DMs Guild Review – A Caravance Carol

Help Stooge the gnome become a better person in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

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: Andrés Lillo

A Christmas Carol is one of the most well-known stories in English literature, and could make for a memorable little D&D adventure. A Caravance Carol sticks too literally to the original story, however, lacking a compelling D&D twist that elevates it beyond acting out the script.

A Caravance Carol is a short adventure that could be played as a one-shot. It’s designed for Tier 1 (levels 1-4) but without combat or even skill checks, any level party could join in with little consequence.

The party is transported to Old Carvas’ Cabin, aka Santa’s Workshop. The cabin includes a toy factory, a candy garden, and a mailroom. Players can look around and check out the rooms, but there’s nothing to do until Krampus shows up at the end, threatening to take over the Caravance holiday unless the most horrible person, Stooge, can be convinced to be good.

The party is given magic hats of invisibility and wands of, er, dream-shifting, and teleported to Waterdeep, and told to find Stooge. The second and third acts mostly play out events from A Christmas Carol, as the party follows Stooge around witnessing how big of an asshole he is, then waiting until nightfall to take on the role of the classic Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to expose the error of his ways.

dms guild review

The primary problem is the adventure presumes your players want to play along and retell the exact events from the story. You’re giving them the power to turn invisible, and expecting them to simply watch Stooge be an asshole for an entire day? Even the nicest of players are going to want to start doing things. But the adventure assumes they will wait until he falls asleep that night (as in the story) and then use the wands to take him through the classic scenes from the story, like the Cratchit family feast, the dying beggar, and Tiny Tim.

D&D is about shared story-telling. The DM provides the world, the characters, and the incidents, and the players adapt, evolve, and change the story through their actions and interactions with others. A Caravance Carol doesn’t allow that, preferring to hand players a script and feed them lines. The closest it gets to player agency is giving each of the Ghost-players up to three different events to focus on for each time period.

It’s disappointing from a story-telling angle, compounded by an almost complete lack of dice-rolling. I’ve reviewed story-heavy adventures in the past and while I personally prefer a balanced approach to the three pillars of D&D (combat, role-playing, and exploration) I can appreciate a narrative-driven adventure if I’m warned up front.

But even those adventures will include a bit of combat, or a chance to roll some skill checks, or something! A Caravance Carol almost completely forgets it’s a D&D adventure, save for a solitary, pointless Insight check, and a single combat encounter that can occur if the party fails to redeem Stooge. It’s not even against Krampus but a random set of enemies scaled to the party’s level.

It’s a shame the adventure misses the mark so much, as it’s otherwise well-written, nicely laid out, and features nice artwork of the characters. It also includes an alternate version that replaces the usual second-person narration (“You see the old gnome ahead”) with third-person past tense narration (“The adventurers saw the old gnome ahead”), lending a more literary quality to the prose, as well as using the literal names from A Christmas Carol. It’s a neat idea, and one I prefer to help give the adventure a much-needed boost.

Pros:

  • Includes alternate version with third person, past-tense narration and real A Christmas Carol names.

Cons:

  • Almost no dice-rolling whatsoever.
  • Literal adaptation of A Christmas Carol stymies player agency.

The Verdict: A Caravance Carol focuses too much on retelling a Christmas Carol rather than providing an interactive D&D 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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