This is my first Pathfinder campaign and I was wondering how one would spread their additional ability points they get while leveling. I usually play straight caster or melee but the bard seems to be a lot more versatile and I don't know if I should put all my points in Charisma or spread them out a bit more. I should point out that I was going for a buff build with a ranged focus.

My scores are

Str 13 Dex 18 Con 15 Int 15 Cha 19 Wis 13


1 Answer 1


Odd scores are worthless to you, since you’re primarily interested in your modifier (which halves the number and drops the fraction), and just about all bonuses to ability scores come in even numbers. So you’ll get the most immediate bang for your buck by upping the odd scores to the next (even) number. So +1 Cha, +1 Con, +1 Str, +1 Wis, probably in that order, would take you to level 16. At level 20, the last one would probably go into Charisma; at those levels you can get an odd bonus to ability scores using wish or the associated tomes/manuals.

This has nothing to do with bard, aside from how we order them, it’s just a reaction to the very awkward situation where you have so many odd ability scores. You also have very good scores, which makes improving secondary and tertiary scores much less important than it usually is.

To address bard specifically, it helps to choose a focus. Making an attack-bard takes different equipment and feats than a caster bard. Even within the “attack-bard” sphere, melee and range are very different. Part of the bard’s strength is being a solid jack-of-all-trades, and he is that, but your feats and equipment tend to work better if you focus; the aspects that you focus less on, you’re relying on the solid bard chassis to keep you competent in. So if you focus on spellcasting, your feats and items are mainly geared towards those, but you’re a far better fighter than a wizard is1 just because of the things that bard automatically gives you.

Unfortunately, Pathfinder has pretty significantly nerfed the bard (disadvantageous changes to bardic music, loss of options available in 3.5 supplements), but my discussion of the 3.5 bard’s options may nonetheless be useful to you.

1 In theory, and in practice if the wizard ignores mundane fighting. In reality, with a little effort, the wizard can be better at it than a bard. The wizard can be better than almost anyone at almost anything with a little effort, unfortunately.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, It has been a real eyeopener as far as how I should move forward. This is my first bard and with my previous experiences I was able to be a bit linear where as I feel that if I did do that with the Bard I would be seriously gimping myself and my party. \$\endgroup\$
    – Reigni
    Aug 28, 2014 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. Is there any specific reason you recommend bumping str before wis? at level 16, is a potential +1 dmg better than +1 will save when tons of save or suck spells are available to the enemies? \$\endgroup\$
    – Colin D
    Aug 28, 2014 at 17:45
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @ColinD Will is a good save for the bard, his Wisdom is already pretty solid, and I assume he'll grab the largest resistance bonus to saves he can afford. His Will will hardly be impregnable, but I'm not sure that +1 is worth a whole lot there. Strength, on the other hand, gives attack and damage, and since the bard only has 3/4 BAB, maintaining a decent bonus seemed like a higher priority. But a ranged or finesse or caster bard might very well not care and take Wis first, you're right. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 28, 2014 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only thing I can think of to improve this answer is that 'A bard needs to pick something and focus on it' needs to be first in the answer, as the theorycrafting of the bonus to scores, while useful, implies all scores are useful to a bard - or even to all bards. Bards need, depending on type of bard, str or dex or cha + usually cha regardless. Wisdom, Intelligence, Con, shouldn't necessarily be dumped but neither should precious level up points be spent in them. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Aug 29, 2014 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd just add, that you could flesh out the odd scores with inherent tomes, if you want to focus on one ability score. Though those are relatively expensive \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy
    Aug 29, 2014 at 9:55

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