Dungeon World: A Better Bard

You might have heard that outside of 4th Edition I'm not much of a bard fan.

I generally don't have much of a complaint when it comes to Dungeon World: I'm not a fan of the alignment or races being limited by class, but it did manage to improve on some stuff, like the wizard (it's much more Vancian).

Unfortunately other classes like the cleric and bard still suffer, but rather than just bitch about it I decided to make my own bard, with blackjack and hookers.

It draws a bit more from its historical roots (with the Patronage move), but what I really like about it is that you don't strum a lute in the heat of combat and sing wounds closed: I had a really hard time explaining it every time Melissa had Jaya use Arcane Art, which is fucking ironic in a game that purports to "put the fiction first".

This bard's music is primarily useful outside of combat, either in a social setting or when making camp. Of course if you don't think combat can be avoided, you can use Stirring Speech to give everyone some temporarily bonuses, and her d8 damage die makes her about as competent as a thief, though she can take a selection of moves (Graceful Swordsman and War Skald) that make her better suited for melee.

If you want to focus more on support, Cutting Jibe, Pep Talk and Inspiring Shout let you help everyone out from the sidelines, while Refreshing/Invigorating Song boost daily healing (or give them something extra if they don't want the added hit points).

You also don't have to pick a single area of knowledge, instead making a INT roll to ask the GM questions about whatever, and Putting the Pieces Together and Sudden Insight let you really use your head.

But, maybe you prefer the social elements of a bard. While you still can't just roll out an insanely high Diplomacy check to auto-succeed the talky bits, Storyteller lets you carouse any time you want, and both Befuddling Banter and Reading Between the Lines let you talk circles around others.

Along with a few other moves that let you further improve your melee capabilities, calm animals through your music (and even make them befriend you), and more, I've also whipped up a pair of magic items: the dancing sword and electric axe (no, it's not a guitar, but it's still pretty badass).


  1. This looks great. I too have trouble believing the typical Bardic magic, and it takes me out of the game a bit when a players says he's singing Rock You Like a Hurricane to help the barbarian hit harder.

  2. Thanks! It was really troublesome during our last DW campaign. Melissa used Arcane Art quite a bit (it was one of the only things she could really do well), but when I would write the play reports would run into trouble describing it "in-game".

    If you use this bard at the table, I'd love to hear how it worked out!


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