DMs Guild Review – Everyone’s Been Naughty

A twisted take on a holiday one-shot, with three new holiday-themed subclasses.

dms guild review

This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Christopher Waples

Santa’s gone rogue! Elves are missing, the city center has been burned to the ground, and folks swear they saw a red figure prowling the rooftops. It’s up to the party to hunt him down and save the Midwinter Festival in Everyone’s Been Naughty, a delightfully twisted take on a holiday adventure.

Everyone’s Been Naughty is a one-shot for level 5 PCs. The relatively brief adventure is laid out in a scant seven pages, mostly zipping the party from scene to scene. It would make for an egregiously linear adventure, but keeps the four-hour one-shot adventure perfectly paced, with a nice balance of combat, exploration, and role-playing.

The story takes place in the city of Darkwell during the Midwinter holiday festival. Or it would be if not for the death and destruction. The party begins by investigating the destroyed city center, battling mephits, and getting a quest from the Lord Marshal to hunt down Krampus, the evil spirit that punishes the naughty, just as Santa rewards the nice.

To reach Krampus, the party travels to a nearby keep (it’s actually three days away but there aren’t any encounters – this is a one-shot remember?) and meet Frosty.

In keeping with our darkly twisted theme, Frosty lies in pieces among hundreds of frozen bodies – the aftermath of the terrible Snowman Wars. If re-assembled Frosty wishes only for death -but will open a portal to Krampus. Alternatively someone could put on the Old Silk Hat to transform into a snowmonster themselves, forced to battle his or her former comrades.

Krampus provides a fun twist – it’s not he who destroyed the city but Santa, who’s gone to the dark side. The PCs can choose to ally with Krampus or kill him. Either way they’ll jump into another portal to arrive at Santa’s workshop, battling stuffed owlbears, toy beholders, and manic elves before reaching the jolly old megalomaniac himself.

dms guild review

Santa’s brief monologue does a bit of fourth wall-breaking humor, but I was still lost on his heel-turn to evil. The Krampus twist is fun, but why did Santa go haywire? The adventure doesn’t seem to care, instead providing a climactic boss fight, and a chance for some of the party to become the new Santa and Krampus (if they killed him) roles for future festivals.

The one shot is enhanced by two important and welcome additions. First: full color grid battle maps. Maps are provided for each of the major fight sequences: the city center, Krampus’ lair, and Santa’s workshop, as well as city and region maps that aren’t terribly necessary for such a brief one-shot.

The other cool addition are three new holiday-themed subclasses: the Artificer Toymaker, Bard College of Merrymaking, and Ranger Bond of the Reindeer. All three subclasses provide fun and thematically appropriate abilities that mesh perfectly with this adventure.

The bard can create motes of joy (like a Christmas tree) using Bardic Inspiration, the Ranger can use summoned reindeer spirits to different bonuses, and the Toymaker carries around a large sack and pulls out a random d10 toy, such as an Elminster action figure that casts spells, a Xanathar squeaky toy with eye beams, and an informative copy of Volo’s next guidebook.

The subclasses alone are almost enough for an entirely separate DMs Guild product. I would’ve love to see pre-generated characters that utilized them – pre-gens are always a great addition to one-shots, but just having these new options is a huge thumbs up. Story wise, Everyone’s Been Naughty does a lot with very little, which is exactly what I want from a one-shot adventure.

Pros:

  • Well-paced one-shot with a solid balance of combat, exploration, and socialization.
  • Full color grid battle maps.
  • Three holiday-themed subclasses.
  • Encounter balance adjustments

Cons:

  • Why did Santa turn evil?

The Verdict: Everyone’s Been Naughty is a satisfyingly dark twist on a holiday-themed one-shot adventure.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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