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Based on the comments/answers from the first version and second 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 am currently playing a bard in a campaign, but personally lack any musical talent. While it's not vital to actually sing in real life, I've noticed that some tables request, "What are you singing?". So 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 doesn'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. Also, there is no shortage of D&D jokes on the internet.

So I created a College of Comedy Bard. I'll also be adding one or more non-musical musical instruments to function 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. You can now upcast this spell, and increase the range by 5 feet for each slot level above 1st.

Tasha's Hideous Laughter (THL) is going to be a mainstay of the Comedy Bard. It will get more powered-up in the next round of Bardic College features. This adds a "Domain" spell and allow some more range (30' + (8 level upcast * 5') = 70' max).

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 can learn a different bard cantrip of your choice. For you, you can cast Vicious Mockery as a Bonus Action.

Additionally, the number of attacks at disadvantage goes up as your level increases; the affected creature has disadvantage on two attacks at 5th level, three attacks at 11th level, and four attacks at 17th level. All disadvantage caused by casting this spell ends at the of its next turn.

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. It will compete with other BA abilities.

Another point that has been brought up is that by level 5-6 a lot of creatures start having multiple attacks making this disadvantage rider less and less useful. Now the spell levels up with the level of the the opponents. It is still less powerful than say a 2nd-level blindness or darkness spell which would cause all attacks to be at disadvantage.

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. That part will 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, and it maxes out at +17 with a 9th-level spell and level 17 character. But it is still something to consider.

As an example; a 6th-level (1 Cleric/5 Bard) character casting mass healing word, a 3rd-level spell, would heal for 1d4 + ability modifier, then add + 2 (Life Cleric) + 3 (Level of spell) + 3 (proficiency bonus) for a total of +8 to each character. Only 3 more than a similarly leveled pure Life Cleric.

6th Level

Laughter is contagious

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

When you cast this spell using a 1st-level spell slot, you can target any number of creatures in a 20-foot cube. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the size of the cube increases 10 feet for every two slot levels above 1st. Additionally, when you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the spell lasts until dispelled or the target makes a successful saving throw, without requiring your concentration. Casting this spell again cancels any other instance of Tasha's Hideous Laughter that you have cast.

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, hypnotic pattern, and later confusion 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 damage. 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 chose to start with a 20-foot cube as that is the area for a number of other status-affecting, 1st-level spells such as calm emotions (20' radius), entangle (20' square) and faerie fire (20' cube).

However, even with an AoE, it still seemed underpowered and would always lose the war against other Concentration spells. So I upped the ante ever more: a larger AoE and dropping the Concentration.

Now, along with an increased range, the scope of the effect increases with spell slot level: 20' at 1st, 30' at 3rd, 40' at 5th (Plus no concentration), 50' at 7th, and 60' at 9th level. Which means at higher levels the bard can effect ground troops as well as high-flying creatures. I was going to have it increase by 5' every level, but decided to make it 10' every other level so the bard has to "commit" to widening the scope.

I used language similar to Major Image which also is a Concentration spell but allows upcasting to remove that requirement. So now, if the bard uses a 5th level slot or higher, and a Bardic Inspiration, they can cast THL and no longer worry about Concentration and can cast another battlefield spell next turn. But they cannot spam THL as casting it a second time will release all the creatures currently affected by the spell.

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 beginning 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.

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. It also suppressed fear/charm to any number of selected targets in the radius. I modified the benefit to a single creature as the possibility to remove fear/charm from a 30 foot radius for the cost of an Action (no Concentration, no spell slot, no Bardic Inspiration) seemed a bit much.

I added verbiage to clarify that you can change who was affected once each round to prevent confusion about switching mid-round. I also chose that they select on whom they suppress the effect at the beginning of their turn as there would be a loophole otherwise. At the beginning of their turn they start Countercharm and suppress fear on Bob. As an example, during their turn, they blindfold Bob so he no longer has "line of sight" and Bob can make a saving throw on his turn. If the change of suppression occurred at the end of the bard's turn, they can then change it to a new character. By making it at the beginning, there is no chance to help two people in the same turn.

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.


Does this make them overpowered? Or just powerful enough to overcome prior versions?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As you say you are playing the bard, how much longer do you have before you hit level 3 and have to pick your college? Are you trying to get to a version that your DM will accept based on community feedback? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 9 at 8:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ I will try and do a proper review when I get chance, but loving how it looks now and so glad you stuck with it, this is just soooo full of flavour \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Mar 9 at 9:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin, I'm actually playing a level 10 lore bard right now. But since I was invested in how bard's function, I made this out of what I think is a cool concept. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Mar 9 at 17:18

1 Answer 1

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There are few concerns I have with this subclass.

No Heckling

Cantripping as a bonus action is pretty strong. Cantrips are essentially your 'reliable', non-exhaustive form of combat as a caster, slightly in the same trend as weapon attacks, and some of them scale incredibly well. The moment you are able to use your bread and butter cantrip as a bonus action, you objectively improve all your turns when you don't have a need to use your Bonus Action for Bardic Inspiration, another spell, etc.

What's even more worrying is that the second half of this ability empowers that very cantrip. So not only is my cantrip the best out of any other subclass my kit gets to have, I can also use it without sacrificing my main powerhouse kit during my turns.

There's only two classes that really 'do' something with cantrips in relation to their bonus actions, being the Fighter; Eldritch Knight (Quarter Caster) on 7th level;

when you use your action to cast a cantrip, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action

Or the Sorcerer on 2nd level

Quickened Spell. When you cast a spell that has a casting time of 1 action, you can spend 2 sorcery points to change the casting time to 1 bonus action for this casting.

To which the latter, is heavily exhaustive and choice-based upon character creation / level-up.

My suggestion: 1, if you want to encourage/enable this cantrip as a bonus action, tie it to a certain main action activity you'd want to use your kit for. Like; when you use your main action turn to cast an Enchantment spell of 1st level or higher. Likewise, rather than the weird multi-turn scaling, give the bard the ability to consume a Bardic Inspiration die upon them failing a save and improve the cantrip's damage with said die.

Laughter is the best medicine

In terms of power/ability, I think this ability is okay. However, personally I find it a swing and a miss in the kind of 'class behavior' angle you're trying to sell this class for. We're starting off with a kit that encourages you for strong utility in the form of cc or debilitating effects. Why is there suddenly a healing effect in this same kit? These are two completely different support directions.

Laughter is contagious + You're Killing it + Tough crowd

I genuinely don't like this. This doesn't feel like an ability at all, but more like a spell empowerment that elsewhere already got empowered too. Just 6 levels in and I can read this kit's playstyle is extremely binary and straightforward; Main Action; Tasha's Hideous Laughter. Bonus Action; Vicious Mockery. The subclass doesn't encourage you to do anything else beyond that, and gives you 0 benefit when you don't. The spell THL is already a very strong 1st level spell, but now it's a 1st level spell on steroids, while the whole array of level 2 and 3 spells (at this class's level) gets neglected.

My suggestion: Make this a stand-alone ability, something maybe derived off your Performance check that can be used in and out of combat. When used in-combat, make it some extra kick to enable good engages for your team. And when used out of combat, make it a great tool of buying (temporary) trust of someone you're trying to do something to/with (like a 'Friends' spell effect without 'Hey you tried to spellcast on me!'), a tool to bend an NPC to your bidding without jeopardizing your chances/reputation on a fail or post-success by simply humoring or entertaining them personally.

I'm on a roll.

Yeah, seems fine.

In a short, the subclass seems to really steer you into one playstyle, and only one playstyle; A: Tasha's Hideous Laughter, BA; Vicious Mockery. The subclass (other than a single off-theme ability) does not promote or encourage you to utilize anything else of your kit that a bard in later stages might want, without sacrificing half of their abilities in the process.

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    – Akixkisu
    Mar 18 at 17:57

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