How to build a Bard in D&D

You really don’t need a Bard class in D&D, but some folks really like the flavor it adds to their game and setting.

Even without a class, it’s actually easy to build a playable bard in Basic.

Start with a Magic User class. Thieves don’t really get spells or magic items (high level play doesn’t count; you’re not going to play through over half a dozen levels of not being able to cast spells if you’re wanting to play a magic class).

But bards are rogues! What about the stealing stuff?

Play as a Magic User who steals stuff. Stealing is an RP choice, not a mechanic.

If you have a decent to high Dex character with moderate intelligence, go Magic User instead of Thief.


  • Magic Users can’t use bows, but they CAN use daggers. So, what you do is get a LOT of daggers. Throw some knives, take that Dex bonus on your attacks! If you’re using Holmes or a variant that uses weapon speed, you’ll even get an extra attack, meaning you’re able to dish out some damage as a ranged support character.
  • If you’re using Holmes’ magic system, treat your spellbook like a song-book. Your scrolls are your fake book – it’s not the full spell/song, but because you know it, you can use it to brush up.
  • If you’re using B/X’s magic system, spell imbuement is a flat cost. Costs the same to make a scroll as it does a single charge magic item. So, what you can do is imbue your instrument with charges. Just simply pour all of your ill-gotten wealth (you ARE stealing, aren’t you?!) into putting Sleep, Magic Missile, Whatever into your instrument.


You’re not going to get backstabs, and your hit dice and To Hit numbers are going to be crap, because you’re a Magic User, but this is about playing a Bard in a system where there’s no Bard class. (Perfect if you’re playing with a DM who hates Bards – you can be all “Aha! I fooled you! You said there was no Bard class, but I’m playing a Bard anyway!”)

If you want more flexibility in your weapons and armor, you can play as an Elf doing the above. Just enjoy never leveling up ever.

A musical shift

I doubt this will be reflected in the music posts here, as most of them have been scheduled out in advance (and I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity to schedule any more), I’m taking something of a break from extreme metal for a bit.

For some soul-ratcheting adjustments, I’ve been listening to a lot of:

Elizabeth Mitchell
Frances England
Renee & Jeremy
Jetty Rae
Kesange Marstrand
Charlie Hope
Jewel (whose children’s albums are much better than her 90s hits)

in the past few days.

I still plan on getting the new Burzum album (which is also not metal), and maybe even the new Sopor Aeternus* (again, not metal), but maybe my current playlist will help effect a positive mood adjustment.

I thought about transitioning this into some sort of post regarding the Bard class, and the effects of music on mood and motivation, but if I do, it’ll be later.

*:I DID once have an NPC ancient true neutral vampire bard violinist based heavily on Anna Varney Cantodea, but sadly didn’t get a chance to run run that dungeon.