Ready-To-Play D&D Character – Rudolph, The Halfling Bard
Bards are really fun characters to play in D&D. Until recently, they were considered a bit dull, and were persistently mocked as being the joke of the party. Then, when D&D 5E came along, Bards were taken seriously again. They became a decent force to be reckoned with and, with the introduction of the different Bardic Colleges, Bards have become interesting characters to play.
Then there are Halflings. Until recently, for me at least, I never saw Halflings as much of anything bar Rogues. This was an outdated mentality, as they became so much more than that post Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Instead of being purely Rogues (although still making good Rogues) Halflings can, like any race, be anything. Their racial mentality however makes them natural politicians, diplomats, and entertainers. They are sociable beings, and this makes them ideal for Bards.
Rudolph Underroot, the Lightfoot Halfling Bard – Character Sheet
Enter Rudolph Underroot, the Lightfoot Halfling Bard. Rudolph was put together with the idea of creating a Bardic character who could act as a diplomat and boost for any D&D adventuring party. Like the traditional Halfling, Rudolph is a happy-go-lucky chap who has a wonderment of the other races in the D&D world – in Faerun and beyond.
To create Rudolph, I used the character sheet format that I created for Ged Stonebrew, the Hill Dwarf Druid. This has undergone a few changes to make the sheet a little more useful.
Rudolph’s Halfling and Bardic Abilities
Rudolph Underroot is an interesting character, and he gets abilities for being both a Lightfoot Halfling and a Bard, especially one with an Entertainer’s background. His base stats were 10, 10, 15, 15, 11, 15. Being a Halfling, Rudolph gets a +2 to his Dexterity, and then being of the Lightfoot variety of Halfling he gets a +1 Charisma. This seemed like a bit of a no-brainer choice for a Bard.
Being a Bard and a Halfling (and just awesome), Rudolph gets a few abilities. I ran out of space on the character sheet to write them in full on there, but so this is a (non-word-for-word) summary of those abilities. These are just the Bardic and Halfling abilities for now. We’ll move onto the Entertainer background in a bit.
- Lucky – Halfling Trait – If Rudolph rolls a natural 1 on any skill check, attack, or save, he can reroll and apply the second roll instead (Player’s Handbook, pg. 28)
- Brave – Halfling Trait – Rudolph gains the advantage against being frightened (Player’s Handbook, pg. 28)
- Halfling Nimbleness – Halfling Trait – Rudolph can move through the space another creature occupies with ease (Player’s Handbook, pg. 28)
- Naturally Stealthy – Lightfoot Halfling Trait – Rudolph can attempt to hide, even behind creatures that are only one size larger than he is (Player’s Handbook, pg. 28)
- Ritual Casting – Bard Trait– Bards can cast spells with the Ritual tag as Rituals (Player’s Handbook, pg. 53)
- Bardic Inspiration – Bard Trait – Rudolph can give another adventurer Bardic Inspiration. Bardic Inspiration is a 1D6 dice, which they may add (at any time over the next 10 minutes) to any roll they may make, applying the roll. Once used, the die is removed (Player’s Handbook, pg. 53)
There are some really cool abilities in there, most notably Bardic Inspiration, which is incredible as a group ability.
Looking at Rudolph’s Statistics
As we look closer at Rudolph, we can see how his statistics were designed around his character. Firstly, he rolled fairly averagely using the 4D6, remove the lowest strategy.
As a Halfling Bard, Rudolph’s primary weapon is that of his words and wit. This meant that he would need Charisma to be his highest score (which was a 15 before modification – boo – it could have been higher), followed by Intelligence. After that it was easy to asign his lowest statistic to strength. He’s a Halfling who plays a lute – his strength doesn’t need to be out of this world. Average is fine.
Next, and this is where I have meta-gamed a bit, I never tend to give Constitution the lowest score. Hit points are important, so I always make the Constitution as high as possible after the core stats.
Finally, Dexterity and Wisdom just fell into place. I wanted him to be more wise than dexterous, but that was personal preference. If you want to play Rudolph, feel free to flip those around.
For a Bard, there are a couple of backgrounds that stand out. For this one, for Rudolph the Halfling Bard, he has a fairly traditional background. He is a Bard through and through.
Being an Entertainer, Rudolph gains a few cool abilities. He gets the Bardic proficiencies of Acrobatics and Performance, meaning that the three proficiencies he gets for being a Bard to begin with can be used elsewhere. Following the stats and the logic between each choice, these were put into Investigation, Deception, and Persuasion. The idea being that Rudolph is the ultimate Halfling Bard. He was born to do this. Of course, leaving aside a proficiency in Acrobatics and Performance, Rudolph has a few other special abilities.
- Instrumentalist – Entertainer Trait – One of the most random proficiencies I have come across. Rudolph is an instrumental expert, being able to play Lute, Lyre, Flute, and Drum. Two of these are from being a bard. Two are from being an entertainer. (Player Handbook, pg. 130)
- By Popular Demand – Entertainer Trait – If Rudolph plays in a tavern, he will get free food, drink, and lodging from that tavern. The performance makes him a local figure, making him recognisable in the town (Player Handbook, pg. 130)
From here all that was needed was for his backstory to be pieced together. Rudolph believes in creativity being the source of all things. He idolises those who he perceives to be the inspiration of the romantic poems and epic tales. Rudolph wants to be just like them, and he is an adventurer at heart. He is nice to be around, and people struggle to stay angry at the fellow. That being said, his sharp tongue is known to get him into trouble.
New To Magic
Rudolph is a rookie to magic. Magic is one of those things, one of those great forces in the universe, that some people can master – Wizards, Sorcerers, Warlocks – but some people just learn to channel. Rudolph doesn’t understand magic, but he does understand music and the effect that he has on the people around him.
As such there are a few tricks he knows, but they are all based around moving people emotionally or in using his word. He can make his presence and performances slightly more impressive with Prestidigitation. He can help impress an ideal of friendship in people with Friends. Next he knows a couple of decent tricks that have made life easier for our Halfling Bard over the past few years. Rudolph knows Disguise Self so he can augment his performance. Finally, he knows the most useful of all his spells. Rudolph knows how to heal the body (and the soul, but that is a different point) with his voice.
That being said, where Rudolph knows a few core tricks, magic doesn’t hugely come naturally to him.
Backstory: Rudolph Underroot – Lightfoot Halfling Bard
Garret Underroot was a well known merchant in Waterdeep, providing fabric to not only the city itself, but exporting it to Amn and Calimshan to the south. He was a stern halfling, with a good reputation, and a loving wife called Rosie.
The thing both Garret and Rosie wanted most was a family, and Rosie gave birth to three sons. The first two were twins, Odo and Drogo, and were given birth to with relative ease. The two sons grew up, joyful and happy, but when they approached their 12th birthday Rosie gave birth to her third son, Rudolph. When she gave birth to Rudolph there were complications and she died during childbirth.
Garret grew cold to the world around him. Without Rosie there he lost interest in family. When Odo and Drogo grew old enough he sent them out to mind caravans and strike deals with the merchants of Faerun. When it came to Rudolph, however, he barely recognised the boy’s existence, being unable to forgive him for a crime he didn’t commit. The only time they would speak is when Garret would tell him to go to his room, or tell him to get out of his way.
As a young Halfling, Rudolph would spend hours each day, sat in his room, reading stories and telling them back to himself. He learned instruments to avoid having to communicate with his estranged father, and would hang out with the servants of the household. In turn they would tell him their stories, which he grew fascinated by.
When he grew old enough, Rudolph would sneak into the city and attend the bars, taverns, docks, and anywhere else that took his interest. He would read the stories of the legends in the great library, and wander the city talking to whoever would hear him. His father would never allow him to socialise properly when in the house, but when he was in the streets, no one could stop him. Rudolph and his father grew more and more estranged, his brothers stopped engaging with him, and his family barely even acknowledged his name.
Once Garret died, Rudolph only returned to the house one more time, to pick up his lute.
Garret began touring the taverns, telling the stories he had read, recounting on the woe of the great tragedies, and using that loneliness, heartache, and pain he felt as a child to spur him on. He started off as a storyteller and musician, but soon a new word was associated with his name – Bard.
Soon he began getting admirers, and was a well respected bard in the great city of Waterdeep.
Most heroes come from unlikely beginnings, so maybe this is the birth of just another great in a world of monsters. Rudolph, the Halfling Bard’s story begins here.
Optional Rules and Items for Rudolph
Here are a few additional items and rules for Rudolph, for use at the Dungeon Master’s discretion. Make sure you ask him/her if it is okay to use these before you do.
Charismatic Performance is an augmentation of By Popular Demand. It is the idea of two things – firstly, Rudolph will probably not be adventuring alone. Secondly, his performances are amazing.
With Charismatic Performance, not only does Rudolph get the abilities and favour of By Popular Demand, but he also gets it for the group that he is with. For the rest of the evening as well, Rudolph gets advantage on Charisma checks whilst in the establishment he is in. Even if someone new enters the bar or tavern, how much he is adored by the people will imbue him with confidence and additional Charisma, giving him the advantage over them in conversation.
The Real Tales of Yore
There are certain tales that Rudolph holds close to his heart. If someone insults the tales of old, Rudolph feels the need to defend the stories. He will speak at lengths about their legitimacy and not back down from a fight.
Right of My Father
Rudolph’s father was a well respected fabric merchant, Garret Underroot, whose name was well renowned. In the city of Waterdeep, Rudolph gets money off any clothing establishment if he mentions his father’s name, even though they didn’t get on. He was seen to have done a lot for the city, and Rudolph can benefit from that.
Levelling Rudolph Underroot, Halfling Bard
It is entirely up to you how you want to level Rudolph up, however, there are a couple of things I would suggest.
- At Level 3 – For a Halfling Bard like that of Rudolph, I would recommend taking the College of Lore. Where the College of Valor has the more thematic love for the tales of old, the College of Lore fits in more with the Halfling’s mentality. This is especially the case with the Cutting Words ability.
- At Level 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19 – Ged will get the chance for Ability Score Improvements. He can either increase one Ability score by 2 or two Ability Scores by 1. I would recommend putting it into the combat Abilities (Strength and Dexterity) first. Then, have some fun.
Ready-To-Play D&D Character – Rudolph, The Halfling Bard
When first putting Rudolph together I didn’t really expect anything decent out the other end. It is important to understand that Rudolph is probably not the kind of character you want to play if you like getting into the thick of combat or being the first person to burst through a door. That is a very good way to get Rudolph either very sick or in the ground.
That being said, if you like having a character in the party who aces communication, who thrives in cities, and who can have a good shot at persuading anyone of anything then Rudolph is definitely worth a try.He has the potential to be incredibly fun to play.
If you do decide to give Rudolph a go then please let me know. I’m always curious. In the meantime, what is your favourite D&D class/race? What do you play? Let me know in the comments below.
Ged, The Hill Dwarf Druid
Other Articles About Bards:
The Case for “Fluffy” D&D Characters (For Bards and Monks)
If you want to play Rudolph as he is in this article then you will need the following:
- Player’s Handbook – This is essential for playing most characters in D&D.
There is a novel worth reading as well:
- The Crystal Shard by RA Salvatore – For the Halfling Regis