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Winter Holiday Plot Hooks

Posted By John Arcadian On December 16, 2008 @ 2:40 am In GMing Advice | 7 Comments

Well its that time of year. If you are a Christian you can celebrate the Christmas holiday on December 25th. If you are Jewish you can celebrate Hanukkah from sundown on December 21st to December 29th. If you are of the new school pagan variety you’ve got Winter Solstice on December 21st and if you are of the old-school pagan variety then you can celebrate the Christmas holiday because of the origins of the Christmas tree (9 drops of blood a day for maximum health!). And heck, if you are anyone in America, buy someone a gift for any holiday and help kick-start the economy.

For those of us who also purport to the religion of Gamer-dom here is another way to celebrate the wintery seasons. Run a definitively winter or holiday themed game. Here are some plot hooks to get you started.

  • Santa Claus Needs Help
    Much like the Father Christmas scene in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, or the ever brilliant Ernest Saves Christmas, Santa Claus (or the appropriate equivalent) needs help in completing his yearly trip. Maybe he needs someone to light his way (continual flame spell on a reindeer’s nose?). Maybe he needs someone to help build toys? Maybe he needs someone to make a Shadowrun against a rival mega-corp and take their operation out? Whatever the situation Santa needs help and the PCs are the only ones who can do it.
  • Protect the Candles
    This one is particularly Jewish in theme. Judah Maccabee has relit the sacred candles, but is still being hassled by the forces of Antioch the 4th (or something appropriate to the world setting) who originally desecrated the temple. The characters have to protect the burning candles for 8 nights. Maybe they need to escort Judah to and from the site of the candles.
  • The Island of Misfit Golems
    A rogue inventor has been creating the most strange and unusual automatons on his snowy island home. Thankfully he isn’t of much bother to anyone in the village, but once it is known that the key to close off a demon spewing pit is only to be found there the PCS have to run off to get it. Along the way they are sure to meet the unique and confused golem whom the inventor has created and left behind…
  • Oh Krampus
    What traditional Christmas spoof would be complete without Santa’s not so jolly counterpart Krampus? The devilish compatriot to St. Nicholas is running amok and causing issues. Every night leading up to the winter festival he/she/it has been rattling chains and tormenting those found out after dark. Though no deaths have been reported yet, things are beginning to get scary. Is this really an imp or monster prowling the streets, or is it a prankster?
  • Agnostica Agog
    Inspired by Darren Bluel’s Agnostica Holiday, the heroes must retrieve a special box full of unknown things. Their benefactor, a kindly King named Luca, bids them not to open the box before the night of Agnostica. He also warns them they will be challenged by the Nefarious Gav and his Giant ant automaton! Beware of drinking too much gogli.
  • Festivus for the Rest of us
    A large and hairy yeti, who is strangely bald on his head, encounters the group in the wilderness and bids them join him by a warm fire. Once around the fire he announces that the night is actually the night of Festivus and the group must help him with the traditional festivities. First they must air their grievances against one another, next one of them must wrestle him to the ground, with the final being the traditional dancing around the Festivus pole . . .by the yeti. Mmmmm Festivus yeti pole dance.

So, what other holiday plots are rattling around in there? Share your twisted take on the winter holidays and tell us about any actual play experiences.

About  John Arcadian

John Arcadian is the head of Silvervine Games, a freelance writer and art director, a website developer, a builder of sonic screwdrivers, and a purveyor of kilted mayhem. When he isn't out causing trouble in his kilt... Well, no, that is pretty much what he does when he isn't running RPGs or or trying to take over the world.




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7 Comments To "Winter Holiday Plot Hooks"

#1 Comment By Mike Kenyon On December 16, 2008 @ 11:00 am

This year, I’m adapting Dr Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Replace the Grinch with your villain of choice (I’ve actually stated out a ‘grinch’) and see if your players figure it out!

#2 Comment By John Arcadian On December 16, 2008 @ 11:32 am

@ Mike Kenyon: That is a great one that I completely overlooked!

#3 Comment By Sarlax On December 16, 2008 @ 11:43 am

A century ago, a noble sought to eliminate his rivals in the dead of winter when the valley was closed to travel. He commissioned a wizard to create an ice golem, instructed to kill off the noble families. The golem, endowed with cruel intelligence, carefully stalked its victims until it was stopped by a clever adventurer who adorned it with a Helm of Opposite Alignment. Suddenly good, the golem left the valley and went into the snow-capped mountains, returning secretly every winter to watch over the small towns of the valley. This winter, however, a scion of the now disgraced noble house has heard the legend of the golem and has stolen his Helm, reigniting his original mission. Can the PCs retrieve the Helm before the ice golem kills again? (Frosty the Snowman)

A young boy is an aspiring hunter and seeks a perfect longbow, but his family objects because of the danger. A lurking demon, however, hears his wish, and gives him Eyebite, an intelligent +1 Unholy Human Bane Longbow that quietly drives its wielder to shoot out the eyes of the innocent. (A Christmas Story)

A kobold warren was wiped out recently, except for one survivor, a trap-making rogue, who has taken humans hostage and plans to sacrifice them to Kurtalmak. The PCs must invade the abandoned warren and survive his deadly traps to rescue the villagers. (Home Alone).

#4 Comment By Noumenon On December 16, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

Great twists, Sarlax!

#5 Comment By argokirby On December 16, 2008 @ 5:37 pm

This year for our gamin group’s Christmas party I have pulled a theme out from way back. We are going to run a single session game. The basic plot, a band of wild winter elves have kidnapped a dwarf king, and they are forcing him to oversee their construction project (i.e. the making of little toys).

The PCs have only one chance to rescue him, it seems on yule the elves load the poor dwarf king onto a sleigh and force him to deliver all the presents to the people of the world. This is such a great adventure because it always takes a while for the players to catch on that they have been sent to “rescue” Santa Clause from the elves that hold him captive. Once they figure it out they have to decide weather to save Santa or not.

Last time a ran this (before my current group) the party’s dwarf volunteered to take the Dwarf Kings position, freeing the king, and living for an eternity as Santa Clause. It was sad and heroic at the same time.

#6 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On December 17, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

It usually gets airtime this time of year, so look out for “Hogfather”, a made-for-TV movie adaption of a Terry Pratchett book.

The ending quote from Death (about belief) really gets me every time.

#7 Comment By SmallBlueGod On December 18, 2008 @ 8:17 am

I generally run horror based games. Once in a while I’ll write little one-shot games to allow everyone to be silly. Usually around the holidays.

Last years Christmas time game was more a mixing of genre’s than an actual plot homage.

Short Version: At a boarding school for the gifted (read: wizards academy) an evil spirit (that hated christmas) is unwittingly released by a child around christmas time. The spirit takes the form of the child’s greatest hope & desire (Santa Clause). Then in the form of St Nick the evil spirit proceeds to do truly horrible things to the children. Each day getting worse than the one before it & more numerous (12 days of Christmas).

Being other students at the school the player characters are horrified (as are the players themselves) and begin looking into why Santa is terrorizing their school.

The end result was: They saved the day by summoning up a ‘good’ spirit to battle the evil one. In one of those inspired moments the players used a snowglobe (with a figure of the iconic Frosty within it) as a focus to summon the ‘friendly’ spirit to do battle with the ‘evil’ one.

With a great shout of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” the Frosty engaged in battle with Santa Clause. Giving the young wizards enough time to perform the binding spell on the Santa monster & save Christmas!


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