Character Build: College of Glamour Bard a.k.a. Jack Black
(Un)fortunately, the reception of our last Jack Black Character Build was well-received. In fact, it was too well-received! The people wanted more! And who are we to deny the people what they want?
So back to the drawing board my minions and I went where we toiled for many, many moons to create the ultimate guide to Jack Black in D&D 5e.
What movie could I base the next Jack Black Character Build on? School of Rock? Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny? Kung Fu Panda 3? Nacho Libre?
How about all of them? No, that’s too much. Instead, let’s take Bardic Inspiration (what have I done) from some of Mr. Black’s more musically gifted characters and create a spell-slinging, metal-loving, grifter!
So today, for the 100th post on Dungeon Solvers I present to you a College of Glamour Bard build that oozes the essence of Jack Black. Enjoy?
Note: This honestly goes without saying. It’s almost a constant at this point that Jack Black’s characters are some type of musician.
Note: Another constant amongst many of Jack Black’s characters is that they’re some flavor of con artist. You’ve got the Polka King scamming the elderly for their money and Dewey Finn pretending to be a teacher in School of Rock.
Race: Variant Human
Note: The argument could be made that Jack Black is a Celestial that has graced us with his presence. He’s too humble to admit that so I recommend sticking with some flavor of human.
Stats: This was done using point buy. Check out this post for more info on point buy! We get 2 +1’s in any two abilities because of our variant human race and also get an extra +1 to Charisma from the Actor feat.
- STR: 14 (+1)
- DEX: 8 (-1)
- CON: 16 (+3)
- INT: 12 (+1)
- WIS: 8 (-1)
- CHA: 16 (+3)
Note: He’s a manipulative and clever con artist, but not a particularly wise one since his schemes tend to blow up in his face. Based on Brütal Legend we can surmise that he prefers to smash his guitar off the skulls of his enemies hence the higher Strength instead of a typical bard opting for Dexterity.
Skills: Persuasion, Performance, and History
Note: You can choose any 3 but these are the most iconic 3 that I could think of. We already get Deception and Sleight of Hand from the Charlatan Background which were two other top choices.
Note: How could you be all of the Jack Blacks if you can’t perfectly mimic their voices and mannerisms? Plus you get +1 to your Charisma. This feat is a must.
Post Level 1
This build is a single-class build. You may not reach level 20 in your campaign, but if you do you’ll get a unique capstone ability for sticking with the same class the entire way through. You’ll get all of your bard spells, class features, and archetype features, unlike builds that dip a few levels into a different class.
Ability Score Increases (ASIs)
Charisma >>> Dexterity > Constitution > Strength ≥ Wisdom > Intelligence
You’ll have a total of 5 ASIs to work with if you make it all the way to level 20. First and foremost you should spend these to max-out your Charisma which will take a total of 2 of these ASIs.
From there I would recommend either picking up a fun feat or focusing on beefing up your Dexterity a bit. You have a Constitution of 16 already which is a pretty solid all things considered.
A -1 to Dexterity is flavorful, but it affects your AC and is a very common saving throw ability. Spend 1 or 2 ASIs beefing it up so that you’re not at such a huge mechanical disadvantage.
From there I would continue either pumping up Dexterity or Constitution and maybe consider bumping up your Wisdom so it’s at least neutral. Honestly, after your Charisma is maxed-out at 20 go with whatever you feel is the most fun or flavorful.
Inspiring Leader – Spend 10 minutes shredding some heavy metal to pump your allies up and give up to 6 of them temporary hit points equal to your level + your Charisma modifier. It’s a fun and flavorful support mechanic to pick up once you max out your Charisma.
Lucky – Lucky is a great feat for any build.
Prodigy – This is a fun feat for a skill monkey build. You can gain a new skill or tool proficiency or a new language. Plus you gain expertise in a skill you have proficiency with. By the time you take this feat you’ll probably already have expertise in your Persuasion and Deception skills, so which skill you choose is entirely based on your personal preference.
War Caster – Nothing sucks more than failing a concentration check when you’ve cast a clutch spell. War caster gives you advantage on these checks and allows you to perform the somatic components of spells while you are holding a shield or a weapon. You also can use Cantrips when a creature provokes an opportunity attack from you. It’s a solid feat for any caster in my opinion.
Spellcasting – Level 1+
You gain access to the bard spell list which can be found on page 207 of the PHB and page 147 of XGtE. You’ll learn 2 Cantrips of your choice at level 1 that which will further increase to four known at level 10. You’ll also learn four 1st-level bard spells and will be able to learn more as you level up.
Spell save DC = 8 + proficiency + Charisma modifier
Spell attack modifier = proficiency + Charisma modifier
Each time you level as a bard you can choose one of your known bard spells and replace it with a new one. This helps to make up for being unable to swap out spells at will like spellcasters that prepare their spells.
You’ll be able to know 22 Bard spells at level 20 and 4 additional spells from other classes thanks to Magical Secrets!
Bards are also able to cast spells with the ritual tag as a ritual which helps to free up their spell slots throughout the adventuring day.
Bardic Inspiration – Level 1
I’ve mentioned before that most of the classes have their own unique resources. The bard’s bardic inspiration is by far one of my favorites in D&D 5e because of how versatile and useful it is. Not only that, but the archetype you choose gives you another way to use bardic inspiration.
Its base usage is to use a bonus action to grant a creature within 60 ft. of you a bardic inspiration die which at level 1 is a d6 and will gradually increase up to a 1d12 at 15th level. A bardic inspiration die can be rolled and added to any d20 roll in the game. A character can only have 1 die at a time and they last 10 minutes.
This is an extremely powerful ability. First of all, it’s a bonus action which is amazing for the bard’s action economy. This means that you can still cast most of your powerful spells or make an attack using your action and still provide some utility and support to your allies in the same round.
Secondly, you can even use a bardic inspiration die after you see the result of your d20 roll but before the DM declares the roll a success or failure. If you get a bad roll you have a chance to gamble and add a buffer of 1-12 to the roll. This can be enough to make an utter failure a complete success.
Jack of All Trades – Level 2
Skill checks are one of the bard’s strengths. Like the rogue, they gain expertise in a few of their skills in their later levels. Unlike the rogues, they’re not just experts at some skills, they’re pretty decent at everything.
Jack of All Trades adds half of your proficiency bonus (rounded down) to any ability check that doesn’t already include your proficiency bonus.
While this doesn’t seem like a huge difference, it’s a passive bonus to everything skill you’re not already proficient in. At max level, this will become a +3 bonus which is pretty significant.
This buffer can give you some breathing room when making ability checks that you’re not particularly well-built for. In our case, this would be any Wisdom or Dexterity-based check.
Song of Rest – Level 2
This is yet another neat utility bonus that bards get for free. Get used to this because you’re going to be seeing a lot of these types of features as you continue to level your Jack Black.
Song of Rest lets you sing a soothing song or speak calming words to your allies to help heal their wounds during a short rest. At the end of the short rest, each character that could hear your Song of Rest gains 1d6 hit points which will scale up to 1d12 at level 17.
Song of Rest costs nothing to use. However, it could potentially save your allies from having to expend precious hit dice during a short rest.
Expertise – Level 3
At levels 3 and 10 you can choose 2 of your skill proficiencies and double them. This grants you expertise in these skills. This is a huge benefit since this will effectively give you a +4 at level 3 which will scale to +12 at level 17.
Ideally, you’ll want to choose skills that you’ll be using a lot or ones that are high-risk, high-reward.
Flavor-wise though I’d suggest gaining expertise in Performance and Deception at level 3. Jack Black’s characters are focused on these two skills in quite a few of his movies. At level 10 I’d get Persuasion for sure.
The 4th skill is up to you. You may grab more proficiencies down the line by taking the Prodigy feat, but if you don’t then you’ll be choosing between History and Sleight of Hand. Both of which are flavorful and useful.
Font of Inspiration – Level 5
Now you regain all of your uses of Bardic Inspiration when you finish a short or long rest. This means more buffs, more utility, and of course, more rad as hell metal verses to spew at your allies.
Countercharm – Level 6
Countercharm grants you use your action to shred some spicy metal riffs to give your allies within 30 ft. of you advantage on saving throws against being frightened or charmed. This lasts until the end of your next turn.
This is going to require you to stay somewhat close to your allies and be able to anticipate that the enemy will try to frighten or charm your party. That being said, it’s enough to negate a huge advantage for the enemy and provides an enormous amount of utility for your party.
Oh, and this ability isn’t tied to a resource. You can use Countercharm whenever you want. Plus, since it’s an action you can still dish out bardic inspiration while you jam out.
Magical Secrets – Level 10
Bards are one of my favorite classes in the game and this is by far one of the reasons why. Magical Secrets lets you learn 2 spells from any class’ spell list including the bard spell list.
The catch is that they have to be spells of a level that you can cast. At 10th level, this is level 5 or below which gives you access to some really powerful spells.
Not only that, but you can learn an additional 2 spells from any class at 14th and 18th level. Unfortunately, these are counted as part of your total bard spells known, but it’s a small price to pay for such flexibility.
There is a bit of a catch with Magical Secrets, though. While you’re able to exchange one of your old bard spells for a new one each level you can’t exchange a spell learned from Magical Secrets with another spell of your choice.
The wording specifically states “..you can choose one of the bard spells you know and replace it with another spell from the bard spell list…”. This means that while your Magical Secrets spells count as bard spells, the new spell you exchange one for has to be from the bard spell list.
We must pick good spells when we get the chance. These should be spells that scale well or have a niche use that we’ll never fill otherwise. On the other hand, this build requires these spells to be flavorful first and foremost.
Superior Inspiration – Level 20
For our capstone ability, we gain the ability to regain one use of bardic inspiration if we roll initiative and have 0 uses. This is pretty solid all things considered. Naturally, you’ll have a maximum of 5 uses of bardic inspiration since the number of uses is based on your Charisma modifier.
Magical means may increase this, but we’ll assume it’s 5 for the sake of brevity.
This means that you’ll regain 20% of your bardic inspiration at the start of each combat if you’re completely tapped. This means you can be much more liberal with your spending of bardic inspiration which is a great thing considering it’s 1d12 at this level.
That being said, you probably won’t make it to level 20. Jack Black deserves to die an honorable death and jam out with the gods of metal and rock for all eternity. But, if you do manage to climb to level 20 you’ll get a pretty neat capstone ability.
College of Glamour
At its core, the College of Glamour is based on the fey and the feywild. You could stay true to the roots of the College of Glamour and have Jack Black shredding with a pan flute for sure, or you could put in the extra mile and do some reflavoring and reskinning.
Check with your DM first, but if they’ve already approved your character concept they’re probably cool with you taking some creative liberties. They may even help!
The archetype is big on two things: altering your physical image and using charms and enchantments to buff or manipulate allies and enemies. These are pretty common traits for many of Jack Black’s characters. Even when he manipulates people for his selfish benefits like the class in School of Rock, he’s still helping them out.
Mantle of Inspiration – Level 3
I mentioned before that each archetype gives you a new way to use your bardic inspiration. The College of Glamour’s is Mantle of Inspiration which gives you access to an AoE buff for yourself and your allies.
Essentially you can use a bonus action and a bardic inspiration die to grant several people equal to your Charisma modifier 5 temp hp. They are also able to immediately use their reaction to move up to their speed without provoking opportunity attacks.
This is an amazing amount of utility for a bonus action, though it’s not something that you can cast and hold onto like the baseline bardic inspiration. That being said, if there’s ever a time where your party needs to reposition itself quickly this is by far one of the best options in the game to whisk everyone to safety.
Enthralling Performance – Level 3
If you perform a mini-concert for at least 1 minute you can captivate your audience. You can choose several humanoids up to your Charisma modifier that listened to the concert in its entirety and forces them to make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC.
Any humanoid that fails is charmed by you and will idolize you for 1 hour. This can also end prematurely if the humanoid takes any damage, you attack it, or if it sees you attacking or damaging its allies.
You get groupies.
Mantle of Majesty – Level 6
You become even more epic. Now you can cloak yourself in magic that makes others want to serve you. As a bonus action, you cast command and take on an appearance of unearthly beauty for 1 minute or until you lose concentration.
While you are in this form you can cast command as a bonus action on each of your turns without expending a spell slot. This means you can cast it up to 10 times in a minute for free.
This is seriously powerful when used well and an amazing manipulation tool. You can convince minions to do a quick job for you, or you could convince enemies to lay down their weapons so your allies can take them from them before the charm runs out. There are a lot of creative things you could do with this power.
Charmed NPCs will find themselves wondering why they did Jack Black’s bidding. Just like Sarah Silverman and Mike White’s characters in School of Rock who let his character live at their house rent-free while eating their food and making a mess of the place. It’s perfect!
Unbreakable Majesty – Level 14
Your appearance now permanently changes and gains a more otherworldly aspect. Now there are no wrong answers to this, but it seems like Wizards of the Coast has given us a way to ascend to a new level of Jack Black. See the pic below this section for my official recommendation for this build.
Oh, and you can use a bonus action to assume an even more fantastical presence for 1 minute. While this is going on, whenever a creature attacks you for the first time on a turn they’ll have to make a Charisma saving throw. On a failed save they cannot attack you and must choose a new target or choose to waste the attack.
Even if they make the saving throw the attack will still be made, but they’ll have disadvantage on any saving throw against your spells on your next turn.
You’ll need to finish a short or long rest to regain this feature, but it is extremely powerful and can open the doors to some high-risk, high-reward plays. Positioning yourself to get attacked just so you can blast the enemy with a powerful saving-throw spell is a potential tactic.
Keep in mind that we can only choose a total of 22 spells and 4 cantrips. 6 of these spells can be from any class, but 2 of them have to be 5th level or lower, 2 of them must be 7th level or lower, and the final 2 can be any level.
It’s pretty difficult to make a defined spell list for a character build in my opinion. Instead, I’m going to make a list of spells I find useful for this build and will talk about why I like them as choices. There may be options that I choose simply for flavor.
Any spell with an asterisk (*) is going to be one of the spells from Magical Secrets.
Vicious Mockery, Friends, Minor Illusion, and Dancing Lights
It’s pretty messed up that Thaumaturgy is not an option for Bards because that would be the perfect cantrip for this build. Instead, I guess we’ll have to settle with Minor Illusion and Dancing Lights for our special effects. I mean, at least Minor Illusion can make it look like your microphone is on fire.
That being said, I’d take Vicious Mockery and Friends first. These are pretty classic bard spells already with Vicious Mockery being many a bard’s bread-and-butter.
Friends is extremely useful for any sort of role-playing scenario that involves manipulating people. Since that’s the point of this build it feels like it’s an obvious choice. Beware though, once it’s used it’s prone to burn bridges with whoever was charmed by you! Thanks to your Charlatan Background you have a fake identity anyways so this isn’t a huge issue.
Command, Charm Person, Disguise Self, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, and Healing Word
Command is a great spell to grab in the early game until you get access to Mantle of Majesty at level 6. You could safely drop it at that point and pick up a more powerful spell in its stead. Until then, though, it’s a great way to manipulate enemies and allies alike.
Charm Person is your bread-and-butter. Not only that, but it’s even useful at higher levels since you get 1 extra person per level of spell slot. It scales pretty damn well.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter is flavorful and a pretty solid crowd control ability.
Healing Word is just a solid choice all-around, but you don’t have to grab it if you’re not inclined to heal your allies with this build. No healing builds and parties are perfectly acceptable in D&D 5e.
Disguise Self is going to be very handy especially if you can use it in conjunction with Friends. A creature will become hostile towards you once the Friends cantrip runs out. However, if you’re disguised they’ll be none-the-wiser the next time you talk to them with your natural appearance!
Crown of Madness, Enhance Ability, Hold Person, Phantasmal Force, and Suggestion
Crown of Madness is yet another tool for you to control and manipulate your enemies. This time though it comes with some extra crowd control that takes away the enemy’s action economy!
Enhance Ability is some pretty solid utility and a great situational buff for your yourself or your allies.
Hold Person is just a solid spell. It’s also a great safety net should one of your charms or negotiations with a humanoid go haywire. You can paralyze them to give yourself a head-start to escaping the situation, or you and your allies can easily cut them down.
Phantasmal Force is a fun way to mess with people using a powerful illusion. Manipulate and intimidate them using their worst fears.
Suggestion is in some ways a better version of Command. It allows you to make some more complex charms at the cost of a higher-level spell slot. Beware though, there are many limitations on what it can do.
Dispel Magic, Hypnotic Pattern, Enemies Abound, Tongues, and Haste*
At first, Tongues may seem like an odd choice for this list. It lets us speak any language and any creature can understand us as long as they know a language. This is pretty cool and for a build that is focused on interacting with people, you’ll see a lot of mileage with this since not everyone speaks common.
Hypnotic Pattern and Enemies Abound are excellent tools for messing with the enemy. You’re highly encouraged to take spells like these.
Dispel Magic is just a solid choice in general. Use rock & roll to dispel potentially harmful magical spells.
Haste is probably one of my favorite spells in the game so I am a bit biased. However, it’s a solid utility spell for you to dish out to your martial buddies. It’s a great way to up the tempo in battle.
Compulsion, Charm Monster, Hallucinatory Terrain, Polymorph, and Banishment*
Compulsion is a great tool for manipulating a creature on the battlefield. They’re still allowed to use their action as they normally would, but you can use a bonus action to move them around the battlefield. This is great for those long-range enemies that refuse to leave their covered safe spot.
Charm Monster is as the name implies. It’s like Charm Person, but for creatures!
Hallucinatory Terrain, because we need some way to transform a modest tavern into a scene for a proper metal concert.
Polymorph is a seriously powerful spell in general. It’s both an excellent buff for your allies at the lower levels by turning them into a powerful creature, and a devastating debuff for your enemies by transforming them into weak creatures.
Banishment may seem like an odd choice, that is until you remember that Jack Black banished Satan that one time. 100% required for this build to pan-out.
Dominate Person, Geas, Legend Lore, Modify Memory, Seeming, Synaptic Static, and Summon Greater Demon*
There are so many fantastic options for our build in our 5th level spell choices. There are tons of spells that allow us to mess with the lives of other people either simply because we can, or to benefit ourselves. I’d make it a point to start replacing some of the older, weaker spells that you no longer use for a few of these.
My favorites out of the list have to be Modify Memory and Dominate Person. Ethically speaking, these are super messed up, especially Modify Memory, but at this point, you’re probably well-past being an upstanding citizen. You’re an expert manipulator, and these are two of the best spells in the game to fill in that niche.
Seeming is very fun too as it’s an AoE disguise for your party. Again, this allows you and your friends to pull off some morally questionable stunts for personal benefit while avoiding the consequences.
Geas is a great manipulation tool, but it’s a very slow burn. Learning this spell is going to depend on the size and scope of the campaign you’re playing. For a short campaign or a one-shot, I’d advise you to choose a different spell.
You need Summon Greater Demon to be able to summon Satan. This is required for this build.
Mass Suggestion and Otto’s Irresistible Dance
Mass Suggestion is basically what the name implies. It’s suggestion, but it can charm up to 12 people at once for 24 hrs. It’s a solid spell for doing crowd work alongside your Enthralling Performance feature.
The cool thing about it though is that instead of being able to charm more people by spending a higher-level spell slot you’ll instead charm people for longer. Up to 1 year and 1 day if you use a 9th level spell!
Otto’s Irresistible Dance, because how else will we start a mosh pit?
Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion, Project Image, and Simulacrum*
Project Image gives us a way to project a likeness of ourselves and use it to cause havoc for a day. You could also use it as a decoy while you run off to cause some trouble. The cool part is that you can switch between yourself and your image using only a bonus action.
Simulacrum is a more expensive version of Project Image that is a legitimate clone of yourself instead of just a convincing illusion. Let’s put it this way. It’s an in-game option to spawn more Jack Blacks into the world.
Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion is a way to live a life of luxury in a decked-out mansion on a budget. At just 5gp a day it’s a steal to conjure up an enormous space full of obedient servants! This means you can spend all your money on rad guitars.
Dominate Monster, Feeblemind, and Antipathy/Sympathy*
There are so many awesome spells at this level, but considering we don’t get many spell slots that can use these spells I’d recommend limiting your selection to 1 or 2 of these. It’s going to depend on what you find yourself doing more at this point in the game.
Feeblemind is great for breaking those with a strong will that you are unable to successfully charm or manipulate. When all else fails you might as well drop their Intelligence and Charisma to 1 for 30+ days!
Dominate Monster is Dominate Person but now you can do it to powerful creatures!
Antipathy/Sympathy is another great long-term type of manipulation spell like Geas. I’m honestly surprised that it isn’t a part of the bard’s spell list already.
True Polymorph, Wish*
True Polymorph is a seriously powerful spell. You have a plethora of options as to what you can manipulate using this spell, and if you concentrate on the spell for the full hour the effects of the spell are permanent.
There are a lot of cool 9th level spells, but since we only get access to 1 slot per day it’s difficult for me to justify choosing too many of them. Wish is useful for allowing you to cast high-cost spells like Simulacrum for free. I’d like to think Jack Black would fully endorse mischief and chaos on a budget.
While you still have the wish portion of the spell, it comes with the price of never being able to cast Wish again and a plethora of other awful downsides. Try to use it only for duplicating spells unless you’re in a truly dire situation.
The College of Glamour Bard is a pretty awesome archetype for a party face and who is a better face than Jack Black? Seriously though, it’s a pretty unique and powerful archetype for someone who wants to manipulate and control others using charms and other enchantments.
Optimizing this build wouldn’t take much either. I made some creative choices such as making Wisdom and Dexterity the dump stats. A great first step would be to not do that and build your Jack Black Bard as a more traditional Dexterity-based bard.
However, if you’re as brave as I think you are you won’t try to optimize it at all. Instead, you’ll sit down and watch a few Jack Black flicks and perfect your role-playing. You’ll walk into your first session of the campaign and will probably never be invited back, but god damn it, you’ll be perfect!
I promise my next character build won’t be based on Jack Black. The one after that though? No promises. I mean I haven’t even touched on Jack Black in Jackal!