Instruments With Bards (Them Were The Days ... :) )


Hi All,

My wife wants to play a bard character, which I know very little about, especially with respect to NWN2. However, we noticed that buying/acquiring/wielding an instrument does not appear to do much.

So, I did a search and found this, and am adding it to my campaign:

However, I would like to also ask, are there any other benefits for using an instrument … or are there any other mods/updates to the class worth looking at?

Thanks in advance, Lance.

Alignment Talk

Honestly, instruments in NWN2 are pretty much fancy scrolls. But bards are pretty badass without them anyway.

As for bard-specific mods, I don’t know of any, other than a PrC or two in Kaedrin’s pack.


Other than magic bard instruments, I don’t know of much. But, maracas… :confetti_ball:


It all depends on the instrument. I never used any, since most have either limited spells or spells my spellcasters already have, so in either case, leaving Grobnar with a shortbow is more beneficial to me, especially since he has his own spells.

But I’ll give you a brief explanation on how Bards work. They’re like Rogues, but without the Sneak Attacks or thievery, and with some magic. They can learn a lot of skills and can be useful in a lot of situations, but alone, they’re not that good. Basically, they have a little bit of everything. They can learn a lot of skills, can be decent in combat, and have magic, but in none of these do they have enough to stand alone by themselves, unless with difficulty. They’re mostly there to fill the gaps. No healer? They can do it. No Rogue? They can do it. No mage? They can do it.

They’re not suitable to be the core of the party, but they’re definitely a nice addition, since they have their own magic, which is normal spells and songs. Unfortunately, they can’t learn more than sixth level spells and normally have only five charges per level, except sixth level spells, which have four charges. Fortunately, a Bard can rely on other things instead of spells. They’re basically whatever the situation demands if you build them right. Note, however, that only Rogues can disarm and sense traps with a DC of 20+, so if she wants her Bard to be an expert at traps, she’ll need a level at Rogue.

But most importantly, tell her to have fun with the Bard. Never played it myself, Grobnar and Finch were my only Bards, so what do I know?


Hi R-Mod,

Thanks for the feedback. I’ll pass that info onto my wife too. :slight_smile: They sound quite interesting. Because I come from a PnP background, when they seemed quite “different” to play, none of my group ever went near them. Now they are more established as a class and quite accessible in NWN2, they hold more of an attraction.

This is what made me look at the instrument usage as well. I added some code (by Clubok) in my last update, and have been looking at tweaking/adjusting in the next update. However, I am hoping the adjustments made mean carrying/wielding an instrument may be worth the while instead of any other item.

Cheers, Lance.


One other thing Bards can do they are able to use almost any scroll or magic items more so than the Rouge. Also if she wanted to they multi-class well with Sorcerer. I kind of miss the old days when Bards were the walking tanks in the 1e.


Hi Greenman,

Good to know!

FYI, I am currently updating the bard to have “bonuses” when wielding musical instruments. It’s a WIP, but any thoughts about balancing this addition for the Bard would be welcome. At the moment, I am using the default bonus structure put in place by Clubok (as above); this from their readme.txt:-

UPDATE: These benefits have now been updated and set according to the post further down the page. Look for the new list and how the instruments work there.

Countersong: Add level/2 to SR, duration
Fascinate: Add level/2 to DC, duration
Song of Freedom: Add level/2 to DC; increase AOE from Medium to Large
Haven Song: Add level/2 to DC, duration
Inspire Heroics: Add level/2 to duration; increases bonuses by 50%
Inspire Legion: Add level/2 to duration; increase BAB, damage bonus by 2
Ironskin Chant: Add level/2 to duration, damage resistance
Cloud Mind: Add level/2 to DC, duration
Curse Song: Add level/2 to duration; increase all effects by 50%

Inspire Competence: Add 2 to skill checks
Inspire Courage: Add 2 to attack, damage
Inspire Defense: Add 2 to AC
Inspire Jarring: Doubles penalties
Inspire Regeneration: Extra 1 HP of regeneration
Inspire Slowing: Add level/2 to DC, increase movement penalties to 25%/50%
Inspire Toughness: Add 2 to saves

NB: I may adjust/alter the above subject to their impact. I may also base bonuses on the gold cost of instruments, etc. (Quite likely.)

And just to say that I also have a “stage” in the Bloated Buckle (in The Scroll) where a Bard class can earn gold by performing. :wink: (You have to talk to the inn owner first.)

Any other thoughts welcome.

EDIT: Here are some of the adhoc ideas I am working on:-

  1. Different instrument required to give bonus to different songs. (E.g. Combat = Drum.)
  2. Instrument value affects boost: <2000gp (+1), 2000-4000 (+2), >4000 (+3) (*)
  3. I may NOT use (some) increases with PC level on songs, as it may be too generous.
  4. Reworking the INC script to accommodate the differences, by adding functions.

(*) As the more expensive instruments are likely to be magikal, then these would be additional bonuses to the magik enhancements they provide.


I don’t know what PnP stands for, but they are. If it weren’t for the fact that Bards are forcibly musicians and thus use songs, and their magic stopped at only sixth level and couldn’t carry on to ninth, I’d probably be playing a Bard more.


Only partly true. As far as I can tell, any spellcaster can use any spells that are available to them if they don’t have a high enough score at UMD. Of course, Bards have arcane, divine and unique spells available to them, so you’re not far off.


Hi R-Mod,

Sorry , I am showing my age … PnP means “Pen and Paper”. i.e. When D&D used to be played only with pen and paper … and on a computer was only a dream. When I read that Baldur’s Gate was going to be made (in a small announcement in a White Dwarf magazine), it still took a number of years before I got to play it. When NWN1 and NWN2 came along … my dream came true. :slight_smile:

Try looking for information on how the bard used to be back in PnP days, especially with 1E (first edition), and you may see what I mean.

Cheers, Lance.


Gods, I feel old.

I remember 85 cent gas
Manual typewriters.
35 cent hamburgers.
Cars with trunks the size of today’s cars.
8 track players
Real chrome
Dialed telephones

Granted, I don’t miss most of this. Just sayin’.


You fill old I can remember 34 cent gas I know I worked my uncles gas station. 15 cent burgers, 10 cent comic books.


Careful Greenman … Do you mean “You ‘feel’ old”? … Hope you are not going over the edge there. :smile: :wink:

Cheers, Lance.

The following sounds about right to me …


1e Bard you had to start out as a Thief between 4th and 7th level. You then had to switch to fighter and go one level higher than thief, but not higher than 8th level. Then you could start on the Bard level. My memory may be felling but I believe you could get to 20th level as a Bard.


Woh! Way to go! You just reminded me why we all steered clear of playing the bard class back in those days.

At least it seems a bit easier in NWN D&D. :slight_smile:

Cheers, Lance.


I figured that’s what it meant. Also you can stop with making your replies sound like you’re writing a letter. We know who you are and whom you’re talking to. And honestly, I’m not too keen on looking through ancient times, because just 1E sounds like it was similar to Warcraft 1.

And good lord, that was horrendous to just look at when I first launched it.


Out of all these, I only remember VCRs and dialed telephones.

And I only miss VCRs.


I started playing the PnP version when the game came in a 8" by 5" white box. It came with 4 booklet, some funky little light plastic dice, light blue in color and a white crayon back then. I bought the Monster Manuel for the first edition the next year. I liked the old Bard but no one wanted to fight them or the Ranger back then. The Ranger could cast clerical and Magic User spells back then, but only to second level magic user spells.


The fact that there was a class literally called “thief” is enough deterrent to not look back at such ancient times.


Still showing my age … :smile:

Cheers, Lance … or perhaps not if you prefer. :wink:


Well, there were some “good” points with 1E … and without it we would never have moved on to the improved game versions we have today. I would even add that you can go too far with “improving” … After all, personally, I think 4E and 5E have really dumbed down and gone backwards … but, as I say, that may be just my opinion. I am a great fan of 3 and 3.5E, where I think D&D peaked in its gameplay!

Check out my blog posts if you are interested in some background of the differences:-