Return of the Druidic Bard: The Anruth

Continuing my recent trend of looking at Old School Character Classes, I’m going to take a stab at an old favorite for a lot of folks. Back in the first edition of the game, there was a character class in the back of the main player’s book. Called a bard, it noted that the class had been modified since its original appearance (in materials prior to the codification of everything into a hardback book), and that GMs might not allow it. Taking the class also required a character to take levels in fighter, thief, and druid before they could take levels in bard.

Really, it was the precursor to later “prestige classes” that got codified in the third edition of the game.

This original bard is considered by many players to be very different from the Pathfinder version, at least in part because it gains druid spells rather than wizard-like bard spells. But also, the class could (at least early on) double in for fighters or rogues, continued to advance some of those skills, and focused as much on lore and leadership as it did music and charm. There’s at least one branch of players who miss the part of the bard that is more strongly associated with druids, Irish heroes, and the tradition of the fili who combined the functions of magician, lawgiver, judge, counsellor to the chief, and poet (before some of those functions were taken over by brehons becoming judges and druids being more aligned with supernatural roles).

Now obviously those Irish roots are only inspirations for either the original “druidic bard” or its modern replacement, or for that matter druids and various forms of fuchlucan. I am far from a scholar of Irish history, mythology, or culture, so any effort to capture the old “druidic bard” flavor is going to be similarly limited to inspiration and fantasy translations, with no claim of accuracy or even equivalency of any real-world terms.

Further, unlike things like the fighter/magic-user/thief I don’t want to just use the old name for this new take on the character concept. The bard in pathfinder is a popular and valid class, and not something I want to encourage people to replace. At the same time while the “druidic bard” had strong tied to the fighter, thief, and druid, I don’t want to build the new class as either a hybrid class or a prestige class. That leaves me wishing to create an alternate class for the bard, which means it needs a new name. Drawing from the same tradition as the fili, bard, druid, and fuchlucan, I’m naming this new alternate class the anruth.

Alignment: Anruth are trained to see all sides of a question, and to consider many different philosophies and moral systems. At least one element of an anruth’s alignment must be neutral.

Hit Die: d8

Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.)

Class Skills: The anruth’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Table: Anruth
Level  BAB                Fort     Ref      Will     Special
1st       +0                    +2        +0        +2        Bardic knowledge, fighting spirit, versatile performance
2nd      +1                    +3        +0        +3        Anruth performance (1st pick), trapfinding
3rd       +2                    +3        +1        +3        Lore master 1/day, oral tradition, wild empathy
4th       +3                    +4        +1        +4        Bonus feat, sneak attack +1d6
5th       +3                    +4        +1        +4        Spell kenning 1/day, versatile performance
6th       +4                    +5        +2        +5        Anruth performance (2nd pick), lore master 2/day
7th       +5                    +5        +2        +5        Jack of all trades

8th       +6/+1              +6        +2        +6        Sneak attack +2d6, woodland stride
9th       +6/+1              +6        +3        +6        Lore master 3/day, spell kenning 2/day, versatile performance
10th     +7/+2              +7        +3        +7        Anruth performance (3rd pick),
11th     +8/+3              +7        +3        +7        Bonus feat, trackless step
12th     +9/+4              +8        +4        +8        Lore master 4/day, sneak attack +3d6
13th     +9/+4              +8        +4        +8        Spell kenning 3/day, versatile performance
14th     +10/+5            +9        +4        +9        Anruth performance (4th pick),
15th     +11/+6/+1       +9        +5        +9        Lore master 5/day
16th     +12/+7/+2       +10      +5        +10      Sneak attack +4d6
17th     +12/+7/+2       +10      +5        +10      Spell kenning 4/day, versatile performance
18th     +13/+8/+3       +11      +6        +11      Anruth performance (5th pick), lore master 6/day
19th     +14/+9/+4       +11      +6        +11      Bonus feat, timeless body
20th     +15/+10/+5     +12      +6        +12      Sneak attack +5d6, spell lore

Proficiency: The anruth is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and all light and medium armors.

Favored Class Bonus: If anruth is your favored class, you can take any favored class bonus that you would be allowed to take for the bard, druid, fighter, or rogue classes, as long as it does not modify a class feature the anruth does not have.

Spells: You are a spontaneous arcane spellcaster who gains the spells per day and spells known of a bard of the same level. Your class spell list includes all 0-6th level bard and druid spells, and all 1st-4th level ranger spells. You cannot learn a spell that modifiers a class feature the anruth does not possess (such as instant enemy, as you do not have the favored enemy class feature). Your Wisdom ability score determines the maximum level of spell you can cast, your bonus spells per day, and your spell DCs. Any spell you cast that uses Intelligence or Charisma as part of its calculations you may instead calculate using your Wisdom. You do not suffer arcane spell failure for your anruth spells while wearing light or medium armor. You suffer ASFP normally for shields or heavy armor.

Bardic Knowledge (Ex): At 1st level you gain bardic knowledge, as the bard class feature.

Fighting Spirit (Su): You do not depend on the might or your arm or the speed of your body when you fight. You fight from the heart, and it is that inner power that grants your attacks accuracy and potency. At 1st level you may use your Wisdom bonus in place of your Strength and Dexterity modifiers to determine your attack bonus and damage bonus with weapons, unarmed, and natural attacks. This bonus cannot exceed your anruth class level. If your Strength of Dexterity modifier is better, you can continue to use it. If an ability score modifier is normally halved or doubled (such as the Strength bonus to damage with two-handed weapons), you halve or double your Wisdom bonus when you use it instead.

Versatile Performance (Ex): As the bard class feature, but gained at 1st level, with an additional choice every 4 levels thereafter.

Anruth Performance (Su): At 2nd level you gain the anruth performance ability, allowing you to use your knowledge of sagas, lore, epics, poems, and songs of last ages to inspire, fascinate, or change the flow of battle. This functions as the bardic performance class feature (and counts as that ability for purposes of prerequisites and abilities that modify bardic performance), but you only receive a number of round per day equal to your class level plus your Wisdom bonus, and your performances always start your performance as a move action and maintain it as a free action.

You select a single form of performance you can create with your anruth performance from the following choices, each duplicating the performance ability of the ability of the same name from the class or archetype listed in parenthesis after the ability: distraction (bard), inspire courage (bard), or inspired rage (skald). |You also automatically gain the performance ability fascinate (bard).

At 6th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: devastating aria (diva), inspire competence (bard), song of marching (skald), or song of strength (skald). You also automatically gain the performance ability suggestion (bard)

At 10th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: dirge of doom (bard), inspire greatness (bard), scathing tirade (diva).

At 14th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: frightening tune (bard), song of the fallen (skald), or soothing performance (bard).

At 18th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: inspire heroics (bard) or mass suggestion (bard).

Trapfinding (Ex): At 2nd level you gain trapfinding, as the rogue class feature.

Lore Master (Ex): As the bard class feature, but the ability to take 20 on a Knowledge skill is useable once per day at 3rd level, +1 additional times per day every 3 levels thereafter.

Oral Tradition (Ex): At 3rd level, you can memorize magic writing for use by yourself, or to reproduce later. When you encounter a scroll, you can attempt to create a poem, song, or allegory that imbeds the information and magic of the scroll in your mind. This takes one hour per spell on the scroll, and removed the spell from the scroll. You can use these spells as you would when they were scrolls (including needing to make caster level checks for spells that are too high level, or UMD check for spells not on your class list), though used in this way the spells have a minimum casting time of 1 round. Once you use a spell from your oral tradition, it is gone. You can have a maximum number of spells from scrolls stored in oral traditions equal to your class level plus your Wisdom bonus.

You can recreate these spell scrolls by writing out the spell from your oral tradition, a process that takes 1 hour per spell and materials equal to 10 gp per spell level. Doing so removes the spell from your oral tradition.

Alternatively, you can store the magic of a magic book, tome, or manual. This takes half the time it would take to use the book or manual, and it counts as two spells toward your maximum number of spells stored in your oral tradition. This destroys the magic book. You can use the book or manual yourself from memory, exactly as if you were reading the physical book, and this removes it from your memory, Or you can create it, which takes as long as it took to record it into your oral tradition and materials costing 10% of the book’s cost. This also removes it from your oral tradition.

While the ability to store the magic writings of scrolls and tomes in your head is extraordinary, the effects created by such magic writings remain magical.

Your oral traditional also allows you to use your Wisdom modifier in place of your Intelligence modifier for Knowledge skills.

Bonus Feat: At 4th level you gain one bonus feat. You must meet the feat’s prerequisites, but treat your class level as your bard, druid, fighter, and ranger class level for purposes of this feat. You gain additional bonus feats at 11th and 19th level. Alternatively at each of these levels you may select a rogue talent (but not advanced talent). You must meet this talent’s prerequisites, but use your anruth level as your rogue level.

Sneak Attack: At 4th level you gain sneak attack, as the rogue class feature. It increased by +1d6 every 4 levels.

Wild Empathy (Ex): At 4th level you gain wild empathy, as the druid class feature.

Spell Kenning (Su): As 5th level you gain spell kenning, as the skald class feature, but it is useable once per day at 5th, plus one additional time per day at 9th level, plus once more per day every 4 levels thereafter.

Jack of All Trades (Ex): At 7th level, you can use any skill, even if the skill normally requires you to be trained. At 13th level, you consider all skills to be class skills. At 16th level, you can take 10 on any skill check, even if it is not normally allowed.

Woodland Stride (Ex): At 8th level, you gain woodland stride, as the druid class feature.

Trackless Step (Ex): At 11th level you gain trackless step, as the druid class feature.

Timeless Body (Su): At 19th level you gain timeless body, as the druid class feature.

Spell Lore (Sp): At 20th level, your mastery of lore and mysteries expands your spell repertoire even further. Add one additional spell known at each spell level you can cast, drawn from the bard, cleric, druid, ranger, or sorcerer/wizard spell list. These spells are considered to be on your class spell list, as well. Also, select one 7th level spell from one of these spell lists. You can cast that spell once per day as a spell-like ability, using your Wisdom bonus to determine any of the spell’s calculations normally based on Intelligence or Charisma.


While I simply grabbed existing forms of performance for the various anruth performance options, and that works great, it occurred to me that there might be at least one option an anruth should have other performance-using classes don’t: shame.

So I wrote up a shaming performance for the anruth and put it up on my Patreon as (for the moment) patron-exclusive content.

Check it out!


About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on July 31, 2017, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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