I was asked to run a D&D game on Christmas Eve for my wife and some friends. I decided to take the opportunity to try and give them an Christmas themed adventure. I kicked around a lot of ideas that mostly involved helping Santa. Then I thought of A Christmas Carol and it seemed ready made for a D&D adventure.
My first problem was figuring out a way to fit the party into the story. Initially I considered having them fight each ghost on behalf of an unrepentant Scrooge. I was excited by the idea of building monsters based on each of the spirits. That option removed the emotional payload of the story though. I thought my players would rather facilitate the redemption of Scrooge along with the ghosts rather than destroy them. So I needed a reason for the spirits to want/need the parties help.
I had the party start out in the town of Grayce. I explained they they had been gone on for a month collecting materials for a special medicine. The stable master’s son has fallen terribly ill and lacking a proper cleric in the town he is reallying on the old women and their folk remedies. The party returns from the errand late at night and rushes immediately to the stable master’s home. Here I turned the reigns over to my players and let them speak with the father and mother as well as inspect the boy. After a bit of discussion they discovered the boy’s name is Timothy and that the town is ruled by a greedy, evil lord. I saw a few smiles go around the table and then they asked about the lord’s name. “Why it is the same as before you left on your quest. Ebeneezer Scrooge.” says the boy’s father Bob Cratchet. The realization was a great moment and the party decided they wanted to go meet scrooge right away.
They were in a hurry to go but I read them this as they left the Cratchet home.
you step outside into the snow and bitter wind. In the distance you can hear the town’s church bell begin to ring. It is midnight but another sound echos through the deserted streets. It is a deep clanking like someone dragging heavy chains across a row of wine barrels. The sound is un-nerving but it is what happens next that truly sets your teeth on edge. For a ghostly figure materializes there only a few yards in front of your party. It is a man in heavy coats and he carries with him a great chain. The links are wound about his mid section and drag behind like a tail. He raises a spectral hand and points at you. “You have done much good this day.” the phantom says “And before the night is over you will do much more!”
In the background the church bell continues to ring a fifth and then a sixth time. The spirit continues “lord Ebineezer’s soul is in great peril and should it fall into absolute darkness it will take the town of Grayce with it. But there is yet a chance and hope of escaping this fate. Tonight Scrooge will be visited by three spirits. These are powerful ghosts whose message the lord must hear if there is any hope of his reclamation. Sadly Scrooge is not without defense against the spirit’s message. The dark forces that hold his soul will fight to keep him from bearing wittiness to the visions these three ghost’s will conjure.
You must get yourselves into Scrooge’s very own bed chamber. You must do this before the bell strikes one. Once there you must aid these noble spirits. Fight off the darkness that will come to defend Scrooge’s black soul. If you do not then there is no hope to shun the path that Scrooge now walks.” As the spirit finishes he backs slowly away and begins to fade. In the distance the church bells tolls. 10, 11, and as the twelfth stroke ceases to vibrate the spirit before you vanishes, swept away by the chill wind.
So there is my set up for the evening. I ended up deciding that Scrooge would not just be selfish prick but actually be on his way to becoming a Litch. The game began with a skill challenge. The party had to race to Scrooge’s mansion, break in and then navigate a series of demonic traps before the clock struck one.
The first encounter was the ghost of Christmas past. In this fight the party saw a Scrooge escorted by the spirit visit a boarding school. A young Scrooge is approached by the headmaster who makes the boy an offer which is accepted. As this is happening the party must battle a shadow demon and some minions which are trying to shield Scrooge (who has since forgotten the original deal) from the vision. The succeed and Scrooge begins to question his path.
The second encounter is the ghost of Christmas present. Scrooge is led my a spirit to the Cratchet home and shown the plight of young Timothy as well as the dire state of his town. A beholder appears with a few other wraiths and the party has to defeat them while Scrooge listens to the spirit and considers his actions.
Finally the ghost of Christmas future appears and Scrooge is shown the town of Grayce as ruled by his future Litch self. Unlike the other encounters where Scrooge could not see the party and the fights they were having the Litch sees all the players.
A tall cloaked shape is floating towards you through the dank passageway. Soon it is close enough to recognize its features. The face is drawn and emaciated. Like old leather wrapped tightly across the skull beneath. Even in this state it is obvious the thing before you was once Ebeneezer Scrooge. Behind you Scrooge howls and turns away having come to the same grizzly conclusion. “Spirit” Scrooge exclaims “I am not the man I was. I will not become this monster!”
The Lich for there is no other thing that it could be continues to move towards you. Accustomed now to your peculiar state in these visions you make no movement and expect the monster to continue past. But it stops before you, it’s head tilting like a dog sniffing at the air. The lich lifts a bony hand and waves it before you as though he were brushing aside a curtain. Then his red eyes find yours and a smile cracks its dry lips.
This was a tough fight and the entire time the party was fighting Scrooge was struggling with what he should do. After some smart checks the party’s cleric discovers that the strange amulet Scrooge is rubbing is actually a phylactery. The Cleric encourages Scrooge to destroy the artifact and destroy the Litch. “But I will die as well won’t I?” asks Scrooge. The cleric places a comforting hand on the old man’s arm “I’m sorry.” she says (nice line from Kurtz. he got a bonus for that). Scrooge hurled the amulet to the ground where it shattered destroying the Litch and this possible future as well as ending his own life. But that was not the end. A massive demon arrives to claim Scrooges soul “per there agreement” but before it can, another player arrives.
Suddenly there is a bright flash of platinum light. A radiant figure appears before you and as the light dims the figure coalesces into the shape of an old man. He looks for all the world like a hermit with his long white beard and ragged blue robes. His eyes sparkle though and seven golden canaries fly in lazy circles around his head. He steps forward and addresses the Shadow. “This soul may be yours for now but it is within my power to grant this man rebirth.” His voice is calm and even like a kindly grandfather sharing some bit of old wisdom. The Shadow demon hisses back at the old man “You would count a litch among your own children? I doubt it dragon!”
The old man turns to you “What say you?” he asks. “Is Scrooge worthy of rebirth?”
My players looked around at each other and all agreed that Scrooge had been redeemed. Bahamut nods and everyone is returned to the town of Grayce. Then I gave the party the “good” ending:
The adventure was a big hit with my players and a fun way to spend Christmas Eve.