New Bard Subclass for D&D Next: College of Faust

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 12, 2014

bard-1One thing we decided when long ago was that we wouldn’t post new classes, feats, powers, or that kind of thing here at Dungeon’s Master. Since most players use Character Builder to create their characters it seemed like a waste of time to post any home brew material since we knew there was little chance of anyone actually using it in their game. However, as we transition to D&D Next we return to a system that a) doesn’t have character builder, and b) encourages players to be wildly imaginative when they’re creating characters.

This doesn’t mean that we’re planning to post a whole bunch of home brew material like new classes, items, or spells, but we are going to be more open to the possibility of such articles.

Last week as I was browsing the D&D sub-Reddit I stumbled upon a really creative take on the Bard class for D&D Next. I reached out to the author (/u/MightyWarWren) and asked him if we could post his version of the Bard here at Dungeon’s Master in order to give it more exposure. He agreed.

This was originally posted on Reddit. I’ve made a few edits based on the feedback left in the comments by the author.

The College of Faust is a new subclass for the Bard in D&D Next. It’s based on the idea of a musician who forms a pact with a Devil for musical talent.

This concept was primarily inspired by Tommy Johnson in O Brother Where Art Thou and “The Devil Came Down to Georgia” as well as the trope in general, but specific influences are listed below the description below.

College of Faust

bard-2Bards of the College of Faust make pacts with a Devil for musical talent and fame. The road to fame is rough, but these Bards have found a shortcut to success. In the middle of the night, they must convene with the Devil at a crossroads. The Devil appears to the aspiring musician’s beckon and takes a string instrument (violin or guitar) from the Bard, tuning it and playing a haunting tune on it before returning it. In exchange for the powers the Devil offers these Bards, the Bard must sign a written contract selling his soul to the Devil for all eternity. Their songs are heartrendingly beautiful, and the notes they play are so swift, no mundane musician could hope to match it. Without having to confess to their deal, a wise person could tell that such talent is not gained by earthy practice but through a Devilish pact.

College of Faust Features

Level Feature
3 Bonus Proficiencies, Terrifying Performance
6 Devilish Aid
12 Speaking Tongues
15 Devil’s Wiles
18 Awaken Band of Devils

Bonus Proficiencies

If not already proficient, you gain proficiency with the violin, guitar, and harmonica. If these do not exist in your campaign, consult with you DM to select similar instruments to become proficient with. The Bard gains advantage when using these instruments.

Terrifying Performance

At level 3 you learn Terrifying Performance, a new use for your Bardic Performance. When you perform it, one creature of your choice within 50 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw against your Bard spell save DC. On a failed save, the target is frightened for the duration of your performance.

A frightened creature has disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls while it can hear your song, and it cannot willingly move to a position where it would end a turn closer to you than where it started.

If you cease playing your instrument, singing your song, make an attack, or cast a spell, this effect ends. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this ability for 10 minutes. Starting at level 9, you can choose two creatures to frighten with each performance, and at level 17, it increases to three creatures.

Devilish Aid

At level 6 you can use your musical instrument to summon a subservient Devil to do your bidding. A Lemure appears and mindlessly follow your orders for a number of hours equal to your Charisma modifier or until it is killed. At level 13, for the same duration, you can instead summon an Imp who is telepathically linked to you and begrudgingly obeys your every command.

Speaking Tongues

At level 12 you add Infernal to the list of languages you know. In addition, you can communicate in any language. However, if you do not know the language you can only express yourself, and cannot understand the communication of others.

Devil’s Wiles

bard-4At level 15 the new use of your Bardic Performance allows your voice to gain special powers over members of one gender of your choice. Any member of this gender who hears your singing must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your Bard spell save DC or be charmed for the duration of your performance plus a number of minutes equal to your Charisma modifier immediately after the performance ends. During this time, you may command the target on how to use its action, but the target is entitled to a Wisdom saving throw against your Bard spell save DC each time. On a successful save the target does not perform the action and is no longer charmed. If you attack or cast a spell on the target, this effect ends. You cannot use this Bardic Performance if you or any creature that would be affected by it is currently engaged in combat.

Awaken Band of Devils

At level 18 you know the Awaken spell, and it doesn’t count against the number of Bard spells you know. You can also cast Awaken once per day without expending a spell slot.

When you cast this spell, you can awaken plants, animals, or stones. The awakened target, in addition to the effects described by the spell, is Lawful Evil and is proficient in one instrument of your choice. Instead of speaking one language of your choice, awakened targets may only speak Infernal. If you have at least three awakened creatures they form a band if given instruments.

After you spend one round initiating a Bardic performance, the band can continue playing the song and allow its affects to continue while you perform other actions. When your band plays for you, the performance does not require concentration. The performance last for up to 10 minutes plus a number of minutes equal to your proficiency bonus or until attacked.


Specific Influences

The Devil’s Wiles class feature is inspired by “The Blues and the Blues singer has really special powers over women, especially. It is said that the Blues singer could possess women and have any woman they wanted.” from this page and the Awaken Band of Devils class feature inspired by the Stone Mountain Laser Show rendition of Devil came down to Georgia, where the Devil turns a bunny, tree, and rock into a “band of demons” playing instruments. Other inspirations include: everyone on this list of musicians and this guy specifically
the end.

What do you think of the College of Faust Bard? Would you allow this build in yor game? What might you change or tweak to improve it? Or do you think it’s fine exactly as it is now?

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1 Tarkabarka March 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Oh wow, I love this! I have always played bards, and I am always looking for new ideas. I’ll definitely have to try this one. Thank you!
Also, happy A to Z challenge! I’ll be checking back 🙂
#TeamDamyanti minion

2 Mephisto August 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm

I’m a little late to this article, but I couldn’t help saying how cool I think this subclass is! It mixes well with my current campaign setting and is a interesting spin on the bard.

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