D&D General Please make suggestions for a remote but connected and interacting audience for a bard

greg kaye

Explorer
Just before session zero for Phandelver and Below, a player dmed me the following:
...
I was thinking of playing a bard in the game tonight - albeit one who relies on poetry and jokes/puns, rather than singing or musical instruments...
But I was hoping you'd let me add something unusual to my character, for flavour purposes...
I would like to have been cursed by a demon/devil...
During my days at Bard College, the aspiring bards had to occasionally put on shows for audiences, and one of these had some local visiting dignitaries. I would like for one of these to have been a mischievous demon or devil in disguise, who thought I was terrible on stage, so cursed me that any time I tell a joke, or recite a poem, a little imp/gremlin will appear next to me, and critique the "performance" - with a mini drum set for a "ba-dum-TISH" for a pun, a mini trombone doing the sad "wah-wah" trombone noise if a joke or poem falls flat... and occasionally (but rarely) wild cheering and applause for a "good" performance. ...
I replied:
  1. Its definitely a demon/devil........ but who knows what? It's certainly also a joker and an appreciator, among other things, of "it's so bad it's good" school of comedy. I don't like the idea of a physical imp being directly involved as that's another character potentially added. I'm not directing but I'm imagining that the entity might be listen in. This is currently the way I think this could work. Perhaps you're cursed so that you begin any planned item >you< think would be funny-performative with something like an "ahem". This would cause the entity to switch channels so that s/he can observe... and react. Effects could be via prestidigitation which could include a visual of fruit being thrown and the commensurate soiling of clothing. Up to you but you could introduce your character with tomato stains. As your bard increases in levels, in place of magic items, your character might be able to add other magical effects via this situation.
    open to ideas
I then got to wondering about an entity that, in the context of being pissed off with the pressures of its duties, it loves the escapism of tuning in as an audience for its favorite stress doll/reality personality. I'm now also thinking that the entity might play/broadcast the live streams for a wider audience. It also occurs to me that the situation can allow the input of an NPC but without an NPC being physically present.

I'm hoping for suggestions on who the entity/ies might be and how they might be involved.
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
If it was me... my first instinct would be to actually give this player what they wanted and let them swap in the Warlocks' Pact of the Chain feature instead of one of their bard features so that they could have an imp familiar. The College of Eloquence is the 'oratory' bardic subclass, so if I was the DM I'd have the player take that subclass for their stand-up comedian persona, but at 3rd level instead of receiving the 'Silvery Tongue' and 'Unsettling Words' features they'd get the imp via Pact of the Chain (with all the abilities this familiar can grant like any other familiar).

If the player wished to have the imp the entire time (even at 1st and 2nd level), then I'd give them the imp but it would not be able to "do" anything yet-- it would be just more flavor. The imp could flit around the bard and sit on his shoulder and talk to people / insult the bard, but there could be no interactions with the game world with regards to anything affecting game mechanics. So no 'Help' action or scouting on their own or anything else a familiar could normally do for a PC-- until the bard reached 3rd level and got the Pact feature officially (at which point the imp would get the full suite of Find Familiar abilities.)
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I'm hoping for suggestions on who the entity/ies might be and how they might be involved.
Who's cursing? Andromalius, the Repentant Rogue:

Tome of Magic said:
Once the herald of Olidammara, Andromalius foreswore theft and mischief on his deathbed, repenting all the actions he had taken on behalf of his god during his life. By this means, he hoped to steal his soul from his deity, thus accomplishing his greatest theft and prank in history, and proving himself the most worthy of his god's favor.

As a vestige of a soul, Andromalius couldn't have been the deity that directly cursed the PC. But the binder that did curse the PC likely has a pact made with Andromalius.

And yes, I think you should let the PC's idea fly as-is.
 

It sounds like this could be fun, so go for it! I don't think it needs any kind of mechanical support.

Just be ready to kill off the imp if the rest of the players don't enjoy it, or get tired of it after a while.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Somewhat reminds me of the Sandman comic where Oberon/Titania attended a young Shakespeare's play, but in this case they decided to keep watching from afar (perhaps via a scrying pool). Or a demon or devil as you initial suggested - perhaps it's being broadcast in a tavern in Sigil with an eclectic crowd of demons, devils, angels, slaad and dabus. As you suggested, would probably limit it to prestidigitation-like effects - perhaps on a really good or bad roll the character might end up with a miscellaneous "token" item in their pocket from an admirer (could use a roll on the Trinkets table, or somesuch).

Pan/Puck said:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended—
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearnèd luck
Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long.
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.[/qoute]
 

greg kaye

Explorer
Thanks for all the replies. I'm rethinking returning the imp to give other players agency too try to kill it. Otherwise, Sister G in Phandalin could be given the ability to remove curse or an ability might be channeled through a celestial warlock in the party.

possibly a tldr, but I edited my reply to:
Its definitely a demon/devil........ but who knows what? It presents itself as a joker and an appreciator, among other things, of "it's so bad it's good" school of comedy. I don't like the idea of a physical imp being directly involved as that's another but effectively pointless character potentially added. I'm imagining that entity/ies might be listen in even as a reality type interactive entertainment/malevolence. This is currently the way I think this could work. The pitch could have been that you could have an audience and, if accepted, you could be cursed that with any planned item >you< think would be funny-performative or anything you thought might be entertaining to fiends you would preceed it with something like an "ahem". This would cause the entity'ies to switch channels so that s/he can observe... and react. Effects could begin via prestidigitation which could include a visual of fruit being thrown and the commensurate soiling of clothing. Up to you but you could introduce your character with tomato stains.
The player seems keen for the fiendish connection as, when I asked where the event happened, in the Driftwood Tavern in Neverwinter...? He said in Balder's Gate.

I'm thinking of explaining my view that you won't merely get a "mischievous demon or devil" although they may present themselves to be nothing more than that. These are evil creatures with agendas of evil with parallels to Ukatoa in Critical Roll.

The player has agreed and perhaps conned into a situation that allows a fiend to produce magical effects in the material plane by its own agency. I was thinking of pursuing ways to expand this. Still with prestidigitation, the demon could offer, would you like me to light that for you? etc. If a player tried to use their message cantrip to contact the entity, they might feel a willingness to expand the effects of the spell to enable a regular conversation.

After a response from a "devils are evil" conversation, this could develop into an interesting plot.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Repetitive shtick gets old fast, and sustaining comedy is hard. Heck, even having a good zinger for every casting of Vicious Mockery can be asking a lot. Eventually you get down to, "You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny..."

Th8nk we stopped RPing vicious mockery around 2015.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Thanks for all the replies. I'm rethinking returning the imp to give other players agency too try to kill it. Otherwise, Sister G in Phandalin could be given the ability to remove curse or an ability might be channeled through a celestial warlock in the party.
It could be treated as the bard's familiar (a Tome Warlock can get one as a point of reference), if you wanted to go that route - which may cost the Bard a feat, attunement slot or the like if you wanted to "balance" it. Or, just leave it as a curse if you expect its something down the road the bard is going to want to get rid of.
 

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