The first mission is a challenge for a mentorless bard, especially one who wants to improve their stats as much as possible. Assuming you start with the bard background (which is the only way in this game to have the lute and be a “full” bard), you start with 50 silver pennies, and you earn 45 silver from your job in chapter 4 (unless you work as a poet when you already have 5 eloquence; that gives you 100 gold and some renown, but you lose a chance to boost one of your primary stats). So you have 95 silver, minus whatever you spend at The Growling Giant (between 1 and 15) and whatever you spend for room and board at the Blazing Sword (10, 25, or 75). If you want to improve your lore skills as much as possible, you need to pay 40 silver for an academic text, and you don’t have any free time to make extra money. It’s impossible for a mentorless bard who starts with 5 eloquence to do all three of the following: boost a primary stat (from working), boost a lore skill (from studying), and defeat the razorclaw, since that would require a morale boost that you don’t have enough money for.
(If you only spend 1 silver at The Growling Giant, you can almost do it: spend 25 for room and board, 40 for a text, and you’re 1 silver short of being able to buy the lionmilk to boost your morale, which could let you kill the razorclaw. If players request it, @Cataphrak might consider making a change in the next update so that a character with 5 eloquence only needs 23 silver to buy the lionmilk, since eloquent characters get a discount. If a 5 eloquence character (with no morale boosts or penalties) has 30 silver, they would end up with 7 silver after buying the lionmilk because of the discount, but with 29 silver you can’t buy the lionmilk.)
It’s also not possible for a mentorless bard who starts with 5 eloquence to boost a primary stat, boost a lore skill, and convince the Baroness to leave the razorclaw alone. That requires 6 (eloquence + morale), but there’s no way to have boosted your eloquence if you start with 5 eloquence, and you don’t have enough money to boost your morale.
Since I don’t want to miss an opportunity to boost my stats or my lore skills and I definitely want the Baroness’ reward (money is tight when you’re paying for room and board, and 400 hundred silver goes a long way), my mentorless bard Roland dreams about being a warrior, starting with 4 prowess and 3 eloquence. He spends lavishly at the Growling Giant, which allows him to bluff the bandits (fighting the bandits without a sword or sling means you get wounded, and getting healed costs more than spending lavishly) and spare the wounded bandit. He works as a poet, sleeps in the common room, eats modestly, buys a collection of heroic tales, asks the Baroness how best to fight a razorclaw, waits with Maud and Stephen, and charges in with his weapon (4 prowess plus some help from the farmer with the bow is just enough to kill the beast).
After taking the gold, Roland continues to work as a poet and decides to try something new, buying a tome of magic. With relatively high morale (from a private room, a blessing, or both if you decide to not buy a writ), Roland bluffs his way into Lord Berwick’s manse, plunders his strongbox and valuables (though he feels a bit sorry about this after learning of Lord Berwick’s troubles), runs to the docks (and I have Roland stay hidden and see Milius), bluffs Lord Berwick’s guards, and brings William the chalice, receiving 5 gold (renown or a favour William that owes you are also decent options).
Roland now works as a healer: in Hallowford, he’ll have 4 prowess, 4 will, 2 of each magic lore, and 6 eloquence, so he’ll have at least some skill in most situations. The cheaper way to beat chapter 6 is to buy a sling, but I avoid having Roland kill anyone, so he needs to have high morale. Roland has a private room and reads either “The Korilandine Wars” or “A Survey of the Forest Ruins” (I want Roland to reach at least 2 Flowering Court lore, but he can boost both magic and Flowering Court lore in the next game, so it’s fine for him to broaden his horizons here). He buys the potion and then bluffs the bandits, encouraging Sir Edmund to take the unconscious bandit prisoner, and receives the ring of the scholar before heading back to the Blazing Sword.
Roland chooses the duke’s plan, receiving his cloak, convinces Caroline of Hillisport to help, and easily defeats Milius. He wants Caroline to be spared punishment and has the other bandits exiled from Kendrickstone (Roland is very compassionate). Aware that he isn’t widely known, he refuses any reward for saving Kendrickstone, which greatly increases his fame. He ends the game by tweaking the melody of the song written in his honour.
In Hallowford, Roland boosts both his magic lores to 2, buys armour, and becomes very famous and widely liked.