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Best Races and Ability Scores for Bards in Baldur’s Gate 3

Best Races and Ability Scores for Bard in Baldur's Gate 3.

Ever wanted to roleplay as Chris Pine? Well, with both the surprisingly good Dungeons & Dragons movie and the release of Baldur’s Gate 3, now you can! The Bard class makes the cut for those included in Larian Studios latest CRPG adventure, and if you’re unfamiliar with it, Bards basically cast magic through music – and have a good time doing so. It’s one of the more unique options in the game. Here’s your guide for the best races and ability scores for your Bard in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Of all the ability scores in Baldur’s Gate 3, Charisma is the most important for Bards. No surprise there – who wants to listen to a musician with no Charisma? They also make for great party leaders, as Charisma affects the Intimidation, Performance, and Persuasion skills, which will help you when dealing with various NPCs throughout the game. 

But even more important is their class action, Bardic Inspiration. Not only does it buff up an ally’s next Attack Roll, Ability Check, or Saving Throw, your little avatar gets to play their instrument of choice.

Best Races for Bards in Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3)

As Baldur’s Gate 3 does away with race ability bonuses, you can freely make a Bard of any race. That said, two races come with bonuses that stand out: the Tiefling or Elf (Wood Elf subrace).

All of the Tiefling subraces provide a valuable spell that the Bard can make use of. However, the Zariel Tiefling has the Cantrip Thaumaturgy, which gives you advantage when making an Intimidation or Performance check. Both Intimidation and Performance are based on Charisma, which you will naturally want as high as possible for a Bard, making your character much more consistent while navigating difficult situations outside of combat. The Wood Elf, on the other hand, will give you proficiency in shortbows and longbows, allowing you to stay out of combat while you pick at enemies from afar and buff allies. 

Bards have three subclasses to choose from at level 3, two with a focus on physical combat and one with a focus on spells:

  • College of Lore: Use your wit to sap enemies of their confidence with Cutting Words. This subclass focuses more on spells.
  • College of Valour: This subclass has a melee focus, changing Bardic Inspiration into Combat Inspiration, which grants greater buffs.
  • College of Swords: With a focus on dueling, you gain Combat Inspiration and a new Fighting Style.

Best Ability Scores for Bards in BG3

Ability scores will give a modifier bonus to your dice rolls and you have a total of 27 to allocate into six skills. Furthermore, you have the option to grant a +2 and a +1 bonus to two different abilities. For a Bard, the following spread is recommended for a College of Lore build:

Elf (Wood Elf subrace)

Strength: 8
Dexterity: 16 (+1 bonus)
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 10
Charisma: 17 (+2 bonus)

The high Charisma will allow you to cast spells that require it successfully, and the high Dexterity will help with utilizing ranged weapons. This build is relatively balanced, dumping Strength and Intelligence in favor of survivability and high Charisma. It will make for a great party leader, especially if you increase your Charisma modifier further (eventually to 20, if you can), you’ll be able to beguile, intimidate, and impress your way through most situations. 

If you’re interested in something more melee focused for a College of Valour or College of Swords character, try this:

Zariel Tiefling

Strength: 15 (+1 bonus)
Dexterity: 14
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 15 (+2 bonus)

If slicing up foes with longswords while singing the deeds of ancient heroes sounds like a good time, all the while looking like a character straight out of black metal band, this build is for you. This build might seem a little strange with 15 in both Strength and Charisma, but upon hitting level 4, select the Ability Score Improvement feat to raise both to 16 and receive that +3 bonus; later, you can level up your Dexterity for a better Armor Class and Initiative roll.

You will also choose a musical instrument and some spells upon creating your character. However, the instruments have no effect other than aesthetics and the spells can be switched out. Choose what you think seems the most fun.

As for backgrounds, go for whichever makes the most sense for the character you wish to play rather than the skills you’ll receive, as backgrounds can also grant Inspiration Points, which allow you to reroll ability checks. Thematically the Entertainer background fits. However, as long as you ensure you have proficiency in Deception, Intimidation, Performance, and Persuasion, you’ll have an easy time outside of combat as you explore Faerun in all its dangerous beauty.

Truly, there is no one way to make a good Bard. Luckily, Larian Studios has confirmed you can respec your character, so don’t be afraid to experiment with this music-loving class. And while neither of these builds resemble Chris Pine from the Dungeons & Dragons movie, they make for powerful builds all the same.

We have similar guides for all of the other classes and other tips to the game, so make sure to take a look at what’s available.

About the author

Lowell Bell
Lowell is a freelance contributor with The Escapist that began his career reporting on live events such as the Penny Arcade Expo and E3 back in 2012. Over the last couple of years, he carved a niche for himself covering competitive Pokémon as he transitioned into game criticism full time. About a decade ago, Lowell moved to Japan for a year or two but is still there, raising a Shiba Inu named Zelda with his wife while missing access to good burritos. He also has a love/hate relationship with Japanese role-playing games.