DMs Guild Review – The Oni That Ruined Jinglemas

Fight your way through a toy warehouse taken over by orcs and ogres in this one-shot holiday adventure.

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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: Tomas Gimenez Rioja

Holiday-themed adventures tend to go hard on the holidays, injecting theme as much as possible. The Oni That Ruined Jinglemas is more of a traditional dungeon crawl, that just so happens to take place in a toy-shipping warehouse.

The one-shot adventure includes 13 pages, not including statblocks and maps. The gray background and blue header color looks nice, but otherwise the layout and design are nothing special.

The adventure is designed for level 7 PCs, with encounter balance adjustments for levels 5-10. If you’ve ever played an Adventurer’s League module you know exactly how this is structured: get a quest to go do a thing, then go to the dungeon.

In this case, the dungeon is a factory and warehouse that supplies toys. Refreshingly, The Oni That Ruined Jinglemas doesn’t rehash Santa as a mythical fey creature; he’s just a dwarf named Barric Jingle with an idea to bring cheer to a nearby village of gnomes, and has enlisted several townsfolk to help him.

But a villainous duo of an oni and a night hag have other plans. With the help of an orc tribe, they’ve captured Barric and taken over the factory. The hag plans to corrupt all the toys to spread nightmarish evil to the village. Because hags suck, I guess.

The party’s mission is simple and straightforward: go to the warehouse, fight their way to Barric, and rescue him. The journey to the warehouse is accomplished with a group skill challenge, with failure leading to a random encounter.

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The warehouse is quite combat-heavy for a one-shot – four of the six rooms on the main floor feature groups of enemies, mostly orcs. What saves this adventure from being a routine and forgettable room-to-room orc bash are the extra environmental hazards and complications.

The warehouse uses several large 10-ft wide conveyor belts to move presents around to be shipped onto Barric’s sleigh. The belts move 10ft in a certain direction on Initiative 20 and 10. Unfortunately there’s nothing in else in place to make them more dynamic and interesting, such as smashy-things or wrap-y things along the path. The best use is for an enemy to grapple a PC, and trundle along the belt into another room, triggering another battle.

One room features a large box of toys. When a fight breaks out, nearby orcs and ogres grab toys from the box and use them in combat, such as a hand buzzer that can stun. The toys are incorporated into separate orc statblocks, making them easy to keep track of. Later rooms feature a wrapping-cannon and a toy-shooting cannon, which both enemies and PCs can take advantage of.

My favorite room features a memorable hostage situation, as several orcs have knives to the throats of the surviving gnome helpers. Players are encouraged to engage in a social check with the orog. If successful he goes as far as to attack his comrades and join forces with the PCs. If they fail, it at least gives enough time for the wheelchair-bound gnome to cast a spell and interrupt the orcs, giving everyone a fighting chance to save them.

Once they reach the basement the party can take on the oni and the night hag. Despite teasing an interesting backstory with the oni, including a magically grafted arm from the hag, there’s a startling lack of dialogue here. The party enters the room and combat begins, leaving our villains woefully underdeveloped.

After saving Barric the party has one more task. Barric is too exhausted to take to the skies with his magic reindeer and his bag of toys. In a fun holiday twist, our heroes get to drive the sleigh and deliver presents. That would make a nice epilogue, except there’s actually a large complication, or rather two of them, in the form of a pair of young white dragons that pursue the sleigh, leading to a climactic chase sequence and another skill challenge.

While I like the idea of an aerial chase finale, the setup is all wrong. The adventure goes out of its way to explain how the oni and the hag can escape the fight in the basement(Gaseous Form and Plane Shift), then provides the perfect opportunity for them to show up again – but instead we’re given these random dragons. Poor Barric would’ve been attacked and brought down even if this entire orc adventure never happened!

It’s an easy fix – have one or both villains (probably the hag) pursue the sleigh-riding party and attack, maybe with a dragon or two in tow, and failing the skill challenge leads to a second-stage boss combat encounter.

Despite a few complaints, I appreciate that this holiday-themed one shot is a fairly straightforward dungeon crawl, while still incorporating enough neat touches and playful nods to craft a memorable December adventure.

Pros:

  • Intriguing and well-designed hostage situation.
  • Holiday-themed environmental hazards and weapons.
  • Encounter balance adjustments for levels 5-10.
  • Includes 5 pregenerated level 7 character sheets.
  • Full color grid maps.

Cons:

  • Underdeveloped villains.
  • Somewhat random climactic chase sequence.

The Verdict: IF you like spending your holiday adventures beating up orcs, The Oni that Ruined Jinglemas provides a solid one-shot dungeon crawl with a sprinkling of Jinglemas magic.

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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