Monday, 15 February 2016

"Your mother was a hamster and..." #D&D

If you've played D&D as, or with, a Bard you'll be all too familiar with this. Bard can cast a few spells and one of the spells it can cast for free (a cantrip) is called Vicious Mockery, which is described thus:
You unleash a string of insults laced with subtle enchantments at a creature you can see within range. If the target can hear you (though it need not understand you), it must succeed on 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.
So, basically, it hurts their feelings and puts them off what they are doing. It's kind of like sledging in cricket. As a level 1 Bard you'll basically do this:

It's pretty much your only direct damage spell at L1. Or so I thought.

I just hit level 2 and in preparation for tonight's session I was looking at which new spell to add to my list and I discovered Dissonant Whispers:
You whisper a discordant melody that only one creature of your choice within range can hear, wracking it with terrible pain. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, it takes 3d6 psychic damage and must immediately use its reaction, if available, to move as far as its speed allows away from you.
Well, gee, that looks good! Not sure how I missed it or why it's not recommend in the "quick build" for Bard as it seems pretty decent.  What I also noticed is that it's exclusive to Bard: no other class can cast it. Since we're a big group there is a real danger of taking spells that another class could cast better and that got me thinking: what other spells are exclusive to Bard in D&D 5E?

It wasn't all that easy to find out. I actually used the data from Grimoire and searched inside the files for all the Bard spells, then each other caster class in turn, deleting as I went. I ended up with four. Yup, just four spells that Bard and only Bard can cast. Two of them I've already mentioned and the other two are Compulsion and Power Word Heal.

Power Word Heal is a level 9 spell (so you need to be level 17 to cast it) and is pretty straight forward:
A wave of healing energy washes over the creature you touch. The target regains all its hit points. If the creature is charmed, frightened, paralyzed, or stunned, the condition ends. If the creature is prone, it can use its reaction to stand up.
Compulsion on the other hand, like VM and DW, is pretty fun:
Creatures of your choice that you can see within range...On a failed save...Until the spell ends, you can use a bonus action on each of your turns to designate a direction that is horizontal to you. Each affected target must use as much of its movement as possible to move in that direction on its next turn.
The creatures can still attack, so not much use against ranged enemies, but you can use this to provoke opportunity attacks or just control the room a bit. It's a level 4 spell, though, so there may be much better options available by the time you can access that.

And finally, Heroism is another notable level 1 spell, which can otherwise only be cast by a Paladin.
A willing creature you touch is imbued with bravery. Until the spell ends, the creature is immune to being frightened and gains temporary hit points equal to your spellcasting ability modifier at the start of each of its turns.
For a level 1 spell it's a decent buff and I can think of a few occasions so far where I would have used it. So far our DM has rolled very badly and we haven't taken much damage but it's only a matter of time before our luck runs out...

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