One-Shot, Fun Shots:
Holiday Themed Adventure
Time to Save Festivus!
As the holidays approach and we really dig into the holiday spirit, it’s time we bring up an awesome idea for a holiday one shot. The choices are endless, as the holiday season lends itself to plenty of larger-than-life fairy tales. This year, I took inspiration from the story of The Grinch – a cold-hearted Fey creature intent on ruining Festivus – the holiday for the rest of us! So how do we begin our tale?
Like any good holiday story, this one revolves around family and friends. The players characters are all related and well known to each other and are all visiting their friend, Mary Loo Who, who lives in a far norther village after she retired from adventuring. The players make their way north through whatever means is appropriate and prepare to enjoy some much deserved downtime with friends.
The hearth is warm, but darkness falls
The players enjoy a night of festivities and drink, sharing tales of their adventures, their past, and their fondest memories. They are relaxed, enjoying themselves and the fine company when a rumble shakes the house followed by a scream of pain from just outside the door. As they run outside they are greeted by a paladin in red and white armor laying motionless in the snow. Beside him stands the largest elk you have ever seen, nearly 8 foot in height.
As the players approach, the elk becomes defensive and tries to protect the mysterious figure. Just when it looks like that elk is going to attack, the unconscious man groans and tells the huge mammal to relax. The players help the man inside, who tells them that the blizzard that is picking up outside is no normal storm. A creature from the Feywild has brought forth a horde of strange creatures and is going to start an endless winter. A creature that he calls the Grinch, which has taken up residence at the top of the North Polaris Mountain.
The storm is coming, and only we can stop it
The Paladin – Sir Nicolaus, as he is known – was given the mission to stop the Grinch from the all father, but his disastrous accident has left him in dire shape. Mary Loo Who says that you have to put an end to the storm before it is too late. She is old and cannot go with you, so she will stay and take care of Sir Nick. The players gather up their gear, and prepare to brave the storm.
As the players begin to head toward the North Polaris Mountain, the storm picks up in ferocity and the temperature continues to drop. Every now and then the players must make Constitution saves or suffer Constitution damage. The storm is its very own danger.
Strange creatures unlike any you have ever seen
I like to keep my one shots pretty lively, so I run three encounters, and then the boss fight. If we are really rocking and rolling, I may throw in another encounter to extend the play time. Instead of the typical monsters, you have to throw in special critters that are also holiday themed.
Encounter 1: The possessed reindeer – The party stumbles up the mountain through the storm only to stumble onto a plateau of a trailhead where they are confronted by nine reindeer, one of which has glowing red eyes that shine like torches, illuminating the clearing in an eerie red light. I like to fire up theme lighting for this part – using my super awesome Philips Hue Lights. Nothing makes this encounter more fun than ambient light and the sound of a blizzard playing in the background. The enraged reindeer are not that tough, but Rudolph the Red-Eyed Demon Reindeer is pretty bad ass. Be sure to use the spooky red eyes to great effect during the encounter.
Encounter 2: The Snowman Golems – The party encounters five snowman-style golems that are super weak to fire, just like the real snowman. Clever players will take advantage of this right away, while other may just hack away at them forever. I like to have the snow golems pick snow up off the ground and use it to heal themselves. The only way to destroy them is with fire. If none of the player have fire magic or other flammable liquids, I like to have lightning strike a tree or three so they can grab some flaming branches.
Encounter 3: The abominable snow yeti – This fearsome beast can be mirrored of any number of creatures in the monster manual, but I really like this yeti. Not much to be said here, just the run of the mill horrifying snow creature attempting to tear apart your players!
The Grinch Fey and the storm
Once the player have dispatched these creatures, they find themselves at the pinnacle of the North Polaris Mountain, finding a green furred creature standing in a huge arcane circle. It is channeling a spell that is causing the blizzard, and the arcane circle glows brightly in the deep darkness of the mountain top. The Grinch is an ice-themed wizard that gains advantage while in the arcane circle for all attacks and skill checks.
If the players enter the circle, they must succeed on a constitution save or suffer 2d6 cold damage, and continue to make this save every turn they remain in the circle. Smart players will do their best to remove the Grinch from the circle, but the brave and reckless ones will fight in the snow! Feel free to re-theme any spell to cold. My favorite is Snilloc’s Snowball Swarm from Elemental Evil. Some people call it a poor man’s fireball, but I call it the perfect holiday one shot spell! SNOWBALL FIGHT!
Once the players defeat the Grinch and send him packing, the storm abates and the night becomes calm again. The players can now return to the warmth and safety of Mary Loo Who’s house and brag about the time they saved Festivus.
Happy Holidays from Starcalled Studios and Power Word: Thrill!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. We hope you find it useful and that you and your loved ones can enjoy a fun D&D one shot for the holidays.