Guide to Building a Bard College of Valor: DnD 5e

When building a bard College of Valor in DnD 5e, consider the following:

A bard from the College of Valor in DnD 5e is a charismatic spell knight, a supportive warrior who manipulates attack rolls and boosts allies’ abilities.  This bard gains the ability to use martial weapons, medium armor and shields.  Also, they can use Combat Inspiration to add 1d6 to an ally’s combat damage or Armor Class.

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Choose a race with high Charisma, Constitution or Strength modifiers.

In my opinion, Charisma should be this character’s highest score, as it affects our abilities and spellcasting.  This is bard 101—keep that Charisma high.  My next few ability scores should be Strength and Constitution for close-quarters combat.  However, a racial bonus to either could be super beneficial.

Therefore, the races I’ll consider for this build are dragonborn, half-elf, human, and mountain dwarf.

Dragonborn are granted a +2 bonus to Strength, with a +1 bonus to Charisma.  I love the idea of a happy-go-lucky dragonborn being super pumped to battle by his friends, singing as he downs enemies.  The Strength bonus will enhance my sword strikes between inspiration and spells.

The half-elf race has a big +2 Charisma bonus for my bardic spells and abilities, with two additional +1 buffs to a skill of my choosing.  Can you guess where I’ll put those?  This race is classic for a bard, as they receive bonus proficiencies and resistance against being charmed.  I’ll do the charming, thank you.

Humans offer a versatile choice for a bard, especially if I choose the variant form with a bonus feat.  Variant humans receive a +1 bonus to skills of their choice, with proficiency in one skill of my choice alongside the bonus feat.  Being a versatile character is what bards are all about, and this bonus feat could be fun to play with.

Finally, mountain dwarves make for a stout build, adding +2 to Constitution and +1 to Strength.  This character focuses on surviving and helping allies, able to resist spells and keep swinging.  For the dwarf, we could change out the longsword for a hammer.

Make a bard with medium armor, longsword and shield

When I build out our initial bard, I’ll choose a longsword and diplomats pack to begin.  At first, I’ll chill out on the close-quarters battle and work my Bardic Inspiration and spellcasting.  I’ll choose Athletics, Persuasion and Intimidate as proficient skills.

My Bardic Inspiration begins at level 1, allowing me to grant 1d6 to an ally to add to attack rolls, ability check or saving throw.  I’ll give an ally the die, which they can choose to use within the next 10 minutes on any of the listed rolls.  I’m allotted an amount of inspiration dice equal to my Charisma modifier.  Hopefully, I can get 3 or 4 to start.

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Level 2 adds Song of Rest and Jack of All Trades to my list of abilities.  Song of Rest adds an extra 1d6 health points to my entire party during a short rest, via soothing jams.  Jack of All Trades allows me to add half my proficiency modifier to every ability check I make.  It takes some leveling up for this to be more than 1, but it’s still nice.

As I enter level 3 and choose College of Valor, I will also gain Expertise as a basic bard ability.  Expertise doubles my proficiency bonus for two of my proficient skills.  Athletics and Persuasion come to mind, so I can move incredibly well around dungeons and wilderness and flex my high Charisma even further.

College of Valor: Combat Inspiration and armor

Finally, at level 3 I’ll gain my initial College of Valor abilities, adding a proficiency for shields and medium armor to my setup. Now, I’m ready to get into the mix and swing my sword around.  Medium armor like scale mail grants a base AC of 14.  However, I can add my Dexterity modifier up to +2 and utilize the shield for extra defense.  If I have at least a +1 Dexterity modifier, this makes an armor class of 15.  Add in the shield (+2), and I have a reasonable AC score of 17.

The College of Valor adds Combat Inspiration to my Bardic Inspiration ability, granting me the ability to affect damage outcomes.  What’s cool about this ability is that every use is in the hands of my allies.  My party could walk up to a dungeon, realize it’s probably a trap, and I can hand out inspiration as threats appear.

Allies can choose to use this extra 1d6 on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, damage rolls or AC.

Higher levels (6 and 14) will add an Extra Attack and Battle Magic.  Extra Attack grants me an extra attack roll, which is awesome for any warrior character.  Battle Magic adds a bonus attack roll after a bard spell has been cast—making this build look more like a battle mage.

Lean into combat and support spells from the bard list

For my bard’s cantrip list, I think minor illusion, mage hand and vicious mockery fit this character well.  Minor illusion can mess with enemies’ senses, which might be subtle and effective in sword fighting combat.  I can always use it for tricky purposes as well.  Mage hand is perfect for manipulating dangerous objects or tricking an NPC.  Finally, vicious mockery forces a foe to make a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d4 psychic damage and have disadvantage on the next attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.  Don’t mind if I trash talk a little bit.

1st level spells

  • Cure wounds grants HP equal to 1d8 +Cha (spellcasting) modifier. I can cast on myself or an ally.
  • Detect magic allows me to detect the source and type of magic surrounding a certain object, place or person. This type of spell allows me to sniff out magic users and arcane traps.
  • Thunderwave deals 2d8 thunder damage and pushes enemy back 10 feet on failed Constitution saves. When engaging as a melee spell slinger, a spell that pushes opponents away can be critical.
  • Dissonant Whispers deals 3d6 psychic damage on a failed Wisdom save. As a bonus, the creature is afraid and runs as far away as possible.  This spell allows me to localize the effect of my attack, isolating one enemy and not hitting my allies.
  • Feather Fall allows me to negate the damage of myself and 5 allies. Because my Athletics skill will be doubled, this could be a nice spell to throw in as I climb cliffs or trees.

2nd-level spells

  • Calm Emotions can leave an entire room in a state of charm or fear on a failed Charisma save throw. This is a trick I can throw in if my impressive Persuasion skill doesn’t make the cut.
  • Cloud of Daggers creates a 5 X 5 cube of whirling blades. Creatures who begin or end their turn in this cube take 4d4 slashing damage.  I always like to a field effect spell on hand.
  • Invisibility turns me invisible. The goal is to grant my friends the best luck possible and move through enemies.
  • Lesser Restoration is a stat healing spell that removes poison, paralysis, blindness and deafness. I like to have a next level heal spell for support.

3rd-level spells

I’ll likely be spending damage spells in higher spell slots, but a few 3rd-level spells I like are:

  • Dispel Magic cancels out magical effects, giving me anti-wizard capabilities.
  • Major Image creates a massive illusion up to the size of a 20-foot cube. The illusion can move around the map and is only dispelled when someone touches it.  I can do some creative work with this one.

Blend higher level class and subclass abilities to enhance your role in the group

Higher bard levels grant me extra magical abilities with added uses of my Bardic Inspiration.

Font of Inspiration grants me back expended bardic dice on a short rest.  This means I can take a quick break in a cleared dungeon and prepare for the next room.

Countercharm is an area of effect ability that uses my music to counteract enemy magic.  As I play my lute, all allies within 30 feet of me gain advantage on saving rolls against being frightened or charmed.  Leaning into a support role, this defensive maneuver is fantastic against fiendish or fae monsters.  Not to mention, a handy tool against enemy spell slingers.

At the highest levels, bards receive bonus spells from any spellbook at a level I can cast.  These Magical Secrets increase at level 14 and 18.  Finally, Superior Inspiration grants me a bonus Bardic Inspiration die on initiative rolls.

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