When a being dies, their soul goes to a big black river. On this river is a boat with a giant skeletal ferryman. He asks a toll to take you across the river to the land of no return. The payment is a song. You sing of everything you were and weren’t. You sing the song of your life. But some stand before the ferryman do not sing. They stand there in silence for they are dissatisfied with their song. And so they are Bar’d from the afterlife and sent back to this vale of tears to complete it.
A Bard continues their journey on paths that take them to blood and glory and battle so that they may hear the death songs of others in the hopes of finding inspiration to finish their own life’s magnum opus.
Upon death, a character may choose to become one of the Bard. Their character is resurrected 1d6 days after their death. If the body is in pieces or otherwise obliterated, it will regenerate from the torso or from thin air at or as close to the place of death as possible (that is relatively safe. So no resurrecting in a pit of acid). They retain all their memories. Opting to become a Bard makes leveling slower to the tune of +25% xp needed for each level.
A Bard cannot die until they choose to sing their final song. If they sustain mortal wounds they come back to life (as above) with 1 point taken off all their stats, to a minimum of 1. Eventually their stats will become so low that they become very unhappy furniture. They bear the palimpsest of their first death, seared flesh, still open wounds, rope burns etc.
As a Bard is repeatedly resurrected, their body becomes more resistant to damage from all the scarring and burning and crushing. They get a natural bonus to AC equal to the amount of times they have died. This does not stack with armour.
As they level up they can sing of death, like screeches and ultrasonic moans and weird undulations that cause bone to break and flesh to wither and so on. Any time they are mortally wounded, they learn a song that mimics the manner in which they died. All bards know the song of their first death. They may then sing that song to a single target and cause that creature to suffer pain in a manner similar to that death.
eg. If they sing the deathsong of a fatal sword wound, the target will feel as though they have just been stabbed. If they sing the song of drowning, the target will feel as though their lungs are filling with water and so on.
Deathsong is used in the same manner as a spell and can be sung a number of times per day equal to half the bard’s level (once at lvl 1). Target makes a save vs Magic or suffers 1d6+lvl damage. If a target is killed through the deathsong, the Bard receives double XP for that creature due to the intimate spiritual connection attained.
Most importantly, the Bard isn’t some foppish singer who stands around strumming a lute while everyone else fights. He is a hideous zombie pirate, bared chest and flapping shirt with guts and stitching, laughing madly and swinging a cruel edged saber.
This was totally nicked and adapted from here