Pathfinder - Bard Masterpieces Breakdown
I support a limited subset of Pathfinder's rules content. If you would like help with Pathfinder player options not covered here, please email me and I am happy to provide additional assistance.
I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- : Good options.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Bard Masterpieces are a weird mechanic. You can take them as a feat, or in place of spells known. Because they often require ranks in specific perform skills, be sure to plan your masterpieces well in advance.
At the Heart of It All (String, Wind)
If you have the time to hold a target in place for 5 full rounds, this is a good way to influence them. With that increased DC, I would try for Dominate Person or something similar. The bonus to charisma checks is nice if you just need information, or if you really just want to have a nice chat.
The Cat-Step (Dance)
The entire dance can be replaced by one person in the party with Featherfall.
The Dance of 23 Steps (Dance)
For Bards who spend a lot of time in melee, this could be a really good option. The attack penalties may be difficult due to the Bard's medium BAB, but because The Dance of 23 steps keys off of your perform ranks instead of your BAB, it will provide a better AC bonus than Combat Expertise. Don't forget that it forces you to make a fairly difficult concentration check, so don't use it in rounds that you plan to cast high-level spells with which you can't reliably pass the check. Instead, use those turns to move, use items, make skill checks, or use Aid Another.
The description regarding Lingering Performance is very clear, and you would be a fool to take this masterpiece without Lingering Performance. Triple your performance round investment.
The Depths of the Mountain (Percussion, Wind)
This takes too long to activate for it to be usable in combat, and the cost is astoundingly high. It creates a variety of poorly explained effects, many of which have pitiful DC reflex saves to avoid. Hugely expensive, confusing, and ineffective.
The Dumbshow of Gorroc (Act, Comedy)
Gives bards a weak blast ability. Half the damage is fire, the most commonly resisted energy type, and other half is piercing, so things with DR can resist some of the damage. Plants and oozes are uncommon, so most of your enemies will take half or no damage. At least the cost is fairly low.
Very situational, but potentially cool. Unlikely to be worth the cost to learn.
Legato Piece on the Infernal Bargain (String)
Planar Ally can be a very powerful effect, and a decent Bard will have good enough conversational skills to influence the summon creature to do something helpful.
This is a save-or-suck effect. The DC is based on your level, and will exceed the DCs of your spells. I would happily give up a 3rd level Bard spell for this. Make sure that you have someone handy to Coup De Grace the target.
Minuet of the Midnight Ivy (Dance)
Situational, and can be replaced by Spider Climb.
The Quickening Pulse (Percussion, Wind)
The save will be better than your spells, but the damage is pitiful. Extending the effect with Lingering Performance helps, but you can find much better uses for your turn than a pitiful 3d6 damage.
The Requiem of the Fallen Priest-King (Oratory, Sing)
An extra standard action could be an extra attack, and for non-casters, an extra attack at their highest BAB is pretty nice. The more people you can affect with this, the better it gets.
Stone Face (Comedy, Oratory)
Stone to Flesh is highly situational, and you can probably go through a whole campaign with one scroll.
Toccata and Fugue of the Danse Macabre (Keyboard, Wind)
Hide from Undead is a first level Cleric spell with a 10 minute per level duration. Buy a scroll or two, and use UMD.
Triple Time (Percussion, String, Wind)
Longstrider for one target per bard level with a one hour duration. You may not use it for the intended purpose (marching), but a 10 foot enhancement bonus to land speed is a pretty great buff considering the astoundingly low cost both to learn and to use this Masterpiece. If I took this, I would use it at least once a day without a second thought.
The Winds of the Five Heavens (Act, Oratory)
Control Winds is a 5th-level Druid spell, so you can get this one level behind Druids. Control Winds is situational, but it's a great way to control flying enemies.