For New Years Eve, I got together with some old friends from high school to play a Christmas-themed 13th Age game in which they are tasked with killing Santa. The players, however, decided to design their characters as an homage to 2016/political caricatures. Below is my summary of the session.
Arnold Rump – Half-Orc Barbarian.
Notable features: Intends to make the orc horde great again! Weapon: A grate. Backgrounds: Small Loan of a Million Gold, The Greatest
Hillary Clefttongue – Snake Cleric.
Notable features: Domain of Life/Death reskinned as Domain: Obamacare. +1 to Death Saves. Thanks Obama! OUT: Whatever it takes for me to get elected.
Birdie Sanders – Duck Trickster.
Notable features: has a -10 to attacks. Backgrounds include Goodwill Worker, Social Worker, Political Science
Twenty Sixteen – Tiefling Rogue.
Notable features: Harambe Animal Companion; Backgrounds: Celebrity Deathknell, Memes
“The Election Year: The only thing that can keep the Koru Behemoths away.”
Hillary Clefttongue and Arnold Rump are on the campaign trail to become the next Orc Lord! To do so, they must travel the Dragon Empire and hunt down those Electors – and kill them! (Electors are 538 political enemies designated by the orc horde to be killed. The campaign trail to hunt them down may or may not follow the Koru Behemoth paths: “The Election Year: The only thing that can keep the Koru Behemoths away.”) Our adventure opens with Arnold Rump narrowly leading Hillary Clefttongue in number of Electors slain. Birdie Sanders still thinks he’s running; he has not managed to kill any Electors. Twenty Sixteen is tagging along because – hey! Killing famous people! That’s his kind of fun!
The campaign (“The Most Intense Game of ‘Hide and Seek'”) has led Hillary, Arnold, Twenty, and Birdie to their next Elector – a baker in Glitterhaegen! But alas, in the quiet snowy streets the party is ambushed by… children? They scream “FOR SANTA!” and launch a barrage of attacks and traps. (Reskinned kobolds with trapster abilities) Arnold Rump is surrounded by three puppy-riding children! In a whirlwind attack, the first kid ducks, the second receives a bloody nose from the grate, and the third is hit so far, he goes flying off into the distance. Arnold Rump takes out the remaining children bit by bit. Birdie Sanders is pushed into a spiked pit hidden in the snow by one child. Twenty Sixteen and Harambe engage with a child, but due to one of the child’s ruthless traps, ends up with a beehive to the face. While hiding in the spiked trap from the first child, Birdie turns his attention to the child Harambe is attacking. The child charges at Birdie but slips on the ice and slides head-first into a spike. A child hiding in a snowdrift chucks ornaments at Hillary, but one of them was accidentally one of the beehive traps (thanks to our tiefling, Twenty Sixteen). Twenty Sixteen turns his attention on the child attacking Birdie and hurls a dagger at him. This attack is amplified by a well-timed distraction by Birdie (thanks to Feckless Strike) that ends with a knife through the head of the child (taking 50 damage when he only had 5 hp remaining to begin with). Blood splatter!
“Who here carries knives? Not me!” – Twenty Sixteen
“No! My pantsuit!” – Hillary Clefttongue
Arnold Rump turns some of the children into a salad. Yum!
Birdie Sanders skates on the ice to the bakery in order to kill his first Elector – crashes into the storefront window with a comedic “SPLAT!”. Arnold Rump breaks the door entering and finds their target – the Elector. The Elector realizes what they are there for and tries to escape out the back exit. Arnold Rump and Hillary Clefttongue follow, while Twenty Sixteen opts to check the expiration dates on food – after all, if it says ‘2016’, then it’s his! Arnold Rump catches up to the Elector: “It’s grate to see you!” He uses his Grate of Ruin (see “Book of Loot” – basically, results in ruin falling upon things associated with the target; ie: a king killed by a weapon of ruin would find his kingdom cursed to crumble.) Arnold Rump is happy to know that his grate will ensure that the bakery fails now that the Elector is dead. The GM points out that the bakery probably was going to experience setbacks anyway without its head baker. Regardless, 1 point for Arnold Rump!
The commotion with the Elector has drawn the attention of the towns people. They pour out into the streets to meet with the candidates. Many heads are shook. Many babies are kissed. Arnold Rump, of course, decides to change it up and shake the baby and kiss the hands. Birdie Sanders tries to take this opportunity to explain his message, but instead keeps getting handed babies. One may walks up to Birdie Sanders and asks for him to save his baby from Santa. The children of Glitterhaegen (from ages 4-12) have run away from home and formed gangs in the streets to rumors of a “Santa Claus.” He wants Birdie Sanders to look into it before his baby falls prey to whatever arcana is to blame for this! Birdie Sanders turns to Hillary and Arnold and says: “Santa’s an Elector.” He turns back to the man and says “Everything will be under control!”
“Feel the Bird!” – GM
“…Is that like Pat the Bunny?” – Twenty Sixteen
“Grip the podium, hope for the best” – Hillary Clefttongue, on how she’s handling the crowds of people
The party hunts down a lead for a child that used to be under the sway of Santa Claus – Bobby Jingle. Arnold Rump decides that interrogation is the way to get information out of this 13-year old. Twenty Sixteen decides to engage Arnold in a Twitter war to distract him while Hillary and Birdie question the child in a less threatening manner. Birdie Sanders offers a pastry from the Elector’s bakery as a bribery: “That’s not blood on the pastry. That’s raspberry filling!” They learn that Bobby Jingle left because he was on the Naughty List. Why? Because he refused to kill someone Santa told him to kill. Birdie Sanders pulls out a calculator out of his magical bag of random loot and gives it to Bobby as a gift. Naturally, as a 13 year old, Bobby immediately proceeds to spell BOOBS on the calculator. They learn that Santa seems to be magically controlling the children and that the children are based out of the STEAM TUNNELS!
Cut to the Steam Tunnels: What’s your light source? Light reflecting off of Arnold Rump’s bald spot! After killing a wandering child, the party finds their secret lair with Christmas tree. They are all sound asleep. Arnold Rump carefully steals a set of silver bells from one child and retreats a safe distance to the party. He rings them near his ear and instantly knows where Santa’s Workshop is. (Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Arnold Rump is now under the influence of Santa! Arnold pockets the silver bells for himself and leads the party onwards.)
“All I want for Christmas is your two front teeth!”
Santa’s Workshop is in the clouds above the Giantwalk Mountains. Arnold Rump calls upon his commercial dragon transportation company acquires a three-headed (green, white, and red, naturally!) dragon. His friends board. He takes first class. As they near Santa’s Workshop, Jack Frostlings (reskinned pixies) start attacking the noses of the party, but they quickly manage to fight them back.
The party approaches Santa’s Workshop, but finds two Cloud Giants standing guard. Arnold, Hillary, and Twenty Sixteen sneak past the cloud giants legs and reach the door while Birdie decides to approach this situation by going down the chimney (that very clearly has smoke coming out of it). One cloud giant notices and tries to attack the duck, but accidentally hits his friend. This initiates a brawl between the cloud giants, giving the party time to get into Santa’s Workshop. Don’t worry, though – the duck still plans on going down the chimney!
As Twenty Sixteen picks the lock and opens the door, Birdie Sanders lands in a pot of soup and – cartoon style – leaps out of it and runs right past his friends and out the door into the snow to cool his rear-end off. This, of course, has drawn the attention of the elves at work. One elf demands to know who they are. Arnold Rump introduces himself and finds that he’s on the Nice List (see: the silver bells magical effect). He tries to figure out what he wants for Christmas: His brand steaks: “Rump Roast”? Nah. No, he wants to kill Santa for Christmas because Santa is an Elector (or so Birdie Sanders has led him to believe!). The elf departs to find Santa.
The remaining elves determine that Birdie, Hillary, and Twenty Sixteen are on the Naughty List and attack. Arnold Rump breaks free of the silver bells effect.
“I don’t hear those sleigh bells jingling in a ring ting tingling tune.” – Arnold Rump
“All I want for Christmas are your two front teeth!” – Arnold Rump
The elves (reskinned hell imps) attack by kicking the players in the chestnuts. They wind up large toys with clock faces to attack (reskinned zorigami). Birdie Sanders, in an effort to stop more toys from being wound up, knocks them down like dominoes.
All too soon, however, Santa (reskinned weretiger) arrives: “HO! HO! HO!” Immediately, he knocks down Hillary Clefttongue down in two hits. The following round he kills Twenty Sixteen with one blow. (“We still have Harambe!” “Santa Claus is going to town on 2016.”) Birdie Sanders calls upon his Icon Relationship with the Crusader to procure a pentagram of a dark god to combat Santa. He embeds the iron pentagram into a cookie and prepares a glass of milk for his plan (Santa = fey; iron + fey = sad fey). Of course, by this point, we have the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on loop. Right at midnight (in real life), after toasting with champagne, Twenty Seventeen dives through the window and stabs Santa in the back! It’s worth mentioning, of course, that Twenty Seventeen looks just like Twenty Sixteen but all the 6s have been crossed out with 7s; Twenty Sixteen is still dead on the ground.
Hillary Clefttongue – standing once more – announces: “I’m going to invoke Obamacare!” (Domain Life/Death). Birdie Sanders, dressed as an elf, delivers the pentagram infused cookies with milk to Santa, Scooby-Doo style. Santa eats the cookie and screams as the Crusader’s power strikes him. He overcomes it, but is very displeased with the elf. (Mechanical benefits: -4 attack and defenses for Santa, but Santa does gain a damage bonus). In anger, Santa Claus crits Twenty Seventeen, knocking him down. “Well, 2017 isn’t going to kill Santa.” With one mighty swing of a grate, along with points from the trickster’s abilities, Arnold Rump strikes and kills Santa unexpectedly. Remember though that this is the Grate of Ruin. He has killed Santa, but the things most associated with Santa will now also crumble: “I JUST KILLED CHRISTMAS” – Arnold Rump.
“I’m going to skedaddle before he realizes Santa’s not an Elector.” – Birdie Sanders. He takes Santa’s hat, gets in the sleigh and flies away with some now-unemployed elves.
Disappointed that Santa’s not an Elector, Arnold Rump sits for a second. He then turns and kills Harambe. Hillary stabilizes Twenty Seventeen.
Post one-shot wrap-up: “I’d like to us my icon relationship with the Prince of Shadows – I mean Putin – I mean the Prince of Shadows – to have ravens bring Hillary’s hacked mail.”
Happy New Year!