Christmas is a wonderful time to play a fun, lighthearted Dungeons & Dragons one-shot with your friends. They are a chance to participate in a festive adventure over the holidays that will take just one session to complete.
To help you plan out your festive D&D session, here is a selection of Christmas-themed ideas for you to build upon. These ideas could be used as a one-off side quest in your main campaign or completely unrelated, giving your players a chance to try a completely new character. Either way, you are in for a fun experience with these one-shot ideas.
10/10 Santa Is Missing!
The party visits Santa's grotto, but Santa is not there. The elves are distressed, as only a few days are left until Christmas Eve. It is now down to the party to find Santa before Christmas is ruined!
There will be plenty of social encounters as the party tries to find anyone who knows Santa's last known whereabouts. They can search the grotto for clues and head out into the winter wilderness to find him. Perhaps he's been kidnapped by the Easter Bunny, who's jealous of the popularity of Christmas. Maybe he's just been on an extended holiday. No matter the reason, it is a race against time to get Santa back.
9/10 Tavern Alone
Your players can play as younger versions of their characters for this idea. They have been left alone in their tavern while the rest of their family has gone off on holiday. But, like in Home Alone, they realize that some dastardly crooks are planning a heist. They have just a day to prepare the tavern for the invasion as best they can.
This one-shot is a chance for your players to create their own elaborate puzzles and traps to fool the villains. You could even incorporate elements of Die Hard by switching out the tavern for a larger structure that the players can sneak around in to mess with the intruders.
8/10 A Change Of Heart?
In this one shot, your players are a villain's minions, attempting to melt their cold heart this Christmas. They need to stop the villain's malicious schemes and help them see the error of their ways. As an alternative to minions, your players could be Christmas spirits, navigating through the villain's past, present, and future, to determine what will convince them to be a force of good. The villain will constantly rebel against this idea. It is up to the party to keep them on the right path.
This A Christmas Carol-themed idea acts as a lighthearted what-if scenario, where your players can see how the main campaign could have ended if the villain suddenly decided to stop their evil scheme.
7/10 The Big Festive Festival
The party has decided to visit a local Christmas festival. You can organize minigames and competitions for them, such as a baking contest or a race. This can be a low-stakes cozy story to enjoy.
There are ways to include some conflict in the story. Perhaps the party needs to gather items to prepare for the event. Maybe they have been hired as security and need to stop some nearby bandits from sabotaging the big day. A mystery could unravel during the event, such as a stolen prize for the village raffle. A small, simple plot provides some structure to this chill one-shot.
6/10 Christmas Curse
This fun one-shot puts your players in the role of Father Christmas themselves. After annoying the wrong powerful witch, they find themselves cursed to deliver presents to the entire realm all within one night. The night will not end until the task is complete.
You can place plenty of fun obstacles in their way, such as disgruntled Christmas elves or thieves stealing the presents. Will your players go along with crafting toys and sneaking into houses to deliver the presents? Or, will they rebel against this curse, instead focusing on finding out how to transfer the role of Santa onto someone else?
5/10 Home For Christmas
At a local tavern, the party notices an NPC from a player's backstory looking distraught. They were hoping to be home in time to spend Christmas with their family, but the journey is far too dangerous to attempt on their own.
Luckily for them, your party is here to help. The journey is long and perilous, crossing dark forests, vast oceans, and snowy mountains. There is no time to spare. The party only has a few days to reach the NPC's hometown. They must decide on the best route to take. Perhaps faster methods are available but with greater risk, such as a wizard's untested portal spell. As time passes, this is a thrilling adventure that will hopefully end with a Christmas celebration.
4/10 The Party That Stole Christmas
A nearby town is far too into Christmas, annoying your villainous party. They have festivals every day, and everyone is just too darn happy. Your group of Grinches hatches a plan to ruin Christmas for everyone. Perhaps they want to steal all the presents before anyone wakes up. Maybe they plan to kidnap the mayor before their big Christmas speech. Your players could have a creative plan of their own instead.
You can reverse the perspective of many classic Christmas films, with the townsfolk doing everything possible to stop the party's evil schemes. Maybe even Santa Claus attempts to confront the party, leading to a climactic final battle to save or destroy Christmas once and for all.
3/10 Santa's Rivals
In this idea, your players could already be friends with Santa or play as his elves. Santa has noticed this year that he's received far fewer letters from children than usual. Your players are tasked with finding out why, and soon learn that a rival is providing the same service as him. This is unacceptable! Santa asks the group to infiltrate this rival company and bring them down from the inside.
A mischievous group of creatures from the Feywild or a terrifying evil doppelgänger Santa from a domain of dread could run the rival company. Your players will need to get creative to take them down. They could sabotage their delivery service. They could attempt to face off against the big boss directly. Perhaps they're tempted to start a rival Christmas company of their own and forget about helping Santa entirely. There are plenty of silly ways to go with this rival gift-giving story.
2/10 Gifts Gone Wrong
It is Christmas morning, and the party awakens to chaos! Everyone's presents are full of nasty surprises. Evil dolls are running amock. Mimics have replaced Christmas trees. Portals are in the puddings. Christmas has been cursed. Maybe a powerful creature didn't get a present this year and lashes out in jealousy. Perhaps a child's wish was twisted. Whatever the reason, it needs to be stopped.
The setting for this idea could be anywhere you like. Perhaps your players all work at Candlekeep, and a delivery of gifts to the library is what causes all the chaos. Maybe the party lives in a small village soon overrun with dangerous toys. No matter the setting, this one shot will be full of combat and traps as the party attempts to fight the source of this curse.
1/10 Stranded For The Holidays
The party was on a long journey back home for the holidays when they found themselves hopelessly lost. Perhaps they took a wrong turn or maybe stumbled through a portal. They find themselves in a cold land and must work together to find their way back home.
With just their spells and limited resources, this is a challenging survival experience for your players. It is an excellent one-shot for those that want a more gritty, serious game rather than an overly festive story. The group will need to hunt for food, seek shelter and warmth, and survive for as long as possible. Perhaps they find a mysterious structure and spend the night there. It is full of puzzles and mysteries for the party to solve. If they can make their way through the cold lonely building, they can find a magical device strong enough to transport them home again.
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