I'm part of a four-person D&D group. It consists of myself, my girlfriend A, and our two friends R and O. We've been playing together for close to a year now and it's been great. We have two campaigns we go back and forth between, a Gothic horror monster campaign DMed by me and a Marvel themed campaign DMed by R. As a special treat this year for our first Christmas together, I decided to host a Level 8 Christmas themed one shot for the group I called "The Nightmare Before Krampus." The story was that the three of them were a trio of Santa's elves who had to rescue Santa Claus when he had been captured by Krampus who intended to steal Santa's soul to acquire his holiday magic and become the new Father Christmas, planning to use cursed coal to turn the children of the world into his zombie servants known as Naughties. Needless to say, it was a hysterical blast.
The idea was that the three were selected to be this year's Sleigh Assistants for Santa, the elves selected to help prep the sleigh and ride on it with Santa to help him deliver the presents. A was a Level 8 Gnome (reflavored as a Christmas elf) Trickery Domain Cleric wielding a giant lollipop mace named Peppermint Mochachino, Santa's chainsmoking personal secretary who was his not-so-secret admirer. O played a Level 8 Half-Orc (reflavored as a "South Pole Troll) Oath of the Ancients Paladin with a candy cane battleaxe named Bubba, a South Pole Troll adopted a la Buddy the Elf who loved Christmas the most. And R played a Level 5 Path of the Berserker Barbarian/Level 3 Beastmaster Ranger Variant Human midget armed with a giant woodworking mallet and cookie shurikens named Fyodor. Fyodor is a Russian midget who wants revenge on Santa for not getting him Pokemon Ruby and instead his parents getting divorced on Christmas 2002. With him is his pet chicken Torchic, named for what would have been his starter, who is actually a Level 8 Pyromancer Sorcerer after Fyodor forcibly taught Torchic to breathe fire.
With a bunch of snacks and a playlist full of Christmas music, our story began. I started with a "Twas the Night Before Christmas" style poem read with "Jingle Bells" playing:
“’Twas the night before Christmas,
And at the North Pole,
All the elves were preparing
For a tradition of old.
“The elves were all busy
Prepping the reindeer and sleigh
For Santa’s delivery
Of presents Christmas day.
“Three elves most special
Had a duty most rare.
They would help Santa deliver
His presents everywhere.
“Little did they know
Of the evil that was near.
One destined to turn Christmas
From a day of cheer to pure fear.
“That evil was Krampus,
The Christmas Devil of legend.
He would champion naughtiness
And cause niceness to end.
“Seeking the magic of St. Nicholas
To feed his own power,
He’d become a Dark Father Christmas
By that very midnight hour.
“As Christmas Day approaches,
The good children all excite,
Krampus’s success would mean
The holiday season turns to fright.
“With time running short,
Merely hours to go,
Santa’s elves must go save him
Lest ‘ho, ho, ho’ turn to ‘ho, oh, no!’
“The three special elves
Are Kris Kringle’s hope for freedom.
Will the North Pole stay jolly?
Or become a naughty kingdom?
“Now let us begin
This special story for Christmas.
Tis the ‘Nightmare Before Krampus.’”
After a big round of applause from my players, impressed by what I wrote, our story began. The three of them began a few hours before midnight, working on the sleigh, harnessing the reindeer, taking inventory of the presents, etc. However, about two hours later, they hear suspicious sounds coming from the workshop. Leaving the sleigh room, they go into the workshop and are horrified to find the room filled with corpses, glitter everywhere (Christmas elves have glitter rather than blood in their veins). As they search the workshop, they are attacked by two evil elves (reflavored Goblins) and three present-shaped Mimics, each possessing a tongue shaped like a certain bodily organ in reference to a famous Saturday Night Live holiday sketch. Once my players overcame their initial disgust, they managed to defeat the evil attackers and found the one survivor of the attack, Starberry Twinklepants. He informed them that Krampus had escaped his imprisonment in Mt. Cranky McPoopypants at the hands of Santa and had captured Father Christmas to steal his powers, planning to perform a ritual on him at midnight to do so. So, the heroic group of "elves" return to the sleigh room and gather up the reindeer, minus a drunken prima donna Rudolph, taking the sleigh to fly to Mt. Cranky McPoopypants to save Santa.
They arrive as Krampus is beginning the ritual, draining the first part of Santa's soul. They manage to surprise Krampus (who I made an Ice Devil with additional HP), getting a surprise round. They manage to deal some heavy damage on him right away with some powerful crits. Peppermint goes to Santa quickly and begins to try and unshackle him while using her Spiritual Weapon, in the form of Santa's toy sack, to crush Krampus. Fyodor repeatedly beat Krampus with his mallet and also blinding him with his shurikens. Bubba smited Krampus multiple times, shouting rousing Christmas themed battle cries. Krampus did break Bubba mentally for a few rounds by revealing he wasn't a real elf, but a South Pole Troll, though after Santa encouraged him, telling him he was more of an elf than any other because of his Christmas spirit, Bubba got the WIS saving throw he needed to get back into the fight. In the end, in spite of Krampus getting 3/5 of the way through the ritual, Fyodor dealt the death blow to Krampus with a powerful mallet strike the head before Krampus could complete his spell. With Krampus dead, Peppermint managed to free Santa and restore the stolen parts of his soul to him. There was a near-fatal experience when Fyodor gave Santa a poisoned cookie, but Bubba's Lay on Hands and Peppermint's healing magic saved him. As thanks, Santa gave Bubba a toy sleigh, Peppermint a Santa blowup doll (making her think there was hope she would be the NEW Mrs. Claus), and Fyodor finally got his Nintendo DS and Pokemon Ruby, revealing there was a mix-up that year as Santa moved the Naughty-Nice List from paper to digital. With Santa saved, the group got on the sleigh, repacked the sack, and managed to take off in time to still deliver the presents in time for Christmas.
This one-shot was a blast and we could barely go more than a few minutes without someone laughing hysterically at the holiday antics. There were so many hilarious moments, from Peppermint and Bubba repeatedly getting sick at the gore, frequently vomitting glitter and acid respectively, Peppermint's Christmas themed innuendos when talking about Santa, Bubba's childlike innocence, to Fyodor's Russian stoicism and secret desire to eliminate Santa himself, Torchic's random antics, etc. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the game. We're all now looking forward to getting to do another one next year.