The Sorrow Of Grimstone (D&D 5e Christmas Adventure)
(Designed for 5-6 players at level 5)
Far to the north, the small mining town of Grimstone survives long, cold and dark winters. When the nights are longest, the people of Grimstone light up the night with candles, songs and the exchange of gifts during The Pelznickel Feast. A celebration named after the mysterious Pelznickel, who long ago brought a night of lights and happiness to Grimstone during the harshest days of winter. However, Pelznickel is most loved, for giving every child in town a gift that he made in his magical cabin. It is believed by many, that Pelznickel travels into town on a red sleigh filled with presents, drawn by eight flying reindeer. Pelznickel silently enters each cabin without ever being seen by children or their parents. In exchange for the gifts, the children leave treats for Pelznickel, which are always gone when they awaken to find their gifts.
Pelznickel is a benevolent Mountain Dwarf Cleric, named Klaas Pelznickel, who has made it his life’s work to bring a night of joy to the people of Grimstone. For nearly 200 winters, this ancient Dwarf has spent each year creating gifts in his cabin with his helpers. Pelznickel’s cabin is said to be full of wonders and magical treasures, but its exact location is a secret. Over the years, Pelznickel put on lots of extra padding, thanks to the treats from the children. His powers have gotten weaker with time. He is no longer the young hero who saved Grimstone two centuries ago from a winter fey creature that was oppressing the townsfolk with anguish.
This year, this ancient Eladrin fey has finally gained back her strength and decided it is time for her return. She believes that winters should be a season of melancholy and bitterness, void of happiness. Frozen tears drop from her cheeks, and her palpable sadness emanates from her as bitter cold. She has broken free from Pelznickel’s prison and enchanted him and his helpers while forcing them to serve her and her evil plans. This year, she will finally return Grimstone to the suffering that existed before her defeat two centuries ago.
Part 1: The Town of Grimstone
The adventurers begin lost in a vast forest after chasing a band of Orcs that were terrorizing a small village to the south. Things took a turn for the worse when the snow started to fall heavily covering the Orc’s tracks making the trail challenging to follow. The wind is swirling around, and the snowfall is so heavy it is disorienting. The adventurers have lost their sense of direction. The party is suffering from 1 level of exhaustion.
Moving quickly through the snow is a pack of four Winter Wolves. Once the wolves notice the party, they circle and attack!
Combat: 4 Winter Wolves
After the combat ends the party is now suffering from the 2nd level of exhaustion.
On a successful, DC 16 Perception check read the following:
SMOKE! LIGHT! UP AHEAD! IT’S-A TOWN!
The adventurers can see the town of Grimstone up ahead! They arrive in town the day of this year’s Pelznickel Feast. When town folk notices the troubled adventurers, they usher them to the town’s main Inn “The Queen’s Blessing” to get them warmed up with some hot cabbage soup.
While sitting at the table enjoying the warm hearth and the hot food, they learn Pelznickel’s story from the Bard performing at the inn’s tavern. The song below details the exploits of the Dwarf Cleric Pelznickel long ago and his cabin full of magical wonders.
Grimstone full of sorrow, this day 200 years ago.
Every nook and cranny, there no light would go.
Fear and sadness for all, so the tears, they did flow.
For there was no relief in sight, the dawn may never show.
Then one day a stranger came, coming up the road.
He said he wanted to free Grimstone, from the sadness that had taken hold.
My name is Pelznickel, a Cleric from far away.
I heard the plight of Grimstone, I will hold sadness at bay.
The evil consumed the hero, and tried to trap him cold.
But the children cheered for Pelznickel, and their love kept him from that hold.
The evil swore to slay him, but Pelznickel was so bold.
He slew her with his power, an amulet to defeat our foe.
For 200 years he has stayed near us, In the forest to the north.
His cabin full of magic, no more sorrow has come forth.
He brings treasure down to Grimstone, and slips from house to house.
Leaving gifts and eating cookies, not noticed by even a mouse.
This day is the day to thank him, for bringing light back to our town.
And he thanks all our children, with presents that abound.
A town person comes into the Queen’s Blessing and starts whispering in people’s ears. On a successful, DC 16 Perception check the adventurers overhear:
“A young gnome traveler just stumbled into town from the North. She looks hurt, I do not think she is going to survive. She keeps mumbling “Must save Pelznickel” over and over. I think she has gone mad. If someone does not do something fast, she will surely die.”
A young gnomish girl (one of Pelznickel’s helpers named Merry), wearing ripped and tattered clothing, has stumbled into town and collapsed at the feet of a group of townsfolk that were standing near the town’s central fire. When the adventurers arrive to investigate, she is in bad shape from the cold and only able to whisper, “Must save Pelznickel,” hands the closest adventurer a roughly drawn map while pointing north, before collapsing unconscious.
If the adventurers can stabilize Merry, one chance at a DC 10 Medicine check, she stabilizes – otherwise she dies. You can choose to have the adventurers cure her to stabilize her. Merry chooses to remain in Grimstone afraid that if she returned she may fall under the winter fey’s curse.
Finding more information
A DC 12 History check with allow your players also to find out that 200 years ago today Pelznickel defeated a winter fey that enslaved the people of Grimstone with sorrow and helplessness. The Feywild creature had charmed the residence of Grimstone with her Sorrowful Presence, allowing her to feed off the fear and sadness of the people. Her name has been lost to time, but is referred to as “The Eternal Sorrow.”
Part 2: The Ice Pass
As the adventurers leave town, they find themselves on a winding mountain pass. While there is only one entrance to the Ice Pass, there are many exits and dead ends. There are many turns and forks that the adventurers must navigate.
Have the adventurers designate someone as a tracker. The tracker must DC 20 Survival check to find the way through mountain pass leading to Pelznickel’s Cabin. On a fail, run a random encounter from the chart below. There should be at least 1 encounter even if the first survival check is successful.
Random Encounters (d12)
1-4 = Winter Wolf (1D6)
5-8 = Ice Mephit (1D8)
8-11 = Yeti
12 = Young Remorhaz
Part 3: Pelznickel’s Cabin
After traveling through Ice Pass, the adventurers enter a thin forest. From the treeline, they can see a large clearing lit by the partial moon. A large building (120 feet wide by 40 feet deep) sits on the edge of a woodlot 200 feet away. The building’s many windows are lit by candlelight, and you can make out activity inside. Moving around the outside of the building are large silhouetted shapes that appear to be on patrol. On the front of the building, you can make out a set of large double doors that appear to serve as the main entrance.
Combat: 2 Ice Trolls
If they do not find a way to avoid a head-on battle, have them faced both Ice trolls. Ice Trolls should directly attack their closest enemy or continue to patrol.
Once inside the cabin, the time for the final battle is near. Trying to sneak into the cabin without the notice of the Fey will be difficult and only possible if the group avoided fighting with the Ice Trolls. Each adventurer will need to pass a DC 20 Stealth check to enter undetected. If the majority of them are successful, then the Fey is surprised. Otherwise, she is waiting for them.
After moving through a small cabin, the adventurers enter the central area. The main cabin area is a large room with a high ceiling with crossbeams (60 feet wide by 40 feet deep with a ceiling is 30 feet above the floor). The room is filled with a dozen Ice Mephits. At the far end of the cabin sits a beautiful Fey Elagrin. However, she visibly polymorphs onto a 6-foot-tall monster covered in dark fur with cloven feet, a tail, two horns, pointed ears, and a long tongue (Bulezau). Notably wearing a large glowing amulet around its neck.
Part 4: No More Sorrow
The players will face off against 12 Ice Mephits and 1 Bulezau. The Fey will use Sorrowful Presence. The Ice Mephits should attack their closest enemy. The adventurers must either kill the Bulezau or shatter the Amulet (AC 16, 60 HP) to break the Polymorph of the Eladrin. Once the Bulezau is defeated, or the Amulet is shattered it polymorphs back into the Winter Elagrin “The Eternal Sorrow.”
If the battle is too fierce for the adventurers, you could have one or two Ice Mephits wake up from the enchantment turning into Pelznickel’s gnome helpers using whatever they can find as weapons (use Club for stats) or throw a healing potion to a player. Also, you may want to reduce the Winter Eladrin’s damage output by half, depending on the status of the adventurers when the fey reappears.
Combat: 12 Ice Mephits, 1 Bulezau, 1 Winter Eladrin
Have Winter Eladrin throw out some quotes each round.
• I am “The Eternal Sorrow” and Grimstone will live in sorrow forever as I do.
• I will grow in power from the pain and sorrow of the children.
• The children will be getting no treasures this year, only sadness.
• I have been planning my return for centuries. What are a few moments to destroy all of you?
As “The Eternal Sorrow” falls to the ground in defeat, a powerful wind begins to swirl around the cabin. The vortex centers on the body of the Eladrin. The Eladrin’s body turns to ash as it is sucked up into the vortex, and then down into the Amulet. After a second of calm, a bright golden light burst forth, blinding the adventures for a moment. As their vision clears you to see a Dwarf standing in the place where the Eladrin had fallen, wearing the Amulet around his neck.
The old white-bearded Dwarf introduces himself to the players as Pelznickel. Pelznickel has a kindly looking face. Pelznickel is wearing a red set of chainmail trimmed in fur. He is tall and plump for a Dwarf and strokes his long white beard while talking. Have a wholly recovered Pelznickel thanks each of the heroes by name and give them all a personal gift.
The gnomes, no longer enchanted, cheer and thank each of the adventurers with handshaking, pats on the back and hugs.
Congratulate your players on saving The Pelznickel Feast.
As you leave the cabin, you notice the gnomes have opened a large door on the side of the building and are leading a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, loaded with bags and parcels.
Some ideas for Pelznickel’s gifts:
- Armor of Gleaming
- Dread Helm
- Pipe of Smoke Monsters
- Horn of Silent Alarm
- Smoldering Armor
- Cloak of Billowing
- Clockwork Amulet
- Hat of Vermin
- Talking Doll
- Veteran’s Cane
Credits: This adventure is loosely based on and inspired by a Christmas themed adventure named “The Darkest Night.”