Melee Bard Multi Class Build
Having done many bard multi-class Swashbucklers (SB) we have narrowed in on the build of choice. This is the updated build following the kensei tree update.
12 Bard / 2 Rogue / 6 Fighter
12 Bard gets you everything you need to melee as a Bard. Core 4 Swashbuckler Enhancement And tier 5’s in the Swashbuckler tree. All the spells you need with 12 levels get you 3 level 4 Bard spells for Dimension Door, FoM, and cure crit. You also have the standard Blur, Invis, good hope, haste, and of course Displacement. It’s not too much of a hassle to scroll GH as you don’t have level 5 spells.
Bard also enables you to get plenty of skill points each level to keep up and maximize your rogue skills, perform and charisma skills. You have a build that can trap with the best, insta-kill with Coup De Grace (CDG) and the ability to mesmerize mobs and tear them apart one by one if needed.
2 rogue for trapping and evasion.
6ftr gets you 4 feats. It also allows you access to the Defender tree for PRR and hp enhancements wearing a buckler. The main reason we have updated to 6 levels of fighter is the third kensei core which adds +1 crit multiplier. You’ll note it’s the same bonus type as swashbuckling, but not all weapons get multiplier from SB. Take a second look at light pick and hand axe. SB puts these at 19-20 x4 and 18-20 x3, with just range bonuses, meaning that the fighter bonus to multiplier will work. SB bonus to threat also stacks with improved critical unlike other bonuses. Meaning with the feat these are 17-20 x5 and 15-20 x4. The light pick with a smaller threat and bigger multi gets more benefit from exploit weakness’ stacking +1 threat per non-crit making it a good choice for non LD builds. Those running in LD will want to go hand axe for headman’s chop.
Being the first class to see a revamp and many classes being improved since, SB is not top of the heap but it is a versatile build with good single target, ok aoe, superb back-up crowd control and instant kills with DCs based on perform, and it’s just hard to kill when combined with a guardbreaking shield.
Stats might look like this on a human:
Strength – 13 P/A and cleave
Dexterity – 13 precision
Constitution – 14
Intelligence – 14 skills
Wisdom – 8
Charisma – 16 All level up points here
Skill points – Balance at least 7 for GSWF, UMD as a cha class doesn’t have to be max at high levels but pump it early, Perform, Search, Open Lock, Disable Device
This build often takes power attack and precision which are exclusive. You run in precision and treat power attack as a feat tax to get cleaves. If running in LD you want to have power attack active and can drop precision. This is a very crit dependent build and you want precision unless you are running in LD.
Feats by level: by Swiftis, Dubb prefers to get SWF earlier and wait on cleaves… it’s a playstyle choice.
1 R- Power Attack, Cleave (human bonus)
3 B – Cleave for non-humans Completionist or Precision otherwise
4 B – now you are a real swashbuckler with the Core 2 enhancement
6 F – Great Cleave (needs the BAB from fighter a bard level here would not work), fighter bonus: SWF
9 B – ISWF
11 F – Improved Critical slashing or piercing (hand axe or pick)
12 R – Completionist or Precision which ever not taken at 3. If human and not a completionist then move up shield mastery and add empower heal at 18 for use on cocoon.
Round out skills and get evasion. You can swap this rogue with an earlier bard level if you really want evasion sooner, but it will cost you final skill totals.
15 B – Shield Mastery or Dodge
16 F – GSWF unfortunately can’t get this sooner due to BAB.
18 B – Improved S.M. or Mobility
Epic feats are not a key to this build. Take Overwhelming Crit and SWF master and can use the rest to round out heroic feats.
Tier 1 is just a point tax, nothing great
Tier 2 fast movement, doublestrike action boost (can skip this as it has high cost and we have haste in kensei), deflect arrows
Tier 3 Practically all must haves: cha to damage, 20% no save knockdown when hit, shield use while SWF.
Tier 4 Low blow is a must have, this is your stun to lead for CDG. On the Mark unfortunately has not gotten updated to the more common reduced cost of similar enhancements.
Tier 5 in SB: CDG and exploit weakness are must haves. Thread the needle if not in LD. Second Skin as needed, this will depend a lot on the MDB (max dex bonus) of your armor and is a good place to pull points if you want to put more in defender where you can get some of this back and meet points spent requirements.
Tier 1 Strategic Combat (since different tack only affects damage), Harper enchantment
Tier 2 KTA
Kensei: Goal here is strike with no thought, but some max dodge is here too.
Tier 1 haste boost, weapon focus
Tier 2 improved dodge (if dodge feat taken), ascetic training: agility
Tier 3 crit mastery, athletic mastery (if mobility)
There’s +6 max dodge in kensei once you have mobility (3 without it). With ship buffs you are looking at a 33 max dodge.
Tier 1 Max durable defense (prr/mrr). Spend in defensive mastery (AC and MDB) and item defense as needed
Tier 2 Can get saves in improved defense, or go with armor expertise to meet prereq for shield expertise
Tier 3 Tenacious defense for that sweet 20% hp. Shield expertise if you are spending heavy in this tree.
Tier 4 If spending heavy here: can get hardy defense and swift defense