Last night, my Thursday night group got together for A Very Holiday Dungeon World Special. It’s a one-shot adventure (really 2-shot…. we started super late, plus there was the fire), which I wrote as an homage to holiday adventures.
We started with character creation and bonds. Our characters for the evening:
- Alanna – a female human druid with mossy green hair
- “Razor” (née Clement) – a male human thief, very athletic, kind of a tough guy
- Mithrandril – a male elf wizard, with crazy hair and eyes
Some of their bonds:
- Razor and Mithrandril are running a con, the “eccentric elven uncle,” on a nobleman.
- Razor has a secret: he plans to set Mithrandril up for a fall if the con goes south
- Alanna and Mithrandril have a kind of mutual-disdain going for each other. Neither one thinks the other is capable of much.
The adventure starts in the vault of Baron Tannenbaum. Mithrandril is here, looking for the Medallion of Peace, a magic item with unknown properties. While Razor fights off two 6′ tall wooden nutcracker guards, Mithrandril searched meticulously for the medallion. Seconds earlier, Alanna had shooed the fire slugs that had been released from a trap sprung by Razor. The fire slugs have retreated into a drain, for now.
Razor leaps onto a pile of boxes and crates and pushes off the wall, sending the crates flying into the nutcrackers. He loses his balance, though, and goes with the boxes, right into the nutcracker’s jaw. As the machinery inside the wooden man break, the jaw snaps shut on Razor’s arm, which is now broken and useless!
Towards the back of the vault, Mithrandril digs through another box, flinging glass ornaments everywhere. He finds a box of glass bottles filled with liquid and tosses one behind himself. He barely notices the pungent pine scent as it fills the room, but Alanna knows what that is– wildfire! It’s a flammable sap from the forests which burns hot and fast, and sticks to everything it touches.
Meanwhile, toppling the boxes has revealed a crawlspace which Alanna spots easily from her position. She warns Razor that there’s a highly flammable pool of liquid behind him just as some fire slugs start moving back out of the drain, sensing things they can burn!
Alanna keeps tenuous control over the slugs, and Razor knocks the second nutcracker into the wildfire. Unfortunately, he rolls with the guard and is covered in the stuff, himself. That’s all right, though, because they’re not on fire. Yet.
Mithrandril, frustrated at how long it’s taking to search for the medallion, summons a spirit to either deal with the fire slugs, or help find the magic item. “I call upon you, oh deceased king of the fire slugs, to answer to me!”
The king of fire slugs has only one answer for anyone, and that is to burn. The wildfire ignites instantly, and Mithrandril sighs. At least there’s enough air circulation in here to not die of smoke inhalation.
Speaking of which, that crawlspace seems to lead somewhere, which is where some of the smoke is going. Alanna moves to check it out, and the nutcracker instantly considers her the stronger threat and goes towards her.
Razor tumble-dives off, scraping most of the wildfire off and suffocating the flames on his person. Alanna is facing the nutcracker by herself, and she bull-rushes the thing, taking a knock on the head herself, as she smacks it hard. The distraction is enough, and Razor chips away at its burning parts until there is nothing left but embers.
Mithrandril darts into the crawlspace, finding the medallion in a box of holiday ornaments, attached to a small metal hook. He sticks it in his pocket, along with a curious-looking lamp. Razor takes a swig from his flask (healing potion) to heal his arm, and starts stuffing his pockets with the jewels and coins in the vault. Alanna primly takes nothing, warning that she’s seen this puppet show before, and knows you’re not supposed to get greedy!
The party escapes Baron Tannenbaum’s keep. End Scene 1.
As written, Baron Tannenbaum’s vault has a bunch of “stuff,” mostly mundane things here for storage, the magic item or items, as well as the nutcracker guards… the rest of this was all added by the players, including the name of the magic item. There wasn’t even a crawlspace in the original. As a result, this is the most interesting part of the night, for everyone involved.
Time passes. Almost a year. Everyone levels up. In the intervening year, Mith and Razor have continued their con jobs. Alanna comes and goes. Alanna turns Razor over to the constable for a different job, and is rewarded with the medallion of peace. Mith sells the lantern and is disappointed when he discovers that in the Fall, it stays lit all night without fuel. He kills the man he sold it to and takes the lantern.
Razor sets up a revenge job on the Head Jaoler, stealing the dowry for the Jaoler’s son and the Treasurer’s daughter. In the course of this job, he kills a woman who was accompanying the dowry, which was stored in a magical bag of holding. He also kills 5 men for his own purposes throughout the year, plus a 6th for Mith’s purposes.
They find themselves traveling together once again. Alanna is hesitant to even be around these people, and she certainly isn’t going to tell them she’s the one who turned Razor in. But here she is, fighting a yeti, because Mith and Razor claim the yeti has the Bracers of Strife– a companion piece to the Medallion of Peace. And Alanna wants to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Mithrandril tries to telepathically communicate with the yeti, while Alanna uses the good old Sasquatch tongue. Sasquatch is a close enough dialect to yeti that she hopes it’ll work. The yeti, however, is having none of it and wants to smash things and destroy these intruders into its cave.
Mithrandril opens his mind to the yeti and feels a cold, hyper-intelligent feminine presence there. He’s startled by this revelation, and Razor takes the distraction provided by his friends to stab the yeti at the base of its neck, killing it instantly.
The yeti dissipates into a swirl of snow that blows out the cavern entrance.
The adventurers stare at each other with a “WTF” look, then Razor darts into the back of the cavern, finding the bracers and some mundane treasure. They split it up and head out to track down the mysteriously dissipating yeti.
Night closes in and Alanna makes camp for the party.
This is pretty much the railroads the adventure was written on, so it is therefore the most boring part. That’s ok. It’s a bridge. The telepathy was an unforeseen bonus, though– Mith now has an important clue.
In the morning, even the person on watch has dozed off. They awaken feeling that their clothes are loose, their bodies feel strange. Razor puts a hand up and feels the familiar bumps of pimples! They have been transformed into children– pre-teens, really! These are their own bodies, but much younger!
I hand out character sheets for them to fill out. Their stats have been nerfed, and they’re down to basic moves only. Armor no longer fits, but weapons are ok. I am kind and let them keep their original hit points.
Sitting nearby, with a parchment paper and quill, is a creepy, green-haired humanoid with sharp yellow teeth. He waits for the party to address him, then speaks in a creaky, creepy voice to the party. He seems to know them, by name, and references the “naughty list.” He tells them his name is Krampus.
With some lore, they realize he’s the anti-Nick, here to punish the naughty, and they are now capable of being punished by him! Krampus offers a “tit for tat” Q&A. He’ll ask a question, they can respond. Krampus asks things like “did you enjoy killing a woman?” and “does Clement know you were the one who set him on fire?” Things like that. After the second question, Razor says “Screw this– we’re not going to ask any questions!”
Krampus nods and says “excellent. Then I will see you all… later.” He teleports away.
Also pretty much as scripted, but the voice I pulled and drawing on the misdeeds they told me about in the “time passes” sequence made this scene not-boring.
The party now trudges through the snow, until they meet the kind old woman Johanna. The adventurers introduce themselves, claiming to have been kidnapped. Johanna is alarmed and offers to take them to the local keep, where they are assured of hospitality. They learn this is Baron Tannenbaum’s keep, and groan inwardly. “Of course.”
They get there, and try to fake out Johanna about their names, but her businesslike manner and their youthful appearances mean the guards don’t even give them a second look. They pass easily into the keep, where they meet the inhabitants– a cheerful, prosperous (though perhaps not as prosperous as last year!) bunch of kind folks.
We stop the session here, after they have been turned over to the governess, who will find them places to sleep during their visit over the holidays.
This is the lead-in to the sandbox part of the adventure. Between now and next week, I will revise some of the Keep to fit better with the party, some details from their interlude stories, and generally tie this story into their own.
You know how you think “don’t disturb me unless something is on fire” means “don’t disturb me?” In an unrelated incident, my sister called me, mid-session. I sent the call to voice mail, and got a text: “Mom’s house is on fire. Call me.” I called. Everyone is uninjured, just lots of upset and frustration all around.
(Full article contains spoilers!) I bought the D&D Stranger Things Starter Set, and I was all kinds of excited to run it. I read through it a few times, thought “hmmm…” about some of the choices, but overall it reads like a fairly straightforward adventure.
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