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How to Build a Bard


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The Bard is one of the most powerful and flexible classes in Baldur’s Gate 3, drawing on the power of song and dance to cast their spells. Thanks to their unique subclasses and spellset, Bards can occupy many different roles, ranging from pure support to damage-dealing and battlefield control. Unfortunately, this flexibility means it’s all too easy to build your Bard in a way that misses this class’ best qualities.


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Multiclassing as a Bard in Baldur’s Gate 3 is a great option for players who want to focus on maximizing overall utility. However, Bards still perform well in single-class builds, so multiclassing is a nice option to have rather than an essential step. As full casters with incredible buffs and debuffs, the ideal skills for a party face, and options for combat, Bards are your quintessential fantasy hero.

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Playing a multiclass hero in Baldur’s Gate 3 can be beneficial, but you need to know how to build them. Here are the best Cleric multiclasses so far.


Creating A Bard In Baldur’s Gate 3 (Best Races, Backgrounds, Skills)

Baldur's Gate 3 Half-Elf Bard Casting Magic Near Waterfall And Forest In Character Creator

In character creation, you’ll immediately have several important decisions to make, including the best race, background and starting skills for your Bard. Bards start off with two Level 1 Spell Slots, two cantrips and four Bard spells, as well as the Bardic Inspiration ability. Bardic Inspiration can be cast on an ally to add +1d6 to their next attack roll, skill check or saving throw.

The Best Race And Subrace For A Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard

When it comes to building a Bard, the best race is arguably the Half-Elf. Half-Elves in Baldur’s Gate 3 gain Fey Ancestry, which makes them immune to magical Sleep spells and grants Advantage against being Charmed, and Darkvision, which allows them to see in the dark. Both are useful qualities to have.

You also gain extra racial features from subraces. The High Half-Elf gains an extra cantrip – make sure to pick the best early cantrips in the game – while the Wood Half-Elf gains a flat 1.5m increase to movement speed and Stealth Proficiency, which are always handy.

Half-Elves also start out with Proficiency in Shields. Bards won’t typically rely on Shields in combat, but simply equipping one increases your character’s Armor Class (AC). Combined with a Bard’s naturally high Dexterity, this makes it harder for enemies to succeed in their attack rolls.

If you’re looking for something a little different, other races are also great options:


  • Humans gain one extra Skill Proficiency, which really helps you double down on making your Bard into a true Jack-of-all-trades build.
  • Halflings have Halfling Luck, which allows them to reroll any 1s they make on Attack Rolls, Ability Checks and Saving Throws – a powerful quality for a class which relies on good rolls to be effective.
  • Tieflings gain Resistance to Fire Damage, which is a common damage type, and spells as they level up via Tiefling Magic.

The Best Background For A Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard

Baldur's Gate 3 Blonde Female Half-Elf Bard With Charlatan Background Standing Near Waterfall In Character Creator

The best Backgrounds in Baldur’s Gate 3 should synergize with your class’ main stats. Bards typically focus on using Charisma and Dexterity, so the Charlatan, Entertainer, and Guild Artisan Backgrounds are all ideal.

Charlatan provides Proficiency in Deception and Sleight of Hand. Bards will already excel at Deception, a Charisma-based skill, and Sleight of Hand is incredibly useful throughout the game as it boosts your Bard’s lockpicking and trap-disarming capabilities.

Entertainer provides Proficiency in Acrobatics and Performance. Performance is a staple skill of a Bard and many Bard dialogue options use Performance skill checks. Acrobatics makes you a bit better at resisting Shoves in combat.

Guild Artisan provides Proficiency in Insight and Persuasion. Bards are notoriously smooth talkers thanks to Persuasion, and having Insight Proficiency allows you to gain a much better understanding of the intentions of certain NPCs, opening up more dialogue options.

One interesting option is to play as the Dark Urge Origin. The Dark Urge comes with the pre-made Haunted One Background and ties your character closer to the game’s overall story. However, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of a Dark Urge playthrough, as it can be surprisingly violent and vicious.

The Best Skills For A Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard

Baldur's Gate 3 Player Picking Skills For Female Half-Elf Bard In Character Creator


You should ideally select Proficiencies in Charisma and Dexterity-based skills. Persuasion is by far the most important and essential skill for any Bard, and you’ll rely on it throughout the game to talk your way out of fights, convince enemies to join you, or even talk down your companions. Deception is a close second to Persuasion, since you often have the option to trick your way through encounters.

Finally, you could also choose another Charisma-based skill such as Intimidation or Performance. However, the Dexterity-based Sleight of Hand skill is arguably more important, as this boosts your lockpicking and trap disarming, and you’ll often come across locks and traps.

It’s worth noting that all Bards gain the passive Jack of All Trades class feature at Level 2. This adds half your Proficiency Bonus to any skill checks you aren’t Proficient in. Bards are essentially skill check masters thanks to this feature.

The Best Bard Colleges (Subclasses) In Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Female Half-Elf Bard Picking College Of Swords Bard Subclass

At Level 3, you can pick between three different Bard subclasses or Colleges: College of Lore, College of Valour, and College of Swords. The different Colleges give the class its flexibility, as you can opt for a full support build, a combat-focused build with some casting abilities, or a hybrid of the two.

College of Lore Bards are the ultimate support characters. They gain Proficiency in three additional skills, so they’re ideal for a party face role where they can tackle non-combat encounters and pass skill checks with flying colors. They also gain Cutting Words: a powerful reaction ability where they can inflict a -1d6 penalty on an enemy’s attack rolls, skill check and saving throws.

At Level 6, they also gain Magical Secrets, allowing them to learn two spells from outside the Bard spellset. This includes some of Baldur’s Gate 3’s best spells. If you want your Bard to play a more traditional support role, then College of Lore is the best choice.

All Bards gain Magical Secrets; however, College of Swords and Valour Bards only gain it at Level 10 instead of Level 6.

College of Swords Bards is one of the most fun-to-play builds in the game, and should be your go-to choice if you want to play a combat-focused Bard. It combines the Bard’s spellcasting ability with Blade Flourishes: a set of special ranged and melee weapon attacks.

  • Defensive Flourish, which increases AC by 4 if you successfully hit your target.
  • Slashing Flourish, which allows you to attack two enemies at once.
  • Mobile Flourish, which allows you to knock your target back 6m.

These are incredibly powerful in the right hands and give the Bard some flexible combat abilities. Certain combinations with weapons and gear can make a College of Swords Bard a powerhouse in combat. Using dual-hand crossbows is a common favorite due to the high damage output. Another common build involves combining the Helmet of Arcane Acuity and Band of the Mystic Scoundrel to build Arcane Acuity charges, opening with weapon attacks, and casting extremely hard-to-resist spells.

College of Valour Bards fall somewhere between the two. Their Bardic Inspiration is upgraded to Combat Inspiration, which adds +1d8 to an ally’s next attack roll, skill check, or saving throw instead of 1d6. They also gain Proficiency in Medium Armor, Shields, and Martial Weapons such as longswords and longbows.

College of Valour generally isn’t as highly recommended as Swords or Lore, as picking certain races and proper leveling can essentially give you all the benefits of Valour.

The Best Bard Spells In Baldur’s Gate 3

Unlike Sorcerers and Wizard magic, Bard spells are mostly about inflicting buffs on allies and debuffs on enemies, and controlling the battlefield. Below are some of your best options for all spell levels:

Level

Spells

Description

Cantrip

  • Friends is one of the most powerful cantrips in the game, as it gives you Advantage on all Charisma checks. This effectively guarantees you’ll pass every Persuasion, Deception, Intimidation, and Performance check.
  • Vicious Mockery deals low damage but can inflict Disadvantage on an enemy’s next attack roll, making it a solid default option.

1

  • Dissonant Whispers
  • Faerie Fire
  • Sleep
  • Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
  • Dissonant Whispers has high damage for the early-game and can also inflict Frightened.
  • Faerie Fire turns all enemies within the targeted area visible and gives Advantage to all attack rolls against them.
  • Sleep can send multiple enemies into a magical slumber. Notably, they cannot roll saves against Sleep so it’s a fantastic way to shut down large groups of enemies. It’s one of the best spells for beginners in Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Tasha’s Hideous Laughter leaves enemies prone and laughing, unable to move or get up.

2

  • Hold Person freezes an enemy in place, and all close-range attacks deal automatic Critical Hits. This synergizes incredibly well with hard-hitting damage dealers such as a Barbarian multiclass build character, which can dish out multiple critical hits.
  • Heat Metal forces an enemy to either let go of their weapon or armor, or receive Disadvantage on their attack rolls. It’s a great way to shut down hard-hitting enemies by reducing their damage or AC.

3

  • Glyph of Warding is a great AOE spell that places glyphs that trigger various effects such as Sleep or elemental damage when enemies step on it. This allows you to lock down chokepoints and apply debuffs over a wide area.
  • Targets inflicted by Fear gain Disadvantage against attack rolls.

4

  • Confusion is a highly disruptive AOE spell that confuses targets caught in its radius. Confused enemies may move or attack at random or even skip turns.

Level

Spells

Description

5

  • Hold Monster works exactly like Hold Person, but allows you to target larger non-humanoid enemies.

Magical Secrets

  • Counterspell is a reaction that lets you interrupt an enemy spell when it’s cast. It’s fantastic against spellcasters, as you can spend a Spell Slot to nullify dangerous enemy magic.
  • Command allows you to order multiple enemies to follow your commands. You can order them to move towards you or away, to stop in place, to drop their weapons or even fall to the ground.

6

  • Otto’s Irresistible Dance

Bard spells tend not to do much damage on their own. Instead, they’re focused on drastically debuffing enemies so that your party can easily defeat them.

The Best Bard Feats In Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Female Half-Elf Bard Picking Sharpshooter Feat

Feats are unique character bonuses that appear at Levels 4, 8, and 12 of each class. The most standard Feat is Ability Improvement, which gives you two stat points. This can be particularly potent for improving a Lore Bard’s skill checks even further; however, there are other options to consider:

Feat

Description

Alert

You gain a +5 bonus to Initiative and can’t be Surprised. This allows you to start off at the top of the order in most combat encounters.

Mobile

Increases your movement range by 3m. This lets you reposition more effectively.

Sharpshooter

You no longer receive penalties for attacking from the low ground with ranged weapons, and can toggle All In, which reduces your ranged attack rolls by 5 but increases their damage by 10.

Skilled

Gain Proficiency in 3 skills. Great for Lore Bards

War Caster

Gain Advantage on saving throws to maintain concentration on your spells.


Overall, Bard is not one of the easiest classes to play, as Bard characters can fill many roles and have lots of different choices to make. However, by finding the right abilities and synergies, you can end up with one of Baldur’s Gate 3’s strongest and most versatile characters.

Baldur’s Gate 3

Released
August 31, 2023

Developer(s)
Larian Studios

Publisher(s)
Larian Studios

ESRB
M

How Long To Beat
50 – 100 hours

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