Saturday, 15 October 2011

Bards: Another Risus Adventure

In the style of Roadies, here's another one-shot Risus adventure (which you may expand into a full campaign, should you wish).

You are the Entertainer's Guild of (Insert Fantasy Locale Here) - a travelling troupe of Bards, Musicians, Magicians and Storytellers, banding together to help make some coin and gain fame (or notoriety) across the land. You've been invited into the lands of Baron Farken, an ex-adventurer turned ruler, to help celebrate the marriage of his daughter into another Noble family.

But, not everything is as it seems - and as the only ones with near-unlimited access (and a keen eye for adventure and intrigue), it's up to you to help sort what is wrong with the celebrations.

The Plotlines

  • The Baron's daughter is not who she says she is - she is in fact a plant, a Changeling who has "gone native", after the real deal was kidnapped years ago. She would hate to dissapoint her newly-adopted father by letting him know... The real Baron's daughter was taken by an Evil Wizard, to be used as a bargaining chip at times like the marriage - but the Changeling has stopped communicating with him, and is unwilling to show herself to prove the plot to the Baron. Do you help the daughter, or the Changeling?
  • Should you choose to help the Changeling, turns out the daughter has escaped her prison, picked up a few travelling compainons (around a hundred warriors), and a few levels in Barbarian along the way - how will you react when the real Daughter Farken kicks the door in halfway through the ceremony, warriors in tow, to depose the fake?
  • The Noble family she is marrying into is in fact a sinister Star-God cult - and they plan to use the Baron's Daughter as a sacrifice on her wedding night! Can you uncover the plot and stop the cult without incurring the Baron's wrath?
  • The Baron's wife has taken a shine to one of your party - and will stop at nothing until she's had her turn. Can you avoid her lecherous advances, all the while not alerting the Baron?
  • The wedding dress has been kidnapped by a local Orc tribe, so they can use it in their own wedding ceremony - is their a tailor amongst you who can take up the challenge to fit a dress for Thraka-Tholl, the Chieftain's six-foot, 200lb wife-to-be? And to make matters worse, she's a real Bridezilla...
  • As a practical joke, one of the Baron's sons has stashed a Goblin stripper in the wedding cake. Problem is, it's a male stripper (you ever tried to sex a goblin? Uh, don't... don't answer that). Can you prevent the party-goers from getting a face full of little green wang?
  • The Noble's stag party has taken a turn for the weird - you find him on the morning of his wedding cursed into the form of a small lizard (possibly through a baleful polymorph spell), only capable of communicating telepathically. Can you help to break the curse in time for him to read his nuptials?
Really, you can run it as a semi-serious game (the first couple of plots) or a comedy of errors (the last few), or somewhere in between (cause let's face it, the point where the real Baron's Daughter kicks the door in is an awesome time to have a naked Goblin jump out the cake). You don't need to use all the plots - two should be fine for a short game, and three would make a perfect full-day game. If you wanted, you could split each up into sub-plots - take the Cult option.

  • Discovering the cult could be a full session, all the intrigue and socialising working up to the reveal that something is wrong within the Noble family.
  • Talking to the Baron would be the next challenge - working out proof, avoiding execution (and the schemeing of the Noble Cult) and a plan of attack.
  • Third session could be taking on the cult - whether on your own, to secure the proof you need to convince the Baron (and rescue his daughter, don't forget about that), or with the military might of the Baron's forces behind you. Either way, you're going from investigation and diplomacy and right into kicking ass and taking names, Bard style!

All the characters should be performers of some sort - whether fully fledged "magical music men" Bards, jesters, storytellers, or true magicians (Wizards would be cheating). Of course, you could just play the Caravan Guard - but I'd recommend taking an entertainer cliche, like 6' Hard Ass With A Knack For Juggling. Combat cliches aren't as vital here (depending on your choice of plots), but it might still pay to have Showy Part-Time Duelist, Dirty Trickster Street Magician, or Acrobatic Master of The Arts of The Body to help out in the few combat-type bits.

As Bards, you might be expected to take part in wordgames, punnery, and socialisation - which does not play well to some poeple's tastes. Either load up your group with improvisers/good roleplayers, or allow some exchanges to take place as Combats (a debate/seduction could be an Extended Combat, while thinking of the perfect putdown could be a single Target Number roll). Gague it according to player preference (though, even with good roleplayers, Risus is made for Combats That Aren't Combat).

A specific note to characters wishing to play "magicians" - this is High Fantasy. People aren't easily impressed by "magic". High-faluting socialites are impressed when they can see it's a trick, know you didn't use magic, and still can't figure out how the Hells you did it. Using real magic is cheating - and no-ones going to bat an eyelid if you made their favourite watch actually disappear. Sleight of hand and psychology are your mainstays, not fancy conjuring. Bear this in mind.

Sample Characters
Some pregens, both serious and not so (to flesh out):

Shara, Stonespeaker of the Raintop Tribes

A Goliath Stonespeaker (or Wise Woman), Shara has taken a sacred vow to travel the land looking for a particular item - The Helm of Kaavaki. Legends tell of its passage from the great Goliath demigod hero, down through less worthy successors - she plans to bring it back to her tribe, so their latest Chief can be recrowned to lead them into a new age of prosperity and power over the neighbouring tribes.

Old Witch-Woman Storyteller [4]
A Firebrand, In Her Youth (3)
One Mean Grand-Mother (2)
Used to Be a Looker (1)

Finkin, Gnome Bard of Ill-Repute

Known locally for his dirty limericks and his... interesting seduction techniques, Finkin is a true Scoundrel - and wouldn't have it any other way. He joined the Guild so he could meet more beautiful women, drink more wine, and write his magnum opus - a song of the beauty of Elhonna, Goddess of Passion, Love, and Dirty Little Bastard Gnomes.

Master of A Biting Wit and Dirty Mind (4)
Three Foot Tall (But Not Where It Counts) (3)
Well-Versed Gnoma Sutra Master [2]
Something of A Historian (1)

Danan, Washed-Up Conjurer

Danan started life as a promising young Sorcerer - but a focus on the ladies drew him to stop his training, and as such the full power of his arcane bloodline has never seen the light of day. Now, he passes as an entertainer, using his natural skill as a magician (combined with a bit of cheating through real magic) to make a living. Hired by one of the caravan members, he's a little more mercenary than the rest, and will only perform when he knows there's a coin to be made.

Mercenary Sleight of Hand Master (4)
A Natural Performer (3)
Ex-Draconically-Blooded Sorcerer (2)
A Born Cheater (1)

Arturus, Caravan Guard/Children's Entertainer

Arturus is a Half-Orc with an unusual talent with children. Despite his menacing 6'6" frame, his mohawk adding a good 6 inches to that (complete with bones, braids and trophies), and muscles that would make a Frost Giant weep, kids flock to Arturus, and he loves few things more than spending time with them, and keeping them entertained. His skills stretch to juggling (occasionally, with children), storytelling, play-fighting and telling stupid jokes (which kids, being kids, love).

Half-Orc Party Clown [4]
Mercenary Warrior Guard (3)
Stupidly Witty/Wittily Stupid (2)
Gentle Giant (1)

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