Dire Yuletide Recap
a playthrough of Dire Yuletide
a playthrough of Dire Yuletide
Last night I DM-ed Dire Yuletide: Night of the Yule Cat, a holiday one shot for my gaming group. It was super fun! Here’s how it went.
The gang is enjoying the festivities the night before Yuletide Eve. There is eating and drinking and dancing and games.
G-Money, Jen’s pigicorn companion (a large boar with a unicorn’s horn) and Murry, shapeshifted into some animal form, are chasing the little kids around as they squeal and flee in delight.
Animal heads over to the axe-throwing area and hurls an axe right into the middle of the target.
Not to be outdone, Murry, with a flourish, hands an axe off to an unseen servent who floats the blade slowly across the field and gently hooks it onto the handle of Animal’s axe, kind of doing that thing from Robin Hood where he splits his opponent’s arrow in two down the middle, but in a more gentle, nonviolent way.
Fibb very skepictally and suspiciously accepts an axe from Gunther, the axe handler, and for a brief moment is convinced that Gunther is trying to kill to kill him, or is at least up to something nefarious and no good. But then he shakes it off and throws the axe and lands it on the target next to the other two. The impact of Fibb’s axe hitting the target looses Murry’s axe from here it was placed on top of Animal’s axe, and it falls to the ground.
Jen heads over to the fortune teller, who tells her a story of hinderance, diversion, and distraction. Jen gives her a small token of thanks.
Murry spots an unfamiliar face at the long table. They’re looking around furtively and stuffing their pockets with sausages. (No, it’s not Mise.) When approached, they nervously introduce themself as Steve and then tries to run away. Murry’s invisible servant crouches behind Steve and trips him up. He hits the ground and sausages spill from his pockets like when Sonic gets hit and spills his gold rings all over the place. In frustration he reveals himself to be Sausage Steeler, one of the Yule Lads! He grabs a bunch of sausages and runs away while everybody points and laughs.
Everybody heads off to sleep.
The morning of Yuletide Eve, everybody is awakened by the wails and screams of the children. All of their clothes have gone missing! The kids cry out they don’t want to be eaten by the cat!
Murry “comforts” his five children, Lurry, Durry, Curry, Wurry, and Aaron, by shapeshifting into a black cat, which terrifies his two youngest, the twins. The older kids scold Murry for frightening them further.
By now, kids all over the village have woken up the adults with their cries. The village bell is ringing, and everybody is gathering out on the village green. Rumors are running wild, fanned by Murry. The fortune teller from last night pushes forward and says that she has seen that the fate of the village is in the hands of Murry, Fibb, Jen, and Animal. Fail or succeed, it is up to them now.
Jen heads back to her house and investigates the chest where the clothes were. She discovers a wooden toy whistle that sounds like birds singing when you blow it, and some stray woolen fibers caught on the edge of the chest.
The whistle is immediately recognizable as one of the trinkets that the Yule Lads will leave for good children.
The gang gathers up together as Jen toots on the whistle and clicks her heels and leads them on the trail, following stray woolen fibers into the forrest, into a clearing, and up to a huge hollow stump.
G-Money goes up to sniff the stump, and then a huge Yule Lad pops out and sniffs her right back. This understandably frightens G-Money and she runs away as Doorsniffer climbs out of the stump and starts sniffing around. Windowpeeper climbs out after him. The two of them notice the adventureres, and huddle up and start whispering to each other.
Fibbs strategically hides behind a rock, and then leaps out to frighten the Yule Lads into complying. Murry assists by making some magic rocks for each of them. Delicious smelling rocks for Doorsniffer, and rocks of twinkly shiny light for Windowpeeper to look at. They love this! They tell the adventurers everything they want to know.
According to them, “the lady” told them that what the kids would love for Yuletide this year is to trade all their new clothes for small wooden toys. They are very proud of themselves for giving all the kids what they wanted!
They don’t have the clothes any more though because they have no use for them, so they gave them to them all to the lady who lives in an ice cave under the bridge down by the river.
The gang heads over to the bridge down by the river.
Fibb declares himself to be the party leader, which everybody seems fine with.
Jen finds the entrance to the cave and leads everybody in.
The first thing that happens is they come across a long table, around which sits a couple of frozen skeletal dead bodies, and a full suit of armor.
Murry tries swipe a goblet with a mage hand, and all the bodies spring to life and attack.
Jen and G-Money immediatey take out two of the skeletons because it’s business time and they are here skewer skeletons.
Fibb and Murry make short work of the other two.
Animal distracts the suit of armor by presenting his face for it to smash repeatedly with a hammer. This is a very fruitful strategy because it keeps the suit of armor busy until it is surrounded by the rest of the adventurers, who very slowly chip away at.
In the end, G-Money gets a running start and charges the armor, gouging it with his pigicorn horn and knocking the armor flat on its belly. Animal swoops in and hacks it to pieces with his battleaxe. In the aftermath, Animal picks up and wields Quintessence, the armor’s magic longsword.
In an alcove off to the side of the skeletal dining hall is a potion room with a bubbling cauldron and shelves and cupboards full of arcane and alchemical ingredients.
Jen grabs a cookbook and succesfully brews up some healing potions, one of which she feeds to Animal right away because of all the face smashing earlier. He looks much better!
Deeper in the cave, they come across a den with piles of bones and deep scratches in the walls and stalagmites.
Fibb spots a ginormous angry polar bear creeping down a dark tunnel trying to sneak up on them. He takes a moment to consider the situation, and finally decides to alert his friends to the predicament.
Jen is immediatey like, I got this. Because it’s business time and she is here to befriend bears.
She does a classic Ranger one-two punch: Animal Friendship plus Speak With Animals. And before you know it they’re all just sitting around like it’s a tea party, chatting with a huge polar bear named Lady.
They convince her to help them find and get rid of the ice witch who apparently has taken up residence in the back of the cave.
They all climb up on top of Lady, even the pigicorn, and ride her on down the cave tunnel, ever deeper into Lady Cave.
They arrive at a dead end, but when they turn around to go back, now there’s suddenly another wall 5 feet behind them where there wasn’t one before! What is going on!
Jen notices some words in Undercommon carved into ice wall before them. They read, “You can only go backwards from here.”
Murry discovers that if you walk backwards, you can pass through the wall blocking their retreat as though it isn’t there.
So everybody proceeds to learn the Moonwalk–including the bear and the pigicorn–and they all moonwalk on out of there and back up and take another less magical route to the back of Lady Cave.
Hindered by a large impassible iron door, they continue on to find another dead end. This one ends in a weirdly pulsing, slushy ice wall that, when Fibb pokes it with his sword, lunges forward and tries to envelope him.
So now they’re fighting a big slushy ice cube.
Murry discovers that the ice cube is especially suseptable to fire damage, so he spends his time flinging teeny tiny little flame balls at it.
Fibb eventually has had quite enough of this malarky and flies in with his daggers and chips and chisles the ice cube into a small ice sculpture of Lady Bear. She likes this!
Past the ice cube is a prison area with chains and shackles on the wall, and a cluttered desk in the back. They find a heavy iron key that looks like it goes to the door they passed earlier. And there is also a heavy chest bound in brass, which Animal drags along behind them as they return to the heavy iron door.
They open up the iron door and find a room full of blankets, rugs, tapestries, and scarves.
Fibb uses his drow magic to reveal any inhabitants of the room, and they discover a small child hiding behind one of the tapestries.
The child tries to get them to leave the caves and take him back to the village, and the adventurers are like, sus.
And he’s like, “No, I’m just a small human child. I love doing human things. My name is Steve? Son of Sven? I live in a house!”
Lady Bear gives the child a sniff, and then lunges forward and bites the shit out of the kid’s shoulder.
The child screams and drops its disguise to reveal the ice witch! She’s all pissed off and she yells at everybody to get out. And everybody is like, why’d you steal all those clothes? And she’s like, umm because I want those kids to get ate up? And they’re like omg why and she goes maybe if I do something super evil like that and take over the town then Gryla will notice me and I can go hang out with her and maybe she’ll give me an internship or something.
Fibb nearly almost convinces her to buy into some kind of pyramid scheme or something, but then Animal is like RAAAWR and jumps out and slashes the ever loving dickens out of her with Quintessence. Because of crit damage and other shenanagins, he drops her to 25% health in a single blow, and she is like, what the FUCK! And she backs up and blinks out of existence.
And then a minute later, Bam! She’s back! And she’s like, guess what nerds, I just went and got a friend!
And then an enormous black devil cat forms from the shadows and fills the chamber and looms over them all.
It looks carefully at the witch, and then swipes her up in one giant paw and pops her into its mouth and swallows. It coughs up a brass key and spits it out and then turns to assess the heroes.
Fibb grabs an armload of scarves and everybody passes them out to each other so they have gifted clothes, and they quickly put on the scarves.
The cat looks at them like, You win this time. See you at the village! And then it blows out of the cave like an evil wind.
They hurry to open up the brass chest with the brass key, and find all of the missing clothes.
The gang races back to the village. They have to fight their way through a herd of walruses, and then leap over a chasm, but they manage to get to the village just before the cat does.
They frantically start dressing kids and ushering them to safety. The cat shows up and peels the roof off the longhouse like opening a tin of sardines. Murry and Fibb focus on distracting the cat, which turns to bat them away each time they attack it. They end up saving all the kids in the first house, and then run to dress the kids in the remaining three houses.
The cat rips the roof off the second house. Jen and Animal save as many kids as they can, which is most of them, but tragically the cat catches two children before they can get dressed, and it devours both of them.
And suddenly it’s over. With all the kids now saved or eaten, the cat sits back and leaps into the air and flies away.
The villagers gather together in the aftermath and mourn the lost children, and hug tight the ones who survived.