Bard: College of the Killing Joke - D&D 5e - Why So Serious?

Updated: Apr 10

Hello everyone!

So I released the Book of Transformations, took a couple of days to relax and now I'm back. Can you guess what I read during that break? That's right, the Batman comic, the Killing Joke.

I'm sure there are plenty of Joker-based bard subclasses out there, so let me add mine to the pile. Making people laugh, whether they want it or not.

The subclass is only loosely inspired from the Joker, but the idea of the damaging and spreading laughter is basically what drives it, and it can make for a very dramatic concept, especially in tense situations. It's also a fun ability to give to a villain.

Take Care!


Throughout all courts and kingdoms, one thing is known to both the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor and that is to never mess with a jester. Though at first the court's fools might seem like nonthreatening madmen, what resides behind their humor and their patchwork costume is often more deadly than the blade of a knight. Their weapons are madness and sheer brutality, hidden behind a cheeky grin and a shrug. Laughter follows them, but unbeknownst to the world, so does murder.

Deadly Humor

When you join this college at 3rd level, you learn the hideous laughter spell if you didn't know it already. It does not count against your maximum number of spells known. For you, the spell can be cast as an Action or as a Reaction to taking damage from a melee attack (only targeting the attacker).

The Best Medicine

Also at 3rd level, the sheer joy of your presence improves the condition of those around you. When you cast an enchantment spell of 1st level or higher, you can use your reaction to choose a creature within 60 feet of you. It regain hit points equal to one roll of your Bardic Inspiration die. This does not expend a use of your Bardic Inspiration.

Starting at 14th level, you do not need to expend your reaction to use this ability.

Inconspicuous Assassin

When you reach the 6th level, your tomfoolery has become impossible to see through, making those around you disregard your maliciousness. You can cast enchantment spells and the hideous laughter spell without requiring any somatic or verbal components. This ability fails if the spell can target multiple creatures at once.

If at the end of a charm's duration, the spell specifies that the creature learns that it has been charmed, it must now succeed on a Wisdom (Insight) check contested by your Charisma (Deception) check, learning that it was the target of the spell on a success.

Laugh Your Guts Out

By the 6th level, the sheer extent of your hilarity has become mesmerizing, and deadly. You learn the enthrall spell, It does not count against your maximum number of spells known, but does require concentration for you. Any creature under the effects of your hideous laughter or enthrall spell suffers from uncontrollable laughter that breaks their psyche. This laughter causes them to take 2d6 psychic damage at the end of each of their turns, for the spell’s duration. This damage does not end the spell early or trigger a saving throw against it.

The damage increases by 1d6 at 10th level (3d6), and again at 14th level (4d6).

Infectious Laughter

Starting at 14th level, the laughter you bring to the world simply cannot be contained. Whenever you affect a creature with the hideous laughter spell or charm it via the enthrall spell, its laughter will spread. At the end of an affected creature's turn, all creatures of your choice within 30 feet of it must make a saving throw against your Spell Save DC or also be affected by the spell, even if the spell can normally only target one creature. GM NOTE: Only the creature under the spell can spread it, those who catch the laughter can’t. Could be a fun way to destroy a kingdom though.


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