Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Savage Eberron: Bards

In my Savage Eberron game earlier this year, Manoj played a half-ogre bard. At the time I did not have access to any official rules for bards in Savage Worlds, so I made some up; since then I've got hold of the Fantasy Companion, which has the Troubadour Professional Edge, but I prefer my version, as it's a bit simpler.

Bards are arcane spellcasters, and follow all standard rules for Arcane Background (Magic), with the following exceptions:
  • A bard's arcane skill is Perform (Spirit), and this skill may also be used for mundane performances. A bard's Charisma modifier may be added to skill rolls for both mundane and arcane purposes.
  • A bard may only cast spells through the playing of a musical instrument, singing a song, orating an epic poem, performing a dance, and so on. If the bard cannot perform this action, they cannot cast the spell.
  • All spells are available to the bard, as long as they could plausibly be cast through one of the above methods. For example, an inspiring song might have the same effect as Boost/Lower Trait, but it is more difficult to explain how dancing could generate a Barrier. Common sense and GM discretion apply.


  1. Yeah the Troubadour edge is commonly bemoaned! The especially odd thing, which I didn't notice originally and just discovered recently after reading a forum thread about it, is that it actually requires AB: Miracles. So to be a bard you'd need to first be a 'cleric' (or whatever is defined by having AB: Miracles), then suddenly change into a bard. Very weird.

    I've done similarly to you in my campaign, saying that bards just choose either of the standard Arcane Backgrounds (magic or miracles), with the difference that their magic can only come about through song.

  2. Yes, it's odd. The reason why I've limited it to Arcane Background (Magic) is simply because it best matches D&D, which seems an important consideration when playing a D&D setting. I can imagine if I were running a norse-type campaign, a Miracles-based bard might fit, but not here.

  3. That's an interesting interpretation. I find bards in Eberron (as well as old school bards) more closely associated with nature and the magic inherent to nature in Eberron. In older versions of D&D, bards used divine magic rather than arcane.

    I also find bardic magic to be something that draws energy from the magic within an individual, much like faith-based divine magic in Eberron.

    Regarding being a 'cleric' to be a bard, that's a mindset I see in other conversations about converting from D&D to Savage Worlds. Edges in Savage Worlds should not be equated to classes in D&D. A class is a construct of D&D game mechanics. Savage Worlds focuses more on the spirit of a concept rather than a hard and fast character progression. That character with AB (Miracles) doesn't have to be a cleric per se. Instead, he could be an individual who worships a 'mother earth' concept and draws inspiration from there. It's all about flavor and trappings.

  4. Indeed, and to be honest, my bard could have gone either way as the exact mechanic used wouldn't affect the outcome. It could have easily begun with "Bards are divine spellcasters, and follow all standard rules for Arcane Background (Miracles), with the following exceptions". My main reason for going with AB (Magic) was simply that in D&D3.5, bards are arcane spellcasters, and where possible with this conversion I want to emulate the source material rather than change it.

    Yet, as I note above, it would be a very minor change, so I wouldn't be against bards using AB (Miracles).

    Regarding classes, I agree, and it's a bit of a disappointment that the Fantasy Companion sneaks classes in through the back door via Edges.


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