20 Things to Loot from a Dead Bard

Some bards meet violent ends either because they travel where they shouldn’t or someone objects (violently) to their music.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


In their extraordinary lives, bards amass a variety of trinkets, souvenirs and keepsakes in their travels.  Rummaging through a bard’s pockets and pack, one could discover the bard’s entire life story or just a handful of trash.

Use the table below, to determine what the PCs find.

  1. A care-worn love letter the bearer has read and refolded so many times it is starting to fall apart.  The signature at the bottom is smeared and impossible to read. The letter explains the parting of a human—most likely the bard—and their elven lover. The elf believed the relationship was doomed because of the tragically short life span of humans and refused to commit to such a short relationship.
  2. Ten hexagonal gold coins of unknown origin.  They have a hole cut through the center and are strung together on a thin leather cord.  A collector of ancient or exotic coins may offer up to 10 gp per coin.
  3. A small vial labeled “Bottled Love” with the instructions “One drop per draught of ale” written in looping script on the side. The smell of the liquid inside is sweet and tempting but quickly overpowering. When administered to someone’s drink as per the instructions, the liquid acts as an aphrodisiac.
  4. Several pages of sheet music for a haunting melody that sticks in the listener’s head if played.
  5. A pair of chapbooks, The Wizard’s Luck and The Game of Pawns, which feature the love affair and adventures of Shara and Jaxak, a pair of wizards who meet at an arcane academy, fall in love and save the world from the forces of evil.
  6. A blue rose that never wilts but is cold to the touch.
  7. A travelogue detailing the bard’s journey. The badly written stories must be exaggerated, especially the story about the elven queen falling in love with the bard.
  8. An ornamental rapier with a silver pommel and silver filigree on the guard. With gold filigree and jewels set in the hilt, the weapon was built for show, not use. Because of the exquisite craftsmanship, the weapon would likely fetch triple the value of a typical rapier.
  9. An old rapier that has been used in many battles, but the previous owner took very good care of it. Twisting the pommel reveals a small compartment where one might hide a short document or other small item.
  10. A small, slightly worn, silver broach in the shape of a dove with an inscription on the back that reads, “To my dearest, Lorael, on the 400th anniversary of your birth.”
  11. A flamboyant, wide-brimmed blue hat with a giant golden eagle’s feather stuck in the band.
  12. A tiny mimic shaped like an ornate wooden box. The bard had befriended it, and it now plots revenge on those who murdered its friend.
  13. A repair kit for the bard’s lute including replacement strings and a cloth to clean the instrument.
  14. Scraps of paper that when ordered properly become the outline for an epic poem. Based on the outline and the few incomplete verses, this would have been the bard’s masterpiece.
  15. An annotated copy of “The Tragedy of T’Kor”, a play about a gnome wizard who summons and falls in love with an incubus. From the notes in the play, the bard was portraying the incubus.
  16. A novelty magic trick comprising a simple wooden box with a velvet lining that makes coins disappear when the top is shut and a button depressed.
  17. A tiny longsword—no longer than a pinky finger—made from a magnetic metal.
  18. A map of the region with notes beside each town that details the reception the bard received as well as which taverns have the best ale and wine.
  19. A quiver of 17 poorly crafted arrows with wicked barbed arrowheads most likely made by goblins or orcs.
  20. A golden signet ring bearing the emblem of an ancient elven noble house. The party might be rewarded if they return it (or they might be accused of murder!)

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20Front_#2_220This article appears in  20 Things #2: Looting the Body, which is available now.

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Anthony Jennings is living his dream as freelance writer of RPGs and editor, having finally found an acceptable outlet for his love of obscure rules, High Gygaxian syntax, the Oxford comma, and two spaces after a period. His credits include work on Werewolf:  The Apocalypse, Pathfinder, and Dungeons & Dragons 5E.  He irregularly updates his blog Read the Damn Book.

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4 thoughts on “20 Things to Loot from a Dead Bard

  1. As a bard myself, I found this article morbidly fascinating. I love these lists to death (pardon the pun). You have made my home campaign much more interesting. My poor players… oh the things they endure when they fail a perception check.