Your Hero, Your Way: Levelling Up in Bardsung


That’s right—today is all about abilities, upgrade paths, and hero customisation! 

Take it away, Sherwin!

(If you aren’t following the Kickstarter already, you can do that here.)

Levelling Up in Bardsung

By Sherwin Matthews

You’ve already had an overview of the core concepts in Bardsung—exploration, combat, the marching order, and wandering monsters.

Now, it’s time to drill into specifics, starting with a very interesting topic: hero creation!

Creating the Hero Characters

On one hand, we didn’t want to create run-of-the-mill character classes (more on that later). On the other hand, we did want to reference archetypes you’d be instantly familiar with.

And, as much as possible, we also wanted to remove any barriers to you simply sitting down and starting a game. 

So, here’s what we decided to do:

Rather than outright stating hero class, we looked at clues we could introduce, such as artwork, equipment, names, and starting abilities.

The result is heroes that feel familiar even before you look at their stats. If you want an example, look no further than The Nightfeather, our rogue-like’s resident rogue-like!


Crucially, this is just a starting point to help you get to grips with the game. Once you’re on board, you’ll realise the heroes are anything but typical (or predictable!).

Just because The Lightweaver has an arcane focus doesn’t mean they’re stuck with casting spells for the entire campaign. And Stoneheart might begin as a typical brawler, but could easily choose to focus on becoming more dexterous. 

In short, we wanted to create a system that took traditional RPG classes, pushed into the grey area of multi-classing, and then broke straight through the other side.

Here’s how we did it...

Levelling Up and Multi-Classing

At the end of most encounters, in addition to spending any treasure on precious gemstones, essential equipment, or firewood, your heroes also gain experience points (XP), which they can spend to level up.

When a hero levels up, there are three options available to them. And the decision of which path to follow, my friend, is yours. There are no mandatory requirements!


Characteristic Enhancement

Your first avenue is to increase one of your hero’s characteristic modifiers, making them more proficient. 

Focusing on one characteristic can be a great choice when enhancing, increasing the accuracy of abilities that use a specific skill (especially if you’re not sure what option to take).

On the other hand, increasing characteristics across the board will make you far more adept at tackling varied challenges!

Although individual heroes have a limit to how much they can increase certain characteristics, the order in which they do so (or whether they do so at all) is entirely up to you.


Upgrading Abilities

Some ability cards have empty lozenges, indicating they can be upgraded. So, you can specialise in existing abilities to your heart’s content.

The type of upgrade varies from ability to ability. For example, upgrades on attack abilities typically increase range, accuracy, or damage. 

(Occasionally, though, they’ll do something less obvious, such as adding a miss effect or condition.)

In comparison, a passive ability upgrade might add an extra rule or trigger, making it more likely to take effect, or causing its effect to last longer. 

There are a myriad of ways to customise your hero, and we can’t wait to see how you use them all!


Buying New Abilities

The final option is perhaps the most exciting, and that’s purchasing new ability cards

Each one of these cards belongs to a path deck.

Choose Your Hero’s Path

Path decks roughly correspond with recognisable RPG classes, such as fighters, rogues, and wizards (the paths of Blood, Shadows, and Knowledge, respectively).

Each deck allows your hero to access new skills, attacks, and traits.

Choosing a new ability gives your hero a larger range of potential actions during your turn—but what’s really exciting is that they don’t have to stick to any one set of cards

Just because The Dawnguard begins with two abilities from the Path of Faith doesn’t mean they have to continue to take cards from this deck. 

The Dawnguard could happily purchase a card from the Path of Blood, if they wanted to!

Paths are there for guidance; if you’re feeling uncertain about which option to take, or want a recommendation of what would work well. 

But once you’ve gotten to grips with the game, there are some amazing class ability combos out there for players that want to build unique heroes.


Whether you want to build a good all-rounder, specialise, build an ability toolbox, try out potent combinations, or have a helpful guide to levelling up on your first run through, the level up system has something for you. 

Next time, lead developer Fraser will be taking us through some example hero builds he’s created. Exciting stuff!

Don’t forget to follow the Kickstarter, hero. Our adventure begins November 10th!