A review copy of “The Tenacious Bard vs. Orcus” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Anthony Joyce-Rivera

The Tenacious Bard vs. Orcus is a solo adventure designed for one 6th lvl bard. How can a bard possibly go on an adventure by themselves? By embracing the over-the-top craziness of HEAVY METAL!

The one-shot adventure begins in medias res, with out heroic bard already at the finals for the Battle of the Bards competition at the Witchlight Carnival. They face off against Warduke, a hard rock bard dripping in metal and spikes. Warduke summons an owlbear for his musical avatar, and the Rock Off is on!

The adventure features one-on-one duels with enemy bards, using new Rock Off rules. During combat, each bard summons a signature avatar, a creature between CR 3 and 5 that acts directly after the summoner. It’s the physical embodiment of their musical ability, which I absolutely love.

Bards are only allowed to target the avatars, and when their opponent’s is defeated, they win the duel.

Not only does the avatar give bards a great target for Bardic Inspiration, but the inspirations have been upgraded when used with the avatars. New, powerful buffs such as granting them a barbarian’s rage, a thunderous blast, or a flying speed, are activated whenever an avatar uses Bardic Inspiration.

Basically it turns bard duels into Pokémon battles, and I’m freaking here for it!

In fact, I wish the designer had expanded these rules out to an entire bard subclass. I love the idea of a summoner bard with a signature avatar, but it would need to be balanced with other classes when going beyond this adventure.

tenacious bard battle

After winning (or losing) the Battle of the Bards, our hero is approached by Tasha herself and sent to hell to battle Orcus in a epic Rock Off. What’s more metal than going to hell to battle a demon?

First our hero must survive their greatest challenge: waiting in line to get a permit!

The writing and story-telling is extremely tongue-in-cheek and fourth wall-breaking. The designer is completely self-aware when it comes to the inherent goofiness of the genre, while still embracing all the fun tropes and styles.

That being said, I think it goes a bit too far in some places, as when the player is sent to hell by crashing through Tiamat, killing her, and receiving a thumbs up from Zariel.

After a fun cameo with the Mefisto twins from Anthony’s Heir of Orcus series, the bard reaches the building, duels the cambion, and receives the permit. Then it’s an epic montage of flying or driving through hell blasting demons and riffs while hurtling towards Orcus.

If you are expecting tense story moments, intriguing character development, or any real exploration, this is not the one-shot for you! The Tenacious Bard keeps things moving at a brisk pace, ushering the player to each big action sequence.

The finale is appropriately epic, as Asmodeus appears and upgrades the player’s avatar into a towering tarrasque!

The short adventure features gorgeous original artwork by Brian Patterson, full color battle maps by Czepeku, infernal contract handouts, and notes for music cues. The music cues include Spotify links and form a Metal soundtrack, including a playlist by the titular inspirational duo, Tenacious D.

Solo adventures are obviously a niche market. Even more niche for players okay with tackling a solo bard. But I’m completely blown away by the awesomeness of Rock Off bard duels, and the exciting pace of a heavy metal montage. Combined with the excellent art and music enhancements, and you have a recipe for an epically memorable solo-venture.


  • Fully embraces the tricky balance between Heavy Metal silliness and badassitude.
  • Full color battle maps and gorgeous original artwork.
  • Awesome bard dueling rules with summonable avatars and special bardic buffs.
  • Music Cues featuring Metallica, Dio, and Tenacious D.


  • Rock-Off rules deserve to be an entire Bard sub-class!

The Verdict: Short, linear, but diabolically awesome, The Tenacious Bard vs. Orcus is an over-the-top tribute to Heavy Metal and the most badass adventure a solo bard could embark upon.

A review copy of “The Tenacious Bard vs. Orcus” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.