The Bard is my favorite class. It has been that way since first edition though back then it was much more difficult to be one. Then in second edition they made the bard a regular class and the best supplement the Complete Bard?s Handbook. Now that third edition is out I?ve had the opportunity to play a single calls bard from first to twentieth level. I am one of the few to do this and have gained some great insight into the class and its strengths and weaknesses. May people say the Bard is a weak class and I reply that the Bard is strong but it?s tough to play. Most people seem to want the Bard to be something it is not. There is a series of books out now in the Unorthodox series. I have reviewed a fair amount of them and I have been pretty critical on them. So I have been waiting to see what they do with my favorite class for a little while. The Bard does not get enough support and I have made attempts to get everything that expands the class.
The Unorthodox series by The Le Games is a series of class books. Unlike other class books they usually only consist of new variants of the core classes. I say usually because the Unorthodox Bard is the one that breaks that. It does have the five new bard variants but it also has two new prestige classes and two artifacts. Unorthodox Bards comes in a zip file a little under five megs in size. Inside is a read me file, a PDF for on screen viewing and a PDF for printing, and a rich text version of the book. The art in the book is pretty average for the series but the layout has more white spaces then I remember in the others. The book is well book marked.
Unorthodox Bard starts with the five variant classes. The new classes are always very close to original; they rarely change hit die, skills or skill points, base attack, or saves. Usually it is the special abilities that are altered.
The Minstrel is a typical archetype of the Bard. Many people have complained that the Bard is too Minstrel oriented, but this alternate core class really shows the true differences. And the difference is the spells. Instead of getting the traditional bard spells the Minstrel gets spell like abilities that use its music. The class is not going to be more combat oriented then the Bard but its abilities are very much in line with the ideas behind the class.
The Skald is another great Bard archetype. They get better hit points and good fort save instead of a good reflex save. They also don?t have the bard like spells. They get the ability to inscribe magic runes. It is a great detail that really fits the archetype.
Soothsayer has more powers that deal with divination. They get the Bard spell casting as well as the knowledge domain. As they gain levels they get some really good divination powers. This seems like a better way to do traditional divinations.
The Spellsinger takes the idea that a Bard needs a verbal component to cast spells and runs with it. They don?t get bardic knowledge or the bard songs but they do get the spell casting as well as additional musical spell powers.
Toubad?war is a lover and a fighter. It gets a mix of love and war abilities along with the traditional bard spells. IT does get less skill points and a good fort save instead of a good will save.
The Muse is a prestige class that is very easy to gain. All one needs is Bardic music ability and some ranks in the perform skill, any perform skill. Each level they can choose a different song that inspires allies in a different way. There are only five levels and only five different options.
The Protectorate is another prestige class. It has the exact same requirements as the Muse. It is another five level prestige class that gains abilities but not spells as one takes levels in it.
The book is a definite improvement over the other books in the series. I found the classes and prestige classes very fitting in the theme of bards and that abilities these classes gain cannot be gained through multi classing or feats.
LIKED: nice variety
DISLIKED: Just doesn't take the class far enough to explore the bard
[3 of 5 Stars!]