Krampus’ Lair – A Christmas-Themed D&D Adventure

Published on December 17, 2020

Krampus’ Lair is a short Christmas-themed adventure for a 13th level party. This free D&D adventure contains Christmas-themed riddles, creatures, and a boss fight that will certainly separate the naughty from the nice.

Playing this Adventure

This adventure is inspired by a puzzle found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and is meant for a party of four or five 13th level adventurers. The riddles provided to the party require a suspension of disbelief in the sense that the player characters should know about Christmas and some other real-world traditions and tales. Essentially, have them act like their current knowledge of Christmas is the knowledge that their characters have.

If your party is having fun or successfully completes the puzzle without running into Krampus, consider throwing Krampus at them anyway to pad the session length and have some laughs.

Based on playtesting, this adventure can take 1.5 hours if the party answers all of Jack’s riddles (and fights Krampus anyways) and up to 3 hours if they encounter the dangerous beasts in Krampus’ Lair plus Krampus as a final boss.

Introduction

This adventure leads your party through Krampus’ lair, which is full of dangerous Christmas-themed creatures. The walls, ceilings, and floor of Krampus’ lair are made of ice and can’t be melted or destroyed. No vision can penetrate the ice, and only Jack Frost can lead the party through the maze alive. The ice on the floor is covered in snow, thus providing proper footing.

A series of clues provided by the party’s guide, Jack Frost, give hints on how to get through the area safely.

Jack Frost (Winter Eladrin) is friendly, and he can only speak the truth because of a curse placed upon him by his boss, Krampus. The curse doesn’t allow Jack to mention the name of his boss, nor any information as to where they currently are. When he meets the party, Jack will do his best to convince the party that he means no harm, which the party can confirm with a DC 10 Wisdom (Insight) check. 

Jack appears jovial and nonchalant, but a DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check can determine that he grows increasingly nervous as the party gets closer to meeting Krampus. 

Puzzle Features

Krampus’ lair consists of a series of identical rooms made entirely of ice. Each room has four doors, one at North, South, East, and West. The doors are wrapped like presents and only Jack’s cane, inserted into a small hole in the middle of the door, can open the doors. If the cane is taken from Jack, it loses all of its magical properties.

Once opened, the doorway shows only magical darkness until the party steps through, at which point they see an identical room to the room before. Once all members of the party enter the room, all of the doors shut and magically lock until Jack provides access to the next room.

If the party chooses the correct passage, Jack will appear in the room to provide the next riddle. If they choose the wrong way, a monster will appear and fight the party. Once the monster is defeated, Jack will appear and guide the party back to the last correct room.

After three wrong choices, the party encounters Krampus.

Solving the Puzzle

The riddles provided by Jack will help the party navigate the icy maze. Each of the answers to the riddles start with either N, S, E, or W, denoting which door is the correct direction. The correct route to escape Krampus’ Lair is West, South, North, South, South, North, East.

Even though the path mentioned above leads the party through rooms they have “already encountered”, these are in fact entirely new rooms because of the twisted magic of Krampus’ Lair. 

Hints

Wisdom (Insight) DC 15. After Jack says “my riddles will help provide direction”, they catch on to the fact that there are doors leading to each of the cardinal directions.

Wisdom (Insight) DC 20. After telling Jack to open an incorrect door, any party member can make an Insight check if they say they are specifically looking at his expression. If they succeed, they will see a hint of nervousness wash over his face. This can only be used once as Jack will notice and force a smile for the rest of the encounter.

Krampus’ Lair

Room 1:

You find yourselves in a 20-foot high by 20-foot wide room. The walls are made of opaque ice, and snow covers the ground. There are four doors set into the walls. They appear to be wrapped up like presents.

Suddenly, a humanoid with blue skin, white hair, and a tailored blue sparkly suit appears in front of you with a soft “pop”. He holds a glowing cane of red and white swirls against his shoulder and has a broad smile across his face. 

“Why, hello there! My name is Jack, Jack Frost. It seems you’ve stumbled across my boss’ lair. He’s quite a grump at this time of year so it’s best to avoid running into him if at all possible. I can help you out of here if you can figure out my riddles but, keep in mind, there are nasty beasts that lurk these halls so be careful not to make a wrong turn. 

I am bound by my master to not directly tell anybody how to get out, but my riddles will help provide direction.”

Riddle: What decoration made of berries and pine, is shaped like a donut and makes doors look divine? 

Answer: Wreath = West

Encounter (if they guess wrong): 4 Wreath Snakes (Giant Constrictor Snake). These snakes look like giant unraveled wreaths and do their best to strangle the party with their cedar scented bodies.

Room 2:

Riddle: Where does Frosty the Snowman keep his money?

Answer:  Snowbank = South

Encounter (if they guess wrong): 2 Ice Trolls

Room 3:

Riddle: Which soldiers help destroy impenetrable walls and defeat rodent monarchs around Christmas?

Answer:  Nutcracker = North

Encounter (if they guess wrong): 1 Giant Nutcracker (Clay Golem)

Room 4:

Riddle: If the end of the year is on December 31st, then what is the end of Christmas?

Answer:  The letter S = South

Encounter (if they guess wrong): 2 Ghosts that try to possess the party and make them accomplish their New Year’s resolutions of killing their party members.

Room 5:

Riddle: Which golems are said to be activated by enchanted accessories?

Answer:  Snowmen = South

Encounter (if they guess wrong): 2 Giant Snowmen (Ice Elemental)

Room 6:

Riddle: How do you say Christmas without the letter after K?

Answer:  No “L” (Noel) = North

Encounter (if they guess wrong): 3 Yetis that hate puns.

Room 7:

Riddle: First start with a chest, full of flowing gold treasure. It needs to be kept warm when out in cold weather. Then, something we say when we disagree. This powerful word makes most solicitors flee. Last, what comes first when baking a mean ginger treat? It’s found in an angel and it’s the first thing you greet. Stir all them together, now what do you think, the sum of its parts you’d be willing to drink?

Answer:  Eggnog = East

Encounter (if they guess wrong): 2 Eggnog Elementals (Water Elemental)

Krampus:

If the party takes 3 wrong turns, Krampus will appear and try to kill the party for being naughty. Krampus is a terrifying creature with half-goat, half-demon features. He is 10 feet tall, has grey skin, large ram’s horns, and goat feet. He wears tattered red clothing with white fur trim and carries a dirty, stained sack on his shoulder. He has the following stats:

Krampus

Large fiend, lawful evil

Armor Class 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points 200 (19d10 + 96)

Speed 30 ft.

STR  DEX  CON  INT  WIS  CHA
20 (+5) 10 (+0) 18 (+4) 15 (+2) 20 (+5) 15 (+2)

Saving Throws INT +7, WIS +10, CHA +7

Skills Perception +15

Senses Truesight 120 ft., Passive Perception 25

Languages All

Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)

ACTIONS

Hoof Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (4d6) bludgeoning damage. 

Krampus’ Little Helpers. As an action, Krampus can summon 2d6 Imps

Presents. Krampus reaches into his magical sack and throws three of the following magical presents at random (reroll duplicates), choosing one to three targets it can see within 120 feet of it:

  1. Christmas cheer present. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by Krampus for 1 hour, or until Krampus harms the creature.
  2. Caroling present. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or the target begins a comic dance in place: shuffling, tapping its feet, and capering for the 1 minute. Creatures that can’t be charmed are immune to this spell. A dancing creature must use all its movement to dance without leaving its space and has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws and attack rolls. While the target is affected by this spell, other creatures have advantage on attack rolls against it. As an action, a dancing creature makes a Wisdom saving throw to regain control of itself. On a successful save, the effect ends.
  3. Mistletoe present. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Charisma saving throw or have magical mistletoe appear above it for 1 minute. Each creature that is friendly to the target that can also see the target must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or become charmed until the mistletoe effect ends or until they are dealt damage by the creature under the mistletoe. Charmed creatures can only use their movement to get closer to the creature and must take their action when within 5 feet to try to kiss the creature with the mistletoe effect. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the mistletoe effect on itself on a success.
  4. Sticky Pudding present. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the target is covered in Sticky Pudding and its speed is halved for 1 minute. In addition, the creature can’t take reactions, and it can take either an action or a bonus action on its turn, not both. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
  5. Hot Chocolate present. The targeted creature must make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw, taking 36 (8d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
  6. Tinsel present. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or Krampus wraps it in tinsel and moves it up to 30 feet in any direction. It is restrained by Krampus’s tinsel until the start of Krampus’s next turn or until Krampus is incapacitated. If the target is an object weighing 300 pounds or less that isn’t being worn or carried, it is moved up to 30 feet in any direction. Krampus can also exert fine control on objects with this present, such as manipulating a simple tool or opening a door or a container.
  7. Visions of Sugar Plums present. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or fall asleep and remain unconscious for 1 minute. The target awakens if it takes damage, another creature takes an action to wake it, or if it succeeds on a DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check at the end of its turn. This present has no effect on constructs and undead. A creature loses 1 item at random per round that it is asleep. 
  8. Frosty the Snowman present. The targeted creature must make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature begins to turn into a snowman (Ice Elemental) and is restrained. It must succeed a DC 16 Constitution saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is turned into a snowman (Ice Elemental) and fights for Krampus until freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.
  9. The Weather Outside is Frightful present. A hail of rock-hard ice pounds to the ground in a 20-foot-wide, 40-foot-high cylinder. Each creature in the cylinder must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 2d8 bludgeoning damage and 4d6 cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Hailstones turn the storm’s area of Effect into Difficult Terrain until the end of your next turn.
  10. Naughty or Nice present. The targeted creature must provide one reason it should be on the nice list as opposed to the naughty list and then make a DC 20 Charisma (Persuasion) check. On a success, the target is healed for 35 (7d10). On a failure, the target takes 35 (7d10) necrotic damage. The target dies if the present reduces it to 0 hit points. Krampus does not attack a creature that succeeds on the Persuasion check until it damages Krampus at which point the creature will automatically fail future Persuasion checks against Krampus.

LEGENDARY ACTIONS

Krampus can take 3 legendary actions, using the present option below. It can take only one legendary action at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Krampus regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Present. Krampus throws one random present.

Hoof Slam. Krampus makes one Hoof Slam against a creature within range.

Escaping Krampus’ Lair

Once the party has defeated Krampus, Jack Frost will show the party which doors allow them to leave the maze and the party can escape!

11 thoughts on “Krampus’ Lair – A Christmas-Themed D&D Adventure

  1. That is delightfully insane. Is there any way to scale it down to 4th Level? I have new players who are currently finishing up LMoP. This would be a delightful follow up before our next campaign.

    1. Hey Hassan! That’s a great question. For the rooms I would adjust:

      • Room 1: 2 Giant Constrictor Snake (down from 4)
      • Room 2: 1 Ice Troll(down from 2)
      • Room 3: 1 Reduced Threat Clay Golem (Reduce HP to 80, Take away immunity from nonmagical attacks and magic resistance, drop Slam attack to +5 to hit and 2d6+3 damage, remove CON save clause on slam attack.)
      • Room 4: 1 Ghost (down from 2)
      • Room 5: 1 Ice Elemental (down from 2)
      • Room 6: 1 Yeti (down from 2)
      • Room 7: 1 Water Elemental (down from 2)

      Then, for Krampus I would:

      • Reduce HP to 100
      • Reduce AC to 16
      • Reduce all ability modifiers and saves by 3
      • Reduce Hoof Slam to 2d6+3
      • Reduce Krampus’ Little Helpers to 1d6 Imps
      • Reduce presents from 3 to 2 each turn
      • Reduce present saves from 16 to 13
      • Reduce any present damage by half
      • Remove Legendary Actions

      Also, if your party is looking hurt let them short rest between encounters 🙂

      Hope that helps, let me know if you run the module!

      1. Thank you so very much! Great suggestions and again, such a cool concept. Really looking forward to running this soon!

  2. This is amazing! My normal d&d game was cancelled last minute so I’m going to use this and run a Christmas “one shot” (most of our one shots take 2 shots). If you have any recommendations for dropping this down to 2 players, it would be greatly appreciated. I’m still new to DMing. 🙂
    Thank you for posting this!!! I’m super excited to try it out.

    1. Glad you’re still able to play Sera! Since you have fewer players than is recommended for this one-shot, why don’t you try some of the adjustments we made in the previous comment? See how the players fare for each encounter and then set the number of monsters in the next encounters accordingly. Balancing encounters can be tricky especially when you don’t have a standard party size. Just be flexible and don’t be afraid to pull some punches. Good luck and have fun!

  3. Thanks so much for this fun one-shot! We had a grand old time running it with the family last night. I don’t usually DM, but I like to give my forever-DM husband a chance to play sometimes, and this was a perfect easy-to-run, just plain fun little one-shot. The presents from Krampus were by far the best part. My only bit of feedback would be that it’s really easy for a level 13 party – they got all the riddles really quickly, so I had to do some improvising to get a few of those cool creature encounters in there, and I ended up giving Krampus an extra 100 hit points just so he’d have a chance to throw some of the gifts before being completely annihilated. 🙂 But my family had a fun time creating such OP characters (our current regular characters are level 9) – we had a gnome bard named Tinsel, Buddy the Half-Elf, a reindeer satyr, a snow leopard, and the Spirit of Christmas rune knight – and we laughed the night away. I super appreciate the time and creativity that went into creating this! Thank you!

  4. This looks super cool I’m gonna run this tonight. Can you explain the puzzle in room 7 though I don’t really understand what it means.

    1. Happy to help out Kay!

      Here’s how the riddle gets broken down:

      “First start with a chest, full of flowing gold treasure. It needs to be kept warm when out in cold weather. ” = Egg
      “Then, something we say when we disagree. This powerful word makes most solicitors flee.” = No
      “Last, what comes first when baking a mean ginger treat? It’s found in an angel and it’s the first thing you greet.” = G

      Stirred altogether they equal Eggnog 🙂

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