Author Topic: My Bard. RDD or Not?  (Read 556 times)

Legacy_allen179gmail

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« on: November 09, 2015, 08:08:45 pm »


               

My Bard just made lv5. Should I give him RDD levels? If so how many?



               
               

               
            

Legacy_rogueknight333

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2015, 11:41:18 pm »


               

The answer to this question really depends on just what kind of character you want to play. RDD is a strong class and it can certainly be worth taking levels in it, but doing so will fundamentally alter the function and appropriate playstyle for you character, since RDD bonuses are most useful to warrior-types and not especially so to casters.


 


The function of a bard qua bard is a party support caster, buffing himself and allies with Bard Song, degrading the effectiveness of enemies with Curse Song, and casting primarily buffing spells. If that is what you want to play, adding RDD levels will do more harm than good, as that will decrease the effectiveness of your Song and spells.


 


On the other hand, Bard is also a very flexible class, that can be made to serve many other roles with the right multi-classing. If you do add RDD levels, you should also take some levels in Fighter (or possibly another warrior class) as well, and start playing as a warrior, relying on your Song and spells for a little extra buffing. That is the only way to get the full benefits of that class. You want to take either 4 RDD levels (for some meaningful bonuses that do not require too much of an investment in the class) or 10 levels for the full strength bonus. Any number of levels in RDD other than 4 or 10 will be a waste, outside of exceptional cases.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_allen179gmail

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2015, 12:41:31 am »


               

@rogueknight333. After thinking over what you said, this Bard will NOT take any RDD levels because he is not set up as a fighter type. My next one will be. '<img'>



               
               

               
            

Legacy_unclejoe1917

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2015, 01:01:25 pm »


               


@rogueknight333. After thinking over what you said, this Bard will NOT take any RDD levels because he is not set up as a fighter type. My next one will be. '<img'>




You'll love it.  You can really create quite the beast given all the ability points from RDD. You don't have to dump a ton of STR into your character right away.  I never exceed the point where they cost more than 1 point per point because I know I will be getting plenty as the character advances. 


               
               

               
            

Legacy_Mystery X

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2015, 06:38:00 pm »


               

If you would have gone with Red Dragon Disciple at 6th level, that would have given you two levels in a row where your BAB does not advance.  That can be painful at lower levels, where your options to make it up via magical items/spells/abilites are limited.


 


It is useful to plan your level choices in advance, to take classes in groupings that give you the most immediate benefit.


 


If you advanced to Bard 8, you would maximize your BAB progression, and get an extra +1 to attack with your Bard Song (assuming you had the combination of Charisma bonus/magical items to boost your Perform skill to 15).  That eases the progression to take Red Dragon Disciple at level 9.


 


Your first level of Red Dragon Disciple gets you the +1 AC bonus, and your second level of Red Dragon Disciple gets you +2 Strength (adding to your attack and damage bonus in melee).  So there is very good reason to take at least 2 levels of Red Dragon Disciple in a row.


 


Whether you go back to a few Bard levels next or stick with Red Dragon Disciple levels depends on what you want most.


 


The third level of Red Dragon Disciple gets you breath weapon (2d10 once per day is not really a huge deal for an 11th level character.  But the fourth level gets you another +2 Strength.  Your BAB advances +1 at with each of the third and fourth levels.  Then the fifth level of Red Dragon Disciple gets you another +1 to AC.


 


On the other hand, you may have neglected some Bard class skills not available to Red Dragon Disciple.  (Mostly stealth skills- Tumble and Use Magical Device are most useful in multiples of 5, and you can't get to 15s until your 12th character level.)  Your 11th Bard level opens up 4th level spells, and your Bard Song starts granting +2 AC.


 


So you could go with 8 levels of Bard in a row, 4 levels of Red Dragon Disciple in a row, then come back for 3 more Bard levels in a row.  Or alternately 8 levels of Bard in a row, 2 levels of Red Dragon Disciple in a row, 3 more levels of Bard in a row, 2 more levels of Red Dragon Disciple.  They both bring you to the same place (Bard 11 / Red Dragon Disciple 4) and even out the abilities you get per level.


 


Other combinations can get you to Bard 11 / Red Dragon Disciple 4, but along the way you might find some character levels very difficult for you because you are going too many levels in a row without adding significant abilities.


 


Keep that in mind when planning your level progression.  Red Dragon Disciple may become available to you at sixth level, but that's not necessarily the best time to take it.


 


Also keep in mind that your groupings pre-21st level sort of cap your BAB.  As a rule of thumb, for a character class that advances 3/4 BAB/level, it is best to take them in groups of 4 before 21st level.  Your BAB is +15 if you are Bard 12 / Red Dragon Disciple 8.  Your BAB is +14 if you go Bard 10 / Red Dragon Disciple 10.  Starting at 21st level, your BAB advances +1 regardless of class you take.  You don't make up that +1 BAB you lose before 21st level, it's gone for good, so it it worth maximizing as much as possible.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2015, 05:03:32 pm »


               

On the other hand, Bard is also a very flexible class, that can be made to serve many other roles with the right multi-classing. If you do add RDD levels, you should also take some levels in Fighter (or possibly another warrior class) as well, and start playing as a warrior, relying on your Song and spells for a little extra buffing. That is the only way to get the full benefits of that class.


I would disagree with this slightly -- 30 Bard/10 RDD is perfectly viable. Compared to 26 Bard/4 Fighter/10 RDD the biggest things you lose are damage from (Epic) Weapon Specialization and some free feats. On the flip side, you gain 1 AC (from song), more song uses, longer duration on spells, more damage on Ice Storm/Wounding Whispers, better protection from dispels, and obviously hit the better ranks of Bard Song sooner.

Losing the 4th attack isn't really relevant, it's an exceeding minor loss since it'll usually miss anyway (if you hit 80% of the time on the highest attack you're only hitting 5% of the time on the fourth attack -- 2%ish difference when hasted) and you'll make up for the 1 AB lost with the 1 extra AC decrease on Curse Song. Bards also have enough feats to spare that picking up Heavy Armor proficiency isn't a big deal. Also get a better nuke (8 more damage, woo hoo!) with Curse Song and 8 more THP with Bard Song, but that is also very very very minor.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Mystery X

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2015, 09:14:00 pm »


               

It may depend in part on whether one is playing through each level.


When it comes to combat effectiveness, Bard Song seems to really slow down at 16th level, while the Perform Skill requirements start getting really high.  The attack/damage/saving throw adjustment hits maximum at 15.  Going from 15 to 16 gets another AC adjustment of 1.  It takes another 9 levels to get the next AC adjustment of 1.  At the same time, the Perform Skill requirment jumps from 30 at Bard level 16 to 75 at Bard level 25.  It takes a lot of investment in the Perform Skill (skill points, Charisma increases, skill enhancement feats) and maybe even then a little magical item help.


Extra spell effectiveness is interesting, but if my concept is primarily a warrior-type, I don't intend to rely on spells for damage.  The spells are for utility and defense.  Extra Bard levels make defensive spells harder to dispel- but once 10 levels of Red Dragon Disciple were added to the character, that made the character vulnerable to enemy dispels.


The effects of the skill adjustments from higher levels of Bard Song are potentially interesting, in how they affect combat-oriented skills like Concentration, Discipline, Taunt, Tumble, etc.


However, for a combat-oriented Bard who will fight in melee often, I think there is a lot I can do with those extra levels beyond 16.  The feats from 8 Fighter levels are significant- that is two feats of weapon specialization, plus either some help in feats to meet the Overwhelming Critical pre-requisites or getting combat-relevant epic feats quicker, and even if a 4th attack isn't a big deal, +1 BAB (at least) is significant.


The feats you eventually make up somewhat at the back end- but that starts at Bard level 23 (I assume character level 33).


Using those levels for Champion of Torm helps with the feats, saving throw bonuses, and Charisma-based abilities like Smite Evil and Divine Wrath.  Going the evil route, 9 levels of Pale Master offers +6 AC, immunities to stun, hold, paralyze, and the 20th level column on the Bard spells per day.  (And that's 1 level short of the 10th level of Pale Master, which offers immunity to critical hits and sneak attacks.)


If I am playing through the levels, I want the extra combat abilities to come sooner rather than later, and not wait for a character to come together at level 40.  If I were playing primarily a warrior type, the Bard/RDD looks like it slows down in the mid-20s of character level, to pick up perhaps at the mid-30s when the build starts coming together.  It is perhaps a different calculus if I weren't playing through all the levels.


High levels of Bard Song look great for debuffing ability- but I don't know if I would make such a character a melee fighter secondarily (and thus not add in Red Dragon Disciple at all).  It would be great to start with a Curse Song, then Taunt choice targets whose Concentration is lowered.  In the meantime, a melee-oriented companion takes advantage of low AC and low Discipline to Knockdown and slaughter.  When there's no one to Taunt, I'd turn to missile weapons or spells.  Or I could rush in to melee, but that +8 Strength that Red Dragon Disciple gives would seem superflous when beating up on cursed, prone, taunted enemies.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2015, 11:07:45 pm »


               

It may depend in part on whether one is playing through each level.


I take it you mean that as in argument in favor of my position? That mixing in Fighter levels (or something similar) is more appealing if you start at 40?
 

When it comes to combat effectiveness, Bard Song seems to really slow down at 16th level, while the Perform Skill requirements start getting really high...It takes a lot of investment in the Perform Skill (skill points, Charisma increases, skill enhancement feats) and maybe even then a little magical item help.


You're forgetting about Lasting Inspiration at level 20-21.

And there's no "maybe" about it -- you will need magical item help (and/or an environment that fixed Bard Song). 43 "base" Perform, 46 from base Charisma, 56 from Epic Skill focus...need another 44 total. Could get up to 50 from magical gear, but also have Charisma spells/items, Perform feat, and Skill Focus.
 

Extra spell effectiveness is interesting, but if my concept is primarily a warrior-type, I don't intend to rely on spells for damage.  The spells are for utility and defense.


Which is what I was describing. Wounding Whispering is 4 extra damage (assuming Bard 26/Fighter 4/RDD 10, potentially more with less Bard levels) each time you get hit and Ice Storm can be used in a pinch for AoE or if going into melee is too dangerous. Secondary benefits, not the primary focus of the character.
 

Extra Bard levels make defensive spells harder to dispel- but once 10 levels of Red Dragon Disciple were added to the character, that made the character vulnerable to enemy dispels.


You'll have to explain your statement -- even a level 40 Bard is vulnerable to Mord's Disjunction while Bard 26+ is immune to Greater Dispel and below.
 

The feats from 8 Fighter levels are significant- that is two feats of weapon specialization, plus either some help in feats to meet the Overwhelming Critical pre-requisites


Why would you bother getting Overwhelming Critical? It's a terrible feat. Only reason to pick it up is if you're going for Dev Crit...and there's precious few environment that both go into epic levels and *don't* ban Dev Crit.

And how many pre-epic feats do you really need anyway? Assume no Fighter levels and you get 7, 8 if Human.

Heavy Armor Proficiency
Weapon Focus
Curse Song
Blind Fight

???

What else do you really need? Thrown in Martial (or Exotic) Proficiency with Improved Critical if you really want and Knockdown? If you're Elf (since you'd get Longsword and Rapier for free anyway) or Human you still have another feat to play with.
 

or getting combat-relevant epic feats quicker, and even if a 4th attack isn't a big deal, +1 BAB (at least) is significant.


Key epic feats:

Epic Weapon Focus
Epic Prowess
Armor Skin

...and that's pretty much it.

A level 40 Fighter starting with 17 Strength can pick up Great Strength VII and wind up with 30 BAB + 18 STR mod + 4 feats = 52 AB without a magic weapon or other bonuses.

A 30 Bard/10 RDD starting with 16 Strength (has to get Charisma up) can pick up Great Strength IV and wind up with 25 BAB + 20 STR mod + 4 feats = 49 AB without a magic weapon or other bonuses.

And sure, 1 BAB is significant...but gaining 1 AC and 1 AB at Bard 30 is even more significant. Or if you're comparing to 16 Bard/14 Fighter/10 RDD then you're gaining 2 AC and 2 AB from Bard 26 and Bard 30.
 

The feats you eventually make up somewhat at the back end- but that starts at Bard level 23 (I assume character level 33).


As opposed to severely diluting the front end? If you want 16 BAB pre-epic then that means you'd have to go something like Bard 12/RDD 4 or Bard 16...so either you're losing out on Bard Song benefits or RDD benefits.
 

Using those levels for Champion of Torm helps with the feats, saving throw bonuses, and Charisma-based abilities like Smite Evil and Divine Wrath.


Divine Wrath is, unfortunately, Terrible (with a capital T). Smite Evil with CoT <=14 isn't impressive either. Fighter would just be better for the Heavy Armor proficiency, extra feat overall, and (Epic) Weapon Specialization.
 

Going the evil route, 9 levels of Pale Master offers +6 AC, immunities to stun, hold, paralyze, and the 20th level column on the Bard spells per day.  (And that's 1 level short of the 10th level of Pale Master, which offers immunity to critical hits and sneak attacks.)


You could certainly do something like Bard 20/RDD 10/PM 10 with Bard 16 pre-epic -- just means losing out on 2 AB/2 AC for the entire group in exchange for more personal defensive bonuses. But then we're moving into a slightly different discussion than "What mix of classes/levels makes a Bard/RDD (with the possibility of a third class) the best overall warrior?" Could even bring DD into that discussion if we're talking tanky types (Bard 16/RDD 10/DD 14 or whatever).
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2015, 11:07:55 pm »


               

If I am playing through the levels, I want the extra combat abilities to come sooner rather than later, and not wait for a character to come together at level 40. If I were playing primarily a warrior type, the Bard/RDD looks like it slows down in the mid-20s of character level, to pick up perhaps at the mid-30s when the build starts coming together. It is perhaps a different calculus if I weren't playing through all the levels.


The reverse, really. It doesn't remotely slow down worst case scenario until level 26, at which point you hit 16 Bard/RDD 10 (and I'd argue for going after Lasting over faster RDD levels, so no slowdown until 30). Even then you'd get Lasting at 30, 1 group AC/AB at 36, and 1 group AC/AB at 40.

Meanwhile your hybrid with Fighter is getting RDD delayed and Bard Song benefits delayed in exchange for some mostly irrelevant feats. I mean, let's look at level 30 for example.

Me
Bard 23/RDD 7

16 starting Strength
7 from leveling
1 from Great Strength
4 from RDD levels
28 total
40 counting items, mod of 15

20 BAB
15 from STR
4 from feats
39 AB total
44 AB counting GMW
51 AB counting Bard Song

You
Bard 16/Fighter 4/RDD 10

16 starting Strength
7 from leveling
4 from Great Strength
8 from RDD levels
35 total
47 counting items, mod of 18

21 BAB
18 from STR
1 from feats
40 AB total
45 counting GMW
52 counting Bard Song

So you're looking at being 1 AB ahead (and 5 damage from Weapon Specialization)...in exchange for far fewer uses of Bard Song, no Lasting Inspiration, and all RDD benefits gained. I mention that last one because I could adjust my build to be 20 Bard/10 RDD and suddenly I gain 2 AB/2 damage myself (which is 1 AB ahead and 3 damage behind compared to your build...and I'd take 1 AB in a heartbeat)...but I lose Lasting Inspiration for another 3 levels.

If we look at level 40 builds then we see...

Me
Bard 30/RDD 10

16 starting Strength
10 from leveling
4 from Great Strength
8 from RDD levels
38 total
50 counting items

25 BAB
20 from STR
4 from feats
49 total
54 counting GMW
63 counting Bard Song

You
Bard 16/Fighter 14/RDD 10

16 starting Strength
10 from leveling
6 from Great Strength
8 from RDD levels
40 total
52 counting items

26 BAB
21 from STR
4 from feats
51 total
56 counting GMW
63 counting Bard Song

So the AB of the characters is the same.

Your advantage is 7 damage per hit (1 from strength, 6 from Epic Weapon Specialization) while *everyone* in my group (including myself of course) has 2 extra AC (and the other group members also get 2 more AB). Plus I have Lasting Inspiration, immunity to Greater Dispel, massively better Wounding Whispers/Ice Storm/etc, and many more skill points to play with. While you might have a few extra feats to play around with on stuff that doesn't really matter and more HP...but that extra HP is typically irrelevant.

And if you only have 16 uses of Bard Song to play around with for both Bard Song and Curse Song, then that's going to run out right quick. Even if you sunk feats into Extra Music and Lingering Song (which then reduces your feat advantage).

High levels of Bard Song look great for debuffing ability- but I don't know if I would make such a character a melee fighter secondarily (and thus not add in Red Dragon Disciple at all).


I think you're not giving it the credit it deserves. Keep in mind I'm *not* saying your build is bad. It's a fine build and in certain situations it will certainly be better than my build (like if certain feats are particularly useful in a given environment that you can't afford to get in my build). But the reverse is true as well -- my build will outdo yours in many situations as a front line fighter-type.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_rogueknight333

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My Bard. RDD or Not?
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2015, 04:15:27 am »


               


I would disagree with this slightly -- 30 Bard/10 RDD is perfectly viable...




 


I do not disagree that it is perfectly viable. Taking fighter levels with Bard is just one suggestion of how to build an RDD. Ultimately the exact build that is best will be environment dependent (as always).The main point is that one should play an RDD primarily as a kind of fighter (whether one actually has fighter levels or not) or one is wasting the chief benefits of the class and levels in something else will probably serve you better. However, I do think there are some disadvantages to your build.


 



 




Losing the 4th attack isn't really relevant...




 


Getting 4 attacks would not be the only reason to take some fighter levels. Forgetting about that and taking just one level of Fighter would give you three feats: Martial Weapon Proficiency, Heavy Armor Proficiency, plus one bonus feat. Quite a lot for a small investment. That said, it seems your dismissal of 4 attacks is based on the assumption of a reasonably balanced module with mob ACs that have been appropriately proportioned relative to player AB. That is not necessarily what one actually finds in many cases. If you are sweeping through hordes of trash mobs with very low AC more attacks, even low AB ones, will do it faster. At the other extreme if one if fighting a mob with AC so high you can only hit it on a 20, the sheer number of attacks becomes very important.


 


 




When it comes to combat effectiveness, Bard Song seems to really slow down at 16th level, while the Perform Skill requirements start getting really high...






 




And there's no "maybe" about it -- you will need magical item help (and/or an environment that fixed Bard Song)...




 


Exactly, absent items providing significant bonuses to Perform, benefits from Bard Song will tend to reach a point of diminishing returns due to Perform requirements that range somewhere between impractically large and impossibly large.


 


 




...even a level 40 Bard is vulnerable to Mord's Disjunction while Bard 26+ is immune to Greater Dispel and below.




 


Exactly, so how does having 30 Bard Levels vs 26 help you here? Unless your point was that one will be somewhat less vulnerable to dispels at various points in the process of leveling up?


 


 




And how many pre-epic feats do you really need anyway? 




 


For a start, Martial or Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Heavy Armor Proficiency, Weapon Focus, Improved Critical, Curse Song, Blindfight, Toughness (Bards have low base HP).


 


Possibly Still Spell if you are going around as a heavily armored arcane caster.


 


If Devastating Critical is not disabled then an RDD will probably want to take it, so add Power Attack, Cleave & Great Cleave (and Cleave is useful regardless).


 


If resting restictions are present, possibly Extend Spell and Lingering Song. If there are no resting restrictions some of the advantages of your build (longer base spell durations, more bard song uses, earlier access to Lasting Inspiration) also become unimportant.


 


In an environment with opportunites for XP farming, Craft Wand. Effectively unlimited casting of all sorts of useful spells.


 


Quite a lot of feats to try and fit into a build even with Fighter or COT levels.