The Bardic Snake is an evil Yuan-Ti character. The Yuan-Ti are known as a deceitful and controlling race, and so the idea of one who would sing lies in order to weaken an enemy is fitting, as is the Bard's use of enchantment spells to control enemies. This particular Yuan-Ti is also an experienced veteran warrior and has dabbled in necromancy (hence the Blackguard and Pale Master levels). Because of these factors, this particular build has very solid role-playing qualities. However, it is made also as a power build designed to gain both Epic Divine Might and Hymn of Requiem while achieving high saves, spell resistance, and AC as well as significant power with enchantment spells. It is extremely versatile, with countless options for how to approach a battle. As such, there are very few types of enemies that this character is hard-pressed to deal with. In fact, this build tested favorably against most builds I tested it against in the Battle of the Builds mod. This is remarkable considering 1v1 completely ignores the important party buffing aspect of Bards.
Part of the aim of this build is versatility. It is fun to have multiple viable options on how to approach a battle. The Bardic Snake can approach things in a lot of different ways. He can be use epic divine might to be a major melee damage dealer. He can pump up his defense with inspirations, songs, and spells to become a tank. He can debuff opponent's will saves and then throw out hard to resist enchantment spells. He can throw down a series of bombs like curse song, hymn of requiem, and ice storm and watch like a Wizard or Sorcerer does as his party mops up the severely weakened/damaged enemies. Inspire Regeneration can make him a poor man's cleric between battles. Pumping up Hide and Move Silently (which I dont do, but is certainly possible) and using inspire competence or using invisibility can make him a good scout. Inspire competence in conjunction with sleight of hand or appraise or a conversation skill can get you things you want more easily. With a high Use Magic Device, your battle options extend to any arcane OR divine spell that can be found on a scroll or wand! The Bardic Snake will also be the major buffer for your party like any other Bard. The options are just endless with this character! You can be creative too. For instance, I recently discovered that with NWN2s dumb AI, it is a legitimate strategy to use Inspire Slowness and then have your Bard run in and draw all the aggro of a group. He can run around without getting caught while the rest of your party gets easy attacks of opportunity and sneak attacks on the chasing enemies without taking damage. If your party's health is too low to win a battle head on, this Bard tactic can be a lifesaver. Anyways, let's get down to the essentials:
- Between Epic Divine Might, Inspire Courage, Haste, Power Attack, Cleave, and the occasional Legionnaire's March, this build will be able to throw out tons of melee damage.
- Buffed up with Inspire Courage, Haste, and Greater Heroism and with a full BAB character in the party to make Legionnaire's March effective, this build will achieve a reasonably high AB. Combined with Curse Song's -5 debuff to opponent's Dodge AC, and you'll be landing hits as much as all but the most dedicated fighter.
- Hymn of Requiem becomes a game-breaking ability once you get it.
- Extremely high saves combined with high Spellcraft and the Yuan-Ti's spell resistance make this build hard to touch with magic.
- The Yuan-ti and Pale Master AC boosts combined with a high tumble skill, the ability to wear medium armor (ie. Mithral Full Plate) and the assortment of defensive options at your disposal (Inspire Defense, Song of Heroism, Displacement, Mirror's Image, Curse Song's AB and damage debuff on enemies etc) make this build relatively strong defensively against melee attackers.
- This character has a unique ability to debuff opponent's saves better than ANY other build because of the combination of Bard abilities and the Blackguard's Aura of Despair. If you have Inspire Jarring on and throw down a curse song, enemies around you will have -7 will saves, -4 fortitude saves, and -4 reflex saves. This will greatly increase the effectiveness of the party's Wizard/Sorcerer. The huge hit to will saves also allows your own enchantment spells such as Mass Hold Person and Mass Charm Monster to be as effective as if a Wizard were casting them.
- Use Magic Device is a rare skill, and this build will max it out. This will allow the use of any magic scroll possible. This is useful in countless instances, like if your cleric is dead and you need someone to cast Resurrect. In the end, your UMD is so high that this evil character can even equip the Holy Avenger sword!
- Between inspirations, songs, and spells, bardic buffs to the rest of the party are second to none.
- This build has the blackguard's Create Undead ability. When you first get it at level 15, your skeleton is pretty strong for a summon. At later levels, with inspire courage, chorus of heroism, and legionnaire's march active, the skeleton can boast 214 HP, 23 AC, +41 full AB, and do over 20 damage a hit. The Dinosaur Companion of a druid is much stronger, but a buffed up Blackguard skeleton is nothing to sneeze at.
- AB takes a bit of a hit in PvP as the character benefits greatly from Legionnaire's March, which does nothing to AB without a party.
- Hymn of Requiem's damage can be resisted by immunity to sonic damage. However, it is worth noting that it is rare to see things that are immune to sonic damage and even if something resists the damage, your party still gets healed from it.
- HP is pretty low. Song/Chorus of Heroism fixes this at later levels, but you can only have that up half the time. The other half the time, you just have to hope your AC, high saves, and spell resistance keep you alive.
- Doesn't have anything that is insanely high. AB and damage are high, but still below that of some builds. AC is high (I saw it reach 74 today fully buffed and outfitted, and it can probably go higher) but some builds designed to maximize AC are better at it. When debuffs are taken into account, the DC of its high level enchantment spells are high, but not as high as a Wizard with spell focus feats, and it lacks any spell penetration feats to get through spell resistance.
- The -2 ECL can be annoying if you plan on taking this build from level 1. The Yuan-Ti's low-level single-use spells tend to partially make up for the level penalty early on, but some people really dislike being fragile at low levels.
|Base attack bonus||22|
- Race: Yuan-Ti
- Classes: Bard 26, Blackguard 3, Pale Master 1
- Cleric Domains: N/A
- Build Nature: Any
- Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic Evil
- Deity: Any
I recommend this skill distribution: Concentration: 33 Tumble: 30 Spellcraft: 30 Use Magic Device: 33 Perform: 33 Lore: 7 Hide: 5 Bluff: 11
It is pretty necessary to max out concentration and perform, and I enjoy using the UMD skill to its fullest. Tumble and Spellcraft are great for defense, but only in multiples of 10 and 5 respectfully, so theres no point in maxing them out at 33. The 5 points in Hide are needed for the Blackguard levels. I take 7 points in lore because combined with Bardic Knowledge, this gives you every other classes base max of 33 in Lore. I dump the rest of the skill points in bluff for some conversation skills. Between those points, your high charisma, and Inspire Competence, your bluff will be respectable. This is just a guideline, though. There are many skill options for Bards and other than perform and possibly concentration, none of them are 100% necessary. I have taken tumble and spellcraft almost maxed out because this is a power build and those skills give battle bonuses. However, you might find it more fun to take move silently and hide or something instead.
|Class Level||Class||Feat||Free Feat||Attributes|
|1||Bard 1||Power Attack||Blind Fight, Alertness|
|3||Bard 3||Curse Song|
|4||Bard 4||+1 Str|
|8||Bard 8||+1 Str|
|9||Bard 9||Battle Caster|
|10||Blackguard 1||Use Poison, Armor Proficiency (medium), Armor Proficiency (heavy), Weapon Proficiency (martial)|
|11||Pale Master 1||Bone Skin +2|
|12||Bard 10||Lingering Song||+1 Str|
|14||Blackguard 2||Smite Good x1, Dark Blessing, Bull's Strength x1|
|15||Blackguard 3||Divine Might||Aura of Despair, Turn Undead, Create Undead x1|
|16||Bard 12||+1 Str|
|18||Bard 14||Practiced Spellcaster (Bard)|
|20||Bard 16||+1 Str|
|21||Bard 17||Chorus of Heroism|
|23||Bard 19||Great Strength|
|24||Bard 20||+1 Cha|
|25||Bard 21||Epic Divine Might|
|27||Bard 23||Song of Requiem, Hymn of Requiem|
|28||Bard 24||+1 Cha|
|29||Bard 25||Great Charisma|
|30||Bard 26||Great Charisma|
- I am operating under the rules of patch 1.22. This patch is not yet released officially (it is in beta testing), but one of the changes will be that Yuan-Ti get Alertness and Blind Fight instead of Snake Blood at level 1. This is important because Blind Fight is a must-have for any melee build and there would not be room for it otherwise.
- If you do not plan to use your spells against enemies, you can replace the Pale Master level with a Blackguard level and get Divine Shield instead of practiced spellcaster.
- You could also add on a warlock level or replace the Pale Master level with it in order to get super high saves from Dark One's Own Luck, but I think its somewhat unnecessary as your saves are ungodly as it is.
- You can take a level of Cleric instead of Pale Master like the Divine Bard build does. This will allow you to get martial weapons and medium armor proficiency earlier as well as allowing you to get two domain bonuses (evasion, extra turning, slippery mind, toughness, weapon focus etc etc are all options here). This would lead to a multi-class penalty though.
- In a high magic environment where you'll easily get a +6 dex item, you don't have much use for a starting dexterity of 12. With mithral full plate and a +6 dex item, your AC is maxed. As a result, you can start dex at 10 and have intelligence at 12 instead. This allows you to take another skill. This can be used to max out bluff or sleight of hand or whatever other skill you might want.