Dungeons & Dragons 5e
College of Creation
(Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything p.28) College of Creation bards learn to create objects from nothing, and get extra bonuses to their inspirations as well. Some of the things which they create can be helpful in battle, but most are simply things which didn’t exist there before.
College of Eloquence
(Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything p.29) These wordsmiths ramp their bardic inspirations up to 11. College of Eloquence bards get extra oomph out of their inspirations. They eventually can even understand all languages, well, at least for an hour each day. Mostly though they are particularly persuasive, to the point of boosting/decreasing morale of the target(s).
College of Glamour
(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.14) College of Glamour bards are skilled in the arts of the Feywild and use them in their endeavours. They can use their inspirations to give temporary hit points to their allies and allow them to move a bit more. They charm groups with their performances, and they can charm one creature especially hard without a performance. They can also make themselves look so attractive that they are harder to hit. They are just too damn pretty for God to let them die. The fey flavour flows deeply through this bard subclass.
College of Lore
(Player’s Handbook p.54) College of Lore bards are the scholars of the Dungeons & Dragons bard world. They get extra skills and can also use their bardic inspirations to increase their skill check rolls, they learn extra spells, and they can cast cutting words to lower the attack roll of a creature nearby in the hopes that it will miss on its attack against the bard or their companions.
College of Spirits
(Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft p.28) College of Spirits bards utilise the spirits of the dead to aid them. These bards learn guidance as a free cantrip, deal extra damage and healing, use bardic inspirations to provide a random source of weal or woe to another creature of your choosing, and gain temporary access to an extra spell of their choosing daily.
College of Swords
(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.15) College of Swords bards are highly skilled with their blades, and often use them in their acts, for juggling, sword swallowing, knife throwing, or other tricks. They can use medium armor and scimitars, they can choose either the dueling or two-weapon fighting styles of fighting, they get to move more if they are attacking, they can use their inspirations to get some pretty fancy blade flourishes, and they get extra attacks.
College of Valor
(Player’s Handbook p.55) College of Valor bards are all about the heroes of myth, and about creating heroic feats from the people around them. Which, in Dungeons & Dragons, means your party. These bards can use medium armor, shields, and martial weapons, making them much more dangerous than your normal bard in a scuffle, especially when they add in their extra attack and the fact that when they cast a spell in combat, they can also use a bonus action to attack with a weapon. In addition, their bardic inspiration can be used to add to damage dice or AC as well as the normal uses, which is pretty helpful in battle.
College of Whispers
(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.16) College of Whispers bards are infiltrators, using their skills to learn secrets and to mess with people’s minds. They can use their inspirations to add psychic damage to their weapon damage, they can frighten people when speaking with them, and they can charm people. Perhaps the coolest thing is that they can steal the shadow of a creature which dies near them and use it to look exactly like them for an hour, during which time they also know information about the person which they would share with a casual acquaintance. Talk about identity theft.