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Baldur’s Gate 3: The Best Starting Build for Bards

Bards, while a beloved fantasy and role-playing game (RPG) trope, are not always positioned as playable heroes. Though present in legendary games such as The Witcher series and Larian’s previous effort, Divinity: Original Sin 2, it is no guarantee that they will be anything other than ancillary characters.

Baldur’s Gate 3 turns that convention on its head, and we dive in headfirst to determine the Best Builds for Bards in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Race

Race-Choice-Screen-BGIII
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

Most races play well with the Bard class, but some are a little better than others.

We’re here for it if you’re dying to make your way in Faerun as a hell-escaped Tiefling or rage-filled Orc bard.

To get the most out of your minstrel, consider one of the following races. 

Human

BG3-Human-Selection-Screen
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

The basic bard, humans in Faerun, are adaptable, creative, and have enormous capacity to evolve their skills. Human bards are adept at bardly skills such as Athletics, Persuasion, Performance, and, for the more dastardly, Deception. 

Halfling

BG3 Halfling Selection Screen
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

Besides being funny to look at by default, Halflings harbor advantages in Athletics, Performance, and Deception, making them a good base model for the wandering minstrel. 

Half-Elf

BG3-Half-Elf-Selection-Screen
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

Besides being welcome everywhere in Faerun, half-elves’ versatility and skills incline them toward a bard build. Athleticism, Persuasion, and Performance skills contribute to making them influential entertainers. 

Gnome

BG3-Gnome-Selection-Screen
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

Though the fantasy pantheon most often associates gnomes with cave-dwelling miners, they make excellent bards in Baldur’s Gate 3. Clever, long-lived, and energetic, gnome bards come equipped with both Acrobatics and Performance skills- vital to bards- in addition to an excellent grasp of history. 

Backgrounds & Skills

In the world of Faerun, Background determines the collection of skills in which a character is proficient. Each background comes with skills that enhance the ability to roll successfully to complete a given task. 

Each skill provides a bonus to certain types of roles. For example, a character with a soldier’s background receives bonuses in tasks requiring athleticism or intimidation while one with a criminal background performs well being deceptive or stealthy. 

Entertainer

BG3-Entertainer-2
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

The obvious pick for a bard build, entertainers excel in Acrobatics and Performance, but also have skills in Perception, Athletics, and Intimidation. The classic bard would do well to choose an Entertainer background, as it is the only background with the Acrobatics skill trait. 

Charlatan

BG3-Charlatan-2
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

It depends on how you envision your character, but no one ever said bards had to be moral. The Charlatan background is perfect for a traveling grifter scamming their way through the road. Charlatans lack both Performance and Acrobatics skills, but thrive at Deception and Sleight of Hand for performers masking their darker impulses. 

Criminal

BG3-Criminal-2
(Larian Studios via Mike Bruton)

Part of grifting people is being able to perform for them, and what better cover for a thief than a traveling entertainer? Skilled in Performance, Sleight of Hand, Deception, and Persuasion all come easy to the thief masquerading as a bard. 

Spells

They’re not wizards or warlocks, but bards in Baldur’s Gate have access to four spell slots with which to equip some magic. Players can change which spells to use in-game, but here are our picks for starting spells for the bard lifestyle.

Animal Friendship

BG3-Animal-Friendship-2-1

Everyone loves a bard- even animals. At least, they do in Baldur’s Gate.

Though Animal Friendship stirs up images of druids in their beloved forests, the life of a bard is all about charming everyone they meet, regardless of species. 

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter

The laughter may be hideous, but no one loves a captive audience more than a bard.

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter leaves enemies prone and unable to fight, thanks to the bard’s amazing black magic -er- comedy skills. 

Charm Person

BG3-Charm-Person-2

Bards rely on charisma to advance their agenda, and no spells are more aligned with charming a person than Charm Person.

The successful deployment of this spell prevents humanoid NPCs from attacking and awards initiative to the player.

Disguise Self

Though primarily known as musicians, bards relish any opportunity to perform. Part of the necessary skill set includes changing the way they look for a role.

Disguise Self magically alters the player’s appearance. It comes in handy onstage or when hiding from the authorities. Whichever comes in handy. 

Cantrips

Cantrips are like mini-spells players can use as a bonus action during their turn. Most cantrips roll a small di to perform an action dealing damage or otherwise manipulating the environment. Bards can equip up to two cantrips, which is not true of all classes. 

Choosing a cantrip is more a thematic exercise than something to build a character around, but for those seeking to truly inhabit the role, there are some thematically appropriate cantrips for bards. 

Minor Illusion creates distractions that inspire nearby creatures to investigate.

It can be used to clear the way of enemies or lure an unsuspecting guard from that nice item your party wants to make their own. 

Vicious Mockery

Late nights performing for the drunk tavern crowd has given your bard the ability to shut down hecklers with a devastating riposte.

Vicious Mockery is a psychic attack that insults the enemy, leaving it at a disadvantage on their next Attack Roll. 

Dancing Lights

Dancing Lights may be more appropriate for a Wizard or Warlock, but dancing under the lights is what bards live for!

Besides, illuminating a 9m radius is ultra-convenient, especially if your bard lacks Darkvision.

Friends

No one makes friends like a wandering minstrel. This cantrip provides a bonus  to Charisma rolls as long as the target is not hostile.

Making Friends in tough situations is invaluable- so what if it’s only because of the enchantment?

Bard Bonus

The bard can choose which instrument they wish to specialize in. Whether players choose the Hand Drum, Flute, Lute, Lyre, or Violin will not impact performance in the game, but it does change the type of music that plays when casting spells- a clever and fun little easter egg by Larian. 

Baldur’s Gate 3 puts the role-playing back into role-playing game with a nuanced and inspired character creation process. Explore Faerun the way you want by making the best possible selections for your character. 

There’s no one right way to enjoy Baldur’s Gate 3. Leave some of your favorite builds in the comments, and happy gaming. 

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