The bard is, conceptually at least, an iconic support class. However, the reality of playing a bard is typically much different. With excellent skills, full spellcasting, and a roster of useful buffs, the Bard is a jack of all trades capable of filling a variety of roles within the party, making them simultaneously the easier character to add to any party and also one of the best options for your own player characters. I played a bard on my first playthrough, and found that I could talk my way through many situations and magic my way through the others.

Since they’re almost universally built around Charisma and Dexterity, bards can serve as your party’s Face and your party’s Scout. Throw in their save-or-suck offensive spellcasting, and they can also serve as a Controller, debuffing or entirely eliminating enemies. Still better, they can learn Healing Word, allowing them to replace a cleric in the vast majority of cases. The Bard’s subclasses also allow them to play a front-line martial character (or at least pretend convincingly), but that is arguably the class’s weakest capability.

Bards rely primarily on spell slots, so at a glance they appear to fit well into a party that leans on long rests. However, their Song of Rest feature and Font of Inspiration both pull them toward parties which favor short rests. A bard that manages their resources well can thrive in either.

Table of Contents


RPGBOT uses a color coding scheme to rate individual character options.

  • 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.

RPGBOT is fan content published under Larian’s Fan Content Policy. This is not official content, and RPGBOT has no official relationship with Larian.

Bard Class Features

Hit Points: 8+ hit points is better than a wizard, but not enough to survive on the front lines without some work.

Saves: Dexterity saves will protect you from area damage, but Charisma saves are basically nonexistent in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Proficiencies: Enough weapon options that you can use a weapon meaningfully, plus light armor. Hand crossbow proficiency means that you can dual-wield hand crossbows for the sole purpose of having an easy way to spend your Bonus Action. College of Valour adds proficiency in medium armor, shields, and martial weapons.

Spellcasting: The Bard’s primary function. Bards get very few direct damage spells, but they get a lot of powerful save-or-suck spells, great utility spells, and excellent buffs. Bards learn their spells permanently, so you are locked into whatever spells you choose to learn, and you can only replace one known spell every time you gain a level. See our Bard Spells Breakdown for help choosing spells.

Bardic Inspiration: A wonderful buff, and it improves as you gain levels. This is great to throw on an ally before they attempt to Shove an enemy, before they make a saving throw (ongoing saves against spells like Hold Person are easy to predict), or when an ally is making a skill check outside of combat. You notably can’t use it on yourself, which is annoying.

Magic items available throughout the game can further improve your Bardic Inspiration, adding rider effects like healing and temporary hit points, as well as expanding your number of uses per rest.

Song of Rest: Great in parties that depend heavily on short rests, but the abundance and easy availability of food to fuel long rests means that resting isn’t difficult, just time-consuming. If you’re relying on buffs which last until your next long rest, especially via camp casting, this extends how much play time you can get between rests. It doesn’t make you any more effective, but it does somewhat reduce the tedium of camp casting.

Jack of All Trades: Excellent for your own character. It’s difficult and costly to be proficient in all skills, and this will cover skills that you haven’t taken proficiency in so you have a chance to succeed when those weird skills pop up.

Expertise: Excellent for skills that you’ll use frequently, such as Sleight of Hand and Persuasion.

Font of Inspiration: Recharging Bardic Inspiration on a short rest instead of a long rest is a huge boost in effectiveness.

Countercharm: Only situationally useful, and the fact that it eats an Action and only lasts three turns makes it hard to justify using in nearly any encounter.

Magical Secrets: Extremely powerful. It’s not as flexible as the tabletop version, but it’s still amazing. We’ll have a guide for just this feature very soon.

Bard Subclasses

College of Lore

Do you like bards? Do you want to be the bard-est bard that ever did bard? Well, you’ll have to play College of Lore instead of College of Eloquence because that’s not in the game. It leans into the core concepts of the class and makes them even better.

3: Cutting Words: Use your Bardic Inspiration as a Reaction to prevent enemies from succeeding on rolls. The game will automatically use this by default, quickly eating both your Reactions and your Bardic Inspiration uses, so be sure to set this to “Ask” in the Reactions menu (K on your keyboard). When prompted, the game will tell you both what the creature rolled and what they need to succeed. Choose whether or not to use Cutting Words based on how likely it is that you’ll change the outcome. Turning a narrow success into a failure can make your spells more reliable and make enemies less threatening.

3: Extra Skill Proficiencies: 3 skills is a lot. Bards already get 3 (rather than the standard 2 from your class), giving you a total of 6 skills without considering your race. Of course, this makes Jack of All Trades much less interesting, but don’t let that stop you.

6: Magical Secrets: 2 additional Magical Secrets options is a massive improvement to your versatility.

College of Valour

College of Valour adds some durability and improved weapon options to the Bard. Unfortunately, much of what you get is outright worse than what’s offered by other subclasses or by the core class features or by race features.

When considering College of Valour, you need to ask yourself “could I get these benefits elsewhere at a lower cost?” The answer is “yes”, and those places include githyanki, half-elf, human, and many multiclass dips.

3: Extra Proficiencies: Medium armor, shields, and martial weapons are intended to improve your ability to fight like a martial character. In the tabletop rules, medium armor gets largely ignored since martial bards need to be built around Dexterity, but there are armors in Baldur’s Gate 3 which allow you to add your full Dexterity bonus to AC. Shields are an easy and excellent improvement to your durability. Martial weapons will be largely ignored since you already get hand crossbows and rapiers.

3: Combat Inspiration: The easy availability of attack bonuses from items or positioning makes it hard to justify using Bardic Inspiration on an attack roll, but adding it to AC could prevent a big hit.

6: Extra Attack: Even with this, the Bard simply isn’t good enough at using weapons to justify using weapons instead of casting spells.

College of Swords

College of Swords abandons College of Valor’s foolish ideas of durability and leans harder into weapon use.

Starting your build with a single level of fighter is a great addition here. Constitution saves, shields, and a second Fighting Style is a huge improvement.

3: Extra Proficiencies: In the tabletop rules, medium armor gets largely ignored since martial bards need to be built around Dexterity, but there are armors in Baldur’s Gate 3 which allow you to add your full Dexterity bonus to AC. Proficiency in scimitars adds another melee weapon option that works for the Bard, but it’s not especially impactful.

3: Blade Flourish: Blade Flourish is fun and allows you to attack with a rider effect in place of one attack during your Action. However, it uses charges of Bardic Inspiration, and it will rarely be more impactful than helping an ally succeed on a crucial skill check or saving throw. It’s also completely unusable with your off-hand attack.

Note that Blade Flourish works at range, so dual-wielding hand crossbows is absolutely a viable choice. You still can’t use flourishes with your off-hand attack, but don’t let that stop you from fighting at a distance.

  • Defensive Flourish: Great if you’re expecting to draw several attacks before your next turn, but don’t use it every turn or it will eat all of your Bardic Inspiration uses too quickly.
  • Mobile Flourish: This is a huge push. Use this to knock enemies off of cliffs and to push them into area control effects.
  • Slashing Flourish: A good way to handle multiple enemies. Since you can use this once per attack, once you get Extra Attack you can hit four enemies with one Action.

3: Fighting Style: Only two choices,

  • Dueling: The damage boost will feel minor once you start finding magic items, and when you spend your Action to cast a spell you won’t benefit at all.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting: The ability to attack with an off-hand weapon as a Bonus Action while still casting a spell as an Action means that you’ll benefit from this damage boost frequently.

6: Extra Attack: Even with this, the Bard simply isn’t good enough at using weapons to justify using weapons instead of casting spells.

Bard Ability Scores

Str: Dump stat.

Dex: AC and weapon attacks if you choose to use them.

Con: Hit points, saves, Concentration.

Int: A few skills that you can live without. Jack of All Trades helps.

Wis: Saves and Perception.

Cha: Spells, skills, Bardic Inspiration.

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Bard Races

Most innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, which means that spells that your race provides will fit easily on the Bard. Additional skills and defensive options like shield proficiency are great additions.


Slow, and both Darkvision and Poison Resilience are replaceable with 2nd-level spells. The weapon proficiencies don’t get us anything that the Bard can use meaningfully.

  • Gold Dwarf: More hp is nice, but not especially impactful.
  • Shield Dwarf: Medium armor proficiency is nice, but githyanki is strictly better if that’s what you’re here for.
  • Duergar: The innate spellcasting is decent.


Permanent damage resistance is nice, but the breath weapon feels silly compared to the Bard’s spellcasting.


Darkvision can be replaced by a spell, but Fey Ancestry and proficiency in Perception are both good. The weapon proficiencies are redundant, but the innate spellcasting is decent. Drow Half-Elf trades Perception for proficiency with shields.

Lolth-sworn Drow and Seldarine Drow are mechanically identical, but get access to different dialog choices.


Darkvision can be replaced by a spell, but Fey Ancestry and proficiency in Perception are both good. The Half-Elf provides similar benefits, but trades proficiency in Perception for proficiency with shields.

  • High Elf: A cantrip is tempting, but it’s Intelligence-based, which makes it hard to use.
  • Wood Elf: More speed and proficiency in Stealth. 2 extra skills on a class that already gets 3 (plus the 2 from your background) makes it easier to cover a broad range of skills without looking at feats.


Gnome Cunning is an amazing defense.

  • Rock: Adding twice your proficiency to History checks is nice, but it doesn’t come up very often.
  • Forest: Speak with Animals is a ton of fun and a great asset in Baldur’s Gate 3, but it’s also readily available from consumables, so dedicating your subrace to a single spell is hard to justify.
  • Deep: Advantage on Stealth is great if you’re serving as your party’s Scout.


Medium armor proficiency, and the innate spellcasting is a great addition to the Bard’s capabilities. Astral Knowledge gets you as many as 5 skills, making it very easy to cover a broad range of capabilities with a single character.

A githyanki lore bard can have proficiency in 13 of the game’s 18 skills at level 3 with no further effort. You could then add the Actor feat and the Skilled feat to get proficiency in all 18 skills, but there’s little benefit to doing so.


Darkvision (which is replaceable with a spell), Fey Ancestry, and a subrace. Civil militia gets us proficiency in shields.

  • High Half-Elf: A cantrip is tempting, but it’s Intelligence-based, which makes it hard to use.
  • Wood Half-Elf: Better speed and proficiency in stealth. More speed is very helpful in Baldur’s Gate 3 because the game makes positioning so important.
  • Drow Half-Elf: Faerie Fire is really good, but it’s also on the Bard’s spell list already.


You won’t make enough weapon attacks to make Savage Criticals impactful.


Baldur’s Gate 3 makes a natural 1 a critical failure, meaning that you automatically fail whatever attack/check/save. Brave is also nice. If you’re serving as your party’s Scout, a lightfoot halfling is a fantastic fit.

  • Lightfoot: Advantage on Stealth is great if you’re serving as your party’s Scout.
  • Strongheart: Poison Resistance is available as a 2nd-level spell which lasts until your next long rest, so getting it from your race is pointless beyond low levels.


Civil militia gets us some useless weapons, but we also get proficiency in shields and an additional skill. Not super exciting, but consistently useful. If you plan to be proficient in Stealth, Wood Half-Elf is a better choice.


Resistance to fire is a great start since Fire damage is common. The Tiefling’s innate spellcasting is Charisma-based (with the inexplicable exception of the Asmodeus Tiefling’s Produce Flame, which might be a bug), which is a perfect fit for the Bard.

  • Asmodeus: Hellish Rebuke and Darkness once per day won’t have a big impact.
  • Mephistopheles: Mage Hand is great, Burning Hands offers a decent short-range AOE but won’t remain effective long-term, and Flame Blade offers a decent melee weapon that martial bards might enjoy.
  • Zariel: Thaumaturgy is fantastic for the bard, but the smite spells will only be useful if you’re building a melee bard.

Bard Skills

  • Acrobatics (Dex): Only useful when falling and when resisting Shove, which aren’t common enough to justify. Leave this to Jack of All Trades.
  • Animal Handling (Wis): Learn Speak With Animals (or get it from items) and you can replace this with Persuasion checks.
  • Athletics (Str): Strength is a dump stat for the Bard.
  • Arcana (Int): Frequently useful in conversations and for opening some puzzles.
  • Deception (Cha): Occasionally useful in conversations, but not as often as Persuasion.
  • History (Int): Occasionally rolled automatically during conversations to give your character in-world knowledge.
  • Insight (Wis): Occasionally useful in conversations.
  • Intimidation (Cha): Occasionally useful in conversations, but not as often as Persuasion, and NPCs often don’t respond well.
  • Investigation (Int): Very rarely useful.
  • Nature (Int): Occasionally rolled during conversations and while exploring.
  • Perception (Wis): One of the most important skills in the game. Used to detect traps and hidden enemies.
  • Performance (Cha): Useless, even for the Bard. Playing a musical instrument will attract a crowd regardless of proficiency or skill, and the pittance of gold that people will throw at your feet isn’t worth a skill proficiency.
  • Persuasion (Cha): The most important Face skill.
  • Religion (Int): Occasionally rolled during conversations and while exploring.
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex): Locks, traps, picking pockets.
  • Stealth (Dex): Crucial for scouting, for surprising enemies, and for escaping fights that have taken a bad turn. You can live without it, but if your party lacks another sneaky character, you’re a good candidate.
  • Survival (Wis): The buried chests are not worth the skill proficiency to find them.

Bard Backgrounds

Backgrounds provide two skill proficiencies and determine the way that your character earns Inspiration. The game has ample opportunities to earn Inspiration for every background, so choosing a background typically comes down to what skills you want.

  • Acolyte: The skills aren’t a great match.
  • Charlatan: An excellent go-to option, but if you plan to include another high-Dexterity character in the party you might look elsewhere to avoid multiple characters with Sleight of Hand. If you plan to take the Actor feat, skip this.
  • Criminal: Great if you’re serving as your party’s scout. If you plan to take the Actor feat, skip this.
  • Entertainer: The nominal go-to option for bards, but the skills are absolutely useless.
  • Folk hero: Bad skills.
  • Guild Artisan: An easy go-to option for the Bard.
  • Haunted One (Dark Urge only): If you’re playing Dark Urge, you’re locked into this. You get Medicine and Intimidation. Medicine is useless, but Intimidation works great for the Bard.
  • Noble: A decent fit, but you might not get a lot of use out of History.
  • Outlander: Bad skills.
  • Sage: Intelligence isn’t a high priority for the Bard, so two Intelligence skills is a difficult proposition.
  • Soldier: Athletics isn’t a good fit.
  • Urchin: Perfect if you’re serving as your party’s only high-Dexterity character, but you’ll need to get Face skills elsewhere if you want to also do well in social situations.

Bard Feats

This section does not address every feat, as some clearly aren’t relevant to the class. For more general discussion on feats, see our Practical Guide to Feat Selection.

  • Actor: +1 Charisma and both proficiency and expertise in Deception and Performance. It’s basically the perfect bard feat despite Performance being useless.
  • Defensive Duelist: A nice way to pad your durability as a melee bard.
  • Dual Wielder: Tempting for swords bards, but upgrading from short swords to rapiers isn’t worth the feat. Instead, you might use this two hold two staffs for their various buffs.
  • Heavily Armored: If you’re tempted to get heavy armor and build a Strength-based bard, you should multiclass.
  • Performer: You might consider this because of the +1 Charisma increase, but remember that you already get musical instrument proficiency.
  • Resilient: Proficiency in Constitution saves to maintain Concentration is great.
  • Ritual Caster: Access to ritual casting is great, but a single level of wizard will get you all of this and more.
  • Sharpshooter: Maybe useful for swords bards who are using two hand crossbows, but really not an easy fit.
  • Skilled: If you’re tempted by this, go for College of Lore and try to get some skills from your race.
  • War Caster: Advantage on Concentration saves is great, but mathematically Resilient is more impactful. If you’re playing a melee build, you might want the ability to use Shocking Grasp to make Opportunity Attacks.

Bard Weapons

  • Crossbow / Heavy Crossbow: You will likely use this for your first few levels until you can buy a hand crossbow from a merchant.
  • Hand Crossbow: The ability to use two hand crossbows and attack with one as a Bonus Action allows you to easily maximize your action economy without spending resources.
  • Shortsword / Scimitar: Your go-to melee options if you plan to use two-weapon fighting.
  • Rapier: The bard’s best melee weapon if you’re using a shield or otherwise not using two-weapon fighting.

Bard Armor

Bards get light armor, but typically don’t get shields. You will generally pick your choice of armor or robe based on whatever magic items you have available.

Bard Multiclassing

  • Barbarian: The Fighter is a much better option for martial bards.
  • Cleric: The 1st-level domain features are tempting.
  • Druid: No ability score overlap, and the Cleric is an easier pairing.
  • Fighter: Starting with one level immediately makes College of Valor obsolete and dramatically improves College of Swords.
  • Monk:
  • Paladin: The Fighter is a much better option for martial bards.
  • Ranger: The Fighter is usually a better option for martial bards. You might enjoy Ensnaring Strike, but the Wisdom-based save will be a problem.
  • Rogue: Even more Expertise! Sneak Attack won’t do much for you, but Cunning Action might be useful.
  • Sorcerer: Despite the overlapping dependence on Charisma, there’s nothing here that you need.
  • Warlock: Two levels for Eldritch Blast and invocations is a huge boost to the Bard’s offensive options.
  • Wizard: A single level gets you access to the Wizard’s entire spell list via the ability to learn scrolls..

Bard Example Build – Lore Bard Jack of All Trades

There isn’t a bard companion in Baldur’s Gate 3, which is disappointing. I would love to drag Volo around and deal with his ongoing shenanigans, but that’s not the game that we were given, so we’re on our own here.

Baldur's Gate 3 Example Bard
Example bard with randomized appearance.

Ability Scores

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Wood Half-Elf. Civil Militia gets us proficiency in shields, and we get some extra speed and proficiency in Stealth, both of which are fantastic. Fey Ancestry and Darkvision are there, too.


Guild Artisan. We’re planning to take Actor, which limits our background options. This gets us proficiency in Insight and Persuasion.

Skill Proficiencies

We get Stealth from our race, Insight and Persuasion from our background, and then three skills from our class. We’re going to get Deception and Performance from the Actor feat, so we’ll skip those. We’ll then get three more skills from College of Lore at level 3 for a total of 11 skill proficiencies.

With our three initial class skills, we’ll take Investigation, Perception, and Sleight of Hand. With our 3 College of Lore skills, we’ll take Arcana, History, and Religion so we have a decent chance to succeed on those skill checks when they come up.


At level 4 we take Actor. That raises our Charisma to 18 and also gets us both proficiency and Expertise in both Deception and Performance.

At level 8 we’ll take Ability Score Increase to raise out Charisma to 20

At level 12 we’ll take Resilient (Constitution). We’ll end up with 15 Constitution, which is annoying, but +4 to Constitution saves is hard to pass up. You could instead take Ability Score Increase and add +2 to Constitution, which also gets us 12 hit points.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Bardic Inspiration (d6)
Cantrips Known:
– Friends
– Vicious Mockery
Spells Known:
– Faerie Fire
– Healing Word
– Sleep
– Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
At level 1, most of your damage output comes from a crossbow, so find one as quickly as possible, but Vicious Mockery will still be your go-to in many cases. Check the success chance on both to get a sense of your target’s defenses.

Friends is easy advantage on most social skill checks. Weirdly, it works on animals, too. However, on tactical difficulty, when the spell wears off enemies will look around for you just like they look for you after you pick their pocket, but instead of confronting you they’ll just attack you. Run away, wait for the spell to end, then wait a bit longer for them to stop looking for you.

With just two spell slots, you need to use them very carefully. Faerie Fire helps for focusing down big enemies (not that you’ll see many at this level), while Sleep can incapacitate a few small enemies, nearly ending fights with one spell. Reserve one spell slot for Healing Word whenever possible, but remember that you can use the Help action or throw a potion to heal downed allies if you’re out of slots. Tasha’s Hideous Laughter can take a single foe out of a fight for a few rounds while you deal with their allies.
2Jack of All Trades
Song of Rest
New Spell Known:
– Dissonant Whispers
Jack of All Trades is a great substitute for proficiency in skills for those odd situations where you need to roll something you’re not proficient in. Song of Rest is a free Short Rest once per day.

Dissonant Whispers isn’t as good as it is in the tabletop rules, but it can still root a melee-only enemy in place for a turn.
– Perception
– Persuasion
Cutting Words
Extra Skills
– Arcana
– History
– Religion
New Spell Known:
– Hold Person
The last of our skills come online, plus we get Expertise.

Cutting Words is great for turning narrow successes into failures, but be sure to set it to “Ask” in the Reactions menu (K on your keyboard) or the game will eat your Bardic Inspiration uses automatically for basically no effect.

Hold Person is awesome in a game where a huge number of enemies are humanoids. Paralyze the biggest thing in the room and have your allies swarm them before they get another saving throw.
4Feat: Actor (Charisma 17 -> 18)
New Cantrip Known:
– Mage Hand
New Spell Known:
– Enhance Ability
If you can set it up before a fight, Mage Hand can throw daggers, grenades, etc. You can also send it through small gaps or you can send it ahead to scout for you, potentially triggering ambushes.

Enhance Ability is amazing, and it lasts until your next long rest so long as you maintain Concentration. If you’re expecting to spend a lot of time socializing, Enhance Ability (Charisma) is great. If you’re expecting to do a lot of sneaking, picking locks, or picking pockets, Enhance Ability (Dexterity) is great.
5Bardic Inspiration (d8)
Font of
New Spell Known:
– Fear
Bardic Inspiration takes a huge jump in effectiveness at this level. Not only do the dice improve from d6 to d8, but now we recharge them on a Short Rest instead of a Long Rest.

Fear is insanely good. Drop the cone on a few enemies, watch them drop them weapons, grab their weapons off the ground, then wait for them to run away and provoke opportunity attacks.
Magical Secrets
– Animate Dead
– Hunger of Hadar
New Spell Known:
– Glyph of Warding
You’ll likely forget that Countercharm exists. I certainly have.

Animate Dead lets you get a whole squad of buddies. Hunger of Hadar is amazing area control. Drop it on enemies and have your enemies attack into the area and Shove enemies back in if they escape.

Glyph of Warding is equal parts Fireball, upgraded Sleep, and trap. Sometimes you have enemies close together, so you have an ally throw a bottle of water at them and then you drop a cold damage glyph on them. Sometimes you’re surrounded and stuff is going poorly, so you drop a sleep glyph since it doesn’t affect your allies and tip-toe past the sleeping enemies while your party enjoys some free crits on said sleeping enemies.
7New Spell Known:
– Greater Invisibility
Put Greater Invisibility on your party’s rogue and stand back.
8Feat: Ability Score Increase (Charisma 18 -> 20)
New Spell Known:
– Hypnotic Pattern
We’re dipping back to 3rd-level spells because your 4th-level options aren’t great.
9New Spell Known:
– Dominate Person
Why yes, I love having new friends! Sure, it’s only for a minute and then we immediately need to kill them, but that one minute is going to be really great.
10New Cantrip Known:
– Any
New Spell Known:
– Hold Monster
Hold Monster turns off one enemy so you and your party can swarm them and deal as much damage as possible.
11New Spell Known:
– Eyebite
Eyebite monopolizes your actions for an entire encounter. You’ll never get a second 6th-level spell slot, so expect to use Eyebite once per day, enjoy it thoroughly, then wish you had another.

Alternatively, you could upcast Animate Dead to get three ghouls which you can drag around all day.
12Feat: Resilient (Con)
New Spell Known:
– Otto’s Irresistible Dance
This level isn’t super exciting. You never get a 2nd 6th-level spell slot, and Eyebite is better than Otto’s Irresistible Dance, so dropping this level in favor of a multiclass dip may be worthwhile.