Unorthodox Bards d20

Unorthodox Bards d20

From: The Le Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Unorthodox Bards d20 is a new d20 Fantasy RPG Supplement PDF from The Le Games. This is the first time I’ve seen one of this series, and by its cover I was already impressed. The Le Games apparently has a whole Unorthodox series for every D&D class there is. This one, of course, is about bards and presents, as the name implies, several non-traditional bard classes and prestige classes. This e-book contains 5 variations of the bards core class, 2 bard prestige classes, and many artifacts for you to use in your D20 fantasy game.

From page #3:
“There are many types of performers and entertainers who pursue a living with their talents.”

It is good to note at the start that the author does something that not many do – include in the introduction a note about game balance. In his introductory notes, he lists ways to balance out the given classes and prestige classes to make sure they work in the individual DM’s campaign. That gains the author a few points.

The core class variants that are included in this supplement are: the Minstrel, the Skald, the Soothsayer, the Spellsinger, and the Troubad’war. Each is described briefly below.

A Minstrel is a performer whose specialty is combining singing with the playing of a musical instrument. What makes the Minstrel unorthodox is the focus of the instrument through the Enchanted Instrument abilities. Instead of the regular bard spells, the Minstrel has Enchanted Instrument abilities. Unlike the bard spells, there is no limitations to the number of times these abilities can be used. The Enchanted Instruments (EI) spell-like abilities include Light, Ventriloquism, Hypnotism, Scare, and Confusion– all fairly defensive spells. Also a little different from the standard bard is the Dirty Tricks ability. The Minstrel can get up to 4 levels of Dirty Tricks, which are free actions that allow the bard to “fight quickly or flee like a little girl.” These include ‘Look over there’, Sand in the Eye, and Kidney Strike. The bard Music ability has been scaled back to only two of its usual benefits to balance out the EI abilities.

A Skald is a bard from a culture with no written language who is tasked with the telling of the histories and stories of his people through song and prose. The passion to do so is so strong that the skald is usually found in the heat of these events. Skalds are more sturdier than the standard bard, with a d8 hit die because they tend to be more warrior-like. The bardic music is slightly modified with only two abilities – Inspire Courage(at 1st Level) and Inspire Heroism (at 8th Level). Instead of spells, the Skald has the ability to Inscribe Rune. Runes are mystical symbols that contain magic the Skald, in conjunction with his perform skill, can inscribe runes on objects to create magical effects. A new rune is learned at 2nd, 4th, 7th, 10th and four other points along the class progression chart. Runs include Well Mead(a run to make a healing potion), Serpent Blade (a bonus to attack and damage to a weapon), Hero’s Shield(armor enhancement giving it damage reduction) and Blood Rage(a form of berzerker rage). Each have a perform skill rank requirement. I could not quite rap my mind around this class’s concept, but perhaps I am missing something.

The Soothsayers are also known as fortunetellers, tarot readers, and diviners. Soothsayers are magic users and follow the same spell rules as the standard bard (which are reprinted in the appendix). The major difference is that the special abilities are totally different. Abilities like Charlatan, Knowledge Domain, Light, Lesser Divination, Vision, Soothsaying and Anticipation are available. They are relatively spread out like the standard Bard’s abilities are, however, there are a few extra. Most are premonition type abilities and fairly non-offensive, so there is some balance to the class.

From page #18:
“ Many sages theorize that the true language of magic is music. ”

The Spellsingers are very talented musicians who have dedicated their lives to studying the link between music and magic. On top of the standard spells the bard gets, the Spellsinger has several special abilities that differ from the standard bard. Central to these are the Note powers – Note of Death, Note of Air, Note of Earth, Note of Water, Note of Fire, and Note of Life. Each has a perform rank requirement and have an effect specific to the element in the title. The Troubad’war is a warrior bard that fights for the love of a damsel or to avenge a love lost. This is another one I had a hard time understanding. Maybe I do not play enough fantasy (which is hardly any). This is another magic-using bard, and, along with the regular Bard spells, it also has access to paladin spells of the LoveDomain, which is defined in the text. However, Troubad’war gains spells as if he was a bard of one level lower than his actual level. Other abilities are War-song,True of Heart, Harmonious Strike, Love’s Defense, Harmonious Karma,and Love’s Will. In all cases of alternative core classes, there are also some subtle differences in the class skills, skill points, etc., but I will leave that to the reader to judge. The two prestige classes in this supplement are the Museand the Protectorate. The Museis a bard who specializes in enhancing the abilities in others and the Protectorateis one who specializes in aiding his allies in time of need. Both are fairly interesting with 5 levels of advancement and their own unique abilities at each level. A Muse tends to focus on general enhancement of moderately large parties, while the Protectorate focuses on defensive abilities. The magic items supplied by this supplement are the following: Baubles and Urus of Ancient Power (a series of gems that grant certain magical effects) and Johansson’s Song(a collection of magical clothing that benefits a Bard).

In conclusion, I think this is a pretty good supplement. The art, although taken from an open source, is good, and the layout is well done. I do not know what would drive a person to buy this as opposed to the plethora of other alternateclass and prestige class sourcebooks out there, but the e-book itself has some merit. The fact that the authors have a whole series of these is admirable as well. I am not a huge fan of bards anyway, and I am sure many people like me would like to find alternative ways to approach a bard to make him more useful in a party. It is imaginative and tries hard to separate itself from the pack. However, I am not sure it completely accomplishes this and runs the risk of being just another class/prestige class sourcebook.

For more details on The Le Games and their new d20 Fantasy RPG Supplement PDF “Unorthodox Bards d20” check them out at their website http://www.thelegames.comor at

Unorthodox Bards d20

From:The Le Games

Type of Game:d20 Fantasy RPG Supplement PDF

Written by:Jourdan Hamerly

Contributing Authors:The Le

Game Design by:Jourdan Hamerly

Developed by:Jourdan Hamerly

Cover Art by:Tom Miskey

Additional Art by:Fantasy Heroes (Mongoose Publishing) &

Number of Pages:48

Game Components Included:PDF files (Onescreen & Printer friendly version) and an RTF formatted version.

Game Components NotIncluded:d20 Core rulebooks

Retail Price:$ 3.50 (US)

Item Number:TLG-BARD-1

Reviewed by: Ron McClung