1) Lesson learned: Don't do Roll Player and an RPG at the same sitting. They took way too long getting their characters done. Then I had to calculate their AC and HP before we could start. Instead of taking a hour like the box says, it took well past 2.5 hours, even with me telling them they needed to pick up the pace several times. I had to cut out hunks of the story, and we still ran past our normal end time. Ironically the two that were the most put out that we were running late were the main culprits for why we were late. Tracy would get up and go out my back door. 2 demerits for not closing the door tight and leaving it unlocked too. Luckily it wasn't too cold outside, so it only got about 50 degrees in my kitchen/plant room.
2) Josh was really the only one there that had a clue how to do an RPG character, and he got an emergency call from his work 20 minutes into the RPG. Poor guy had to leave for work, and had to work 10 hours on his day off the next day. Caitlin, Josh's wife, had never done an RPG before, and the poor gal had abysmal luck rolling dice. She tried 4 different D20, and they all rolled bad for her. She got one hit and one 20 search on about 30 rolls (she rolled for Josh too after he left), including avoiding zombie Rudolph pooping on her. The rest were less than 8. She had chosen the construct, so when she tried to wash off the poop, I made here roll a water vs robot. She fumbled, so I had to have some of the water enter her circuits. She walked with a slight limp the rest of the game, poor thing.
3) Konas was correct. It's like trying to herd cats. Let me read the stable flavor text, and guess where they ended up going.
Mrs Claus was waiting in the stable. She is everything you'd imagine. She smells like cookies, but had an aura of sadness and concern around her. "Thank you for coming. We are being attacked by magic. Well, I don't know that for sure, but it has to be so. My loving husband, Santa, is not himself. Now he thinks all children are naughty and should get coal in their stockings. And if they are fans of Michigan football, he wants to beat them using their coal stocking. Most of the elves are acting like this change of behavior is fine. Some of the townspeople have turned into zombies. And the reindeer have been affected too. Rudolph is turning into a zombie. Blitzen here is walking on two legs and has started smoking camels. The rest of them have run off to the Red Nose Tavern. I'm desperate to defeat this magic so I can get my dear husband back, and save everyone else. I'll will shower you with gifts if you can save us."
Blitzen had been listening to Mrs Claus. He takes the Camel out of his mouth and says "I might just be blowing smoke, but I have seen cloaked figures coming and going from that old cabin in the forest. Oh by the way, if you hear a bell, you might want to duck." Ding Ding Ding! Flying Zombie Rudolph lets some go, hitting Caitlin. Due to time constraints, this was Rudolph's only appearance.
Josh: let's check out the cabin.
Drew/Tracy/Jeremie: we should go to the Red Nose Tavern. Lesson learned: don't mention taverns around Drew/Tracy/Jeremie unless you want them to go there.
4) After gaining no info at the tavern (other than you pay for drinks with sugar plums) they head to the cabin (exit Josh).
The small cabin wasn't inviting, but it was warm. A small fireplace had the remains of a fire, including a few embers still glowing. The cabin did smell delicious. There was the aroma of spices lingering in the air. But there was another smell too. You couldn't put a finger on it, but smelled sort of like veal. At the back of the cabin was a kitchen and a small bedroom. There was a couch and a rocking chair near the fireplace. The otherside of the main room appeared to be a workshop.
Guess where they searched first. The kitchen, of course. smh. So I had them find a little boy's head. Then Caitlin rolled her D20 for 20 on a search to find the keepsake box. Without Josh, the puzzle box proved to be to hard. I had to give them 4 hints before they figured it out.
When you pick up the mirror, you feel a tingle run through your body. When you look in the mirror, you see a hideous looking creature stirring a cauldron. Mrs Claus gasps "Krampus! He has to be the cause of this! And... and... and I think that he's in one of the storage rooms of the workshop." Edgar: "Isn't he Santa's evil twin?" Mrs Claus: "He didn't used to be evil. He used to be a saint. That's why I'm so terrified for my husband. I don't want this to become his fate." All the sudden Krampus looks directly at you in the looking glass. What do you do?
Lesson learned: don't mention storage room. Instead say something like the walls look like the walls of the workshop.
5) They head to the workshop.
The workshop wasn't as bustling as one would expect given how close it was to Christmas. A couple of elves were scurrying around trying to complete their tasks. Other elves were loading a big bag with coal lumps from a coal bin. There is a staircase going up the back wall to a second story balcony. The balcony wrapped halfway around the main room. At the end of the balcony, there were several bodies lying on sleeping bags. On the right hand side of the main room, there is a large fireplace that has a cheerful fire burning in it. Weirdly, it appeared to be the only cheerful thing in the room. On the left side of the room was a large Christmas tree with some packages underneath it. To the right of the tree is a dimly lit hallway. To the left of the fireplace was a doorway leading into a large office. In the center of the workshop were three rows of work benches, though only a few elves were making toys.
After the flavor text Jeremie immediately tries to grab a package and starts to open it. The treent and the packages all start attacking him. The rest ignored that fight and Santa's office. They head down the hallway instead. That was the last those characters saw the main room. Luckily, Jeremie was a dragonkin, so I allowed him to have a breath weapon. He set the treent on fire (taking him down to half), so he managed to stay alive. Then when he got the packages and treent killed, I had the snowman parade come storming in the door. I guess I wanted to see him melt them with his breath.
6) The first room the rest of them encounter down the hallway is the "canteen". Sitting at the big table were an intoxicated Santa and Jack Frost. Slurring, Santa says "Whoa! We have guests. Jack and I have been hitting the peppermint schnapps. Not much left, I'm afraid. With all children being naughty brats, it sure makes getting ready a lot easier." He tips the bottle to his wife, and takes the last swig of schnapps.
I really expected them to make the potion to free Krampus from the hag's spell in this room, but they spent a turn looking for more schnapps first, then went into the room where Krampus was. Uh oh. We better make the potion. While they were messing around, the rat king and melee minions came crashing in the back door. I had other things set up, but I guess I'll save them for next year. It was already 6 pm. Note: the gingerbread gang funded!!! Yea!!!