Morrowind Character Guide Series: The Bard
For those who watch my let's plays and livestreams, you'll know that we're all about role-playing and not at all about min-maxing. This series is not about the ultimate [insert class] build, let's face it, sooner or later your character will be a god-killer whether you min-max or not. In addition we tend to always want to play the same way, with the same style, the same weapons, the same game play. So instead, I want to suggest ways to play a class and mods that can make the experience fresh and more unique. For more general role-playing mod recommendations, you can check this guide.
Skills, Race, and Birthsign
Oh boy, oh boy! Last week, I started the Barbarian with some apprehension because I had never played a Barbarian. This week I start with at least as much apprehension because the bard is my favourite RPG class (even though there is so little for it in Morrowind).
The Bard's main attributes are personality and intelligence. Looking at the bard's skills and the attributes they improve, they are exactly that, personality, intelligence, and to a lesser extent, strength.
The Imperial score 50 in personality and 40 for the other two attributes, +10 buff to speechcraft and long blade. Perfect for a bard that can charm and, err... kill.
The Breton male looks good with 50 intelligence and 40 strength and personality, a nice +5 in alchemy and illusion. This bard will rely more heavily on illusion as well as be more self-reliant (with alchemy and moderate skills in mysticism and restoration).
The Dunmer female with 40 on all three attributes is good as well with a +5 buff to long blade.
For your birthsign, surprise, the Lady with a generous personality buff is an obvious choice. I can see the Atronach as well for the self-reliant bard: enough magicka for his illusion spells and a way to replenish it while protecting yourself from magical attacks (spell absorption).
If you want your bard to be a better fighter, the Warrior makes sense too to get a fortified attack.
Gameplay and Mods
Looking the part
- Feathered hat from Clothiers of Vvardenfell by Korana (female only, sorry!) CoV also has a good selection of shirts, boots, and even a few coats for male characters.
- Jester Hat by Dale French (not afraid of clichés!).
- Cape, (Physiqued) - Update a cape that moves with your character.
- Fine Clothiers of Tamriel by Westly for some practical travelling outfits/robes.
And the lute?
Quite a few mods out there depending on how serious you are about actually playing music and making money out of it.
- You just want a lute on your back: Bard Equipment (uses the vanilla lute model and take the pauldron slot).
- You want to hold a lute in your hand and make music happen: Complete Lute by Illtempered, the lute is in fact a weapon, buy the lute and music sheets from a trader in Vivec.
- You want to hold a lute and perform once a day for septims: Bardic Inspiration by Merlord. With Weapon Sheathing you will also carry it on your back. Outdoors, draw you lute and start walking, restore fatigue as you play music.
- You want it all, try A Bard's Life. This is my own mod and I love it but I honestly think it needs an update: I added sheathing scripts - we have better now with Weapon Sheathing. I added a music skill - it could be done better now with Lua scripting capabilities. I added camping mechanics - Ashfall now does that so much better, etc.
That being said, I did make this mod with the complete bard experience in mind and there's a lot more to it ...
Making a living as a bard
With A Bard's Life, you have:
- A number of performance types (based on the Entertainers) that take time and energy. Your reward is based on your skills and fame: you always get some money, sometimes a drink, food and even a room for the night.
- 4 scripted lutes that let you play music, cast spellsongs and perform. You unlock the new lutes as you level up. Better lutes have stronger spellsong effects.
- 40 songs to collect, they can be played at any time and/or cast as spellsongs.
- Your own quested inn to build, where every upgrade brings more customers and comfort.
- Scripted camping gear (compatible with NoM).
- A useful companion. (All companions are easier to manage with Melian's Teleport Mod or my new favourite: Customizable MWSE Multi Mark and Harder Recall by Virnetch)
- Kits to choose from: Bard, Shadowdancer, Jester, Skald and Diresinger, each with their performances, powers, and spellsongs.
- New optional classes, a birthsign, a gondola ride, fans...
If it's all too much (it's ok, I won't be sad), be sure to install one of the lute mods above as well as the Entertainers Expanded.
- Combat Moves by GhanBuriGhan. The Bard, in my mind, has to do things with panache and flourish, this mod will give you the ability to make combos using the attack, jump, and sneak.
- For a flashy bard, some flashy weapons from Star boi's The Hidden Pathway. These weapons have particle effects, making them a little over the top and not quite lore-friendly. Who cares? You are a bard, being noticed is your jam.
- Personal Effect by R-Zero or Class Abilities. The former gives basic equipment, the latter powers as well.
- The Bard could use a pet, not a killing machine mind you, a stylish Dalmatian from Emma's Dog Companions or a fun Corgi Companion by Melchior Dahrk.
The music in Morrowind is a very important part of the game's atmosphere but for the Bard, we should do something special: the music comes from you, but we don't want a dead world.
Here are a few options:
- You could simply empty your
music/battlefolders. Install Piratelord's Expanded Sounds (watch out the swinging rope sound is broken, replace it with a silent mp3), Spell Sounds Enhanced (I like that you can recognise the vanilla spell sounds), Ambient Town Sounds by Lendrik IF you have MCA and/or Starfire's NPC addition and Haunted Barrows by Melchior Dharkh.
- Morrowind Accoustic Overhaul is your one stop shop, you can disable combat music and all sounds have been replaced.
- Better sounds and Better Sounds fixed do more or less the same as MAO but I have never tested them.
- MUSE - Morrowind Music System Extended is an amazing mod that lets you pick the mp3 you want to hear in caves, tombs, Hlaalu cities, the Bitter Coast, etc. With a bit of time, you can completely customise your soundscape, using your prefered mp3 from the above mods.
- Sound of Souls by NullCascade, when carrying a filled soul gem, you might hear the soul moaning.
- PC voice - complete treat yourself to a new voice. Quite a few options, you will recognise voice files from other games.
Handicaps and Goals
- Restrict your illusion to Charm, Calm and Command effects.
- Play as a support bard (with a bard's life, spellsong don't do direct damage), be sure to have lots of potential companions from CM Partners or MCA for example. For a review on these, check this and this video.
- Play as the Pied Piper: specialise in commanding creatures, use the Rat King background in Merlord's Character Backgrounds but forgo charm, admire, and companions. Your new best friend is Paxon the pack rat.
- Play as an artificer: use them shiny enchanted items, no spells (another one of Merlord's Character Backgrounds).
- Build your inn, a Bard's Life (again!) or Wayfarer's Rest and Racer's Roost by Baratheon79.
- Collect all instruments: I knew I had forgotten something about A Bard's Life, you get your own private quarters at the inn, with alchemy sorter, labelled containers, scripted mannequin for your bardic armour, and a dozen scripted instrument displays.
- Write an epic, of course! Using Journal Search and Edit by Svengineer99.
- Become famous and get 100 reputation (the maximum with vanilla quests is 174).
- Become a lore-master and assemble the greatest library:
- add Stuporstar's Books of Vvardenfell and Beautiful Books Volume I: Grimoires, The Daggerfall Book Collection by Michael Damon (aka Launcelot), Battlespire Books by Shasta Thorne and Sgaileach's Illustrated Book of Alchemy for more books to collect. If that is not enough, then grab Helluva - Bountiful Books.
- You'll also need a place with a smart library that sorts books: Monica21's Buyable Ghorak Manor, the super classic Mori Mountain Estate by Marc, Adul's Library (private or public).
- If your bard is primarily and artist adventurer, refer to my Acrobat Character Build for mods, handicaps and goals.
- If your bard is mostly an agent using music as a cover, refer to my Agent Character Build for mods, handicaps and goals.
If you want more ideas for random handicaps and goals, check this blog entry with wheels to click, you can find my permadeath modlist (and all the others, actually) here and if you'd like to see many new characters created, join us on Twitch every Sunday for our permadeath runs ;)
More than ever, I am so curious to know how you role-play your bard!