Introduction

Bard is a solid chassis upon which the subclasses add fun little tricks. The College of Glamour is your glam rock action-adventure team captain. While good positioning is useful for every party, if your team has an abundance of melee fighters the combination of temporary hit points and movement will probably be worth more.

While trying to write this guide, I kept circling back to a quandary: What is the fundamental thing that Bard subclasses change that can’t be replicated? What I figured was that Bard Colleges are subtle. Each one at its core offers an alternative thing to spend Inspiration Dice on.

Enrolling in the College of Glamour, we gain something even more unique among the Colleges: we gain a way to inspire multiple allies by spending a single die.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

College of Glamour Features

  1. Mantle of Inspiration: Reposition your entire party and grant temporary hit points. You won’t need to use this in every fight, but certainly don’t hesitate to use it if you think it will be helpful.

    The temporary hit points don’t have a specified expiration, so they expire when you complete a long rest. If you use Mantle of Inspiration early in the day, the temporary hit points may last all day long. Once you get Font of Inspriation at 5th level, be sure to use Mantle of Inspiration before you take a Short Rest to squeeze some benefit out of any remaining Bardic Inspiration dice.

  2. Enthralling Performance: Similar to Charm Person with a 1-minute casting time, during which you need to somehow hold that target(s)’s attention and during which you can’t be interrupted. Charm Person is a 1st-level spell, it will have the same save DC, and creatures don’t know that you’ve targeted them with the spell so you can cast Charm Person even while being observed, and so long as the creature can’t identify the spell and isn’t naturally inclined to be hostile about you casting spells, you could try repeatedly until the target fails its save.

    Where Enthralling Performance shines is when you need to charm a group. Enthralling Performance can affect up to 5 creatures once you hit 20 Charisma, which would cost a 5th-level spell slot to replicate with Charm Person. The effect goes a bit beyond the basic effects of Charmed, too, so you can easily turn your new fans toward various non-violent purposes like using them to force your way into a fancy party, to ward off local law enforcement, or to improve your reputation by having the crowd tell random strangers how great you are. However, since Enthralling Performance recharges on a Short or Long Rest, you generally can’t exceed a 5-person crowd size (though magical options like Catnap to take a 10-minute short rest may make it possible).

    The problem with Enthralling Performance is finding a suitable crowd who already likes you enough to listen to your for a full minute in a place where you can put them to a useful purpose without restorting to violence. This might be very easy dependening on the nature of your campaign, but in most DnD campaigns you’ll spend long periods isolated from polite society (there are very few taverns in dungeons) or in locales with sparse populations of friendly humanoids. In campaigns which frequently involve large cities, this could be much more useful, but if you try to solve every problem by inciting a mob of your fans, your DM might have the guards run you out of town. Look for opportunities to use this, but don’t abuse it.

  3. Mantle of Majesty: By charming a creature and using Command to prevent the creature from using their turn (Drop and Grovel are great options), you can mostly paralyze a creature. Unfortunately, since you don’t use a spell slot for Mantle of Majesty, Command is cast at its minimum spell level and will only affect one creature. This will work great to lock down strong single enemies, but in a fight against a group you probably don’t want to use this.

    The auto-failure effect with Command is also weird since Mantle of Majesty doesn’t charm things, so you need to do that part on your own with a different effect, such as Charm Person.

    It’s also important to note that Mantle of Majesty still causes you to cast a leveled spell, so on turns where you’re casting Command as a Bonus Action you’re unable to cast any other spells except cantrips. Again: fine for big single foes, but dangerous in encounters with multiple enemies.

  4. Unbreakable Majesty: This is an amazing option both defensively and offensively. Make sure to buff your AC or look for other defensive options so that you won’t get killed if a creature passes the save, but you should strongly consider drawing attacks specifically to force this effect on enemies. Disadvantage on saving throws against your spells in the following round means that a well-chosen save-or-suck spell can immediately take the creature out of the fight.

Ability Scores

Str: Not useful for us unless doing silly things. Dump 90% of the time.

Dex: AC. Saves. Some skills.

Con: Hit points. Saves. Good for not dying.

Int: If you’re taking those skills it’s good. Otherwise, dump.

Wis: Traditionally, the party expects the Bard to be the capital F Face and if you’re going to do that then you probably want to know when people lie to you, so you want Wisdom for Insight.

Cha: Our casting stat. We want this.

Point BuyStandard Array
Str88
Dex1413
Con1212
Int810
Wis1414
Cha1515

Races

Honestly, the list from the main handbook will serve well enough as far as races, we don’t want anything that different. Remember that Bard Colleges are subtle and Bards already have a wide array of builds that different races may be more or less suited for.

Feats

As with races, we’d just be repeating what has already been stated in our bard handbook for the most part, but I will call out one feat not mentioned there.

  • Chef: With Song of Rest and Font of Inspiration, we’re already on team “take one more short rest” and this allows us to double down on Song of Rest, providing another d8 of healing to anyone that spends one hit die on top of Song of Rest. The snacks are also quite good, especially if we hand them to someone who can spend their bonus actions scarfing them down in melee. We already hand out temp HP like candy, why not hand out candy like temp HP?
  • Telekinetic: This hybrid feat is honestly good on a lot of characters. Mage hand is great, we get a +1 Charisma, and a bonus action shove. Many players read this feat and think of ways to shove enemies around, but we can also use it to scoot our allies around if they voluntarily fail the save (which the feat specifically allows). This can really save our team in a pinch, such as when an ally is grappled. It’s only green because of how many other Bonus Actions we’re going to have, but when you need this tool it’s great to have.

Weapons

  • Crossbow, Light: We’re not that tanky and we don’t really have a ranged attack cantrip without a dip or feat, so this is a good option if we’re already keeping our Dexterity up. If we don’t go out of our way to get Extra Attack by multiclassing, we don’t even need Crossbow Expert.
  • Crossbow, Hand: Is what you want if you’re going for a martial dip that acquires Extra Attack since you’ll need Crossbow Expert to get around the loading property anyway.

Multiclassing

Depending on multiclassing choices, you can really lean into the area support of Glamour, or forgo dipping to reach for later Bard features.

  • Paladin: A shallow dip of two levels can get us some armour, a fighting style, and smiting. A deeper dive of six will get to Aura of Protection, adding our Charisma mod to all saves for ourselves and allies within 10 feet. At the absolute most I would push to eight because seventh level gives us another aura from whatever Oath we take and eighth would give us an ASI. This is all to build on our unique AoE Bardic Inspiration with more passive AoE support from Paladin Auras.

    The biggest issue with Paladin is the 13 Strength requirement for multiclassing. It becomes a juggling act to build this way (although a case could be made for simply starting Paladin and wearing heavy armour to ignore Dex), but it can be rewarding to have it all come together.

  • Fighter: Like the Paladin, we can get ourselves some armour and a fighting style from Fighter. Unlike Paladin, we lose out on some multiclass spell slots for taking this option unless we go Eldritch Knight, but Fighter allows multiclassing with either Strength or Dexterity above 13, and a higher Dexterity is more likely on a Bard. The sample build later on in this guide will explore this option as we add a Battle Master onto a Glamour Bard to add more battlefield positioning manipulation.

Example Build – The Marshal

The Marshal was a class that appeared in D&D Third Edition in the Miniatures Handbook book. This build takes inspiration from that class to expand upon the battlefield leadership role we have access to thanks to The College of Glamour. We compliment Mantle of Inspiration by taking some levels in Fighter to access the Battle Master subclass.

Playstyle and Tactics

In this example guide, we’re looking at a way to break movement and positioning in combat with our subclass feature. With the array of options we’re choosing, we have multiple ways to reposition our allies on our turn to allow for interesting tactical decisions. Perhaps our Wizard wants to drop a fireball on the enemies, but our front line is in a mixed melee. We could Mantle of Inspiration for a group reposition right before the fireball impact. There’s going to be even more creative and useful ways to use these tools than we have room for in this guide.


Now, if doubling down on that kind of tool-set is not your cup of tea, don’t fret. This is by no means the only way to play this subclass. You could play twenty levels of Bard, the main handbook and the spell list breakdown will serve you very well if you want to go that route, only occasionally using the Mantle for temp HP while mostly handing out your dice for standard Bardic Inspiration. You would still be one of the strongest classes in the game just by existing.

Abilities

We’re going to use Custom Lineage in order to have a hybrid feat and our +2 adjustment both go into Charisma, allowing us to start with an 18. After Charisma we’ll be prioritizing Dexterity and Constitution with leftover points going into Wisdom.

Point BuyBaseIncreased
Str88
Dex1414
Con1414
Int88
Wis1212
Cha1518

Race

As mentioned above, we are using Custom Lineage for this build. Our +2 is going into Charisma. Our feat is Telekinetic, a hybrid feat which gives us another +1 to Charisma. For our variable trait we take Darkvision.

Background

For background we choose Far Traveller primarily for Insight and Perception, but also granting us Tool proficiency with a Dragonchess Set which is thematic for our concept as a battlefield strategist.

Skills and Tools

Starting as a Bard grants us any three skills, of which we select Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion. Along with our background we have all the Face skills plus Perception.

Feats

As this build involves some multiclassing, our feats will come along at odd intervals.

At first level we take Telekinetic, giving us +1 Charisma as well as the Mage Hand cantrip and a Bonus Action 5-foot repositioning tool. Alternatively, we could take Fey Touched, still gaining +1 Charisma, but gaining the Bless spell for one of the most efficient support spells in the game. For further explanation, read this to learn why an average of +2.5 to hit breaks the game.

At fourth level Bard, fifth overall, we’re taking Crossbow Expert. This gives us an additional attack whenever we’re not busy using our Bonus Action for other abilities. We can optionally lean further into the support role with Martial Initiate (Superior Technique) to get more dice and a Maneuver. Alternatively, we could take our +2 Charisma ASI now, and then at Fighter Fourth, taking Martial Adept will give us an extra d8 instead of the d6 we would get for taking that before Battle Master, plus two more maneuvers.

At Fighter fourth and sixth, ninth and eleventh overall, we take +2 Charisma first to cap ourselves and then +2 Dexterity to improve our crossbow attacks and AC.

At Bard eighth and twelfth, fourteenth and eighteenth overall, we continue taking +2 Dexterity allowing us to cap it out to 20.

Levels

Level and ClassFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
Bard 1Custom Lineage Bonus Feat
Telekinetic
Bardic Inspiration (d6)
Spellcasting
Cantrips Known
  • Mage Hand
  • Vicious Mockery
  • Minor Illusion
Spells Known
  • Comprehend Languages
  • Faerie Fire
  • Healing Word
  • Silvery Barb
We begin play with the Telekinetic feat as a bonus from Custom Lineage. This allows us to start up with an 18 in Charisma, offsetting the fact that our ASIs will be behind because of multiclassing.
Our spell selection is a mix of utility and some damage from the Vicious Mockery cantrip. This early we’ll want to stand back and support the team with Bardic Inspiration and Faerie Fire.
Fighter 1Fighting Style (Archery)
Second Wind
And suddenly we’re taking the first level of Fighter. We now have Medium Armour proficiency and the Archery Fighting Style.
We take this style and don this armour to offset the fact that our Dexterity is kinda low at the moment, but we’ll be boosting it later in the build.
We also get Second Wind for some extra healing.
Bard 2Jack of All Trades
Song of Rest (d6)
Spells Known
  • Identify
Back to Bard now, Jack of all Trades gives us half PB on the skills we don’t have trained.
Song of Rest is extra healing during short rests, letting us stretch our adventuring day out a little longer.
Now that we might start to reasonably run into magic items, it will be nice to know what they do.
Bard 3Subclass: College of Glamour
Mantle of Inspiration (5THP)
Enthralling Performance
Expertise
  • Insight
  • Perception
Spells Known
  • Enlarge/Reduce
It’s fourth level now and we’re getting our diploma from the College of Glamour a little later because we went to school part-time by taking those Fighter electives for a dual-major down the line.
With our subclass, we can now use a Bonus Action to spend a Bardic Inspiration die and grant temporary HP to our allies.
We take our Expertise in Insight and Perception to make up for our lower Wisdom score. Enlarge/Reduce is a solid support spell for this level. Giving one of your front line teammates a larger square to block with can be the difference between getting swarmed and entirely gumming up a hall or doorway.
Bard 4Crossbow Expert
Spells Known
  • Enhance Ability
We gain another feat here, opting for Crossbow Expert. This gives us a Bonus Action attack with a hand crossbow, but also allows us to fire in melee without Disadvantage.
Enhance Ability is another support tool for our ever-expanding utility belt.
Bard 5Mantle of Inspiration (8THP)
Bardic Inspiration (d8)
Font of Inspiration
Spells Known
  • Dispel Magic
Our Bardic Inspiration dice grow in size this level, but far more importantly they renew upon a Short Rest.
Dispel Magic is for when there’s bad magic we don’t like. More tools for the toolbox.
Fighter 2Action SurgeWe went back to knight school to continue earning credits towards that dual-major. For our trouble we gain Action Surge.
Fighter 3Subclass: Battle Master
Superiority Dice (4d8)
Student of War
  • Tinker Tools

Maneuvers Known
  • Commander’s Strike
  • Maneuvering Attack
  • Commanding Presence
Now we have all the basic tools for our build to finally be called “The Marshal.”
We finally graduate with our Battle Master’s Degree in Business Administration, allowing us to use Superiority Dice to power manoeuvres. Naturally, we take the ones that let us tell people what to do.
Commander’s Strike allows us to give up an attack on our turn so someone else can make an attack, which can be a huge source of damage if you have a rogue in the party. Manoeuvring Attack allows one ally to make a quick reposition. 
Commanding Presence is an enhancement to our Face skills by allowing us to spend the Superiority Die on Intimidation or Persuasion checks (Performance too but we’re not concerned about those). Stack that with Enhance Ability (Charisma), and you’re in good shape.
Continuing from this level, we’ll be getting more tools and utility, but with Mantle of Inspiration and our new Manoeuvres, our core identity as a battlefield commander that allows incredible positional advantage for our party on the battlefield is now solidified.
Fighter 4ASI: +2 Charisma (18 -> 20)Nothing flashy, we just need to finish Charisma, and we’re only one level behind a single-class bard build.
Fighter 5Extra AttackThis is the other reason we have Crossbow Expert. We need to ignore the loading property to make two attacks.
Fighter 6ASI: +2 Dexterity (14 -> 16)Getting some more Dexterity here for those crossbow attacks.
Bard 6Countercharm
Mantle of Majesty
Spells Known
  • Mass Healing Word
Countercharm is just kind of weird, but it comes with being a Bard so we’ll take it.
More importantly we now have the Mantle of Majesty, giving us a neat mode where we can cast command as a bonus action every round for a minute. We already have a lot of other Bonus Actions so we might not use the full minute’s worth of command casts, but a well timed Flee (causing the target to run away from you) or Heel (causing the target to come to you) could be all you need to disrupt the enemy formation. Keep in mind that because this is not forced movement but instead using the enemy’s movement, these movement commands will provoke opportunity attacks from your allies.

Humiliation conga yo-yo for a minute if they keep failing the save could be a great use for this ability.

Speaking of other very important Bonus Actions, we learn Mass Healing Word at this level as well. AoE healing is nice.
Bard 7Spells Known
  • Freedom of Movement
We pick up Freedom of Movement, a pretty important buff for keeping someone free of disabling effects for an hour duration with no concentration requirement.
Bard 8ASI: +2 Dexterity (16 -> 18)
Spells Known
  • Psychic Lance
More Dexterity for more crossbows. We also pickup Psychic Lance, a strong psychic damage spell that targets Intelligence saves and can incapacitate the target for a round.
Bard 9Song of Rest (d8)
Spells Known
  • Greater Restoration
Song of Rest gets better and we grab Greater Restoration for fixing up all sorts of maladies on the battlefield.
Bard 10Mantle of Inspiration (11THP)
Bardic Inspiration (d10)
Expertise
  • Intimidation
  • Persuasion

Magical Secrets
  • Find Greater Steed
  • Swift Quiver
Our Bardic Inspiration dice become d10s, always nice to see those size bumps. As well, our Mantle of Inspiration bumps up to 11 temp HP.
For Expertise, we take Intimidation and Persuasion to really hone in on being the master of social interactions, especially alongside Commanding Presence.
We finally finish our thesis, earning our PhD in Magical Secrets. For our trouble we take a look at the Practical Guide to Spell Secrets and choose to gain Find Greater Steed and Swift Quiver, which combine together to let us ride around on a pegasus and fire a crossbow like a machine gun.
I would strongly suggest having a heavy crossbow ready for when we use Swift Quiver as opposed to the hand crossbow we use most of the time unless you’ve picked up a magic weapon.
Bard 11Spells Known
  • Heroes’ Feast
Heroes’ Feast is such a good way to boost the party’s sturdiness by increasing maximum hit points, protection from poison and fear, and Advantage on Wisdom saves for a whole 24 hours.
Bard 12ASI: +2 DexterityMore Dexterity to get that 20 for capping out.
Bard 13Song of Rest (d10)
Spells Known
  • Forcecage
You know it, you love it, Song of Rest gets bigger again.
For our spell this level, Forcecage is just nice for all sorts of uses. From trapping a foe to giving your party an impenetrable room to take a Short Rest.
Bard 14Unbreakable Majesty
Magical Secrets
  • Heal
  • Plane Shift
For our capstone we get our final Glamour ability, Unbreakable Majesty, a powerful defensive tool.
For our Magical Secrets, we research Heal and Plane Shift. More nice tools.