Whether this article is the first time you’ve chosen to learn about Dungeons & Dragons or you’ve been playing since 1974, you’ve probably heard jokes about bards.
They’re constantly referred to as the chaotically lustful characters who will sing Journey at the top of their lungs in any scenario they can.
Okay, that’s it. You can play now.
Bards are / can be so much more and the college of eloquence proves that. The staple of the bard class is their ability to inspire others through performance.
Well, guess what? That’s exactly what this subclass does, and it does so with eloquence. Just to clear that up for anyone who left their dictionary at home: elegance is grace and style; eloquence is being fluent or persuasive with your words.
A college of eloquence bard is a master of their craft, skillfully choosing their words to impact the very wills of those around them. These bards aren’t just inspirational; they can stir up emotions in the most apathetic of creatures, evoke courage in the most cowardly lions, and lead entire armies to victory with pure artistry.
- Incredible charisma checks
- Direct influence on foes
- Improved bardic inspiration
The college of eloquence bard is a subclass that doubles down on not just the spirit of the main class, but the mechanics as well. In general, bards use their mastery over words and music to inspire their allies, weaken their foes, and just generally manipulate minds. The eloquence bards don’t strive for much more versatility than that, instead bolstering their charismatic abilities to new levels.
Immediately at 3rd level, we get an ability that is realistically terrifying… for anyone on your bad side. Silver Tongue gives you the ability to turn anything 9 and lower into a 10 whenever you roll for deception or persuasion.
Immediately looking at it, that’s awesome, right? Wrong. This feature is downright insane.
So for starters, we’re charisma casters as bards. Charisma is definitely going to be our highest score, so it stands to reason we’ll have a modifier of at least +3. So now our new minimum on these checks is 13. Do you see where this is going?
Throw in your proficiency modifier, because of course, you’ll want to be proficient in these skills. Already at 3rd level, we’re looking at a bare minimum on these rolls of 15.
Most DC’s (Dice Checks) go by a rather simple rule of 5s, relating to the difficulty of the task. Going through the different difficulties we have: very easy, easy, medium, hard, very hard, and nearly impossible.
By this logic, you’re already automagically passing any medium difficulty deception or persuasion checks.
What else does the standard bard get at 3rd level though? That’s right, expertise! If you take expertise in both, or either, of these skills you’ll be adding your proficiency bonus twice!
At 3rd level that’s an automatic 17 at least. I’ll remind you too, that’s just your minimum, if you roll anything greater than 10 you’re going way up, but such is the life of a bard.
Enough on skill checks, let’s talk about just how you deal with enemies. Naturally, an eloquent bard should be able to use their mastery to get in a few licks without even casting spells, and your other 3rd level ability does just that.
Unsettling words lets you use a performance to throw an opponent off guard. As a bonus action, you roll one of your bardic inspiration dice and that number is taken away from the next saving throw a creature of your choice makes before the end of your next turn.
What makes this ability so ‘Class-Defining’ is the way it affects a lot of the spells you’ll be using. You’ll want to have a lot of spells that impose saving throws ready to go. Instead of relying on your spell modifier to get an attack through, you can impose a pretty significant handicap on your opponents to ensure your attacks land.
This ability also pairs well with any other spellcasters using similar tricks and just plays excellently into the party synergy bards bring to the table.
So then there’s the big one. This subclass improves the Bardic Inspiration die in ways that are just too good to pass on. First off, at 6th level we Unfailing Inspiration, which does almost exactly what it says.
One of the biggest downsides to Bardic Inspiration die is just how easily you can use them. The fact that we lose inspiration after failing a check can be traumatizing.
Sure, you get to see your roll before adding an inspiration die to it, but if you don’t know what the check you have to pass is, that’s pretty much useless. And of course, you could be stuck in a situation where you just need 3 more to make the check but you roll a measly 1.
Unfailing Inspiration lets creatures keep your bardic inspiration die until they actually succeed on a check they make when using it. I don’t know about you, but that feels more like inspiration to me!
An inspiring bard won’t say “Aw, better luck next time” they’ll tell you to keep going, that you can do better. A bard would tell you to not give up the first time you don’t succeed. This ability gives the opportunity to handle roleplay like that within the mechanics of the game, which gives it a big place in my heart.
If you like your roleplay influencing the game mechanically as well, you’re going to love the capstone ability. Not only is your inspiration unfailing, it’s also infectious. When a creature succeeds on a check while using your inspiration die, you can choose to essentially transfer that inspiration to someone else.
I really like that it says when a creature succeeds because they will, it’s just a matter of when now, not if. Then the fact that this doesn’t take from our pool of bardic inspiration dice seals the deal.
Instead, these infectious inspirations come from their own pool based on our charisma modifier. This essentially doubles the amount of dice you get to hand out throughout your day.
Our eloquence has brought us to the point where even the deeds of those inspired by us inspire others.
You may already know that a bard’s subclass abilities are extremely topheavy.
Subclass features are dished out when you choose your college at 3rd level, then at 6th level, and not again until your last subclass feature at 14th level.
The main class still gets a few good features as you increase in level, but we’re not really here to talk about the main class. Coming out the gate strong and tapering off is a common enough problem for Bards that it’s less of a limitation, more so it’s just part of what you sign up for.
The biggest limitation here has to do with balance. A bard is described as being an extremely versatile class, and while the main class certainly provides you with a range of options, this subclass does nothing to enforce this idea.
Instead, all the focus goes into making a more persuasive, more inspiring bard. This goes as far as to have a whole feature, Universal Speech, that makes it so anyone can understand you.
Whenever a subclass focuses so heavily on one concept for all of its features we run into a problem. What do we do when we can’t use this feature? Well, we try not to get to that point.
Sure, at 5th level we’re regaining expended uses of Bardic Inspiration on a short rest, and we should have a charisma modifier of at least 3 or 4, but this can still become a balancing act of spell slots and inspiration dice.
While this subclass does an excellent job of increasing the utility of bardic inspiration, it doesn’t give us a lot to do when we’ve stopped putting on performances for the day. To be clear, this isn’t a huge detraction. This is still one of the best bard subclasses to make its way into 5e.
Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System
Color and Tier ranking is very helpful when you’re trying to digest a lot of information. In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:
- Red – C Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful, and might make for an interesting narrative choice, but are largely less effective than other tiers.
- Green – B Tier. Solid but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or Green can be very good but only in very specific situations.
- Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective.
- Purple – S Tier. the top of our rankings. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are worth strongly considering when you create your character.
Our goal here is to provide scannable, but comprehensive guides for you as you develop your character.
While we might sometimes make reference to unofficial or homebrew content to illustrate a point (or just because it’s too cool not to talk about) every option we suggest is legal in the official rules for D&D 5e as published by Wizards of the Coast.
Bards, especially eloquence bards, are looking for that charisma bonus all day. Your pool of bardic inspiration dice, your spellcasting ability, and of course any persuasion or deception checks are relying on that modifier to be as high as possible.
You’d have to have an incredibly good backstory (or use Tasha’s custom origins) to be able to convince me to take any race that doesn’t give you +2.
After that, we’re looking for a good dexterity. We want to be high enough in the initiative to spread our inspiration, and we should be looking for a strong AC.
The following are, in my opinion, the best options you can choose from for an eloquence bard, but if you’re interested in more races, check out our guides here.
- Aasimar (Scourge) – +2 Charisma, +1 Constitution. You’ll be picking up a few features from the main race that don’t feel overly helpful for a bard, but aren’t harmful in any way. With Aasimar, you get to heal a bit, cast the light cantrip, and pick up resistance to necrotic and radiant damage for a nice well-rounded support class. The Scourge’s ability does feel completely out of place, but of the 3 subraces they offer the most relevant stat bonus with constitution.
- Tiefling – +2 Charisma. The main Tiefling race doesn’t come stocked with a lot, but it gets us in the door with the bonus we’re looking for.
- Dispater – +1 Dexterity. Not only does this bloodline boast the perfect ability score bonuses, but it comes with a few spells that feel nice and at home. Detect Thoughts especially feels like the perfect way to set up your persuasive arguments for maximum efficiency.
- Glasya – +1 Dexterity. Very similar to Dispater, but with a set of spells that feels more roguelike. I would still strongly consider this subrace, but mainly if I had aspirations of multiclassing into rogue, or just generally being a sneaky bard.
- Changeling – +2 Charisma, +1 another ability score of your choice (Dexterity or Constitution). I just think this race is so cool. I mean, obviously they have the right ability scores, and even some options to change things up a bit. Then we get proficiency in persuasion and deception, or other things, but who cares, we want these two. But what really makes this race so incredible is the Shapechanger feature. Being able to take on the appearance of another humanoid is just about the most bardic thing I can think of. How better to persuade / deceive people than making them think you’re one of them?
- Satyr – +2 Charisma, +1 Dexterity. Proficiency in persuasion and performance checks is right at home for a bard. Then we throw in advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects for a character that is perfectly at home in the midst of any magical fire fight. While I think there’s a few ways the Satyr race could’ve been improved, I can’t deny how excellent of a fit it is for bards.
- Half-Elf: Charisma +2, +1 in two abilities of your choosing. You’ll want to take the dexterity bonus, and after that go with constitution. Now this race is great because it’s rare that you get 4 bonus points from your race, but the half-elf also has advantage against being charmed, and proficiency in two skills of your choice. Since bard also gives you two skills of your choice that sets you up for any four skills, along with your background, and a lot of diversity. Of course, you can always trade those skills for a racial feature from your elven parentage for some fun options.
The bard class is given the ability to choose any three skills for their proficiencies, giving you a lot of decision-making to do when building your character. You’ll also want to plan ahead a bit for which skills you’ll take Expertise in, since it’s such a huge benefit.
Obviously, with Silver Tongue we’ll want to make sure we have proficiency in Persuasion (CHA) and Deception (CHA). After that it’s really up to roleplay. Keep in mind that the main class ability Jack of all Trades is going to let you add half your proficiency bonus to any skill you don’t gain proficiency in.
Any DEX or CHA skill – These are where you already have exceptional modifiers, so taking proficiency, and then later expertise will likely make you into an unstoppable monster. And I support you.
Performance (CHA) – And…. This one’s a weird exception to what I just said. What’s interesting is that most of your ‘performances’ are how you dish out bardic inspiration, or they might be made with a musical instrument with which you have proficiency. It’s rare that you’ll be making actual ‘performance’ checks, unless it’s something you yourself initiate.
Perception (WIS) – Taking proficiency in this skill means being able to get expertise in it, which means being able to pass super high perception checks even if your actual wisdom modifier is only passable.
Insight (WIS) – Similar logic to perception, except the motivation behind an insightful bard is being able to better set yourself up for persuasion. In general, persuasion checks are a bit easier if you know what’s going in someone’s head.
When we look for a background we want to find some skills that synergize well with our ability scores, but that’s not all. We’re looking for something that fits the story we’re building with our character.
Bards tell stories, so the background is also a jumping ground for a good story of their life. A bard who was once a soldier might tell grand battle stories even if they were only part of their reserves, and a sailor might tell stories of krakens and pirates even if they never encountered any.
Thinking about how to dramatize your character’s life so far is what gives your character something special.
Entertainer: Proficiency in Performance and Acrobatics. Entertainer is the PHB’s suggested background for bard. With a good combination of skills, proficiency in another instrument and the ability to make money through your performances it’s an excellent fit.
Far Traveler: Proficiency in Insight and Perception. Not only does this have excellent skill proficiencies, but it also comes with an exciting and mysterious story. You’ve traveled long and far and get to indulge in the campaign area as if it’s a new and exotic area. Throw in a musical instrument native to your homeland and you’ve got a really cool way to introduce an exciting bard.
Urban Bounty Hunter: I know, interesting choice right? Well, it gives you access to two of four options: Deception, Insight, Persuasion, and Stealth. So you’ve got your silver tongue covered, along with proficiency in two from among one type of gaming set, one musical instrument, and thieves tools.
Proficiencies aside I see this being a very fun way of subverting the expectation set up for most bards. Strangely enough, there’s precedence for this kind of character i.e. the Pied Piper (Shrek), and the Pied Piper (DC)… okay it’s just the Pied Piper.
College of Eloquence Bard Progression
Features that you automatically obtain through the Bard class will appear in Orange and features that you gain through the College of Eloquence subclass will appear in Pink.
Filling out the Character Sheet (Level 0)
Hit Dice: 1d8 per Bard level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per bard level after 1st
Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords
Tools: Three musical instruments of your choice
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
Skills: Choose any three
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a rapier, (b) a longsword, or (c) any simple weapon
- (a) a diplomat’s pack or (b) an entertainer’s pack
- (a) a lute or (b) any other musical instrument
- Leather armor and a dagger
Bards use charisma as their spellcasting ability, so your spell save DC is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier and your spell attack modifier is your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Bards know a number of available spells that are shown on the above table. Additionally, whenever you gain a spell in this class you may replace one spell you know with another bard spell.
The bard and butter of this class, you can inspire a creature within 60 ft of you that can hear you. That creature has ten minutes to add your bardic inspiration die to an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw. When the creature uses the die, or if 10 minutes elapse, it is spent.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your charisma modifier, and regain expended uses on a long rest. At this level the die is a d6, but that increases to a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 15th level.
Jack of All Trades:
You add half your proficiency bonus (rounded down) to any skill check you make for a skill you are not proficient in.
Song of Rest:
You can put on a performance to provide an extra 1d6 of healing to you and any friendly creatures who roll a Hit die during a short rest.
The extra healing increases to 1d8 at 9th level, 1d10 at 13th level, and 1d12 at 17th level.
Magical Inspiration (Optional):
If you choose, you can allow your bardic inspiration die to also be added to the damage or healing of one target.
Choose two skills you are proficient in to gain expertise, you now add double your proficiency bonus to any checks made with these skills.
At 10th level you may choose two additional skills.
At 3rd level you choose your subclass! Congratulations, you have begun to study the ways of the College of Eloquence.
Whenever you make a persuasion or deception check, both are charisma based, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10. Combine this with the proficiencies you’ll likely have and what should be a boastful charisma modifier (let’s say +3) and you’re already rolling a minimum of at 15.
As a bonus action, you can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration and choose a creature within 60 ft of you. Subtract your roll from the next saving throw it makes before the start of your next turn.
You can either increase one ability by 2 points or two abilities by 1. Alternatively you can choose a feature, if you already have great stats this is a great choice.
Anytime you take an ASI through gaining a level in bard, you can choose to do one of the following:
- Replace one of your skills benefiting from Expertise with a skill you are just proficient with.
- Replace one of your Bard cantrips with another from the Bard’s spell list.
Font of Inspiration:
You regain all expended uses of Bardic Inspiration on a short rest.
As an action, you begin a performance that lasts until the end of your next turn. You and friendly creatures within 30 feet of you who can hear you gain advantage on saving throws against being frightened or charmed.
If a creature using your inspiration die fails on their check they no longer lose the die.
As an action, choose a number of creatures equal to your charisma modifier. They can all magically understand you for one hour regardless of what language you speak.
You can use this feature once per long rest naturally, or expend any spell slot to use it again.
You learn two spells or cantrips from any class, so long as they are of a level you can cast. These count as bard spells for you and you may cast them as such.
You learn two more at 14th level, and two more at 18th level.
When a creature within 60 ft of you succeeds on a check while using your inspiration die, you may take a reaction. You provide another creature with an inspiration die that does not count against your expended die. Instead, you may use this feature a number of times equal to your charisma modifier.
If you roll initiative with no uses of bardic inspiration remaining, you gain one back.
While feats are always great to put together a more efficient build, eloquence bards are so reliant upon an impressive charisma modifier that you shouldn’t consider any of these until you’ve gotten up to 20 charisma.
Alert – With Alert, Getting a +5 bonus to initiative is excellent for a bard trying to inspire and support his teammates before any of them get the chance to start laying off their big hits. The earlier you are in the role call the better.
Actor – First off, you’re getting +1 to charisma with Actor, so you’re only missing half of an ASI, and trading it in for advantage on charisma (Deception or Performance) checks when passing yourself as another person, along with the ability to mimic someone’s voice. Combining this with your silver tongue for absolutely terrifying deception rolls means unstoppable disguises.
Inspiring Leader – You get to use your charisma modifier to inspire your allies (up to 6 of them) and give them each a pool of temporary hit points. While you probably won’t be filling a healer role, this is an excellent way to keep your allies in the fight longer.
Telepathic – If they can hear you in their thoughts, they can hear you. Combine this with your universal speech and you’ve got the ability to put your persuasive voice in anyone’s head. Go ahead and see how much fun you can have with this. Note: RAW would imply that you can’t spread bardic inspiration through telepathy, but talk with your DM to see what they will allow.
Synergies and Multiclassing
Bard’s go well in any party. So naturally, the same would go for the eloquence bard. There is no class that won’t benefit from inspiration. Depending on how you set up your spells you can become a healing support class, or a vicious damage dealer, but you’ll always be ready to throw some dice to someone in need.
An exciting ability we’ve mentioned a few times already is the Unsettling Words ability. This sets up great synergy for other casters. You get to set an ally, or yourself, up for a great spell that imposes a saving throw to be made.
Since this is just a die that you subtract from the foe’s roll, this would be able to stack with disadvantage as well, making for a sure fire spell success.
In general, bard’s make a great template for multiclassing, since they get very few abilities after 14th level. If you’re not desperately waiting for 8th and 9th level spells you can multiclass into another charisma caster, such as sorcerers or warlocks, or incorporate a dexterity-based martial class, rogues or monks.
Either spellcaster class gives you some more options for spells, beyond that which your Magical Secrets feature provides for you.
- Sorcerer – Brings it’s ever faithful metamagic to the table. Heightened spell with unsettling words is an amazing combination which you can put to use once you have three levels in Sorcerer.
- Warlock – Having the beginning of the eldritch blast, I mean Warlock, class features at your disposal is a great set of eldritch blasts, sorry, I mean cantrips, and other abilities for you to lean on in combat
- Monk – Probably the best thing you’re getting here is natural armor. Some combat beyond just rapier is a nice addition as well, with of course all the fun Ki abilities you’ll have access to. Admittedly, 5 or 6 levels of monk doesn’t give you a crazy amount of Ki points.
- Rogue – I think a brogue (bard/rogue) with expertise in stealth sounds terrifying. First, of course you can stay in stealth until you’re ready to sneak attack. What’s hilariously cool is the thought of random eerie music coming from a hiding place as you expose yourself to dish out some inspiration. Pure chaotic fun.
College of Eloquence Bard Builds
For the following example build we’ve used the standard set of scores provided in the PHB (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) when deciding ability scores. The only levels mentioned for the purpose of these builds are those when you will have the opportunity to make a decision on how your adventurer grows.
We will also only make suggestions for 1st through 5th-level spells, after that it becomes highly subjective. We hope to give you the groundwork for an exciting character build, while still allowing you space to make your own adventurer.
Background: Far Traveler
Ability Scores: STR 8, DEX 15, CON 13, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 17
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Perception, Deception, Persuasion, Stealth, Acrobatics, Investigation
Language Proficiencies: Common, Thieves’ Cant, Goblin, Draconic
Tool Proficiencies: Four instruments of your choice (Erhu, Ruan, Sanxian, Guzheng)
Equipment: A rapier, an entertainer’s pack, an erhu, a ruan, leather armor, a dagger, one set of traveler’s clothes, poorly wrought maps from your homeland that depict where you are, a small piece of jewelry worth 10gp in the style of your homeland’s craftsmanship, and a pouch containing 5gp
You gain access to cantrips. Good cantrips to know are as follows:
- Mage Hand – Always a good cantrip to have. For some fun flavor, cast a few mage hands and have them clapping or snapping along to your music in the background.
- Vicious Mockery – Ahh, dealing real damage through insults. Is there any more bardic way to deal damage?
- Thunderclap – It’s a solid damage dealing cantrip, with a lot of potential to be flavored as a really loud guitar strum, cymbal hit, or whatever have you.
You gain access to 1st level spell slots. Good spells of this level to know are as follows:
- Charm Person – Being able to charm people is important to functioning as a battlefield support. Opponents not being able to attack you or damage you in any way paired with advantage on social interaction checks against them is just integral.
- Disguise Self – Shapeshifting and deception go hand in hand. Being able to blend in to your surroundings in most situations will help you put your charismatic chops to work.
- Dissonant Whispers – A very bardic spell, this deals an incredible amount of damage for a 1st level spell that works on whisper magic.
- Tasha’s Hideous Laughter – You get to knock people prone with jokes! I love this spell with all my heart.
You gain access to 2nd level spell slots. Good spells of this level to know are as follows:
- Hold Person – Not only is this a great paralyzing spell, but since it relies on the person to fail a wisdom saving throw you get some lovely synergy with your unsettling words ability.
- Cloud of Daggers – This is an excellent damage dealer that will last up to a minute on concentration.
- Crown of Madness – Unsettle them with a bardic inspiration die and then control them for a few turns. The synergy this subclass sets up for saving throw spells is just too good.
- Enhance Ability – This is just an excellent little spell to buff your allies, with an option to improve one out of each of the ability scores in some way.
Gain expertise in Deception and Persuasion.
+2 to Charisma = 19 Charisma (Mod +4)
You gain access to 3rd level spell slots. Good spells of this level to know are as follows:
- Nondetection – You get to protect a target from divination spells, which can come in handy later in game if you’re dealing with just about any sort of magical BBEG.
- Enemies Abound – Another UW (Unsettling Words) setup here. If your target fails an intelligence saving throw they see everyone around them as enemies. That’s like DC’s Scarecrow level of fear inducing, and it turns a potent enemy into a weapon for your side.
- Motivational Speech – You get to give temporary hit points, advantage on attacks, and advantage on wisdom saving throws to up to five creatures that can hear you. This is an excellent first round support spell.
- Bestow Curse – This is another great spell for messing with your foes. You basically disable one of their ability scores, along with a few other great effects.
You gain access to 4th level spell slots. Good spells of this level to know are as follows:
- Charm Monster – No longer restricted to humanoids, you can now charm any creatures.
- Dimension Door – Just a great teleportation spell to consider.
- Polymorph – Not only are the crazy benefits you can get from turning an ally into a T-Rex, but if you’re using your unsettling words well you’ll have a much better chance of turning your foes into frogs… or whatever.
- Confusion – A great saving throw spell to stop your opponents in their tracks. There is a 1 in 5 chance they’ll be able to move on each of their turns, but it’s worth the risk.
Take the Actor feature. Gives you a +1 to Charisma maxing you out at 20 with a +5 modifier.
You gain access to 5th level spell slots. Good spells of this level to know are as follows:
- Modify Memory – This spell is a neuralizer from MIB. Incapacitate a creature and either modify or completely erase a 10 minute memory from the past 24 hours. Super powerful, and good to have in case your party does any questionable things. You can even plant memories! Oh the implications!
- Skill Empowerment – Give expertise to another creature for a bit. Same rules as your expertise apply and they get to “Get good.”
- Synaptic Static – Wow. Do you want to deal damage? Get this spell. To multiple people? This spell. Force saving throws? Check. Mess with opponents attack rolls, ability checks, and spell concentration saves? Checkarooni. This spell is amazing. Get it.
There are too many options to narrow it down in brief. I would choose Counterspell and Fireball, but these are preferences. Thank you.
Perception and Stealth are the way to go for your next two.
You gain access to 6th level spell slots.
Take the Inspiring Leader since your charisma is maxed out (at least through ASI means).
You gain access to 7th level spell slots.
Contingency and Magic Jar
You gain access to 8th level spell slots.
+1 to Dexterity and +1 to Constitution. Bumps both into the next modifier class, easy choice.
You gain access to 9th level spell slots.
Wish and Meteor Swarm
+2 to Dexterity = 18 Dexterity (+4 modifier)
Beginner’s Guide to Eloquence Bard
Bards use their mastery over speech and music to inspire those around them. Their power over sound is enough to draw magic out of the vibrations in the air. A bard does not simply perform for others. They craft stories, and none does it better than a bard of the College of Eloquence.
These bards are still jacks of all trades, but they are also a master of one. They use their comprehension of language to make the most persuasive arguments, capable of coaxing even the strongest beings into carrying out their will. Most storyteller’s simply fabricate, but eloquence bards manipulate the truth to do their bidding in artful ways.
The High Art of Persuasion
The college of eloquence bards have the best persuasive ability in the game. As early as third level they simply cannot roll any lower than 13 on a persuasion or deception check because of an ability called Silver Tongue.
This only gets more powerful as you level up. Combining the expertise feature, a monstrous charisma score, and the silver tongue ability can get you a minimum roll of 20 as early as fifth level on either of these charisma checks.
As a cunning linguist you will be able to make anyone understand you as soon as you hit sixth level. Now your ability to argue skeptics into submission can work on any creature that can understand at least one language. Get ready to start making shady deals with all sorts of fey and fell creatures.
If you’re having a hard time picturing just how a college of eloquence bard wins people over just picture a car salesman or a televangelist. Salespeople in general have an understanding of two things: language, and what makes people tick.
An eloquence bard has a grasp of persuasive language that would make a lawyer st- st- stumble over his words. They use their innate understanding of people and language to craft the perfect argument, story, song, or speech for every occasion.
How Good are College of Eloquence Bards?
College of Eloquence bards are one of the best bard subclasses there is, if not the very best out there. Every ability they get improves upon the basic build of a bard in ways that increase the potency without unbalancing the character.
The features I’ve already mentioned go a long way to improve upon the skill set and flavor of the bard class. The other three features all improve upon bardic inspiration, the bard’s centerpiece ability. The three abilities are Unsettling Words, Unfailing Inspiration, and Infectious Inspiration.
The first allows you to use your bardic inspiration dice to mess with a creature’s saving throws. With a lot of the bard’s spells reliant upon a creature failing a saving throw this gives you an opportunity to combine the two magical halves of your character with excellent battlefield synergy.
An entire spell slinging build could be centered around this ability alone if you so choose. Since you can activate Unsettling Words as a bonus action, you can throw it in before you cast a spell such as Synaptic Static or Polymorph to trip your foe up and ensure your spell’s success.
Unfailing Inspiration and the capstone ability Infectious Inspiration synergize with each other so well it’s a work of art in itself. The unfailing feature lets creatures who you’ve given inspiration dice to keep them when they fail a check.
Normally a failed check made with an inspiration dice would spend the dice, or destroy it. Since you get a limited pool of dice to hand out throughout the day this can be really unfortunate, and feel like a waste.
Now creatures are going to eventually succeed on a roll while using your dice thanks to unfailing. When they do, infectious lets you spread that inspiration out to another creature as a reaction. You even get to use this ability ‘a number of times equal to your charisma modifier’ which creates a pool as big as your regular bardic inspiration, essentially doubling it.
Let’s assume that people normally succeed on half of their checks while using inspiration dice. If you have a charisma score of 20 you get to use the ability four times normally.
Fifth level always gives you the base bard feature Font of Inspiration which lets you regain expended uses on a short rest. If normal parties take one short rest a day, you get to inspire eight people a day, and only four of them will succeed. A college of eloquence bard gets to inspire 12 people a day, and all of them succeed on their rolls.
So, is the college of eloquence bard good? No. They’re excellent. These bard’s don’t waste time on training to be versatile, although they certainly still are. Instead, they gain absolute mastery over their words, and over the people, they’ll use their words on. These silver-tongued storytellers are THE bard to choose if you want to focus on inspiring others.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.