To promote the widest compatibility, and eliminate confusion, please substitute the class "Rogue" for "Thief" where your particularly deficient ruleset makes the same misstep. This revision attempts to promote the keys elements of the bard class prior to its position as a second-rate Wizard while simplify the character development with moving through fighter and druid levels.
Bard Class Summary
Hit Dice: d6
Weapons: dagger, dart, club, short sword
Armor: leather, padder. Bucklers may be used at the Dungeon Master's discretion
Saving Throws: as per thief
Experience Points: Bards advance in levels by the same experience point table as Thieves
The profession of bard is not dishonorable, albeit is neither honorable nor highly respected in some quarters. The major ability for a bard is dexterity, and a character must have not less than a 9 to become a bard. High charisma and intelligence is also desirable. Any bard character with a dexterity greater than 15 gains the benefit of being able to add a bonus of 10% to experience points awarded to him or her by the referee.
A glance at the Class Ability section succeding this will reveal that high dexterity also benefits bards in the performance of their class functions. These functions are detailed a bit later. Many bards are neutral or evil, although they can be good, and of lawful or chaotic nature. Most bards tend towards evil.
All bards, regardless of alignment, known the language of their devious fellows, the "Thieves' Cant". This language is known in addition to others which may be learned because of race and/or intelligence.
Bards are principally meant to take by cunning and stealth. Bards have six-sided hit dice (d6). They are, however, able to wear light (leather) armor and use a fair number of weapons. Although they fight only slightly more effectively than do magic-users, they are able to use stealth in combat most effectively.
The primary functions of a bard are: 1) entertainment, 2) opening locks, 3) finding/removing traps, 4) moving silently, and 5) hiding in shadows. These functions are basically self-explanatory. The chance for success of any performance is based on the ability level of the bard performing it. This is modified by the powers of the observer with respect to hiding in shadows.
These functions are detailed as follows, performing as a thief of the same level:
1. Entertainment: bards are proficient in an instrument, song, and storytelling. Subsequent levels improve both their repertoire of instruments and proficiency in such skills already known.
2. Opening locks includes figuring out how to open sliding puzzle locks and foiling magical closures. It is done by picking with tools and by cleverness, plus knowledge and study of such items.
3. Finding/removing traps pertains to relatively small mechanical devices such as poisoned needles, spring blades, and the like. Finding is accomplished by inspection, and they are nullified by mechanical removal or by being rendered harmless.
4. Moving silently is the ability to move with little sound and disturbance, even across a squeaky wooden floor, for instance. It is an ability which improves with experience.
5. Hiding in shadows is the ability to blend into dark areas, to flatten oneself, and by remaining motionless when in sight, to remain unobserved. It is a function of dress and practice.
Secondary functions of a bard are:
1. Listening at doors to detect sounds behind them,
2. Ascending and descending vertical surfaces such as walls
3. Reading languages
These functions are described as follows:
1. Listening at doors includes like activity at other portals such as windows. It is accomplished by moving silently to the door and pressing an ear against it to detect sound.
2. Ascending and descending vertical surfaces is the ability of the bard to climb up and down walls. It assumes that the surface is coarse and offers ledges and cracks for toe and hand holds.
3. At 4th level, bards are able to read 20% of languages, and this ability increases by 5% with each additional level of experience until an 80% probability is attained. This enables the possible reading of instructions and treasure maps without having to resort to a magic item or spell. At 10th Level, bards are able to decipher magical writings and utilize scrolls of all sorts, excluding those of clerical, but not druidic, nature. However, the fact that bards do not fully comprehend magic means that there is a 25% chance that writings will be misunderstood. Furthermore, magic spells from scrolls can be mispronounced when uttered, so that there is an increasing chance per level of the spell that it will be the reverse of its intent,
Bards cannot build strongholds as some other classes of characters do. They can, however, build a tower or fortified building of the small castle type (q.v.) for their own safety; but this construction must be within, or not more than a mile distant from, a town or city. Any bard character of 10th or greater level may use his small castle type building to set up a headquarters for a company of bards, and he or she will accordingly attract from 4-24 other thieves. However, this will bring the enmity of the local Theater Guild, and they will struggle to do away with the rival organization. Once begun, warfare will end only when and if the Master Bards on either or both sides are dead, or if the bard character removes to another locale.