This build is meant for a support character. Your Bard isn’t going to be the hero of the day, using the best weapons or casting the best spells, but he is going to be the best support character you have. He will buff your party before the battle begins, debuff the enemies at the beginning of battle, keep Bardsong up for the majority of the fight, and then maybe finish off a few enemies with his bow.
With this role, the best kit is undoubtedly the Skald. The main benefit of the Skald is an improved Bardsong that scales with level up to a maximum +4 to hit and damage, -4 AC, and Immunity to Fear and Stun effects. This is a huge buff to the party that you should keep up as much as possible.
Strength – 10
Dexterity – 16
Constitution – 10
Intelligence – 16
Wisdom – 12
Charisma – 18
With this build, I wanted to have access to the full range of possible Bard spells. Bards can only cast up to level 6 spells even at the maximum level, so I only required 16 Intelligence. I also wanted my Bard to be decent with a bow, so I put his Dexterity to 16. The 16 points here also helps with defenses by increasing AC a little bit. Those are really the only required attributes.
I put 18 points in Charisma for role-playing with a Bard, but in the Baldur’s Gate series Bards don’t actually get any unique benefit from Charisma. All Charisma does is reduce NPC vendor costs, but there’s so much gold to be found in the game you could easily ignore it. Not only that, there is a ring early in Baldur’s Gate 2 that sets Charisma to 18 with any character when equipped.
This build will have pretty high lore as well, so you will be able to identify a lot of items for free just by examining them. If you have extra attribute points, it’s up to you where they go.
The only proficiency you need is Short Bow. The other slots can be spent as you desire based on the equipment you get. So if you find a good crossbow that’s better than your bow, you might switch to using the crossbow until you find a better bow. You also should pick up at least one melee weapon proficiency in case you have to fight up close. In the Baldur’s Gate games there’s no penalty for using ranged weapons in melee, but melee weapons are generally more powerful than ranged weapons. You might even need to use a melee weapon to damage some monsters.
Key Early Spells:
With 16 Intelligence, my Bard can only have 12 spells maximum per level in his spellbook, but there are many more than that available. This meant I needed to specialize a little bit. I chose to go primarily with debuffs that don’t directly damage enemies. I also chose a few of the powerful buffs like Haste. The ideal party for this build includes another spellcaster that focuses on damage-dealing spells.
Replace debuff spells with damage spells – You could switch the focus your Bard to damage-dealing spells and have the other caster use buffs and debuffs. The downside to this is not having high level damage spells, which are some of the best spells in the game. You might add a 3rd spellcaster to your party that also focuses on damage spells to compensate, or you might just keep the same party and deal with the extra challenge.