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Thread: With a beat you can dance to! - The Support Bard Guide

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    Rift Disciple Langston's Avatar
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    Default With a beat you can dance to! - The Support Bard Guide

    Ah! The Bard. The wandering minstrel. The jack-of-all trades, yet master of none.

    The Bard class in Rift can easily be the most rewarding character you play in any MMO.

    You possess the ability to buff and heal your allies; you can debuff your enemies and do a decent bit of damage when you need to. There really is not much this soul cannot do. With the proper application of your two remaining souls you can focus on supporting your team, unleashing damage or even tanking an instance or two.

    Bards have this flexibility because their skill set provides them with a large assortment of skills that work in conjunction with everyone else so well. The Bard is everyone's best friend - he's like that one friend everyone likes. You know when the bard is around that a good time will likely follow.

    The possibilities are many but for now we will focus on one: the Support Bard.

    The Support Bard's main focus is to support (duh!) his allies with stat enhancing motifs, anthems and fanfares, as well as doing their fair share of healing. To explain how the Support Bard works I'll detail some of the more important skills and even a few soul tree builds that will work very nicely. I won't be listing ever ability the Bard has - because there is a lot and some are more geared towards DPS or other uses. The main thing I will stress about this synopsis is that I am leaning more toward a bard who has as much hit points as possible and can do the most healing and buffing of his allies. There will be no huge white or yellow numbers popping up with this setup - but an absolute ton of green! I would classify this as a more dungeon/pvp oriented build.

    Fanfares and Anthems

    These are your primary buffs that last the longest. The Fanfares last for 60 minutes and the Anthems are always on. In total you have seven of these abilities (three Fanfares and up to four Anthems) and you may have one Fanfare and one Anthem up at any given time.

    Fanfares
    You have three fanfares and they all have a three second cast time and will be your primary stat buffing ability.

    Fanfare of Vigor - Increases your party's Endurance (i.e. Hit Points). This is the Fanfare I have up almost all the time. The extra Endurance will help you and your buddies absorb that extra hit from a mob or give you or another healer that extra second to get a heal in. Of all the stats that are in any MMO Endurance (a.k.a Stamina) is always in the top priority. More hit points means more time fighting and less time running to your corpse. This is the buff I keep up all the time in Warfronts.

    Fanfare of Power - Increases your party's Strength and Dexterity. This is another good all-around buff. If you are soloing and just trying to grind through mobs this will help a lot. This is also a good Fanfare to use when you are in a group that is predominantly Warriors, Rogues or other melee characters. While I may lean towards the defensive side of things there is always a time and place to just hit someone as hard as you can. This makes you hit even harder.

    Fanfare of Knowledge - Increases your party's Intelligence and Wisdom. The yin to Fanfare of Power's yang. Does the exact same thing but for all the casters out there. If you are running around with a lot of Mages or Clerics this is a good bet. These two buffs are good situational buffs in dungeons. On trash pulls you can usually get by with Power and for some fights that are a bit more healing intensive Knowledge will give your healers a little extra mana for getting that much needed heal off.

    Anthems
    Very similar to Fanfares but they lack a cast time. All three of these are instant cast and can be switched out on the fly. This gives the Bard a lot of situational options to help out his group. You are able to custom tailor your buffs to whatever you happen to fighting at any given time. While Fanfares are a direct stat buff these are more general character enhancing abilities.

    Anthem of Competence - This really is the quintessential Bard buff. Everyone who played Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest or World of Warcraft will recognize this buff. It just makes you run faster. At the baseline this ability gives you an additional 15% run speed. With Soul points you can push this up to the 20-30% range and even keep it up in combat. Depending on how you and your group like to operate this is the main Anthem to run in PvP. No one likes to have a low health enemy survive by running away. With Competence you can make that scenario happen a whole lot less.

    Anthem of Defiance - This is a great buff to use when you know you will be pummeled by a lot of spells. Dungeon bosses that are primarily caster mobs will give your group a lot less headaches if you throw this on. In Warfronts you can handle Mages easier. While the buff will not drastically alter your resistances it will make those fireballs and DoTs hit for less.

    Anthem of Glory - This Anthem gives your group a boost in Armor. This is the opposite of Anthem of Defiance and should be used when you know you will be dealing with a lot of melee damage. Most dungeon mobs and bosses are melee intensive and this will save you some headaches as they will not be able to beat you to death as quickly.

    Anthem of Fervor - This buff is really useful for those long, drawn out fights. It makes all of your party's abilities cost 10% less than normal. This will save casters mana and energy for warriors and rogues. I would mostly consider this to be an Anthem best used in dungeons or when you just need some resource efficiency. Coupling this with Fanfare of Power/Knowledge and you will see a decent increase in damage/healing of your group.

    Motifs

    Motifs are your song buffs. They are all instant cast and can all be up at the same time. The only catch is that they do not last that long. Baseline duration is 15 seconds and can be pushed up to 30 seconds with Soul points. These are really a mixed bag because they can do almost anything. Some of them are buffs and others are debuffs. There are a total of six Motifs and they all have some benefit. I have mine setup on keys 4-9 on my keyboard and basically just go one by one in importance until they are all up. At about 5-6 seconds left in the duration just refresh them. Is this tedious at times? Yes. Should you just deal with it to be a good Bard? Yes.

    Motif of Regeneration and Motif of Grandeur - These two I will list together as they are the two main healing Motifs. With Regeneration you can constantly keep a HoT spell running. Seeing green every second is a good thing. Everyone likes being healed and this buff is indiscriminate in who it heals. Your whole group benefits when this is up. Grandeur does nothing by itself but it does increase all healing for your group by 5%. Everyone loves healing so why wouldn't everyone love more healing? This makes you a better healer and anyone else a better healer. Everyone wins. These two should be up at all times. Solo, warfront or dungeon: don't go into a fight without these two.

    Motif of Bravery - This is your first motif and will serve you well for your entire playing time. It simply increases your damage. For melee characters it will increase your attack power. For casters it will increase your spell power. It does exactly what it says and no more. This is a motif that you should refresh for every encounter while you are playing. You can get by soloing without it if you are lazy but in groups this should always be up.

    Motif of Focus - This buff ups your critical chance so you can see more big numbers more often. Casters and damage classes will love you for this because it makes them a lot more efficient when they can get more damage for the same resource cost. Again, this is essential in dungeons because no one wants to be stuck fighting things any longer than they have to. More damage equals faster dead creatures; equals faster dungeons runs.


    Motif of Tenacity - This buff gives you and your group a nice 5% damage reduction. You get hit for less damage. This is a win in my book. Keep it up as often as you can. Taking 5% less damage means you get to live 5% longer.

    Resonance - While not a Motif in and of itself this Soul point ability is amazing. When maxed out this will net you and your group a 5% stat increase whenever you have Motifs of Bravery, Focus and Tenacity active. (Thanks to Vihor for bring this one up.) A 5% increase in all stats means everyone will be working better. Tanks will tank better, DPS will do more damage and heals will be bigger. It just makes something awesome become more awesome.

    Attacks

    We weren't going to sit around talking about buffs the whole time and now we come to your attacking abilities. These are broken into a couple of areas: ones that build combo points and your finishers, also known as Codas.

    Combo Builders

    These are the attacks that give you some damage dealing capacity and help you build up to unleashing your Codas at full power.

    Cadence - This is your bread and butter ability as a Support Bard. You can just sit back and spam this one all day. It builds three combo points with each use so you will be up to five every couple of seconds. With Soul points you can also make this heal for as much damage as it does. This healing will heal everyone in the group so don't be afraid to spam this like it is going out of style.

    Riff - While the damage on this ability is negligible it does put five combo points on your target instantly. This is the activation ability for any "Oh S#%&!" situation. If you need a full stack of combo points right this very second then just click this guy and go. The only downside is a one minute cool down but you should not be finding yourself in situations where you need it between uses.
    Last edited by Langston; 02-24-2011 at 09:48 AM. Reason: Updated for Head Start
    Author of Support Bard Guide and Officer of Nuln Highway Boys

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    Rift Disciple Langston's Avatar
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    Codas

    These are your finishers. They can do damage, heal, buff or debuff. You can pick and choose which one you want to use at any time so you get even more freedom in what you are doing. There is a Coda for almost every situation so never worry; you will use them all at some point.

    Coda of Restoration - Since we are focusing on support we will start here. This finisher does no damage but does drop a big heal on your group. This heal hits everyone in your group for the same amount. In any situation where you find yourself taking a lot of damage this can be a lifesaver. Use Cadence to get up to five points and hit this to heal everyone. Rinse and repeat and you have a good attack chain in a lot of fights. This is the best Coda to use in the aforementioned "Oh S#%&!" situations. Hit Riff then this for a big heal right when you need it most.

    Coda of Wrath and Coda of Fury - These are your main big damage spells. Wrath hits a single target for a large amount and Fury hits a group for a little bit less. In most situations you will find these to be your main Codas. If you are being tasked with a lot of healing you may be stuck on Resto duty but there are plenty of times when you just need to kill stuff. When that happens you can use one of these. Fighting bosses, single players/mobs, or big Rift spawns just use Wrath. In trash dungeon pulls, world mob groups, PvP groups or Rift trash spam Fury to hit everyone around your target. If you want to be lazy you can just use Fury. It hits for a tad bit less that Wrath but there are a ton of times when you are not facing just one thing.

    Coda of Cowardice and Coda of Distress - These are your main debuffing Codas. Both will serve to increase your damage to your enemies by a certain percent. Cowardice increases the amount of physical damage done by you and your party by 5% and Distress increases the amount of non-physical damage by 7%. Both of these Codas can be used one after the other so that you can get both the physical and non-physical bonuses. Coupling these together is a total win-win!

    All the rest

    These are the abilities that are just situational button mashers. Use them when you need them. They all have a cool down so make sure you use them at the right time.

    Verse of Fascination - This is your PBAoE mez. This is great to use if you are being beaten down by a few people or as an opener in PvP. There is no downside to making other players/mobs just stand around for eight seconds. This gives you time to burn down on specific mob, time to heal up or time to escape. Like most crowd control abilities this will wear off if the targets are damaged at all. It has a small 30 second cool down now so don’t be afraid to use it if you’re getting jumped or grab too many adds.

    Verse of Captivation – This is the baby brother of Fascination. It is instant cast, has no cool down and will keep one person at a time mesmerized for eight seconds. Useful for when you pick up any unwanted adds or if you are getting jumped. One-on-one this is a great ability for any Bard. If you get attacked you can hit this then set up your motifs, hit them with riff and pop virtuoso and burn them down.

    Verse of Vitality - This gives the Bard a once a minute group heal. You can use this to supplement direct healing from Coda of Restoration or combine them for a really big heal all at once. This gives the Bard a lot more healing than you would initially think. The one minute cool down is a bit of a downer but you shouldn't need to use this more often than that.

    Verse of Joy – This will help top up everyone’s resource bars in a jiffy. It’s on a two minute cool down but should always be up for the times you need it: during a tense phase of a boss fight, flag defense in Warfront or during a particularly tough phase of a Rift/Invasion. You need to invest 51 points in Bard to get it so most may never use it. If you go that far then you will be rewarded with a nice ability that should keep everyone casting/slashing/whatevering when they need it most.

    Virtuoso - This is the final Soul point spell for the Bard and it sure is a big one. Once every three minutes you can spam all of your Codas without using combo points for 15 seconds. You still need Combo Points on the target though. This allows you to do just about anything in those 15 seconds. You can heal like a madman, debuff the hell out of someone or throw out a lot of max damage in just a short amount of time. Don't waste it every time it is available but don't just ignore it either.

    Souls and Soul Points

    Obviously one of your three soul points is a Bard if you are going to go this route. The other two points can be spread out amongst the many other Rogue callings. There are some that I think work better for a Support Bard and some are better for different Barding aspects. I’ll go over the better Soul point expenditures you will want to make in the Bard tree and then list some of the Souls that should mesh well with them.

    I’ll be placing a few sample builds in the list as well. If anyone else has a specific build or idea you think would work feel free to post it and I’ll try and work it into the guide.

    Tier One
    Good Health – Five Ranks. Increases your total health by 2% per rank. With five points spent in this you will get 10% extra hit points. This is probably one of the best first tier abilities that any class has. This will ensure that you will be able to take a couple of more hits in combat and live long enough to dish out some hits of your own or get some heals/buffs off. Put all five points into this. You need five points to get to the next tier. Just do it.

    Bardic Inspiration – Five Ranks. Increases the duration of Motifs by three seconds. This is helpful to put points in for two reasons. First, you will be able to keep your Motifs up longer and have to refresh them less with this. At five points your Motifs will run for 30s. Someone asked earlier how this works with Motif of Regeneration. It basically doubles the healing done if you max it out. Each point in this will get you one more tick of the HoT. Secondly, it is a good place to put some points into as you go up the tree if you don’t want to use some of the other damage dealing abilities.

    Tier Two
    Talented Composer – Two Ranks. Increases radius of Motifs, Fanfares and Anthems by five meters per rank. This will make sure that everyone does not have to stand right on top of you to benefit from your skills. While not spectacular or essential it is a good place to spend some points if you need to advance to the next tier.

    Anthem of Glory – Mentioned above.

    Street Smart – Three Ranks. Reduces your enemy’s Hit and Critical Hit chance against you by 1% per rank. Good to have if you want to be uber defensive. The extra 3% avoidance is nice but there are other areas you could spend the points. This one is more personal preference I think. If you go all the way to 51 you’ll have it; if you don’t go that far then you can skip it.

    Invigorated Soul – Three Ranks. Gives Cadence the ability to heal 10 party/raid members for 33% of damage done per rank. If Cadence is your bread and butter then this is the jelly on the toast. This is what makes Cadence so good. Put all the three points in it.

    Tier Three
    Street Performer – Five Ranks. Increases effectiveness of Anthems by 6% per rank. This will augment your anthems to make you run faster, have better magic resists, increase armor and decrease ability cost. It is more useful than its counterpart in this tier so if you have to choose one – pick this one.

    Power Chord – One Rank. Instant attack that does decent damage and builds two combo points. It is great to use while soloing and decent in groups to help with damage or getting to five combo points, though Cadence should be priority. It does have a three second cool down but that is rather negligible while you’re pressing other buttons.

    Stage Presence – Five Ranks. Increases effectiveness of Fervors by 6% per rank. Same thing as Street Performer only for Fanfares. Like I said it’s more or less a tossup on these two though I prefer Performer.

    Tier Four
    Coda of Fury – Mentioned above.

    Deafening Music – Five Ranks. Increases damage of Coda of Wrath and Fury by 3% per rank. Damage intensive selection so it is not essential for support. Only put points in here if you need them to unlock higher levels.

    Extended Grief – Two Ranks. Increases duration of Coda of Cowardice and Distress by 50% per rank. Useful if you do a lot of dungeons or just really like debuffing people. Get it if you are planning to max out the class; otherwise choose something more beneficial.

    Tier Five
    Improved Anthem of Competence - Anthem covered earlier. One point allows you to use it during combat. Great in PvP and for escaping too many mobs.

    Riff – Mentioned above.

    Coda of Restoration – Mentioned above.

    Triumphant Spirit – Three Ranks. Increases healing from your main abilities except Cadence by 5% per rank. Max this out to get the biggest bang for your buck on your healing abilities.

    Tier Six
    Verse of Fascination – Mentioned above.

    Resonance – Mentioned above.

    Tier Seven
    Virtuoso – Mentioned above.

    Soul Pairings
    There are plenty of souls that work well the Bard. Some work better for damage, others to survive and others for their utility. I’ll list a couple that I think work well and if anyone has some other suggestions then I’m all ears. In general, you want to look for souls that will allow you to increase your survivability or healing/damage output with attack power or dexterity increases.

    Riftstalker –I really think the defensive skills you can pick up from this calling are excellent in conjunction with the Bard. Even early on in the tree you can increase your Attack Power, Armor, Endurance and Healing Received. With a minor investment of anywhere from 5-15 points you can give your Bard some much-need survivability.

    Nightblade – Use Blazing Fury to increase your combo point abilities damage. From what I’ve seen here this will work to benefit the damage and healing of Cadence so that’s always a plus. Unstable State will also increase your Cadence damage and any non-physical attack damage. This means with 8 points invested in Nightblade you will be seeing a large increase in your Cadence damage/healing and your Codas damage. Like the Riftstalker the Nightblade provides a lot of versatility that make it another great option for a secondary soul.

    Bladedancer – This could become an extremely vital tertiary soul for any PvE bard. Using 5/5 in Combat Expertise you can increase your chance to hit by 5%. At the end game hit percentage can become an extremely potent stat. Missed Cadences or Codas mean missed healing, damage and debuffs. In a raid environment this could be a game changer. Thanks to Zerromi for enlightening me on the Bladedancer.

    Saboteur – This maybe the best zero point calling for a Bard. You get a nice snare from Adhesive Bomb and some added damage through Detonation. If you want to move a little higher up you can take advantage of the 15% dexterity increase in the first tier. For support I would say just stick with zero or five points though.

    Ranger – A good leveling soul. To use it after 30 you need to put at least 10 points into it for the Wolf pet. Other than that it gives you some ranged utility.

    Sample Builds

    There could be hundreds of these so I will just throw up some that I have been thinking about.

    Bard(44)/Ranger(11)/Nightblade(11)

    Bard(44)/Saboteur(5)/Riftstalker(17)

    Bard(51)/Saboteur(0)/Riftstalker(15)

    Bard(51)/Nightblade(8)/Riftstalker(5)

    Bard(44)/Nightblade(8)/Riftstalker(14)

    Bard(44)/Nightblade(13)/Riftstalker(9)

    Bard(51)/Nightblade(10)/Bladedancer(5) – Zerromi’s Optimal Raiding Support Build

    Summary

    If this looks like a huge wall of text - it is. The Bard has a lot of abilities and a lot of things they can do. The key is knowing when to use each one.

    If you stuck through that whole thing then thank you. I appreciate any comments or questions anyone may have and I will do my best to answer them and keep this guide up to date.

    Notes
    Updated as of Head Start. Anyone else who would like to see something specific added like a particular build just link it in the thread or in a PM and I’ll make sure it is posted with the credit to you.
    Last edited by Langston; 02-24-2011 at 10:03 AM. Reason: Added in additional soul pairings and some sample builds.
    Author of Support Bard Guide and Officer of Nuln Highway Boys

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    Telaran Greywar's Avatar
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    Excellent overview!

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    Default Nice Guide

    Hi just want to start off by saying nice to helped to clear some things up for me but i had a radnom question do you know if cadence will scale up with more attack power ?

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    Rift Disciple Langston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghost4547 View Post
    Hi just want to start off by saying nice to helped to clear some things up for me but i had a radnom question do you know if cadence will scale up with more attack power ?
    From everything that has been said about the way Bard abilities are working you should see an increase in damage from attack power. Our damage is weapon+life damage I believe so increasing your Dex or AP should increase your weapon damage and also your Cadence damage.

    I'll try and do some testing on this stuff this weekend and update the guide as I go along.

    Quoted from Staggerlee in another thread.

    RIFT stat contributions

    - General:
    Parry is now 100% Strength.
    Dodge is still 100% Dexterity.
    Block is still 100% Strength.
    Melee Critical is now 100% Dexterity.
    Spell Critical is now 100% Intelligence.
    - Warrior:
    Attack Power is now 75% Strength, 25% Dexterity.
    - Rogue:
    Attack Power is now 50% Dexterity, 50% Strength.
    - Mage:
    Spell Power is now 50% Intelligence, 50% Wisdom.
    - Cleric:
    Spell Power is now 75% Wisdom, 25% Intelligence.

    The inference is that since bard is a rogue it falls under that archtype and you should stack dexterity. I cannot remember if I have seen the devs stating that bard attacks were spells or considered melee abilities. If anyone can link to an old post clarifying then the question will be completely answered.
    Last edited by Langston; 02-02-2011 at 10:58 AM.
    Author of Support Bard Guide and Officer of Nuln Highway Boys

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    Rift Disciple karmafeast's Avatar
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    Very nice, I was considering rolling a bard in Beta 6.

    Excellent detail and coverage of abilities.

    Thanks!

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    Shield of Telara Mayakov's Avatar
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    I loved the thread. But just one thing for combo point building. Wouldn't it be more efficient to cadence > power chord > finisher, rinse repeat? Or does Power Chord have a high recast(I can't remember).

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    Rift Chaser Vegetta's Avatar
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    Great Post Langston

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    Quote Originally Posted by Langston View Post
    The inference is that since bard is a rogue it falls under that archtype and you should stack dexterity. I cannot remember if I have seen the devs stating that bard attacks were spells or considered melee abilities. If anyone can link to an old post clarifying then the question will be completely answered.
    I am fairly confident in saying that, at very least, all of our damage abilities crit based off our physical crit rating (dex), and we know that AP also increases their damage. However they are not physical damage abilities. The straight healing abilities however I'm not sure about. Increasing dex and better weapons definitely increase the damage and therefore healing of cadence. It will be interesting to see wether/how much spell power affects our abilities.

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    Rift Disciple Langston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayakov View Post
    I loved the thread. But just one thing for combo point building. Wouldn't it be more efficient to cadence > power chord > finisher, rinse repeat? Or does Power Chord have a high recast(I can't remember).
    There's nothing wrong with Power Chord and I think it is actually the only real ability I didn't put in the guide. The main reason I have Cadence listed is that it is more viable in a Support role for the healing aspect applied to it.

    By all means go out and use Power Chord. I used mine all the time while soloing. My usual solo rotation is Power Chord -> Cadence -> Coda of Fury/Wrath (depending on number of mobs) and just rinse and repeat while applying whatever Motifs you might need.
    Author of Support Bard Guide and Officer of Nuln Highway Boys

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    Rift Disciple Trojanguy's Avatar
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    This is great information! I was wondering how exactly playing a Bard worked. I'd love if you could give me an idea of what souls give you a good synergy with Bard (and why) as well!

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    Rift Disciple Langston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojanguy View Post
    This is great information! I was wondering how exactly playing a Bard worked. I'd love if you could give me an idea of what souls give you a good synergy with Bard (and why) as well!
    I've got to run for most of the day but I'll try to put a few Soul combos up tonight. The main reason for the delay on my end is that I still haven't really figured out which soul to use for my third option.
    Author of Support Bard Guide and Officer of Nuln Highway Boys

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    Telaran
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    About coda of distress and cowardice, can't you have both up at the same time?!

    I would list motifs, differenty if I were you..
    Focus, Bravery and Tenacity together give +10% stats, the biggest buff I have seen in the game so far..
    That should be noted somewhere..
    Also you don't really need 5% healing while soloing..

    Btw..
    Are you in the alpha??
    If you are, I thought you guys were under the NDA..

    If you are not you didn't use Motif of Encouragement yet, nor some other abilities you talked about..
    Last edited by Vihor; 02-02-2011 at 11:27 AM.

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    Great overview. Looking forward to the builds.

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    Rift Disciple Langston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vihor View Post
    About coda of distress and cowardice, can't you have both up at the same time?!

    I would list motifs, differenty if I were you..
    Focus, Bravery and Tenacity together give +10% stats, the biggest buff I have seen in the game so far..
    That should be noted somewhere..
    Also you don't really need 5% healing while soloing..

    Btw..
    Are you in the alpha??
    If you are, I thought you guys were under the NDA..

    If you are not you didn't use Motif of Encouragement yet, nor some other abilities you talked about..
    No, I'm not in the Alpha and I have not personally used some of the abilities that are listed. That doesn't mean that we can't discuss the usefulness that they may have. There are somethings that I have not added that I'll work on fixing later on today and during the weekends phase. Thanks for the feedback though.

    You can have Distress and Cowardice up at the same time. I just put them together because they are a generalized debuff. I should probably go back and reword that paragraph though so it is clearer.
    Author of Support Bard Guide and Officer of Nuln Highway Boys

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