The Bard class gives you a lot of options for how to play your character. From written word to dance, all forms of art can give rise to the magical abilities a bard wields. At the heart of it, bards are performers.
Still, music tends to be the go-to, as it is the most straightforward option.
With that comes a whole slew of musical instruments to choose from, but there are certainly some that go far above and beyond the ability to make beautiful sounds.
Today, we’re going to be looking at the Instruments of the Bards. Specifically, we’re going to be looking at one instrument known as the Doss Lute, and how you can use it to improve your playthrough as a bard.
What Is an Instrument of the Bard?
An Instrument of the Bard is a wondrous item, an instrument made specifically to hone the powers of a bard.
There are seven varieties of these items, each a different instrument named after a different bardic college of antiquity.
These instruments all come with a list of spells. Each spell can be cast once while playing the instrument as an action on your turn and can not be cast again in that way until the next dawn.
When you use these instruments, any spells, even your own spells, that charm targets on a failed saving throw impose disadvantage on that saving throw.
Instrument of the Bard
What Is a Doss Lute?
A Doss Lute is a magical instrument that was awarded to bards who graduated from the Doss college.
It grants its user the ability to cast Animal Friendship, Protection from Energy (fire only), Protection from Poison, Fly, Invisibility, Levitate, and Protection from Evil and Good.
It also makes its users’ spells more effective, imposing disadvantage on saving throws made against charm spells cast by it.
A Doss Lute must be attuned to a bard; in fact, anyone who attempts to play the instrument without being attuned to it must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or take 2d4 psychic damage.
As with all items that require attunement, this takes spending a short rest focused on the instrument, likely by playing it and tuning it.
Beyond the spells that come with each Instrument of the Bard, we get two protection spells and Animal Friendship, so in essence, three protection spells.
Animal Friendship only works on beasts with less than 4 intelligence, so a decent majority, and simply convinces the beast that you mean it no harm.
This is useful to stop a mindless animal from attacking you, but it doesn’t go so far as allowing you to convince the animal to help you in any way.
Protection from Energy, limited to fire only, is going to allow you to give a creature resistance to fire damage for an hour.
This is far more useful than Animal Friendship, and not having to burn a spell slot on this 3rd level spell every time you go into an encounter where fire damage might be present is incredibly useful.
Protection from Poison, even though it’s just a 2nd-level spell, has potentially even more usefulness than the other two.
It can neutralize a poison, provide resistance to poison damage, and give a creature advantage on saving throws against being poisoned.
With poison and fire being two of the most common, non-physical, damage types you’ll encounter in 5e, this instrument is far more useful than it might appear at first glance.
This might have something to do with the fact that it is intended to be the most powerful of the three uncommon instruments.
Bardic Colleges: Doss
The seven bardic colleges of antiquity were a series of colleges that were originally seven ranks of hierarchy within one bardic college.
Bards who wished to learn all they could typically traveled across the Forgotten Realms to each college in turn, receiving an Instrument of the Bard from each one upon graduation.
In this procession, Doss was the third college on the journey to becoming a Magna Alumnae, or graduate of the seven elder colleges.
There is little known about Doss nowadays, aside from it having been located in Berdusk, where the Twilight Hall now stands.
There is also some suggestion that bards studying at Doss learned magic focused on the summoning of monsters who also used music as a weapon.
This is mentioned super briefly in a passage of the book Elfsong and just about nowhere else.
In fact, most bard colleges, aside from Fohluchan, have very little lore written behind them.
If you’re thinking of presenting one of your characters with a Doss Lute, this might be an exciting time to come up with some lore of your own.
Enjoy playing the sweet rhythm of a doss lute, and charming your way out of more than a few sticky situations.
As always, happy adventuring.