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The Mute Bard, Part I

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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:

Equipment


File:Pathfinder 10, A History of Ashes.jpeg
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.

Feats


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.

Conclusion


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.


HA

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