How to roleplay a bard in DnD (not just a charmer)

roleplay a bard in DnD

When you roleplay a bard in DnD you at first think of the classic archetype. The bard that will charm a dragon, succubus, or anything that moves no matter the situation. This is not something that you have to do!

When you roleplay a bard in DnD there is more than just charming enemies. You can do more with your choice of bard AND have more to offer.

Every bard is and can be different! Just look at what your bard is good at, what type of skills they have, and make a unique bard.

Types of roleplay

Yes yes, we all know that you can roleplay a bard as a charmer, but that is not all they can be! You do not need to just give up your persuasion or charms. Instead, you can add to them since persuasion is just 1 skill. You can also opt to not charm anyone, but let’s focus on what you can do that is more than just charming.

Here are 6 different ways to roleplay a bard in DnD.

  • Scholar
  • Storyteller
  • War scholar
  • General
  • Diplomat
  • Spy

These are 8 concepts that you can use to add to your bard’s personality or base their main personality on. You do not need to be a caricature and embody stereotypes.

That is why we will go over each way to roleplay a bard and show why these specifically fit into what a bard is.

The scholar

Normally the scholar role goes to wizards. They are the bookworms who are know it alls about everything. As a bard, you can focus on cultural studies. Yes, you can focus a bit on historical or magical studies too but bards cover different aspects of society than wizards do.

These bards fit well into the college of lore background.

Instead of just sleeping with everything you can roleplay a bard in DnD as a student of society. Figure out what makes different lands function, cultural roles, and more. After all, when you think of someone going into a new place and writing about their adventures or another culture do you think of a bard or a wizard?

This could be you!

Make the books that talk about poetry, cultural customs, and more!

If this wasn’t big enough, you can outright replace wizards as an author. Who wants to read some dry academic book anyway? You are there to bring the world to life for others who can’t experience it!

Make the books that inspire the next generation and get people excited about politics, culture, and more. You can also be the person who crafts stories from different cultures and create morals for people. Fairy tales didn’t just spring up out of the ground. They were made by people who wanted to convey a message.

It is the same with other stories. They didn’t just appear. Someone crafted them in order to tell others something. You could be 1 of those people and talk about the world through stories!

There are endless possibilities as a scholarly bard. You have advantages over others who profess to be scholars, so use them. Learn about the world and teach it to others in an interesting way!

Storyteller

We touched on this a bit in the scholar section, but you could be a storyteller as a bard. This is a little different though. Instead of crafting and creating stories to tell people about lessons, cultures, or history you are telling these stories to others.

This way of how to roleplay a bard in DnD involves you being wise. Imagine a bard that is wise. Can you think of any wise bards out there? Most bards are the exact opposite and act on impulse.

Your job as a storyteller is to give your wisdom and help teach others. This is a noble endeavor and might have you being the voice of reason. In addition to this, most adventurers have bad ideas. You can dissuade many of those bad ideas with stories of folly that are similar to your groups’ proposed actions.

Being a storyteller could work with any archetype that you chose as a bard. It is an interesting option that allows you to play a different bard than you usually get to see, and you can help your party while doing something unique!

But stories alone are boring. What about what you came to DnD for? What about war?

War scholar

Wizards do not generally study military tactics. They also don’t record war that often. They are stuck in their towers recording magic or boring events. This leaves you with an opportunity. Who records events of war?

Sure, some events may be remembered by people but who really records and writes them down? Furthermore, who studies war and writes treatises about it?

In this way, you can become the Sun Tzu of DnD. No one else has specific rules of warfare that are known by all. You can be that person!

This is a different type of scholar than you would normally think of, but it is an interesting way to roleplay a bard in DnD. You could be that weird person who is always interested in past battles. Talking to villagers, townspeople, and guards about past wars.

In talking to people you might start to learn patterns. Disease is a bigger casualty factor than actual combat. How many wounded survive? Is it better to make peace or join with another nation? What about completely wiping them out?

As a scholar of war, you don’t need to just be concerned with how to wage war. These are ethical questions that are being asked and bringing that perspective to the world could change it.

A war scholar is a potentially world-changing character. I highly suggest you entertain the idea, and if you want to do so the college of valor or college of swords are good options for you. But why stop there?

General

When you think of a general in DnD you probably think of some high-level fighter. They know tactics, have fought, and are gruff. You don’t need to be gruff, but you can have those qualities as well. In fact, you can do more. You can inspire your soldiers in order to fight with more ferocity!

Now, I know that this is different than what you expect but hear me out.

You are with a group of adventurers who engage in constant combat. These adventurers are pretty much a small contingent of an army. After all, waging a war with lines of men is stupid when magic is involved. Instead, war might be best waged in gorilla warfare style.

Think about it, your party needs to stay in contact at all times. By a decently high level, you will have been separated and know how to get in touch. You understand the importance of communication and unit cohesion. Your group has been engaging in warfare against monsters and humanoids for a while.

That is why you can use adventuring as practice for leading an army. This doesn’t have to be a big army or anything more than just your party. As a general, you are the leader who does study tactics. You learn from failures and make your group an effective unit while inspiring them!

You can be a general instead of just studying war!

But war is a lot. Sometimes you don’t want to deal with fighting. That is why there are other ways to roleplay a bard in DnD.

Diplomat

As a bard, what is your main stat? I would assume it is charisma, and what does charisma affect? Your ability to speak to people! So why not utilize that when you roleplay a bard in DnD?

The diplomat is an interesting choice that I had not considered until my current campaign showed me the power of being 1.

Our current bard is in the college of glamor. I didn’t know what she could do since it mostly involved talking and DnD innately has a lot of combat. Somehow, she has been able to turn every assured combat scenario into a mutually beneficial agreement.

For example, the party finds an intellect devourer that attacked a party member. While 1 party member is helping the other, the bard goes and makes friends with this thing. The weirdest part is, there isn’t any rolling!

Most bard stories involve a really high persuasion roll to persuade the pants off of something. You do not have to do that. Anyone who is a diplomat can work with what is around them to not need to roll.

Here is an example of how to do this:

A hostile enemy is hostile for a reason. If you can find out the reason you can avoid conflict. In order to avoid conflict completely, you can give that enemy the thing that they wanted. You both make a mutual agreement and the evil intellect devourer, ogre, or whatever is now your friend.

Sometimes this isn’t possible, but most of the time with sentient creatures they want to keep themselves alive and make a profit while doing so.

Being the diplomat allows you and your party to avoid combat and make the game increasingly confusing for the Dm. That is why the diplomate persona is such an interesting concept. But for those of you who don’t want to engage in combat and don’t want to negotiate, there is the spy approach.

Spy

This archetype heavily revolves around the college of whispers. While rouges have their stealth and infiltrate in different ways, you can infiltrate by going through the front door.

The spy persona is an interesting way to roleplay a bard in DnD. It involves you being loyal to 1 group above all. This group is, of course, your party. The other group that you are spying on does not need to know that though. They need to be manipulated in order to give you information.

There are quite a few times in DnD where getting information makes your decisions and chances of success improve. A great example is if you have to break into a keep.

A spy bard can walk into the keep with a fake reason and infiltrate by talking with other people. A bard who belongs to the college of whispers can also sneak around to gain what information they need. There is also no ‘operation’ time limit for a spy bard.

Most rogues have to go through a hard time getting into where they need to spy in. They then can’t be caught and have to get out. You can start your investigations whenever and wherever you want already inside enemy territory. What is more, you have insider clues on what to specifically go after.

While rogues may be better at dealing damage with stealth and guile, you have a silver tongue and can hide as well as a rogue. There really isn’t a better spy in the game, and the spy persona would be interesting for most players to take on.

Extra ideas

These are obviously not the only ways to roleplay a bard in DnD. You can do many other things, or even have additional personality quirks. For example, you can be an idealist who is also a scholar. A spy who is also a diplomat. Whatever combination you want and more!

I would not recommend the last one though. Do not combine 2 different types of roleplay together or it might get a little too much. Instead, just add different personality traits with how you roleplay your bard.

Make the general be deeply self-conscious or the war scholar someone who tries to make the world a better place by talking about the horrors of war. You can use your backstory to give a reason why you are talking about the horrors of war. So that no one has to go what you went through.

If you want to have more than an archetype then look at your backstory and what type of character you are playing. Have that shape how you play your bard so that no person who plays the same archetype is a carbon copy of one another.

Conclusion

There are many different ways to roleplay a bard in DnD. You do not have to go the traditional charmer route. You do not have to be a stereotype. There are different paths that you can take.

The best part about choosing these paths is that even if you go with 1 of the paths that we suggested you do not have to be similar to another bard. You can add your own personality quirks and traits to make your bard your own.

I hope that this has given you some ideas on how to roleplay a bard in DnD and not just go with the standard stereotype of the charmer.

Also, if you want to check out our other guides on how to roleplay different classes then check out our theory blogs here!

This has been Wizo and keep rolling!

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