Crown Prince Rhys ap Rhys as Count of Arweth has put the burned out Quivering Hills Companionship Hall up as the prize for a Battle of the Bands competition. Entry fee is 500 gp, which goes to the coffers of Hochoch. Three judges of talent have been selected from among the people of Hochoch, though the audience can cheer or jeer to influence a band’s score. Each band will be judged on three categories:
1) Musical Performance, including the clarity of music/vocals and overall (technical) music performance: 1 to 30 points.
2) Stage Performance, including stage presence, crowd interaction, appearance and personality: 1 to 30 points.
3) Crowd Applause, which the judges will gauge approval vs. disapproval: 1 to 40 points
The winner of each round plays off against the winner from another bracket until we get to the final two. Then the winner gets the building as a life estate.
The event is incredibly popular, increasing tourism spending for the whole town. Even the mighty Dagda (mountain sized primordial) comes to Hochoch to listen to the Battle of the Bands.
Bards Against Humanity goes first.
Six Orogs (orcs blessed with surprisingly keen intellect, strength and cunning) from Melgorn take the stage with more than a dozen humans. The Orogs are in crudely tanned black leathers with brutal looking instruments and weapons, while the humans are wearing primitive clothing with inferior weapons. As they begin playing heavy thrashing metal music, Into the Maelstorm, they enter into a mock combat with more than a dozen human warriors, defeating them easily and taking four human women performers captive.
Musical Performance was good: 20 points
Stage Performance was a little confused and unclear: 14
The Crowd hated it and boo’ed, probably due to the theme: 5 points
FINAL SCORE, Bards Against Humanity: 39 points.
Xilvyre steps onto the stage alone, wearing a rust tunic, a grey dancing skirt, black shoes and silver necklace of Ehlonna. This song “Hero of Gyruff” is my tribute to Father Benton, who died fighting a necromancer in this city not long ago.
Stage Performance: 18
Crowd Applause: 22 [Previous reputation as firebomber of Hochoch offsets the content based on a beloved and martyred Hero of Hochoch.]
TOTAL SCORE: 67
Xilvyre wins this round of the competition and the Orogs go wild in fury, smashing the stage, attacking the judges and frenzying into the crowd. The Heroes of Hochoch defended the judges/citizens, arresting the Orogs and restoring order.
Nine Chain Males
The red chain devil Mezopiliosis steps onto the stage, playing a single chord on his infernal amplified Les Paul Lute to summon each of his eight fellow band members. They are introduced as Yahnny the Golden Fiddle Player, who belts out his introduction chords. Niccolo Paganini on the violin. Bobbie Johannson on a strange lute. Fredricko Mercurial on vocals with Johann Fausta backing him up. He then summons up a dwarven lute player, elven flutist and a half-orc drummer that he doesn’t introduce.
As Mezopiliosis struts the stage playing “Being Evil Has A Price” and flirting with the women present, piles of chains scattered about the stage begin rising like snakes being charmed. The chains dance and jingle to the music, embracing or caressing some of the women he flirts with.
Musical Performance: 26
Stage Performance: 22
Crowd Applause: 12 [Disadvantage for being a DEVIL, though he got a lot of applause from the women he charmed.]
TOTAL SCORE: 60
Lights of Lydia
Using magic and illusion, the stage transforms into a forest. Lydian Lindsey Silver begins playing her fiddle with four Lydian backup singer/dancers playing an old Flan tune. As they perform, they use more prestidigitation, dancing lights and illusions to convey the magic of the piece.
Musical Performance: 26
Crowd Applause: 19 [Playing in Flan and adapting to the natural aspect of their audience, despite being a foreign religion.]
TOTAL SCORE: 70
Winner: Lights of Lydia. – Judge Comment: “I guess being evil really does have a price!”
Illusions of the forest dissipate as five DeepLager Dwarves in armor get upon the stage with two lutes, a drummer, a hurdy gurdy and a singer. They thank the crowd for coming and offer free tankards of a new hardy dwarven Mithrilbock ale. (The drink is potent enough to intoxicate even dwarvish constitution.) While the drink is passed around, other dwarves light a bonfire before the stage. The haunting music of the dwarves makes one think of dwarven holds, deep under the mountain. The tune is To Erebor.
Musical Performance: 15
Stage Performance: 10 [Simple performance and the fire quickly becomes a hazard to the audience, especially with intoxicants.]
Crowd Applause: 23 [Advantage free beer!]
TOTAL SCORE: 48
Two Lutes For Love
And now ladies and gentlemen, it is the distinct pleasure of the management to present to you, the evening’s star attraction. Here they are back after their exclusive three year tour of Keoland, Sterich, and the City of Greyhawk. Won’t you welcome from Gyruff, the show band of Mazer and Dandelion…TWO LUTES FOR LOVE!!!!!
Mazer and Dandelion burst onto the stage for either side playing “Wish I had a Girl”.
During the performance, we start pointing out women (servers and others) and sing toward them. Then we come off the stage:
• Follow some of the servers around and pick out ladies to sing to
• Get with some of the guys and “buddy up with them” singing; “wish we had that girl” pointing out good looking women.
Basically, incorporating the crowd into our performance and having fun with them.
Musical Performance: 23
Stage Performance: 27
Crowd Applause: 28
Total Score (without using luck): 78
Two Lutes for Love moves on!
Light and haunting pipe music fills the area as several large muscled Flan men raise and secure a maypole on stage and relight the fire in front of the stage. Several mostly unencumbered elvish, Flan and fey (nymph) dancers begin dancing (some in costume), while several Old Faith Bards take up a fiddle, hand drums, a shawm (double reed oboe-like instrument), flute, harp and carnyx to join the (satyr) pipes still off-stage. Magical lights flit through the audience with the faint sound of tiny bells. (Only the most observant notice small bundles of herbs are thrown in the fire, giving the billowing smoke a blue-grey haze and incense smell. Tiny arrows penetrate and dissolve into several members of the audience.) Love is in the air as two of the stage performers take the roles of the Old Faith Horned Lord and Lady in a very Traditional Ceremony slightly ahead of Brewfest. The judges seem almost beguiled by the performance of Walpurgisnacht.
Musical Performance: 30 (The judges are agog at the performance.)
Stage Performance: 23 (The judges apparently ignore the fire, which imposed disadvantage for a previous group.)
Crowd Applause: 33 (Advantage, Flan/Old Faith/Traditionally themed, those not cheering are typically “otherwise occupied”.)
TOTAL SCORE: 83
(A much younger than you remember) Auntie Wormwood and her eight “sisters” come on stage and begin singing and dancing with some accompanying music apparently off-stage. The song is Paint It Black. As the performance heats up, they cast off layers of their costumes. Their haunting voices and hypnotic dancing mesmerize the crowd and the judges, who rush to the stage in a throng. It isn’t until someone shatters the illusion, exposing Auntie Wormwood as a Green Hag and her “sisters” as Harpies that the spell is broken.
Musical Performance: 30 (while charmed) 20 after being exposed
Stage Performance: 25 (while charmed) 15 after being exposed
Crowd Applause: 30 (while charmed) 7 after discovering how they were duped and the evilness of the Twisted Sisters
TOTAL SCORE: 85 downgraded to 42
The unmasking of the harpies and hag resulted in combat. As it is, the heroes and the town guard are able to defeat them like “Bards Against Humanity”, although many take significant wounds.
Ffolk Yeah! Advances to the next round.
Xilvyre vs. Lights of Lydia
Two Lutes for Love vs. Ffolk Yeah!
Xilvyre will take the stage for her second number. Ode to Uthaine – to the tune of Wind beneath my wings.
Intro, “This is my ode to Uaithne ap Dilwyn, my traveling companion of less than one year who died defending this city this past Planting. He was born and grew up here in Hochoch.” I am wearing short, lyrical dance dress in juniper chiffon with a multi-tier skirt and dance shoes. My singing style is similar to Bette Middler’s Wind beneath my wings. While singing, I do a ballet style dance performance, including cartwheels.
As Xilvyre plays, the crowd feels more than hears, a booming harp accompaniment (Dagda) backing up her vocals. Birds, squirrels and other melodious natural creatures come to the stage. As she dances, bluebirds, painted buntings, ruby throated hummingbirds, canaries, meadowlarks, goldfinches, orioles, cardinals, scarlet tanagers and other colorful birds follow as if in a train of color. Mockingbirds, canaries, thrushes, insects and other creatures add their own melodies in harmony with Xilvyre’s voice. On the final chorus of “…wind beneath my wings…” a giant eagle, previously circling overhead in the dark, lands on stage and transforms into Llewellyn:
“People of Gyruff and Visitors to this Land:
“I stand before you as a man returned from the dead. The Oerth Mother Beory has returned me to life, so that I can show you the power of the Old Faith. Through parables and historical accounts as told by our bards, we learn of the past and our culture. Xilvyre is a bard, in heart and spirit, if not in training.
“We do not have the time and this is not the place to learn the full power and fulfillment of the Old Faith and Old Ways, but let me give you an example…”
With some incantations and gestures, Llewellyn holds up his hands and declares “Rise, Uthaine! – Come forth from the embrace of the Raven Queen!”
There is a deep rumble as the earth swells, bulges and then falls away from a burnt set of bones, now resting upon the stage. The burned and broken bones reattach and organize themselves into a skeleton. Internal organs begin to take shape within the skeleton. Then tendons and sinew form, followed by muscles. Finally layers of flesh and then hair form before your very eyes. “Uthaine! Awaken and serve your mistress once more!”
The newly formed body stirs and his eyes snap open as he awakes with a start: “Xilvyre, get down! He’s a mage!” Then, confused, he looks around and realizes he isn’t where he thought he was.
Llewellyn continues in a soothing voice, “That’s alright Uthaine. You served your mistress and your Crown Prince with distinction. We have returned you to the land of the living. I know you cannot remember or retell what has happened on the other side of the veil. I know, trust me, I know. But now we are called upon to witness to the people that we have returned and returned with a purpose. We shall spread the word of the Old Faith and our Traditional Old Ways. Welcome back, my brother!
Llewellyn’s voice gets louder, (magically) projecting throughout Hochoch: “Speaking of brothers, Crown Prince Rhys, if you are out there, remember that you are now promised to be the star of Gyruff’s Brewfest celebration. You shall have the lead role as the Horned Lord, Obad-Hai. Don’t forget and don’t let your people down!
“To all a good night, and the best of luck with the musical competition!”
Llewellyn then turns back into a giant eagle and flies up to Dagda, but they stay to hear the last rounds of the competition.
Xilvyre recovers from her surprise and takes Uaithne away to get clothing and to rest.
Musical Performance: 16 (Some of the judges didn’t agree that the harmonies of the birds and other animals were in tune…)
Stage Performance: 22 (Simon the Judge: “The harp-playing mountain [Dagda] wasn’t actually on-stage, so we rule he doesn’t count. Plus the purely magical resurrection, while impressive, was after the song was concluded and shall not be counted.” [Tough crowd])
Crowd Applause: 22 (Much of the audience was too surprised or awed to applaud.)
TOTAL SCORE: 60
Lights of Lydia
Shortly after the Lights of Lydia take the stage with beautiful magical glowing scenery, wardrobe and props, someone dispels the illusions, leaving the lead violinist, Lindsey Silver, alone in simple black garb with a single light from a stage brazier. Even the other Lydians were illusions, as it turns out. Apparently in acceptance of this, Lindsey begins to play alone. As she plays and dances, her shadow appears to take a life all its own and she goes with it. The song is Shadows.
Musical Performance: 20
Stage Performance: 27/11 (At first impressed, when the judges realized that she wasn’t using magical illusions, she must have been playing with an undead shadow)
Crowd Applause: 15 (Likewise initially impressed, the crowd grew fearful of the shadow)TOTAL FINAL SCORE: 46
Xilvyre goes to the final round!
Two Lutes for Love
We will play the instrumental, “Classical Gas”.
Dandelion comes out playing by himself with just a single light on him (bullseye lantern).
Then he pauses, and Mazer comes out playing with a light on him and Dandelion looks almost surprised.
We play the song almost in a dueling banjos sort of way.
Meanwhile, we use Prestidigitation, and Minor Illusion to show images of scenic areas of Gyruff including towns, castles, forests, cliffs, etc. And we just play the music, no lyrics. As we play we’ll go wandering around the crowd continuing to play with just the music and scenes from Gyruff.
Musical Performance: 27
Stage Performance: 20
Crowd Applause: 27
TOTAL SCORE: 74!
Ffolk Yeah! “reads” the room and learns from the previous groups. Instead of relying on illusions and magic, they enlist several street performers to juggle and dance on stage with them, which is decorated like a common tavern scene. In addition to performing in Flan, their allies begin passing out free libations to the crowd.
Musical Performance: 24
Stage Performance: 17
Crowd Applause: 25
TOTAL SCORE: 66
WINNER: Two Lutes for Love
(Ffolk Yeah!, Two Lutes for Love, Xilvyre, and even Light(s) of Lydia are invited by Llewellyn to perform on various nights of the Brewfest celebration in Gorna next week. Happy Brewfest everyone!)
Xilvyre> I was surprised at the backup I had in the last round. I am grateful to have Uthaine back. But I entered this contest to showcase my talent and would like to perform this last number by myself. I had a hard time choosing which number to sing for you. I have decided to sing May It Be
Xilvyre is wearing a lavender puffy shirt with a black girdle over a silver grey dancing skirt. I am playing Loring’s Lyre and singing. While singing, I will walking about the crowd with the skirt swishing and twirling.
Musical Performance: 27 (Good example)
Stage Performance: 15 (sedate performance)
Crowd Applause: 29 (Thematically sound and in align with the culture and attitude)
Total Score: 71
Two Lutes for Love
And now it comes down to this.
So yes, we are singing this in classic Flan.
Here is our set-up:
The stage is set up like a bar. It starts dark then lights shine down on Mazer and Dandelion who are at the bar, surrounded by empty mugs/glasses.
We turn to each other clank our mugs and down them.
Then we turn and start strumming on our lutes a little bit.
“For this one, we need all the ladies to come up on stage, and sing along!”
All of the ladies get invited up onto the stage and we all sing “Kiss me, I’m Sh1tfaced”
Even as the Two Lutes play, the magical effects of their lutes are repeated dispelled as are any enhance abilities, but the effects have little impact on their overall performance.
Musical Performance: 25
Stage Performance: 22 (though “Simon” snubs the “Common man approach”)
Crowd Applause: 30 (bonuses for lyrics, Flan, including the crowd participation and your other usual antics)
Total Score: 77
Swain the Hoar, Seneschal for Crown Prince Rhys ap Rhys in his role as Count of Arweth and Brehyr of Hochoch, hands the Prince the deed to the tavern to pronounce the winner (reminding him that the competition brought in 4000 gp and a great deal of tax income from the visitors to the city).
The people look to the Crown Prince to declare the winner and make a short speech…