Mastering the Melodies: An idiots guide to Bard 5e

Written by: Lee Smart



Time to read 18 min

Are you a newbie to the world of Dungeons and Dragons and eager to explore the hypnotic powers of the Bard class? If so, you've come to the right place! In this article, we will take you on a journey to mastering the melodies as we delve into the world of Bard 5e. Created with beginners in mind, this idiots guide will walk you through the fundamentals of playing a Bard and help you understand the intricacies of this charismatic class. From choosing the perfect college to understanding spellcasting and combat strategies, we've got you covered. Whether you're a natural-born performer looking to captivate audiences or a spellcaster keen on tapping into the magical melodies, this article will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to shine as a Bard. Get ready to charm your way through adventures, enchant allies, and bewilder enemies with your musical prowess. Mastering the melodies has never been easier! So, grab your instrument of choice, tune in, and let the sweet sounds of the Bard guide you on your epic journey in the world of Dungeons and Dragons.

What is a Bard 5e in Dungeons & Dragons 5e?

The Bard is a versatile and captivating class in the world of Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Bards are musicians, performers, and poets who use their artistic talents to cast spells and inspire their allies. Unlike other classes, Bards excel in both magical abilities and combat skills, making them a valuable asset to any adventuring party.

Bards draw their power from their connection to the mystical forces of music and storytelling. They channel their emotions and artistic prowess into their spells, creating harmonious melodies that can heal wounds, inspire courage, or even inflict damage on their enemies. With their unique blend of spellcasting and combat abilities, Bards are capable of adapting to any situation, making them a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield.

In addition to their magical abilities, Bards are known for their captivating performances. They use their skills in persuasion, deception, and performance to charm and manipulate others, making them excellent diplomats and social influencers. Bards are often the life of the party, using their wit and charm to entertain and inspire those around them.

As a bard, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice:  1d8  per bard level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels:  1d8  (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per bard level after 1st


Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords
Tools: Three musical instruments of your choice
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
Skills: Choose any three


You have learned to untangle and reshape the fabric of reality in harmony with your wishes and music. Your spells are part of your vast repertoire, magic that you can tune to different situations. See Spells Rules for the general rules of spellcasting and the Spells Listing for the bard spell list.

Level Prof. Bonus Features Cantrips Known Spells Known Spell Slots per Spell Level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +2 Spellcasting, Bardic Inspiration (d6) 2 4 2
2nd +2 Jack of All Trades, Song of Rest (d6) 2 5 3
3rd +2 Bard College, Expertise 2 6 4 2
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 3 7 4 3
5th +3 Bardic Inspiration (d8), Font of Inspiration 3 8 4 3 2
6th +3 Countercharm, Bard College feature 3 9 4 3 3
7th +3 3 10 4 3 3 1
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 3 11 4 3 3 2
9th +4 Song of Rest (d8) 3 12 4 3 3 3 1
10th +4 Bardic Inspiration (d10), Expertise, Magical Secrets 4 14 4 3 3 3 2
11th +4 4 15 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 4 15 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th +5 Song of Rest (d10) 4 16 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th +5 Magical Secrets, Bard College feature 4 18 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th +5 Bardic Inspiration (d12) 4 19 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 4 19 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th +6 Song of Rest (d12) 4 20 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th +6 Magical Secrets 4 22 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 4 22 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th +6 Superior Inspiration 4 22 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Benefits of Playing a 5e Bard

Playing a Bard 5e offers a wide range of benefits that make it an appealing choice for both newcomers and experienced players. Here are some of the key advantages of choosing the Bard 5e class:

Versatility: Bards are incredibly versatile, able to adapt to any situation and fill multiple roles within a party. Whether you need a healer, a damage dealer, or a support character, the Bard 5e can do it all.

Spellcasting: Bards have access to a unique spellcasting system, known as Vancian magic. This allows them to cast a variety of spells from different schools of magic, giving them a wide range of options in combat and social interactions.

Bardic Inspiration: One of the defining features of the Bard 5e class is their ability to inspire their allies through their music. With Bardic Inspiration, Bards can grant their companions extra dice to add to ability checks, saving throws, or attack rolls, making them invaluable in supporting their team.

Skill Proficiency: Bards are skilled in a wide range of abilities, making them excellent at both social and exploration encounters. With expertise in certain skills and the Jack of All Trades feature, Bards are able to contribute in various situations, making them versatile problem solvers.

5e bard

Roleplay Opportunities: Bards offer unique roleplaying opportunities, allowing players to tap into their creativity and perform in-game. Whether it's through music, storytelling, or witty banter, Bards can bring a sense of entertainment and charm to any campaign.

Playing a Bard 5e is not only rewarding in terms of gameplay mechanics but also in terms of storytelling and character development. With their wide range of abilities and captivating personality, Bards are a fantastic choice for players who want to make a memorable impact on their game.


  1. Versatility: Bards can fill almost any role in a party, depending on their chosen College. They can excel as spellcasters, healers, scouts, or even front-line combatants. Their spell list includes a wide range of supportive, defensive, and offensive spells.

  2. Bardic Inspiration: One of the Bard's signature abilities, Bardic Inspiration allows them to give their allies a bonus to their rolls, significantly influencing the success of their actions. This ability can turn the tide of battle or ensure the success of crucial skill checks.

  3. Jack of All Trades: Starting at 2nd level, Bards add half their proficiency bonus to any ability check they make that doesn't already include their proficiency bonus. This makes Bards surprisingly capable in a wide array of situations, even those outside their primary skill sets.

  4. Expertise: Bards can choose two of their proficient skills and double their proficiency bonus for any ability check they make with either of those skills. This makes them exceptionally skilled in areas that align with their character's focus or backstory.

  5. Magical Secrets: At higher levels, Bards gain the ability to learn spells from any other spellcasting class's spell list, granting them unparalleled access to a wide array of magical abilities. This ability allows for unique combinations and strategies that can be tailored to the needs of the party or the campaign.


  1. Jack of All Trades, Master of None: While Bards can do a little bit of everything, they often can't perform as well in a specific role as a character who specializes in that role. For example, they might not heal as efficiently as a dedicated Cleric or deal as much damage as a specialized Wizard.

  2. Dependency on Charisma: Bards rely heavily on their Charisma for their spellcasting and many of their abilities. If a Bard has a low Charisma score, they'll be less effective in almost all aspects of their role.

  3. Limited Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: Bards don't have proficiency with heavy armor or many martial weapons. This limitation makes them more vulnerable in direct combat situations compared to more combat-focused classes.

  4. Resource Management: Many of the Bard's abilities, including Bardic Inspiration, are limited resources that need to be managed carefully. Poor resource management can leave a Bard feeling ineffective if they run out of key abilities at critical moments.

  5. Complexity in Role Fulfillment: Due to their versatility, Bards can sometimes be challenging to play effectively. Players must make choices about spells, skills, and the direction of their Bard's development, which can be daunting and may result in a character that feels underpowered if not optimally managed.

5e Bard Class Features and Abilities

To truly master the melodies, it's important to understand the core features and abilities of the Bard class. Let's dive into the key aspects that make Bards unique in the world of Dungeons and Dragons 5e.


One of the most defining features of the Bard is their spellcasting ability. Bards have access to a wide range of spells that allow them to heal, support their allies, and unleash devastating magical attacks. Unlike other spellcasting classes, Bards have a limited number of spells known, but they have the ability to cast any spell they know without preparing it in advance.

Bards use their musical instruments as a focus for their spells, channeling their magical energy through the power of music. They can cast spells from a variety of schools, including enchantment, illusion, and evocation, giving them a diverse range of options in combat and social encounters.

Bardic Inspiration

Bardic Inspiration is a unique feature that sets Bards apart from other classes. With this ability, Bards can use their performances to inspire their allies, granting them extra dice to add to ability checks, saving throws, or attack rolls. The number of Bardic Inspiration dice a Bard has increases as they level up, allowing them to provide even more support to their team.

dnd bard 5e cleric

Bardic Inspiration can be a game-changer in combat, giving your allies the boost they need to land a critical hit or succeed on a crucial saving throw. It can also be used outside of combat to sway NPCs, inspire allies in social interactions, or even distract enemies with a captivating performance.

Jack of All Trades and Expertise

Bards are known for their wide range of skills and abilities, and the Jack of All Trades feature exemplifies this versatility. This feature allows Bard 5e to add half of their proficiency bonus to any ability check they make that doesn't already include their proficiency bonus. This means that Bards are competent in a wide range of skills, even if they don't have proficiency in them.

In addition to Jack of All Trades, Bards also gain the Expertise feature, which allows them to double their proficiency bonus for two skills of their choice. This makes Bards highly skilled in their chosen areas of expertise, whether it be performance, persuasion, or stealth.

The combination of Jack of All Trades and Expertise makes Bards excellent problem solvers, able to contribute to a wide range of encounters and challenges. Whether it's picking a lock, deciphering a cryptic riddle, or convincing a guard to let you pass, Bards have the skills to get the job done.

Bard 5e Subclass Abilities

As Bards progress in level, they have the opportunity to choose a Bardic College, which grants them additional features and abilities. Each Bardic College focuses on a different aspect of the Bard class, allowing players to tailor their character to their preferred playstyle.

The College of Lore, for example, emphasizes the Bard's knowledge and versatility. Bards who choose this college gain additional magical secrets, allowing them to learn spells from any class. This makes Lore Bards incredibly versatile, able to cast a wide range of spells and fill multiple roles within a party.

On the other hand, the College of Valor focuses on the Bard's combat abilities, granting them extra attack and proficiency in medium armor and shields. This makes Valor Bards excellent front-line fighters, able to hold their own in melee combat while still providing support to their allies.

Other Bardic Colleges, such as the College of Glamour and the College of Whispers, offer unique abilities and features that further enhance the Bard's versatility and playstyle. Choosing the right Bardic College can greatly enhance your character's abilities and make them even more effective in combat and social interactions.

Breaking Bard 5e, tips & tricks

Creating a Bard 5e Character

Creating a Bard 5e character is an exciting and creative process that allows you to shape a unique and memorable hero. Here are some key considerations when creating your Bard character:

Race: When choosing a race for your Bard 5e, consider the racial traits and abilities that complement the Bard class. Races with bonuses to Charisma, such as Tieflings or Half-Elves, are excellent choices for Bards, as Charisma is the primary ability score for spellcasting and social interactions.

Other races, such as Elves or Halflings, offer unique abilities that can enhance your Bard's playstyle. For example, Elves have keen senses and a natural inclination towards magic, making them excellent spellcasters. Halflings, on the other hand, have a natural talent for luck, which can be useful in both combat and social encounters.

Background: Choosing a background for your Bard 5e can add depth and flavor to your character. Consider backgrounds that align with your character's personality, goals, and backstory. A Charlatan background, for example, can be fitting for a Bard who excels in deception and manipulation. A Entertainer background, on the other hand, can highlight your character's performing talents and provide additional skills and proficiencies.

Ability Scores: As a Bard 5e, your primary ability score is Charisma, as it affects your spellcasting and social interactions. Other important ability scores include Dexterity, which affects your armor class and initiative, and Constitution, which affects your hit points and resilience.

Consider allocating your ability scores based on your desired playstyle. If you want to focus on spellcasting and support, prioritize Charisma and Dexterity. If you want to be a more versatile combatant, consider investing in Dexterity and Constitution.

Equipment: When selecting equipment for your Bard 5e, consider items that enhance your spellcasting abilities and complement your playstyle. Musical instruments are a must-have for Bards, as they are used as a focus for spellcasting and performances. Additionally, consider purchasing armor and weapons that suit your character's preferred combat style.

Remember, the equipment you choose can also reflect your character's personality and backstory. A Bard who comes from a noble background may have extravagant clothing and jewelry, while a Bard who grew up on the streets may have a more rugged and practical outfit.

Bard Spells and Spellcasting

Spells are the bread and butter of a Bard's magical abilities, allowing them to heal wounds, manipulate minds, and unleash devastating attacks. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind when it comes to Bard 5e spells and spellcasting:

Spell Slots and Spellcasting Ability

Bard 5e have a unique spellcasting system known as Vancian magic. Unlike other classes, Bards do not need to prepare their spells in advance. Instead, they have a number of spells known based on their level, and they can cast any spell they know using their available spell slots.

The number of spells a Bard 5e can cast is determined by their level and their spellcasting ability modifier, which is based on their Charisma score. Bards have a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells, that they can cast at will. These cantrips are a Bard's go-to spells for consistent damage or utility.

Bard 5e Spell Selection

When choosing spells for your Bard 5e, consider a mix of spells that cover a range of situations and play to your character's strengths. Bards have access to spells from multiple schools of magic, allowing them to fill various roles within a party.

elven bard in the vibrant, exaggerated style of 80s cartoons.

Consider spells that enhance your Bard 5e support abilities, such as healing spells or spells that grant temporary hit points to your allies. Spells like Cure Wounds or Healing Word can be invaluable in keeping your party members alive during combat.

Additionally, consider spells that enhance your Bard's combat prowess, such as damaging spells or spells that debilitate your enemies. Spells like Thunderwave or Dissonant Whispers can deal significant damage to multiple enemies at once, while spells like Hold Person or Charm Person can incapacitate or control your foes.

Finally, don't forget about utility spells that can assist you in exploration and social encounters. Spells like Invisibility or Suggestion can help you bypass obstacles or sway NPCs to your side.

Spellcasting Focus and Components

As a Bard 5e, your musical instrument serves as your spellcasting focus. This means that you can use your instrument in place of any material components that do not have a specified cost and are not consumed by the spell.

In addition to your instrument, some spells may require specific verbal or somatic components. Verbal components involve reciting an incantation or speaking specific words, while somatic components involve specific gestures or movements. Make sure to consider these components when choosing spells and ensure that your character has the necessary abilities to perform them.

Bardic Inspiration and Other Class Features

Bardic Inspiration is one of the most iconic features of the Bard 5e class, but it's not the only ability that makes Bards unique. Here are some other key class features that enhance your Bard's abilities and playstyle:

Cutting Words: At 3rd level, Bard 5e gain the ability to use their wit and musical talents to hinder their enemies. With Cutting Words, Bards can use their Bardic Inspiration dice to subtract from an attack roll, ability check, or damage roll made by a creature within 60 feet of them. This can turn the tide of battle by reducing an enemy's chance to hit or dealing less damage to your allies.

Cutting Words not only showcases the Bard's ability to inspire their allies but also their cunning and quick thinking. It allows Bards to use their musical talents to distract and confuse their enemies, making them a formidable force in combat.

Font of Inspiration: As a Bard 5e, your Bardic Inspiration dice are a precious resource. Font of Inspiration, gained at 5th level, allows you to regain expended Bardic Inspiration dice whenever you finish a short rest. This feature ensures that you have a steady supply of inspiration to support your allies and bolster your own abilities.

Regaining Bardic Inspiration dice during short rests gives Bards even more flexibility in combat and social encounters. It allows you to use your Bardic Inspiration more liberally, knowing that you can recharge your pool of dice during downtime.

Magical Secrets: At 10th level, Bard 5e gain the ability to learn spells from any class with the Magical Secrets feature. This feature allows Bards to expand their spellcasting repertoire and access powerful spells that are not typically available to them.

Magical Secrets opens up a world of possibilities for Bard 5e, allowing them to customize their spell selection to suit their playstyle and party needs. Whether it's a powerful damaging spell from the Wizard's spell list or a clutch healing spell from the Cleric's repertoire, Magical Secrets gives Bards the flexibility to adapt and excel in any situation.

Superior Inspiration: At 20th level, Bards reach the pinnacle of their musical abilities with the Superior Inspiration feature. With

a cute male pigeon bard 5e

FAQ Bard 5e

How to play bard 5e?

Playing a Bard 5e involves using your creativity and versatility. Focus on Charisma to enhance spellcasting and social interactions. Employ Bardic Inspiration to support allies by boosting their rolls, making crucial moments more likely to succeed. Choose spells that offer a mix of utility, damage, and healing, adapting to your party's needs. Select a Bard College that matches your playstyle, such as Lore for more spells or Valor for combat effectiveness. Engage in social encounters using your charm, and use your skills to navigate challenges. Remember, you're a jack-of-all-trades, ready to adapt to any situation.

How to build a bard 5e?

To build a Bard 5e, start with high Charisma as your primary ability for spellcasting and social interactions, followed by Dexterity or Constitution for defense and health. Choose a Bard 5e College that fits your playstyle: Lore for spell versatility or Valor for combat. Focus on a mix of utility, control, and healing spells to adapt to various scenarios. Utilize Bardic Inspiration to support your party. Invest in skills that leverage your role as a versatile member and the party's face. Equip light armor and select weapons based on your College and role. Customize your spell list to match the party's needs and your creative vision.

How many spell slots bard 5e?

A Bard 5e spell slots progress with their level. At level 1, they have 2 first-level spell slots. By level 20, they have 22 spell slots spread across different spell levels: 4 slots for 1st-level spells, 3 for 2nd-level, 3 for 3rd-level, 3 for 4th-level, 3 for 5th-level, 2 for 6th-level, 2 for 7th-level, 1 for 8th-level, and 1 for 9th-level spells. This progression allows for a broad range of spellcasting abilities as the Bard 5e levels up.

What is the best bard college 5e?

The "best" Bard 5e College depends on your playstyle and the needs of your party. The College of Lore is often praised for its versatility and ability to acquire additional spells from any class, making it a top choice for players who value adaptability and spellcasting variety. However, other colleges like Valor and Whispers offer unique benefits for more combat-oriented or intrigue-based gameplay, respectively. Ultimately, the best choice is the one that aligns with how you enjoy playing the game and contributes to your party's dynamic.

What are the bard colleges 5e?

Bard 5e Colleges include: College of Lore (versatile spellcasting and knowledge), College of Valor (combat prowess and inspiration), College of Glamour (enchanting presence and manipulation), College of Swords (blade skills and flourishes), College of Whispers (psychological manipulation and secrets), College of Creation (manipulate matter and inspire creation), and College of Eloquence (persuasive speech and undeniable logic). Each college offers unique abilities and focuses, allowing Bard 5e to specialize in various aspects of gameplay, from combat and spellcasting to social interaction and support.

How many spells does a bard know 5e?

A Bard 5e starts with four spells known at level 1. As they gain levels, they learn additional spells. By level 20, a Bard knows 22 spells. Additionally, Bard 5e can swap one spell for another each time they level up in this class, allowing them to adapt their spell repertoire to their needs and experiences.

How many proficiencies 5e bard?

A 5e Bard starts with proficiency in three musical instruments of their choice, any three skills, light armor, simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, and shortswords. Additionally, at level 3, Bards gain proficiency with medium armor and shields if they choose the College of Valor.

How to level up a bard 5e?

To level up a Bard 5e ard in D&D 5e, increase your hit points, add new spells to your repertoire based on the Bard 5e table, possibly gain additional spell slots, and improve existing abilities or gain new ones. At certain levels, you'll also increase your ability scores or choose new feats, enhance your Bardic Inspiration, and select or upgrade features from your Bard College. Always refer to the Player’s Handbook for specific details at each level to ensure you're following the progression accurately.

What does a bard do dnd?

A Bard 5e is a versatile class that combines elements of a rogue, a spellcaster, and a support character. They use their charisma to cast spells, influence social interactions, and bolster their allies through Bardic Inspiration. Bards are adept at a variety of skills, able to heal, deal damage, and control the battlefield with their magic. They also have a unique ability to learn spells from any class, making them highly adaptable. Bard 5e excel in roles that require creativity, diplomacy, and strategic thinking, making them invaluable members of any adventuring party.