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A few days ago, someone on social media asked for everyone’s favorite Dungeons & Dragons class (I know; not an original thought). I’m sure many would agree with me that the answer depends on the edition. I have firsthand knowledge that some would say it’s a stupid question. This post isn’t for you.
I loved the monk. I don’t remember AD&D very well, but I played it a few years back on the van ride home from GenCon (which has since morphed into an annual van trip to Winter Fantasy known as Winter Vantasy, the best 14 hours in gaming). In that game, the monk seemed as effective a class as any other. This is despite things I’ve heard about how weak the class was. We weren’t 1st level, but even if the monk is weak at first level, it’s no weaker than a wizard, and the wizard has a huge payoff at later levels. As long as the monk was useful, it was fun.
I started playing AD&D in 1977, but due to the Satanic Panic, I was prohibited from playing it after 1981. Ergo, I never played 2nd edition until — I’m going to guess — 7 or 8 years ago. My friend, Erik, ran a game over the course of two weekends, and I chose a bard based on my love of the bard class in 4e (the then-current edition). I enjoyed it. I played one other 2nd edition class in a 2-hour game a couple years later, and I don’t remember what that class was. So, saying the bard is my favorite 2nd-edition class wouldn’t be much of a statement, would it?
Easy choice: the Warmage. I returned to D&D in 2005, having missed 2e and 3e, and my first character was Frylock, the half-elf warmage (with two levels of rogue). He was fantastic, and no other 3rd-edition class compared. I don’t overpower my characters, so having a character that was inherently good in combat without much work on my part kept the table from being frustrated with my underpowered characters. The fact that my dice were weighted towards rolling 1s was another matter. I also liked the versatility spellcasters got, but sometimes I get overwhelmed and forget everything I can do. The warmage was much better focused, so I was less prone to forget things. Sorry, but I just don’t like playing games to be work. Maybe the 3.5e bard would have been fund, but I never thought to play one.
I loved playing “leaders” in 4e, and the flavor of the bard was (and remains) my favorite for role-playing purposes. My famously low d20 rolls were offset by my ability to help the other characters with healing and bonuses, so playing leaders was a win-win for the table. Me being able to roleplay an entertainer was always fun. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I enjoyed the swarm druid quite a bit, but it was no bard.
The bard wins again, just barely beating out the warlock. The flavor remains the same, so I imagine I’d prefer playing a bard in any edition. It’s a bit too complicated, leading me to forget, for example, to hand out bardic inspiration, but because everyone insists I cast Eldritch Blast on every turn, my warlock often gets spoiled for me.
Clearly, the bard is my favorite in general. I never considered playing one until 4th Edition, when leaders became my thing. The AD&D bard has such huge barriers to entry that I can’t imagine many people played characters starting from 1st level that worked their way to it. Sure, it happened, but it was probably rare. The second edition bard was fun, and I never played the 3.5 edition one. Although I’m not a fan of 3.5e, maybe I’ll play again just to play the 3.5e bard.
By the way, the inspiration for this post was an article that google put in my feed: “D&D: How to Build the Perfect Bard.” If you’re interested in boosting your bardic power, maybe that article will help.
What are your favorite classes?
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