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I'm going to be playing a level 3 Minotaur Valor bard in a future campaign. I will be the 2nd front liner of the party and want to optimize usage of Minotaur traits in combat.

Are there any bard spells that work well with the Minotaur's racial traits as a base to make them more effective in combat?

Horns. You have horns that you can use to make unarmed strikes. When you hit with them, the strike deals 1d6 + your Strength modifier piercing damage, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

Goring Rush. Immediately after you take the Dash action on your turn and move at least 20 feet, you can make one melee attack with your Horns as a bonus action.

Hammering Horns. Immediately after you hit a creature with a melee attack as part of the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to push that target with your horns. The target must be within 5 feet of you and no more than one size larger than you. Unless it succeeds on a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier, you push it up to 10 feet away from you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think we need a little bit more details about what you're trying to do here. In what way do you want the spells to synergize with the racial traits? What sort of role are you trying to play? The more we know about what you are trying to do with the character concept, the better. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2023 at 21:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Voted to reopen, I think the details added give us adequate direction. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20, 2023 at 15:07

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There's not a lot that is worthwhile

You say that you'll be a front liner, and as a College of Valor bard, are already putting more emphasis on combat then on spell casting, with accesss to medium armor and shields for better AC and martial weapons. I'll keep these considerations mostly to lower level spells that are or soon will be available to you as a level 3 bard (spell level 1-3).

All the minotaur traits are melee combat related. Unfortunately, there are relatively few melee attack-enhancing spells on the bard list, and nearly all of the effects that are to be had for attacks tend to be as good or better when you combine them with a normal weapon attack that deals more damage than your horns1.

  • Thunderwave. You could use the larger movement gained from Goring Rush to dash among your opponents without forfeiting your attack, and then thunderwave the next round (level 1). Longstrider could further enhance you mobility.

  • Fear. You can use fear (level 3) to make the opponets Dash to get away from you, and then follow them with your own Dash action and free horn attacks thanks to Goring Rush each round (while you normally would not get to attack them after a Dash).

  • Cloud of Daggers. Hammering Horns can push your opponent as a bonus action on top of your attack. Here effects that trigger on an area that you can push your opponent into work, like cloud of daggers (level 2). Normally opponents can avoid repeat damage by just moving out of the cloud, but if you position yourself so that they will then be between the cloud and you, you can push them back in, to get another use out of it.

That said, one of the main limiting factors for bards is the small number of spells you know. Each spell needs to be maximally versatile to justify its spot. The tactics above are cute, but I think they are a little too situational to be worth spending your spell picks on, when instead you could take things like Faerie Fire on level 1, Hold Person on level 2, or Hypnotic Pattern on level 3, which, while not getting specific benefits from the minotaur features, work well with any of your attacks or reduce the number of opponents attacking you back.


1 The Horns natural attack by itself is subpar for you as the martial weapons you have access to deal better damage, even if you are Strength based, end especially if you are Dex based. It mostly is of value if you can use it with Goring Rush as a bonus action. However, you need your action to Dash as a Bard, which means you forfeit your normal attack, so most of what it gives you is double movement before the attack for slightly less damage, and, after level 6, quite a bit less damage, as you cannot use extra attack without the Attack action. That's not really that attractive.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You could possibly add Longstrider to the list, to increase the range of Goring Rush by 20' (same as light crossbow normal range) and make the character the motorised infantry of the party. Take Mobile feat and add another 20' (heavy crossbow normal range), even in difficult terrain, for mechanised infantry. But that would be a heavy investment for battlefield mobility, in particular past level 6 as per footnote. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20, 2023 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RuneLyngsoe Added a note on it — mobility in general is good, of course. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20, 2023 at 16:41
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Finding low-cost synergies

What you're looking for are ways to utilize your natural abilities and increase their usage and value. As Groody shares in their answer, there's not much, and the list of general boons are ways to possibly get multiple-round plans for using those racial traits that is included in that answer are worthy of review.

Before I get into those, it is important to note that you can only do ONE of those racial traits on each turn as they each require use of your single bonus action. Using these also precludes using your bonus action for anything else, including spells, bardic inspiration, and later at 14th level they will compete with Battle Magic as well.

But you do have some options that will directly impact your character and provide potentially more or improved usage of those traits. :

I'm going to stick with non-concentration spells for this. Many bard spells are concentration-based, so still giving you that option while working with the traits to improve them is a big plus.

  • Longstrider
    • Increasing your overall speed, which means more opportunity to reach creatures for Goring Rush.
  • Silvery Barbs
    • This is from Strixhaven and I don't think the power level of the spell matches will in standard settings - but your DM may think otherwise. Powerful as heck, it'll help you get the Hammering Horns to complete by creating disadvantage on their strength save.

Overall, I love the idea of leaning into being a Minotaur and using your class to help bolster those abilities. I would be very careful about not hamstringing yourself with other options so you can still be the class and not just a Minotaur of that class.

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