Content of the article: "How can I play my level 5 Lore Bard efficiently?"
In the Tomb of Annihilation game that I'm in, I feel like my level 5 Half-Elf Lore Bard is really subpar. I love playing it. The RP is good and I like the roleplay part. I'm just feeling like I do zero damage, bring no control and have absolutely no impact on combats.
I started the game by optimizing and had some glory time in the first three levels, but now I really feel like I'm lagging behind.
The opponents always succeed the DC 15 WIS/DEX saves that I inflict upon them (the last time an opponent failed it was 4 games ago), and my Cutting Words don't do much.
Today, all I do is play the control but I can't disrupt much of the battle. I try to stay as much out of battle as possible, despite my amulet of health (CON is 19).
My stats are STR 8, DEX 16, CON 19 (Amulet of Health, 14 otherwise), INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 18. My AC is 15 (studded leather). My spell selection is the following:
Cantrips: Friends, Minor Illusion, Vicious Mockery,
Level 1: Bane, Dissonant Whispers, Faerie Fire, Healing Word, Tasha's Hideous Laughter
Level 2: Invisibility, Suggestion
Level 3: Bestow Curse
My main issue is that I don't know when to use my spells, and/or what to prioritize in the beginning of combat we don't start: either positioning or control. I read a few articles that suggest I should stay out of reach at all costs, but that isn't just possible.
Last combat went like this:
We felt something and had just the time to see our Shadow enemies appear (there was a Shadow Mastiff Alpha, 2 Shadow Mastiffs and 4 shadows). Our party is close to each other, and I'm next to the Paladin.
Turn 1: a Shadow mastiff and a I couldn't position myself before being in reach of a shadow mastiff and a shadow. I lose to the mastiff's bite's STR save and get prone and lose 2 points of STR (shadow). I use my movement to get back up, and can't do much so I bestow curse the shadow (to give it disadvantage against me), but the creature succeeded the DC. I also give bardic inspiration to our monk who had a bad first turn.
Turn 2: Monk uses the bardic inspiration to succeed an otherwise failing roll on one of the 3 or 4 attacks they had and the Shadow Mastiff Alpha dies at the hand of the Monk. The mastiff attacks me again, but and puts be prone again despite a Cutting Word and the shadow hits me, reducing my STR by a further 4. Again, I get back up using all my movement and cast a level 2 Dissonant Whispers to the shadow, which succeeds the DC 15. I decide to keep my bardic inspirations for Cutting Words in the case the combat lasts too much. Another shadow dies this turn.
Turn 3: The mastiff attacks me, but the Paladin uses his reaction to give me extra AC or something like that with his shield and I'm not hit. The shadow attacks me and my cutting words makes the otherwise-succeeding attack fail. I use my action to disengage and I move away as far as I can.
The battle finishes before I can have my 4th turn and I lost 6 STR points and 26 HP in total. I used 3 bardic inspiration and 2 of them to stay alive.
This is an example of combat where I did absolutely nothing useful to the party, but only tried to survive. Some other combats are less terrible than this and I can do some nice control actions, yet very unsatisfying. Despite this, the GM acclaimed my decisions by saying I did the right action at the right moment. I'm not so sure that's the case. I felt useless and it's not the first time.
I'm also often disappointed by my party as they very often tend to forget I give them bardic inspiration, despite me reminding of that rather often. (Even if in this combat, the Monk used it at the right time.)
So I don't think I understand the power of the bard, and I feel like I'm playing it very very badly. What tips could you give me regarding my build and/or my actions. Or help me appreciate the power of the bard as it is, please?
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