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Today's holiday-themed post is D12 "Christmas Subclasses" for fantasy adventure games, such as Dungeons & Dragons. These are specifically designed for the old 1981 "B/X" or "Basic" D&D game, which means they are compatible with Old School Essentials, but with just a few small tweaks, these could make fun concepts for most fantasy games, including 5th Edition. 

I thought of the idea earlier this week while getting ready one morning, and banged out the ideas in just a few hours over a couple of days. These are intended to be fun and a small amusement for a game rather than anything balanced, so they're not quite in the same realm as the other entries I've done in my subclasses posts. 

I really enjoy the Christmas season and loved watching all the TV specials when I was a kid. As a young adult, I began collecting the ones I liked, first on VHS, then DVD and Blu-Ray. I also began reading a lot of books on the history of holiday movies and specials, and you'll find a lot of that history reflected in the subclasses below. 

I first began by creating a "Santa Claus" subclass, but realized it was limiting how the other subclasses came together, so I finally turned Santa and Mrs. Claus into NPCs to be used as the Referee sees fit. The other subclass ideas came pretty naturally from my study of Christmas legends, songs, TV specials, movies, books, and comics. 

While my memory of having watched so many Christmas specials and movies multiple times over the years was my main resource for these ideas, I did also consult two books from my library of Christmas books: The Encyclopedia of Christmas and the Book of Christmas from the Time Life Enchanted World series. 

Also, I refer you to the following movies and TV specials, mainly so I can post pictures from them below: 

  • Arthur Christmas: A really fun animated movie regarding the entire Santa family, including the title character, Arthur, who is clumsy and awkward, but full of Christmas spirit. A source for Klaus' Child. 
  • Noelle: This Christmas movie was made for Disney+ a few years ago and centers around two of Santa's children, Noelle and Nick, who try to figure out their roles after Santa passes away. I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. A source for Klaus' Child.  
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: I'm a sucker for old Rankin-Bass stop-motion animation from the 60's and 70's, and this was always a high-water mark of the Christmas season when it was shown on TV exactly one night during the season. If you missed it, you were out of luck. A source for Santa's Elves and the Prospector. 
  • Fred Claus: This really isn't one of my favorite Christmas movies, but it does have a few funny scenes and the soundtrack is good in terms of the mix of Christmas and non-Christmas songs. A source for Santa's Elves and Klaus' Brother. 
  • The Year Without a Santa Claus: Oddly, as a kid, this was one I didn't like as much, but grew to love it more as I got older. I found out it was based on a book, which prompted a quest for me to find an old out-of-print copy to give to my daughter as a Christmas gift one year. A source for Santa's Elves and the True Believer.
  • Rudolph's Shiny New Year: I hate this special. Really, I can't stand it. I think it's mostly just because I always feel that New Year's is such a letdown after Christmas, and this special is a huge letdown after the original. That said, the concept of the Archipelago of Last Years is fun and the entire plot could make for a fun RPG one-shot. A source for the Knights of 1023. 
  • Klaus: An animated film from Spain that's available on Netflix with voices provided by Jason Schwarztman, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, J.K. Simmons as the titular Klaus, and Norm MacDonald as the Boatman. Tons of laughs, a really great art style, and a great story. I think it's safe to call this a "new classic." A source for the Village Child and the Postal Worker, 
  • Santa Claus is Comin' to Town: This is probably my favorite of the Rankin-Bass specials, which I know is a controversial thing to say. And yes, I, too, can't stand that weird psychedelic segment when Jessica sings her song, but thankfully that's been mostly edited out of broadcast airings lately. I loved the story of the origin of Santa Claus, and thought the German aesthetic for the bad guys, 25 years after the end of World War II, was a fun touch. A source for the Village Child, the Postal Worker, and the Winter Warlock. 
  • The Christmas Chronicles: This is another Netflix special that I went into expecting to hate, but ended up loving. This is another special that I think has safely entered the canon of "Christmas classics" in our household. A source for the True Believer. 

The Santa's Assistant and the Julenisse ideas came from the books I mentioned earlier. 





Klaus’ Child

Possible names include Arthur, Noelle, Steve. 2-in-6 to know any language. Turn undead works only on non-believers (e.g., Scrooge, Grinch). Speaks the language of reindeer. Chance of getting lost only 1-in-6, no matter the terrain or environment, if in the process of delivering a gift.



Klaus’ Assistant

Possible names: Belsnickel, Black Pete, Cert, Knecht Ruprecht, Zwarte Piet. Only proficient with the Whip (1d3 damage but can damage foes 10’ away) and Switch (treat as a club). Always carries a bell to announce its presences (cannot surprise). 2-in-6 chance to detect alignment (replaces detect construction tricks).



Santa’s Elf

Possible names: Bernard, Crumpet, Hermie, Jangle, Jingle, Judy, Willie. Does not cast spells. 3x per day, can use Minor Creation (as the 4th Level Illusionist spell; see OSE Advanced Fantasy), but can only create small toys (no weapons) and must be given to another person. If given out during an encounter, the toy grants Santa’s Elf a +2 bonus on the NPC Reaction Roll table. 1-in-6 chance to have a different skill than toy-making (e.g., dentistry). These elves are not accepted by general Santa Elf society, but this different skill will be essential once per session (determined by the DM).



Knight of 1023

Pronounced “ten-two-three.” Must always wear a centuries out-of-date suit of plate mail with a helmet (that the knight never removes) and grow an overly long beard. Speaks in a loud, choppy voice that echoes through the helmet. Allies in 20’ who can hear the knight gain +1 to their morale.



Possible name: Yukon Cornelius. 1-in-6 chance to detect gold or silver within 30’.  Immune any fear effects caused by snow or ice creatures (e.g., a yeti). Gains a +1 bonus to NPC Reaction Rolls vs. characters from Medieval European fairy tales (the three bears, anyone named Jack, wolves, etc.).




Plural: Julenissen. Hiding ability works inside houses if in a dark corner, under a staircase, in an attic, or similar place. Can curse (blight; reverse of 2nd level cleric spell bless) all members of a specific house unless placated with porridge, liquor, and/or tobacco.


Village Child

Most likely human children but gifted with the ability to create a Klaus if one does not exist (requires 2+ village children and a letter-writing campaign lasting 2 weeks, after which a Klaus will appear in the village). Hiding ability works on village streets. Gains a +1 bonus to all rolls if within 20’ of Klaus or a member of the Klaus Family.



Christmas Witch

Possible names: Names: Baboushka, Befana, Bertchta, La Strega, La Vecchia, Old Woman. Always has a magical flying broom (in place of a 1st level spell). Can bestow a gift (usually a small toy, but could be fruit, nuts, or sweets), granting +1 to attack and damage rolls to people of the same alignment as the witch, or a -1 penalty to people of opposite alignment. The effect lasts for one day.


Winter Warlock

All spells manifest in cold, ice, or snow (e.g., magic missile if made of ice missiles). This has no effect mechanically, but is just for flavor. Has a very low self-confidence (-1 to saving throws unless within 20’ of Klaus or a member of the Klaus Family). Always has 1d6 useless magic items. (Highly recommended: 300 Useless Magic Loot table from Knock! issue #1; examples include pipe of smoke rings, wizard’s beard (a strap-on beard that grows permanently), ratters hat attracts rats who come for curiosity, etc.).



Klaus’ Brother

Possible name: Fred. Gains a +2 bonus to NPC Reaction Rolls when bargaining or asking for money. Can cast charm (as the spell) once per day, but when the effect wears off, the victim is furious with Klaus’ Brother and will probably attack.


Postal Worker

Possible names: Jesper, S.D. Kluger. Add 20’ to base movement rate. By weaving tales about the legend of Klaus, can use the Enchantment ability as a Bard (OSE Advanced Fantasy). Cannot pick pockets or remove traps.


True Believer

Possible names: Kate, Teddy, Jack, Iggy, Jovy, Michael. Once per day, allies within 20’ square area of a True Believer gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, morale and saving throws for 6 turns.


If you're planning to use any of these in a holiday-themed game, here are a few other ideas for you. 

  • NPCs
    • Klaus
      • Alternate names: Kris, Nicholas, Nick, Santa. 
      • As Cleric. 
      • Can speak with any animal. 
      • After 5th level, can speak any language. 
      • Add clairvoyance and invisibility to spell list. 
      • Cannot case reversed versions of cleric spells. 
      • All healing spells are accompanied by a small toy. 
      • Turn undead ability only works on Krampus and other evil Christmas-themed creatures. 
    • Mrs. Klaus
      • Alternate names: Belle, Jessica, Mary, Merry
      • As Cleric. 
      • Healing spells take the form of cakes, cookies, and hot cocoa, all of which can be saved and used similar to a healing potion. 
      • Can magically mend torn clothing with a touch.
  • Adversaries
    • Aeon the Terrible (a huge vulture, as big as a roc)
    • The Burgermeister Meisterburger
    • Burgermeister's soldiers
    • Clockwork Santa
    • Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future
    • The Grinch
    • Krampus
    • The Miser Brothers (Heat Miser and Snow Miser)
  • Adventure Ideas
    • Stop the plague that creates the Hungry Dead in order to save Christmas... and the world! (from Marvel's Zombies Christmas Carol)
    • Rescue the Baby New Year, lost in the Archipelago of Last Years (from Rudolph's Shiny New Year)
    • Stop the feud between the Ellingboes and the Krums so the village children can have a peaceful Christmas (from Klaus)
    • Ensure Christmas endures by making sure all the presents are delivered before sunrise in the North Pole (from the Christmas Chronicles, Arthur Christmas, and Fred Claus)
    • Evade the Burgermeister and his soldiers while continuing to deliver gifts to the village's deserving children (from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town)
    • Find Christmas cheer among miserable people in Southtown while evading the Miser Brothers and trying to convince Klaus that Christmas still matters (from the Year Without a Santa Claus)
    • Rescue Santa from an insane asylum and, with his help, convince a group of skeptical people that miracles can happen at Christmas (from Miracle on 34th Street)

You can mix and match the scenarios above and some could even be plotted out sequentially into a longer campaign should you wish. 

Let me know what you think! I know these are probably too late for this year, unless you celebrate Christmas later, on January 6th, but you could maybe fit the idea in during the 12 Days of Christmas which is happening right now, or just save them for next year.  

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: 2020 Palmina Malvasia Bianca
Listening: "Children Go Where I Send Thee" by Kenny Burrell, from the album "Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas"


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