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One-Shot Spotlight: Like A Bard Outta Hell

There’s something absolutely gorgeous about selling your soul for fame and fortune…In stories, I mean. Between films like Angel Heart and books like We Sold Our Souls, binding show business and Satanism is a great mesh of themes and atmosphere. And you know what else is great? Bards. Even better if there’s a whole party of them. (And if they weren’t sex-crazed stereotypes, but maybe I’m the weirdo here.) If only there was some way we could combine–

The Basic Plot

So, Like A Bard Outta Hell is a four hours-ish long one-shot designed for a party of three to six 6th level bards. (Multi-classing is allowed, provided that half the characters levels are in bard.) A nobleman named Emanuel du Funq approaches you and your fellow bards. Maybe he’s giving you the career you were working for, if not reviving one you lost. Either way, he’ll make you famous, and all you need to do is perform some shows for him…

...There's a bard pun in there, and I won't be able to figure it out until AFTER I post this thing.
I’m just going to roll in the Storm of Foreshadowing and set the lighting to “ominous” now. There we go.

So, spoiler alert. Mister du Funq’s not actually your mild-mannered rich guy. Rather, he’s a half-devil who wants to drain a your/your fellow bards’ talent and stuff it into animatronics to perform endless shows. Also the shows you have to perform are for planar travelers in Hell. (So, yeah, just another day in L.A.) But with the aid of du Funq’s twin sister and a former client, you can potentially destroy your contracts and get the hell outta Hell.

The Game Itself

This one-shot knows the bard image well and has a very tongue-in-cheek humor to it. (For example, du Funq operates on the 69th floor of a building.) The atmosphere is also no stranger to a classic Hollywood style, demonic enforcers wearing suits and shades. Not to mention the Tower of Song’s Hollywood goth atmosphere of leather furniture and chandeliers.

Since this is hell, I can only assume all the peanuts here are teriyaki BBQ roasted.

The writer- who I believe is R.M. Jansen-Parkes- is very mindful of gameplay. They advise players to use poker chips or something to track who is giving who inspiration. Allow players a means to possibly legally wiggle their way out of a contract, despite otherwise having said contracts be loophole-less. Provide a means for players to find clues they might have missed. And they craft interesting encounters with enemies. (No joke, there’s a battle of the bands situation.) This is a person who knows how to spin a good D&D session.

Like A Bard Outta Hell itself takes you through the Tower of Song, the center of the infernal capital district. (Yes, primarily on the 69th floor.) Given that this is a one-shot, don’t expect any too deep lore or complex character interaction/development. But that being said, this is still a very entertaining adventure to run. The environments impress, such as a ballroom filled with demons that could ID your or the room of dolls that might slowly absorb your talent. And while there isn’t characterizations complex enough to warrant an hour-long video essay on Youtube, the characters do have a nice amount of shade to them. For example, du Funq’s previous client- a gnome named Taliah Swiftwood- refused to leave the Tower of Song despite being allowed to leave, due to her desperation to somehow get her talent back.

Final Verdict

Yes. Play this. It’s outright sinful not to.

Like A Bard Outta Hell can be found here.

About the Author
Went to film school instead of real college. Writes stuff, animates things, and programs whatchacallits. Currently playing a rogue/cleric (trickery) warforged that's basically a life-sized Victorian porcelain horror doll. You can find more of her stuff at kerahildebrandt.com, including D&D modules/such!

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