‘Twas a few nights after Christmas, and all through the house, a few creatures were stirring, clicking on a mouse . . . to find their way to a band of ready-to-play adventurers prepared to save Christmas! Yes, the holiday has passed, but there’s still time for that holiday-themed one-shot you’ve been thinking of running. This one can be filed under the ‘just for fun’ column, and draws some inspiration from way, way back in the CHG archives. So hitch up the reindeer, pack up all the presents, and check your list twice, because we’re going to adventure for the holidays with Santa Claus and his elves in this Meet the Party for 13th Age!
I happened to notice something interesting as I was checking the stats for CHG through December: a certain D&D Christmas-themed Meet the Party, more than two years old now, getting a surprising number of hits for its age. That got me thinking of taking another swing at Christmas-themed content. Since I was checking deep into the archives anyways, that brought something else to mind: it’s been a very long time since I gave 3.X and 4e D&D’s indirect descendant, 13th Age, a visit. So for fun and a challenge I decided to try and recreate the original dwarven Kris Kringle and his elves in Heinsoo and Tweet’s Icon-filled RPG.
Santa Claus, Dwarf – Level 5 Paladin
Str: 16 Con: 14 Dex: 8 Int: 12 Wis: 12 Cha: 18
Physical Defense: 12
Mental Defense: 13
Recoveries: 8 Recovery Dice: 5d10 + 2
One Unique Thing: “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind.”
Icon Relationships: Dwarf King 1 (Positive), Elf Queen 1 (Positive), Priestess 1 (Positive)
Backgrounds: Santa Claus +5, Toymaker +3
Racial Power: That’s Your Best Shot?
Class Feature: Smite Evil
Powers/Spells: Sphere of Radiance*, Heal^
Talents: Lay on Hands, Cleric Training (Sphere of Radiance)*, Path of Universal Righteous Endeavor, Divine Domain: Community
Feats: Cleric Training (Adventurer, Champion^), Lay on Hands (Adventurer), Smite Evil (Adventurer), Path of Universal Righteous Endeavor (Adventurer)
Equipment: Longsword, Plate Armor, Shield, Bag of Gifts, 25 GP
Santa Claus might be a paladin, but unsurprisingly he’s the kind who focuses more on helping others. Lay on Hands lets Santa spend his own recoveries to heal others, and its feat adds double his Cha modifier. His Cleric Training gives him access to a cleric spell of his level or lower (Sphere of Radiance lets him both heal allies and strike out at enemies), while its feats let him use Charisma for the spell and the Heal spell twice a day. The Path of Universal Righteous Endeavor grants nearby allies +1 to all their saves, and its feat allows Santa to reroll relationship dice once per day (with heroic and ambiguous Icons, at least). Gaining access to the Divine Domain: Community allows him to effect extra allies with spells (although, like the book recommends, you might want to tweak that to work with other paladin abilities). Of course, Santa still has to be good in a fight. Smite Evil gets an attack bonus from its feat on top of its inherent extra damage, and That’s Your Best Shot? keeps him in the fight by letting him spend a Recovery after taking a hit (the later in the fight the better).
Bernard, Wood Elf – Level 5 Ranger
Str: 8 Con: 14 Dex: 18 Int: 12 Wis: 16 Cha: 14
Physical Defense: 13
Mental Defense: 12
Recoveries: 10 Recovery Dice: 5d8+2
One Unique Thing: “Someone has to help Santa make sure he covers the whole globe in a single night, and that’s my job.”
Icon Relationships: Diabolist 1 (Negative), Elf Queen 1 (Positive), Dwarf King 1 (Positive)
Backgrounds: Tracker +5, Reindeer Manager +5, Delivery Assistant +3
Racial Power: Elven Grace
Class Feature: N/A
Talents: Animal Companion, Tracker, Favored Enemy: Demon
Feats: Tracker (Adventurer, Champion), Animal Companion (Adventurer x3: Reroll, Escalation Die, Double Attack)
Equipment: Longbow, Dagger, Leather Armor, The Nice List, 25 GP
Bernard is Santa’s number one elf when it comes to actually making his way to every house in the world. Tracker gave him the +5 Background of the same name, while also allowing Bernard to use terrain stunts; the feats let him both stunt and track with equal skill in urban environments. Unsurprisingly Bernard also has an Animal Companion, Comet perhaps (you might have to reflavor one of the existing types of companion). Thanks to Bernard’s feats Comet will be able to reroll attacks, attack twice, and benefit from the escalation die. Finally, Bernard declares Demons his Favored Enemy; these particularly hateful-towards-Christmas fiends will find themselves taking critical hits from Bernard and Comet much more often. Elven Grace lets Bernard potentially gain an extra action every turn, provided he rolls a die equal to or lower than the escalation die.
Clarice, Dark Elf – Level 5 Sorcerer
Str: 8 Con: 16 Dex: 16 Int: 10 Wis: 12 Cha: 18
Physical Defense: 14
Mental Defense: 11
Recoveries: 8 Recovery Dice: 5d6+3
One Unique Thing: “I’m the one who checks the list twice – the big man’s busy with all the nice ones – and you’ve been very naughty indeed.”
Icon Relationships: Elf Queen 1 (Positive), Prince of Shadows 1 (Positive), The Crusader 1 (Conflicted)
Backgrounds: Spy +5, Coal Distribution +3
Racial Power: Cruel
Class Feature: Access to Wizardry, Dancing Lights, Gather Power
Powers/Spells: Level 3 Spells x3, Level 5 Spells x4
Talents: Fey Heritage, Spell Fist, Sorcerer’s Familiar
Feats: Spell Fist (Adventurer, Champion), Gather Power (Adventurer), Fey Heritage (Adventurer), Sorcerer’s Familiar (Adventurer)
Equipment: Shortsword, Robes, Staff, The Naughty List, 40 GP
Clarice is the one best suited towards protecting Santa from interlopers and dealing with the kids on the naughty list. Her feat for Gather Power lets her choose the chaotic benefit of using the ability once per battle, rather than leaving it up to the dice. Spell Fist increased her AC and makes her immune to opportunity attacks that would otherwise be caused by casting ranged spells in melee, while using Constitution for spell damage. The Spell Fist feats let Clarice add double her Charisma modifier to damage on missed spells targeting engaged enemies, and add an engaged target to a ranged spell. Fey Heritage grants access, determined randomly, to one of the other elven branches’ racial power, twice per day thanks to the feat. Sorcerer’s Familiar gifts Clarice with a more mutable version of the wizard’s familiar, with one permanent ability and (after the feat) three more that are determined randomly after a full heal-up. Finally, Cruel lets Clarice inflict ongoing damage on an enemy struck with a natural even attack roll.
Holly, High Elf – Level 5 Bard
Str: 10 Con: 14 Dex: 18 Int: 12 Wis: 8 Cha: 18
Physical Defense: 12
Mental Defense: 12
Recoveries: 8 Recovery Dice: 5d8+2
One Unique Thing: “All those Christmas stories? I’m the one who actually wrote them. Dickens? A pseudonym.”
Icon Relationships: Elf Queen 1 (Positive), The Three 1 (Negative), High Druid 1 (Positive) 1, Great Gold Wyrm 1 (Positive)
Backgrounds: Storyteller +6, Moral Advisor +4
Racial Power: Highblood Teleport
Class Feature: Bardic Songs, Battle Cries, Spells
Powers/Spells: Battle Cries [Pull It Together, Stay Strong!, Hang Tough!, Victory is Ours], Spells and Songs (3rd Level x3, 5th Level x2)
Talents: Mythkenner (B,C), Storyteller, Songmaster
Feats: Bardic Songs (Adventurer), Battle Cries (Adventurer), Pull It Together! (Adventurer), Hang Tough! (Adventurer), Victory Is Ours! (Champion)
Equipment: Flute, Scimitar, Leather Armor, “The Night Before Christmas”, “A Christmas Carol”, 25 GP
Holly is the source of all the stories, the one who keeps the Christmas spirit alive by making sure everyone knows the tale. Mythkenner granted her additional background points – including the ability to take a background to +6 – and a positive relationship with the Wyrm. Songmaster lets her gain a bonus to maintaining a bardic song, so long as the player can describe it in a fashion that entertains the GM. Storyteller can help allies reroll relationship die results they don’t like, provided Holly’s player can tell a one or two sentence story related to the Icon or the event in question. Holly’s feat for Bardic Songs lets them persist for an extra turn even when she is knocked out, stunned, or unconscious; her feat for Battle Cries lets her use them as a standard action instead of hoping for the right result on a flexible melee attack. Speaking of Battle Cries: Pull It Together! heals allies (the more the higher the escalation die), Stay Strong! increases an ally’s AC, Hang Tough! grants temp HP (more if the ally is staggered), and Victory Is Ours! lets an ally heal while granting three allies a significant damage bonus (the feat lets it trigger on a lower escalation die). Finally, once per battle Holly can use a move action to simply place herself in a nearby location she can see, thanks to Highblood Teleport.
This was actually the first time I’ve gone beyond Level 1 for a 13th Age Meet the Party; I chose Level 5 because it’s the halfway point for level progression in 13th’s core book, same as the Level 10 D&D 5e version. While Santa lost some of the nature-y stuff that the Oath of the Ancients gave him, and Clarice had to be made as a Sorcerer instead of a Warlock, I think they translated effectively. If anything, the more narrative bent of 13th Age seems to fit the idea of a party like this pretty well. The Icon relationships make things pretty interesting, though. Negative relationships with evil Icons are pretty easy to wrap one’s head around, but how do the positive relationships with the Big Goods of 13th Age work? Is the Dwarf King actually the spirit of Winter itself? Is the Elf Queen Mrs. Claus? Interesting narrative food for thought.
So, there you have it, another system’s worth of Santa Claus’s adventuring company. That’s well and truly it for me this year. Happy holidays, happy new year, and I’ll see you all in January!
Header image by iguanamouth.
Like what Cannibal Halfling Gaming is doing and want to help us bring games and gamers together? First, you can tell your friends about us! You could travel through one of our fine and elegantly crafted links to DriveThruRPG which, thanks to our Affiliate partnership with them, gets us funds to get more games to review! Finally, you can support us directly on Patreon, which lets us cover costs, pay our contributors, and save up for projects. Thanks for reading!