Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bard Archetype: Dirge Singer

So in my Catamaran campaign the party bard's job on the Isle of Bones was to sing the tale of the dead brought to the island so they would be remembered.  She's basically a really death focused bard who is far more concerned with the end of stories than their beginnings.  To that end, I came up with a new bard archetype that I thought went along more with that.

Dirge Singer

Not all bards sing of the victory and glory of their allies; some sing of the defeat and shame of their enemies. These are the dirge singers, able to harness their magical powers to influence others towards failure as much as their own allies towards success. While many dirge singers are all evil, not all are; some are just pragmatists or possessed of a more sarcastic than melodic mind.


Beginning at 3rd level, you may use your inspiration dice to penalize your enemies in addition to aiding your allies. This ability consumes an inspiration die, requires a bonus action, and the target must be within thirty feet and able to hear you. The target gets a Willpower save against your spell save DC; success means this ability fails and has no effect. If the target fails its saving throw it has one gravesong die placed on it that is equal in size to your inspiration die type. This die may be applied as a penalty to any saving throw or attack roll the victim makes as long as the saving throw is triggered by an ally or the attack targets an ally. Once used, the gravesong die is lost.

Tune of the Fearsome Dead

At 3rd level you gain proficiency in martial weapons, Intimidation, and History. If you are already proficient in either of these skills, you double your proficiency bonus when using them.

Ballad of the Fallen

Beginning at 6th level, whenever an ally within 30 feet of you reduces an enemy to 0 hit points and chooses to kill them, you can use your reaction to grant that ally a number of temporary hit points to a roll of your inspiration die type.

Sealed Fate

At 14th level, if an ally’s attack hits using an inspiration die you gave him, the attack becomes a critical hit. Your gravesong dice may be expended to make a successful attack against a creature with a gravesong die a critical hit.


  1. Man, do I hope they sing of the defeat and shame of their enemies (rather than allies), because otherwise no one is inviting these dudes to parties ever again. Also, sarcasm seems an odd note here - I would have thought that a dirge singer would have a melancholic air. Maybe a Debbie Downer, but able to remember you fondly when you're gone.

    Wisdom save, not Willpower save. Also I would probably not grant a saving throw to resist Gravesong, since there's no saving throw against Cutting Words. Getting to penalize saving throws is a big deal, but losing the BI die on a successful save is not really necessary here.

    Sealed Fate is probably too good, because it's so crazy good for buffing a rogue buddy. This amounts to: five times per short rest, choose a buddy. The next time they hit, it is a crit instead. If it isn't already a hit or a miss-by-1, it's probably not worth risking the BI die to convert a miss to a crit, because that crit might come on your next attack instead.

  2. Yeah, meant enemies. She's not that big a jerk.

    For Sealed Fate, maybe if you use an inspiration die to add to an attack, you also get to add it to damage? And if you use a gravesong die to penalize a saving throw it adds to the spell damage?

  3. A player in my most recent campaign wanted to use a Dirge bard also, so I designed a very similar version to the one you just posted. Your Gravesong ability is for sure better than the one I gave him, though!

    Oh, and I gave him in 6th and 14th level an additional known spell, which must be from the Necromancy school and that he needs to cast at a 1-level higher slot.

    1. I would suggest taking a look at the slightly modified version I posted ( I think the only change is the 14th level ability. Glad you liked it!