If a dragon falls and the bard has no voice with which to spread the news, can the tale be told?
I'm not sure why I find the idea of a mute bard so appealing. It's a concept I've thought about on several occasions, but never really paid much attention to. At least not consciously; turns out my subconscious has been keeping track of a couple of options to make such a character viable. And it seems as good a place as any from which to start my first blog post:
- Shoanti Totem Spear
- The Totem Spear appeared in part four of the Curse of the Crimson Throne, A History of Ashes, tucked away in a sidebar on page 35; CotCT is by far my favorite of the Adventure Paths, and I imagine it stands out in my mind because I've always wanted to play a barbarian. Anyway, this spear's an exotic weapon traditionally used by the Sklar-Quah barbarians, and is designed to function as a wind instrument while being wielded in combat.
- Medium/Heavy Armor
- A bard that can't cast her arcane spells doesn't have to worry about spell failure; I don't think I can state this point in simpler terms. This makes it much easier for a bard to benefit from multiclassing into a front-line fighter class, and expands the class' inherent "jack-of-all-trades" concept to include additional party roles rather than just skills.
- Nonverbal Spell
- This is a fun little Feat found within WotC's Planar Handbook. I won't go into the details here, but it would allow a voiceless bard to complete a spells with verbal components simply by whistling. It's a viable option, especially considering that all bard spells include a verbal component. But to be honest, it makes me feel that I'm cheating myself; in essence, I want to create a viable bard that doesn't make any vocalizations. At the same time, I don't want the character's spells to sit unused and forgotten. Which in turn brings me to the next two options.
- Arcane Strike
- Arcane Strike is from a 3.5 splatbook released in late 2003, Complete Warrior. In essence, it allows a character to channel unused spell energy into a melee weapon, increasing damage and accuracy. The greater the energy used to power the feat, the greater the benefit. I like this option a lot, as charging a weapon in such a manner is a free action that doesn't require sound to function. It's likely going to lead to a more combat-oriented bard, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Especially if such a character is multiclassed into something that provides a little more offensive punch.
- It's important to note that the Pathfinder RPG will have it's own version of Arcane Strike. Ultimately, I don't feel this new version lives up to its predecessor. It's too bad the original isn't open source, but luckily Paizo was pretty successful in maintaining backwards compatibility; I don't see any issues, at least mechanically, that would prevent one from using the Complete Warrior version in the game.
- Reserve Feats
- Reserve Feats were generally well received when first released, and seem designed with a character that literally can't use her spells in mind. As long as such a character selects a variety of spell types to learn, the available list of abilities increases significantly. The downside is that the bard spell list is somewhat lacking in different spell types, thereby limiting a character's Reserve Feat choices from the beginning. In addition, each ability does requires a Feat to be made available. Granted, a character in the Pathfinder RPG gets more Feats over her adventuring career. But they're still a limited resource.
It's a somewhat short list to build from, and some are nothing more than common sense, but I imagine I've missed more than a few options out there. It's got possibilities; I'll definitely be running with this concept as an NPC in the next game I run, a jaunt through Second Darkness for my sister and her husband. If it pans out, I'll probably run such a character in the next game I have the opportunity to play in as well. With the way the idea's been sticking in my mind, I can't help but feel it's a concept I could really enjoy playing.