[RPG] the best way to multiclass Bard and Sorcerer



I've recently joined a new RP group and a DM has decided to give DnD 3.5e a run. I am told it will be a short, but intriguing campaign. When asked about what kind of characters and classes he likes, the DM replied that anything goes, as long as we can properly explain it and that he is a fan of multiclassing. Apart from that, we've also been told that we'll be starting at level 9 and much of the campaign will take part in an urban environment.

My Thoughts

It's been a while since I played DnD 3.5e and as such I am a little rusty, but here's my idea.

I'm thinking of creating a Bard/Sorcerer multi (from now on CHAR). CHAR started out as a young minstrel or singer, making his living on the roads and in the halls of various lords. One day, around 16 years of age I think, CHAR accidentally used his innate magic, that he never knew he had, and caused quite a ruckus at the feast that he was working at. Long story short, a SORCERER who attended the feast as a guest decided to take CHAR under his wing (and pay for the damage CHAR caused), since CHAR would otherwise be incarcerated or worse for what he accidentally did. SORCERER trained and taught CHAR for a while, before he, once again, struck out on his own.

Given that he knows spells from both the BARD list and the SORC list, I think that the sorcerer spells will be focus more on evocative magic, suited for combat, while influential magic will be taken from the bard list. This is by no means carved in stone.

On the battlefield, I see him as a kind of spellsword: wielding magic and weapon in unison.

Given that the character will be played from level 9 I feel that either class works for his starting level (the magic within him was always there, but it took a while until it awakened).

My question(s)

From a game mechanic perspective, how should I multiclass a Bard/Sorc to level 9, in order to "get the most out of each class"? That is, receiving high utility from the class characteristics, while also achieving a sense of natural progression within the scope of the character (as described above).

I am looking for an answer based in rules and game mechanics of course, but also from experience with such multiclassing.

Sub questions:

  • Which class should be the starting class, and why?
  • How should I progress to level 9? Which dips should I make and when?
  • What good feat combinations can me made? Same for skills and spells?
  • Is there a race that would be particualarly beneficial for this combo?

Regarding feats, skills and spells I am not asking for a complete list, but suggestions and pointers would be highly appreciated.

Lastly, I welcome answer along the lines of "There is no point in doing this", but would in such case appreciate a good explanation of why and, if possible, a suggestion for another way to go.

Best Answer

“There is no point in doing this [from a game mechanic perspective].” The sorcerer is just the stronger class, and even the feature-heavy first level of bard does not compare to simply having better spells sooner (see 1. Spellcasters should not multiclass in this answer for more details). Thus, the best mix of nine levels for bard or sorcerer is Sorcerer 9. That said...

Sublime Chord

The best way to multiclass bard and “sorcerer” is to not have any sorcerer levels at all, but rather take the sublime chord prestige class from Complete Arcane. This class requires Bardic Mustic and 3rd-level spells, but rather than progress bard spellcasting, it has its own spellcasting with 3rd- to 9th-level spells from the bard and sorcerer/wizard lists. This spellcasting is Charisma-based and spontaneous. It also progresses bardic music, and gives several special “magic themed” songs.

So a Bard 10/Sublime Chord 10 casts as a 10th-level bard and also has separate spellcasting with spells of up to 9th-level that come from the sorcerer/wizard spell list (or bard list). It has the ability with music of a 20th-level bard, except some of the songs are changed to be more “magic themed.”

Since spellcasting is the only sorcerer class feature aside from the familiar, having spontaneous Charisma-based spellcasting off of the sorcerer/wizard list, and then taking the Obtain Familiar feat, makes you effectively identical to a sorcerer. But this progression is much smoother, you end up with level-appropriate power at higher levels, and sublime chord is really cool. The only problem here is that, before 11th level when you take your first level of sublime chord, you have no mechanical representation of being a sorcerer. But bard and sorcerer spellcasting are fairly similar, and you can take Obtain Familiar at Bard 1, so it should be easy to continue to call yourself a sorcerer at lower levels.


Worth mentioning: Champions of Valor has a variant paladin, the harmonizing knight, that gets Inspire Courage +1, 1/day instead of at-will detect evil at 1st level. In the Forgotten Realms, this requires you to worship Milil, a goddess of music; in other settings, it would have to be adapted to some appropriate patron. Anyway, all paladins get the excellent Divine Grace at 2nd level, adding Charisma bonus to all saving throws. As such, Paladin 2/Bard 8/Sublime Chord 10 becomes an excellent variant on the above build: you trade 1 daily use of Inspire Courage for full martial weapon proficiency, a bit more HP, +1 BAB, and adding your Charisma bonus to all saving throws. Since your Charisma should be high, that is a very nice bonus. Adding paladin is not an option for all characters, of course, but if it is, do consider it.

For spellswording as a bard, whether you dip paladin or not, I strongly recommend the Snowflake Wardance feat from Frostburn, if you have that book. Other excellent options include the harmonizing weapon property and crystal echoblade weapon from Magic Item Compendium.

Finally, if you have Tome of Battle, taking a level of crusader for the Song of the White Raven feat is an awesome option, dramatically amping up your physical prowess while allowing you to start performing Inspire Courage as a swift action. It also opens up the interesting possibility of using the jade phoenix mage prestige class to advance sublime chord spellcasting, which would be ideal. Note that Paladin 2/Bard 7/Crusader 1 still just qualifies for sublime chord, too, if you want to do both. I recommend taking the crusader level at precisely 9th level, so you can simultaneously take Song of the White Raven, and have Initiator Level 5 so 3rd-level maneuvers and stances are available to you.


Generally speaking, race isn’t all that important; human is probably your best bet just because bonus feats are awesome. But anything without a penalty to Charisma or Constitution is probably fine (bonuses to Charisma are really rare and always paired with a penalty to Constitution, so there is little to be gained there). Even penalties to Charisma or Constitution are bearable, but why would you?

However, in the case of anyone with bardic music, the benefits of being a dragonblooded race have to be mentioned. And since there’s a dragonblooded human race, silverbrow humans from Dragon Magic are almost-certainly your best option. They trade the humans’ bonus skill point for the Dragonblood subtype, which among other things qualifies you for the excellent Dragonfire Inspiration feat from the same book. Highly recommended.

See Also