Here at Crit For Brains, we love holiday-themed adventures.
My long-running gaming group got started exploring a haunted house as its first adventure and I’m still jealous of the Halloween adventure a friend ran involving a headless horseman.
That’s why I created a Christmas-themed adventure that involves snowmen, ice golems and the Christmas demon himself, Krampus!
It should be short enough for your gaming group to play through it in one night.
I post it here for your enjoyment. Please make use of it and adapt it to your own campaign. Place it in Icewind Dale. Fill it with Pathfinder monsters. Update it and play it in your sci-fi setting. Expand it with more encounters.
We only ask that you please share your stories of running or playing it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What you’ll need
1. A Christmas-loving party of adventurers.
2. Stats. I purposefully made this edition/setting/level free so you could enjoy it in whatever way your gaming group enjoys. That means you’ll have to find the stats for the monsters and difficulty checks, and you’ll also have to scale it to be level appropriate. I also made it with the goal of playing in one session, so it’s relatively light and hopefully shouldn’t require too much work to set up.
3. If you’re like us and love minis, you’ll need some miniatures to represent all the monsters. We suggest Reaper’s Santa Claus, Krampus and monstrous snowmen; Pathfinder’s ice golem or ice elementals; and lots of goblins.
4. Some maps, if you love maps like we do. We think GameMastery’s ice cavern map tiles and mountain pass flip map are pretty cool.
The party is traveling through the snow-covered tundra, and the next dot on the map is the Piles, an informal name for the four rocky hills that sit in the cardinal directions surrounding the town. They’re not natural formations, and the legend passed around the town is that an old cult built the giant rock piles – the locals just call them “the piles” – in tribute to their god.
The snow begins to clear as the party approaches the village. As the road leads into the main part of town, they see a sign for the Red Nose Inn as well as two snowmen erected on each side of the road. Relief that a warm inn and some hot food may be near is quickly washed away when the snowmen spring to life and attack the party.
Investigating the Piles
After the fight, the door of the tavern slams opens and someone calls out for them to come inside.
After the party is hurried into the inn’s common room, the door is slammed shut and barred. About a dozen agitated locals sit in the inn, some armed with farming implements and one or two with old, rusty swords.
The party is offered spots by the fire, hooks on which to hang their wet coats and hot bowls of stew. One man sits down and asks tells the characters about his own encounter with some animated snowmen. His dog was frozen when it barked at one of them, and he had to run to the inn to escape. He explains that weird stuff like the snowmen has been happening all over the village, but that’s all he’ll say.
The party notices no one else is talking. They just look tense.
If anyone else in the inn is asked about what is going on, they all look to an old woman who’s behind the bar. She is Olanda Tranth, and she owns the Red Nose Inn. She begins talking about her grandchildren and reveals that they’re gone. All of them. The children of the Piles disappeared one by one while they played games out in the snow.
As she finishes her story, the rest of the locals begin to murmur about snowmen, spirits and an old wizard.
If someone asks about the old wizard, most in the inn are wary of him and his magic. But a few pipe up and explain that the Piles is a poor village, and the the old adventurer is by all accounts a jolly and generous man. He helps out the town during the cold winters by providing wood and coal to burn in their homes, and he has been known to deliver presents to the village children as their parents can’t do much in the way of gifts.
His house sits on the flattened top of the North Pile.
Note: People in town aren’t only wary of the old wizard, but they’re also wary of any and all magic. They’ll barely speak to a wizard or spellcaster in the party. About the only thing they’ll say to a spellcaster is that they’d rather speak to someone else in the party.
The Town Cobbler: If the adventurers seek more information, they’re sent to speak to the town cobbler, Kelamin Gladstone, at his shop. Gladstone tells them that he used to work for the jolly old wizard, Jolnir Langobar. The cobbler was chased off shortly after a particularly cold night when the wizard began acting strangely. (A linguistics check let someone translate Jolnir Langobar into something that basically means Winter-Man Longbeard.)
Gladstone says that most people enjoyed Jolnir and spoke of him as a friendly, jolly man that people enjoyed seeing in the cold winter months since he’s so helpful. Even mentioning him brought a joyful spirit to the harsh winter months, but since the children have been kidnapped, some people now try to connect his gifts and his magic for them to the kidnappings.
Approaching the North Pile
At the base of the North Pile, the party encounters several ice golems that are there to protect the big house.
The party also needs to use stealth to hide out from two roving packs of iceland barbarians who consider the Piles a sacred place. They mostly leave the village alone, but they’ll hassle anyone outside of the town proper. (The first group is a wave of two barbarians and the second group is a wave of three barbarians. These should be short fights.)
The party must also do several perception checks to watch out for thin ice. There are small lakes and ponds everywhere.+
Jolnir’s house is a large mansion painted in red and white. Approaching from the front door, they see a large, arched front door with a large windows on each side. There are curtains closed on the inside of the windows.
Approaching from the rear, the party sees a large red snow sleigh resting near a back door. A wooden stable sits out back as well. It contains several reindeer and a horse.
The only ways into the house are the front windows, the front door and the rear door. They may sneak in through one of the front windows or the rear door, which is locked, but if they try to come in through the door (whether by stealth or just by walking in) they’ll be seen immediately and attacked.
If they manage to stealth in through the windows or the back door, the party gets a surprise round.
In the house’s main room, they’re attacked by eight goblins clad in red and white. One of them, the goblin leader, warns that they must turn back or face the wrath of the Devil of the North.
After defeating the goblins, Jolnir Langobar appears from an adjacent room surrounded by several more goblins and laughs a hearty but maniacal, “HO! HO! HO!”
He attacks the party with lots of ice spells.
Using an action to study Jolnir will show that something about him isn’t right. He appears to be human at a glance, but something is off. An arcana or religion check shows that he’s possessed by an evil spirit. A higher roll will reveal the name of the spirit: Krampus, the devil of the North.
A full-round action to make a second (and more difficult) arcana or religion check will separate Jolnir from the evil spirit. If that occurs, Jolnir will fall down and be incapacitated while Krampus and his goblins will continue to fight. If Jolnir is incapacitated (non-lethal damage), he still has to be separated from Krampus and Krampus will continue to fight after that happens. (Krampus and Jolnir should have separate stat blocks, but share certain abilities.)
After the fight
If Jolnir is still alive, he tells them to help him find his wife, who has been imprisoned in the room from which the possessed Jolnir entered.
Jolnir’s wife is locked in the room along with the children of the village.
They celebrate the defeat of Krampus with a big feast where the entire village is invited. As a reward for defeating him, each member of the party is given a gift: a +1 magic weapon of their choosing magically forged by Jolnir and his helpers.