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Sublime Chord has two spell lists and two separate tables of spells per day. Let's assume Bard 10 / Chord 5 for a moment:

Per day

Spell level    0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
Bard           3   3   3   2   0
Sublime Chord                  3   3   2   1
Total          3   3   3   2   3   3   2   1

Known

Spell level    0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
Bard           6   4   4   4   2*
Sublime Chord                  4   3   2   1
Total          6   4   4   4   6*  3   2   1

Would it be justified and not game-breaking to allow him treat his spell progression as one? I mean, thematically it is one already, isn't it?

There would be three changes I can think of:

  1. One more spell per day at 3rd spell level
  2. Possibly two less spells known at 4th spell level
  3. Ability to use slots that came from Chord for metamagic spells from bard list, like Widen Daylight (3rd level spell that requires 6th level slot)

Character would simply have:

Spell level    0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
Per day        3   3   3   3   3   3   2   1
Known          6   4   4   4   4   3   2   1

Would it be fair to do such change? Would it be wise to do it?

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2 Answers 2

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The big issue is you’re talking about changing bard spellcasting. Part of the supposed “tradeoff” of sublime chord is d6 vs. d8, 4+Int skills vs. 6+Int, poor BAB vs. medium BAB, good Ref vs. poor. It would be awkward to write this such that you couldn’t just take one level of sublime chord, and then go back to bard to enjoy the superior chassis.

Of course, the existence of other prestige classes that you could use to progress sublime chord spellcasting and have a better chassis weakens this argument substantially. So maybe it’s not worth worrying about.

But ultimately, if I was going to do this, I would go farther. As is, I don’t see the point in doing so and feel like it makes things more complicated (you’re modifying existing casting; that’s not really a thing that happens in 3.5).

Instead I’d want sublime chord to be enterable earlier while taking longer. That would actually “smooth” the character progression a bit. Something like this:

Prerequisites

  • Skills: Knowledge (arcana) 10 ranks, Listen 10 ranks, Perform (any) 7 ranks, Profession (astrologer) 4 ranks, Spellcraft 4 ranks.

  • Spells: Able to cast 2nd-level spells.

  • Special: Bardic music ability

This lets you take your first level at 8th instead of 11th.

Then I would replace the sublime chord’s Spells per Day class feature with the following:

Spellcasting

A sublime chord treats the spellcasting of the bard class as using the Spells per Day and Spells Known tables below, rather than those printed in Player’s Handbook. A sublime chord treats all spells on the sorcerer/wizard spell list as being on her bard spell list.

At each level, a sublime chord gains new spells per day and spells known as if she had also gained a level in the bard class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a bard would have gained (such as new bardic music songs). Effectively, her bard and sublime chord class levels stack for the purpose of determining spells per day, spells known, and caster level, but not for any other reason (but see the Bardic Knowledge and Bardic Music class features, below).

Spells per Day

┌───────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┐
│ Level │ 0th │ 1st │ 2nd │ 3rd │ 4th │ 5th │ 6th │ 7th │ 8th │ 9th │
├───────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
│   1st │  2  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   2nd │  3  │  0* │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   3rd │  3  │  1  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   4th │  3  │  2  │  0* │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   5th │  3  │  3  │  1  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   6th │  3  │  3  │  2  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   7th │  3  │  3  │  3  │  0* │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   8th │  4  │  3  │  3  │  2  │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   9th │  4  │  4  │  3  │  3  │  0* │     │     │     │     │     │
│  10th │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │     │     │     │     │     │
│  11th │  4  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  0* │     │     │     │     │
│  12th │  4  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │     │     │     │     │
│  13th │  5  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  0* │     │     │     │
│  14th │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │     │     │     │
│  15th │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  0* │     │     │
│  16th │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │     │     │
│  17th │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  0* │     │
│  18th │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │     │
│  19th │  6  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  0* │
│  20th │  6  │  6  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │
└───────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┘

Spells Known

┌───────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┐
│ Level │ 0th │ 1st │ 2nd │ 3rd │ 4th │ 5th │ 6th │ 7th │ 8th │ 9th │
├───────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
│   1st │  4  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   2nd │  5  │  2* │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   3rd │  6  │  3  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   4th │  6  │  3  │  2* │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   5th │  6  │  4  │  3  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   6th │  6  │  4  │  3  │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   7th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  2* │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   8th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  3  │     │     │     │     │     │     │
│   9th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  1* │     │     │     │     │     │
│  10th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  2  │     │     │     │     │     │
│  11th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  2  │  1* │     │     │     │     │
│  12th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │     │     │     │     │
│  13th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │  1* │     │     │     │
│  14th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  3  │  2  │     │     │     │
│  15th │  6  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │  1* │     │     │
│  16th │  6  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  3  │  2  │     │     │
│  17th │  6  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │  1* │     │
│  18th │  6  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  3  │  2  │     │
│  19th │  6  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  4  │  3  │  2  │  1* │
│  20th │  6  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  5  │  4  │  3  │  3  │  2  │
└───────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┘

Ultimately, I still prefer the way sublime chord works – I like the “reset” it provides, I find the wording here wonky, there are issues of going back to bard, and I worry a bit about the potential for abuse when all sor/wiz spells are added to the bard spell list.1 But this does smooth out the sublime chord and allow players to be a sublime chord longer.

1 I can’t think of any, but it’s conceivable that there are feats designed with the lower-power bard spell list in mind, and specifically only affect bard spells, which will become broken when those spells go to 9th and have all the sor/wiz goodies. Consider a similar effect for paladins: the Battle Blessing feat (Complete Champion, cast standard-action paladin spells as a swift action, no spell level adjustment) would become absolutely ridiculous.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Most PrCs are available after 5th or 10th level, if I recall. And all are designed to be "finishable" in pre-epic. So I think yours would require a bit of tweaking. But indeed, I like it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 14:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot “Most” is by no means “all,” and your second statement is untrue – Dragon Magic had several that started pre-epic but could not finish pre-epic. So I would not consider those requirements. On the other hand, I detest the epic rules, and consider the Epic Level Handbook to basically be a scam, so I don’t use them. I have not changed the length of the sublime chord class, I gave it a class feature that changed the bard’s spellcasting. That’s why the table has 20 levels: those are bard levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 14:53
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I would agree with such a rule.

Of these three changes, first two essentially nerf the bard a bit. The third one is a potential disbalance point, but allowing wide metamagic support to bard spells of 1-3 levels doesn't look like a big deal (what could possibly go wrong even with a persistent spell?)

On the other hand, it saves a little bit of bookkeeping. A really little one.

So I believe that it would be a sensible modification, given that the player in question wants it and pending the discovery of especially smelly sorts of cheese in the bard spell selection.

Notes:

  • You can find a full list of arcane persistable spells here. Please remember that the list greatly expands as soon as you (ab)use Reach Spell or Ocular Spell.
  • A bit of free metamagic for bards comes from Metamagic Song feat. That and Extra Music could support less free persists than DMM usually can, but they are on comparable levels.
  • As soon as your player wants to persist something you don't like, this rule starts to look bad.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I believed first one empowered Bard a little, and only second one nerfed it? Am I missing something? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 13:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Molot And the combination of the two is still a nerf, since 2 spells known of the higher level are generally more valuable than 1 spell per day of a lower level, which could be regained with a relatively cheap pearl of power. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, that's how you meant it. Now I get it, and you're probably right. Of course it affects only Bards with 18+ Cha, but it should be pretty common for spell-oriented 15-level bards. You got +1 from me, but I will not accept yet - maybe someone will be able to think about something important you didn't? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Spells known are massively more valuable than spells per day. By 15th level, no spellcaster worth his salt should really have to worry much about spells per day at all; you just get more than enough of the things, and there are plenty of ways of getting more (primarily, high ability score, which you want anyway). But spells known are precious; every single one is very potent, and there are extremely limited ways to get more. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Memento Magica of 3rd level costs 13,500 gp, 4th 24,000 gp, and Knowstone with spell of 4th level only costs 16,000 gp - if both kinds of items are available, it's not so bad. Without knowstones, it starts to be totally another story. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 14:58

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