Bard Week: Making the Bard Feel Important
image source: The Luteist and Flautist by Matthias Stom
It’s rough playing the support character. You dole out buffs and heal up wounds and your allies thanklessly keep on fighting. Sure, the bard used to be a superpowered force of nature back in AD&D (so much so that they separated it from the regular character classes and put it in the back of the book along with psionics), but not so much anymore. The bard has its moments, but it is by and large a support class, which sometimes goes unnoticed by your allies or the DM. So here are some ways to fix that and make the Bard feel as special and important as they really are:
Have the bard be rewarded with songs! You can give them sheet music (you can find printable empty sheets online), or an mp3 file that you can play whenever the player feels like playing that song. You can have each song do something, maybe cast a cantrip or mimic a minor quality of a magic item (like making a dim glow or foul stench). Or alternatively, you can have the bard learn spells more like a Wizard with a “songbook,” being able to transcribe songs into their book that they can learn from other bards. You could have the song actually have a plot relevance by being recognizable or magical. For instance, a halfling village is unwilling to help non-halflings but when the bard plays a traditional halfling melody they picked up, they feel more at ease.
In fact, I have a bard in the current game that I am running that learned a mysterious pleasant song early on. They believed they could use it to reopen the sealed Feywild portals (the big quest they were on) but they needed to unlock their full potential to do so. Once they did, the song enabled the opening of such portals and effectively gave the PCs a fast-travel option if they didn’t mind faerie-related encounters.