Info: advantages of Skald songs

After playing with a Skald for some time, I want to point out a couple of things people might not be aware of:

1: Beast Totem natural armor bonus stacks with natural armor bonus from Barkskin/Amulet of Natural Armor, and with bonuses from stuff like Righteous Might/Frightful Aspect/Dragonkind:

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I haven’t found anything this doesn’t stack with, so it is basically just a bonus on top of everything.

2: Inspired Rage bonus to melee attack and damage rolls in untyped, meaning it stacks with everything. It especially stacks with Lethal Stance (compentence bonus) handed out by the very same Skald for a double bonus from the same character.
Inspired Rage counts only for melee, but Lethal Stance counts for melee and throwing. I tend to make my Skald an axe thrower for this reason.

Result: a 20 level Skald, with the Beast Totem line and the Lethal Stance line, hands out:
a) +6 natural armor bonus that stacks with everything I know of. On the other hand -1 from Inspired Rage.
b) +3 untyped attack/damage bonus for melee.
c) +6 competence bonus for melee and thrown.
d) +6 to Will saving throws.
e) a grab bag of extra powers like Pounce for everyone, +6 critical hit confirmation, an extra secondary bite attack that also seems to stack with everything (with Animal Fury), and finally a higher crit multiplier for melee and thrown. The auto-pounce is a nice way of making full attacks during the surprise round, for example.

Looking at this, I’d say the only reason for taking a Bard over this is if you want your competence bonus to apply to bows/crossbows and ranged touch attacks. Having that power active is almost like changing the difficulty one step down. And I always thought Guarded Hearth was the strongest buff there is.

Another reason would be the ability to cast spells. If I remember correct you cant cast spells under the effect of skald songs.

Once you’re level 20 you can again. But except for the natural armor bonus and the will save the boni ain’t doing much for casters anyway, so you can just not accept the rage on those characters.

Edit: that hurts on fightery casters though. You have to basically know one round in advance if you want to hit or cast.

Welcome to the club :slight_smile: I have never considered playing a class with rage after I decided to bring a Skald along for the first time.
If you like that bonus for your ranged attacks, build an axe thrower, e.g. Wenduag.
In the meantime, the builds I have seen that want to both cast and melee are usually diversity fun builds, not for efficiency, IMHO. You are either good at hitting stuff with weapons or with spells, but not both.

Some people play full casters because of the personal buff spells to create their melee. Angel oracle can do both pretty well, for example. I like the ability to open up with Wrath during the surprise round, then melee afterwards. Also, sometimes you want to cast some “oh, shit” spells during combat even though you are a melee character. For example, I just had several moments during Act 4 where some pesky sharpshooters focused my backline to death and I wanted to drop a quick revive during combat (“Bring Back” needs to be cast immediately, not one round later).

But Skald song is so frigging strong that it’s worth it regardless, IMO. And at level 20 the problem disappears anyway.

Right, that’s the usual gish build in WotR, I just don’t understand it. At level 10, mythic level 3, you are just so outclassed in melee by e.g. a mutation warrior, that I think going full caster is just better. Why waste all the buffs on your Oracle MC, when you can simply hang back casting spells and use your buffs on companions and pets that are much better in melee?
Especially InEffect’s Angle build at neoseeker seems to be built around “I want my MC to do everything, and all my companions are just there to boost my MC”. Sure, it works. I just think having my Angel cast Storm of Justice and my Mutation Warrior one-shoot priority targets gets there faster.

I don’t think the Angel is that outclassed really, with all the personal buffs the warrior wouldn’t get. Also it doesn’t cost that much to also be a tank (1 Monk) and a hard hitter (1 Paladin + Abundant Smite), so why not? But, uh, mainly because it’s fun?

But that’s not got much to do with Skald. Mainly I agree that a chara usually does either melee or casting.

The main criticism of the Skald seems to be that the song prevents spell casting, so the question is if a party that is built around that works on unfair (noticing the strong advice against that on neoseeker). I am now running this party:

  • Angel Oracle (caster, one level in Scaled Fist),
  • Seelah as mounted Paladin,
  • Sosiel as domain bot,
  • BFT merc,
  • Skald merc,
  • Mutation Warrior (2h), merc

If we count the 3 pets, we have 6 chars that profit from the rage song, and 4 casters. This works very smoothly, now in act 3, level 12, Ivory Sanctum + Blackwater is mostly a straight run with winning most fights on the first try (it is also my first playthrough on unfair, so there’s that). This seems to kill enemies faster than the Glowwyrm party, from what I have seen of InEffect’s playthrough.
This is a party that comes online in act 3, of course, you’ll be better of with a different setup in chapter 1 and 2.

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Pretty similar to my party actually,
Angel Oracle
Seelah mounted Paladin
Skald merc(throwing axes)
Lann Judge, switched to Aru later
Ember raycaster
BFT merc

So 2 melee, 3 pets benefitting in full, one ranged throwing benefitting partially, 3 people not benefitting at all. Works quite nice, except the missing buff compared to Bardsong is very noticeable on Ember and Lann, and not ropping a revive in the middle of combat with my main is annoying sometimes. But the rest is so much stronger that I don’t care. I also love the pounce - I do a surprise round attack whenever possible, and getting a full attack in a surprise round on a flat-footed enemy is just awesome.

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Another aspect of the Skald is utility casting, as they come (like Bards, of course) with a couple of very good spells. Haste, Good Hope, Dimension Door, Greater Dispel Magic and Brilliant Inspiration. I usually have them specialize in abjuration and spell specialization: Greater Dispel Magic for a +2 to caster level.
Dispel magic is actually quite important in certain boss fights, like Playful Darkness, who comes heavily buffed, with an AC of 90. After dispelling like 20 buffs like shield and stuff, you can reduce it to 76, which is quite hittable by a mutation warrior at level 14:

Sure. Though I think most MCs are better at dispelling than a companion, and other companions are better at dispelling than a Skald. Can’t have enough Haste though, and Skalds are also not terrible at fighting like full casters would be. I kinda enjoyed making a Rapid Fire Two-Weapon axe thrower, giving the Skald sneak attack via spell and Arcane Strike.

In fairness, the main advice on the Neoseeker site is not having your MC as a Skald. Having it as a merc (or Seelah) is pushed more.

What is pushed is the Court Poet, which does not get any rage powers anymore. A Court Poet makes sense with the proposed party builds which are concentrated on casters with int and char as casting attributes, and an Oracle/Angel MC.
However, the advice here: Skald Mercenary says

Level 20 hire, unless your team is very melee focused (mostly because most anyone is better off casting than raging, and losing the former is not worth it).

IMHO that can be relativized a bit. My party mostly had a Mutation Warrior as 2h DD and Seelah as tank, along with the skald, which makes it 50/50 melee/caster. I would not call this very heavy melee focused. And having a Skald was just great from chapters 3 to the very end.
A Mutation Warrior + Skald + a couple of standard buffs is very well able to hit everything on unfair, even in the Inevitable DLC, even Inevitable Darkness, with very good damage. I’d claim that this combination outperforms the proposed MC builds on Neoseeker on unfair with regards to damage per round, as far as I have watched the corresponding playthroughs.

On the other hand casters don’t really benefit from a Skald, but do from a Poet, while some melee fighters do benefit from Poet if they use CHA (Paladin/Monk). In your example Seelah would benefit with +3 on her saves, on other Lawful Good people’s saves with Bestow Grace, on AB in case of Smite and on AB for everyone else in case of Mark of Justice. The last bit isn’t trivial IMO, meaning that with a sufficiently high-leveled Paladin you can transform the bonus in a way that everyone benefits, not just the melee/throwing fighters.

Though I must say that I consider Skald better too. You’re not using Mark of Justice all the time and also get it a bit later, and the bonus you do get for the melees is so much stronger than the version I outlined above.

In fact, on my current Unfair run, I basically rest once the Skald is out of song. It is that noticeable.

Well, that is a +3 instead of a +9 from the rage song. The situation in the inevitable excess DLC on unfair for me right now is that only my mutation warrior will consistently hit stuff (trash mobs are usually around 85 AC), and everybody has saving throws around 50, so a +3 for your DC won’t make you suddenly CC anyone.
It is almost comical that you can play a max char Angel Oracle exploiting the glory domain bug that gives you another +20 to char, and still everybody and their excesses will make their saving throws against your storm of justice anyway (I think my DC is 47 or something), because the reflex saves are just that high.
This is the game at its extreme, of course, but boosting the one source of damage that needs it to the max (the second being Angel spells) seems to be better.

As I said, I basically agree. I just tried to find the plusses of the Court Poet.

It is kinda annoying though how much bow users are behind everyone else once the Skald’s song is active.

Just for interest, and not really related to this topic, but I happened to end up more or less fully buffed on an occasion (Soul Hunter) and wanted to hand this in for comparison. IIRC you mentioned a couple times that you do not get Angel Orace melee and preferred your Mutation Warrior, and I was kinda curious how it would stack up:

Major differences to your screenshot:

  • I am level 14. You are level 14 I guess?
  • My Smite is way higher than your Mark of Justice, but you could probably make that up by focusing your Paladin more in CHA.
  • I have no weapon training, but my luck bonus almost makes up for that (Divine Power).
  • Your Weapon Focus is higher because I have not yet invested into the Mythic Feat that ups those.
  • I am not flanking, so I am missing +4 on the screenshot (I do have Outflank).
  • I forgot to use my Brownfur’s Transformation, which would make up for the difference in BAB.

Altogether I would guess that the melee result is more or less comparable. I need a Brownfur to make up for the difference in BAB, you need a Paladin to make up for not having a Smite. You get Mutagen for higher stats, I get a couple self buffs like Eaglesoul to make up for that.