College of Letters (5A)

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Called lettered bards or sometimes composers, members of this collage have a formal education similar to a wizard's. Members use performance and magic in a formal, studied manner. Dwarfs, gnomes, and high elves like this study, but it is less popular among halflings, tieflings, and bards from less sophisticated lands.

Greyhawk: Musical notation has existed through the ages, but outside of elven culture only recently achieved the sophistication a lettered bard needs. Spread by Uleki organ-playing dwarves, individual composers study in Greyhawk City and move out to spread the art in new places.

Subclass Features


At 3rd level, when you are formally admitted into this subclass, you start to keep a spellbook similar to a wizard's. In this spellbook you can record spells from the bard spell list and those spells gained from the magical secrets ability.

You use a spellbook to record and prepare spells. You do not have any known spells, and ignore the Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher feature and the Spells Know column of The Bard table. Any known spells you have when you gain this feature at level 3 are recorded in your spellbook without any cost in time or money.

Learning Spells by Level Advancement Each time you gain a bard level, you can add two bard spells of your choice to your spellbook. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots, as shown on The Bard table. On your adventures, you might find other spells that you can add to your spellbook, see below.

Copying a Spell into the Book. When you get access to a bard spell of 1st level or higher, you can add it to your spellbook if it is of a level for which you have spell slots and if you can spare the time and resources to decipher and copy it. You can also learn spells from a spellbook or scroll, if the spell is on your spell list. You must practice the spell until you understand the sounds or gestures required, then transcribe it into your spellbook using your own notation.

For each level of the spell, the process takes 2 hours and costs 50 gp. The cost represents material components you expend as you experiment with the spell to master it, as well as the fine inks you need to record it. Once you have spent this time and money, you can prepare the spell just like your other spells.

Replacing the Book. You can copy a spell from your own spellbook into another book—for example, if you want to make a backup copy of your spellbook. This is just like copying a new spell into your spellbook, but faster and easier, since you understand your own notation and already know how to cast the spell. You need spend only 1 hour and 10 gp for each level of the copied spell.

If you lose your spellbook, you can use the same procedure to transcribe the spells that you have prepared into a new spellbook. Filling out the remainder of your spellbook requires you to find new spells to do so, as normal. For this reason, many spellcasters keep backup spellbooks in a safe place.

The Book's Appearance. You use musical notation to write your spellbook. It is a record of songs and spells. Your spellbook is a unique compilation of spells, with its own decorative flourishes and margin notes. It might be a plain, functional leather volume that you received as a gift from your master, a finely bound gilt-edged tome you found in an ancient library or even a loose collection of notes you cannot be bothered to organize.

Preparing and Casting Spells The Bard table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell's level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

You prepare the list of bard spells that are available for you to cast. To do so, choose a number of bard spells from your spellbook equal to your Intelligence modifier + your bard level (minimum of one spell). The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

For example, if you're a 3rd-level bard, you have four 1st-level and two 2nd-level spell slots. With an Intelligence of 16, your list of prepared spells can include six spells of 1st or 2nd level, in any combination, chosen from your spellbook. If you prepare the 1st-level spell Charm person, you can cast it using a 1st-level or a 2nd-level slot. Casting the spell doesn't remove it from your list of prepared spells.

You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of bard spells requires time spent studying your spellbook and memorizing the incantations and gestures you must make to cast the spell: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.

Ritual Casting

At 3rd level you can cast any bard spell you have in your spellbook as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag. You need to have your spellbook in hand to do this. This modifies the Ritual Casting ability of the bard.

Cantrip Formulas

At 6th level, you have scribed a set of arcane formulas in your spellbook that you can use to formulate a cantrip in your mind. Whenever you finish a long rest and consult those formulas in your spellbook, you can replace one bard cantrip you know with another cantrip from the bard spell list.

Magical Secrets

At 10th, 14th, and 18th level, when you learn magical secrets, the spells you choose are added to your spell list and to your spell book without cost in time or money. This changes the magical secrets ability of the bard class.

Improved Ritual Casting

At 14th level your ability to cast ritual spells improves. You can record spells that have the ritual tag in your spellbook, even if they do not appear on the bard spell list. You cannot cast them using spell slots, only as rituals.

Designer's Comments

The spellbook ability is huge, and greatly improves the bard class at all levels, even with the bards short spell list. The other abilities of this subclass are correspondingly minor.