Best Lore Bard Build - total Control

Best Lore Bard Build - total Control - Baldur's Gate 3 (BG3)

By zanuffas
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The best Lore Bard build for Baldur's Gate 3. It is the ultimate controller and support build that can take the role of a cleric in your group. The amazing thing is that Lore Bard can disable groups of enemies with a single spell. Moreover, with a few items or multiclass choices, it can become a strong supporter.

Lore Bard Build - Overview

The build is the perfect option for those who want to play as a main character but also as a support role. Bard comes with multiple skill proficiencies and the College of Lore gets even more.

The main idea is to utilize Cutting Words icon action bg3Cutting Words​ to decide what happens with ally and enemy actions. Moreover, once your turn starts you have a swath of control spells to decide the future of large groups of enemies - Confusion icon action bg3Confusion, Glyph of Warding icon action bg3Glyph of Warding, etc.

Now, one of the setups with this build is the Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ spell that the Bard gets via Magical Secrets. This will allow you to do 3 things (thanks to some items recommended in the gear section) - decrease damage from physical attacks, restore health, and apply Bless for better attack and saving throw rolls.

On the other hand, you could pick like cleric for multiclass and be able to set up some sick combos - Create Water or protect an ally/yourself with Sanctuary. What is fun is that Lore Bard is very effective at a lot of things. Or go Wizard for an expanded spell list.

Let's get into the build!

Leveling Overview

Here is a concise table with all the main picks during your leveling progression. For more detailed reasoning, I go further in the article. Also, do not forget to check the recommended gear as it is crucial.

Lore Bard Leveling Overview Expand
Level Class Selection
1 Bard STR - 8, DEX - 16, CON - 14, INT - 8, WIS - 10, CHA - 17
Skills: Deception, Persuasion, Deception, Performance
Cantrips: Vicious Mockery icon action bg3Vicious Mockery, Friends icon action bg3Friends
Spells: Healing Word icon action bg3Healing Word, Dissonant Whispers icon action bg3Dissonant Whispers, Faerie Fire icon action bg3Faerie Fire, Sleep icon action bg3Sleep.
2 Bard Spells: Longstrider icon action bg3Longstrider​ or Tasha's Hideous Laughter icon action bg3Tasha's Hideous Laughter
3 Bard Subclass: College of Lore
Skills: Survival, Perception, Sleight of Hand
Spells: Enhance Ability icon action bg3Enhance Ability
Replace Spell: Sleep icon action bg3Sleep​ -> Cloud of Daggers icon action bg3Cloud of Daggers
4 Bard Cantrips: Light icon action bg3Light​​
Spells: Hold Person icon action bg3Hold Person
Feat: Ability Improvement +2 Charisma
5 Bard Spells: Glyph of Warding icon action bg3Glyph of Warding
Replace Spell: Faerie Fire icon action bg3Faerie Fire​ -> Plant Growth icon action bg3Plant Growth​​
6 Bard Spells: Fear icon action bg3Fear
Magical Secrets: Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word, Hunger of Hadar icon action bg3Hunger of Hadar
7 Bard Spells: Confusion icon action bg3Confusion
8 Bard Spells: Any
Feat: Alert icon passive feature bg3Alert​ or Dual Wielder icon passive feature bg3Dual Wielder
9 Bard Spells: Hold Monster
10 Bard Cantrips: Minor Illusion icon action bg3Minor Illusion
Spells: Dominate Person
Skills: Perception, Sleight of Hand or Survival
Magical Secrets: Counterspell, Command
11 Bard Spells: Otto's Irresistible Dance icon action bg3Otto's Irresistible Dance
12 Bard Spells: Eyebite
Feat: Alert icon passive feature bg3Alert​ or Dual Wielder icon passive feature bg3Dual Wielder

Starting the Game - Level 1

This section covers the creation screen and what would go into the best Races, Abilities, and Skills for Lore Bard build. Some of these choices are impactful as you cannot respec them.

Races

Picking a race provides various benefits - abilities, dialogue options, looks, etc. Also, keep in mind whether your picked race has Shield proficiency as this can improve survivability especially in the early game.

If you are having difficulties making a choice, pick whatever you prefer in terms of looks or roleplay. "The perfect race pick" is important if you are into extreme min-maxing.
Race Features Description
Half-Elf Baldur's Gate 3Wood Half-Elf Amazing choice, thanks to its increased movement speed. Moreover, it gets Shield proficiency, boosts Armour Class.
human bg3Human
  • Civil Militia icon passive feature bg3Civil Militia
  • Human Versatility icon passive feature bg3Human Versatility
This is one of the rare cases where I recommend this race. It complements well Bard's class with more Skill proficiencies and gets Shield Proficiency. It is a big survivability boost in the early game.
githyanki bg3Githyanki
  • Martial Prodigy icon passive feature bg3Martial Prodigy
You can wear medium armor and get some good actions very useful for the main character to improve ability check rolls.
halfling bg3Halfling
  • Halfling Luck icon passive feature bg3Halfling Luck
  • Brave icon passive feature bg3Brave
Any subrace will work. What matters is the Halfling Luck icon passive feature bg3Halfling Luck​ that will improve role-playing aspects with high roll success chances. Moreover, these will also work well later, if you will plan on using some attack roll spells.

Class

As I suggested first we go with the Bard. It's not the optimal choice, but multiple skill proficiencies will help from the first steps. Moreover, with correct spell picks, you will empower your allies and disable enemies

bard Baldur's Gate 3Bard
Features
Bardic Inspiration icon action bg3Bardic Inspiration Iconic bard feature, that can improve damage, dialogue dice rolls, and saving throws.

Cantrips

Cantrip Description
Vicious Mockery icon action bg3Vicious Mockery Although the damage is roll, it has its purpose. The cantrip can be used to impose a disadvantage on enemy attacks. It is best used if you see that you have to use a ranged attack, and will not kill the foe. However, the cantrip loses purpose in later levels.
Spell_Enchantment_Friends Baldur's Gate 3Friends If you are the main character and do most of the dialogues, this is mandatory as it gives an advantage on dialogue rolls.

Spells

Good spell picks will mean life and death, so let's go through them:

Spell Description
healing word bg3Healing Word The spell can be a lifesaver in certain situations where you do not have action. However, it will also serve a different role you can buff your allies if you have equipped The Whispering Promise icon bg3The Whispering Promise + Hellrider's Pride icon bg3Hellrider's Pride/The Reviving Hands icon bg3The Reviving Hands.
dissonant whispers bg3Dissonant Whispers The only truly offensive level-1 spell. It can also frighten enemies making them unable to move. Use this to inflict ranged damage.
faerie fire bg3Faerie Fire Early game, this spell is wondrous as it makes it easy to get an Advantage on attack rolls. Once the spell is cast your party members or you can exploit this.
sleep bg3Sleep Very powerful spell against level 1-2 enemies, as it succeeds without any resistance checks.
Spell_Enchantment_Tasha'sHideousLaughter Baldur's Gate 3Tasha's Hideous Laughter Early on this spell could be a lifesaver, moreover, it is effective against low Wisdom enemies, so check their stats. Thanks to it you can disable an enemy and even hit it at the same time with a chance for Saving Throw.

Starting Instrument

This is a matter of personal taste, so pick your preferred one. Moreover, as you play the game some unique instruments will be unlocked that you can wear.

Background

Backgrounds are mostly for role-playing and you can pick whatever you prefer. If you want to optimize, then it would be good to pick backgrounds that are based on your ability points of Charisma.

Moreover, due to high Dexterity, it is also a good choice to pick Sleight of Hand. This can be a perfect choice especially if you want to be the main lockpicker or trap disarmer.

Background Skills Description
Guild Artisan Insight
Persuasion
Gives persuasion proficiency, for better dialogue checks.
Entertainer Acrobatics
Performance
Improves Acrobatics skills and gives bonuses to Performance for some dialogue checks.
Charlatan Deception
Sleight of Hand
A truly great option especially as you can be the one that unlocks and disarms most of the traps with Sleight of Hand proficiency.
Noble History
Persuasion
Although you will have low intelligence the Persuasion check improvement is good. But it's an inferior option to Guild Artisan in my opinion.

Abilities

Now let's take a look at the abilities of the Lore Bard build. Correct allocation will allow you to maximize the early gameplay and get good modifier bonuses.

Ability Value Description
strengthStrength 8 This build does not need strength.
dexterityDexterity 16 (15+1) This plays an important role in improving armor class and increasing initiative. I think Bard must go first due to low survivability and get some control spells activated.
constitution bg3Constitution 14 Enough Constitution for better survivability.
intelligenceIntelligence 8 Do not need this ability.
wisdomWisdom 10 Additional Wisdom to avoid any negative modifiers as many spells target this ability.
charismaproficient_ability Baldur's Gate 3Charisma 17 (15+2) The most important stat for the Bard caster build. It will improve dialogue roll checks, but most importantly spell success chance. If you plan on getting Auntie Ethel's Hair for +1 Charisma leave it at 17, otherwise set 16 and use two points for Wisdom.

Skills and Expertise

Overall, the skills should be impacted by your roleplaying and background decisions. However, you would still want those that will give you the best benefits. My recommendations are to pick those at which you have a high ability modifier and these are Dexterity and Charisma-related.

  • Sleight of Hand

For Charisma related:

  • Deception
  • Intimidation
  • Performance
  • Persuasion

Leveling Progression - Levels 2-12

Here is the detailed progression for the Lore Bard build to get you started. You can use it as a guideline because early games can be daunting and overwhelming. Later on, once you get the feel for the class you can start picking your options

The early game with Bard can be difficult. I recommend having someone cast Mage Armour icon action bg3Mage Armour​ if you can. Otherwise, stay with Light or Medium Armor if proficiencies allow.

Level 2

This is where you will have left the tutorial area, and will start exploring the world. From the get-go, Bard gets some useful bonuses.

Features Description
Jack of All Trades icon passive feature bg3Jack of All Trades A truly useful passive throughout the whole game to increase your chances of ability roll success.

That is not all, there is another surprise waiting:

Actions Description
song of rest bg3Song of Rest This is a very important Bard action, and with it, you can use Short Rest a third time before Long Rest. Use it to heal or restore class-specific resources. So do not save those, and use them to your heart's content. Moreover, classes like Warlock, Fighter, and others benefit greatly from instant restoration of their spell slots or special resources.

Spells and Replace Spell

Feat Description
longstrider bg3Longstrider In case no one else in the group has it, take it. You can cast it without spell slot cost and it benefits everyone, especially melee combatants.
tashas hideous laughter bg3Tasha's Hideous Laughter Can be used to immobilize enemies with low Wisdom. However, later in the game, there will be better options.

For spell replacement, I don't think there is anything that would be useful yet.

Level 3

The Bard gets to choose its subclass. Moreover, level 2 spells are unlocked, giving some better offensive and control options.

Subclass

Overview
college of lore bg3College of Lore
Features
Cutting Words icon passive feature bg3Cutting Words This is a very powerful feature, you can use Bardic Inspiration icon action bg3Bardic Inspiration​ to debilitate enemies and decrease their attack rolls or Saving Throws. It is one of the pillars of Lore Bard's build.

Skills

By picking Lore Bard you get to pick three additional skills in which you gain proficiency. Again I would recommend picking anything that is Charisma related (if not yet picked). After that you can take - Perception, Sleight of Hand, or anything else.

Spells and Replace Spell

Now some good spells are unlocked that will improve your options.

Spells Description
enhance ability bg3Enhance Ability I would say this is mandatory on Honour Mode, and optional on lower difficulties. The spell can be a lifesaver as it will give a huge chance of success in case you need a roll advantage.

I would replace Sleep icon action bg3Sleep​ for:

Spells Description
cloud of daggers bg3Cloud of Daggers The biggest damage spell at level 2. it damages two times - first when you cast, second after it is the enemy's turn. You could also use this as a replacement for any spells you do not use.

Level 4

Now, you get some other great choice picks - the first feat is unlocked.

Cantrips

Cantrip Description
Light icon action bg3Light This will become useful later in the game once you reach Act 2. Moreover, it can be used to improve the damage of some items.
Minor Illusion icon action bg3Minor Illusion Another good pick. You can pull enemies together before combat. After that follow up with an area of effect spell on the targets.

minor illusion usage bg3

Spells and Replace Spell

Spells Description
hold person bg3Hold Person A decent control spell, that you can use to Hold an enemy. be sure to follow up with someone from melee range for guaranteed critical hits.

Feat

Feat Description
Ability Improvement For the first feat, my recommendation is +2 Charisma, to improve spell success chance and better ability rolls.

Level 5

Boom! The Bard is level 5 and this means the build can finally use some awesome level 3 spells.

Spells and Replace Spell

Spells Description
glyph of warding bg3Glyph of Warding The only spell that you need, for now... It can cause damage using most elements, so if the enemy is wet, just use the Lightning/Cold element. However, the most important aspect is that it can put multiple targets to sleep. This can easily invalidate many fights.

For replacement, I would recommend removing Faerie Fire icon action bg3Faerie Fire​ and picking:

Spells Description
Plant Growth icon action bg3Plant Growth An amazing spell, that can drastically reduce enemy movement speed. However, the most important aspect is that it does not use a concentration slot.

Level 6

Lore Bard gets access to the Magical Secrets feature, allowing you to learn additional spells.

Action Description
Action_Bard_Countercharm Baldur's Gate 3Countercharm You and any allies within 9m have an advantage on Saving Throws against being Charmed or Frightened. Did not use much during the playthrough.

Spells and Replace Spell

Spells Description
Hypnotic Pattern icon action bg3Hypnotic Pattern I recommend getting this spell. It is amazing and works even while you are silenced.

Magical Secrets

This is the main reason to take Lore Bard. It can now access many of the spells from other caster classes, allowing it to create a few interesting synergies.

Spells Description
Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word This spell will allow creating unique synergies for buffing your allies. The good thing is that it only costs a bonus action to use, allowing at the same time to also activate a control spell. To make this work, check the equipment section below, as it requires specific items.

Now there are a few options that I would recommend at level 6:

Spells Description
Sleet Storm icon action bg3Sleet Storm Fun and effective spell, that creates ice surfaces. These can disable enemies, making it very hard for them to move.
hunger of hadar bg3Hunger of Hadar Slow down enemies, make them blind and they also incure damage every turn while staying in the fog. This spell can trivialize most of the encounters.

Level 7

You will get access to level 4 spells. One of those is my personal favorite.

Spells and Replace Spell

Spells Description
Confusion icon action bg3Confusion An amazing spell, that can make multiple encounters very easy. Enemies may start attacking each other or even skip their turns.

If you see that any of the spells are not used, feel free to replace them.

Level 8

This level unlocks the second feat for Lore Bard.

Spells and Replace Spell

Here I have a few recommendations to choose from.

Spells Description
Greater Invisibility icon action bg3Greater Invisibility If you have a rogue (Assassin at that) in your group who specializes in stealth, this spell can make it so that they will attack multiple times before breaking invisibility. The stealth checks become harder after each action.
Fear icon action bg3Fear Another amazing spell that can make multiple enemies drop their weapons. The only caveat is that its range is not long.

Feat

Here I have two recommendations, and both of them will also be the same for level 12 (if you decide to go with pure Bard). Check the descriptions and decide what to pick based on itemization.

Feat Description
Alert icon passive feature bg3Alert This perk almost guarantees that you go first most of the time. This way you can buff allies using Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ and apply control spells first.

Level 9

The Bard gets access to level 5 spells.

Spells and Replace Spell

Spells Description
Hold Monster icon action bg3Hold Monster An amazing spell, that is best combined with martials or spellcasters using attack rolls. This way you guarantee critical hits, for a huge damage increase.

For spell replacement, I don't think it is needed, feel free to try out something if you would like.

Level 10

As Lore Bard, you get access to the second Magical Secrets. This gives two more spells to choose from.

Features Description
Improved Bardic Inspiration icon passive feature bg3Improved Bardic Inspiration The bonus to ability rolls and checks is increased to 1d10. This also applies to Cutting Words icon action bg3Cutting Words​.

Skills

You can pick expertise for two additional skills. My recommendation is if you are the main character, get dialogue-related ones - performance, persuasion, deception, and intimidation.

If not, definitely pick Sleight of Hand or Perception.

Cantrips

Here feel free to pick anything. Here are the ones that I would recommend already having if you did not pick them up before:

Cantrips Description
Dancing Lights icon action bg3Dancing Lights Can be used to precast on incoming encounters. This is great if you need to activate the Callous Glow Ring icon bg3Callous Glow Ring for your companions.
minor illusion bg3Minor Illusion My recommended pick, as you can use this to move enemies together. Once you reach the next level you can follow up with Glyph of Warding for a huge area of effect spell combo.

Spells

To be honest, I do not think any of the spells are a major improvement. Just pick anything that you would like to try out. Even if it is Speak with Animals icon action bg3Speak with Animals​ for some utility.

Spells Description
Dominate Person icon action bg3Dominate Person The enemy target joins you, however, it may break if succeed in Wisdom Saving Throw when taking damage.

Magical Secrets

Spells Description
Command icon action bg3Command This is a mandatory spell in my opinion. As you now have a very high Spell Save DC, this spell can disable enemies for one turn. You can make them grovel, so that allies get attack advantage, or flee to trigger opportunity attacks.
Counterspell icon action bg3Counterspell Extremely effective spell, as it can cancel enemy casters. You could have also taken it at level 6, but at that time spell slots were limited, compared to level 10.

Level 11

Bard gets access to level 6 spells. I do not think they are that impressive, so be sure to check the below sections for some multiclass ideas to get more of the Lore Bard.

Spells and Replace Spell

Spells Description
Otto's Irresistible Dance icon action bg3Otto's Irresistible Dance Some say this is a "win" button. The spell is truly powerful and guarantees disabling the enemy for one turn. Moreover, the dancing foes always look funny.

For spell replacement, you can try out any spell or do nothing.

Level 12

This is the final level of Lore Bard. Be sure to check the next section as I will offer some build variations.

Spells and Replace Spell

At this stage, you can pick any spell that you like. You will probably be already very powerful steamrolling through the game.

Features Description
Eyebite icon action bg3Eyebite Interesting spell to have in the arsenal. It's most powerful when used over many turns. So do not waste a spell slot for short encounters. You can disable enemies one by one.
Planar Binding icon action bg3Planar Binding Another spell that is very powerful in a few encounters.

Feat

Here I will repeat the feats from level 8, as you should be picking one of them.

Feat Description
Dual Wielder icon passive feature bg3Dual Wielder This is great Feat, especially if you will not have another caster that uses Dual Wielder icon passive feature bg3Dual Wielder. On the other hand, this can be an option if you would like to use staff with a Spell Save DC bonus. This way you have improved spell success chance and a much stronger Bless effect from Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ activation.
Lucky icon passive feature bg3Lucky Amazing feat, that gives control on dice rolls via Luck Points. This works for saving throws, ability checks, and attack rolls.

Maximizing Ability Scores

Now, as the build progression is covered there are a few aspects and important decisions you will have to make throughout the game. These will decide your final score for abilities.

  1. Act 1 - Auntie Ethel Hair - you will want to get +1 Charisma if you pick this choice.
  2. Act 3 - Mirror of Loss - pick +2 Charisma.
  3. Act 3 - Birthright icon bg3Birthright - optional item, but gives +2 Charisma.

This will allow you to reach 24 or 22 natural Charisma, and result in a +6-7 ability modifier on your spells and rolls.

Potions, Elixirs and Consumables

Let's take a look at what consumables we can use to further empower the build.

Potions

These are general consumables, and most of them are activated for a few turns. Potions are separate from Elixirs and can be active together.

Consumable Description
potion of speed bg3Potion of Speed In case you or your other casters have a Concentration spell slot taken and cannot cast Haste, use this potion. It acts similarly, but the effect is just for 3 turns.
potion of animal speaking bg3Potion of Animal Speaking Although not something powerful, it is worth stocking up and saving a spell slot.
potion of invisibility bg3Potion of Invisibility Can be used to get a perfect position before the encounter starts.

Elixirs

Unfortunately, only one Elixir can be active at a time. However, the good thing is that they last until a long rest, making them very useful and economical.

Be sure to activate them before combat as otherwise, you will need to use Bonus Action.

Remember to activate one elixir after each Long Rest. These are found plentiful throughout the game, so don't save them too much.
Consumable Description
elixir of battlemage's power bg3Elixir of Battlemage's Power Gain 3 stacks of Arcane Acuity. I would say this should be the most used Lore Bard elixir for higher spell success.
elixir of bloodlust bg3Elixir of Bloodlust You gain additional action by killing an enemy. This is one of the best options that you can use especially if you plan on striking a single target using Scorching Ray.
elixir of peerless focus bg3Elixir of Peerless Focus Another good choice, particularly once you start using Spirit Guardians and control spells.
superior elixir of arcane cultivation bg3Superior Elixir of Arcane Cultivation Grant's a single level 3 spell slot. Could be useful in case you are preparing for a longer encounter.
supreme elixir of arcane cultivation bg3Supreme Elixir of Arcane Cultivation Grant's a single level 4 spell slot. Could be useful in case you are preparing for a longer encounter.
elixir of vigilance bg3Elixir of Vigilance For some encounters, you will want to go first. This elixir will ensure that it overcomes even surprise mechanics. However, if you have Alert icon passive feature bg3Alert​ this becomes redundant.

Illithid Powers

This special mechanic in Baldur's Gate 3 allows you to consume tadpoles and unlock special Illithid Powers. These range from somewhat useful, to extremely deadly. I would like to leave a few recommendations:

Base Illithid Powers

Order Illithid Power Description
1 favourable beginnings bg3Favourable Beginnings Very useful power to take as it does not have any costs, and provides only benefits on the first hits.
2 luck of the far realms bg3Luck of the Far Realms Guarantees a critical hit, a very powerful action to have, and works with Scorching Ray or Witch Bolt.
3 concentrated blast bg3Concentrated Blast Taking only for progression, to unlock the next power.
4 cull the weak bg3Cull the Weak Passive feature that does not cost anything and automatically deals bonus psychic damage around the target, once it is close to death.
5 transfure health bg3Transfuse Health Taking it for progression
6 shield of thralls bg3Shield of Thralls Taking for progression, to unlock the next power, but it also provides a good bonus as temporary health, that can be cast before combat.
7 force tunnel bg3Force Tunnel Mainly taking for progression
8 dispalce bg3Displace Mainly taking for progression

Elite Illithid Powers

These become unlocked later in the game as you progress. They are extremely powerful additions to the build.

Order Illithid Power Description
1 freecast bg3Freecast Removes any cost of spell slots or consumable resources
2 black hole bg3Black Hole Amazing power, that pulls enemies together and slows them. After that, you can follow up with Fireball, Fear, etc.
3 psionic dominance bg3Psionic Dominance You can use this similarly to Counterspell, and disable enemy spell.
4 illithid expertise bg3Illithid Expertise Expertise in bonus skills from this power is not mandatory as Bard already covers most of these.
6 mind sanctuary bg3Mind Sanctuary Extremely valuable power that can also help other casters to use up their Bonus action effectively.

Equipment Recommendations

Now I would like to go through some gear recommendations to maximize the Lore Bard Build. Items are especially important as they take the build to the next level thanks to their unique effects.

Act 1

This part of the game can be tough for Bard. If you are Githyanki, be sure to get Medium Armour, as it is the best option before you can get one of those mentioned in the list. Another option, be sure to equip a Shield if you can.

Another important aspect, to make the build work early on, is to cast Mage Armour icon action bg3Mage Armour​ by an ally. This will give +3 Armour Class if you are wearing a clothing.

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One - Handed) Melf's First Staff icon bg3Melf's First Staff This is the best item that you can use in Act 1. It improves your spell success chance.
ranged slot bg3Ranged Bow of Awareness icon bg3Bow of Awareness Gives bonus initiative, allowing one to go earlier in combat
Hand Crossbow +1 icon bg3Hand Crossbow +1 Equip two of these so that you can attack with your bonus action.
offhand slot bg3Shield Adamantine Shield icon bg3Adamantine Shield It provides a substantial defensive boost by reducing critical hit damage.
Safeguard Shield icon bg3Safeguard Shield Gives a bonus to saving throws, easily accessible early in the game.
helmet slot bg3Head The Shadespell Circlet icon bg3The Shadespell Circlet The best headwear in Act 1. Just be sure to be obscured if you can.
Cap of Curing icon bg3Cap of Curing The restored health is a good bonus when you use up Bardic Inspiration.
cloak slot bg3Cloak The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle The only option in Act 1 that is okay, is by providing once-per-turn invisibility. Only available to Dark Urge origin.
armor slot bg3Armor The Protecty Sparkswall icon bg3The Protecty Sparkswall Best clothing for caster in Act 1.
Blazer of Benevolence icon bg3Blazer of Benevolence Bard item, that gives bonus HP after Bardic Inspiration use.
gloves slot bg3Gloves Hellrider's Pride icon bg3Hellrider's Pride These gloves are amazing for Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ setup. It will decrease damage from physical sources by half.
Wondrous Gloves icon bg3Wondrous Gloves Gloves specific for Bard, allowing to gain one more Bardic Inspiration charge.
Bracers of Defence icon bg3Bracers of Defence These are the best early-game gloves, giving you a +2 Armour class if you are not using a shield.
boots slot bg3Boots Boots of Stormy Clamour icon bg3Boots of Stormy Clamour These will be the best boots you use throughout the game. Each time you apply a condition, Reverbation stacks will apply, for further increased success of melee actions and some spells. 5 stacks will deal thunder damage.
amulet slot bg3Amulet Amulet of Branding icon bg3Amulet of Branding This is a good amulet before you get some use for bonus action. Use it, to apply vulnerabilities that your martials can exploit.
Pearl of Power Amulet icon bg3Pearl of Power Amulet Restore up to level 3 spell slot. Can be unequipped after use.
Amulet of Misty Step icon bg3Amulet of Misty Step Gives mobility improvement thanks to the Misty Step icon action bg3Misty Step​ spell.
ring slot bg3Rings The Whispering Promise icon bg3The Whispering Promise Be sure to get this ring, as it will be an extremely powerful addition once you start using the Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ setup.
Ring of Protection icon bg3Ring of Protection The best option for Act 1. The bonus Armour Class is a great boost for survivability.
The Sparkswall icon bg3The Sparkswall A great ring that gives resistance to lightning damage.
Crusher's Ring icon bg3Crusher's Ring Improves movement speed, but most likely this will be used by your melee party members.

Act 2 - mid-game

Act 2 changes the landscape and there will be a lot of dark areas. Moreover, it will provide some amazing items for you to find, that will improve the build setup.

The main change is that once you hit level 6, you can drop Hand Crossbow +1 icon bg3Hand Crossbow +1 and use Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ with bonus action. This opens up other ranged item options, so be sure to check them.

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One-handed) Melf's First Staff icon bg3Melf's First Staff The staff is still the best contender for Act 2 as it improves Spell Save DC.
ranged slot bg3Ranged Darkfire Shortbow icon bg3Darkfire Shortbow Amazing bow that allows to precast Haste before combat. This may not seem big as you can use Potion of Speed, but sometimes its short duration is not enough.
Bow of Awareness icon bg3Bow of Awareness Still a solid choice, especially if you only need initiative.
offhand slot bg3Shield Ketheric's Shield icon bg3Ketheric's Shield The best shield there is for a caster.
Adamantine Shield icon bg3Adamantine Shield It provides a substantial defensive boost by reducing critical hit damage.
helmet slot bg3Head Fistbreaker Helm icon bg3Fistbreaker Helm Improves spell success chance and increases the likelihood of going first.
cloak slot bg3Cloak Thunderskin Cloak icon bg3Thunderskin Cloak As you will be constantly applying Reverbation, this cloak is amazing and allows Dazing enemies who dare to attack you.
Cloak of Protection icon bg3Cloak of Protection Improves survivability and Saving Throw success.
armor slot bg3Armor The Protecty Sparkswall icon bg3The Protecty Sparkswall Still the best option even in Act 2. This requires Lightning Charges, to unlock full potential.
Robe of Exquisite Focus icon bg3Robe of Exquisite Focus Another robe that gives +1 Spell Save DC.
gloves slot bg3Gloves Hellrider's Pride icon bg3Hellrider's Pride These gloves are amazing for Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ setup. It will decrease damage from physical sources by half.
boots slot bg3Boots Boots of Stormy Clamour icon bg3Boots of Stormy Clamour The boots are the best option due to the Reverbation stacking.
amulet slot bg3Amulet Amulet of Restoration icon bg3Amulet of Restoration You can use this amulet together with healing items - Hellrider's Pride icon bg3Hellrider's Pride and The Whispering Promise icon bg3The Whispering Promise to apply buffs and save spell slots.
Amulet of the Harpers icon bg3Amulet of the Harpers Allows casting Shield spell, can be a lifesaver if attacked heavily for one turn.
ring slot bg3Rings The Whispering Promise icon bg3The Whispering Promise Be sure to get this ring, as it will be an extremely powerful addition once you start using the Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ setup.
Ring of Mental Inhibition icon bg3Ring of Mental Inhibition Any of your control spells that enemies will fail now also incur Mental Fatigue.
Ring of Twilight icon bg3Ring of Twilight An easy way to get bonus Armour Class in Act 2.

Act 3 - Final Build setup

This is the last act of the game, where you will get access to the most powerful items. To get them as early as possible you will need some planning, but overall, it should not be a problem.

There are two main setups that I see, that I would like to cover with weapons:

Now, for the other equipment:

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One - Handed) Markoheshkir icon bg3Markoheshkir
(BiS)
The best staff in the game. Of course, better use this on offensive caster if you have. Otherwise, Kereska's Favour is an amazing action. I recommend taking Bone-Shaking Thunder (for Reverbation) or Bolts of Doom (for powerful Lightning Spells).
Staff of Spell Power icon bg3Staff of Spell Power It has an Arcane Battery, allowing you to cast a spell for free. Moreover, it improves spell attack rolls.
Staff of the Emperor icon bg3Staff of the Emperor Gives bonus Spell Save DC and spell attack rolls. Moreover, its unique effect allows you to Stun enemies if you succeed in a Saving Throw against their effects.
Duellist's Prerogative icon bg3Duellist's Prerogative Listing this one as an interesting option for synergies with Cutting Words icon action bg3Cutting Words. The weapon gives additional reactions, allowing you to use actions and spells a second time per turn.
ranged slot bg3Ranged Hellrider Longbow icon bg3Hellrider Longbow
(BiS)
Gives a big boost to the initiative, guaranteeing that you can go first. However, you will need to get Longbow proficiency from race.
helmet slot bg3Head Hood of the Weave icon bg3Hood of the Weave The hood gives solid +2 Spell Save DC, greatly improving spell success chance.
Birthright icon bg3Birthright Perfect helm for caster, if another one has been taken.
cloak slot bg3Cloak Cloak of The Weave icon bg3Cloak of The Weave
(BiS)
Improve Spell Save DC by one, the best option for a direct increase in build effectiveness.
Cloak of Displacement icon bg3Cloak of Displacement
Improves the chances of attacks missing the wearer until getting hit for that turn.
Thunderskin Cloak icon bg3Thunderskin Cloak As you will be constantly applying Reverbation, this cloak is amazing and allows Dazing enemies who dare to attack you.
armor slot bg3Armor Armour of Landfall icon bg3Armour of Landfall
(BiS)
As a caster that heavily relies on Concentration spells, this is probably the best armor to wear. The Constitution saving throw advantage is more than awesome.
Robe of the Weave icon bg3Robe of the Weave The best clothing for caster. Not only improves spellcasting but also provides a +2 Armour Class.
gloves slot bg3Gloves The Reviving Hands icon bg3The Reviving Hands
(BiS)
Improved version of Hellrider's Pride icon bg3Hellrider's Pride. However, it requires medium armor proficiency. If you do not have it, use the original ones.
Hellrider's Pride icon bg3Hellrider's Pride The gloves are still relevant if you are relying on a Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ spell.
gauntlets of the tyrant bg3Gauntlets of the Tyrant Another option in Act 3, also gives a level 3 Command spell for each Long Rest. The gloves provide +1 Spell Save DC,
boots slot bg3Boots Boots of Stormy Clamour icon bg3Boots of Stormy Clamour
(BiS)
The best boots to use with the build
amulet slot bg3Amulet Amulet of The Devout icon bg3Amulet of The Devout
(BiS)
The Best amulet for this build. However, this piece of equipment is the best caster choice, so can be contested by other party members.
Periapt of Wound Closure icon bg3Periapt of Wound Closure If you want to maximize the healing amount of your spells, this amulet is one of the options.
Spellcrux Amulet icon bg3Spellcrux Amulet Restores up to level 6 spell slots. After using it, you can unequip it for another amulet.
ring slot bg3Rings Ring of Mental Inhibition icon bg3Ring of Mental Inhibition
(BiS)
Provides an easy way to apply Mental Fatigue with spells.
The Whispering Promise icon bg3The Whispering Promise Be sure to get this ring, as it will be an extremely powerful addition once you start using the Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ setup.
Ring of Feywild Sparks icon bg3Ring of Feywild Sparks This ring gives an unlisted buff of Spell Save DC +1.

Build Mechanics

In this section, I would like to dive deep into how to play the Lore Bard. This will help you utilize it to the fullest and correctly use various actions and spells throughout the game.

Important Mechanics and Combos

The build is very versatile, allowing one to take full control of enemy actions.

Healing Word - for buffing

The main highlight of this build is that you can use bonus action to heal allies using Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ or Healing Word icon action bg3Healing Word. This is not all with specific items you can apply very strong buffs - Blade Ward icon action bg3Blade Ward​ and Bless icon action bg3Bless. This will drastically improve your party's survivability.

There is not much else to know, besides requiring special equipment - Hellrider's Pride icon bg3Hellrider's Pride (or upgraded The Reviving Hands icon bg3The Reviving Hands), The Whispering Promise icon bg3The Whispering Promise.

With this combo, Lore Bard becomes not only a strong controller but a strong support, that can fully replace Cleric.

Counterspell + Cutting Words

This is the ultimate combo that will be able to negate or disable various negative effects the party can receive. Counterspell icon action bg3Counterspell​ is perfect for canceling enemy spells. I just recommend not using it on offensive ones like Fire Bolt icon action bg3Fire Bolt, Eldritch Blast icon action bg3Eldritch Blast, etc. (unless this means death). It would be better to cancel something like Silence, Confusion, etc. that can break the party.

Cutting Words icon action bg3Cutting Words​ is similar, but instead of using spell slots, it uses Bardic Inspiration icon action bg3Bardic Inspiration​ slots. It can work not only on spells but also on ability checks, saving throws, and attack rolls.

There is one item Duellist's Prerogative icon bg3Duellist's Prerogative that gives another reaction point to use per turn. So you could use both of those actions two times per turn.

Paralysis effects (Hold Person, Sleep, etc.)

This is a very powerful single-target combo. You need to paralyze an enemy so that you would have a guaranteed critical hit. This can be done using Hold Person icon action bg3Hold Person, Glyph of Warding icon action bg3Glyph of Warding, etc.

After that, your allies can follow up with a guaranteed critical hit. This is a deadly setup, that in most cases ensures the enemy is taken out.

Hunger of Hadar

My favourite spell which works extremely well the moment you can get it at level 6. What it does, is create an environment that causes all targets to become Blinded. They also take damage at the start and the end of their turns.

The good thing is that your group can attack from the outside giving an advantage against all of the foes inside. You can also mix this with Command: Hold, to make enemies stay inside to take further damage.

Early Game Combat

Because the build starts as Bard, and later College of Lore, you do not have many offensive options. Here is what I would do throughout the fight:

  • Very early in the game, I would use Faerie Fire, to set up Advantage for martials. This way they can guarantee a hit and most likely a kill as enemies have very low HP.
  • Dissonant Whispers does not have attack rolls so it will always deal at least half damage. I would also use it on melee enemies as the Frighten effect does not allow them to move.
  • Cloud of Daggers - is a great option if there are at least two enemies close by. This way you can hit them for 2 attacks (one at the start of the turn, a second once they start it)
  • I would use Bonus Action for healing or attacking with Hand Crossbow +1 icon bg3Hand Crossbow +1.
  • Once you have The Whispering Promise icon bg3The Whispering Promise you can cast Healing Word icon action bg3Healing Word​ with a level 1 spell slot to buff your frontline character to increase hit chance and have better damage reduction.
  • Hold Person is another wondrous spell. If you have a high chance of 80%+, use it. Your martials can then easily finish off the target. Just use it on the enemy with a decent amount of HP.
  • Level 5, you can start using Glyph of Warding icon action bg3Glyph of Warding​ to put multiple enemies to sleep. After that follow up with party members to take them out one by one. Glyph o Warding can also be selected with different elements. So if the enemy is Wet you can use lightning or Cold elements.
  • At level 6, you can start using the Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ combo that I covered already.

Late Game Combat

For the late game, the main goal is to buff your allies and follow up with a control spell. This way you utilize effectively both action and bonus action.

  1. At the start of the turn activate Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ so that allies get buffs against damage and better attack rolls.
  2. Based on the situation you can utilize different control spells. My favorite one, is Confusion icon action bg3Confusion, making targets fight each other or skip their turns.
  3. You could also cast Hold Monster or Hold Person if there is a strong enemy that needs to be dealt with. After that follow up with melee attacks from allies for guaranteed critical hits.
  4. Another option is casting Hunger of Hadar icon action bg3Hunger of Hadar​ and covering the battlefield in the fog. This again can be exploited by enemies wasting their resources.
  5. You also have an option of using Potion of Speed on the first or second turn from bonus action. This is a great way if you need two strong spells in a single turn. For example, there are two groups of enemies, so you could cast Glyph of Warding: Sleep icon action bg3Glyph of Warding: Sleep​ to disable both of them.
  6. If you see an enemy spellcaster, most likely they will use Counterspell icon action bg3Counterspell. You can try to do two things - either upcast to level 5-6 so that their counterspell fails or use party members to cast fake spells to bait them.
  7. You have two sources to make enemies fail their spells or actions - Counterspell icon action bg3Counterspell​ and Cutting Words icon action bg3Cutting Words. However, both of them use reaction, so use them sparingly. I would also disable opportunity attacks so that reaction would not get wasted.

Build Variations

There are a few variations that the build could be changed about. I think it is more for advanced players who are likely doing some deeper optimizations.

Setup Description
  • 2 Lv Cleric
  • 10 Lv Bard
This is a good choice if you want to go without any clerics in the group. You will be able to cast guidance for various rolls, sanctuary as a bonus action, and a wider array of spells. For example, a Life Cleric can cast Preserve Life icon action bg3Preserve Life.
  • 2 Lv Wizard
  • 10 Lv Bard
This setup requires some tinkering with Ability points. You will want some intelligence to obtain more spell list slots. However, you can scribe various spells, and you can become the ultimate utility encyclopedia, choosing any support spell at will.
  • 2 Lv Warlock
  • 10 Lv Bard
Amazing setup with Warlock (particularly Fiend) that saves you a Magical Secrets slot, for Command. Moreover, you get access to Eldritch Invocations like Devil's Sight icon passive feature bg3Devil's Sight​ or Agonising Blast icon passive feature bg3Agonising Blast​ for more synergies. This way you could utilize Darkness icon action bg3Darkness​ and become an untouchable caster.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading the Lore Bard build for Baldur's Gate 3. It is a strong Control caster and a perfect pick for the main face of the party. The build also includes original optimization with Mass Healing Word icon action bg3Mass Healing Word​ allowing the Lore Bard to buff your group members.

Cheers!

Discussion

Anonymous

What level do you usually start to multiclass? I'll probably use this build in Honor Mode, but I wouldn't know the best level to start using the Cleric variant.

If you do not have Guidance (I think it is an important cantrip from the start of the game), you can start with Cleric from 1st level. This way you also gain additional proficiencies. So progression:

  1. 1 Cleric - get the proficiencies, guidance and 1 prepared spell.

  2. 6 Bard - access to level 3 spells and Magical Secrets, this is important as it will give a big boost to the build.

  3. 2 Cleric - access unique cleric subclass benefits like Preserve Life, Radiance of the Dawn, etc.

  4. 10 Bard - finish the build for 2nd Magical Secrets.

If you have Guidance (from Druid, or something else), I would then delay it to level 7, and take 2 levels then.

Cheers!

Anonymous

Very nice build, and the detail level is insane!

Currently I'm stuck before starting a new run and choosing between a bardadin (with wyll as sorlock and karlach berserker) and a lorebard (with wyll as bladelock and karlach berserker). Any suggestions also with 4th member?

Hello!

The fourth one could be Open Hand Monk, Shadow Monk, Gloomstalker Assassin, OR what I did last full playthrough - 1 War Cleric/11 Beast Master. You get guidance, awesome ranger pets, and a bonus action attack. Beast Master's pets are better than what I expected. I used this on Shadowheart, cause I needed Guidance.

Cheers!

Anonymous

I really like the way you detail things that even a monkey could understand

I like RPGs but I'm a totally mess about ability progression, stats, and more.

Thank you!

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