Monday, 8 December 2014

B is for Bard...or, Blue Oyster Cult.

What the rest of the party think I do.
Confession time, I have never played a Bard.... nor do I know of anyone who  has. Ever. I don’t know why exactly and I’m sure there are many out there who could tell me the reasons why, however, it got me thinking about an alternative Bardic type PC, (drum roll please, (oh the puns keep on coming) the Spellsinger. It was while I was working on this post, and reminiscing about the good old days, that it came to mind. Now, while we had zero bards in our gaming groups down the years, we have had a few Spellsingers.

It all started with a series of books written by Alan Dean Foster back in the ‘80’s about a young college student (who while as high as a kite) crosses over into a fantasy world. Now of course he thinks he is tripping his nuts off, and hallucinating, but that all come to an abrupt end when the talking otter (Mudge), he is conversing with, stabs him. The blood, and pain, makes Jon-Tom realise that all is not well in his world. A long story short, a sentient tortoise (Clothahump) that lives in a tree, and is an ancient magician, cast a spell in the hope of summoning a great warrior from beyond. Something went awry and he winds up with Jon-Tom in his stead.

What my parents think I do
Jon-Tom is stuck in their world, and is useless at everything, until one day he picks up a Duar (a hybrid guitar/biwa/lute creation), sings a little song, and what he sings about manifests itself. Jon-Tom is what they call a Spellsinger. Whatever he sings about materialises, but not always in the manner of his desires. Once he sings “Little Deuce Coup” by the Beach Boys, in the hope of creating a car, but instead summons a twelve foot long racing lizard with saddles on it; transport, yes, but not what he had in mind.
I think there were eight books in the series, and I recall them fondly as a teen, however, I think they might not have aged at all well, and might indeed be a bit twee... who knows, I’m in no hurry to find out either, best let sleeping Spellsingers lie.
So I thought I would have a little fun and create some Spellsongs for those who think they might want to give it a bash as a fun character to play. It really is a tongue-in-cheek class but can add a little hilarity in the most unexpected corners of a dungeon if need be.
It would be best to work it out with your DM before hand, as to how many songs the PC could sing per day, or encounter, also how long the Spellsinger would need to sing before the desired result happened, and also, just what that result might be.

What I think I do
The Spellsinger would have to come from our world too, otherwise what would he sing about? Unless you and the DM want to make your own songs that fit with your world, but knowing the limited time we all have, I don’t see that happening.
For all other statistics, just use the Bard’s stat lines, and remember, they don’t just have to sing songs, they could recite evocative poetry, bawdy limericks about bow-legged sailors from Nantucket, or even Nursery Rhymes and Jump-Rope Songs, which as we all know, are a little eerie to begin with... so, without further adieu, songs (and their possible results) for your Spellsinger.

P.S. I listen to a lot of ‘heavier’ music, so my choices are somewhat weighted toward that genre.

What I actually do

1) Song: It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Artist: Bob Dylan
Range: 1’
Duration: Permanent
Casting Time: 4 Rounds
Effect: Any two living creatures.
Used to heal damage, and cures 2-7 hit points for two creatures. Also negates paralysis brought on by spell or touch, not by excessive alcohol abuse.

2) Song: Don’t fear the Reaper
Artist: Blue Oyster Cult
Range: 40’
Duration: I turn
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
Effect: Against Un-dead or summoned beasties
This song will cause one undead creature to burst into flame and burn hotter the longer the Spellsinger plays, eventually causing them to explode. If they make a successful saving throw then they will merely burn for 1d8 for 4 rounds. If they fail, BOOM! If cast at a summoned entity, and it fails its saving throw, then it will return from whence it came.

 3) Song: Dark as a Dungeon
Artist: Johnny Cash (original Merle Travis)
Range: 120’
Duration: 4 Turns +1 Turn per level of caster
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
Effect: Volume of 45’ in diameter
Singing this little ditty creates a swathe of complete darkness which completely blocks out any light source, be it magical or mundane, and also renders any biological vision abilities useless. If cast at a particular beings eyes, Save vs. Spells or go blind for the duration of the spell; not even a light spell can break the Man-in-Black and his darkness.

4) Song: Shoot to Thrill
Artist: AC/DC
Range: 175’
Duration: 1 Round
Casting Time: 1 Round
Effect: Creates one or more bolts of magical awesomeness
When this song is sung, a magical bolt of metal bursts forth from the headstock of the Spellsinger’s instrument doing 1d8 +1 to anyone foolish enough to get in its way. It never misses, and the Spellsinger can add another one to his arsenal for every three levels gained.

5) Song: While my Guitar Gently Weeps
Artist: The Beatles
Range: 260’
Duration: 2d12 turns
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
Effect: 3-30 Hit Dice of living creatures (no un-dead) within a 60’ square area
Hearing the skills of one George Harrison, sends the unlucky creatures into a fit of uncontrollable weeping that makes any form of attack impossible. They will drop their weapons and cry, and works on creatures of 5+1 Hit Dice or less only, with no Saving Throw allowed. If however, one of the creatures were to be killed while in this state by one of the party, then it will shatter the illusion and it is business as usual; best used to escape hordes etc.

6) Song: Welcome to the Jungle
Artist: Guns & Roses
Range: 40’
Duration: 1 Round per level of caster
Casting Time: 3 Round
Effect: Creates deadly entangling jungle vines
Singing this 80’s hit, creates thick, thorny jungle vines, to sprout anywhere the Spellsinger wants within the 40’ area. He can control them, and make them do his bidding, such as binding his foes or use them to grow on a wall in order for people to climb. However, the thorns are extremely sharp and can do 1-3 Hit Points of damage to the unwary.

7) Song: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Artist: AC/DC
Duration 1 Turn per level of caster
Casting Time: 3 Rounds
Effect: Creates a 10’ cage of Hellfire
Summons a flaming cage of hellfire to contain any creature of 6+1 Hit Die or below. Cannot be negated or escaped, especially if the Spellsinger sings this song in its entirety. Two Barbed Demons stand on watch outside the cage just in case the occupant tries to escape. The cage, and the demons, will disappear once the spell is over; leaving the former captive cowering on the floor.

8) Song: Sweet Thing
Artist: Van Morrison
Duration 2 Turns per level of caster
Casting Time: 1 Rounds
Effect: One person
Affects anyone who would rather stand in the way of the party and brings them around to the Spellsingers way of thinking, and for the duration of the spell, the enchanted will comply completely with the Spellsingers commands, accept to do anything that may cause it harm.

9) Song: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Artist: Bob Dylan
Range: 55’
Duration: 1 ‘locked door, portal, gate etc’ per caster level
Casting Time: 1 Round
Effect: Volume of 45’ in diameter
Any door, gate, portal, or hole, used for ingress or egress, locked magically, or merely rusted shut, cannot stand up to the twangyness of Mr Dylan’s famous song. It will be opened in a jiffy, sometimes even blowing the offending door of its hinges to send it barrelling down the hallway.

10) Song: Creeping Death
Artist: Metallica
Range: 666’
Duration: 1/2 hour only, anytime from sunup to sunset
Casting Time: The entire song must be sung
Effect: Creates a swarm of locusts of almost biblical proportions.
Summons so many locusts that it blots out the sun and blackens the sky. They will eat anything that stands in their way. Animal or mineral, nothing is safe. Any living creature under 4+1 Hit Dice will be consumed entirely. Not even a skeleton will be left. The swarm can surround the Spellsinger in a ball of 80’, or be controlled from a distance by pointing his musical instrument to where he wants them to go.

11) Song: Black Blade
Artist: Blue Oyster Cult
Range: 1’
Duration: 1 Turn per caster level
Casting Time: The entire song must be sung
Effect: Creates an otherworldly sword
The singing of this eldritch tune summons an unholy blade of evil from beyond both space and time. It is a +3 to hit, as well as a +3 to damage, and any roll over a 17 cause automatic decapitation...but... any roll of a three or under, and the sword takes a swing at the caster instead. Use this weapon as a last resort only!!

12) Song: Gallows Pole
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Range: 70’
Duration: 7 Turns
Casting Time: 3 Rounds
Effect: Causes ropes to knot themselves into a Hangman’s noose and attack
The Spellsinger can animate 2d8 pieces of rope into turning themselves into nooses and then attempting to strangle foes the Spellsingers foes. The DM should give the ropes the appropriate AC as well as movement rate as well as potential damage. But should be a minimum AC of 8 and do 1d8+1.

13) Song: Purple haze
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Range: Spellsinger only
Duration: 2 Turns per level of caster
Casting Time: 4 Rounds
Effect: Creates a huge purple mist
Singing this song cause purple smoke to flow from the Spellsinger’s mouth, nose, and ears, filling an area of 20’ per level of the caster; if the Spellsinger moves, then the purple haze moves with him. It will essentially blind everyone except the singer and cause any combat taking place within the haze to take place at a -4 to hit.

14) Song: Iron Man
Artist: Black Sabbath
Range: 120’
Duration: 6 Turns
Casting Time: 4Rounds
Effect: Summons an 8 Hit Dice Iron Statue
See your friendly neighbourhood Monster Manual for the applicable stats.

15) Song: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Artist: AC/DC
Range: 120’
Duration: 4 Turns +1 Turn per level of caster
Casting Time: 6 Rounds
Effect: Summons an Invisible Stalker as an Assassin
As above, see your Monster Manual for the low-down on these bad boys.

There you have just 15 examples of what songs may or may not do. Remember, there is also a chance that it may not be cast as desired, as an example, instead of the hellfire cage being around the enemy; it may misfire and trap the party instead.
But the minutia of that is up to you. So, if you want to get your kids listening to decent music, as well as getting them into role-playing, let them roll up a Spellsinger and see what happens.

The Wizard

Back in Black

Flutes of flaming fury. The Pied Piper of Jethro Tull


  1. Here's why you've never played a bard: doing so in AD&D is the path to madness, and doing so in 3rd edition or later means you'd be playing 3rd edition or later. Neither situation is much fun.