New: D&D Bard College of Creators
Welcome back to the Zurn blog! We are continuing our series on new subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons, this time showcasing a new bard subclass: the Creator.
Bards move in different groups, sharing stories and songs in communities known as colleges. This college is the college of creators: a group of singers and musicians who specialize (and take delight in) bringing things to life through magical music.
Bards get access to a good set of healing, utility, damage, and hex spells. This college focuses its potency on conjuration and transmutation spells, making summoned creatures and constructs more powerful while dazzling your enemies.
Whether you are making distractions so the party can sneak past a group of guards, throwing off the timing of the enemy as they fight, or empowering your summons to live longer in a fight, this bard has something a tool for everything. So if you want to play a stealth character, a spellslinger who wants to keep people from hurting you and your friends, or a summoner of magical constructs, you will be a more potent spellcaster with this subclass.
I don't think this subclass is as strong as the College of Lore, and it's definitely not as overpowered in non-combat abilities as the College of Glamour. But, much like with all of these subclasses, the goal isn't to make the best subclass: it's to make a flavorful subclass that adds something unique to the game - in this case, a powerful hexing and summoning mage with sneak abilities.
College of Creator Bard: Theme and Inspiration
I drew inspiration for this subclass while reading the Silmarillion, though Vanya Hargreeves (pictured above) from The Umbrella Academy is another great example of the high concept. In Tolkien's creation myth, Eru Illuvatar uses music to bring the world into existence, and as the history of Middle Earth progresses we find that music has a creative aspect in forming and manipulating the world.
That's what I wanted from the College of Creators: an image of someone using songs to bring things into existence (conjuration) and change things (transmutation). And since all of the bard subclasses to date pick one of the things that bards do well and expand them to make them powerful, I loved the idea of taking this idea of song as creating element and expanding it.
College of Creators: Mechanics
You can find the details of the subclass here, easily printable for your game master to consider if desired thanks to the team at Homebrewery. The abilities of the subclass all look at different facets of creating things, either by making things from nothing (conjuration) or changing what is into something else (transmutation).
To start off, you gain the ability to distract targets with your spells, reducing their ability to perceive you past your Stealth rolls. While most classes have a "stealth" subclass there is no true "stealthy bard" subclass in the canon yet, and there still isn't per se with this class either. But if that's something you would enjoy doing, the College of Creators will help to make this possible.
Should stealth fail, the creators have a second plan: bardic inspiration to dazzle and throw off the timing of an enemy. By spending inspiration dice to reduce incoming attack results, the creator bard gains greater longevity by evading damage intended for them, allowing them to fill damage and healing roles without having to use their action to disengage or dodge attacks.
By 6th level you are learning to create things with greater force and power, adding to your damage. Conjuration spells that traditionally do not do damage gain a small amount of damage, and some of your damage spells increase in damage, allowing you to better scale your damage to tackle threats as you level up. So if you are looking to play a "blaster mage" this is probably not your subclass, but if you want a chance to do more damage to contribute in a fight, you can.
By 14th level you are reaching the apex of transmutation spells in your list, being able to change the forms and abilities of yourself, allies, and enemies, and to aid you in this you gain two critical abilities. Your transformational spells (like Polymorph) gain added hit points, allowing yourself (or allies) to live longer in their new forms, which is a helpful boon for enduring a long fight at high levels. Second, your support spells like Longstrider and Enhance Ability can be cast as a bonus action instead of using your action, allowing you to continue supporting the party with attacks while you cast utility spells.
The College of Creators is a solid "B" subclass: it does useful things, allows for a new and fun way to play, and improves the damage and support capabilities of the class while also helping you triage damage that could take you out of the fight. You won't have the skill advantage or damage advantage of a Lore or Valor bard, but if you enjoy making and transforming things with songs, you should look at this class.
Next time we will be looking at one of our two cleric subclasses, both of which I am surprised have not been made yet, as they are common in almost every pantheon of the ancient world. Each rewards a unique way to play that haven't really been seen to date in D&D, so stay tuned!
Until next time,