The Bard is here for one reason: Buffs. If you haven’t gathered from reading the other builds, Pathfinder: Kingmaker demands a lot from a party. Anything less than munchkin builds are, frankly, not fit for purpose above normal mode, and in Pathfinder: Kingmaker, it takes a party effort to reach the heights (depths?) of munchkin kingdom. This is why every build suggested thus far had “buffs” mentioned as one of their fortes, but the Bard takes this to another level - it’s their raison d’etre.
Bard buffs come in many forms, from the spells they cast (you can’t have too many characters capable of casting Haste in a party) to their Bardsong. Their spells, while helpful, can largely be replicated by other classes, but their Bardsong? That’s where the Bard is irreplaceable. Inspire Courage and Inspire Heroics are especially potent boons that, frankly, you just need.
Of course, it wouldn’t be any fun if all our Bard did was sing, but there are a couple of ways you can make a Bard have more impact in combat, including a ranged damage build (bows, sneak attacks, all that good stuff), but for the sake of simplicity we’ve decided to advocate for the Thundercaller Bard, which will add some direct damage capacity to the mix.
|The Bard - Starting Stats||Bard (Thundercaller)|
|Race||Human, Gnome, Halfling, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Aasimar, Tiefling|
|Feats||Lingering Performance, Extra Performance|
Bard (Thundercaller): The Thundercaller gets all the Bardsongs we really want and Bardic spells with no real downside. In addition, they get Thunder Call and Storm Call, the former of which is an AoE sonic attack while the latter adds random damage drops to whatever Bardsong they’d be using anyways.
Thunder Call is the real prize here, but there are some limitations. First, each use will sap one round of performance from our Bardsong pool, which isn’t much considering it’s an AoE attack that can stun targets, as well. If the enemy is too trash to bother wasting performance points on, you can always just use a ranged weapon, instead. Thunder Call is also pretty slow with its damage progression, dealing a measly 1d8 sonic damage until 7th level, whereupon it’ll improve to 3d8. The rate of increase picks up from there, reaching 5d8 at 11th level, 7d8 at 15th level and 9d8 at 19th level, and the Fortitude Save on it will never be all that impressive, so stuns will become rarer and rarer as time goes on. Could you build a ranged sneak attack Bard with more single-target DPS? Yes. But being able to blast several foes each round with non-elemental damage on a whim is a pretty great boon.
With the Lingering Performance feat you’ll be able to use your Bardsong to apply the buffs you want (giving your party +4 attack/damage with Inspire Courage or +4 Saves/AC with Inspire Heroism is just great) and switch to Thunder Call when something just needs blasting without missing a beat.
Ability Scores: The stat spread for The Bard looks a lot like that for the Caster, and for good reason - they both are heavily reliant on Charisma to power their spells and abilities. The Bard, however, also wants Intelligence, as every skill is a class skill for the Bard, and the Thundercaller subclass demands a high level investment. No good reason why your Bard shouldn’t be able to cover around half the skills in the game.
Strength and Wisdom are dump stats, as usual, while Dexterity, Constitution and Intelligence all get boosts. Any race with a Charisma bonus will work, although some are better than others…
Race: Once again, Human is the top choice for this build. You probably want those skill points, and that extra feat turns directly into more performance points via Extra Performance. That said, if your heart is set on something a little more exotic, the Gnome, Halfling and Aasimar are also good choices, and further down the list, the Half-Elf, Half-Orc, and variants of Tiefling.
Alignment: Your alignment doesn’t matter - pick what you want. Enjoy the tiny bit of roleplaying this game allows.
Skills: The Bard is also your skill monkey. Depending on your race and Intelligence score, you should have 4-6 skill points per level, and since the Bard treats every skill as a class skill, you can make this character your go-to for pretty much any skill. Your protagonist should focus on Persuasion, and the Healer can handle Lore (Nature), Lore (Religion) and perhaps Perception. This leaves Athletics (provided you don’t have a Strength-based warrior-type who can do it better), Mobility, Trickery, Stealth, Knowledge (Arcana) and Knowledge (World) for the Bard.
Feats: There are three things the Bard does - cast spells, use various Bardsong (and related) abilities, and shoot at foes with some ranged weapon. Their feats should work to make those better, with Bardsong taking priority. Lingering Performance should come first, with Extra Performance being picked at every subsequent opportunity. After that, staples like Precise Shot, Point Blank Shot and Spell Focus: Enchantment should be picked, depending on what flavor of Bard you want.