College of Heralds (5A)

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This is a Bard subclass for 5A.

The herald is a messenger, a diplomat, and a judge of character and origin. They develop an encyclopedic knowledge of people, especially those carrying coats of arms. In their role as heralds they are given diplomatic immunity by civilized opponents, but a herald can take up arms and is then considered an opponent like any other. Heralds thrive in feudal lands like Cormyr in the forgotten realms.

Greyhawk: Heraldry is still important, but it does not have the impact it had when chivalry was more prevalent. Still, it is a popular and prestigious art. Today's heralds are welcome everywhere and still have leading positions in Furyondy.

Subclass Features

Herald 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 Heraldry 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.

Heraldry Spells
Bard Level Spells
3 Animal Messenger, Shield of Faith
3 Detect Thoughts, See Invisibility
5 Hypnotic Pattern, Remove Curse
7 Banishment, Divination
9 Geas, Legend Lore

Bonus Proficiency

When you become a herald at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in History and with painter's supplies. If you are already proficient in either, you gain proficiency in one of Arcana, Nature, Religion, or a language for each of the proficiencies you already have.

Herald's Eye

At 3rd level when you take this subclass, your knowledge of coats of arms and of creatures of all sorts is encyclopedic. You gain advantage on Intelligence checks to identify and recall the Lore of creatures. If the creature you are attempting to identify displays a coat of arms or similar identifying mark, you automatically know the significance of that mark and what family or organization it represents. If the person is of note in their family or organization, you automatically identify them by name and public allegiance.


At 3rd level, you can spend a use of your Bardic Inspiration as a reaction to add your bardic inspiration die to a Charisma check you or another creature within 30 ft. of you makes. You do this after the roll but before the result is announced. If you know the name and identity of the main target of this Charisma check, this ability does not cost a use of your Bardic Inspiration.

Diplomatic Immunity

At 3rd level you learn the Sanctuary spell. Sanctuary becomes a bard spell to you but does not count against your limit of spells known. You cannot replace this spell for any reason.


Beginning at 6th level, you can pause a fight and invite to a short pause for negotiation and care of the wounded. As an action, you can call on all creatures within 60 ft. to take a break in a fight. You cast Sanctuary on each creature in the area without expending any spell slots. If a target of this Sanctuary fails a saving throw to penetrate the Sanctuary on another creature, this still counts as an attack and negates the presumptive attacker's Sanctuary.

You can use this ability once before you need to take a long or short rest to be able to use it again.

In addition, if you cast Sanctuary with only yourself as the target, it doesn't use up a spell slot.

Invoke Heraldic Design

At 14th level you can transform a humanoid into the creature portrayed on their coat of arms. A creature must have a coat of arms or similar symbol to benefit from this ability, and you must be aware of what symbol that is. If you are wrong in what you the creature's coat or arms is, the ability fails.

You can cast Polymorph on a humanoid target, transforming them into the creature most prominently displayed on the their coat of arms. This can be a creature of any type, not just a beast. Similar and giant forms of creatures are permissible. For example, if the target has a bee on their coat of arms you can transform them into a giant wasp. The DM is the final judge on what is similar.

If the creature you transform the target into has lower challenge than the target has challenge or level, the damage of one of the attacks available in the new shape get a bonus equal to the difference in challenge/level, and maximum and current hit points increases by five times this amount.

Instead, you can choose to cast Skill Empowerment on a creature. If the coat of arms has no beast depicted this is your only option.

You can use either form of this ability this a number of times per day equal to your Proficiency Bonus, but only once per day on a particular creature. You regain the ability at the end of a long rest.

Designer's Notes

Heralds are an important feature of European history and in many fantasy worlds. As portrayed here, the herald is mainly a diplomat and messenger of peace, tough the subclass certainly in not limited to pacifists. Invoke Heraldic Design is a spurious ability that has loads of potential problems and will require a lot of DM oversight.