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View Full Version : Wanting to start out as a Pure Solo Bard Swashbuckler. What should I do?



Poisonjammer
06-06-2014, 10:09 AM
At the top, let me just say - I am now aware I'll have to wait. I'm not sure if this means I can put enhancements in while I play and respec for some coin or TP or whatever (if I can, let me know, cause then I can start earlier - if I can't, I'll just wait for the update or play all gimpy without enhancements), and I don't really care about being super underpowered in the beginning (or even at the end, I guess).

I decided I want to play pure bard. I'm 99% a solo player, although if someone is like 'hey brah wanna knock out some Kobolds' you know I'm in there like swimwear - I just don't want to have to go out of my way to find folks and have them zerging stuff where I want to explore and feel the game out. I start to do my research - I find out what I'm gonna drop my initial investment into the game cash-wise, I learn some basic basics of the gameplay and what have you, I find out that bard has a Swashbuckling tree coming soon. I says to myself 'that seems like something I want to be on', so I spend all week scouring the internet for more information. None of it makes sense to me, but whatever.

All the builds I see, for potential Swashbucklers or whatever else, all involve past lives and epic destinies and tomes and splashes - and I get that for a lot of people, that's how the game is played. I will probably play it that way myself when I want to get competitive and clear content and have that kind of fun, but for now I wanna have some me-time kind of fun. I wanna rock out, get amped up, and stab the hell out of things. Currently, that's sub-optimal but in the future.....maybe it'll still be sub-optimal. Oh well, that's where I'm at.

What I'm looking for from you, kind Sirs and Madams of the Bard subforum, is where I should be going with a first character. Currently, mapping out a build from 1-28 before I even start playing is not super fun for me, mainly because I'm not sure what I NEED to be productive. I'm not a powergamer, but like I said, 99% solo, I'm going to need to be able to tear some stuff up when time comes to do that. If I tried to do it myself and I hit a wall, that's not fun. Maybe once I read some advice I get (hopefully) from this thread, I start playing, I start reading, I get into the groove, maybe then I can sit and plan a secondary character and get that enjoyment. That's not super what I'm out to do here. I know what I want to do, I know kind of how I want to do it, and I want to play through as much of the story as I can, living this character.

So what I'm looking for, if you would be so kind to oblige, is a pathway to a hack n'slash concerto -

What I KNOW: I'd like to be a Halfling Bard 1-20, mixing songs and spells to amplify my single weapon melee capability. Apparently you get some sort of bonus for leveling entirely as one class, I don't think Bard is impossible to do that with, and I just think Halflings are damned cool.

What I DON'T KNOW: With a 28 point starting build, no tomes outright (although I have TP I can buy some but I hear it's stupid to do that first life) (I think you find/acquire certain tomes as you play?) what my point distribution looks like from start to finish. So many builds are confusing because they start with X, plus the tome, and past life bonuses, amplified by the phase of the moon....

Can I play the game like normal, be a Melee Bard with like a 2HW or something, and then when Swash comes out shuffle my enhancements around to fit that playstyle? I suspect if I do, I'll still need to be putting stat points and skill points into particular stats and skills (for Swash) and taking feats that might not help me until the update?

What I NEED: A fairly easy roadmap, even if it's only like levels 1-5 or 1-10, to play a single weapon fighting melee dps bard that has decent solo capability (I will use hirelings fo' sho.) - If you have the time and the patience, EXPLAIN to me how you make your decisions so I can read your comments, look at the material, and make those connections. My learning style is not trial and error, and I KNOW that's a lot of the fun in DnD and DDO but once I feel comfortable with the game I'm more than happy to take on that burden - I'd just like a set of training wheels to get me to that point where I'm comfortable, dig?

Any advice at all is welcome. Super negative folks make my heart hurt, so if you don't have anything nice to say please just go kick a puppy instead of insulting me: I'm chomping at the bit to play the game but I want to make sure I'm easing my way into it. If you wanna explain your thought process, that'd be super helpful, but if not - I'm willing to look at what you say and what someone else says and think my way through it.

geoffhanna
06-06-2014, 10:32 AM
I think Swashbuckler Bard will make a very good solo class. Here are some ideas you might want to consider:


Build up your Heal skill in addition to whatever skills you want. Bard healing is okay, not great, but okay, and the heal skill makes it better
Decide whether you want your primary stat to be strength, dexterity or charisma. Strength will give you the best melee, dexterity will give you the best saves, or charisma will give you the best spells and songs. But you can't do all three: pick one, and do it up big. If you choose DEX or CHA, take the Different Tack enhancement as soon as you can
Swashbuckler bards are definitely made to be single-weapon fighters. So do that. Single-weapon fighting requires three feats, plus Improved Critical. Don't slack off on these, take them all
I just noticed you are thinking Halfling. If so, definitely take the Halfling Dragonmark and the related enhancements. It is totally worthwhile (http://www.gamergeoff.com/halfling-dragonmarks-make-any-class-self-healing/).


There is more but I am time-constrained. I assume others will pitch in :)

Seikojin
06-06-2014, 11:04 AM
I think Swashbuckler Bard will make a very good solo class. Here are some ideas you might want to consider:


Build up your Heal skill in addition to whatever skills you want. Bard healing is okay, not great, but okay, and the heal skill makes it better
Decide whether you want your primary stat to be strength, dexterity or charisma. Strength will give you the best melee, dexterity will give you the best saves, or charisma will give you the best spells and songs. But you can't do all three: pick one, and do it up big. If you choose DEX or CHA, take the Different Tack enhancement as soon as you can
Swashbuckler bards are definitely made to be single-weapon fighters. So do that. Single-weapon fighting requires three feats, plus Improved Critical. Don't slack off on these, take them all
I just noticed you are thinking Halfling. If so, definitely take the Halfling Dragonmark and the related enhancements. It is totally worthwhile (http://www.gamergeoff.com/halfling-dragonmarks-make-any-class-self-healing/).


There is more but I am time-constrained. I assume others will pitch in :)


I mirror Geoff's statements. You can epic destiny things that would make life a bit better in epics. Also I would suggest CHA for the main stat. Mainly because it would give you higher DC's which you will want when you are going for coup.

gwonbush
06-06-2014, 12:18 PM
If you are going to start out as a TWF or a THF bard then change when U22 comes out, you are going to have to use your free Lesser Heart of Wood for a full respec. This is because the Single Weapon Fighting feats that you are going to take come out in U22.

Personally, I'd suggest you go Dex-based to compensate for your 28 point build (the less stat you need to upgrade, the better) and because it works well with halfling. However, this has a downside of being weak in damage until you hit level 3 Rank 4 and can take Different Tack to apply Dexterity to damage instead of Strength. You will also be a bit weak before you hit level 3 and can take the Swashbuckling Stance. All that being said that being said, let's get on with the build.

Starting Stats:
Alignment: Your choice of Neutral Good or True Neutral. I'd suggest True Neutral because the benefits of Neutral Good are not readily apparent on a bard with a passable Use Magic Device skill.

Race: Halfling

Strength: 8 (2 points spent The reason for this is to increase your carrying capacity. As you are a halfling, you have even less carrying capacity than most races)
Dexterity: 18 (10 points spent, this is your main stat and all level ups (once every 4 levels you can add an additional point to a stat) will go into it
Constitution: 14 (6 points spent. Constitution is HP and while nowadays many people don't invest as heavily into it, I wouldn't suggest a new player to start with less than 14 con unless they are some kind of elf. It gives them a bit of an extra buffer.)
Intelligence: 8 (0 points spent. You get enough skill points that it doesn't really need to be increased and you have tight enough stats as is)
Wisdom: 8 (0 points spent. Stats are still tight, so this one also gets dropped)
Charisma: 16 (10 points spent. This is your secondary stat. Bonuses to your Cha increase your spell DCs, your Spell points, your Use Magic Device and your Perform skill. Very useful.)

SKILLS: You have 20 points to spend at level 1, 5 more points in subsequent levels
Use Magic Device: 4 ranks . This allows you to use scrolls of classes you aren't a part of. Extremely useful, especially with bards who can take full advantage of it.
Perform: 4 ranks. Used for many song DCs and a few other abilities. Pump this up as much as you can with items so you can easily sing your way out of anything. It also increases sonic spellpower.
Balance: 4 ranks. You will need 7 ranks in Balance at a bare minimum to qualify for Greater Single Weapon Fighting
Concentration: 4 ranks. It sucks when a spell fails because you were hit while casting it. This helps mitigate that.
Tumble: 1 rank. This 1 rank will open up tumbling as an option.
Move Silently: 3 ranks. You have 3 ranks left to spend, this will help you sneak past mobs while invisible better. They won't notice you even if you sing!

From level 2 on, add 1 point to UMD, Perform, Balance, Concentration and Move Silently. From level 5 on, you may stop adding to Balance if you wish. Instead, you can put those points in Haggle (more money) or Jump (a bit more maneuverability, though a Jump skill beyond 40 in unneeded) I didn't go with the Heal skill because it is a cross class skill for bards and only provides 11 spellpower because of that.

FEATS: You are pretty tight on Feats.
Level 1: Single Weapon Fighting: This is your Bread and Butter feat line, increasing your attack speed greatly as well as later increasing the amount of damage you do.
Level 3: Precision: You will not have a very high to-hit, this will help cover that. It also helps you get critical hits (you will get lots of them) on things like undead, and as a Swashbuckler you eventually get an enhancement that gives you +5 damage with Precision on.
Level 6: Shield Mastery: The Skirmisher enhancement gives you 10% dodge when you have a buckler equipped. This will give you an extra 3% doublestrike and 3 PRR on top of that.
Level 9: Improved Single Weapon Fighting: Attack even faster, hit harder!
Level 12: Improved Critical: Piercing. Most of the good Swashbuckler weapons are Piercing Weapons. Slashing and Bludgeoning are also good choices, but they limit your options more.
Level 15: Greater Single Weapon Fighting: Attack really fast, hit even harder!
Level 18: Improved Shield Mastery: You are still using a buckler, so this gives you an extra 5% doublestrike and 2 PRR on top of the amount you get from Shield Mastery, bringing the total up to 8% doublestrike, 5 PRR. It also opens up Legendary Shield Mastery in the Unyielding Sentinel ED.
Level 21:Quicken Spell. Mobs hit hard in epics. It sucks when your spells fail because you got hit hard. With Quicken Spell active, your spells complete faster and don't fail when you get hit.
Level 24:Inspire Excellence. How does giving your party 2 to all stats sound?
Level 26 Epic Destiny Feat: Perfect Single Weapon Fighting IF you can get it (requires 1 Martial Sphere Destiny at max XP) If you cannot, go for Lasting Inspiration (requires 1 Arcane Sphere Destiny (you start in this sphere) at max XP)
Level 27:Epic Reflexes: Adds 2 to your reflex save (should already be high because you are dex based) and means you don't fail a reflex save on a 1.
Level 28: Epic Destiny Feat: Whichever you didn't get at Level 26

No Halfling Dragonmark because I just couldn't fit it in between all of the feats needed to bring out the most of Swashbuckler. As a bard, you have reasonable self healing anyway.
SPELLS
Level 1: Expeditious Retreat: Run Speed is good.
Level 2: Detect Secret Doors: Who needs a Rogue to find your doors?
Level 3: Cure Light Wounds: It's nice to be able to heal a bit.
Level 4: Blur and Invisibility: Blur makes you missed 20% of the time, Invisibility lets you just skip some stuff all together
Level 5: Grease and Heroism: Grease isn't a spell you really cast on monsters, but a spell you use to prank your party. Heroism gives +2 to saves and skill checks. It helps your trapper if you have one and also makes your Fascinate harder to resist.
Level 6: No Spells this level
Level 7:Haste and Displacement and Rage: These are your best spells. They don't last that long, but haste makes your entire party much faster at attacking and running, while displacement is the best defensive spell in the game, giving you a 50% chance to be missed (doesn't stack with blur, cancelled by true seeing). Rage won't be as useful for you solo, but it still increases your max HP.
Level 8:Cure Serious wounds: Healing more would be better.
Level 9:No Spells this level
Level 10: Remove Curse, Freedom of Movement, Dimension Door. Curses suck, FoM prevents you from being hit with Hold Monster, Dimension Door allows you to go back to the quest entrance instantly
Level 11:Otto's Sphere of Dancing: The disco ball. Your DC won't be very high, but catching multiple mobs dancing is insanely useful. Takes a long time to cast.
Level 12:No Spells
Level 13: Cure Critical Wounds, Greater Heroism, Shadow Walk. Cure Critical is your best single target heal, Greater Heroism adds 4 to saves and skills as well as immunity to fear, Shadow walk lets you run even faster than with haste for as long as you don't interact with anything. Comes with an annoying purple glow.
Level 14: Mass Cure Light Wounds. You are going to party sometime, might as well get a mass heal.
Level 15: No Spells
Level 16: Focusing Chant, Mind Fog, Heroes' Feast, Otto's Irresistible Dance. Focusing chant gives a +1 stacking bonus to skills for a short time, Mind fog lowers Will Saves, Heroes' Feast applies a bonus if you cast it right before shrining and Otto's Irresistible causes an enemy to dance for around 20 seconds without a saving throw.
Level 17: Soundburst, Mass Cure Moderate Wounds. Neither will be particularly useful for you since you solo and your DC won't be high enough to get soundburst to consistantly land on a mob.
Level 18: Good Hope: It's good for noticing when Inspire Courage runs out
Level 19: Neutralize Poison: Can make you completely immune to poison for a minute. Now laugh at those Green Dragons!
Level 20: Summon Monster V: Not really useful, but hey, an earth elemental!

Enhancements:
I've been typing for a while so I'll just list the important ones to get eventually:
All cores in Swashbuckler
Swashbuckling style:Skirmisher and Low Blow (using a buckler while swashbuckling is awesome)
Coup De Grace (use Low Blow to knockdown a monster, Coup De Grace to kill it}
Fast Movement (run as fast as a monk)
Different Tack: Swift Strikes (Dex to damage instead of strength)
3 ranks in Resonant Arms (easily applies 40 sonic damage on crits, more if you slot resonance somewhere)
Exploit Weakness (Get more crits)
Second Skin (More reflex is good. More Max Dex to Armor allows you to get full dodge bonus in Light armor)
Elegant Footwork: Knocking down enemies without a save is fun.

Poisonjammer
06-06-2014, 06:20 PM
Well, I have Vet 1, so I'd start theoretically at level 4. Basically, if I go Precision and use a light weapon and use DEX Different Tack, my to-hit AND damage will be based on DEX?

gwonbush
06-06-2014, 06:57 PM
No, you would still be using Strength to hit. Precision adds +5% to hit (so your base always hit is 30%) and 25% fortification bypass. There just isn't room in the feats for applying your dex to hit with Weapon Finesse.

If you want to go that option, here is a different feat order, though you ultimately lose 20 PRR and 15% doublestrike:
1)SWF
3)Weapon Finesse
6)Precision
9)Improved SWF
12)Improved Critical:Piercing
15)Greater SWF
18)Quicken
21)Inspire Excellence
24)Extend or Empower Healing (longer buffs or more powerful healing spells (for more cost)
26)Perfect SWF
27)Epic Reflexes
28)Lingering Inspiration