Bard is arguably one of the most fun classes to play in all of Dungeons & Dragons. Whether this has anything to do with the classes reputation as a flamboyant seducer is uncertain, but the bard’s use of song, music, dance, and general entertainment activities definitely lends itself towards fun roleplay.
That being said, when examining magic items to award our bards we want to take into account the reputation of the class. First and foremost, bards are performers. The entire reason behind their existence is to provide entertainment for others. Consequently, the best magic items for bards are items that allow them to better entertain their audience whether it be through music, a haughty appearance, a portable stage, or a cheeky play on the bard’s promiscuity.
Starting things off, the driftglobe isn’t the most obvious magic item to award bards at first glance. It allows its wielder to cast the light spell using a command word or the daylight spell once per day using the same command word. Furthermore, you can speak a separate command word to have the globe float on its own. While doing so, it will move itself to stay within 60 feet of its owner.
While providing light might not seem like the most important thing for a bard, the driftglobe is the perfect item for bards when you consider its use as a mobile stage light. What better way for a bard to suddenly draw everyone’s attention than a daylight spell centered on themself? You could even take this idea one step further and do a bit of homebrewing with the driftglobe to turn it into a discoglobe that gives the bard advantage on performance checks when the daylight is activated.
7 Pipes of the Sewers
The pied piper of Hamelin is one of the most well-known historical myths involving a literal bard in our actual world. As a result, it’s a perfect bit of inspiration for providing your own bard with a similar ability. The pipes of the sewers allow you to call up to three swarms of rats from within half a mile of you that will obey your commands. Furthermore, rats and giant rats are indifferent toward you and will not attack you while you wield these pipes.
With the pipes of the sewers, a bard can quickly bring forth an audience for his music in no time. Not only that, but he can command this new rat audience to tear into any hecklers in the crowd. The bard gets an audience and the rats get a meal. It’s a win-win for everyone.
6 Dimensional Shackles
Dimensional shackles are like handcuffs made for powerful and/or magical beings. They change size automatically to fit any creature within size categories small to large and prevent teleportation, plane-shifting, and any other form of extradimensional movement to a creature that is bound by them.
The only way to escape the cuffs is with a DC 30 Athletics check that can only be attempted once every 30 days. Considering the bard’s promiscuous reputation, some consensual usage of dimensional shackles would fit the bill. Kinky!
5 Glamoured Studded Leather
Glamoured studded leather is magical studded leather armor that gives an additional +1 to AC. However, what makes it great for bards is its extra roleplay-oriented ability for its wearer to decide exactly what the armor looks like.
It doesn’t even have to appear as leather armor. This glamoured armor will provide your resident bard with full control over their own appearance while still allowing them the ability to be battle ready. Just don’t be surprised if they decide they want to wear a mankini, halloween costume, or something else similarly ridiculous for the rest of your campaign.
4 Ring of X-Ray Vision
The ring of x-ray vision is a simple magic item that does exactly what it sounds like it might do. While wearing this ring, you can speak the ring’s command word to provide yourself with vision through solid matter for one minute. The x-ray vision has a radius of 30 feet and can penetrate 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, or three feet of wood or dirt. However, after you use the ring once you will need to succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw to use the ring again or else suffer a level of exhaustion.
While this is an incredible item for allowing your player characters to scout dungeons, we can all probably guess its main use case for most bards. If you’re not playing with a group of people that find such hijinks funny, it’s probably better to stay away from this one.
3 Rod of Rulership
The rod of rulership is similar to the pipes of the sewers. However, it does not carry the constraints of only providing your bard with an audience of mice. Once per day, you can use the rod of rulership to force all creatures within 120 feet of you that you can see to make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw.
On a failure, they are charmed by you for 8 hours and regard you as their trusted leader for this duration. As the servants of their new trusted leader, these creatures will happily applaud, dance, sing along, and generally be jovial with their newly found bard captain. Of course, they’ll also help you out in a fight, but that’s obviously secondary to the party.
2 Helm of Brilliance
The helm of brilliance is like the crowning piece for your bard’s glamoured studded leather armor. This dazzling helm is set with tens of bright gemstones that complete the gaudy outfit of any flamboyant bard. You can use the gemstones to cast various spells including daylight, fireball, prismatic spray, and wall of fire. As long as the helm has at least one ruby, it gives its wearer fire resistance. As long as it has one diamond, the helm shines bright light for 30 feet when nearby undead and deals 1d6 radiant damage to them at the start of each of their turns.
As long as it has a fire opal, you can use a command word to make flames emit from a weapon you hold and cause it to deal an additional 1d6 fire damage. As if that weren’t enough, whenever the helm’s wearer takes fire damage as a result of failing a saving throw they must roll a d20. On a 1, the helm beams bright light as it disintegrates and everyone within 60 feet must succeed on a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or take radiant damage equal to the number of gems left in the helm. Now that’s a show they’ll never forget.
1 Instrument of the Bards
Finally, the bard’s signature magical item to add to their arsenal is an instrument of the bards. These instruments take a variety of forms and each one provides access to different spells that can be cast once per day. However, all of them give the bard access to fly, protection from evil and good, invisibility, and levitate. That’s pretty good for starters.
Furthermore, a bard who casts a spell that causes a creature to be charmed can play the instrument while casting said spell and impose disadvantage on the creature’s save. Perhaps most wonderful of all, there are enough versions of this instrument at varying rarities to make for the perfect magic item that might grow in power along with the bard’s level progression. You could have the items swapped out by the bard’s college when they reach different levels or make the next one in the bard’s progression the object of a personal quest. Either way, the instruments of the bards are the best incentive you can provide for any adventuring bards near you.