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The art of making instruments that express the soul and emotion of the player remains an elusive one. The craftsmen who create such instruments may only produce a few in a lifetime, each suited to a particular artist, although most of these items are beautiful and functional in the hands of any bard. A standard masterwork instrument provides a +2 circumstance bonus to Perform checks made using that instrument. These rare instruments are typically made for one bard and passed on to another, or made by a craftsman who has not studied the bard’s personal style. If the bard wishes to spend more time with the craftsman he can create a masterwork instrument that more accurately suits his needs. The construction of these instruments can take weeks or even months. In return for his investment, the bard receives an exquisite instrument built specifically for him.
The only limit to how many features a craftsman can put into an instrument is his own skill and the gold the bard wishes to spend. These features work for the bard who commissioned the instrument, or for a bard who can duplicate the owner’s unique style by making a single Perform check (DC 35). The effects that a craftsman can build into an instrument are listed below.
|Masterwork Instrument Effects|
Beautiful: The instrument possesses the fine lines of a masterpiece. It is obviously very valuable, although it may or may not be richly ornamented. Wood instruments are made of the .nest woods, while those with metal fittings use gold or silver alloys in their construction. A beautiful instrument adds an extra +2 bonus to the player’s Perform check for purposes of determining how much income he earns in any given day.
Expressive: An expressive instrument has subtle adjustments that make it perfect for shaping sound to match the bard’s innermost feelings. When using such an instrument the bard gains an extra +2 bonus to his Perform skill check when creating an emotional effect.
Inspirational: The sound of an inspirational instrument being played can embolden the heart and focus the attention of even the most dispassionate listener. Exquisite construction and sweet tones make music from this form of masterwork instrument particularly inspiring. When used to inspire courage, competence or greatness, an instrument of this type adds an additional +1 to each of the bonuses these features provide. Such intensity is difficult to maintain for long – any use of bardic music that benefits from this bonus lasts only half as long as it normally would. An inspirational instrument can be played to invoke bardic music abilities without drawing on its special +1 bonus.
Martial: Often a feature of brass wind or percussion instruments, martial instruments often provide rallying calls and mark formation changes on loud, chaotic battlefields. Without martial instruments, commanders would be hard pressed to get their orders across to distant troops during the heat of battle. Masterwork martial instruments draw on this tradition of warfare to drive those who hear their brazen tones to greater skill at arms. When used to Inspire Courage, a masterwork martial instrument grants an additional +1 morale bonus to attack and weapon damage rolls, improving that bonus to +2 total.
Prevailing: Prevailing instruments have a clear, resonant tone that manages to rise above the level of other sounds in the area. The area a musician can cover with his use of bardic music while playing a prevailing instrument is twice normal range. In addition, the vibrations a prevailing instrument generates allow even deaf targets within 10 feet of a bard to benefit from a bardic music usage. Anyone with a chance of hearing a prevailing instrument, when doing so could affect a situation (such as surprise or an ambush), gains a +5 circumstance bonus to their Listen check.
Pure: Pure instruments produce absolutely perfect music. Their sound has an almost ethereal quality, as if the instrument were an ideal rather than a real thing. Using a pure instrument increases the save DC of sonic- and language-dependent spells cast by the bard by +1.
Resonant: A resonant instrument is built so that it can continue to produce sound after the bard has finished playing. Mastering the use of a resonant instrument is tricky but, once mastered, these instruments assist the bard by continuing to play on their own for a full round after the bard finishes his song. This enables the bard to take other actions or even start a new song if he wishes, while the first continues to play.
Rich: Rich instruments have a variety of subtle ranges and tones, allowing the performer to put impressive nuances into his music. A rich instrument allows the bard to add an additional +2 bonus (for a total of +4) when he assists another musician.
Sibilant: Subtle undertones and quiet reverberations allow a sibilant instrument to weave a tune within a tune when playing. This complex music is perfect for carrying emotionally suggestive messages, increasing the DC against a suggestion (whether caused by a spell or the use of the bardic music ability) by +2. If the suggestion is simply an emotional response or course of action that could easily be communicated without words, a sibilant instrument can replace the need for the bard and the target to share a common language. Doing this with a sibilant instrument requires great effort and playing a song complicated enough to communicate a bard’s desires without speech requires an extra use of bardic music.
Superior: In the course of making masterwork instruments of any kind, an occasional specimen occurs that, while it does not specifically excel in any one aspect, every facet of its construction is of superior quality. Playing a superior instrument is a pure joy for a expert musician, with every vibrant note masterfully reproduced and every tune perfectly created. Superior musical instruments add a +3 circumstance bonus to Perform checks, superseding the +2 bonus a masterwork instrument grants.