Sunday, 5 April 2020

How to: Bard Abilities

How to: Bard Abilities

Just like the last post, this one will cover some class abilities that bards have in D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG and how to represent them in GURPS. Or at least how I would represent them.

First, let's talk about the Baneful Song and Beneficial Song meta-enhancements that were introduced on page 5 of GURPS Power-Ups 4: Enhancements and repeated on page 20 of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups. Both are +105% in value and have the Bard-Song, -30% power modifier. This power modifier requires the bard to play an instrument or sing for at least 1 second, includes the Magical, -10% limitation, and Hearing-Based, -20% limitation. The first thing that catches the eye is that the requirement to sing or play seemingly has no limitation value. Technically, this is an application of Either/Or Limitations (GURPS Power-Ups 8: Limitations, p. 6) - (Requires an instrument, -10% and Requires gestures, -10%) or Requires magic words, -10%. That results in a 0.20 x 0.10 = 0.02, or a -2% limitation that is negligible enough to ignore. So, -30% is correct. However, if you prefer your bards more specialized, you can use Musical Bard-Song, -50% and Vocal Bard-Song, -40% power modifiers. Some other appropriate modifiers include the following:
     - No Hearing-Based, +20%. Since Hearing-Based, -20% is included in the power modifier, if you want a song that does not rely on hearing, you should add this enhancement.
    - Environmental, Sound-transmitting mediums, -10%. Usually used with the No Hearing-Based, +20%; The sound waves must reach the subject, but hearing them is not mandatory. Sonic attacks should use this.
     - Accessibility, Only on those who share a language with me, -10%. Usually used to make mind control abilities.

Second, GURPS Basic Set has four iconic bardic Enthrallment skills (pp. 191-192): Captivate, Persuade, Suggestion, and Sway Emotions. Musical Influence (p. B210) is also very appropriate. It is suggested to treat them as magical abilities for the purpose of resisting and countering. You could even make them exclusive to bards, but I wouldn't do that.

Now, let's discuss the actual class abilities that need conversion.

Bardic Spellcasting: I've written a post on bardic spellcasting in the past, but I find it imperfect. This is how I do it in my games.
- Use Sorcery as the system.
- The bard’s scope of magical powers is limited to the Colleges of Communication and Empathy, Knowledge, Mind Control, and Sound. Apply the Limited Scope, Bardic, -10% limitation to Sorcerous Empowerment. This isn't 100% true to the spell lists from D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG, but that's how I do it. No healing for arcane spellcasters, and no unlimited scope Sorcery. I feel like these four colleges cover most of the spells.
- Improvisation requires the bard to make a successful Musical Composition roll. Apply the Requires Musical Composition Roll, -10% limitation to Sorcerous Empowerment.
- For hardcore improvisation, bards use Musical Composition instead of Thaumatology.
- The spells should have the Bard-Song, -30% limitation. This does not eliminate the need for the No Signature, +20% enhancement that many spells have. The source of the effect is not obvious, and the bard can pretend to play mundane music.
- Spells should cost at least 1 FP to cast. Spells that are built with the Baneful Song and Beneficial Song meta-enhancements (or similar spells that last mostly only when the bard is casting them with no interruption) are considered to be continuous abilities, so they cost at least 1 FP to activate and half that per minute to maintain (round up).
- Bardic spellcasting is subject to Repeated Attempts (GURPS Powers, p. 159).
- When rolling a critical failure on a casting roll, use the Critical Spell Failure Table (p. B236).

Bardic Knowledge: I just use Expert Skill (Bardic Lore) (GURPS Fantasy, p. 135) to represent that. The Dabbler perk (GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks, p. 16) is appropriate too.

Versatile Performance: Honestly, I don't think this is a thing that should be converted. However, if you want, you could represent it with the Skill Adaptation perk (GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks, p. 17) that shifts the social techniques (such as the ones from GURPS Social Engineering and Pyramid #3-54) to Performance, where appropriate. Acrobatic Kicks, Acrobatic Feints, and their kin are also a good fit.

Well-Versed [6]: As this is an extraordinary ability, I would represent it with the Robust Hearing [1] perk (GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks, p. 14) and Resistant to Influence Skills (+3) [5].

Lore Master [14/level]
You may attempt a roll against any mundane skill based on IQ, Will, or Per, using your score in the appropriate attribute. You do not incur any default penalties, but all other modifiers apply normally. Tech level is irrelevant. Lore Master does apply to skills that normally have no default, provided you meet any advantage requirements. Lore Master has no effect on skills you already know. You can use this ability once per session per level (or once per game week, if you apply the Game Time, +0% enhancement).
Statistics: Wild Talent (Focused, Mental, -20%; Magical, -10%) [14/level].

Jack of All Trades [18/level]
You may attempt a roll against any skill, using your score in the appropriate attribute. You do not incur any default penalties, but all other modifiers apply normally. Tech level is irrelevant. Jack of All Trades does apply to skills that normally have no default, provided you meet any advantage requirements. Jack of All Trades has no effect on skills you already know. You can use this ability once per session per level (or once per game week, if you apply the Game Time, +0% enhancement). Since this ability is very similar to Lore Master (see above), it's better to treat it as an improved version of it, not as a separate ability. So, a bard could "upgrade" Lore Master to Jack of All Trades.
Statistics: Wild Talent (Magical, -10%) [18/level].

Bardic Performance: These abilities seem appropriate as spells for bardic spellcasting. So, let's use the Sorcery formatting here. If you're not using bardic spellcasting, then it would still be appropriate to take all these abilities as Alternative Abilities.

Countersong
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Beneficial Song.
Full Cost: 35 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. Subjects roll vs. Per minus any Magic Resistance they have. The song’s effects last for margin of success seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Allies affected by Countersong gain DR 5 against sonics, including effects that bypass normal DR to cause direct, internal damage. Eyes are also protected. The subjects also get a +3 bonus to their HT or Will when resisting non-damaging sonic effects.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.

Statistics: Affliction 1 (Per; Advantage, Countersong, +130%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [35]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Countersong” is DR 5 (Limited, Sound, -40%; Includes Eyes, +10%; Includes Internal, +20%; Magical, -10%; Tough Skin, -40%) [10] + Resistant to Noxious Sonic Effects (+3) (Magical, -10%) [3].
    
Deadly Performance
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Baneful Song, Resistible (Will).
Full Cost: 26 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: Will.
Range: Self.
Duration: Instantaneous.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. Roll a Quick Contest of Will vs. Will plus any Magic Resistance the subject has. This is a mind control effect, so anyone with Immunity to Mind Control is immune to the effects of this song, and this spell can only affect sapient beings. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
A roll to resist failed by less than 5 mentally stuns the target, allowing them to roll again once per second to recover. If the victim fails by 5 or more, or rolls a critical failure, they immediately die from joy or sorrow. If a victim successfully resists, they cannot be affected by Deadly Performance for 24 hours.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Will; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Baneful Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; Increased Immunity 3, -30%; No Signature, +20%; Secondary Disadvantage, Fragile (Enhanced Unnatural), +20%; Secondary Heart Attack, +60%) [26]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Notes: Fragile (Enhanced Unnatural) means the subject dies if reduced to 0 HP; therefore, since Heart Attack reduces the target’s HP to 0, the target dies.
  
Dirge of Doom
Keywords: Baneful Song.
Full Cost: 30 points for level 1 + 10 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Instantaneous.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. This is a mind control effect, so anyone with Immunity to Mind Control is immune to the effects of this song. This spell can only affect sapient creatures.
The subjects that can hear the bard play or sing must roll a Fright Check, applying any Magic Resistance as a bonus. The victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours, and anyone who succeeds is immune to this spell for an hour.
Each additional level of this spell imposes -1 to the Fright Check. For example, with Dirge of Doom 4, the subjects must make Fright Checks at -3. The bard can tone down the frightening qualities of the song to make the penalty lower than the maximum, or even give a bonus to resist.
This spell is not Resisted; the chance to succeed at the Fright Check takes the place of a normal resistance roll.
Statistics: Terror (Hearing; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Bard-Song, -30%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Hearing-Based, +20%; Selective Area, +20%; Variable, +5%) [30]. Additional levels add -1 to the Fright Check [+10].
  
Distraction Song
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Beneficial Song.
Full Cost: 24 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. This song can only affect sapient creatures. Subjects roll vs. Per minus any Magic Resistance they have. The song’s effects last for margin of success seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Allies affected by Distraction Song gain a +3 bonus to their HT or Will when resisting Vision-based effects that do not overload vision, such as the petrifying gaze of a medusa, but not a flashbang grenade.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Advantage, Distraction Song, +30%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [24]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Distraction Song” is Resistant to Noxious Vision-Based Effects (+3) (Magical, -10%) [3].

Fascinating Song
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Baneful Song, Resistible (Will).
Full Cost: 26 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: Will.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. Roll a Quick Contest of Will vs. Will plus any Magic Resistance the subject has. This is a mind control effect, so anyone with Immunity to Mind Control is immune to the effects of this song. This song can only affect sapient creatures. The song’s effects last for margin of victory seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Victims who fail to resist may do nothing, standing and listening to the Fascinating Song for the duration. If attacked, otherwise harmed, or simply shaken by an ally, they recover at once and are fine until they fail another resistance roll.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Will; Accessibility, Only on sapient creatures, -10%; Baneful Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; Daze, +50%; No Signature, +20%) [26]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5].
  
Frightening Tune
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Baneful Song, Resistible (Will).
Full Cost: 24 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: Will.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. Roll a Quick Contest of Will vs. Will plus any Magic Resistance the subject has. This is a mind control effect, so anyone with Immunity to Mind Control is immune to the effects of this song. This song can only affect sapient beings. The song’s effects last for margin of victory seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Victims who fail to resist experience an urge to leave the area of effect. Until the effect ends, a victim within the area can do nothing each turn except move away from the bard. When he escapes, he cannot reenter the area.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Will; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Baneful Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; Disadvantage, Dread, +30%; No Signature, +20%) [24]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5].
  
Inspire Competence
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Beneficial Song.
Full Cost: 50 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. This song can only affect sapient beings. Subjects roll vs. Per minus any Magic Resistance they have. The song’s effects last for margin of success seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Allies affected by Inspire Competence gain the benefits of a single 5-point Talent chosen by the bard when they start the performance. The bard is not affected by their own Inspire Competence. See GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents for an extensive list of Talents. It is suggested to use the alternative benefit option instead of the Reaction bonus.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Does not affect self, -10%; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%; Variable Enhancement, +300%) [50]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: Variable Enhancement provides +50% of enhancements (+500%) but is limited by “Accessibility, Only for Talents with the Magical, -10% limitation” (-40%) for a net +300%.
  
Inspire Courage
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Beneficial Song.
Full Cost: 34 (KYOS: 27) points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. This song can only affect sapient beings. Subjects roll vs. Per minus any Magic Resistance they have. The song’s effects last for margin of success seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Allies affected by Inspire Courage enjoy a +2 bonus to ST for the singular purpose of dealing blows. This normally gives +1 to damage with thrusting attacks and +2 to damage with swings (KYOS: +2 to both). In addition, they add +2 to their Will whenever they make a Fright Check or must resist the Intimidation skill or a supernatural power that induces fear. They also subtract 2 from all Intimidation rolls made against them.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Advantage, Inspire Courage, +130%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [34]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Inspire Courage” is Fearlessness 2 (Magical, -10%) [4] + Striking ST 2 (Magical, -10%) [9].
Statistics (KYOS): Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Advantage, Inspire Courage, +60%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [27]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Inspire Courage” is Fearlessness 2 (Magical, -10%) [4] + Striking ST 2 (Magical, -10%) [2].
  
Inspire Greatness
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Beneficial Song.
Full Cost: 54 (KYOS: 47) points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. This song can only affect sapient beings. Subjects roll vs. Per minus any Magic Resistance they have. The song’s effects last for margin of success seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Allies affected by Inspire Greatness enjoy a +2 bonus to ST for the singular purpose of dealing blows. This normally gives +1 to damage with thrusting attacks and +2 to damage with swings (KYOS: +2 to both). In addition, they get a +1 bonus to DX and HT (this does not increase FP).
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Advantage, Inspire Greatness, +330%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [54]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Inspire Greatness” is DX 1 (Magical, -10%) [18] + HT 1 (Magical, -10%; No Extra FP, -30%) [6] + Striking ST 2 (Magical, -10%) [9].
Statistics (KYOS): Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Advantage, Inspire Greatness, +260%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [47]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Inspire Greatness” is DX 1 (Magical, -10%) [18] + HT 1 (Magical, -10%; No Extra FP, -30%) [6] + Striking ST 2 (Magical, -10%) [2].

Inspire Heroics
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Beneficial Song.
Full Cost: 35 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. This song can only affect sapient creatures. Subjects roll vs. Per minus any Magic Resistance they have. The song’s effects last for margin of success seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Allies affected by Inspire Heroics get a +1 to all skill rolls when they take unnecessary risks. Furthermore, they may reroll any critical failure that occurs during such high-risk behavior.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Only on sapient creatures, -10%; Advantage, Inspire Heroics, +140%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [34]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Inspire Heroics” is Daredevil (Magical, -10%) [14].
  
Soothing Performance
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Beneficial Song.
Full Cost: 49 points for level 1 + 5 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. This song can only affect sapient beings. Subjects roll vs. Per minus any Magic Resistance they have. The song’s effects last for margin of success seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
Allies affected by Soothing Performance are immune to emotional manipulations. They are exempt from Fright Checks, and reaction modifiers rarely affect them in any way. They treat strangers with distant courtesy, no matter how strange they are, as long as they’re well-behaved. They remain civil even if forced to violence. Influence skills or other ordinary words and actions do not influence the subjects.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Per; Accessibility, Only on sapient beings, -10%; Advantage, Soothing Performance, +280%; Beneficial Song, +105%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; No Signature, +20%) [48]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+5]. Note: “Soothing Performance” is Indomitable (Magical, -10%) [14] + Unfazeable (Magical, -10%) [14].

Suggestion Song
Keywords: Area (Leveled), Baneful Song, Resistible (Will).
Full Cost: 85 points for level 1 + 25 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: Will.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite, see text.

The bard must play an instrument or sing for an least a second, and the subjects must be able to hear the song to be affected. The bard can exclude anyone from this effect. Roll a Quick Contest of Will vs. Will plus any Magic Resistance the subject has. This is a mind control effect, so anyone with Immunity to Mind Control is immune to the effects of this song. This song can only affect sapient beings. The song’s effects last for margin of victory seconds. The bard can play constantly, causing a roll every turn, or cease after a second and hope that the residual effects will suffice. The bard pays 1 FP when they start playing or singing and 1 FP per minute of continuous playing.
The bard can give a simple command to all subjects that failed to resist; see the Suggest skill (p. B191) for guidelines. Any order that goes against a subject’s values or sense of self-preservation triggers another resistance roll, possibly at a bonus. The suggestion only lasts as long as the spell lasts. The bard can only give the same command to the whole group. The subjects remembers everything they did, but they are convinced that they chose to do so. They will react to behavior too bizarre to be rationalized by pushing it out of their mind and not thinking about it. Hypnotism, Psychology, and Telepathy can be used to eventually bring out the truth.
If the bard ties or loses, the subjects can sense coercion coming from them. In addition, the bard cannot try to affect them again within 24 hours.
The song reaches a two-yard radius around the bard. Each additional level doubles that radius, cumulatively.
Statistics: Mind Control (Accessibility, Only on sapient creatures, -10%; Area Effect, 2 yards, +50%; Bard-Song, -30%; Based on Will, Own Roll, +20%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; Emanation, -20%; Independent, +70%; Rationalization, +20%; Reduced Duration, 1/60, -35%; Selective Area, +20%; Short-Range 1, -10%) [85]. Additional levels add Area Effect (+50%) [+25].


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