The Inspire Courage bard ability reads, in part:

Inspire Courage (Su): A 1st-level bard can use his performance to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to perceive the bard's performance. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls[...] Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability. Inspire courage can use audible or visual components. The bard must choose which component to use when starting his performance.

If you have a bard with Inspire Courage ability atop a castle in an area of perfect acoustics (and/or lighting [think illusions or shadowplay]), could the bard Inspire Courage within an entire army that could see and/or hear him?

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's why bagpipes are such a good choice for bards. \$\endgroup\$
    – Umbranus
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 10:22

2 Answers 2


RAW, yes Inspire Courage is not given a range and therefore would be able to affect all friendly targets that could perceive the Performance.

Perception DC 5 (battle is Terrible Conditions) +1/10ft to hear/see the performance.

The rules don't account for a Bard to be able to project the bonuses through magic, but it follows that increasing their volume could extend the range. Anything else would have to be discussed with the GM. If you're going to argue that seeing an image of an inspirational dance can inspire you, consider if you've ever watched a concert video and not been excited like you would be at a live show.

Postscript, it is not unusual to homerule Inspire courage to have a 30ft range based on nearly every other Bardic Performance, including ones with similar affects.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A great part of not being as inspired by a concert video as being at the concert isn't the fact it's a video but that you tend not to be there with a 1000 other people. Contrast the amount of excitement/inspiration when watching your national team at the olympics/world cup with 100's or 1000's of others on one of those town square broadcasts. \$\endgroup\$
    – DRF
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 8:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Never heard about this homerule. It removes a big part of the fun of being a bard, which is far from being an overpowered class to start with. The reason why the other performances have a range limit is because they have more substantial effects than +1/5 per level. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 9:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ For games with that houserule there are feats that double the range of bardic performance under certain conditions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Umbranus
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 10:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme I disagree about the strength of other performances, but I only restrict Courage to what's reasonable in my games. I've seen it both ways and can't say if its significantly impacted games other than making it a less ideal for the Bard to use a Longbow at range to stay safe. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso I didn't say it has more strength, but more substance. Many of them have a direct effect like fascinating creatures, countering some ability, etc, not just a bonus. A bonus can be very powerful, but at this scale it doesn't change what you can do, it just makes you more likely to succeed (but indeed it's great, especially since it can make a great number of person more likely to succeed). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:58

Yes, inspire courage affects all allies "able to perceive the bard's performance." Should the conditions of the battlefield allow everyone in the army to perceive the bards performance then they're affected.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do they actively have to be paying attention somehow for this "inspiration" to happen? Or just being in the area is enough? What about distracted allies? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 3:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jesse You could post a separate question about whether Inspire Courage works on distracted allies. That way you get the expertise of the whole site instead of just one user's. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 5:25

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