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Juxter
03-28-2014, 05:06 PM
I have never seriously played bards before. The following is my plan to play a bard splash, from level 1-20. I'd appreciate suggestions/improvements to max dps and/or survivability. Constructive criticism welcomed.

Thanks.
-Juxter

Toon is built on following restrictions/requirements:
First life, 32-pt build. Access to all races/classes.
Majority of levels in bard to eventually TR w/bard PL.
Skills:
trapping skills with near max search/disableDev/openLock.
be able to handle +95% of all traps/locks at level or 1 under level heroic elite
max perform - facinate for those rare occasion when overwhelmed (kinda optional)
twf -> +80% of time.
range -> secondary weap, used when twf is impossible or near suicide
quick run thru heroic elite, and possibly lower lvl epic hard/elite.
will mostly be pugging; no static group. Random pugs may contain morons/gimps
rarely solo, in which case a tank/arcane hireling may be used.
access to +2 stat tomes
I hardly have any specific bard eq in mind, so during leveling, I anticipate eq to be mostly vendor loot.
I have epic lvl toons on same server to infuse a moderate amount of plat if needed, or buy not-too-expensive eq on AH



Character Plan by DDO Character Planner Version 04.20.02

Level 20 True Neutral Drow Male
(4 Rogue / 4 Ranger / 12 Bard)
Hit Points: 233
Spell Points: 366

BAB: 16/16/21/26/26
Fortitude: 12
Reflex: 24
Will: 10

Starting Feat/Enhancement
Abilities Base Stats Modified Stats
(28 Point) (Level 1) (Level 20)
Strength 10 12
Dexterity 18 27
Constitution 14 16
Intelligence 16 18
Wisdom 8 10
Charisma 10 12
Level up all stat into Dex
Tomes Used
+2 Tome of Strength used at level 2
+2 Tome of Dexterity used at level 2
+2 Tome of Constitution used at level 2
+2 Tome of Intelligence used at level 2
+2 Tome of Wisdom used at level 2
+2 Tome of Charisma used at level 2

Starting Feat/Enhancement
Base Skills Modified Skills
Skills (Level 1) (Level 20)
Balance 8 31
Bluff 4 5
Concentration 2 19
Diplomacy 4 24
Disable Device 7 24
Haggle 4 24
Heal -1 10
Hide 4 8
Intimidate 0 1
Jump 2 3
Listen -1 5
Move Silently 4 8
Open Lock 8 29
Perform n/a 24
Repair 3 4
Search 7 29
Spellcraft 3 4
Spot 3 25
Swim 2 3
Tumble 8 12
Use Magic Device 4 24

Level 1 (Rogue)
Feat: (Selected) Point Blank Shot
Feat: (Automatic) Attack
Feat: (Automatic) Drow Spell Resistance
Feat: (Automatic) Elven Keen Senses
Feat: (Automatic) Enchantment Save Bonus
Feat: (Automatic) Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Shuriken
Feat: (Automatic) Heroic Durability
Feat: (Automatic) Immunity to Sleep
Feat: (Automatic) Light Armor Proficiency
Feat: (Automatic) Martial Weapon Proficiency: Rapier
Feat: (Automatic) Martial Weapon Proficiency: Shortsword
Feat: (Automatic) Martial Weapon Proficiency: Shortbow
Feat: (Automatic) Shuriken Expertise
Feat: (Automatic) Simple Weapon Proficiency
Feat: (Automatic) Sneak
Feat: (Automatic) Sneak Attack
Feat: (Automatic) Spell Save Bonus
Feat: (Automatic) Trapfinding

Level 2 (Bard)
Feat: (Automatic) Dismiss Charm
Feat: (Automatic) Fascinate
Feat: (Automatic) Inspire Courage
Feat: (Automatic) Martial Weapon Proficiency: Longsword
Feat: (Automatic) Shield Proficiency (General)

Level 3 (Ranger)
Feat: (Favored Enemy) Favored Enemy: Undead
Feat: (Selected) Weapon Finesse
Feat: (Automatic) Bow Strength
Feat: (Automatic) Defennsive Fighting
Feat: (Automatic) Martial Weapon Proficiency (ALL)
Feat: (Automatic) Sunder
Feat: (Automatic) Trip
Feat: (Automatic) Wild Empathy

Level 4 (Bard)

Level 5 (Bard)
Feat: (Automatic) Inspire Competence

Level 6 (Rogue)
Feat: (Selected) Precision
Feat: (Automatic) Evasion

Level 7 (Ranger)
Feat: (Automatic) Rapid Shot
Feat: (Automatic) Two Weapon Fighting

Level 8 (Bard)

Level 9 (Bard)
Feat: (Selected) Improved Two Weapon Fighting
Feat: (Automatic) Improved Heroic Durability

Level 10 (Bard)
Feat: (Automatic) Suggestion

Level 11 (Bard)

Level 12 (Rogue)
Feat: (Selected) Improved Critical: Piercing Weapons
Feat: (Automatic) Trap Sense

Level 13 (Ranger)
Feat: (Automatic) Diehard

Level 14 (Bard)
Feat: (Automatic) Improved Inspire Courage

Level 15 (Bard)
Feat: (Selected) Greater Two Weapon Fighting
Feat: (Automatic) Inspire Greatness

Level 16 (Bard)

Level 17 (Ranger)
Feat: (Automatic) Precise Shot

Level 18 (Rogue)
Feat: (Selected) Manyshot
Feat: (Automatic) Archer's Focus
Feat: (Automatic) Trapmaking
Feat: (Automatic) Uncanny Dodge
Feat: (Automatic) Uncanny Dodge (Dodge Bonus)

Level 19 (Bard)

Level 20 (Bard)
Feat: (Automatic) Song of Freedom

Enhancement: Drow - Spell Resistance (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Drow Dexterity (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Spell Resistance (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Drow Dexterity (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Keen Senses (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Keen Senses (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Drow - Keen Senses (Rank 3)
EEnhancement: Drow - Xen'drik Weapon Training (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Xen'drik Weapon Training (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Xen'drik Weapon Training (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Drow - Xen'drik Weapon Training (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Knife in the Darkness (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Dagger in the Back (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Shiv (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Shiv (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Sneak Attack Training (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Venomed Blades (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Sneak Attack Training (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Assassin (Rog) - Sneak Attack Training (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Shield of Whirling Steel (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Tempest (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Improved Reaction (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Improved Reaction (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Improved Reaction (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Whirling Blades (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Whirling Blades (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Haste Boost (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Haste Boost (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Haste Boost (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Critical Accuracy (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Critical Accuracy (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Critical Accuracy (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Whirling Blades (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Critical Damage (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Critical Damage (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Critical Damage (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Tempest (Rgr) - Whirling Blades (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Spellsinger (Brd) - Spellsinger (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Spellsinger (Brd) - Music of the Sewers (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Spellsinger (Brd) - Lingering Songs (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Spellsinger (Brd) - Lingering Songs (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Spellsinger (Brd) - Lingering Songs (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - Skaldic Rage (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - Fighting Spirit (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - Inspired Bravery (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - Inspired Bravery (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - Inspired Bravery (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - The Poetic Edda (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - The Poetic Edda (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Warchanter (Brd) - The Poetic Edda (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Deepwood Stalker (Rgr) - Far Shot (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Arcane Archer (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Morphic Arrows (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Conjure Arrows (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Energy of the Wild (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Energy of the Wild (Rank 2)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Energy of the Wild (Rank 3)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Shock Arrows (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Force Arrows (Rank 1)
Enhancement: Arcane Archer (Rgr) - Soul Magic (Rank 1)

BoBoDaClown
03-28-2014, 07:12 PM
I'd modify the build to pick up the tier 5 knife specialization from the rogue tree; heroic game is about mowing through mobs; this would help with that.

unbongwah
03-28-2014, 07:40 PM
In almost all cases, going DEX-based is a trap. This is one of those cases.

Are you planning to spend much time in epics, or are you merely trying to blitz thru a bard life & TR? I like having Inspire Excellence in epics, which req's bard lvl 15; but that's irrelevant if you won't be running epics.

And if this is just for PL, you may want to consider, say, rog 5 / rgr 6 / bard 9: lvl primarily as a rog / rgr, then backload the bard lvls.

See my Bardcher thread for a couple of build ideas.

Juxter
03-28-2014, 08:37 PM
Thanks for the feedback.
@BoBoDaClown - unfortunately rogue tree tier 3 knife specialization requires at least 6 rogue lvls.
And tier5 knife requires 18 levels in rogue. Ideally I want to aim for a bard past life.

@unbongwah - Your bardcher build looks solid. I have a Q regarding dex builds. If +80% time I go twf with short swords/rapiers, in addition to tier1/2 assassin tree (which allows att/dam rolls using dex mod), I don't see too compelling a reason to allocate stat points to str. Could you explain your rationale for str?

Regarding epics, I plan on playing this toon to at most lvl 22 to get e-star commendations to trade for equipment from vendors.

BoBoDaClown
03-28-2014, 08:42 PM
Thanks for the feedback.
@BoBoDaClown - unfortunately rogue tree tier 3 knife specialization requires at least 6 rogue lvls.
And tier5 knife requires 18 levels in rogue. Ideally I want to aim for a bard past life.



Tier 5 knife specialisation (the one I was talking about-sorry if I was unclear)- gives +1 multiplier and threat range, requires 5 levels of rogue (it's top of the rogue tree).

unbongwah
03-29-2014, 08:57 AM
@BoBoDaClown - unfortunately rogue tree tier 3 knife specialization requires at least 6 rogue lvls.
And tier5 knife requires 18 levels in rogue. Ideally I want to aim for a bard past life.
There may be some confusion: Knife Spec, as BoBo said, is at the top of the Assassin tree and only req's rog lvl 5 (and char lvl 12) to take; the core enhs Assassin's Trick and Lethality are available at rog lvls 6 & 18, respectively, but they aren't necessary for this build concept. The main drawback is the AP cost and it blocks out other Tier-5 abilities; I still like taking Capering + SSV from SS PrE on my bards.

I have a Q regarding dex builds. If +80% time I go twf with short swords/rapiers, in addition to tier1/2 assassin tree (which allows att/dam rolls using dex mod), I don't see too compelling a reason to allocate stat points to str. Could you explain your rationale for str?
In terms of DPS, you will always be better off going STR-based than DEX, simply because there are more STR bonuses than DEX; e.g., as a bard/rgr, you will have Rage spell (+2 STR), Skaldic Rage (+4), and possibly Ram's Might (+2) if you go to rgr 4+. Also Overwhelming Crit req's base STR 23; the only remotely similar feat for DEX builds is Imp Sneak Atk and that req's rog lvl 12+. Finally, the only way to add DEX to longbow dmg is Elven Grace; for some bizarro reason, there's nothing in the AA/DWS trees to do that, despite the greater emphasis on DEX in Tempest. :(

There are other incentives to going DEX-based, namely higher AC & Reflex saves, but it's usually a gimp move, unfortunately.

Caprice
03-29-2014, 09:32 AM
[....]In terms of DPS, you will always be better off going STR-based than DEX, simply because there are more STR bonuses than DEX[....]
I'd go further and say that it is more that there are almost no ways at all to buff DEX beyond the basic gear bonuses.

For STR you have the aforementioned Rage Spell which is a morale bonus, Skaldic Rage which is a rage bonus, and Ram's Might which is a size bonus, all of which are easily accessible to this build. STR can also get a psychic bonus, e.g. Glove's of Titan's Grip quest drop/reward, Fighter Kensai level 12 core (although the latter isn't relevant here though). Morale and Rage bonuses to STR are also available to everyone as clickies and random proc effects (e.g. Madstone Boots).

DEX does not have access to any of those bonus types at all. I can only think of 2 boosts available to DEX at all. One is the Wiz/Sorc spell Tenser's Transformation, which is typed as alchemical. With all those Bard and Rogue levels you might be able to UMD those scrolls at higher levels. The other option is Yugoloth favor potions, which take a bit of favor farming to unlock. However in both cases you get exactly the same bonus to STR as you do to DEX (built into the spell, and via a different potion type for the Yugo) so those are a wash and thus not in DEX's favor*.

* Technically I'd say that the penalty on the Yugo DEX potion isn't onerous and the Yugo STR one can be, but not enough to matter in general.

Juxter
03-29-2014, 03:11 PM
Thanks for the clarification on knife specialization. I now see that it's on the assassin 5th row.
However I will probably pass on that, as it requires too many AP's, which I want to spend on tempest, warchanter, spellsinger, and arcane archer trees.

I have a few more Q's regarding str vs dex:
1. If my toon goes strength using short swords/rapiers, does that mean weap finesse is a wasted feat? And that I should choose something else? Say.. lower dex 18->16 and bump str 10->14 and pick power attack?

2. Does that mean in the assassin tree, the core2 (dagger in the back - use dex mod for dam w/daggers, kukri's, and finesse feat weaps) is unnecessary?

3. So instead of level ups in dex, it'd be better to level up all into str?

BoBoDaClown
03-29-2014, 03:18 PM
The main drawback is the AP cost and it blocks out other Tier-5 abilities; I still like taking Capering + SSV from SS PrE on my bards.



True, but I believe this is mainly a heroic build (I don't find I need either of these in heroic). Plus I quite like the ability to switch to different tier 5s depending on the pattern of my play.

Question: Has Song of Capering sped up? It was a little slow there for a while?

BoBoDaClown
03-29-2014, 03:31 PM
I have a few more Q's regarding str vs dex:
1. If my toon goes strength using short swords/rapiers, does that mean weap finesse is a wasted feat? And that I should choose something else? Say.. lower dex 18->16 and bump str 10->14 and pick power attack?



Yes. Weapon Finesse would be wasted (as a note, you can use dex to hit, with no weapon finesse on daggers, using assassin enhancements-but limiting in weapon choice)

You could also look at picking up the overwhelming critical line (cleave, g cleave, OC), if you were to ever play epic, but would probably require some build adjustments.

Stats something like:
Str: 16
Dex: 15
Con: 14
Int: 12
Wis: 8
Cha: 10
(1 spare point - could go dex or cha)

With intelligence at 12, you need to plan your skills out carefully (i.e. when to take rogue levels). So it may be worth keeping it higher if you wanted to access high tier rogue goodies earlier (I tend to plan solely for 20, so keeping in mind that heroics are important to you, I would plan the 'journey' quite carefully around what I want when, and this would influence my starting stats, particularly intelligence)

Skills you could drop: spot (learn where the traps are, or find them with your face and evasion), diplomacy ( definitely drop this; I find you can manage your agro without this), open locks (it certainly used to be conventional wisdom that you only needs a few skill points and an items for most chests and doors in the game; I don't know if this is still true.

Feats: PA on a str build is nice. Maximise if you could squeeze it in somewhere would give some oomph to your heals (you would want emp healing at epic levels instead)

Some ideas for you anyway :)

Caprice
03-31-2014, 04:55 PM
If you are using STR instead of DEX as your damage stat, you will want all your level-ups in STR.

As BoBoDaClown mentions, if you are going into Epic levels then one of the best DPS feats you can aim for is Overwhelming Critical (OC). This requires STR23 and can be taken at level 21 as your first epic feat. Assuming a +2 tome and all 5 level-ups in STR (there are 4 up through level 20), this means that a base STR 16 qualifies you for OC right at level 21. Note that this is exactly the number BoBoDaClown picked. If you can get a better tome (e.g. +3s through the current Anniversary Card event) then you can start lower. If you start at 14 then you need a +4 tome to qualify for OC at level 21, or you can skip it, but it is one of the best DPS feats available so it is good to plan for it if you will play in epics.

You also need enough DEX to qualify for the Improved and Greater TWF feats and Manyshot; all of those require DEX 17 from initial stats, tomes, and levelups by the time you pick them. You have those selected at levels 9, 15, and 18, respectively. You can use a +2 tome once you hit level 7, so you can have it in place in time for all of those. That means that you can drop your starting DEX to 15 and still qualify for all of your feats, or adjust that up or down depending on how large a tome you want to use. You will notice once again that this is precisely the value BoBoDaClown picked for DEX.

My guess is that (s)he figured out the suggested stat distribution by picking those 2 numbers, then bumped CON to 14 (sort of a minimum cutoff safe point for most first-life builds), and then put the rest into INT.

I would recommend Human instead of Drow since you have 32-pt builds, for a stat split like STR 16 / DEX 15 / CON 14 / INT 14 / WIS 8 / CHA 8 with 1 pt to spare. The spare goes into either CHA or WIS to make it easier to satisfy the stat requirements for spells (probably CHA). Being Human gives +1 skill point per level, and with the higher INT you get another extra skill point per level so you can be less careful about spreading out the Rogue levels. All level-ups for stat points go into STR to hit 23 at level 20, which qualifies for OC at level 21 as long as you fit in the full Cleaving chain (i.e. PA/Cleave/GCleave) in heroic levels.

If you want to stick with the Bard 12 base (rather than "group epic-proof" yourself with Bard 15 per Unbongwah's Bardcher builds) I might suggest going either Rogue 5 / Ranger 3 to keep Uncanny Dodge and pick up Knife Specialization - it really is quite powerful - or Ranger 6 / Rogue 2 for easier feats.

The Rogue5/3 split costs you Precise Shot, which is somewhat optional, but gives no additional feats so here's a place that Human could be extra good for the extra feat. You would drop Weapon Finesse and Precision, then use those 2 and the bonus feat for the PA/Cleave/GCleave chain.

For the Ranger6/2 split the 2 extra Ranger levels give you Many Shot and ITWF for free, and with those to reassign and dropping Weapon Finesse you can pick up Power Attack, Cleave, and Great Cleave. As a human you would have one feat to spare for Empower Healing or whatever strikes your fancy. Dropping Rogue levels for Ranger thins out the skill points a bit so you may have to sacrifice something on those, but with 9-12 points to spend per level you should have no problem maxing all of the "key" skills (i.e. Concentration, Disable Device, Perform, Search, Spot, and UMD) and have a good number of points in the others. You really only need 1 point in Tumble so I would recommend investing the extra points into something else (e.g. Jump, or as a cross-class pick in something else you want like Heal or Perform).

BoBoDaClown
03-31-2014, 11:54 PM
I would recommend Human instead of Drow since you have 32-pt builds, for a stat split like STR 16 / DEX 15 / CON 14 / INT 14 / WIS 8 / CHA 8 with 1 pt to spare. The spare goes into either CHA or WIS to make it easier to satisfy the stat requirements for spells (probably CHA). Being Human gives +1 skill point per level, and with the higher INT you get another extra skill point per level so you can be less careful about spreading out the Rogue levels. All level-ups for stat points go into STR to hit 23 at level 20, which qualifies for OC at level 21 as long as you fit in the full Cleaving chain (i.e. PA/Cleave/GCleave) in heroic levels.

Yes. Definitely. Obvious miss by me.

Human would be way better for this build for all the reasons outlined, plus an extra feat, which would be ultra useful (Drow for casters or maybe if you lack 32 pts),

Caprice
04-01-2014, 10:31 AM
Yes. Definitely. Obvious miss by me.

Human would be way better for this build for all the reasons outlined, plus an extra feat, which would be ultra useful (Drow for casters or maybe if you lack 32 pts),
The OP mentions that all races and 32-pt builds are available. I was fixating on Drow too based on the sample build and came to roughly the same point as you did, and only afterwards noticed that Juxter left open more choices than that.

Translating the 9 AP in Drow enhancements into Human ones I'd suggest at a bare minimum 5 AP to get:
Human Versatility: Skill Boost (for Elite traps) or Damage Boost (for DPS)
Human Adaptability: STR
Improved Recovery

After that you can either move the remaining 4 AP into some other tree or cherry pick some more out of Human. Spending 3 for another Boost (e.g. Save Boost is great at low level, or to have both Skill & Damamge) & a (non-STR) attribute point is solid, or you could pick up additional skill points in Search & Spot or DD & OL. Damage Boost is great to use in conjunction with the Tempest Haste Boost for a bigger damage burst (esp. w/ Many Shot too), but if you are running at-level Elites then you will almost certainly need the Skill Boost to find & disarm traps even when wearing decent trap skill items. FWIW I am leveling an INT-based Arty who is wearing a level-appropriate upgraded Cannith Spare Hand belt and Cove trinket and I still need to use Skill Boost to find all too many traps on Elite. I can disarm them without it as I'm using hand-me-down +5 lockpicks, but finding the traps in the first place exceeds my unbuffed skills. If you are sticking to Normals and Hards then the Skill Boost may not be as important.