The vaunted phenomenon of the holiday special in ingrained in the pop culture zeitgeist. Whether it’s Charlie Brown and his funky little tree, Stephen Colbert generally being sassy, David Bowie & Bing Crosby sharing a duet, or *shudder* Princess Leia reminding us what Life Day is all about, the later months of the year bring with them a unique kind of storytelling magic. So why should tabletop RPG’s be any different?!
We did some digging to bring you five options to infuse your winter gaming sessions with a little bit of holiday spirit.
Cartoon Action Hour: The Paranormal Entities of Holiday Present
We’ve talked about Cartoon Action Hour before, noting the depth, breadth, and genuine love the creators have built in to the system allowing players to experience the myriad worlds of 80’s cartoons. This module pays homage to The Real Ghostbusters, and presents the players with the threat (kinda) of the prescient ghosts of Christmas that we’ve seen in the many iterations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This game is fun, easy to pick up and play, created with the same attention and love as the rest of CAH. Even better: you can get it for FREE at DriveThruRPG!
East Texas University (Savage Worlds): Horror for the Holidays
There is one thing you can’t deny about Pinnacle Entertainment: they blend horror seamlessly in to virtually every one of their lines and they do it well. East Texas University takes place in the town of Pinebox, TX where strange things are constantly afoot and the dynamically-abled student body fights for their lives at every turn. This module focuses on the spirit of the last man to be lynched in Pinebox’s dark past, risen from the grave and seeking revenge. If you like your holidays #spoopy, this one’s the one for you.
Dungeon Crawl Classics: Holiday Modules
Goodman Games has been releasing a holiday themed module every year since 2013, pitting players against an ancient god awakening from slumber on the winter solstice, malevolent gnomes with a dark gift-giving agenda, and ice monsters bent on destroying an elven enclave. The fun thing is that the modules have been increasing in difficulty by one level per year, and this year’s level 4 adventure, Twilight of The Solstice promises to continue this tradition. Giants bent on plunging the world in to eternal frozen night? Yes, please! If you’re a retro-fan or a dyed-in-the-wool grognard, these are definitely worth your while.
Spirit of the Century: Spirit of The Season
Evil Hat Productions is best known as the driving force behind the uber-malleable and easy-to-learn Fate system, which (with a few tweaks) powers their Spirit of The Century games. Spirit of The Season takes a number of both holiday and pulp storytelling conventions, mashes them up, and dishes out a satisfying blend of two-fisted holiday goodness. Thrill as Secret Santa (aka Nick Saint) and his Reindeer Men overcome the villainous Doctor Scrooge, Jacques Frost, and their partners in crime! I’m sure there’s a “be good, for goodness sake” joke to be made here somewhere, but it escapes me. Oh well! You can pick this up directly from Evil Hat’s Website, or as participants in the “Brick and Mortar” initiative, your purchase of a physical copy at your local games store gets you a free PDF. Support local business and feel good by doing good.
Mutants & Masterminds: Crisis on Christmas
The otherwordly, wish-granting entity known as Mr. Infamy has kidnapped Santa Claus, and it’s up to our heroes to rescue him! A super (no pun intended) lighthearted adventure for the world’s greatest superhero RPG, anyone familiar with the Open Game License d20 rules should have a field day with this one. You can get the free pdf from Green Ronin,which was given out several years back and was originally intended for use with the game’s 2nd edition. Fortunately, a few conversions should make this module good to go for the latest edition before you know it!
So there’s a 5 pack of holiday cheer for you and your gaming group, but please note: If anyone has a line on any modules for any system that give some love to other winter Holidays besides Christmas, definitely let us know. Now get cozy and roll those dice. The Holidays depend on it!
What is YOUR favorite holiday special? How about your favorite fictional winter holiday? Let us know!
Photo Credits: Goodman Games, Green Ronin Games, Evil Hat Productions, Pinnacle Entertainment, Spectrum Games, ARC Games