D&D 5: Half-Elf Bard Guide

D&D 5: Half-Elf Bard Guide

So you made a sensible decision. Using your fancy prancy heritage and charisma for something rather than being the next half-elf-on-the-shelf. Although bards are an icon as comedic reliefs and convenient cheer squad of the party, it can be a struggle to be the jack of all trades of the band. They’re pretty much that one strange cousin in the mage family reunion.

The Half-Elf race AND the Bard class can be found in the Player’s Handbook. Click here to pick up your own copy of The Player’s Handbook!

How to Make a Half-Elf Bard

Just because you or a character you come across performs tricks, plays music, or wants to bang anything within a 60ft radius doesn’t make them a bard. Bards have a way with their music, words, and actions with the magic they weave. Compared to other classes, a bard’s backstory matters less compared to the stories they tell. 

Bard Colleges, oh how art imitates life. Bard’s are considered scholars. As funny as “the horny wacky bard strikes again!” is, not every bard has to be that way. Bard Colleges, like warlock patrons and wizard academia, are like subcategories or show what your character majors in:

  • College of Lore- if Aristotle, Buddha, Hypatia, or Socrates became bards this would be their college. These bards have a way with their words. Their pursuit is beauty and truth.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: you gain proficiency with three skills of your choice.
    • Cutting Words
    • Additional Magical Secrets
    • Peerless Skill
  • College of Valor- probably the most common portrayal of bards. Great storytellers and singers of epics of old and heroes. In other words, the freeloading artist that’s usually the comedic relief to the party.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: you gain proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons.
    • Combat Inspiration
    • Extra Attack– you get to attack TWICE! 
    • Battle Magic
    • *the aforementioned are the ones in the 5e player handbook, but you don’t just want to settle for 2 options, do you? You can ask your DM if they’ll let you choose something apart from the updated handbook.
  • College of Creation- All-powerful hippies taking “music is in our souls” quite literally. These bards can create things (nonliving only) with their songs
    • Note of Potential
    • Performance of Creation
    • Animating performance
    • Creative Crescendo
    • Other:
      • Force-Empowered Slam (Only applicable to melee weapon)
      • Immutable Form
      • Irrepressible Dance
    • Immunity to poison and psychic damage, exhaustion, fear, and being charmed.
  • College of Eloquence- a.k.a college of dramatic Lawyers. Never try to argue with them. These bards have a way with their words that can make and break a person. Bringing truth to the saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words leave psychological wounds that will never heal.” -Edgar Turner, Fairly Odd Parents.
    • Silver Tongue
    • Unsettling Words
    • Unfailing Inspiration
    • Universal Speech
    • Infectious Inspiration
  • College of Glamour- Charismatic levels are off the charts that having ‘stunning beauty’ becomes literal. Tutored by satyrs, eladrin, and other fey, bards under this collage can practically be instant superstars or create cult followings if they wanted to.
    • Mantle of Inspiration
    • Enthralling Performance
    • Mantle of Majesty
    • Unbreakable Majesty
  • College of Swords- A thorn to the Rogue’s side. Blade masters in entertainment and combat.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with medium armor and the scimitar.
      • If you’re proficient with a simple or martial melee weapon, you can use it as a spellcasting focus for your bard spells.
    • Fighting Style:
      • Dueling
      • Two-weapon fight
    • Blade Flourish:
      • Defensive Flourish. 
      • Slashing Flourish. 
      • Mobile Flourish.
    • Extra Attack- You can attack TWICE!
    • Master’s Flourish
  • College of Whispers- The sneakier side of the bardic craft. The name of this college is due to how secrets, important information, and even stories are exchanged. Best for those wanting to be spies and information brokers.
    • Psychic Blades
    • Word of Terror
    • Mantle of Whispers
    • Shadow lore

Bards are known to be a charismatic class, your race adds advantage to it as there is a plus 2 to charisma, good at diplomacy, dark vision, and other extra advantages depending on your elf heritage. Bards are advised to make sure their Charisma is above the level of 13, followed by Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Strength. The build is almost similar to that of a Rogue but you’re a bit more on your feet as some rely on strength. 

How to Play a Half-elf Bard


Hit Dice: 1d8 per bard level

Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per bard level after 1st

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

You have an advantage in speed, dark vision, and saving throws in being charmed and put to sleep- just like a college student. Your race gives an advantage creating one of the best builds at being a bard.

Some defaults to being a Bard (also see chart above):

  • Spellcasting- You can wield magic with your music and performance.
  • Bardic Inspiration- Your cheerleading boosts the morale of your teammates or any creature you pick within 60 ft. Does it do anything apart from that? Ask your DM if they’ll let you pick what else it does or if they have something in mind.
  • Jack of All Trades- It’s simple, you can add half your proficiency to any of your abilities that you’re not proficient in. Any skill you are bad at becomes halfway decent.
  • Song of Rest- Even healing requires a musical number.

Outside of Combat, half-elves have their distinct traits like humans, some unique to elves. It can significantly depend upon their upbringing. A common attribute is that they value personal freedom and self-expression, demonstrating neither love of leaders nor the desire for followers. They chafe at rules, resent others’ demands, and are sometimes unreliable and unpredictable. Though this does not mean half-elves are devoid of emotions. Compared to their purebred counterparts, they are more open to forming bonds with other races regardless of hierarchy, status, and benefit.   

How to Roleplay as a Half-elf Bard

Half-Elves mature at the same rate humans do and reach adulthood around the age of 20. They live much longer than Humans (exceeding 180 years), which can be fulfilling for younger half-elves but a restless existence for older adults, watching as those with shorter mortalities and loved ones come and go. Remember to follow your moral alignment.

When choosing an elf heritage, their tolerance and characteristics should be considered since elves are pretty racist. Half-elves are seen as abominations by most elf kind. This is due to the issue that elf souls are constantly being reincarnated. That is why the elf population very rarely goes up. If even one more elf is born compared to the number of elves who died, it is seen as a bad omen. It is unknown whether their souls are human, elf, or half-elf, which has caused a series of mixed reactions with half-elves. A half-elf can be raised amongst elves, but it greatly depends on which kind. Grayhawk, Valley, Silvanesti, Wood, and Sun elves aren’t even candidates. Even if one of these would father/mother a half-elf, raising one in their domain is impossible- an elf can easily discern a half-elf- compared to the other kinds where there is a slight chance.

As mentioned before, Half-elves make great bards, especially with their inherent creativity and love for self-expression. In being a bard, it’s best to consider what kind of bard you would be rather than why did you become one. What is your specialty in performance? What is your goal as a bard? Where have you gone to, and who have you been with? What tales do you have to tell? Having no land to call their own, Elves usually become wanderers or diplomats, which are natural when barding up. 

Half-elves can speak elvish with an addition of one or two languages. As a Bard, this comes in handy especially with the way you tell your tales. 

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