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Based on the comments/answers from the first version I have updated some of the features, dropped some, and moved others around. I'm including the original intro, but have adjusted the text explaining the features to reflect the updated concepts.


I wanted to play a bard, but personally lack any musical talent. While it's not vital to actually sing in real life, it got me thinking that there should be a College that focuses more on the spoken word rather than some sort of musical instrument. To that end, I did see the "College of Eloquence" in Tasha's, but that also didn't sit right. I wanted someone more akin to a stand-up comedian. They are used to things being thrown at them, liked and unliked at the same time, and bring levity to even the darkest of times.

So I created a College of Comedy Bard. I'll also be adding one or more non-musical musical instruments to work as a spellcasting focus, like a megaphone. But that's not part of the scope of this question.

I also envision this being more of a support/spell character as opposed to a martial/weapon character.

Here is the feature set I created:

3rd level

College of Comedy

When you choose this college at 3rd level, you automatically learn Tasha's Hideous Laughter spell, and it does not count against the number of Spells Known.

Tasha's Hideous Laughter (THL) is going to be a mainstay of the Comedy Bard. It will get powered-up in the next round of Bardic College features. All this does is add a "Domain" spell.

No heckling

You learn the Vicious Mockery cantrip, which doesn't count against the number of bard cantrips you know. If this is already a Bardic Known cantrip, you learn a different bard cantrip of your choice. For you, you can cast Vicious Mockery as a Bonus Action.

Another go-to spell is Vicious Mockery (VM), so I need to make sure the character has the spell.

I equate it on par with choosing two-handed fighting. A way to cause a little extra damage on your Bonus Action. The rider of disadvantage is a perk but the build does not depend on it. And while it's usefulness may peter out at higher levels due to creatures having multiple attacks, I'd rather they have one attack at disadvantage than all of them at full strength.

Laughter is the best medicine

When you use a spell slot to cast a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature, each target also heals the bard's proficiency bonus in addition to any other bonus.

Bards get access to most all of the standard healing spells (plus any gained via Magical Secrets) so I figured it would be a good match. When called upon to be support/healer, this would make the target feel just a little bit better. Originally, this was going to be a level 14 feature, but since this is keyed off of the proficiency bonus, it stays on-par with the Life Cleric's Disciple of Life feature. It will give a little more on lower level spells, and a little less on higher level spells. It should all balance out in the end.

However, due to the wording of Disciple of Life, a character can dip for one level of Life Cleric to stack features and suddenly all healing spells are; {normal healing} + 2 + {level of spell} + {proficiency bonus}. That's a minimum of +5 to every heal. I do not think this is game-breaking; the variables are level controlled, spell level and proficiency bonus, it maxes out at +17 with a 9th-level spell and level 17 character. But it is still something to consider. I don't think there is a precedence for cancelling out another class's feature when multi-classing.

6th Level

Laughter is contagious

When you use a spell slot to cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter, you can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration and target multiple creatures you choose in a 20-foot cube. All targets are considered independent in terms of saving throw, spell ending, and other spell effects.

Originally, this was a feature the Bard got at 3rd level that would allow them to twin THL. One of the critiques in the previous version was that when the bard reaches 5th-level, they would have access to other, better, battlefield control spells like fear and hypnotic pattern that also need Concentration. This made the feature good when first acquired at 3rd level, but very low priority by 5th-6th level, even with the addition of You're killing it. Now, instead of the original two targets at level 3, we skip that and at level 6 the bard can pick and choose multiple targets.

Because this is still a 1st-level spell, I made the AOE much smaller than fear and hypnotic pattern. I chose a 20-foot square as that is the area for a number of other status-affecting, 1st-level spells such as calm emotions, entangle and faerie fire.

You're killing it

For the initial casting, and each subsequent round you concentrate on Tasha's Hideous Laughter, all affected creatures take your spellcasting ability modifier (minimum of 1) in psychic damage. This damage does not trigger a saving throw to break the spell.

The second part of enhancing THL. It adds a little on-going damage to a spell that normally would discourage causing damage. I played around with half proficiency bonus, full proficiency bonus, and ability modifier - Ability modifier won out.

I wanted to make this as a bonus at level 3 when the bard first gets the spell, but with a potential of 4-5 hit points of damage a round that would be too lethal that low of level (in my opinion).

Tough crowd

Your Countercharm feature gains the following benefit:

  • In the same radius, you can also suppress any effect causing one creature to be charmed or frightened. When this performance ends, any suppressed effect resumes, provided that its duration has not expired in the meantime. You can change the selected target at the end of your turn each round you use the Countercharm feature.

Basically, the Countercharm feature now has a benefit similar to the Calm Emotions spell: suppression of charm and frightened. This gives a boost to an otherwise lackluster feature. I modified the benefit to a single creature as the possibility to remove fear/charm from a 30 foot radius seemed a bit much. I added verbiage to clarify you can change who was affected once each round to prevent confusion about switching mid-round.

Originally, this had an element that would affect enemies but it was too easy to exploit out of combat due to unlimited tries and no repercussions from failing.

14th Level

I'm on a roll

When you successfully inspire someone, you can't help but spread laughter. When a creature within 60 feet of you adds one of your Bardic Inspiration dice to its ability check, attack roll, or saving throw and the roll succeeds, you can use your reaction to inspire a different creature (other than yourself) that can hear you within 60 feet of you, giving it a Bardic Inspiration die without expending any of your Bardic Inspiration uses.

You can use this reaction a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

This is verbatim of the Eloquence Bard's Infectious Inspiration.

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1 Answer 1

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I think this suffers from the same problem as before, you have features buffing hideous laughter, but once you get 3rd level spells the concentration requirement means it will almost always become sub-optimal.

Yes it is a lower level spell, but eventually you don't need to conserve resources that much and can throw 3rd level spells around (I play a level 9 wizard and don't run low on 3rd level slots very often).

If you are sticking with this (and please do, it's an amazing concept) you need to want to use hideous laughter at every level. Maybe consider giving it upcast options for range, area and other effects so as a 3rd level spell or higher it would genuinely compete.

The other features are probably best off not being balance checked now, because we could agree they are perfectly balanced and then if you take my advice and buff hideous laughter you will just have to rebalance them anyway.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 For upcast options. Seems like the only way to keep a low level spell relevant. You could also consider level scaling for vicious mockery, sort of like eldritch blast. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tack
    Feb 17 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tack, I'm not sure what you mean by leveling scale like eldritch blast. VM already levels up like a number of cantrips where the damage increases at set character levels. Or are you thinking it should hit multiple targets instead? \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Feb 17 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm sure how to make upcasting work in a way that making it an AOE does not. Upcasting usually increases damage(not applicable), number of target (AOE gives 16 targets, whereas upcasting usually adds only one extra target per level so max 10), or duration (kinda pointless). The only outlier I found was that casting at a higher level removed Concentration which might work. So it's still an AOE, with caster chosen targets, but if cast at a 5th level or higher, it no longer needs Concentration? \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Feb 17 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott honestly I am not sure the best way. Removing concentration reduces the competition, but adds power scaling because you can spam it. Maybe at 3rd level drop the 'save each time you are hit' and just keep the end of round save, and I think the AoE needs to be bigger because Slow and Hypnotic Pattern are the competition and they take some beating. Slow is a 40ft cube and I would recommend maybe 20ft at 2nd level and 30ft at 3rd? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 17 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott still that sounded good when I wrote it and then I realised it probably entirely overshadows Hypnotic Pattern, but maybe thats ok since its a class ability? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 17 at 20:20

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