After watching a bunch of Van Canto videos and thinking about the archetypal five-man band, it seems like an all-bard party might be a lot of fun for a fantasy game. Particularly, it might be ridiculously fun in a video game: imagine a party-based RPG like Dragon Age or even Dungeon Siege, but with Rock Band-style mechanics to layer in vocals and keep everyone in harmony, with the effects reflected in the music tracks played. But even without that level of awesome, there’s a lot of room to implement this in D&D. While a single bard is often considered borderline useless in a party for its lack of specialization, in a full party of bards they might display the kind of synergy of all-defender teams in City of Heroes. The real limitation is that Inspire Courage doesn’t stack with itself. Hence, the following optional rules:

Bardic music is often a solitary pursuit, but some bards manage to work with others frequently enough to learn to harmonize successfully, taking on a particular role in a song to elevate the music to previously unmatched levels. Only one member of a troupe can typically make use of any individual feat below at a given time without invalidating the entire troupe’s feats: there cannot be two leads, for example. Only one of the feats below can be used at a time by any given bard (e.g., even a character with both Beat and Bass must choose which one is used on a given turn where both qualify).

Performance Specialization: Beat

When maintaining the percussion for a bardic ensemble troupe, keeping everyone in time, your music adds to the effects of the group.

Prerequisite: Bardic performance class feature.

Benefit: Whenever you attack an enemy and hit with all of your attacks, until the end of your next turn your Bardic Performance bonuses count as untyped and stack with any typed bonuses.

Normal: Bardic Performances of the same type produce typed bonuses that do not stack.

Performance Specialization: Bass

When playing bass for a bardic ensemble troupe, maintaining the link between beat and rhythm, your music adds to the effects of the group.

Prerequisite: Bardic performance class feature.

Benefit: Whenever you attack an enemy that was targeted by a character using Performance Specialization: Beat or cast a support spell that affects a character using Performance Specialization: Rhythm, until the end of your next turn your Bardic Performance bonuses count as untyped and stack with any typed bonuses.

Normal: Bardic Performances of the same type produce typed bonuses that do not stack.

Performance Specialization: Rhythm

When producing rhythm for a bardic ensemble troupe, creating the major chords and sense of movement upon which the singers will build, your music adds to the effects of the group.

Prerequisite: Bardic performance class feature.

Benefit: Whenever you cast a spell that affects the speed of yourself an ally or you both move and attack an enemy (with weapon or spell), until the end of your next turn your Bardic Performance bonuses count as untyped and stack with any typed bonuses.

Normal: Bardic Performances of the same type produce typed bonuses that do not stack.

Performance Specialization: Melody

When singing melody for a bardic ensemble troupe, building on the efforts of the rhythm and supporting the lead, your music adds to the effects of the group.

Prerequisite: Bardic performance class feature.

Benefit: Whenever you perform the same action (casting the same spell or attacking the same target) as a character using Performance Specialization: Rhythm or cast a support spell that affects a character using Performance Specialization: Lead, until the end of your next turn your Bardic Performance bonuses count as untyped and stack with any typed bonuses.

Normal: Bardic Performances of the same type produce typed bonuses that do not stack.

Performance Specialization: Lead

When performing the main vocals for a bardic ensemble troupe, producing the most noticeable music of the song, your music adds to the effects of the group.

Prerequisite: Bardic performance class feature.

Benefit: Whenever you make a full attack against an enemy that attacked you this round, until the end of your next turn your Bardic Performance bonuses count as untyped and stack with any typed bonuses.

Normal: Bardic Performances of the same type produce typed bonuses that do not stack.

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