What Happens When I Level Up – Bard (D&D 5e)

This guide only presents the Traits, Feats, and additional Abilities that your character will acquire when they gain a level. The character progression is broken down per level to facilitate the tracking of incremental changes that can be made for a character. This is to help avoid repeatedly jumping through different sections of the Player’s Handbook every time an additional level is gained.

Before using this guide, please take note of any and all applicable feats, racial traits or background bonuses that your character might gain before choosing a class. Most of these are one time numerical bonuses to Ability Scores or are persistent abilities that your character can use all throughout their adventuring life.

The Bard Class Advancement Table

Bard New
Nobody really sings as part of roleplay though. Higher res image here.

General notes on Bards:

  • Bards can be a bit underwhelming in terms of combat damage at early Tier 1 play (1st-4th Level), but they have the potential to be absolute beasts at utility and support. Using Vicious Mockery as the main damage source sounds funny at first, but then everybody realizes that this cantrip usually dictates the direction of combat as much as farting in the general direction of the enemy. The disadvantage to attacks is nice though.
  • Bards are a perfect fit for a party that loves buffs and debuffs. Make good use of skill proficiency and spells for social interactions and exploration.
  • One spell can be swapped out for another for every level gained. This comes in handy when the Bard needs to update their arsenal for mid-late game.
  • Use inspiration liberally, specially when the party is rolling like ass.

Bard Colleges

*Featured in expansions, homebrew material and Unearthed Arcana. Ask your DM for permission if they’ll allow the use of these Colleges for your campaign. These options may have additional requirements and/or special features/bonuses when chosen.

Character Advancement – Gaining Levels

1st Level Bard

  • Initial HP = 8 + Constitution (CON) Modifier
  • Armor Proficiency: Light Armor
  • Weapon Proficiency: Simple Weapons, Hand Crossbows, Longswords, Rapiers, Shortswords
  • Tool Proficiency: Three musical instruments of your choice
  • One (1) 1d8 Hit Die
  • +2 Proficiency Bonus
  • Proficiency Bonus added to DEX and CHA saving throws
  • Choice of Proficiency Bonus to any skill (Choose three)
  • Two (2) Cantrips from the Bard spell list
  • Four (4) 1st level spells from the Bard spell list
  • Two (2) 1st level spell slots
  • Spellcasting Ability (CHA)
  • Bardic Inspiration (Xd6; X=CHA Ability Modifier)

2nd Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 1st level spell from the Bard spell list
  • One (1) additional 1st level spell slot
  • Jack of All Trades
  • Song of Rest

3rd Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 1st level spell slot
  • Two (2) new 2nd level spell slots/access to 2nd level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-2nd level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Bard College (First Bard College Feature)
  • Expertise I

4th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional Cantrip from the Bard spell list
  • One (1) additional 2nd level spell slot
  • One (1) additional 1st-2nd level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Ability Score improvement (additional 2 points for one ability or 1 point for two abilities) OR a Feat of your choice

5th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • Two (2) new 3rd level spell slots/access to 3rd level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-3rd level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Bardic Inspiration die increased from d6 to d8
  • Font of Inspiration
  • Proficiency Bonus is increased by 1

6th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 3rd level spell slot
  • One (1) additional 1st-3rd level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Countercharm
  • New Bard College Feature

7th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) new 4th level spell slot/access to 4th level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-4th level spell from the Bard spell list

8th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 4th level spell slot
  • One (1) additional 1st-4th level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Ability Score Improvement OR a Feat of your choice

9th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 4th level spell slot
  • One (1) new 5th level spell slot/access to 5th level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-5th level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Song of Rest die increased from d6 to d8
  • Proficiency Bonus is increased by 1

10th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional Cantrip from the Bard spell list
  • One (1) additional 5th level spell slot
  • Two (2) 1st-5th level spell from any class spell list (Magical Secrets I)
  • Bardic Inspiration die increased from d8 to d10
  • Expertise II

11th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) new 6th level spell slot/access to 6th level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-6th level spell from the Bard spell list

12th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • Ability Score Improvement OR a Feat of your choice

13th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) new 7th level spell slot/access to 7th level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-7th level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Song of Rest die increased from d8 to d10
  • Proficiency Bonus is increased by 1

14th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • Two (2) 1st-7th level spell from any class spell list (Magical Secrets II)
  • New Bard College Feature

15th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) new 8th level spell slot/access to 8th level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-8th level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Bardic Inspiration die increased from d10 to d12

16th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • Ability Score Improvement OR a Feat of your choice

17th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) new 9th level spell slot/access to 9th level Bard spells
  • One (1) additional 1st-9th level spell from the Bard spell list
  • Song of Rest die increased from d10 to d12
  • Proficiency Bonus is increased by 1

18th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 5th level spell slot
  • Two (2) 1st-9th level spell from any class spell list (Magical Secrets III)

19th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 6th level spell slot
  • Ability Score Improvement OR a Feat of your choice

20th Level Bard

  • Max HP increase. Add 1d8 + CON Modifier to the current total Max HP
  • One (1) additional 1d8 Hit Die
  • One (1) additional 7th level spell slot
  • Superior Inspiration

Please take note of all ability score and bonus increases as your Bard gains levels and experience. These changes must be properly reflected on your character sheet to show improvements for character statistics like skill checks and attack rolls. Make sure to update the character’s armor class, hit points, bonus initiative, passive perception and other skills that they are proficient with whenever any relevant changes allow you to do so.

It is not a requirement for a bard to be a sex-crazed deviant. Sly bargaining, negotiation, and smart use of spells are more interesting interactions than the “seduce everything that moves” stereotype. For additional information on Bardic Colleges and the features they grant, refer to resources like the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or expansion and online material like the ones from Roll20 or The DnD 5e Wikidot website.

– D

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