Posted by : David Guyll March 10, 2014
The reality is that with only two cantrips per day, fewer skill points than the rogue (a good chunk of which are probably getting dumped into various Charisma-based skills, particularly at least one Perform), a cleric's attack bonus (which starts out not so bad, but impacts her more and more down the road), and a rogue's Hit Die they were basically only really useful for talking to things, which was in turn largely as useful as your Dungeon Master allowed.
Mearls claims that the designers "took a sledgehammer to a few of the bard's traditional concepts", which is not exactly true: what they really did was add more spells and some skill mechanics, and rename bardic music and make it more broadly applicable. Granted, it makes the bard a more attractive class since it will probably be actually competent at doing something besides possible Diplomacy-abuse, but that is less breaking it apart and rebuilding from the ground up/removing stuff entirely, and more just...piling more crap on top.
Another bit of irony is that what Mearls describes makes me think of 4th Edition's bard. It was very much different from the traditional bard, by which I mean it was fucking awesome and competent. They can, for starters, be built around a melee, ranged, or mixed concept (you do not have to pick a style and stick with it), have the same number of spells as other spellcasters (including a killer joke), get a big bonus to talking to people, can multiclass more than anyone else, and even have thematic feats that, for example, gives them a small bonus to any skill they are not trained in.
It would have been nice if they did break the class down, ponder the rubble for a bit, throw it away because aside from 4th Edition—which they are loathe to acknowledge—it has never worked, consider what it is supposed to be doing, and completely rebuild the class from the ground up with mechanics that actually support the mission statement. But, hey, people are not calling it D&D Previous for nothing.
(Or wondering how it took them over two years to arrive at this point.)
So of course we have the lazily designed, uninspired nonsense magic that in no way evokes a bard weaving music into magic (or, frankly, anything that any spellcaster does). That is a given, and we just have to accept it, because it is not like they have another book from the epoch that they are for some reason exhuming rules from that would at least be a step towards giving magic some semblance of mechanically-supported flavor. Besides that, what confuses me is why Bardic Inspiration has a daily limitation for any other reason than a purely mechanical one.
Mearls mentions how its flexibility can be tied to the narrative component of the game, which is a good thing because when done well it can evoke that whole feel thing (that by Mearls's own definition 5th Edition does not). The problem is how its daily limitation disrupts the narrative. A lot. I mean, it does not sound magical (not that it being magical would make any more sense), so...why the limitation? How is it that the bard can inspire someone only a set number of times? Do they, I dunno, run out of words?
Why not, say, have the bard make a check. On a success she grants a bonus, while a failure imposes a penalty? This could reflect bad advice, the bard disrupting the character's concentration, misinterpreted instructions, or the character becoming overconfident and making a mistake. That way you would not need to give it a nonsense daily limit, and it would be more risky.
Nah. Why go through all the trouble trying to make something great, when "good enough" will probably sell juuust fine.