The holidays are here! What better way to spend it than curled up next to a fire with hot coco in hand rolling dice with the people you love most? That is unless your DM, Little Red Dot, is obsessed with Yule Lore and its dark creatures.
For this holiday season, NxNQuest is releasing an extended 2 part Holiday Special that follows Pascal, Sylo, and Val through a frozen pocket dimension set deep in Icelandic and German Yule Lore.
Chelsea aka Little Red Dot shares some of her thoughts, research, and process on building this dark Yuletide holiday D&D 5e game.
“I have always had a deep affinity towards dark fantasy. This may be hard to believe considering that I constantly play light-hearted, fun-loving characters like Sylo, but as a DM I get all giddy just thinking about ways to give my players nightmares. I like to watch them struggle with hard decisions and mitigate bleak situations. I believe this pushes them as players and builds deep, collaborative stories. If my players are still contemplating whether or not they made the “right choice” after they leave the table then I know I’ve done my job.
When I was asked to DM this 2 part holiday special for NxNQuest’s podcast I knew I wanted to homebrew a world that captured the essence of holiday spirit while also satisfying my deep hatred for corporate-driven, commercialized Christmas traditions.
Originally, the adventure’s first rendition was planned to take place in a plushie-toy realm where a hoard of elves come once a year to kidnap toys and take them away never to be seen again. These elves are of course “Santa’s Elves” who come to fulfill St.Nick’s toy order for the month of December. The characters would’ve had to decide whether to protect the helpless toys by killing the elves inevitably keeping all the “Good Boys and Girls” from getting their annual Christmas gifts or to aid the elves becoming part of the annual ritual of kidnapping harmless, sentient toys from their home.
This preliminary story was just that – preliminary. It wasn’t long before I realized that simply providing a scenario where the NxNQuest team had to make a tough choice wasn’t enough to satisfy my dark DM desires. I wanted more juxtaposition to the world of Locnar while setting the characters up to experience something darker and more tragic than they ever had before (which is a bold move considering the team just lost Archimedes). So I went back to the drawing board to do more research, and decided to cut Santa Clause from the story all together.
As I started rethinking this adventure, I stumbled across the foreboding tales associated with 16th and 17th century Germanic and Icelandic Winter Solstice traditions. They were exactly what I need to fulfill my dreams of the perfect dark holiday game. The deeper I dived the more I found. Including the genesis of our modern day holiday traditions, and a slew of legends and monsters that shaped the landscape of the Winter Solstice long before we had rosy-faced Santa Clause. Stories like a giant cat that eats children who don’t receive new clothing, a witch that disembowels bad children to fill with garbage, and the iconic Krampus that steals children away in his sack during the middle of the night was all too perfect. I had found my inspiration!
I set off on a month long journey to sculpt a mini-game that would combine the figures and fables told over 200-300 years ago that keep children (and their parents) petrified of doing bad or breaking tradition during the Winter Solstice.
What you’ll find in these two episodes is a personal hand-picked list of my favorite finds including the Holly King, the Yule Cat, the Yule Lads, Gryla, Frau Perchta, and Krampus weaved together in a rich, winter-world where a single town stands plagued by a hundred years of harassment from these creatures. The absence of children is made palpable by the vast amount of tiny graves that litter the outskirts of this small Germanic town. With the last of the Holly King’s guardian red-nosed reindeer poached, the NxNQuest team must find a way to keep Frau Perchta and her creatures at bay.
Creating a story where all these epically chilling creatures can exist was a challenge, but I’d like to think I achieved an assemblage of balance that plays on the themes of light vs dark and the importance of family over objects. You may not be dreaming of a white Christmas after listening to this episode, but you’ll sure remember to appreciate and hold tight the ones that matter most in your life. Consider this my holiday gift to you.”
This 2 part NxNQ Holiday Special will premiere on Wednesday, December 6 on iTunes and Stitcher. If you enjoy it leave us 5 stars and a review to tell the world what you think.
Remember, if you liked it tell your friends, if you hated it tell your enemies!