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Pathfinder - The Skald Handbook

Last Updated: October 15, 2018

Disclaimer

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Temporary Note: Paizo has recently discontinued support of their official SRD. From this point forward SRD links on RPGBOT.net will instead link to d20PFSRD.com. While Archive of Nethys is now Paizo's officially licensed partner for the purposes of serving the Pathfinder SRD, Archive of Nethys is a horribly designed website and it simply doesn't match d20PFSRD's ability to keep pace with published content and d20PFSRD's search functionality.

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Introduction

The Skald is a mesh of the Barbarian and the Bard. A "Bardbarian," if you will. The Skald borrows a bit of the Barbarian's combat options, but leans more heavily toward the Bard in terms of class abilities. The Skald is primarily a Face and Support class, but can serve as a Defender, Scout, Striker, or Utility Caster with the right skills and feats.

Skald Class Features

Hit Points: Consider the Skald is supposed to b part Barbarian, I expected at least d10 hit points. d8 is common to high-skill characters like the Bard and Rogue, but it makes melee combat dangerous.

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB.

Saves: Good Fortitude and Will saves. Be sure to get some Dexterity to boost your AC and Reflex saves.

Proficiencies: Martial weapons, medium armor, shields, and you can cast spells in all of it. Fantastic.

Skills: Despite a fantastic skill list, the Skald only gets 4+ skill ranks, severely limiting your options.

Bardic Knowledge (Ex): This makes the Skald and the Bard the best Librarians in the game.

Cantrips: Fantastic, versatile, and reliable.

Spells: The Skald has all of the spellcasting abilities of a Bard, offering a decent range of unique and interesting options.

Raging Song (Su): An altered version of the Bard's iconic Bardic Music ability. Like the Bard, the Skald gradually learns to start songs with smaller actions. Be sure to pick up Lingering Song so that you can stretch the Skald's music rounds.

Scribe Scroll: Scribe Scroll really doesn't work for spontaneous casters. You get a ton of spells slots, and spontaneous casters usually only use scrolls for spells which they don't know. And if you don't know a spell, you can't make a scroll for it.

Versatile Performance (Ex): This is a fantastic way to cover a lot of skills without a ton of skill ranks, but because the Skald is limited to so few performance types, you can't really make us of more than one Versatile Performance.

Well-Versed (Ex): Very situational.

Rage Powers (Ex): Granting Rage Powers adds a huge amount of utility and power to Inspired Rage. Because it's so easy for the Skald to stop and start a rage, Rage Powers with once per rage limitations are essentially meaningless. Select Rage Powers which complement your party's builds and tactics. For help with Rage Powers, see my Barbarian Rage Power Breakdown.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Situational.

Spell Kenning (Su): Hugely improves the Skald's versatility, and dramatically removes the need to learn situationally useful spells.

Lore Master (Ex): Considerably improves the Skald's reliability as a Librarian.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Very situational.

Damage Reduction (Ex): Not a lot of DR, but DR/- in any quantity is fantastic. On top of that, you get to share with your allies.

Master Skald (Su): This is insanely good. It buffs Inspired Rage, makes Barbarians work better with the Skald, and adds a partial Haste effect.

Abilities

The Skald is primarily a melee character, but the Skald's skills and spell make it extremely very MAD. You will need to make some cuts, so plan your ability scores carefully. As you grow in level, it may be most effective to purchase a belt which provides small bonuses to each ability instead of large bonuses to one.

Str: The Skald is designed to be a melee class, so the Skald needs a bit of strength to get by in melee. Inspired Rage will help a bit, but the Skald needs to have a good base line before Inspired Rage. You can cut Strength a bit if you choose to focus on thrown weapons, but you still need Strength for damage.

Dex: 16 Dexterity will fill out a Breastplate or Mithral Full Plate, and the Skald needs enough AC to compensate for d8 hit points.

Con: The Skald is a melee class with d8 hit points, so it's never safe to have low Constitution.

Int: .

Wis: Only needed for saves. Will is one of the Skald's good saves, but it's still never a good idea to dump Wisdom.

Cha: The Skald's spellcasting ability, and required for a number of key skills. Fortunately, the Skald isn't a supremecy caster, so never need more than 16. More will always help, but 16 is technically enough.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str: 14
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 11
  • Cha: 15
  • Str: 14
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 13
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 15
  • Str: 14
  • Dex: 12
  • Con: 13
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 14
  • Str: 14
  • Dex: 12
  • Con: 13
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 8
  • Cha: 15

Races

Because the Skald is MAD, it's difficult to take any ability penalties. If you must suffer a penalty, adjust your build to place less emphasis on that ability.

Dwarf: The penalty to Charisma hurts, and the bonuses to Consitution and Wisdom don't make up for it. The Dwarf favored class bonus makes heavy armor a viable high level option for the Skald, but requires that you make build choices which don't work well until level 10.

Elf: Nothing useful for the Skald.

Gnome: The bonuses to Constitution and Charisma are good for the Skald, and the Gnome's affinity for illusions helps a bit too. Small size helps with the Skald's AC, and the Strength penalty is offset by Inspired Rage. The Gnome favored class bonus isn't very interesting because Concentration is so easy to fix.

Half-Elf: Flexible ability bonus and good social abilities. Take the Dual-Minded alternate racial ability to boost your Will saves, and you can dump Wisdom a bit. Use Adaptability on your favorite type of Perform, and it will apply to all of your Versatile Performance skills too. The Half-Elf favored class bonus provides much-needed music rounds, and Half-Elves can take the Human favored class bonus to learn additional spells once you have enough Performance rounds to get through the day.

Half-Orc: Flexible ability bonus and Darkvision. The Half-Orc favored class bonus provides much-needed music rounds, or you can take the Human favored class bonus to learn additional spells.

Halfling: Similar to the Gnome, but with more emphasis on stealth than illusions. The Halfling is an excellent option for thrown weapons.

Human: Always a good choice, Humans get a bonus feat and a free skill rank to help compensate for the Skald's low skill ranks per level. The flexible ability score bonus can go wherever you need it. The Human favored class bonus improves the Skald's limited number of spells known, which can make the Skald considerably more versatile.

Skills

Weapons

Basically any martial weapon works for the Skald.

Armor

Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order. Magic armor is covered below in the Magic Items section.

Magic Items

Armor/Shields

Staffs

It's difficult to recommend specific staffs without knowing your individual character, so instead I want to make a general endorsement of the concept of magic staffs in Pathfinder. If you are a 3.5 native, go read Pathfinder's rules for staffs because they have improved dramatically.

Staffs are a reliable, rechargeable source of extra spellcasting that can give spellcasters easy and reliable access to spells from their spell list which they might not want to learn, or which they might like to use so frequently that they can't prepare the spell enough times in a given day. On days when you're not adventuring (traveling, resting, etc.) you can easily recharge any staff even if you can only cast one of the spells which the staff contains.

Multiclassing and Prestige Classes