Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Critter Gitters: Emasculating the Krampus

 D&D is a weird game.  And bizarre things inevitably happen in it, unless you're constraining your genre and players so tightly as to prevent that kind of stuff.

This rundown contains SPOILERS for The Old God's Return.  You have been warned.

Last week the Critter Gitters (five of them, anyway - Okrem the rogue is on the shelf for now) finally went after the flying iceberg, which is now a good bit further south than when they first encountered it.  Luckily it doesn't move that quickly, and they had air transport in the form of Kipper's dirigible.  The party now owes Kipper two favors to be named later.  This will be useful to me, the DM, in inserting any old scenario I like down the line...

They fly to the iceberg scout the top, seeing the top of the ancient ziggurat poking though the ice.  Jossshua the lizard wizard sends his owl familiar (dubbed "Owl Roker" by me since the player didn't have a name on tap) to fly up to the open, dark doorway and see what's what.  Poor Owl Roker is immediately ventilated by a series of thrown knives.  Goodbye, Owl Roker.  This is 5e, so he's basically a Pokemon, and Jossshua doesn't lose a point of CON, but we do take a moment to point out familiar loss as a Bad Thing.

The Critter Gitters hop off the gondola of the dirigible and take positions around the door, supporting Hogan's charge inside.  He's immediately engaged by three ice-gnome-looking dudes, who eventually got referred to as "frigid midgets", later elided to "fridgets".  They aren't difficult to deal with, and fall apart into crushed ice when slain.

Down into the ziggurat!  A chamber full of creepy pine trees that whisper horrible things, and then another fight with fridgets (wielding icicle javelins) and a large goat-ish dude that the Gitters immediately assume is some kind of Krampus - and so he is.  Did I mention this was the winter holiday session that they'd been dodging?  Mid-combat they learn that the Krampus has a sack which easily swallows people up (Jossshua loses a summoned creature this way - you do not want to work for this wizard if you're a conjured critter, it doesn't end well.)

At the end of this combat - disappointed that the magic of the sack seems to lie with the Krampus himself and not with the sack (sorry, looters), Pips Mulligan the halfling immediately declares he wants to butcher the Krampus and take the parts which he deems are likely to have magical or mundane value - to wit, the horns, fangs, and manhood.  Okey-dokes.

In another chamber, the Gitters find a dead wizard entombed in the ice.  Seeking to free the corpse (and the amulet around its neck) using fire magic, they trigger an ancient protection spell that summons a lesser spirit in the shape of an icy mantis (this is all in the adventure - Michael Curtis is good about predicting what most groups will attempt, and writes accordingly).  It's demon fightin' time!  The Gitters are banged up but victorious, and continue onward...

Reaching the final room, they find the horrible (un?)dead reindeer proto-deity-demon-thing perched on a throne of rough-hewn stone.  Before throwing down, warlock Fear-Not parleys with the thing.  He's out of spell slots, and the terrible reindeer can sense it (after all, this thing probably had warlocks of its own, the last time it was awake)... Awful Reindeer suggests that if HE were Fear-Not's patron, the warlock would not have nearly died that time, or been returned to life with a tomato for a head (for that is what happened).  The creature offers succor to Fear-Not and all those who swear into his service, and hands Fear-Not a baby's soul like it was an hors d'oeuvre.  

Without hesitation, Fear-Not eats the baby.  I say "okay, you get a spell slot back instantly".  Then combat breaks out as the other PCs have had quite enough of this nonsense.  Later in the combat, Fear-Not burns that one spell slot to attack the Awful Reindeer, so there's a smidge of irony there I suppose.  The fridgets in attendance are slaughtered, and when the second Krampus bodyguard is felled, Pips once again goes straight for the genitals.  Because once you have one Krampus pizzle, of course you want a second one ("Gotta geld 'em all"), and Pips muses aloud that maybe the party wizards can make them into gun-barrels for him. When the Gitters finally kill the damn thing, the iceberg and ziggurat start to fall apart... you know how this goes.  Book it for the exit, and get the heck out of there.

Back in town, we wrap the session (leaving poor Go-Boom the artificer a mere 27xp from leveling, how delicious) and I ask for downtime actions.  Most of them are research-oriented; the ancient pictographs in the ziggurat, the strange pine needles they collected, and...what can you make out of Krampus dong. 

I gave them several options for what minor magical uses a Krampus bit might have.  Including, of course, what it would take to work both of them together to make an enchanted blunderbuss.  I suspect they'll bite on that offer and want to invest the time and resources into that; the temptation is surely too strong.

D&D is a weird game.

Poor stupid Krampus doesn't know what fate has in store for him.  
(art by Doug Kovacs)


  1. There is so much great stuff happening here. Poor Krampus. Krampuses? Krampi?

  2. I think it'd only be Krampi if we presume 'Krampus' is Greek. Krampoids? Krampiformes?