What was bardic performance like in the D&D Next playtest?

My RPG group is made up of players who had all played either 2nd or 3rd edition before, where bards had a combat-bonus ability significantly different than what’s in D&D 5. In both older versions, the bard was able to grant a combat bonus to all of its allies within earshot.

This was significantly changed for 5e, with bards instead being able to give their allies a “bonus die” which can only be used on a single roll. The bonus is so different from what everyone’s used to that, so far, no one’s actually used the bardic inspiration die to modify a roll.

Based on statements like this answer to “What changed between the playtest and 5e?”, it seems like for at least part of the playtest bards had a significantly different ability. While we wait for whatever optional rule is (hopefully) in the DMG, can someone describe in broad strokes what the 5e “bardic performance” was like?

Can Bardic Inspiration be used on a roll replaced by Portent?

A creature with a Bardic Inspiration die can roll it to add the result to an ability check, saving throw, or attack roll, while the Divination wizard’s Portent feature overrides the roll before the roll is made.

Because the roll has never been made, does this mean that a roll replaced by Portent cannot be improved by the Bardic Inspiration die?

Ventriloquism and Bardic Music

Suppose a bard is trying to remain invisible while still inspiring companions. If the bard starts singing, they make themselves a target. If the bard uses Ventriloquism, they can potentially make noise without drawing attention to their actual location. However, this means their allies will be listening to a figment, not the actual bard, so bardic music fails.

What happens if the party makes the save vs ventriloquism? Now, they know the spell voice is fake. Does that mean they hear the real voice? Would they be able to hear the bard singing for real? Or does the ventriloquism spell still block the bard’s actual voice?

From the Ventriloquism spell in the SRD:

With respect to such voices and sounds, anyone who hears the sound and rolls a successful save recognizes it as illusory (but still hears it).

This does not state the original voice could not be heard. Nor does it state that it could. Typically, with spell descriptions, it does not grant anything it does not say it grants, but nowhere does it say the original voice is gone…

From the description of "Saving throws and Illusions (Disbelief)" in the SRD:

A successful saving throw against an illusion reveals it to be false, but a figment or phantasm remains as a translucent outline.

This only discusses visual illusions. It does not mention whether or not the original image is visible when an illusion is defeated.

So, back to my original question: would a party member who made the save against ventriloquism receive the benefit from the Inspire Courage?

Note: I recognize an easier method is using the Message spell, but my group is trying to determine the limits of Ventriloquism and how it interacts with other magic.

“Continuous” Bardic Inspiration

The bard’s Bardic Inspiration feature states:

You can inspire others through stirring words or music. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes.

This basically plays out to be “You can do it!” or “Break a leg!”, or just playing their lute to build suspense, to affect one thing at a time.

However, I was thinking about the possibility of changing this up for a more “constant” variation. A smaller pay off (+2, for example) for the entire period, much like listening to your favorite song when doing something challenging; Eye of the Tiger or Danger Zone during a fight, Stayin’ Alive while doing a heal or revive check, or just your favorite song to get you in the zone, and your blood pumping.

Additionally, the original time frame is “in the next 10 minutes”, which means any time within the next 60 rounds; so a compromise of a constant +2 over say, 1-3 minutes (i.e. the length of your “inpirational boom-box music”) would not only fit combat more effectively, but also be more evenly balanced in bonus:duration ratio.

So; would a constant bonus of +2 over a shorter duration (1 minute) be balanced?

Is this homebrew Bardic College of Revolution balanced?

I decided to try to homebrew a 5e bard subclass. I was looking for a good mix of combat and charisma based roleplay abilities. I’m still in the early stages of the campaign, but I anticipate a pretty decent balance between combat and intrigue type scenarios. There is a clear campaign objective around some BBEG, and combat with his minions will feature heavily. At the same time, there is lots of political unrest related to the presence of BBEG, and this political unrest is related to my character and his backstory. In particular, the political ideologies described in the college description below are to play a major role in the narrative; my character attended this university and was exiled from the Vale, the elvish capital in our world.

For these reasons, I wanted to go for sort of a “best of both worlds” approach with respect to combat and political intrigue style roleplaying, but I’m looking for something roughly similar to other bardic colleges in terms of how powerful the subclass is.

College description:

The University in the Vale has one of the finest Arts programs in Animosia. By day, their students are trained in all manner of skills befitting the bardic profession. But not all is as its seems.

Forged in the dimly lit seedy basements of residence halls and fraternity houses, political extremists train warriors of both weapon and word. These students are versed both in the art of speech craft and the art of bloodshed. Liberty is their cause, and they see both words and warfare as a means to this end. Their rhetorical tact is usually their preferred means of achieving their ideals, but deeply rooted in their ideology is the reality that often, blood is the price of freedom.

Flavoring. Not a part of balance.

Bonus proficiencies:

When you take this College at 3rd level, you gain expertise in Deception and Persuasion, and proficiency with the Forgery Kit.

The only balance issues I anticipate here is the Bard taking four expertise at level 3 and two more at level 10.

Charming Gesture

Starting at 3rd level, you have gained an acute awareness of your body language. As an action you may expend one use of Bardic Inspiration and select one creature that can see you within 30 feet. For the next 10 minutes, you have advantage on Charisma based skill checks against the creature.

I think this one is balanced out by the next feature also being tied to Bardic Inspiration.

Bleeding Strike

Starting at 3rd level, you have learned to imbue your strikes with lingering necrotic effects. If a weapon attack you make during your turn hits a creature, you may expend one use of your bardic inspiration to gain the following effect: At the start of its turn, the target must make a Constitution Saving throw with a DC equal to your spell save DC. On a failed save, the target takes 1d6 Necrotic damage. This effect continues until the target succeeds the saving throw, and the save DC decreases by 2 each subsequent turn.

The Necrotic damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 2d6 at 6th level, 3d6 at 10th level, and 4d6 at 14th level.

This one seems more powerful than the College of Swords ability, but almost certainly less powerful than the College of Whispers ability. I think having both level 3 abilities tied to bardic inspiration helps to balance things out.

Extra Attack

Starting at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Already two existing Colleges that give this at 6th level, can’t be that broken, right?

Undeniably Compelling rhetoric

Starting at 14th level, you have mastered the art of rhetoric. Once per day, you may cast the spell Glibness without expending an 8th level spell slot.

I’m not sure about this one. It gives Glibness, an 8th level spell one level early – the earliest the Bard can take Glibness is 15th level. So it frees up that 8th level spell slot for an upcast, a second casting of glibness, or taking a different 8th level spell entirely. Also, I’m not sure how much more powerful Glibness is made when used in tandem with Charming Gesture above.

Thanks for taking the time to read it over.

Can a Multiclass Druid/Bard use Bardic inspiration while wild-shaped?

I’m playing a multiclass 6th level Bard/2nd level Druid and I was wondering if I could still use Bardic inspiration/cutting words while using my wild shape.

I looked at the rules, but technically you can because all you have to do to use these features is music. So, I can’t see how being a beast would prevent me from just making music by taping paws on an object/ground or by using the animal’s cry. Am I wrong?

Do Guidance and Bardic Inspiration bonus dice stack?

The feature/cantrip descriptions says nothing about their dice can not stack:

Bardic Inspiration

… use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6. Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes.


You touch one willing creature. Once before the spell ends, the target can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to one ability check of its choice.

That feels wrong to me, since a pair of 1-level characters can have ridiculously high (up to +10, +6 average) bonus to an ability check.

To my knowledge, bonuses in D&D 5e (advantage, proficiency bonus, etc.) do not stack, hence the question. Can a player use both Bardic Inspiration die AND d4 from Guidance for the same check?

I’ve found a related question, but it is about 3.5e.

Can a player have and use both Bardic Inspiration and DM’s Inspiration?

Can a player have both inspiration from the DM and a Bardic Inspiration Die from a bard? Additionally, could both be used on the same attack roll/ ability check before the result is announced?

One argument against is the phrase:

You either have inspiration or you don’t-you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use. (PHB 125)

How does an in-combat change to a bard’s Charisma Score affect its available Bardic Inspirations?

I’m not exactly sure how changes to ability scores in combat affect abilities that have uses based on the modifier for that that skill.

For example take a bard with a Charisma score of 18 that has already used his 4 Bardic Inspirations. He then draws the Star card from the Deck of Many things. He uses it to increase his Charisma to 20, making his Charisma modifier +5.

As the number of Bardic Inspirations is determined by the Charisma modifier, would its increase to +5 give him an additional use of Bardic Inspiration?

On the other hand, suppose the bard has an Ioun stone taking his Charisma to 20. He uses 4 Inspirations, and then steps in a Antimagic Field, disabling the Ioun stone and reducing his Charisma to 18(+4). Would he have one available Bardic Inspiration or none?