Recently, I had the pleasure of working with the fine folks over at Kobold Quarterly creating a Krampus for 4e D&D. The article went live today and I really hope you’ll check it out. It strays a bit from standard D&D 4e monster fare, in that I baked a lot of narrative into its stat block – I’m pretty proud of this guy and I hope someone other than me gets some use out of him. I know I’m writing a small Christmas adventure as we speak, should the opportunity arise when family is over this upcoming weekend, so maybe some of you guys are out there crafting up your own holiday adventures as well.
It is hard to take a creature with so much lore and put your own twist/spin on it without completely malforming it into something else entirely. The stories about Krampus are varying depending on which sources you consult – sometimes he is a red skinned devil, other times furry, sometimes he has human feet, other times they are hooved, and he’s even been described as having one of each.
Fa La La La La, Constructing Christmas Devils!
In a game like D&D 4e, I wanted Krampus to feel extra cool, a worthy opponent to some high heroic tier adventurers. Being that his primary weapons are a bundle of sticks, chains and bells that jingle, and a burlap bag…I decided he’d need a little magic on his side in order to challenge those showboatin’ godlike 4e PC’s. Being that he is a Devil, I figured this shouldn’t be too much of a problem and so 3 and a half revisions or so later and here he is.
I wanted him to be a lurker, darting in and out of the battlefield, snatching all the PC’s up and taking them back to his den for a nice Christmas dinner afterward. The kind where he eats them, not the other kind where he’d end up arguing with his inlaws after too much eggnog. Anyway, I envisioned him hunched over hurriedly snatching people up and teleporting out of tough spots and using the frigid chains draped around his body to entangle and bludgeon his enemies all while exuding this preternatural aura of fear and twisted holiday cheer all at once. His bag, of course it isn’t just any old sack – it’s a big black Bag of Holding
That Brimstone Gingerbread Flavor!
Here’s some quick blurbs of flavor text to go along with his powers, sometimes I really wish these sorts of things were included with 4e monsters so – since I’m not behind any super tight design constraints here, I’ve made some up. Also, if you like this sort of thing, definitely check out Beyond The Stat Block and contribute some of your own. Enjoy!
Discordant Jingle • “A cacophony of clanging chains, bells, and anxious laughter permeates the air” | “The devil moves about deftly as a hideous combination of steel and brass collide in supernatural dissonance”
Golden Virgács • “A heavy ‘swish’ slides through the air and collides against your exposed skin with a brittle sting” | “The brunt of this massive bundle of enchanted trees slams against you with magical force”
Snatch & Stow • “Krampus grabs at you with uncanny speed, attempting to shove you into his bag” | (after first failed save) “Not knowing which way is up as you stumble through this dark expanse, you bear witness too many children crying out for help, some already gruesomely dead. Toys animated by unmistakably pure evil approach you” | (after second failed save) “You are completely lost in the void of Krampus’ bag, sinking doom falls over you as you realize there is no escape from becoming his next meal”
Krampus Embrace • “Krampus lashes out at you with the icy chains that wreathe his body” | “Krampus gazes deeply, as if into your soul, as icy chains lash out and constrict around you”
Infernal jaunt • “A miasma of frost and fire linger behind it as Krampus bags a victim and warps across the room” | “Frigid powder and red hot embers burst forth, singing and stinging those nearby”