Among all Baldur’s Gate 3 classes, the Bard stands out simply because they chose to bring their musical instruments to an apocalyptic battle. They are no doubt a captivating class that can be further enhanced with various Bard subclasses. These subclasses not only define your character’s unique abilities but also shape the way you experience the game.
But you can’t just play the lute while the world around you burns, so it’s time to make yourself the indispensable life of the ‘party’ by checking out our Bard subclasses guide for Baldur’s Gate 3.
Bard subclasses list in Baldur’s Gate 3
Before we delve into the intricate details of each Bard subclass, it’s essential to understand the fundamental choices at your disposal. Baldur’s Gate 3 offers three Bard subclasses, all of which can be accessed at level 3:
- College of Lore
- College of Valor
- College of Swords
Each of these subclasses grants your Bard distinct features and abilities, allowing you to tailor your character to your preferred playstyle and role in the party. Regardless of which subclass you pick, you’ll get these standard Bard class features:
- Proficiencies: All Bard subclasses inherit a set of proficiencies. These include:
- Dexterity and Charisma Saving Throw Proficiency
- Light Armor Proficiency
- Musical Instrument Proficiency
- Simple Weapon Proficiency
- Hand Crossbow Proficiency
- Longsword Proficiency
- Rapier Proficiency
- Shortsword Proficiency
- Spellcasting: Bards are known for their magical prowess, and this holds true for all subclasses. You get spell slots much like how standard spellcasting classes do.
- Bardic Inspiration: One of the defining features of Bards in Baldur’s Gate 3 is Bardic Inspiration. This ability allows your Bard to inspire their allies, providing them with an additional edge in combat or skill checks.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the Bard subclasses and what they bring to the table.
College of Lore
The College of Lore embraces the scholarly side of Bards. If you choose this subclass, your Bard will excel in spellcasting, using their knowledge to entertain and defeat opponents. Think of it as some kind of hybrid between a Bard and a Wizard but without the multiclassing.
Here are the key features of the College of Lore Bard:
- Cutting Words (Level 3): This unique ability allows your Bard to distract and undermine a creature’s confidence. After casting Cutting Words, you impose a penalty of 1d6 on the target’s Attack Rolls, Ability Checks, and damage dealt.
- Bonus Proficiencies (Level 3): As a College of Lore Bard, you gain proficiency in Arcana, Intimidation, and Sleight of Hand. That’s quite a wide selection of abilities that are no doubt crucial outside of combat.
- Additional Magical Secrets (Level 6): As you progress through the levels, you’ll have the opportunity to choose two level 3 (or lower) spells from the Magical Secrets category. This ability enhances your Bard’s spellcasting repertoire, further expanding their utility.
Cutting Words is a handy debuff against enemies, but otherwise, the College of Lore might not be enough to pique the interest of Bard players who prefer the quintessential Bard experience. If you want more spells, multiclassing might be the better deal, seeing as how the College of Lore bonuses peak at level 6.
College of Valour Subclass
The College of Valour takes a different approach, focusing on storytelling and heroism. These Bards are more combat-oriented than their Lore counterparts and excel in inspiring their allies.
These bards love to tell the tall tales, though some of them have the heroism and experience to back that up. Simply put, they’re no pushovers and won’t hesitate to use their lute as improvised weapons if push comes to shove.
Here are the defining features of the College of Valor Bard:
- Combat Inspiration (Level 3): One of the standout features of this subclass is Combat Inspiration. Your Bard can inspire an ally, granting them a bonus of 1d6 on their next weapon damage, Ability Check, Armor Class, Attack Roll, or Saving Throw.
- Martial Weapon Proficiency (Level 3): College of Valor Bards gain proficiency with Martial Weapons, allowing them to use more powerful and available weaponry.
- Medium Armor Proficiency (Level 3): College of Valor Bards can wear Medium Armor without suffering a Disadvantage.
- Shield Proficiency (Level 3): With Shield Proficiency, your Bard can wield a shield without incurring Disadvantage, further enhancing their defensive capabilities.
- Extra Attack (Level 6): Pretty self-explanatory.
These Bards are brave and will readily sacrifice their spell capabilities for more attacks. Hence, they multiclass well with other classes that can further increase the number of attacks per turn, such as Fighter.
Make no mistake, however. Pure Valour Bards are not that well-suited for the frontlines and should be kept safe as support roles for the more bonafide melee or ranged party members.
College of Swords
The College of Swords takes on a different, more pragmatic path, one that heavily emphasizes melee combat while still retaining the Bard’s identity and eloquence. They are more combat-focused compared to the Valour Bards, indicated by their exclusive proficiency with Scimitars.
Thankfully, there are plenty of good scimitars in Baldur’s Gate 3. Some of them are even overpowered. For your premiere duelist or dual-wielder character, the Sword Bard is the ideal option.
If you choose this subclass, your Bard will gain a unique set of abilities tailored for close-quarters combat:
- Fighting Style (Level 3): College of Swords Bards can select a specific Fighting Style, offering them unique combat advantages. These styles include Dueling and Two-Weapon Fighting, allowing your Bard to specialize in their preferred approach to combat.
- Blade Flourish (Level 3): Blade Flourish is a bread-and-butter ability that enables your Bard to make melee or ranged attacks against two enemies at once. It’s great for clearing boss minions or weaker clustered enemies.
- Medium Armor Proficiency (Level 3): Just like Valour Bards, those of the College of Swords can wear Medium Armor without suffering a Disadvantage, enhancing their survivability.
- Scimitar Proficiency (Level 3): This proficiency grants your Bard the ability to add their Proficiency Bonus to Attack Rolls when wielding Scimitars.
- Extra Attack (Level 6): Pretty self-explanatory.
There’s no other interpretation or impression to be made for a Sword Bard. They’re looking for a fight, and they’re not content on being everyone’s support buffer. Blade Flourish is instrumental in keeping fights short.
Most Bards multiclass well with other classes, and the College of Sword is no exception. You can feel free to experiment around with your Bard configurations. They are, after all, a jack-of-all-trades class, and the Bard subclasses make that archetype easy to follow.