I've recently joined a new RP group and a DM has decided to give DnD 3.5e a run. I am told it will be a short, but intriguing campaign. When asked about what kind of characters and classes he likes, the DM replied that anything goes, as long as we can properly explain it and that he is a fan of multiclassing. Apart from that, we've also been told that we'll be starting at level 9 and much of the campaign will take part in an urban environment.

My Thoughts

It's been a while since I played DnD 3.5e and as such I am a little rusty, but here's my idea.

I'm thinking of creating a Bard/Sorcerer multi (from now on CHAR). CHAR started out as a young minstrel or singer, making his living on the roads and in the halls of various lords. One day, around 16 years of age I think, CHAR accidentally used his innate magic, that he never knew he had, and caused quite a ruckus at the feast that he was working at. Long story short, a SORCERER who attended the feast as a guest decided to take CHAR under his wing (and pay for the damage CHAR caused), since CHAR would otherwise be incarcerated or worse for what he accidentally did. SORCERER trained and taught CHAR for a while, before he, once again, struck out on his own.

Given that he knows spells from both the BARD list and the SORC list, I think that the sorcerer spells will be focus more on evocative magic, suited for combat, while influential magic will be taken from the bard list. This is by no means carved in stone.

On the battlefield, I see him as a kind of spellsword: wielding magic and weapon in unison.

Given that the character will be played from level 9 I feel that either class works for his starting level (the magic within him was always there, but it took a while until it awakened).

My question(s)

From a game mechanic perspective, how should I multiclass a Bard/Sorc to level 9, in order to "get the most out of each class"? That is, receiving high utility from the class characteristics, while also achieving a sense of natural progression within the scope of the character (as described above).

I am looking for an answer based in rules and game mechanics of course, but also from experience with such multiclassing.

Sub questions:

  • Which class should be the starting class, and why?
  • How should I progress to level 9? Which dips should I make and when?
  • What good feat combinations can me made? Same for skills and spells?
  • Is there a race that would be particualarly beneficial for this combo?

Regarding feats, skills and spells I am not asking for a complete list, but suggestions and pointers would be highly appreciated.

Lastly, I welcome answer along the lines of "There is no point in doing this", but would in such case appreciate a good explanation of why and, if possible, a suggestion for another way to go.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ When you ask about how to do something optimally, you must provide what you are aiming to optimise for, and what other constraints (limits, objectives) need to also be satisfied. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2014 at 20:57

4 Answers 4


“There is no point in doing this [from a game mechanic perspective].” The sorcerer is just the stronger class, and even the feature-heavy first level of bard does not compare to simply having better spells sooner (see 1. Spellcasters should not multiclass in this answer for more details). Thus, the best mix of nine levels for bard or sorcerer is Sorcerer 9. That said...

Sublime Chord

The best way to multiclass bard and “sorcerer” is to not have any sorcerer levels at all, but rather take the sublime chord prestige class from Complete Arcane. This class requires Bardic Mustic and 3rd-level spells, but rather than progress bard spellcasting, it has its own spellcasting with 3rd- to 9th-level spells from the bard and sorcerer/wizard lists. This spellcasting is Charisma-based and spontaneous. It also progresses bardic music, and gives several special “magic themed” songs.

So a Bard 10/Sublime Chord 10 casts as a 10th-level bard and also has separate spellcasting with spells of up to 9th-level that come from the sorcerer/wizard spell list (or bard list). It has the ability with music of a 20th-level bard, except some of the songs are changed to be more “magic themed.”

Since spellcasting is the only sorcerer class feature aside from the familiar, having spontaneous Charisma-based spellcasting off of the sorcerer/wizard list, and then taking the Obtain Familiar feat, makes you effectively identical to a sorcerer. But this progression is much smoother, you end up with level-appropriate power at higher levels, and sublime chord is really cool. The only problem here is that, before 11th level when you take your first level of sublime chord, you have no mechanical representation of being a sorcerer. But bard and sorcerer spellcasting are fairly similar, and you can take Obtain Familiar at Bard 1, so it should be easy to continue to call yourself a sorcerer at lower levels.


Worth mentioning: Champions of Valor has a variant paladin, the harmonizing knight, that gets Inspire Courage +1, 1/day instead of at-will detect evil at 1st level. In the Forgotten Realms, this requires you to worship Milil, a goddess of music; in other settings, it would have to be adapted to some appropriate patron. Anyway, all paladins get the excellent Divine Grace at 2nd level, adding Charisma bonus to all saving throws. As such, Paladin 2/Bard 8/Sublime Chord 10 becomes an excellent variant on the above build: you trade 1 daily use of Inspire Courage for full martial weapon proficiency, a bit more HP, +1 BAB, and adding your Charisma bonus to all saving throws. Since your Charisma should be high, that is a very nice bonus. Adding paladin is not an option for all characters, of course, but if it is, do consider it.

For spellswording as a bard, whether you dip paladin or not, I strongly recommend the Snowflake Wardance feat from Frostburn, if you have that book. Other excellent options include the harmonizing weapon property and crystal echoblade weapon from Magic Item Compendium.

Finally, if you have Tome of Battle, taking a level of crusader for the Song of the White Raven feat is an awesome option, dramatically amping up your physical prowess while allowing you to start performing Inspire Courage as a swift action. It also opens up the interesting possibility of using the jade phoenix mage prestige class to advance sublime chord spellcasting, which would be ideal. Note that Paladin 2/Bard 7/Crusader 1 still just qualifies for sublime chord, too, if you want to do both. I recommend taking the crusader level at precisely 9th level, so you can simultaneously take Song of the White Raven, and have Initiator Level 5 so 3rd-level maneuvers and stances are available to you.


Generally speaking, race isn’t all that important; human is probably your best bet just because bonus feats are awesome. But anything without a penalty to Charisma or Constitution is probably fine (bonuses to Charisma are really rare and always paired with a penalty to Constitution, so there is little to be gained there). Even penalties to Charisma or Constitution are bearable, but why would you?

However, in the case of anyone with bardic music, the benefits of being a dragonblooded race have to be mentioned. And since there’s a dragonblooded human race, silverbrow humans from Dragon Magic are almost-certainly your best option. They trade the humans’ bonus skill point for the Dragonblood subtype, which among other things qualifies you for the excellent Dragonfire Inspiration feat from the same book. Highly recommended.

See Also

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a little clarification: "A sublime chord’s caster level for both her sublime chord spells and the spells she gains from other arcane spellcasting classes is determined by adding her sublime chord level to her level in another arcane spellcasting class." - this means she have access to spells as 10lvl bard BUT cast them as 20 level bard, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Nov 21, 2014 at 12:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Huh, I forgot about that. Then yes, a Bard 10/Sublime Chord 10 has the spells of a 10th-level bard and of a 10th-level sublime chord, but casts either at 20th caster level. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 21, 2014 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to mention bard6/lyric thaumaturge4/SC and bard9/virtuoso1/sc2/virtuoso8 as both generally "better" than bard10/sc10. \$\endgroup\$
    – KitsuneYMG
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KitsuneYMG Eh, new player, figured I’d keep it simple. Besides, if I listed every option that could improve things over basic bard/sublime chord, this would be a very long answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:27

Between Bard and Sorcerer, the first class should be Bard, hands down. Characters get a full hit dice and 4 times the skill points they get at later levels so maxing a d6 and getting 4(6+int) skill points is better than maxing a d4 and getting 4(2+int) skill points.
It also makes more sense given you background is "bard turned sorcerer" and not the opposite.

Now, both bard and sorcerer are arcane spontaneous casters: there is no prestige class to my knowledge that mixes them. Also, sorcerer has a late blooming compared to, say, wizard, because he gets access to every spell level from 2 onwards one class level later.
Of course you have a casting stat that's synergic, but consider that casters often benefit from not losing caster levels, ever. With one level of bard multiclass you'd have already lost two levels to a pure wizard.
If you really want to take that bard level, get at least something cool out of it, like the feat that lets you roll a perform check and disguise your arcane spellcasting as a performance.
I'm also supposing you don't want to play a bard/wizard taht focuses on intelligence, where Ultimate Magus could be of some help.

In the offensive compartmente you're not this good at melee, because of low BAB. Polymorph, paired with a broadsword, Power Attack and a wraithstrike spell does wonders to fix that, provided you stick to Sorcerer for as long as possible (to improve your HD limit on polymorph). Let me tell you, it doesn't really sound bard-ish.

Any race that has no Level Adjustment is good, starting from the extra human feat is a nice way to go but races with a charisma bonus (like the star elf from Inapprochable East) might help you getting better DCs or building on the several feats, items and spells that capitalize on charisma. Being a fey, if web content is allowed, is even better.


It is not an optimal combination but I thought I would throw in my thoughts and recommendations, and explain what I personally look for in multiclassing.

I'm going to start by saying that the order does not matter beyond the first level in this scenario and should progress according to your characters background. Unless you are multiclassing fighter to align the feat pre-requisite with the bonus feat every 3 levels, you should not worry about progressing to level 9, but rather what your end goal is, and which is most optimal to take after level 9.

From a game mechanic perspective, how should I multiclass a Bard/Sorc to level 9, in order to "get the most out of each class"? That is, receiving high utility from the class characteristics, while also achieving a sense of natural progression within the scope of the character (as described above).

If we divide all the classes into three subclasses (fighter, caster, utility) for multiclassing purposes your first level generally prioritizes in this order: Utility -> Fighter -> Caster. So in this scenario, the Bard falls under utility, both optimal and story wise it makes sense to start with bard. Here are the numbers:

The Bard provides: 6hp, (6+i)x4 skill points

The Sorc provides: 4hp, (2+i)x4 skill points


The sorcerer gains access to higher spells every 2 levels starting at level 2 with the exception of level 1. (1 level after a wizard obtains their spells except they share the first level at level 1). For spells, you best levels will be 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th.

Your sorcerer BAB progresses at .5 (there are 3 categories, you either have a 1:1 level to BAB ratio = Fighter, a 1:.75 = Utiltiy, or a 1:.5 = Caster) which means that every other level starting at level 2 is optimal for BAB: 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th.

Your sorcerer saves progress at .3/.3/.6 which means every 3 levels your Fort and Ref will increase by 1. Every 2 levels starting at level 2 your Will shall progress. Optimal levels for saves are: 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th.

Spells Known: 0-level increase every other level starting at level 2, 1st-level spells progress every other level starting at level 1, and additional spells progress at every other level starting at the 4th level and every even level after that. Optimal spells known will be every odd level starting at 5th, and will be better the more levels you invest in sorcerer.

Special: Sorcerers gain a familiar at level 1


Your bard spells progress every 3 levels with the offset of the second level gaining the first level 1 spell. Your spells per day will influence this so we will count the 0 spells per day as the optimal level: 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th.

Your BAB progresses as a ulitity character (.75 of your level) and due to the way the game rounds, we will only mention the bad levels: 1st, 5th, 9th.

Finally your saves progress at .3/.6/.6 thus you will have the same Fort and Will as a sorcerer, the exception is a higher reflex. Thus the optimal bard levels are: 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th.

Special: Bards gain special abilities at: 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 8th levels.


I am going to take the most occurring optimal level in each class, compare it against the remaining levels in the opposite class, and list a few combinations below with their stats: (This assumes HP will be at 1/2 dice roll + 1. So 6hd = 4hp, 4hd = 3hp)

8 Bard, 1 Sorc: (recommended)

HP: 37(34bard,3sorc)
BAB: +6/+1
Fort/Ref/Will: 2/6/8
Spells: (spell level - class : number)
0-Sorc: 5 | 1-Sorc: 3 | 0-Bard: 3 | 1-Bard: 3 | 2-Bard: 3 | 3-Bard: 1
Skills: (6 + i) * 11 + 2 + i

6 Bard, 3 Sorc:

HP: 35(26bard,9sorc)
BAB: +5
Fort/Ref/Will: 3/6/8
Spells: (spell level - class : number)
0-Sorc: 6 | 1-Sorc: 5 | 0-Bard: 3 | 1-Bard: 3 | 2-bard: 2
Skills: (6 + i) * 9 + (2 + i) * 3

3 Bard, 6 Sorc:

HP: 32(14bard,18sorc)
BAB: +5
Fort/Ref/Will: 3/5/8
Spells: (spell level - class : number)
0-Sorc: 6 | 1-Sorc: 6 | 2-Sorc: 5 | 3-Sorc: 3 | 0-Bard: 3 | 1-Bard: 1
Skills: (6 + i) * 6 + (2 + i) * 6

Sub questions: Which class should be the starting class, and why? How should I progress to level 9? Which dips should I make and when? What good feat combinations can me made? Same for skills and spells? Is there a race that would be particualarly beneficial for this combo?

1) The starting class would be bard, because the only unique boons that come from first level are skills and hit dice.

2) Progress to level 9 however you like, with this combination there is nothing special you can gain by taking the levels in a specific order. An example of a scenario where leveling order matters: 12Fighter/6Ranger/2Monk, taking your 12th level of Fighter @ level 18 so that you can spend both your free feat AND your fighter feat on say, Greater Weapon Specialization (Bow, Unarmed Strike)

3) I cannot recommend feats because there are so many ways that you can build a character, this is based around your preference and how you wish to handle combat situations. I also do not multiclass casters because you rarely stray from the caster path when you do so. Lastly, I do not play casters enough to give a strong feat recommendation.

4) Skills and Spells should revolve around what your party needs. Bard is more crowd-control and disable orientated. The sorcerer will be your damage output. Both classes can provide buffs. High charisma will go into your save DC's and that will benefit the Bard over the Sorcerer. Some of my personal favorite spells: Grease, Haste, Heroism. Again it revolves around your party role and play style.

5) Your primary stats will be Charisma with Con as a most likely second choice, dexterity is good, however you would have to invest a lot into it to make it work for ac, by that time you will be getting hit anyway in combat = health is more viable. Strength will most likely be your dump stats, and with both the Bard and Sorc having high Will saves and high skills, you could dump-stat Wisdom. Never take a bonus to a dump stat, especially in 3.5. The higher the stat, the greater the point-buy value you will get from it.

1st Gnome: +2 con is a stat we are looking for, and the -2 str is a stat we are looking to dump.
2nd Hafling: +2 dex is another stat we are okay with having, and it also shares the same dump stat. Like the gnome, the size bonus will compliment the caster/utility build.
3rd Human, Half-elf: For multiclassing these two races are never bad.

If you provide more information, such as starting stats (point buy?) or if there are any book restrictions, or alternative classes you are considering taking I can look more into it for you.


1st Level Bard tade-offs

The best way to multiclass bard and sorcerer is to actually be a bard/sublime chord, or some variant on that, as discussed by kryan. But other choices about the bard can be important. Here I am only going to focuse on your subquestion

What good feat combinations can me made?

Actually, anybody taking only one bard level dip should consider some 1st level features trading. The handy link is there. Among the interesting trades, one could choose for example:

  • take Healing Hymn (CC, p 47): lose fascinate, boost natural healing and healing spells.
  • take Spellbreaker Song (CM, p 35): Lose countersong, can use bardic music to disrupt casters, giving them 20% spell failure chance.
  • take Loresong (DS, p 8): Give up bardic knowledge. Once per day (more at higher levels) add +4 bonus to an attack, save, or check roll.

Loosing bardic knowledge is disputable, but this is an ability that progresses with your bard class level. Assuming you have 18 INT, you would get at most a +5 bonus on bardic knowledge tests, which won't lead you anywhere interesting. Moreover, if you don't move to a lot of places during your campaign, you can take 1 point of knowledge local in each place, granting you the very same +5 bonus on tests, except that you can use your daily +4 to make it a +9. Furthermore, the day you will make a low save score, you will be happy to be able to spend a 1-day +4 on it if it saves your life.

As for facinate and coutersong, those are very situational weak class abilities you wouldn't regret losing anyway.

If you take all three, the only unchanged core 1st level class feats will be bardic music and inspire courage +1 that are ok. Actually bardic music will be useful if you take levels of sublime chord afterwards.

You should also take a look at the Bard Handbook ;)

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    \$\begingroup\$ You really should answer the full question, or create a separate Q&A. Moreover, Healing Hymn is awful (and fascinate is occasionally excellent) and Bardic Knack is better than Loresong IMO, even with a limited bonus. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 19, 2014 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are the one wrong here. If I follow what you say there is no way I can add useful information to your already great answer. But I can copy-paste it and add my stuff if you wish? :P. As for your preferences on alternative class features they are campaign specific. \$\endgroup\$
    – Epeedefeu
    Nov 20, 2014 at 10:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Uh, no, I’m not wrong; every answer has to be stand-alone, and has to answer the question. That is site policy. You can agree with me, but even simply referring to my answer would be close to a link-only answer. As with link answers, the appropriate approach is to summarize: something like “The best way to multiclass bard and sorcerer is to actually be a bard/sublime chord, or some variant on that, as discussed by kryan. But other choices about the bard can be important, your answer.” Or something. Though honestly I think your own Q&A would be better, since this wasn’t really asked about. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 20, 2014 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ didn't the OP asked for good feat combination? where did you answer this part of the question? Edited according to your claims \$\endgroup\$
    – Epeedefeu
    Nov 21, 2014 at 11:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I recommend four feats that are specific to this build, and link to extremely comprehensive answers about bards and gishes, respectively, which list many more. I feel comfortable with my answer with respect to that point in the question. Anyway, downvote removed since it’s technically a complete answer to the question, but I still don’t think it’s a good answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 21, 2014 at 13:39

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