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This is a direct follow-up to this question for Sorcerers, which contains more context and examples of this problem.

For pregenerated high-level Bards, it's important to make sure that their spell list is valid for a character of their level, but the process of taking a given spell list and evaluating "is this list correct for a Bard of X level" is tedious and time consuming. So is there a table/rule that can be followed to easily make this determination?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Although it is fairly synthetic, I recommend you include in your question the same kind of example as you did for the Sorcerer question. It better demonstrates for those who didn't see the other question why something like this is needed and why the answer isn't necessarily obvious. \$\endgroup\$ – Axoren Sep 18 '18 at 21:31
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For Bards that are NOT College of Lore

This table is generated using the same methods that Axoren used in their answer to the base question about Sorcerers.

How to Use it

Like with Axoren's table, the way to use it is to read each column as permitting spells of that level or lower. So for example, a level 9 Bard can know:

  • 2 Spells of 5th Level or lower
  • 4 Spells of 4th Level or lower
  • 4 Spells of 3rd Level or lower
  • 2 Spells of 2nd Level or lower

Then, go though the Spell List, sorting in descending order by Spell Level, and check off the highest category of spell level that each spell is valid for. As long as you don't exceed the limit for that slot, your list is valid. So for this list for a 9th level bard:

  • 1 5th level
  • 3 4th levels
  • 6 3rd levels
  • 1 2nd level
  • 1 1st level

We can prove it's valid.

  • The 5th level + 1 4th level check off "2 5th level",
  • the remaining 4th levels + 2 3rd levels check off "4 4th level",
  • the remaining 3rd levels check off "4 3rd level",
  • and the 2nd + 1st level spells count for "2 2nd level".

Bard Table

The thing that makes Bards different from Sorcerers is their Magical Secrets feature, which substantially increases the total number of spells they can learn relative to a Sorcerer. Bards ultimately learn 22 spells over their career, learning 2 spells at once at levels 10, 14, and 18, causing some unusual spikes in their table.

For College of Lore Bards

The table is similar, but because of their Additional Magical Secrets feature, they get two additional spells at level 6, producing knock-on effects on the table. The table is used the same way. I've highlighed the columns that changed in orange.

College of Lore Bard Table

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may also want to list your caveats to this (single class only, etc.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 18 '18 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I've adjusted the title to be a bit more precise in this regard, that we're specifically discussing Spell Lists. 5e generalizes multiclassing by saying that multiclassed spellcasters have multiple Spell Lists, so that should clear up any ambiguity on this issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Sep 18 '18 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that College of Lore bards get another 2 spells at level 6 from the Additional Magical Secrets feature. \$\endgroup\$ – user48255 Sep 18 '18 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema It looks like you're right: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/70743/…. Still, for the sake of completeness, I think your answer should at least mention the need to validate the non-bard spells on the list in addition to the total spells known. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Sep 18 '18 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Magical Secrets spells can't be replaced with non-bard spells; if you choose to swap out a spell you learned via Magical Secrets (which becomes a bard spell for you when you learn it via Magical Secrets), you would have to replace it with a bard spell. Crawford clearly addresses this here: sageadvice.eu/2015/12/13/a-spell-learned-via-magical-secrets \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 19 '18 at 2:19

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