5th Editon Bard Option: College of the Dancing Flame

Hey, folks! The friendly wizards who live up the coast have recently opened a venue for selling material relating to the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, called the DMs Guild. Though you can well imagine this is exactly the sort of opportunity I’ve been waiting for, this happened while I was out of town, and so I’ve spent many a distracted moment brainstorming content to brew up when I got home.

Today I put some of those plans into action and I have begun working on a supplement that adds character options revolving mostly (though not entirely) around the element of fire. My goal is to have 1 or 2 new character subclasses for every class that I can do so without it being forced, and so far that’s everyone except the Fighter, Rogue, and Ranger (and I have some rough ideas for them), along with other character options such as new spells, feats, racial subtypes, etc.

You who read my blog know that character classes are not just interchangeable bags of abstract mechanics with some flavor text appended to them. I believe the designers of 5E did a wonderful job of making characters whose abilities are governed by rules that strongly suggest a desired flavor. In creating my heroes of flame, I’m taking care to do the same. Fire is not just a damage type, after all. It has a primal power and mystique all its own. It’s an ancient source of terror and the thing we use to beat back terrors. It symbolizes both the holy spirit and the flames of perdition.

To whet the appetite and illustrate my general approach, I’d like to share one of the two Bardic Colleges I’ve created, the College of the Dancing Flame. I believe this falls under the category of “short promotional previews” that are allowed by the DMs Guild terms.

Flame Dancers have abilities that allow them to interfere with attacks on their allies while daring enemies to attack them. Their tendency to laugh in the face of danger emphasizes the unstable nature of fire, as they don’t really have the AC or HP of most classes that take the “tank” style. In their favor, they do have a version of the Unarmored Defense feature that uses their primary ability (the existing Monk and Barbarian ones both use a secondary ability, though Monks have the advantage of their primary ability already being factored in).

The Flame Dancer also show one of the hallmarks of this collection, which is characters who focus on two types of damage. I mean, that’s the main problem with elemental-themed characters: they are hopeless when out of their element. Flame Dancers use both fire and psychic damage (psychic damage being the medium used for taunting spells and attacks). Some of the abilities below may be reworked (and in particular, streamlined) before final publication.

The other Bardic College, not featured in this preview, is the College of Fire and Ice. It’s a spellcasting-focused one that is like a blend of the College of Lore and the Wizard tradition of Evocation, albeit with a more narrow focus than either of them.

Other highlights from the collection include a Fire and Infernal domain for Clerics along with a variant “Gentle Light” domain, Pyromancer and Elementalist traditions for the Wizard, fiery new totems for the Barbarian and a whole new Raging Inferno path, Everlasting Flame Oath for Paladins, and more.


The Dancing Flame option provides another way to weave weapons and magic together, focusing on mobility, defense, and the ability to draw enemies in to attack you. Flame Dancers (as members of that college are called) play a dangerous game with their taunts as they are far more fragile than the typical front-line warrior, but have the advantage of relying on a single ability for attack, defense, and magic.

Unarmored Defense

Starting at level 3 when you join this college, you have an Armor Class of 10 plus your Dexterity modifier plus your Charisma modifier when you are wearing no armor and not using a shield.

Flagrant Finesse

Also at 3rd level, you gain the ability to use your Charisma in place of your Dexterity when making a weapon attack with a ranged or finesse weapon. When doing so, the damage inflicted becomes psychic or fire (your choice when you attack).

Once per turn as a bonus action when you hit an enemy with a weapon attack with a ranged or finesse weapon, you may choose to taunt them. An enemy who is so taunted has disadvantage to attack any creature other than you until the end of your next turn. A creature can only be subjected to one taunt at a time, with new ones superseding the previous one. Creatures who cannot be charmed are immune to this effect.

Burning Retort

Also at level 3, when an enemy makes an attack roll against a creature that has a Bardic Inspiration die from you, the targeted creature can roll that die and choose to inflict that much fire or psychic damage against the attacking enemy. If the enemy is not immune to the damage or to being frightened, it gains disadvantage on all attacks made against the creature that used the die until the end of its next turn, including the attack that triggered this. The creature can decide to use the die in this fashion before or after the initial attack roll is made, but only before the result has been announced.

Blazing Web of Song and Steel

Starting at level 6, whenever an enemy you can see makes an attack against another creature or casts a spell that targets one or more of your allies that you can see but not you, as a reaction you can either cast a spell with a casting time of 1 action that targets only the triggering enemy or an ally targeted by the triggering attack or spell, or make an attack using a ranged or finesse weapon against the triggering enemy.

Your reaction is processed before the triggering attack or spell is completed. If you inflicted fire or psychic damage against the enemy as part of the reaction, the enemy gains disadvantage on its attack roll for the attack or your ally gains advantage on any saving throw against the spell (as applicable).

A creature does not trigger this feature when attacking or casting spells against other characters who also possess it.

Blaze of Glory

At level 14, during your turn you may choose to blaze with energy as a bonus action. When you do so, you immediately regain one expended Bardic Inspiration die, and can spend 1 or more of your bard Hit Dice to regain HP.

The other effects of this ability last while you concentrate on it (as you would a spell) for up to one minute. You emit bright light in a 20 foot radius, and dim light for a further 20 feet. You have resistance to fire and psychic damage and cannot be frightened or charmed. On your turn, you may either dash, dodge, disengage, make a weapon attack with a ranged or finesse weapon, or cast a bard cantrip with a casting time of 1 action as a bonus action. You also have advantage on any Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Strength (Athletics) checks you make (except for checks made to swim). You cannot hide while in this state. Any attempt to do so ends the effect.

Once you have used this feature, you cannot use it again until you complete a long rest.