I do agree that Bards, ESPECIALLY 3.0/3.5, are notorious for their terribleness. However, I am a huge proponent of the storyteller/chronicler archetype. As an adventurer or "princess saving bloke" they are not intended to fill main roles BUT, I would like to give a shout out to Paizo up on Pathfinder for re-working the class into something that doesn't totally suck.
If you care, I like THIS for new rule set & mechanics ANDDDD THIS GUY for an excellent build reference that gears a bard build towards 4th party member in a 4 person party.
as a skill set for adventuring? That's not the mindset I've taken over the last decade. To me, and I would argue other "bard enthusiasts" agree, a bard is a party member who can combat, cast or know stuff just as well as anyone else in the group, BUT can also inspire his fellows and belittle his foes with great ease.
I would argue, it's sort of like a High School English teacher with a History Minor. It's not a necessary aspect of the beast, but it can definitely lend insight and inspiration that would not otherwise come into affect.
In a less metaphory example, I have built, and seen bards built, into things that can outcast equiv level wizards and out melee equiv level fighters. Honestly. Some of us like our PVP. No not as far as firepower per spell, nor as blow to blow, BUT, when executed correctly, winning wizards duels and mortal combats(every now and then our group gets really into arena type encounters).
|Ran Dansin XIX, Thorin & Shingen. And GUESS WHO RUNS THE PARTY|