Bards are the jack-of-all-trades class — it’s even in their class features. They come preloaded with a fantastic set of damage and healing options.
Feats are a great way to bolster the power of a bard who has already reached their ability score benchmarks, but what feats can a player choose to best round out an already well-rounded class? Here are some great options for Bards.
The Actor feat is one of the best options for Bards because it packages both robust mechanical and roleplay features into a Bard-flavored feat. It can be used both by players looking for numerical advantages and players looking for roleplay flavor.
The Actor feat is an excellent option for Bards who are close to their benchmark Charisma but not quite there. It provides an extra +1 to Charisma which can sometimes be the exact bolster a character needs to reach their benchmark.
Actor also provides an advantage when the character rolls Performance or Deception skill checks to impersonate another creature or pass themselves off as a person other than themselves. Lastly, it allows the character to mimic any sound or voice that they hear.
Actor is one of the feats that are exceptionally flavorful for Bards. It fits with Bard’s performance flavor while giving them a solid boost to their skill checks and spellcasting proficiency.
If the Bard intends to take the Actor feat at some point in the campaign, it allows them to allocate a higher stat pool to other stats since they’ll be getting a Charisma boost from the feat.
The skill check advantage is excellent for campaigns that feature a lot of reconnaissance, stealth, and information gathering. It allows you to hide your identity whether you’re passing yourself off as a trusted person or passing yourself off as simply “not the guy who just tripped that alarm.”
When intending to take the Actor feat, it’s important not to increase your Charisma past 19, whether through racial bonuses or ASIs, because you’ll be getting +1 Charisma from the feat.
This means players who get a +2 Charisma bonus from their race, such as Half-Elves, Changelings, and Yuan-ti Purebloods, won’t want to put more than 17 points into their Charisma score if they plan to take the Actor feat.
Tough is just never a bad feat, and taking it on a Bard is one of the better applications of the feat. Bards have an immense potential for melee weapon damage, even if they don’t choose the College of Swords.
Tough simply raises your HP pool. It grants you an amount of HP equal to twice your level when you take the feat and increases your HP pool by an additional 2 points every time you level up after taking the feat. It gives a grand total of 40 HP at level 20, which can be pretty meaningful.
The bonus will be the same regardless of what level you take it at. So, don’t worry about when you take it. Unless you’re a Variant Human, in which case you will actually get an extra 2 HP out of it if you take it as your de facto feat.
While Bards are a primary casting class, they do have high damage potential when wielding melee weapons, so Tough allows them to stay in the battle longer and interact more safely when in a melee fight.
College of Swords Bards will see the most use in this feat, but Tough is a pretty good catch-all feat that won’t ever be bad on a character. There are very few situations where surviving longer is worse, you know?
Another feat for the College of Swords Bards, but, again, all Bards will see some play in the melee weapon field. Mobile allows damage-focused Bards to dodge and weave around attacks in battle.
The Mobile feat grants three bonuses. Firstly, it increases the player’s base movement speed by 10. Secondly, it allows the player to use the Dash action to get through difficult terrain without incurring the movement speed debuff.
Lastly, and most importantly, it will enable the player to move away from a creature without provoking attacks of opportunity if they first make a melee attack against the creature.
As a primary casting class, Bards are not blessed with the fortitude of a Barbarian or a Paladin. A good hit can leave a Bard in a terrible place if they aren’t careful.
Yet, they’re still encouraged to take risks with Dexterity weapons, especially at low levels, before Bards can transition to a more casting-heavy position.
Some Bards may find that they prefer to deal damage with melee weapons and take the College of Swords. Some healing-focused Bards may want the Mobile feat so that they can approach their tanks and melee damage dealers in combat to help keep them topped off.
Mobile is a great defensive tool for Bards, regardless of their subclass and goals.
War Caster is a good feat for Bards who want to deal a lot of melee weapon damage without sacrificing their spell damage. War Caster is great for Sword Bards and especially dual-wielding Bards, as it allows them to perform the somatic components of spells even when they’re holding a weapon in both hands.
War Caster also grants them advantage when making Constitution saves for Concentration, allowing them to use their Magical Secrets feature for spells like Spirit Guardians.
Lastly, War Caster grants the ability to cast spells in place of opportunity attacks, which can round out the Bard who wants to be melee-focused. It’s important to remember that Bards are a primary casting class, so wielding their spells like melee weapons significantly boosts a weapon-focused Bard.
Defensive Duelist is another good defensive feat for melee-focused and healing-focused Bards. Defensive Duelist allows you to add your proficiency to your AC as a reaction when hit by an attack, potentially causing the attack to miss.
This can be really good for dodging powerful attacks from enemies since you get to choose which attack you try to avoid.
Defensive Duelist requires that you wield a Finesse weapon that works well with the Bard class since they’re drawn to Finesse weapons as a Dexterity-focused class. The feat allows you to dodge one hit per round if used well.
Lucky is another feat that is rarely bad as long as the character has reached their Ability Score benchmarks. Lucky grants the character 3 “Lucky points,” which refresh when they take a long rest.
At any point, a character can choose to use their Lucky points when they roll any dice and roll an additional die. Then, they select the die they want to use from the pool of available dice.
Lucky is widely regarded to be the strongest feat of the ones available in 5e. The ability to simply choose to reroll a die is undeniably powerful, and Bards have an even stronger ability with the Lucky feat than average.
The Bard’s Jack-of-All-Trades feature grants them half-proficiency to all of their skills, and they get access to Expertise which allows double proficiency in specific skills. This means that rerolling certain skills as a Bard has a very high chance of changing the outcome of a situation.
Resilient is another incredible catch-all feat. Resilient allows a player to increase any Ability Score by 1 and grants them proficiency with Saving Throws using that Ability Score.
Resilient is a great defensive feat that can cover any weakness that a character might have. Dipping the feat into Constitution is always a great option since Bards don’t naturally carry proficiency in Constitution Saving Throws.
The added proficiency and Ability Score point can very easily save your life. It’s an excellent way to round out an Ability Score that’s currently sitting on an odd number, especially if it’s one that your class doesn’t carry proficiency in the Saving Throw for.
Feats are a great way to add some extra flavor and power to a character sheet. While some of the feats in 5e have been widely considered underwhelming, there’s a good selection of fantastic feats that your character can take to bolster their power.
As always, it’s essential to make sure that your character suits you before anyone else. You will have to put up with stepping into your character’s shoes until the very end; so, making sure they’re fun for you to play is very important.
Good luck, have fun, and happy questing!