College of Bows (5A)

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This is an original Bard subclass for 5A.

The College of Bows seeks harmony and identity as archers. Archery is akin to music in the need for timing and precision. Bards of this college can entertain with shows and tricks of archery and use their energy arrows to create shows similar to fireworks against the night sky.

Greyhawk: The college of bows is practiced by elves and their allies among the fey. A few non-elves have been taught the art and teach select students, but try to keep this art out of the hands of mercenaries and agents of evil, with mixed success.

Subclass Features

Bow Spells

Starting at 3rd level when you join this bardic college, you learn additional spells when you reach certain levels as a bard, as shown on the Bow Spells table. Each of these spells counts as a bard spell for you, but it doesn't count against the number of bard spells you know.

Whenever you gain a bard level, you can replace one spell you gained from this feature with another spell of the same level. The new spell must be from the bard spell list.

Bow Spells
Bard Level Spells
3 Hunter's Mark, Shield
3 Branding Smite, Misty Step
5 Conjure Barrage, Haste
7 Arcane Eye, Elemental Bane
9 Banishing Smite, Conjure Volley

Bonus Proficiencies

At 3rd level, you gain proficiency with all ranged martial weapons.

Ranged Weapon Spell Focus

At 3rd level you learn to use a ranged weapon as a focus for your bard spells. If the weapon is magical, you add the weapon's magical bonus to your spell attack rolls and spell saving throw DCs. When you make an attack with a ranged weapon, you can add your Charisma bonus rather than your Dexterity bonus to attack and damage rolls.

Elemental Ammunition

At 3rd level you gain the ability to create ammunition out of elemental energy. Choose one of the following damage types when you gain this ability: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder. As a part of each attack with a ranged weapon with the ammunition feature, you can create elemental ammunition in your hand. This charges the damage type of the weapon (including any extra damage besides the weapon damage) to the chosen type of energy. The created ammunition is not magical. You do not use physical ammunition when you do this.

You learn to use an additional type of energy from the list at level 6, 14, and 20. Each time you make an attack you get to pick what type of energy to use from the list of energies you know.

Inspiring Arrow

At 6th level, you can inspire others by showing off your archery skills. On a turn when you use the Attack action, you can use a bonus action to do one of these three things:

  1. Attack with a ranged weapon.
  2. Attack with a ranged weapon and use your Bardic Inspiration feature.
  3. Spend a use of bardic inspiration and make an attack with a ranged weapon. Roll your inspiration die and add the result to both the attack and damage rolls for this ranged attack.

Spell Arrow

By 14th level, when using a ranged weapon as your spell focus, any spell you cast that has a range in feet or a range of touch can use the short range of your missile weapon if that is longer than the spell's original range. Spells with a range of self are not affected.

Designer's Notes

A Bard variant of the Ranger subclass Elemental Archer.

Archery isn't all that thematic with music, but the role of the lightly armored, quick combatant with magic fits the bard well.

If I ever create another bardic college that uses ranged weapons, I may rename this college to Arrows. After all, they focus on magic arrows more than magic bows.

I was a bit surprised how much less combative this is than the ranger version. Bards only gain subclass features three times, and it was natural to remove the higher level ranger features for something that improves spellcasting - but this left little room for attacks.

See Also