The Nameless Village

The Nameless Village


The following is an introductory adventure for "Fantasy Adventures in RisusLand." True to the spirit of Risus, it is in outline form, allowing you to fill in the details. Each scene establishes the characters and conflicts necessary to the story. I also attempted to include some non-violent conflicts that demonstrate the creative possibilities of Risus's simple mechanics.

I won't claim that any of this material is original. It is inspired by a number of Fantasy and medieval material, as well as other Risus websites. The original version of this adventure can be found at Lord Zamiel's Website, along with the world book it was designed for.

This was the first adventure I wrote for my gaming group in Spring 2003.


The nameless village is on the northern outskirt of the Human Lands, directly across the ocean from the Dragon Mountains. As such, it was victim to numerous barbarian raids from the Northmen (half giants) who lived in small villages on the coast of the dragon lands. The time of the barbarian invasions was truly a "dark age," when the northern invaders destroyed much of the great writings. For the Northmen, the only benefit of a book was as fire starter (or if the pages were soft, it was used as toilet paper).

During this time of chaos, a humble villager named Umpa Lumpa was born. Though poor, he was (miraculously) able to read. His love for books was infectious, and he believed his calling was to journey to the outskirts of the human lands and attempt to preserve what writings were left. He even considered educating the barbarians!

So at age 16, Umpa Lumpa began his work in The Nameless Village.

After a lifetime of service, for the sake of the powers of Light and Knowledge, Umpa Lumpa died and was enshrined outside the Nameless Village. Lovers of books and knowledge came to visit his shrine as a holy place, and a thriving tourist industry began.

That was 500 years ago. In the last decade, darkness has grown in the nameless village. Tourists are disappearing - literally. Your team of adventurers is gathered to find out what is happening to the villagers, and put a stop to it.

Act One: "And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling adventurers!"

Scene One: Be our Guest! The adventurers arrive at the nameless village. It is a small and deteriorating out-land dwelling. There are a dozen homes here, a mote and bailey keep (where the Shire Sheriff resides), and a tavern (built for pilgrims). The PCs must barter with the Shire Sheriff to establish their payment for solving the disappearing tourists.

  • Shire Sheriff - Local Squinty-Eyed Constable (3), Fast Talking Bargainer Who Could Trade a Dragon out of Its Gold (4), Well Respected Local Leader (3)

He will inform them that any "treasures" they may find are property of the village. His equally ugly and strong assistant enforces this.

  • Assistant - Reformed North-man Barbarian (4), Boulder Smashing Giant (2), Book Lover (2), Less than Attractive Ogre (2)

If the PCs go asking around town, they will meet a quarter-elf Scribe who will be a helpful source of information. This Scribe is following in the tradition of Umpa Lumpa, and is teaching the Sheriff's Assistant to read and write.

  • Scribe - Able to Teach Even the Most Reluctant Students (2), Linguist who Specializes in Writing (4), Crowd Pleasing Photomancer (4), Basically Human with a little Elfness (1), Hook: exceptionally fearful of adventures and abhors violence

Scene Two: The Tomb of Umpa Lumpa. At some point the PCs will check out the Shrine of Umpa Lumpa. It is his tomb. Feel free to design it however you like. At some point, the PCs need to find a machine with a sign reading "put ten [coins] in me and receive a blessing." The machine looks and acts like a slot machine. If anyone uses it, they receive one coin back that has been reshaped into a holy souvenir with a picture of Umpa Lumpa on one side.

Scene Three: The Spirit of the Necromancer. When the PCs finally reach Umpa Lumpa's Sarcophagus, they find it surrounded with the remains of hundreds of tourists (similar to the Lion's Den from the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness.") The Spirit of the Necromancer (6), who is hidden somewhere in the tomb, will re-animate these remains and attack our heroes (so as to add them to his stockpile of body parts).

As the battle ensues, give a bonus to anyone carrying a holy souvenir from scene two. Any magic sensitive characters will hear a faint voice instructing them to remove the ruby amulet lying in the Sarcophagus. The voice insists this is their only hope for survival against the undead horde. In reality, the spirit of the Necromancer is trapped in the amulet, and anyone who puts it on will be attacked by the Necromancer in an attempt to posses the wearer.

The amulet itself is not that sturdy, and any attempt to destroy it (as long as it is not being worn by a PC) will be successful. To destroy the amulet is to destroy the Necromancer and rid Umpa Lumpa's Shrine (and thereby the Nameless Village) of its problem.

Scene Four: Cash on Delivery. At this point the Sheriff pays our adventurers for their services. He asks them to declare any treasure they found. He will allow them to keep the souvenir coins, but if he suspects them of taking anything else, he and his assistant will not be happy . . .

Act Two: "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors."

Scene One: Just Another Brick in the Wall. Our adventurers are well respected after their previous success with the tomb of Umpa Lumpa. Tourism is up. Pilgrims are back. The Nameless Village is growing. With more money coming into the village, security needs are increasing. The Sheriff will hire the PCs (again after some negotiating) to build a hedge wall around the village. They will need to travel to a nearby thicket to gather wood. For the game mechanics of this conflict, I suggest setting a total number for the PCs to roll (about 25 points per character). PCs pick an appropriate cliché (or fall back on the 2 dice rule) to roll. Each roll counts toward the total. I also suggest each roll representing one day of work. The passage of time will become important. If you have any "tree-hugging" characters (druids, pixies, rangers, etc.) the target number needs to be increased. This is because these characters will not be content to simply cut down whatever wood they can, but will want to collect only dead wood.

Scene Two: I Smell a Rat! Once the PCs complete their work, one of them will stumble onto a Giant Rat's nest. If the PCs choose to collect wood as a team (as per team conflict rules) then they stumble onto the rats as a team. If they choose to roll individually toward the target number for gathering wood and completing the wall, then randomly select one PC to stumble into the nest.

  • Giant Rats (1 * Number of PCs)

Inside the rat's nest is the decaying corpse of a Halfling merchant, merchant gear, and whatever other goodies the GM wants the PCs to have.

Scene Three: The Good, The Bad, and The REALLY Ugly! After five days a group of Northmen Barbarians attack the village. They will set fire to the walls, and attack from multiple directions. An Ogre Mage is leading the Barbarians.

  • Barbarian Horde (3 * number of PCs)

  • Ogre Mage [4]

This will be an epic battle, and the PCs will need help. Not only do the Barbarians need to be repelled, but also the fire at the wall needs to be put out. The Sheriff, his Assistant, and the Scribe (whose hook will come into play), will join in the conflict. Once the dust settles, the PCs should find the Sheriff looking distraught. The Northmen kidnapped his daughter! (To be continued . . .)

Act Three: "Let’s Make a Deal!"

Scene One: Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. Our heroes must now rescue the Sheriff’s Daughter. The Sheriff’s Assistant will go with them as a guide. The PC’s set off from a nearby port after recruiting a sailing vessel (by bargain or by thievery). Soon after they set sail, a mysterious fog sets in. The PC attempting to pilot the ship will roll against the fog as if in combat. If the PC wins, the adventurers safely arrive on the shores of the Northern Barbarian lands near the Dragon Mountains. If the PC loses, the ship gets turned around in the fog, and finds itself back at the port from which it started (which may be awkward if they stole the ship).

  • Mysterious Sentient Fog [4]

Once the characters arrive at the Northern Lands, all clichés return to full dice.

Scene Two: A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight. Once the PC’s arrive, the waste no time heading toward the Barbarian village. Because the Sheriff’s Assistant is a Reformed Barbarian, he will have no problem leading them there. When they get near the village, they will hear the booming sounds tremendous thunder, feel its pounding, and even see brilliant streaks of lightening. However they will not feel any rain. When they arrive at the village, they witness it being overwhelmed by two powerful dragons.

  • Dragon 1 – Huge, Angry Dragon with Claws Like Razors (10), Fire Mage [5]

  • Dragon 2 – Also Very Large, Angry Dragon with Claws Like Razors (8), Fire Mage [3]

  • Half-Giant Barbarian Villagers (6)

The outcome will be obvious. The villagers are toast. Dragon 1 will seize the Sheriff’s Daughter and fly away. If the PC’s attempt to help the villagers, one of the dragons will steal the Sheriff’s Daughter while the other fights the PC’s.

Scene Three: There can be only one. The PC’s must now track the Dragons (through magic, Ranger skills, etc.). Once they find them, the Dragons will be in the midst of a battle of their own. Eventually the larger dragon will defeat the smaller. To celebrate victory, he eats his foe. When the Dragon notices the PC’s, he explains that he enjoys the company of pretty maidens, but might be willing to part with the Sheriff’s Daughter. A nearby village contains “an insignificant bauble” that looks like a large diamond pendant (about the size of a human head) on a giant golden chain. If the PC’s could secure it for him, he would be most obliged.

Scene Four: Choose Wisely. The PC’s follow the Dragon’s directions and find the village. It is deserted. As they search each dwelling, they will eventually come upon a large hall, which is covered with vines. The so-called vines are actually a Tangler.

  • Tangler – Thick Green Trunk that is Difficult to Hack Through (4), Uncountable Interweaving Vines (4)

Once the PC’s clear the Tangler and enter the hall, they will notice a giant stone statue at one end. The Statue holds a sign which reads “Take as you please. Please, take only one. Choose wisely.” At the feet of the stone statue are two items. The first is a fist-sized diamond pendant on a golden chain. The other is a long sword. Its blade is as broad as two human hands side by side.

The pendant is a dragon heart diamond. It effectively doubles the clichés of any dragon that wears it. However, with each use, it does 2 die of damage to its user. For example, if a Dragon (10) uses the pendant, it will effectively become a Dragon (20), but with each use, it takes 2 die of damage. After 10 uses, the dragon knocks itself out. However, for a power hungry dragon, it is quite an item.

The sword is the legendary “Dragonbiter.” When used against a dragon, it adds 2 dice to its user’s cliché. For example, if Barbarian (4) attacks Dragon (10), the Barbarian becomes Barbarian (6). Additionally, if the sword is within 10 meters of a dragon, it flies out of its scabbard, and forces its user to attack the dragon. Although it is especially large, it is also light. Any character larger than a dwarf may easily wield the sword.

If the PC’s get greedy, and attempt to take both items, they awaken the statue, which is actually an . . .

  • Enhanced Stone Golem [4]

If the characters drop one of the items, the Golem will return to its statuesque form.

Scene Five: To eat or not to eat? The PC’s discover the importance of choosing wisely when they return to the cave. If they offer up the dragon heart pendant, the dragon will attempt to eat them. If they bring Dragonbiter close enough, the lucky bearer of said sword becomes a dragon fighting fool – willing or not.

Scene Six: Parting is such sweet sorrow. As our heroes attempt to leave the island, Dragonbiter refuses to go with them. At the first attempt it leaps out of its scabbard and sticks itself into the ground. Mystical runes appear on the broad blade that say . . .

“Power is needed when a dragon you would slay
I be the Dragonbiter, and here will I stay.”

If the PC’s attempt to remove the sword from its homeland a second time, it will vanish into a mist. One way or another, the sword will not go home with the PC’s.

With that, the theme music should swell, the PC’s should sail off into the sunset, drinking mead and celebrating while on their way back to the Nameless Village. Roll the credits.