolls with Ranged and Finesse Weapons, as well as Damage with these Weapons, and improves Sleight of Hand, Stealth and Acrobatics.
- Constitution is there to help keep you alive via HP, and also to help you maintain Concentration on Spells like Cloud of Daggers, Faerie Fire, or Hold Person, should you get hit while Concentrating on them.
For this reason, I strongly recommend that you invest 16 in CHA and 16 in DEX during Character Creation. You can leave Constitution at 14 since you likely won’t play a full on martial character immediately, and even if you do, you will likely have another melee unit that helps to soak up the damage.
- STR: 8
- DEX: 16
- CON: 14
- INT: 10
- WIS: 10
- CHA: 16
Note I’ve changed this from the recommendations as it more optimizes your Character during the early goings of the game.
If you’re planning to go College of Lore then I recommend either Githyanki, Elf or Half-Elf. Githyanki provides the Bard with Medium Armour Proficiency they wouldn’t otherwise get, as well as Astral Knowledge, allowing them to gain Proficiency in one Ability each Long Rest. They will also gain Misty Step at Level 5, which can help with Bard positioning.
Elf is great for Perception Proficiency and Longbow Proficiency if you plan to use one. They also have Fey Ancestry, which provides Advantage on Saving Throws against Charmed, and Sleep Immunity. They also gain Darkvision, which can help land your attacks in dark places.
If you plan to go College of Valour or College of Swords Half Orc is not bad for Darkvision, Relentless Endurance, and higher melee Critical Damage than other Races, especially if you plan to play a melee focused Bard.
Half-Elf or Human is also good on College of Swords since they won’t have Shield Proficiency otherwise, and this allows them to go one-handed and shield if they want.
Drow is also not a bad idea for College of Lore or College of Swords, since you pick up Faerie Fire and Darkness as once per day casts at later levels, along with Superior Darkvision, Perception Proficiency and Fey Ancestry.
For Skills you’ll minimally want Proficiency in Persuasion, Intimidation and Deception, since you should be handling the dialogue in your group if playing a Bard, unless you bring Wyll along. You can use your Background to take Charlatan which will give you Deception and Sleight of Hand, but if you plan to go College of Lore you may want to select Guild Artisan for Persuasion and Insight, since you’ll pick up Sleight of Hand and Intimidation at level 3 automatically.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 1
At Level 1 Bards gain Bardic Inspiration, allowing them to bolster an ally’s Attack Roll, Ability Check or Saving Throw by 1D6 (1-6) as a Bonus Action, 3 times every Long Rest, but this will increase at higher Bard levels. Be sure to setup the Reactions of your party members to better utilize this, by hitting “L” and ticking everything to on and to “Ask”. Note that Bards cannot use Bardic Inspiration on themselves.
Bard Level 1 Spells & Vicious Mockery
Bards also gain Level 1 Spells along with two Level 1 Spell Slots and 2 Cantrips, including Vicious Mockery. Vicious Mockery can be used every turn if needed to make an enemy attack have Disadvantage, while dealing a small bit of damage, which can help protect your party members that may be toe-to-toe with a dangerous foe. Only Bards and Warlocks gain this Cantrip through progression, every other Class must take a Feat in order to acquire it.
Note that Bards don’t need to prepare their Spells, and can cast any Spell they know as long as they have the Spell Slot for it, but they learn fewer Spells than some other Spellcasters.
|Bard Level||Lvl 1 Spell Slots||Lvl 2 Spell Slots||Lvl 3 Spell Slots||Lvl 4 Spell Slots||Lvl 5 Spell Slots||Lvl 6 Spell Slots|
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 2
Level 2 Bards gain half their Proficiency Bonus rounded down to all Skills they aren’t Proficient in, making them even better at more Skill Checks. This will be +1 until level 9, where it will increase to +2.
Bards can also use Song of Rest to provide the effects of a Short Rest to the entire party, replenishing HP and recharging any Class Features that recharge on Short Rest for all party members. This is great when running a party that benefits a lot from Short Rest, like Warlock, Fighter, and Bard itself.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 3
Bard Level 2 Spell Slots & Spells
At Level 3, Bards gain access to Level 2 Spells and gain Level 2 Spell Slots, and can upcast Level 1 Spells with these Slots if they can be.
Bards also gain Expertise in 2 Skills at this level. Expertise doubles the Proficiency Bonus of Skills that the Bard is Proficient with, making them even more effective.
Level 3 Bards will also choose their Subclass from College of Lore, College of Valour and College of Swords, and we’ll get into what is different between them in the Bard Subclass section.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 4
Bards gain one Feat from the Feat list at Level 4. They could choose Ability Improvement, taking Charisma to 18, which impacts dialogue, and Spell Difficulty Class. Or they could choose Resilient: Constitution for better Concentration Checks or War Caster for the same reason. Bards cast many spells that require Concentration, so either of these are a good choice.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 5
Bard Level 3 Spell Slots & Spells
At Level 5, Bards gain access to Level 3 Spells and gain Level 3 Spell Slots, and can upcast Level 1 & 2 Spells with these Slots if they can be.
Improved Bardic Inspiration
Bardic Inspiration will also change from a D6 to a D8, increasing the effectiveness of it by providing a higher range of roll possible. The number of Bardic Inspiration charges you have will also increase from 3 to 4 at this level, allowing you to use it more often before Resting.
Font of Inspiration
Bardic Inspiration will also replenish from this point onward with a Long or Short Rest, allowing you to get these back much more often, and is a HUGE upgrade for each Bard. This is why I mentioned Song of Rest being good for Bards earlier.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 6
Bards gain Countercharm at level 6, allowing them to provide Advantage on Saving Throws against Charmed or Frightened to themselves and all allies within 9 meters for 3 turns, as an Action.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 7
Bard Level 4 Spell Slots & Spells
At Level 7, Bards gain access to Level 4 Spells and gain Level 4 Spell Slots, and can upcast Level 1, 2, & 3 Spells with these Slots if they can be.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 8
Bardic Inspiration Charges also increase from 4 to 5 at this level, which is the maximum that Bards can acquire.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 9
Bard Level 5 Spell Slots & Spells
At Level 9, Bards gain access to Level 5 Spells and gain Level 5 Spell Slots, and can upcast Level 1, 2, 3, & 4 Spells with these Slots if they can be.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 10
Improved Bardic Inspiration
At level 10, Bardic Inspiration will change once again, from a D8 to a D10, increasing the effectiveness of it by providing a higher range of roll possible.
Bards also gain Expertise in 2 Skills again at this level, but they cannot choose the same Skills as before.
At level 10, all Bards can select two Spells from a list of Magical Secrets. These are Spells from other Classes that they would not otherwise be able to learn. They range from Level 1 to Level 5 spells, and some of them pack quite a punch. Choose wisely!
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 11
Bard Level 6 Spell Slots & Spells
At Level 11, Bards gain access to Level 6 Spells and gain Level 6 Spell Slots, and can upcast Level 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 Spells with these Slots if they can be. This is the highest Level of Spells Bards can learn in BG3.
BG3 Bard Guide – Level 12
Bards gain their final Feat from the Feat list at Level 12. They could choose Ability Improvement, taking Charisma to 20, or they could choose Resilient: Constitution or Warcaster if they haven’t already.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Guide – Equipment
The Equipment Bards use largely depends on what sort of Bard you are marking, but most Bards will minimally use Light Armour and a Ranged Weapon and a Finesse Melee Weapon, like a Rapier or Shortsword. If you’re playing a College of Lore Bard, you’ll likely lean on your Ranged Weapon for most of your attacks when you’re not casting Spells. You will use a Shield if you picked Half-Elf or Human, and Medium Armour if you went Githyanki.
However, if you’re playing a College of Valour Bard you’ll likely be using Medium Armour and a Shield, and a Rapier or Shortsword, using a Ranged Weapon mostly and meleeing when forced to.
If you’re playing College of Swords you’ll likely be in Medium Armour, using two Finesse Melee Weapons and a Ranged Weapon, since you will not have Shield Proficiency, unless you got this from your Race. If you have Shield Proficiency then you can choose either one-handed and Shield or dual-wielding.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Guide – Subclasses
Your choice of Bard Subclass is relatively simple, in this Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Guide. Do you want more Spellcasting? If yes, then go College of Lore. If no, then you’ll choose between College of Valour and College of Swords based on what they provide you, which we will cover in this section. Let’s have a look at these things before we wrap up the guide with some Multiclassing tips.
|College of Lore||Arcana|
Sleight of Hand
|Cutting Words||Magical Secrets*|
|College of Valour||Medium Armour|
|Combat Inspiration||Extra Attack|
|College of Swords||Medium Armour|
All Bards gain initial Subclass Feature at level 3 when they select their Subclass, and once again at level 6. These Subclass Features are the only things that distinguish Bard Subclasses from one another, making it a little more cut and dry than some other Classes.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Guide – College of Lore
At level 3, College of Lore Bards will gain Proficiency in Arcana, Intimidation and Sleight of Hand. For this reason, it’s a good idea not to choose these Proficiencies during Character Creation or they will be wasted.
They also gain Cutting Words at this level, which allows them to use their Bardic Inspiration as a Reaction to apply a penalty to an Attack Roll, Ability Check or Damage dealt. This can be used to prevent damage, and can be used as a Reaction with no need to cast it ahead of time.
However, it can also be used to reduce the Saving Throw of an enemy, helping to ensure that party spells connect, which is invaluable!
Make sure you go to your Reactions and tick this on to “Ask” so that you can use it in combat when you want.
Magical Secrets (Extra)
At level 6, College of Lore Bards gain Magical Secrets. All Bards gain Magical Secrets at level 10, but College of Lore Bards gain extra ones at level 6. From here you’ll be able to select 2 spells from the list that you will learn instantly, but these will be level 3 spells or lower compared to the ones you will learn at level 10, which can be up to level 5. This makes the College of Lore Bards have more versatility in their Spellcasting compared to Valour and Swords Bards.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Guide – College of Valour
At level 3, College of Valour is going to give you Medium Armour Proficiency, Shield Proficiency and Martial Weapon Proficiency. For this reason, choosing a Race solely for any of these Proficiencies is a bad idea, as they will become redundant.
Also at this level, Bardic Inspiration changes to Combat Inspiration to also allow you to apply it to party member damage rolls or Armour Class. This can protect a party member or give them a bit more damage to finish off that one enemy, should they need to.
At level 6, College of Valour Bards will gain Extra Attack, allowing them to perform a second Attack in combat, if they use their first Action to Attack. This puts them on par with most martial Classes, that also have this Feature, and they can still cast a boatload of spells.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Guide – College of Swords
At level 3, College of Swords Bards gain Medium Armour and Scimitar Proficiency. This means they benefit from Racial Weapon Proficiencies much more than College of Valour Bards, and Elf gives you access to Longbow for instance, which does more damage than a Shortbow. They also don’t gain Shield Proficiency, so if they want to use a Shield then they would be better off choosing Human, Half-Elf or Multiclassing.
College of Swords Bards also gain their choice of either Duelling or Two-Weapon Fighting from Fighting Styles. Duelling is great for Sword and Shield play, and Two-Weapon Fighting for dual wielding. If you don’t have Shield Proficiency from Race or Multiclass then you will sort of be shoehorned into choosing Two-Weapon Fighting.
College of Swords Bards also gain Flourishes at this level, allowing them to perform special Attack Actions using their Bardic Inspiration, attacks which also deal increased damage. These can be used at both Ranged and in melee, so there is some flexibility. These can drastically increase the performance of any Bard in combat, especially since after level 5 Bardic Inspiration replenishes on every Short Rest.
At level 6, College of Swords Bards will gain Extra Attack, allowing them to perform a second Attack in combat, if they use their first Action to Attack, just like College of Valour Bards.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Guide – Multiclassing
In this section of our Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Guide we’ll take a look at Multiclassing a Bard in BG3, and what other Classes you might Multiclass with. Keep in mind this is not a complete list, but rather helpful suggestions to that make good pairings.
When To Multiclass
The first most likely place a Bard would Multiclass is likely after level 3, so they can pick up a Subclass and the immediate benefits that come with that. Multiclassing here would also give them many Skill Proficiencies, Expertise in 2 Skills, 6 Spell Slots, Bardic Inspiration, and Song of Rest on top of those Subclass Features.
If you don’t Multiclass your Bard at level 3, the next best place is probably after Level 6 in order to gain Magical Secrets (Lore), or Extra Attack (Valour, Swords). You will also take Improved Bardic Inspiration, Font of Inspiration and Countercharm with you as well, which are all good pickups.
And the last place you’re likely to Multiclass a Bard is after level 10. All Bards gain Magical Secrets, Expertise in 2 more Skills, and the final Improvement for Bardic Inspiration at this level.
Paladins, Sorcerers and Warlocks all use Charisma to cast their spells so they make solid choices for pairing with a Bard. However, you can mix and match with some Martial Classes as well to pick up some more martial prowess.
Charisma-Based Multiclassing – Paladins, Sorcerers and Warlocks
I like 2 levels of Paladin and then 10 levels of Bard because you gain Armour Proficiency, Shield Proficiency, you gain Divine Smite, and you can use Divine Smite far more often with the amount of Spell Slots Bards gain. These Proficiencies are more relevant if you went College of Lore, but Divine Smite is reason enough to Multiclass with Paladin on its own. 6 Paladin and 6 Bard is also good, for Aura of Protection and Extra Attack on the Paladin side, though you do lose out on higher level spells.
I like 3 levels of Bard and 9 levels of Sorcerer, but only with College of Valour or Swords, in order to pick up Medium Armour Proficiency and either Flourishes or Combat Inspiration. This provides you more offensive firepower on the spell front, while still gaining some martial capabilities. You could also do 6 Bard and 6 Sorcerer to gain Extra Attack, but much like with 6 Paladin, you will sacrifice higher level spells to do so.
I like 3 levels of Bard and 9 levels of Warlock for similar reasons. However, Warlock can eliminate the need for more than 14 DEX, since you can make Eldritch Blast and Melee Attacks with Charisma, while College of Valour or Swords provide Medium Armour. And, Warlock Spell Slots replenish on Short Rest, and Bards have Song of Rest. Plus, Warlock Spell Slots don’t go higher than level 5 anyway, which they reach at level 9. You could also do 9 Bard and 3 Warlock to gain Pact of the Blade, still gain Extra Attack on your Bard, and attack with Charisma.
Martial Class Multiclassing
Multiclassing Bard with martial Classes makes sense in a lot of cases, but it doesn’t make much sense to me for most martial Classes to dip 1 or 2 levels into Bard to gain some spells. For this reason I think it’s far more likely Bards will dip 1 or 2 levels into a martial class instead.
3 levels of Thief would give Bards an extra Bonus Action they could use to distribute Bardic Inspiration more quickly in combat, along with some Sneak Attack damage. You will miss out on Magical Secrets, Expertise and a D10 Bardic Inspiration die if you take this though.
2 levels of Barbarian also gets you Reckless Attack, which can drastically help the Bard connect with attacks in combat. Just make sure that you only Rage when you don’t want to cast spells, because you can’t cast them while Raging.
That wraps up our Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Class Guide! 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, as well as our Baldur’s Gate 3 Guides.