If you have not read the Christmas Encounter Table, it may be worth having a quick look before proceeding, as this is not the Santa Claus you’re familiar with, and far from the 5th edition homebrew versions of Kringle you might have seen elsewhere. My Santa, the Santa of my long-running annual Christmas Campaign is a villain, a wicked courtier of the Fey, a master of his own Wild Hunt. Tooth Fairies feed him information on the children of the world so that he can enslave their minds, ensuring his power is never challenged as those children grow into meddlesome adventurers, Baron Klaus, mad tyrant of the candy folk. (more…)
Some context: Every year I have run a Christmas themed game for one of my local gaming groups. The first one was supposed to be just a one shot, an overly dramatic story of a band of misfit toys who escape the island (really a peninsula), to return home, lead a revolt of the Candy Folk against the cruel tyranny of the Fey Lord Klaus and his wicked elven wild hunt, and reinstate Bannock, Gingerbread King of Candy Folk. And because I can’t control myself, this became an ongoing story, four years strong. This will be the first year since 2012 in which I have not done a Christmas game.
What can I say? I’ve felt rather uninspired in that regard and other projects are taking off rather nicely. So for now, the Dark God of Candy will have to wait to reclaim the world, here instead is an encounter table which sees a nondescript party of 4-6 Christmas themed adventurers level 2-4, wandering the frozen wilderness in an effort to evade Santa and his sadistic brood. It assumes information from the D&D 5th edition Players Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide.
We were asked by the lovely team over at the Later Levels if I would like to take part in doing a monthly Q&A, to open discussion about video games amongst bloggers. If you’re interested in joining in the discussion, leave us a comment below, or reach out to Later Levels. It’s been a few months since we last took part in one of these here on GeekOut South-West, but as ever we’ll be sharing what the question of the month is, as well as what our answers to this question is and our justification for the answers. We’ve not been involved in the past few, but hey, we’re back! Development of some projects is taking longer than expected, so here’s a chance for us to kick back and enjoy some hypothetical questions – This is the question of the month:
Which video game character would do a better job than Santa?
Amidst the worlds of literature, film and other media there are a host of works that simply don’t exist. From novels that sweep the world, textbooks of the strange and wondrous, and instructions on how to do the impossible. Though we may never have access to the miracles within those pages, we get to see their fictitious impact, because words matter.
Here we catalogue the finest works of non-existent prose, poetry, documentation, and scripture. Join us as we list the Top 10 fictional documents.
The legendary festive demon is making something of a resurgence, especially as more and more of us become increasingly jaded towards the consumerism of the season and start to wish for a giant goat-man to come and stuff the mean people into a big sack and drag them away.
Sadly I’m not even sure the 2015 family horror film Krampus ever made it to my local cinema, which is a shame, because the trailer had me immediately curious. I’m a fan of the mythology, and I was more than a little curious as to what could be made from it. Having seen it, I think I still have a lot more to be curious about. (more…)
In those moments between games, where people are sat around waiting for the last couple of people to show up so you can dig into the game you’re really waiting to play, and it’s been a boring week so conversation is running thin, there aren’t all that many games that you can set up in seconds and play in under an hour. Zombie Dice is one of them, and it’s one of the best. (more…)
I love this time of year, and yes I’d go so far as to say that I get more than just a little geeky around about now. Hard to blame me, it’s a time of year where families come together to share food and presents, and while for many of us that’s a time that generates stress, conflict, and bankruptcy, I shamelessly adore Christmas.
If you think it’s a commercial thing, you’re spending too much in too short a space of time. If you think it’s lost all meaning, you’re a couple of thousand years too late. If you hate Christmas, you’re either doing it wrong or have a very grave and indisputable reason, you have my condolences, you deserve a Merry Christmas more than most.
Saturnalia, pulled from the Roman adoption of pagan solstice, is the source of most of our traditions at this time of year, especially in Britain, Europe and America. The feast, the evergreens, the lights, all stem from assorted Viking, Gaelic, and Celtic rituals along with dozens of others, comprised of the rituals in celebration of many religious figures, Yule, Odin, Horus, and of course Jesus.
Santa himself has deep roots in the same mythologies, hence the frosty abode and eternally full beard. However, he’s not the only mythic beasty roaming abroad, and not all of them are giving out presents. We all know Krampus snatches up children in a sack with many a rattling of chains, but there are some parents out there who may prefer a visit from the Christmas Ogress Grýla, a horror from Icelandic lore who eats bad children, except for her own brood of seasonal tricksters, the Yule Lads, a band of trolls who steal food and things over Yuletide.
There is the ever-famous Zwarte Piet (Black Peter), who in certain cultures is the politically incorrect Robin to Santa’s jolly-old Batman. As the name might imply, Peter is most often depicted as being black-skinned, originally because he was a messenger to Saint Nick who sent reports of mortal behaviour via the chimney, but later with a retelling of the medieval book Golden Legend, Saint Nicolas gained a miracle to his name, the saving of a slave boy. All perfectly innocent, but so were the black and white minstrels at one time. Things have a tendency to change with the passing of time.
Same with Christmas…
December 25th Around The World
The amalgam of holidays and rituals that come together at this time of year are not merely limited to the gathering of families, and sharing of home, hearth, food and gifts. And in places where winter is not a near-fatal experience that drives those to resort to sacred rites invoking the return of the sun, gathering together for survival is less essential than beating each other half to death to settle old scores.
In fact most cultures do something sometime around midwinter, most commonly on the 25th, and though the course of the calendar has shifted a little over the centuries so that the year’s shortest day (in the northern hemisphere) no longer falls on the exact date, it’s still incredible to think that almost everyone on the planet is coming together to celebrate at once. Some are political (India’s Good Governance Day, Taiwan’s Constitution Day), others are historic (Quaid-e-Azam Day, Malkh Festival), some atheists celebrate Newtonmas, the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton.
Famously, Axis soldiers invited Allied soldiers to a few games of football in no man’s land on Christmas day 1914, (Weihnachtsfrieden, Trêve de Noël) along with gift exchanges and photographs. Sadly the impromptu celebrations were not universal, and many soldiers suffered worse than foul-play during the truce, and the unsolicited camaraderie resulted in harsher orders coming down from the powers that be for fear that the common soldiery would start to doubt the war. Does that make the legendary day any less special? The incredible power of a single, universal day of joy shattered rivalries and broke the absolute rule of the officers and joined to nations at war at their most basic level.
I start my shopping in August, often before Christmas starts showing up in the warehouses of shops (although not much before, tinsel starts showing up before August is even over) so I not only spread the cost across months, I’m also immersed in presents for about a third of the year. I’m spreading cost, saving myself some effort in December, and thinking about other people more than I should as a retail worker. Yesterday I suffered with people coming to me with last flailing grabs for Christmas presents (a laptop is not an afterthought you over-paid halfwits) and resenting me for not having it in stock! Imagine the smugness I felt.
And yes, I like getting presents! My gaming group always get me the most awesome stuff, doesn’t matter how much they spend, be it a couple of pounds or a couple of dozen, they know me, and know exactly how to make me smile. I like to think I do right by them, this year I put together a kind of Loot-Crate style box of mini-presents, some generic, some specialised, sounds like I’ll be doing the same again next year, although with different stuff inside.
Oh, and thanks Tim for my present, you mean a lot to me too. It hasn’t stayed in the kitchen, it just photographed better against the kettle than the mantelpiece.
Ah, the weather outside is frightful and these fires are so delightful. There’s simply no place to go, so let’s make another Top 10 list for all of you wonderful people. Yes, we’re back once more and this week, it’s our Winter themed list on fireplaces. You chose this list, not us, so we’ve had to seriously think about what constituted a good fireplace from a bad fireplace. Be it the tiling and brickwork, or the fire itself, whatever the reason, it had to keep us warm.
Our idea was that we didn’t have to specifically limit to very specific fireplaces, as otherwise, this might get old real fast… Instead, we’ve thought long and hard and devised a list. We’ve checked it twice, now let’s see which of these fireplaces are naughty and nice. Put up your feet, keep comfy and warm, as we go through our Top 10 Fireplaces.
Have you ever wanted to pursue a career in being a helper for the magical man in the south pole? It’s not as easy as you might think it is, but today we’re going to look at the requirements to professionally become one of Santa’s Little Helpers. Trust me; this job is not for the faint of heart, so do stick around!
Welcome to the DMing 101 Christmas special! As part of the ongoing genre’s series, I’ll be offering some advice on how you can run a special game for your friends to make Christmas a bit more nerdy, just like I promised I would (aren’t I nice).
Advance warning: Part of this article espouses views about Christmas that may greatly contradict some people’s perspectives, I know it can be a touchy subject for some, so you have been warned.