Every class has a selection of skills that come naturally to them. Among those, most characters will choose to specialize in a select few, the number of which is determined by their intelligence and the class itself. In many cases, the characters of Pathfinder do not think too hard about their skills except for those that are undeniably necessary. As such, many characters are relatively unskilled, and when compared to the Bard and Rogue, they may as well be monkeys. While not covered in this installment, a special mention goes to the Ranger and Wizard as these two classes can also be exceptionally skilled in a variety of disciplines.
While The Bard is one of the greatest playwrights of the English speaking world, the Pathfinder Bard is more of a travelling artist. As a collector of stories, songs, and tales, the Bard is a cornucopia of information both trivial and exotic. They travel from town to town, searching for song and adventure, and spreading tales both fantastic and inspiring to the people. While a Bard may be wary of travelling on her own, when with companions, there is no one more welcome as she inspires courage and strength to her allies. Charismatic and capable, Bards are almost always welcomed in taverns and castles alike.
Bards are very often exemplary diplomats and liars. While her Charisma may offer her a small advantage, she can use her prowess in performance as inspiration as she lies cajoles, intimidates and befriends everyone around her. Additionally, as the Bard collects more and more tales, she develops a large base of knowledge, allowing her to identify the strengths and weaknesses of new and uncommon foes
The main features of the Bard are her Bardic Performance and innate magical abilities. Though she is fully capable of developing into a powerful combatant, the Bard’s most common role is as a support, Inspiring Courage to assist her allies as they fight. Her force of will is also able to manifest as magical spells, allowing the Bard to spontaneously cast the few spells she knows. Any group of adventurers with a Bard will find their travels easier and their gold pouches heavier.
The Rogue lives off of his wits and his vast skillset to survive in the harsh world. Sometimes shadowy cloaked assassins, sometimes gentlemen thieves, sometimes cunning tricksters, the Rogue understands that having every tool available means no job is impossible. Unlike the extroverted and attention grabbing Bard, the Rogue knows to wear the mask that is required of him for the situation. Because every Rogue has a different background, every Rogue is skilled in slightly different ways, yet every Rogue will always be looking for that opportunity to catch his enemy unawares.
Rogues are given the most number of starting skill points out of any class. Additionally, they are often exceptionally adept at trap finding, making them perfect for disabling alarms and pitfalls that may await the unwary adventurer.
The main features of the Rogue are his Sneak Attack and Talents. Whenever a Rogue can catch an opponent with his guard down, or when he is flanking his opponent, he can perform a Sneak Attack, plunging his blade into a vital location to harshly wound his foes. Additionally, the Rogue is given access to a series of Rogue Talents as he grows. Though more limited, the Rogue will learn these Talents much like the Fighter’s Bonus Feats. When there are Rogue’s about, you are wise to avoid the dark.
While Bards and Rogues are not exceptionally powerful combatants, their incredible skill set allows them to be supremely useful in almost any situation. Often, players focused solely on combat and mechanics will forego the Bard and Rogue for their perceived weakness but it is important to realize that when handled correctly, they are just as useful in combat as many of the other classes. The usefulness may not be immediately obvious, but it is present and significant. Out of combat, many Bards and Rogues can act as the party ‘face,’ dealing with subtler issues with grace, a task the Fighter, for example, may not be suited for. Whether you’re a scoundrel or a gentlemen, a travelling performer or a collector of tales, the Rogue and Bard are able to fill a wide variety of shoes with ease.