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The typical bard can use the bardic music effect inspire courage to grant allies morale bonuses on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, and saving throws against charm and fear effects. A bard with the feat Dragonfire Inspiration (Dragon Magic 17–18), instead of using the bardic music effect inspire courage to grant morale bonuses on attack rolls and weapon damage rolls, can use the the bardic music effect inspire courage to grant allies extra d6s of energy damage equal to what those morale bonuses on attack rolls and weapon damage rolls would've been… and morale bonuses on saving throws against charm and fear effects, too.

Can the bard that possesses the feat Dragonfire Inspiration do the following?

  • Round 1: Take a standard action to spend a bardic music use per day to employ the bardic music effect inspire courage normally. End the bardic music effect inspire courage; this is not an action. Note: The effects of the bardic music effect inspire courage nonetheless persist for 5 rounds after the bard's ended it.

  • Round 2: Take a standard action to spend a bardic music use per day to employ the bardic music effect inspire courage, this time employing the benefit of the feat Dragonfire Inspiration to grant allies the feat's benefit of extra d6s of energy damage, the morale bonuses on saving throws against charm and fear effects overlapping with the existing bonuses.

In short, is it legit to spend two uses of the bardic music effect inspire courage on different actions—ending one before starting the other—so that the bard and the bard's allies get both the normal benefits of the inspire courage effect for 5 rounds and the modified-by-the-feat inspire courage effect for as long as the bard maintains it?


Note: While to this reader this seems reasonable—both from a balance perspective because of the resources that must be devoted to it and the actions it consumes and from a purely mechanical perspective because the bonuses overlap rather than stack—, a player new to my campaign asked about this interaction, saying that the interaction's hotly debated and perhaps even, ultimately, can only resolved by a DM's ruling. Maybe my inner rules lawyer is holding me back, but I'm especially unable to muster any arguments that would disallow it, so answers from both sides are welcome.

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The rules are quite quiet on this

  1. There's simply no explicit ruling, that I could find in the various books, that would either definitively or suggest the appropriate ruling.

  2. The closest near-neighbor I can find is the spell stacking rules. Under

    Same Effect with Differing Results

    The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. Usually the last spell in the series trumps the others. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts.

you get the best ruling that I can find. They don't stack. Not that this is conclusive, or anything.

Balance-wise, stacking is exceedingly powerful.

A bard's inspire courage bonus can get up into the +9-18 range(depending on Words of Creation ruling, and the allowance of effective epic progression). The stacking-case ruling allows for (45d6+9 to 90d6+18) damage per attack, per ally, of a 5-man bard team. And Crusader/Warblades can dip Bard 4 for the full effect.

In a game with Shivering Touch, unaltered Shapechange or other various and sundry exploits, this is probably fine, but in a game with an aim towards balancing options down into the tier 3-4 range, this is probably too much.

At most, I would declare "Dragonfire Inspiration" to be a different song from Inspire Courage, such that the elemental choices did not stack, but allow it to stack with a vanilla Inspire Courage song.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ O, I think my concern was misunderstood! I wasn't wondering if multiple uses of different bards' Dragonfire Inspiration benefits stacked—I totally agree that wouldn't work, the same source and all that. I'm wondering, for example, if the same level 1 bard can grant his allies—all at once over the course of two turns—a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls, a +1 morale bonus on weapon damage rolls, a +2 morale bonus on saves against charm and fear effects, and an extra +1d6 points of fire damage on their weapon attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 4 '17 at 6:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan In what way doesn't my answer apply to that case? The "caster" of a bardic music, afaik, has no bearing on if they stack, just like, afaik, the caster of a spell has no bearing on if two spells stack. They either do or don't. \$\endgroup\$ – godskook Sep 4 '17 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you look at the examples for that section in the PH (omitted from the SRD), it seems—to me, anyway—that the same spell with different results largely do stack unless the new spell's result renders the previous effects irrelevant… or provide the same bonuses. That is, casting resist energy against fire on a dude doesn't negate his previous resist energy spell against cold, but using polymorph to change into a lion removes all the effects of having previously polymorphed into a monkey. It's a lot more fluid than the SRD makes out. Anyway, my point is that… \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 4 '17 at 8:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ …Having one bard inspire courage twice for the morale bonuses and the +d6s of fire damage seems as legit as multiple different resist energy spells. That is, so long as the morale bonuses aren't stacking, the second one adds an additional, different effect, supplementing the previous effect rather than making the previous effect obsolete. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 4 '17 at 8:06

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