Cryptmas Time Day 25: The Exit

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, chances are that’s ok now.

A little epilogue section to tie off any loose ends, plus an optional bonus boss if it seems like our heroes have gotten off too lightly.

The big doors of the crypt open, and our heroes escape into the lightly flurrying snow and crisp quiet night of Cryptmas morning, back down the mountain trail, all footprints now obscured by more recent snowfall, to the conifer forest and eventually the swamps of Gobswomp, and the tiny little town of Krampheim at its edge. They have new hats, which is what they came for, and a bunch of shiny loot, and they’ve kept alive the great Cryptmas tradition of dungeon-delving.

They probably feel, even before they see, the huge dark shape that steps out of the cold, silent night to block the path home, as all little goblins from sprogletthood know to recognise and fear this particular monster:

It is the Yule Cat, the Gargantuan-sized Nightmare Cat Sith Familiar of Gryla, herself an Advanced Fey Ogre Witch (Level 10).

Before anything further can happen, Gryla herself descends on wings of darkness:

She of course keeps an eye on the crypt and is alerted whenever anything major goes down inside, and so she knows that the Phylactery and the Krampus were both damaged, and she’s here to find out what’s going on.

If our goblins have both been good little goblins and served the interests of Necrodemus well, they need only explain the truth to Gryla, and she will be inclined to believe them. She likes goblins. She thinks they’re funny. If Necrodemus’s Phylactery is safe, and the Krampus is not under the control of the Snow Queen, then, well, no harm done. She’s happy to cover for them with the Dreadlord Monarch, and if she’s impressed with their performance against Jingleheimer’s schemes she may even offer to grant them a Cryptmas wish if it is within her power.

If the goblins failed to protect the Phylactery or even actively made things worse, well… it’s a shame, but naughty little goblins will have to learn how to behave or else the Dreadlord Monarch will judge them all harshly and Gryla with them. So to teach them a lesson, she will take to the skies, abandoning them to her cat.

However, the Yule Cat is a creature of belief and superstition as much as anything else. If our heroes are both wearing new hats, they may be able to repel the Yule cat with their belief in the rules of Cryptmas. To do this, both of our heroes must roll an Intimidate check and add their results together, and their combined score must be more than 50. If they succeed, the power of their new hats renders the Yule Cat powerless against them, and it will flee into the darkness as they return home, hand-in-hand against the dawning Cryptmas sun.

If they fail, we roll initiative and they have to either slay the Yule Cat or somehow get past it and outrun it for the last 200 feet back to town, where they are safe as the Yule Cat is too large to follow them indoors.

In any case, our heroes will be welcomed back to Krampheim as legends – the first goblins ever to make it all the way through the Krampheim Crypt. Just so long as they do, in fact, make it home.

Happy Cryptmas, everyone.

Cryptmas Time Door 24: The Return to the Entry Hall

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

Our final boss fight takes place back where it all began.

You all remember the entry hall, right? This one:

I’ll refresh your memory since it was 23 days ago: A is a statue of Necrodemus Gravehand that casts Black Tentacles on any creature within 20 feet with a Necromancy spell active on them, with a gravestone at his feet showing which tiles in the room are trapped. B are two fountains whose water dispels any necromancy spells. C are four big Krampus-skeleton statues dressed as nutcrackers. D and E are two sets of (unmarked) tiles on the floor that do necromancy spells when you step on them – Touch of Fatigue and Curse of Itching respectively. F are undead trees, G are regular old gravestones.

That central Necrodemus statue, it turns out, is also actually the top of the elevator that our heroes entered at the end of the last room. It rises out of the floor to allow them to step out, and then sinks again to its previous position. Of course, it no longer has that 24 sigil sealing it. Also, of course, is either of her heroes has a necromancy spell active on them at this point, the Black Tentacles go off immediately for maximum comedy.

Upon arriving back in this room, our heroes find Balthazar – remember him? – has been hard at work repairing the two giant skeletal nutcrackers on either side of the huge exit door (still sealed with the Sylvan rune for 25). Upon seeing our heroes, he waves and announces that he thinks he’s gotten them working again after the elf froze up their gears – at which point both nutcrackers activate simultaneously and one of them, either malfunctioning or else programmed by Necrodemus to have no regard for the Antechambers’ skeletal guardian, smashes Balthazar from behind, sending bones scattering everywhere, while the other snaps off the last of the giant ice crystals frozen to it and drops it in front of the goblin-catflap in the exit door, blocking it completely.

If our heroes happen to not have any items taken from the crypt on them, then the two giant nutcrackers will not attack them, and once they touch the big exit door to melt the last sealing sigil the nutcrackers will even help them open it and send them on their way.

If they happen to have, say, the Kramphelm, or even Necrodemus’s Phylactery, then the nutcrackers will not let them leave and will fight to the death, while Balthazar’s skull can only shout encouragement while he tries to spot the locations of the rest of his bones. Once both nutcrackers are destroyed, our heroes can collect Balthazar’s bones if they wish and return them to his tomb where he will be magically put back together, and he will happily tell them the password to open the big heavy exit door – it’s “Krampus” – and leave them to return home victorious.

Worth noting that constructs count as creatures – they are immune to the effects of necromancy spells, but that doesn’t mean the spells can’t be cast on them, so throughout this fight the nutcrackers may well end up triggering the Black Tentacles. Which could be either help or hindrance to our heroes.

Here are some stats for the giant nutcrackers:

Giant Nutcracker CR 6

XP 2,400
N Large construct
Init -1 Senses darkvision 60, low-light visionPerception -5


AC 14, touch 8, flat-footed 14 (-1 Dex, +6 natural, -1 size)
hp 52 (4d10+30 size)
Fort +1, Ref +0, Will -4
DR 5/- Immune Construct Traits


Speed 30 ft.
Melee sabre +9 (1d8+6/19-20), bite +4 (1d8+3 plus grab plus constrict) or bite +9 (1d8+6 plus grab plus constrict), claw +9 (1d6+6)
Ranged musket +3 (resolves against touch AC up to 40ft) (2d6/x4)

Special Attacks scattering shot (musket), constrict (1d8+6, bite)


Str 22, Dex 10, Con -, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 1
Base Atk +4 CMB +11 CMD 20

Cryptmas Time Door 23: The Keep Proper and Secret Escape Route

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

Can’t take credit for this one, other than the aesthetics and the specific set-up. The puzzle itself is originally stolen wholesale from, apparently, Harvard (although that’s not where I first found it – it’s one of those logic puzzles that gets everywhere). It’s nearly Christmas and I have a lot to do, so.

The main room of the Keep seems to be a dead end, albeit an impressive one: a huge library of hoarded magic and knowledge in various languages, arranged on multiple levels of bookcases linked by grand staircases like that one scene from Beauty and the Beast:

Off to one side is a little witch-lair with an ogre-sized firepit, cauldron and nest of sorts where Gryla sleeps when she’s here. To the other side is a war-room with a map of the known world, showing the extents of Gravehand’s empire and various ongoing and upcoming invasions.

In the centre of the vast room is a strange, clearly magical fruit tree with various apple-like and orange-like fruit, which a DC 25 Knowledge (Nature) check will identify as a Tree of Knowledge.

At the far end opposite the door is a pleasant little reading area with leather seats and an empty book lectern gathered around an unlit fireplace flanked by two more of those bone-devil statues – identifiable now as actually depicting skeletal versions of the Krampus. The fireplace has a single black stocking hanging from it, embroidered with the crowned-skull symbol of the Dreadlord Monarch. There is a known tradition in the Dread Badlands of leaving stolen footwear outside on the night before Cryptmas for Gryla to leave bones and treats in on her way through, and a DC 30 Knowledge (Geography or History) will confirm that this actually was adapted from a human tradition of exchanging gifts in the Yuletide season via stockings hung on bedposts or fireplaces, or leaving such stockings for the Yulefather to fill, itself an adaptation of an even earlier winter tradition from the elves who would leave delicious fruit and nuts in each other’s shoes during the winter months as a sign of affection.

There is no sign of a way out of here, but of course Gravehand would have a secret escape route from his hideout in case things went south. Peering up into the chimney from the fireplace will reveal that it leads up some distance, fed into by smaller ventilation shafts from other rooms in the crypt, including the one from Caspar’s Tomb from which Tree-Topper was able to get here. However, once you get about 60 feet up, the chimney is lined with glowing Symbols of Death which will be triggered if anyone gets in range.

Placing one of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge into the stocking causes a book to appear on the lectern, and five wrapped presents appear in front of the fireplace. The presents are identical (all appear to be skulls) save for the colour of their wrappings: red with a green bow, red with a purple bow, black with a white bow, white with a green bow and black with a purple bow.

The book on the lectern tells an odd little story in the style of a children’s fairy tale, written in Necril, about the Dreadlord Monarch Necrodemus Gravehand spending the night before Cryptmas with his wife Leonore and his son Klaus. It’s notable that, since Cryptmas is a celebration of Necrodemus becoming a Lich and his entire family were supposedly already dead by that point, this probably can’t be a true story. The story tells how Leonore and Klaus had a gift for Necrodemus, but they left their friend Gryla to wrap it. Gryla asked Leonore to choose a colour for the wrapping paper and Klaus to choose a colour for the bow, but made them promise not to tell each other what they had chosen because she wanted to make it into a puzzle for Necrodemus, as her own gift to the Dreadlord Monarch who she knew loved puzzles more than anything. On Cryptmas morning, Necrodemus, Leonore and Klaus awoke to find five presents left for them: red with a green bow, red with a purple bow, black with a white bow, white with a green bow and black with a purple bow, along with a card from Gryla informing them that the true present would be the one with Leonore’s chosen colour of paper and Klaus’s chosen colour of bow. Necrodemus asked Leonore and Klaus if they knew which present was the true one, and without being able to tell each other which colours they had chosen they both could only look at each other and shake their heads. Necrodemus asked them a second time, and they shook their heads again. At that, Necrodemus said, “Ah, that makes it obvious,” and opened his present.

The solution, is, of course, to put the correct present in the stocking: namely the red one with a purple bow. The fact that neither Leonore nor Klaus knew which present was correct straight away rules out the possibility of either the wrapping or the bow being a unique colour (ie the one with the white bow or the one with white wrapping paper), and the fact that they still didn’t know after that had been established further rules out those among the remainder that would have a unique wrapping or bow colour among the remainder, leaving only the red-wrapping-purple-bow combo.

Once the correct present is placed into the stocking, the Symbols of Death within the chimney all wink out with an audible sound and the fireplace starts to produce a magical wind blowing upwards into the chimney. This lasts for four rounds, over the course of which the other presents vanish one by one, until finally the contents of the stocking vanish, the wind shuts off and the Symbols of Death in the chimney return. During the window of safety while the Symbols are inactive, our heroes can simply step into the chimney to be sucked up the flue like jolly old Saint Nick, which will whisk them away through a series of underground vents until it deposits them in a tiny little cave containing a single hollow square-cross-sectioned stone pillar about the size of a phone booth, with an entry arch on the front and a single switch inside, just above which is a familiar Sylvan sealing sigil incorporating the rune for 24, which melts to the touch as all the previous numbers did, allowing the switch to be thrown, at which point the elevator – yes, of course it’s an elevator – rumbles and rises.

If our heroes are clever and have good memories, they should already know where this will take them.

Cryptmas Time Door 22: Caspar’s Tomb

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

The third of our three kings finally makes an appearance, and one that should hopefully be tragically underwhelming in a way that feels intentional.

Door 22 opens onto a room like a small temple, lavishly decorated in rich reds and greens, highlighted by the occasional purple gems, white bone and black obsidian, and filled with clouds of incense from multiple incense-burners. There is no obvious door out of here, although there is a Sylvan sealing sigil incorporating the rune for 23 on a large, elaborate shrine that dominates the centre of the opposite wall, the sigil actually partially obscuring the skull-face of a bold painting of the Dreadlord Monarch in a frame of bones expertly fused together symmetrically. At the very bottom of the frame, such that it lies below the feet of the depicted Lichlord, is the skull of a lizardfolk. This all rests atop a scroll-edged, much-engraved, candle-accented altar, the entire thing flanked by two black dragon wings attached to the sides.

On a bone plaque on the altar under the lizardfolk skull is an epitaph: “Herein dwells eternal Caspar Constantinus, Warlord King of the Dread Badlands, in Prayer and Praising. Holy General of the Dreadlord Monarch Necrodemus Gravehand, First and Eldest of the Damned, the Deity Nigh that Men have Raised a God. Glorious Now Behold Him Arise.”

A DC 25 Perception check will notice the artfully concealed vents near the ceiling that let the incense smoke out to prevent the room getting complete choked, and which recently also allowed a certain Diminuitive sneaky fairy to squeeze through into the next room and seal the door hidden within this shrine from the other side.

Messing with the shrine at all will summon forth Caspar himself, a Lizardfolk Ghost who haunts this Keep and guards this door, as part of his ongoing 24/7 worship and devotion towards his undead god-emperor Necrodemus.

Caspar was once Necrodemus’s favourite general: a fanatically loyal follower, a man of opulent culture and a keen philosophical pontificator. In the real world and in the modern day, Caspar would probably have been a major player in the online alt-right manosphere, but as it was he had to make do with finding a different, more undead-themed blowhard asshole cult to join.

Unlike Balthazar and Melchior who both died in battle, a combination of luck and Necrodemus’s fondness meant that Caspar survived to become a grizzled, one-eyed retired veteran who trained Necrodemus’s troops, and then a sedentary court advisor to the Dreadlord Monarch once his body became too frail to continue the physical work of training. But when his mind went as well, falling to senility in his advanced age, Necrodemus finally had no use for him alive, and one way or another he ended up as a ghost bound to serve as caretaker in this Keep.

Part of that role involves being the doorman for the Keep proper, to keep out lesser servants and uninvited guests. The entire shrine is actually designed to unfold its various parts into an open doorway like some kind of mechanical lotus flower, but the mechanism that operates it is on the other side of the wall. Only an incorporeal being like Caspar can reach through and activate it from here.

Caspar was ornery, blindly fanatical and eventually senile in life, and he remains ornery, blindly fanatical and even senile as a ghost. He is not generally hostile and will speak in either Necril or Draconic if addressed in either, but he is almost impossible to reason with and can barely hold his thoughts together for long enough to finish a conversation. If our heroes try to push him too hard to let them through, he will leave, floating out through the ceiling in haughty indignation – but, if they wait a second or two and then touch the shrine again, he will return having already forgotten them and will welcome them afresh.

The simplest way – maybe the only way – for our heroes to get Caspar to open the door, is to convince him that they are, in fact, authorised underlings of Gravehand. If they ask about getting through, he will say as much: “Nobody gets into the Lichlord’s sanctum save his own chosen few! I see to that! That elf fellow nearly got me that one time, with the helmet and Phylactery, looked very official, but I remembered to check, and he wasn’t on the list!”

“The list” refers to a series of names on little plaques, with accompanying portraits, on either side of the entrance to the room, put there right in Caspar’s line of vision so he sees them every time he’s summoned here. It includes Necrodemus Gravehand, Gryla, all twelve Yule Lads, the three Warlord Kings (yes, including Caspar himself), Knecht the imp familiar, and one of the Yeti guards – pictured below alive and well as he is in the portrait – whose name is given as Friðrik Drosselmeyer (the patriarch of the family of Yeti who served here, whose daughter Marie is now the sole survivor of the family).

Due to his decades of training, Caspar has a total of +12 on his Sense Motive to notice that people are lying to him, but his general senility means he will treat basically all lies as equally plausible. If our heroes can convince Caspar that one of them is, in fact, one of the people on the list, or can fake an addition to the list showing their own face, or can somehow trick him into believing that the list is wrong, he will open the door for them. Alternatively, they can just get him to leave and then cover up the list while he’s gone (this room has plenty of extraneous wall hangings to go around), and by the time he returns he will already have forgotten it, at which point it’s just a matter of insisting that they are authorised convincingly enough (as indicated by his earlier comments regarding the elf, wearing one of Necrodemus’s helmets and carrying his Phylactery will most likely be enough to convince Caspar, in the absence of being able to see the list, that a person is probably here with Gravehand’s permission and can be let through).

Cryptmas Time Door 21: The Kitchens

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

The start of our final act, perhaps a little surprisingly, is where we finally face our main antagonist. Despite some magical shenanigans on the part of the enemy here, this should be a tamer fight than the Krampus was, though, both because it’s balanced for the party level without any need for serious outside interference and because the party has just had a chance to rest up.

Door 21 is the servants’ entrance to the Keep; the area of the Crypt where its living guards live and also where Gravehand and any important guests of his would stay while in the area. The servants’ entrance, however, leads directly to the kitchens, which is not a part that Necrodemus is likely to often see.

Upon entering the freezing-cold, Yeti-sized kitchen, our heroes discover that it has been converted into a campsite for a group of creatures much smalled than Yeti but seemingly with a very similar tolerance for the cold.

The kitchen area has a giant stone table in the centre, surrounded by Yeti-sized chairs. A couple of wheeled staircases up against the far wall and a series of smaller chairs in the bottom left corner of the room together allow Small or Medium creatures to reach the table if need be, but clearly it’s been a while since guests of such a size ate here. On the sides of the room are preparation counters and food cupboards, including sinks on the west side (presumably connected to the underground hotsprings we know are nearby) and huge metal oven ranges on the east side, both of which are lit but not turned up very high.

In the far wall is a door sealed with the Sylvan rune for 22. Just in front of the door is a very spartan campsite where an identifiably Arctic-Elven sleeping bag has been set up.

Right by the campsite, an Arctic Elf with an ice-crystal staff, two ice golems, and a teensy Sprite like a cross between an angel and a moth that glows an icy blue, are arrayed in a circle around a cooking pot that has been placed in a circle of magic runes on the ground and filled with water.

This is the elf our heroes have been largely-inadvertantly following through this Crypt. His name is Jingleheimer (short for Johann Jakob Jingleheimer Schmitt) and he is a witch in the service of his patron, the Snow Queen of the Winter Court. Ordinarily he looks like this:

But right now he is wearing the Kramphelm stolen from the Krampenpanzer armour, and so looks more like this:

His Diminuitive little Sprite familiar who serves as liason with the Court is named Tree-Topper, and she looks like this:

A DC 25 Knowledge (Religion) or (Arcana) check allows our heroes to recognise the purpose of the ritual this strange party are conducting: it is an inverted version of the ritual that Necrodemus Gravehand would have had to perform to create the Phylactery he stored in this crypt. To separate away one thirteenth of his soul and bind it safely as an anchor to his mortal existence, Necrodemus had to forge these scroll-like bone tablets, scour them with Unholy Water to profane them, and inscribe upon them Necril runes describing perfectly the soul to be bound, before sealing them all together in a specially prepared chest which henceforth acts as a sort of sarcophagus for the soul. The elf and his party have now managed to open the chest they stole, and are ritualistically negating each rune one at a time, scrubbing the bone tablets clean with Holy Water in this pot, and smashing each tablet once free of runes. Once they are done, it will be simply a case of burning the chest and remaining bone fragments to finally destroy the Phylactery entirely, free the soul fragment and return it to Necrodemus’s body, making him just a bit more mortal. Because they are not as powerful as Necrodemus was, they are not able to handle the power of the ritual on their own, and so have had to set up this circle to share the magic energies between four of them.

Jingleheimer and Tree-Topper have been at this work for a day or two now, and wouldn’t you know our heroes have stumbled in just as they are finishing up negating the last of the runes on the sole remaining unsmashed bone tablet. Our heroes will have to act fast if they want to prevent the ritual, either out of loyalty to their Dreadlord Monarch or out of a desire to not look complicit when he inevitably goes looking for people to blame for the loss of his Phylactery.

Jingleheimer and party expect to be able to hold the ritual on pause while they fend off any attacking goblins, though, so only if the encounter starts to go south for them will they prioritise completing the ritual over fighting our heroes. Once they do, it will require a full-round action (that provokes an attack of opportunity) to scrub clean the last bone tablet in the pot before they can try breaking it. The bone tablet has a hardness of 8 and 10 hit points, and takes only half damage from piercing or slashing. Once the last bone tablet is smashed, they would have to carry the remains of the Phylactery to one of the ovens on the east side of the room and throw it in, whereupon it would immediately take 1d6 points of fire damage (not halved as would be usual for energy damage to objects), and another 1d6 points every round. Once the remains of the Phylactery have taken 10 points of fire damage, the Phylactery is destroyed forever.

Jingleheimer’s party has a mission to complete here and are unlikely to take kindly to interruptions, so their starting attitude is openly Hostile towards our heroes and as such any diplomatic solution to the issue is unlikely. If combat begins, as it almost inevitable will, Jingleheimer himself will prefer to hang back and cast spells from afar while commanding his golems to engage the enemy in melee. However, he will move into melee range to make touch attacks once he’s out of powerful long-range spells. Tree-Topper will flit into melee to attack with her teeny little frost sword, but if her hit points get dropped to single-digits she will switch to keeping her distance too wherever possible. Jingleheimer’s control over the golems is dependent on his Staff of the Snow Queen, so they will continue to obey his orders mindlessly unless he loses the staff or is knocked out. If he is knocked out, Tree-Topper will fly to the staff to try to maintain control over the golems. If one of our heroes gets it, of course, they may be able to turn the golems against their creators, as is traditional for constructs. If Jingleheimer and Tree-Topper are able to destroy the Phylactery, they will immediately try to escape the crypt via Ice Crystal Teleport from Tree-Topper’s sword, leaving the golems behind to finish off our heroes. If they are prevented from teleporting, and our heroes seem to be more than a match for them, they will surrender once their mission is complete. They may surrender anyway if it becomes clear they have lost and will not be able to complete their mission.

If they do end up surrendering, it may be possible for our heroes to get their story from them:

Jingleheimer is the grandson of Klaus Gravehand, Necrodemus’s son and heir whom Jingleheimer claims was sacrificed by Necrodemus in his pursuit of ultimate power. Jingleheimer claims that his mother, Nikola, fled the family as a young girl and, after wandering lost and alone for some time, was saved by the benevolent Yuletide Celestial spirits known as the Kristingles, who among other things specialise in helping and healing lost children and leading them to warm and fulfilling homes, who led her to the Court of the Yulefather, a benevolent offshoot of the Winter Court who abandoned their former Snow Queen and allied themselves with the Celestials for protection against Necrodemus Gravehand’s onslaught.

The Court of the Yulefather now holds territory far, far up north, towards the very top of the world, and the Arctic elves who inhabit their land serve the Yulefather and the Kristingles by maintaining a safe home for whatever lost children may find their way there, and by producing toys and gifts which the Yulefather himself distributes to good children throughout the civilised lands where the Court has freedom to travel. Of course, the Court of the Yulefather has no influence in the Dread Badlands or anywhere else in Necrodemus’s iron clutches, so far as Jingleheimer knows (and Kringle’s Kirstingle-possessed gun isn’t saying anything on the matter right now).

When the Snow Queen was pushed out of her own lands and unable to find sanctuary anywhere else due to her fearsome reputation, it was eventually to the Court of the Yulefather – her own traitorous former underlings – that she begrudgingly fled for asylum, and has been hiding out there ever since, much depowered. However, she was not so depowered that she could not spot the local elf boy who was Necrodemus’s own descendent working in the Yulefather’s workshops, or make contact with him in secret, and eventually the Snow Queen and Jingleheimer forged a pact based around their common enemy: with her power and his bloodline, the Snow Queen knew that they would be able to meet the necessary requirements to perform the rituals needed to unmake the Dreadlord Monarch’s Phylacteries, which would be the key to depowering and defeating him at last. The one missing element was that the rituals would require that they be carried out by an undead creature – but there are ways of fooling magic into believing you are undead, and one such was is the legendary Kramphelm that Necrodemus himself created, said to be held within the very same crypt as one of those Phylacteries – a crypt which just so happened to be the nearest one to their arctic home, and to be located on the Snow Queen’s own former home turf into which she was able to send spies and divinations without detection to prepare a plan of attack.

Equipped by the Snow Queen with powerful ice magic, a Sprite familiar and a series of magical artefacts, Jingleheimer made his way to the crypt in secret, sealing its doors behind himself as he made his way through with sigils that no undead could dispel, and which even a living creature could only dispel one at a time in order, slowing down any attempt by Necrodemus’s agents to follow him. He created ice golems to help him complete his mission, stole the Phylactery and the Kramphelm, placed a rune of the Snow Queen’s design on the restrained Krampus in the hopes of freeing it from Necrodemus’s control to act as the perfect distraction, and came close to making it out of the crypt entirely with the Phylactery before failing at the last hurdle due to the mad ghost caretaker that haunts the rest of the Keep and prevented Jingleheimer from accessing the Crypt’s back door. Unfortunately the Phylactery has a permanent Dimensional Anchor effect installed for protection by Necrodemus which Jingleheimer is not powerful enough to dispel, so without being able to leave the crypt on foot they would not be able to take the Phylactery with them. They therefore switched to Plan B: Tree-Topper took the Staff of the Snow Queen and flew on ahead stealthily, sealing up the remaining doors with the Staff to prevent anyone from coming in via the secret back way and attacking them, then used an Ice Crystal Teleport from her sword to return to the temporary camp they had set up within the Keep’s kitchens, returning the Staff back to Jingleheimer so that, with the aid of the golems, they could conduct the necessary ritual to destroy the Phylactery right here, before leaving the crypt.

And they would have gotten away with it too, etc, etc…

Necrodemus and Tree-Topper have a few different magical items between them, including three that I homebrewed for this adventure:

The Staff of the Snow Queen is a unique variant Staff of Frost with the following extra abilities:

  • Allows the wielder to cast Dominate Monster at will, but only on creatures with the ‘cold’ subtype.
  • Will shrink and grow as required to suit a wielder of any size from Diminuitive to Large.
  • Create Advent Door: If the Snow Queen is the wielder’s patron or deity, the wielder can, at will, touch a door, lock or portal to seal it shut with an icy sigil that functions as Arcane Lock until touched by a living creature, which dispels it. These sigils can only be dispelled in the same order they were created.
  • Gift of Life: If the Snow Queen is the wielder’s patron or deity, the wielder can, once per year, create a Sylvan rune that will cast Breath of Life each round on any creature in contact with it. The rune lasts for 25 days or until destroyed or dispelled.

Frostneedle is Tree-Topper’s diminuitive +1 frost short sword which shares her Luminosity ability. It can be used to cast Ice Crystal Teleport on the wielder once per day. If the wielder is a familiar in arm’s reach of her master, she can instead cast the spell on both of them at once.

The Kramphelm is an iron helm shaped in imitation of the Krampus’s head, created by Necrodemus Gravehand. It grants the wearer the Frightful Presence ability, and also the ability to choose to be treated as either alive or undead for the purposes of any given magical effect. Once per day it can be used to cast Nightmare. It has a CL of 20 and a strong aura of necromancy and illusion.

And finally, here’s Jingleheimer’s stats:

Johann Jakob Jingleheimer Schmitt

XP 1,600
Male elf witch (winter witch) 6
CN Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +2; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Low-Light Vision, Perception +5 Aura Frightful Presence (DC 13)


AC 14 (18 with mage armour), touch 12, flat-footed 12 (16 with mage armour) (+1 Dex, +2 Natural, [+4 Armour with mage armour])
hp 36 (6d6+12)
Fort +4 (+8 vs fatigue, exhaustion, or ill effects from running, starvation, thirst, hot or cold environments), Ref +4, Will +6
Resist cold 5 electricity 5


Speed 30 ft.
Melee toymaker’s hammer +0 (1d4-1, double damage to objects) or Rod of Ice +2 touch (1d4 cold) or Icicle Dagger +3 (1d4+[1d6+1] cold)
Ranged  Frostbite Sling +6 (1d4+1d6 cold) or Icicle Dagger +6 (1d4+[1d6+1] cold)
Special Attacks hexes (frozen carress [+1d4 cold on touch spells])
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +6)

Constantendure elements (cold temperatures only)

Witch Spells Prepared (CL 6th; concentration +9 [+14 to cast defensively])

3rdice spears (DC 19), ice storm, sleet storm (DC 19)
2ndfrostfall (DC 18), ice slick (DC 18), twilight haze (DC 15), unshakable chill (DC 18)
1stendothermic touch (DC 14), frostbiteicicle dagger, mage armour (DC 14)
0 (at will)ray of frostread magic, stabilise (DC 13), touch of fatigue (DC 13)

Patron Winter


Str 8, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +2; CMB +2; CMD 14
Feats Alertness, Elemental Focus (Cold), Greater Elemental Focus (Cold), Improved Familiar
Skills Acrobatics +7, Craft (clockwork, sculptures, wood) +7, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +5, Knowledge (nature, planes) +7, Knowledge (Religion) +8, Perception +5, Sense Motive +3, Spellcraft +11 (+16 to cast defensively or identify magical auras and items), Stealth +9, Use Magic Device +9 Racial Modifiers +2 Perception
Languages Common, Elven, Gnomish, Gob, Sylvan
SQ arctic elf, cold flesh, hexes (frostfoot, frozen caress, iceplant), ice magic, witch’s familiar (see Tree-Topper below)


Arctic Elf (Ex)

These elves were born and raised in the frozen lands of the far north or south, and have dealt with freezing deserts, nights that last for weeks, and the horrors that roam the cold terrain. These elves have the darkvision (60ft), desert runner (+4 to Fort and Con vs fatigue, exhaustion, and ill effects from running, starvation, thirst, hot or cold environments), and elemental resistance (electricity resistance 5) alternate racial traits.

Cold Flesh (Ex)

A winter witch gains endure elements as a constant, spell-like ability, but only against cold temperatures. At 4th level, he gains cold resistance 5, making him comfortable in near-freezing temperatures. This replaces the witch’s 4th-level hex.

Frostfoot Hex (Su)

This ability works like the spider climb spell, but the surfaces the witch climbs must be icy. The witch can move across icy surfaces without penalty and does not need to make Acrobatics checks to run or charge on ice. She can move across regular snow without penalty, and heavy snow costs her only 2 squares of movement instead of 4.

Frozen Caress Hex (Su)

Whenever the winter witch casts a touch spell, she can infuse the magic with cold as a swift action. This grants the spell the cold descriptor, and adds 1d4 points of cold damage to the spell’s effect. If the touch spell allows a saving throw, a successful save negates this additional cold damage.

Ice Magic

When a winter witch casts a spell with the cold descriptor, the save DC of the spell increases by 1. A winter witch cannot learn or cast spells with the fire descriptor.

Iceplant Hex (Su)

This hex grants the witch and her familiar a +2 natural armour bonus and the constant effect of Endure Elements

Treasure Boots of Elvenkind, Cloak of Elvenkind, Frostbite Sling (10 bullets), Goggles of Elvenkind, Gloves of Elvenkind, Kramphelm, Rod of Ice, Staff of the Snow Queen, toymaker’s hammer, Voidfrost Robe


Sprite familiar of Jingleheimer
CN Diminutive fey
Init +4; Senses detect evildetect goodlow-light visionPerception +5


AC 21, touch 18, flat-footed 17 (+4 Dex, +4 size, +3 Natural)
hp 18
Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +6
DR 2/cold iron


Speed 15 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Melee +1 frost shortsword +12 (1d2+1 +1d6 cold/19-20)
Space 1 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th; concentration +5)

Constantdetect evildetect good
At willdancing lightsdaze (DC 10)
1/daycolor spray (DC 11)


Str 10, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 13
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +8 (+0 when jumping), Climb +4, Craft (Clockwork, Sculptures, Wood) +3, Disable Device +5, Escape Artist +12, Fly +22, Knowledge (Arcana) +4, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +1, Knowledge (Nature) +3, Knowledge (Planes) +0, Knowledge (Religion) +4, Perception +5, Sleight of Hand +8, Spellcraft +4, Stealth +21, Use Magic Device +9
Languages Common, Sylvan
SQ luminous


Luminous (Su)

A sprite naturally sheds light equal to that provided by a torch. A sprite can control the color and intensity of the light as a swift action, reducing it to the dimness of a candle or even extinguishing its luminosity entirely if it wishes.

Treasure Frostneedle (+1 frost short sword)

Of course, most important to our heroes is that this room contains the Kramphelm, a wearable hat. And, if need be, the pot Jingleheimer was using for the ritual can also be worn as a hat if they still need another one.

Cryptmas Time Door 20: The Barracks

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

Beyond the sturdy door in the back wall of the Throne Tomb cavern is the Barracks where the Yeti guards slept back when they were alive.

Yeti being creatures of fairly simple needs, there isn’t a lot to these barracks. The temperature in here is kept below freezing, as is most comfortable for Yeti, which makes it too cold to rest in for our heroes – initially. A DC 20 Perception will pick up on the presence of magic runes carved at various points in the walls that maintain the temperature via a magic effect akin to Control Weather. There are four walled-off private areas each with a Yeti-sized bed and a storage chest full of Yeti-sized clothes, armour, weapons, rations and personal items like board games and books in Jotnar or Aklo.

The door out of here is labelled ‘The Keep’ and is sealed with a Sylvan sigil incorporating the rune for 21. It is made of chilled metal, and as such will deal 1d6 cold damage per round to anyone in contact with it (not a problem for Yeti, who are immune to cold damage). The lock on the door is of particularly good quality and is also stiff from cold, so it will take a DC 40 Disable Device check to open it.

Under one of the beds is hiding a Young Yeti trainee Gunslinger (level 1). Marie is the Yeti equivalent of a 14-year-old girl, the daughter of the two Yeti whose Frostfallen reanimated corpses our heroes encountered a couple of rooms ago.

She really doesn’t want to fight, and is on the whole a bit of a coward. She was training as a gunslinger specifically so that she could fulfil her guard duties without having to get up close and personal with any intruders.

Now she’s the only survivor of the elf ice witch’s rampage through the Throne Tomb, having survived only by running and hiding while her parents were cut down. Understandably, she is a little traumatised. Her starting attitude is Unfriendly, and if spooked she will fire on anyone who seems they might be a threat. If approached with care, however, she will be more than willing to help anyone who offers to go after the elf and avenge her parents on her behalf, so she doesn’t have to do it herself.

To this end, once convinced, she will offer our heroes the handful of useful items she has on her: the key to the Keep, two flasks of Bottled Yeti Fur (her own shed fur from her last growing season), and ten firearm bullets.

The Bottled Yeti Fur will allow our heroes to rest in this room, and to safely touch the door long enough to unlock it and venture forth.

If it comes up, Marie may mention that she knows the elf came through here while she was hiding, along with his golem and fairy companion. The elf was wearing the stolen helm of the Krampenpanzer armour from the armoury downstairs, and carrying the stolen Phylactery. That was hours ago, or maybe days – she’s been hiding under this bed for a long time, too scared to venture out.

Full stats for Marie below:

Marie (Young Yeti Gunslinger 1) CR 3

XP 800
N Medium monstrous humanoid (cold)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scentPerception +14


AC 21, touch 14, flat-footed 17 (+2 armour, +4 Dex, +5 natural)
hp 36 (7d10-7)
Fort +5, Ref +11, Will +8
Immune cold
Weaknesses vulnerability to fire


Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +9 (1d6+2 plus 1d6 cold)
Ranged battered musket +11/+6 (1d12/x4 on crit)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks frightful gaze, rend (2 claws, 1d6+3 plus 1d6 cold)


Str 15, Dex 18, Con 9, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 12
Base Atk +7; CMB +9; CMD 23
Feats Alertness, CleaveGreat FortitudeGunsmithing, Power Attack
Skills Climb +19, Craft (Alchemy, Weapons) +5, Escape Artist +7, Intimidate +10, Perception +14, Sense Motive +8, Stealth +17 (+25 in snow), Survival +9; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth (+12 in snow)
Languages Aklo, Jotnar

Special Qualities Grit Pool (3)


Cold (Su)

A yeti’s body generates intense cold, dealing 1d6 points of cold damage to any creature that contacts it with a natural attack or unarmed strike, or whenever it hits a foe with its claws or rend attack.

Deadeye (Ex)

At 1st level, the gunslinger can resolve an attack against touch AC instead of normal AC when firing beyond her firearm’s first range increment. Performing this deed costs 1 grit point per range increment beyond the first. The gunslinger still takes the -2 penalty on attack rolls for each range increment beyond the first when she performs this deed.

Frightful Gaze (Su)

Creatures within 30 feet that meet a yeti’s gaze must succeed on a DC 13 Will save or stand paralyzed in fear for 1 round. This is a mind-affecting fear paralysis effect. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the frightful gaze of that yeti for 1 day. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Gunslinger’s Dodge (Ex)

At 1st level, the gunslinger gains an uncanny knack for getting out of the way of ranged attacks. When a ranged attack is made against the gunslinger, she can spend 1 grit point to move 5 feet as an immediate action; doing so grants the gunslinger a +2 bonus to AC against the triggering attack. This movement is not a 5-foot step, and provokes attacks of opportunity. Alternatively, the gunslinger can drop prone to gain a +4 bonus to AC against the triggering attack. The gunslinger can only perform this deed while wearing medium or light armor, and while carrying no more than a light load.

Quick Clear (Ex)

At 1st level, as a standard action, the gunslinger can remove the broken condition from a single firearm she is currently wielding, as long as that condition was gained by a firearm misfire. The gunslinger must have at least 1 grit point to perform this deed. Alternatively, if the gunslinger spends 1 grit point to perform this deed, she can perform quick clear as a move-equivalent action instead of a standard action.

Cryptmas Time Door 19: The Tomb of the Krampus

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

When I first decided to make an Advent calendar Pathfinder dungeon, one of my very first thoughts was “Ok, so the climactic boss fight has to be the Krampus, right?”

The Krampus is the Christmastime boss monster. It’s not your only option (ordinarily I’m a Pere Fouettard fan first and foremost) but it’s the classic. It’s the one you’ve kind of got to do if you’re only going to do one.

It’s also already a Pathfinder monster, so that’s convenient.

Only trouble is, the Pathfinder Krampus as written is CR21, with an AC of 37 and a Base Attack Bonus of +24, basically an unwinnable fight for any character whose class level is anywhere below the high teens at least, and I do not have it in me to run a campaign balanced for Level 20 characters.

My janky solution for now is to just find a bunch of ways of evening the playing field a little so our lower-level goblin scamps can fight this bad boy without just immediately dying.

Part of that lies in how, if they’ve been smart in how they acquire and conserve their resources, they will at this point have a couple of different ways of increasing their own AC, attack bonuses and damage output, plus a couple of allies on call. Chestnut the Cinderghost is potentially valuable in that regard, as none of the various tricks the Krampus keeps up the sleeves it doesn’t have are ones that work great against incorporeal enemies. Meanwhile, if our heroes call on Johonael the Choral Angel for help, the importance of potentially having a chance to take the Krampus away from Necrodemus will be enough to convince the other five surviving members of their Choir to come with them, allowing them to use their Harmonise ability to cast Greater Heroism, which gives a significant boost to our heroes’ ability both to dodge the Krampus’s attacks and to hit with their own, even before you factor in the Protective Aura that Angels have.

Additionally, this particular Krampus has been firmly chained in place. It starts the combat entangled and pinned, upgrading to entangled and grappled when it gets its first hand free, losing the entangled when it frees its legs and only losing the grappled once all four limbs, both horns and the neck are unchained. The chains are weak, but the Krampus still has to take time to break them, either with a DC 26 Strength check as a full round action or, once its hands are free, by attacking the remaining chains. That ought to buy our heroes a couple of rounds to prepare and get some early damage in.

But also, Necrodemus would never be content to leave his imprisoned living weapon restrained purely by physical bonds, so the Krampus is also suffering from a whole bunch of magical curses, per Greater Bestow Curse: It has a -12 penalty to every one of its ability scores, and an additional -8 penalty on attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks. A series of nasty white scar-tissue runes branded into its back indicate this to our heroes if they manage a DC 19 Spellcraft check.

It’s also undead, allowing it to be controlled by necromancy – and, as a side-effect, making its Hit Dice d8s instead of the d10 it usually gets as a living magical beast, and using its slightly worse Charisma score to calculate bonus hit points instead of its even higher Constitution.

It has been, in short, extremely nerfed by everyone’s favourite Lichlord. Which is very good for our heroes, because it’s still a whole lot more powerful than they are with all of that – Necrodemus’s meddling has still left it with a bunch of Spell Resistance, Natural Armour, Fast Healing and some extremely entertaining special abilities.

Finally, there’s what our enigmatic elf friend has done to it. The Krampus has had an icy blue Sylvan magic sigil with an overwhelming aura of Conjuration (Healing) branded onto its chest while the elf and his companions had it subdued. Like the similar Arcane Lock sigils our heroes have seen before, this is an enhanced version of an existing spell which the Snow Queen has empowered with the magic of the Winter Court for this specific purpose. See, the most important thing to the Snow Queen and her minions was that Necrodemus lose his phylactery, but they had plans for the Krampus too. The Snow Queen made the Krampus, forged it from the nightmares of her subjects and the powers of her court. She knows just what kind of vivacious fairy magic surges around in that big wintery heart of the Krampus’s. She knows that, while Necrodemus may have been powerful and clever enough to bind the Krampus as an undead, the near-unstoppable lifeforce of this almost-immortal primal fey spirit wouldn’t be so easy to snuff out, and it would only take a little push from her to restore it to its full living self, free of necromantic influence, and ready to be a huge thorn in Gravehand’s side once more.

The sigil the Snow Queen gifted her trusted elf witch with to brand on the Krampus can be identified with a succesful DC 20 Spellcraft check, and is essentially a sort of trap rune which casts Breath of Life at maximum level on anyone in contact with it at the end of their turn – which, since it’s currently tattood on the Krampus’s chest, is pretty much just the Krampus, every round. Since the Krampus is undead, this deals the maximum 25 points of damage to it at the end of its turn each round, or half damage if it succeeds on the DC20 Will save. Once the undead Krampus is reduced to zero hitpoints, the sigil remains, and on its next turn the sigil goes off again, bringing it back to life, no longer undead, at 25 hit points.

Keeping the Krampus dead will require dispelling the Breath of Life sigil (Klaus the Feykiller gets to apply its +4 enhancement bonus on the Caster Level check to hit this with Dispel Magic if someone succesfully stabs the Krampus with it, since counteracting the magic of the Winter Court is literally what it exists for), or putting the Krampus into a situation where it’s taking more than 25 damage each round constantly (such as, for example, pushing it off the platform into the lava), or just physically removing the sigil from the Krampus (such as by cutting the skin off its chest while it’s temporarily dead, which can be done as a full-round action using any slashing weapon that is able to bypass the Krampus’s Damage Reduction). Or getting creative and, like, blocking its windpipe so that it immediately suffocates as soon as it gets resurrected as a living breathing thing again. You know. Something like that.

Here’s the layout of this platform:

The Krampus lies, feigning death, in the centre of the platform. Chains from its limbs, horns and neck disappear down holes in the rock floor. It’s been lying low like this for a little while now, while it works its magic to make itself a new sack for imprisoning the naughty in. And wouldn’t you know, it just recently finished.

Our heroes enter from the drawbridge at the south end onto the roughly-circular stone pillar projecting out of the lava-floored chasm. As soon as they approach, the Krampus – which can still use its spell-like abilities even while pinned – will cast Weird on them, not realising that one of our heroes is a Paladin with an Aura of Courage.

At the far end of the platform is an old rope bridge, large enough for Yeti to use, leading to the far end of the cavern, where a functional metal door stands with a Sylvan sealing sigil on it, incorporating the rune for 20.

In front of the Krampus is Necrodemus’s throne – one of them, anyway; the one he kept in this particular crypt. The throne is entirely made of skeletal arms magically fused together, like someone looked at the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones and decided its only problem was not being morbid enough. The skeleton hands fanned out at the top have gems in the palms for an extra decorative touch. The floorspace immediately in front of the throne is flanked by a couple of short ominous pillars with ever-burning eldritch torchflames on the top and manacled chains attached such that a prisoner brought before the throne could be strung up between them.

Some jagged obsidian protrusions from the rock surface of the platform on the three other sides form walls that are just large enough to offer partial cover from Krampus’s attacks.

Once it becomes clear that our heroes are not, in fact, frightened to death by its nightmare powers, the Krampus will try to buy itself some time by using Animate Objects on the throne (animated as a medium Animated Object with Grab and an Additional Slam), the torchpillars (animated as small Animated Objects with Grab, Reach and the Slower construction flaw) and the rope bridge (as a Gargantuan Animated Object with Improved Attack and Resistance to Acid, Cold, Electricity and Fire, but which is held firmly in place by its own moorings and can only actually act by bucking wildly to throw anyone who sets foot on it over the edge into the lava, as a Bull Rush). Due to the whimsical Winter Court nature of Krampus’s powers, this also makes the affected objects look more generically festive – the rope of the bridge becomes tinsel, the torchpillars become candle-tipped and candy-cane striped, and the skeletal arms forming the throne become the wooden and clockwork arms of nutcrackers. The throne and torchpillars will do their best to grapple our heroes and hold them back while Krampus works to free itself from its chains before going to town on our heroes, generally prioritising putting them in its bag because, I mean, that’s what the bag’s for.

A creature succesfully pinned by the throne is held down in the seat of it by its many arms, allowing it to still move (by scuttling on its many other creepy hands, of course). While in this position, any damage dealt to the creature or the throne is halved between them. However, a creature in this position – whether by being pinned or by sitting in the throne willingly – also gains the ability to use the necromancy powers which Necrodemus Gravehand built into his throne. While the throne is under the Krampus’s control, a creature sitting in it must win an opposed Use Magic Device check against the Krampus to make use of any of its powers. If the throne is no longer under Krampus’s control, either due to the spell no longer being active or the Animated Object being slain, the check required is a flat DC 25. A creature under the effects of Undead Anatomy or similar get a +5 bonus on this check. The throne can be used in this way to cast any of the spells (at a Caster Level of 20) that Necrodemus imbued it with – mostly ones he couldn’t ordinarily cast on his own without help due to class restrictions, or which were just a bother to prepare every day – some of which are useful in this kind of scenario and some less so. The full list is as follows:

Once no longer animated, the throne will remain rooted to the floor, its skeletal claws refusing to let go of the rock. Any attempt by our heroes to forcibly take the cool magic chair out of this room will result in it breaking.

The sigil on the door at the far end of the rope bridge melts to frost when touched as before, and the door requires only a DC 20 Disable Device to unlock.

For convenience, here are the full stats of The Undead Krampus below, incorporating the effects of all of those curses Necrodemus put on it (although not, it must be noted, incorporating the effects of being also chained down):

The Undead Krampus

NE Large undead
Init +7; Senses scentsee in darknesssee invisibility, storm sight; Perception +19
Aura frightful presence (120 ft., DC 26)


AC 31, touch 13, flat-footed 28 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +18 natural, –1 size)
hp 192 (24d8+96); fast healing 15
Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +6
Defensive Abilities limited immortality; DR 15/epic and good; Immune undead traits, ability damageability drain, aging, cold, death effects, diseaseenergy drain, fear effects, paralysisSR 32


Speed 60 ft., air walk
Melee +3 spiked chain +25/+20/+15/+10 (2d6+10/19–20 plus grab), claw +17 (1d10+3 plus grab), gore +17 (2d8+3) or 2 claws +22 (1d10+7), gore +36 (2d8+7)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (20 ft. with chain)
Special Attacks capture, punish the naughty, regression
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +24)

Constantair walksee invisibilitytongues
At willbestow curse (DC 18), control weatherdimension doordiscern locationice stormsleet storm
3/dayanimate objectsbaleful polymorph (DC 19), phantasmal killer (DC 18)
1/daypolymorph any object (DC 22), sympathy (DC 22), weird (DC 23), wish (to other creatures only)


Str 24, Dex 16, Con -, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 18
Base Atk +16; CMB +24 (+28 drag or grapple); CMD 38 (40 vs. drag)
Feats Combat ExpertiseCombat ReflexesDodgeGreater DragGreater Vital StrikeImproved Critical (chain), Improved DragImproved InitiativeImproved Vital StrikeMobilityPower AttackVital Strike
Skills Acrobatics +19, Intimidate +23, Knowledge (geography, nobility) +3, Knowledge (local) +15, Perception +19, Sense Motive +16, Stealth +18, Survival +19, Use Magic Device +20
Languages Common; tongues
SQ mystical chains, snowstep


Capture (Su)

If Krampus begins its turn grappling a Medium or smaller creature, it can stuff the target into its bag as a swift action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity. A creature stuffed into this bag is subjected to Krampus’s regression ability (see below). A creature in the bag can try to cut its way free with any light slashing weapon. The bag has AC 25, hardness 20, and 30 hit points. If a creature cuts its way out of the bag, Krampus can repair the bag as a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. Until then, any creature stuffed into the bag is still subjected to the regression ability but can escape with a move action that provokes an attack of opportunity from Krampus. The bag has other special qualities while in Krampus’s possession. The weight of creatures in the bag doesn’t count against Krampus’s carrying capacity. Up to four Small creatures or two Medium creatures can fit in the bag at a time.

If used by any creature other than Krampus, the container functions as a mundane sack. If Krampus’s bag is lost or destroyed, it can create a new bag with 1 hour of work.

Limited Immortality (Su)

Though Krampus still needs to eat, drink, and sleep, it doesn’t age and can’t die of old age.

If Krampus is permanently killed, a new Krampus forms elsewhere in the world after a year’s time—this new Krampus retains the memories of the previous Krampus and likely holds a grudge against the person who killed it the year before. If a method to disrupt this cycle exists, it has yet to be discovered by mortals.

Mystical Chains (Su)

Krampus’s chains function as a +3 spiked chain and also count as an evil weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. These chains become non-magical if Krampus does not carry or wield them, and if a chain is disarmed or destroyed, Krampus can create a new set of chains as a standard action. The chains react almost as a living extension of Krampus’s will and have the grab ability.

Punish the Naughty (Su)

As a swift action, Krampus can designate a single target it can see as being “naughty.” The target must be a child, a creature with the young template, or a victim of Krampus’s regression ability. Against that target, Krampus gains a +5 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls and PerceptionSense Motive, and Survival checks. These bonuses remain in effect until the target is dead or Krampus designates another target as naughty.

Regression (Su)

Each round a creature begins its turn stuffed into Krampus’s bag, it must succeed at a DC 26 Fortitude saving throw or be regressed back to its childhood. The creature is affected in size as if via reduce person, but none of the target’s gear changes size. This effect persists for 24 hours, after which the target regains its original size. A creature currently under the effects of regression cannot be further affected by this ability. This is a curse effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Snowstep (Su)

Krampus is constantly under the effects of a pass without trace spell, but only in snowy environments.

Storm Sight (Ex)

Krampus can see perfectly well in stormy conditions, including in blizzards; it does not take any penalties on Perception checks while in snow.

Cryptmas Time Door 18: The Royal Guardpost

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

The room that is Definitely The Boss Room. I forgot to label the map again but I think you can get the gist.

A 30-foot row of magically floating obsidian blocks leads to the Guardpost platform. These are narrow, smooth and slippery enough that they require a DC 12 Acrobatics check to cross at half speed, or a DC 17 to cross at full speed. If one of our heroes misses the check by 4 or less, they can attempt a DC 20 Reflex save to grab hold of the edge, and either way they can try a DC 35 Climb check to grab the edge of the block further down. If one of them misses all three, someone better have a very good idea very quickly, because it’s a long way down and the fall ends in lava.

The Guardpost platform itself is not much better, as it is made of smooth metal and the ice fight that went down on it left a coating of frost. Obviously the heat rising from the distant lava below would usually melt that, but it’s counteracted by the presence of the Yeti whose bodies radiate cold for eldritch reasons. Anyone moving on this surface, friend or foe, must make a DC 10 Acrobatics check or else move at half speed. On a failure, the creature falls prone and slides 1d4-1 squares forwards, winding up hanging from their fingertips if this takes them over the edge.

At the corners of the guardpost are four steel chains from which the platform is suspended. A DC 20 Knowledge (Engineering) will indicate that these chains are rendered brittle and damaged from the ice, and as such have only a hardness of 5 and 5 hit points. Breaking one of them will likely send everyone sliding off the platform as it lurches, so, y’know, let’s hope no-one does that.

At the back of the guardpost is a huge doorway filled by a 30-foot drawbridge in the vertical closed position, sealed in place by an icy-blue sigil with the Sylvan rune for 19. Once the sigil has been melted by the touch of a living creature, it will take a DC 22 Strength check as a full-round action to turn the winch that lowers the door. The DC is lowered to 15 if there’s one person on each side working together, however.

On either side of the platform, equally huge Yeti-sized winches control the slack of the chains leading to the central dais where the big monster is chained to the floor. The actual winch apparatus is about ten feet high, and balanced by a lower platform that each one ‘rests’ on about ten feet down. If one of our heroes drops down to one of these it’s a DC 30 Climb check to get back up to the main platform, so hopefully they still have that grappling hook from earlier.

The drawbridge is guarded by two Frostfallen Yeti – the result of the previously-living Yeti guards here being murdered with icicles by the mysterious ice-witch elf and co on their way through. The pale blue Yeti blood matted through the fur around their pierced throats compliments the eldritch icy blue light that glows within them since they arose as Frostfallen. They look like this:

To give these guys a little extra kick of difficulty, I’m also giving them each an extra +2 armour bonus to AC from those fancy bone breastplate uniforms. Bone is fragile, however, so that armour will shatter and become useless if struck by a critical hit.

A decently tough fight, but it’s probably fine. Our heroes have all this cool gear, and there’s simply no way there’s going to be another even harder boss fight right after this one, that’s crazy talk.

Our heroes may initially be a little preoccupied by Yeti to notice, but from here it’s also possible to see that the walls of the cavern these rooms are suspended in are actually carved with a dozen or so huge murals that tell a story of two powerful magical monarchs at war – a dark fairy queen clad in icicles and an ostentatious skeletal king of the undead. At first, the queen rules unopposed, her subjects kept in line by her powerful magical enforcers. Children who show signs of worrisome disobedience in the queen’s eyes are kidnapped by a hideous ogre witch, who brought them to the queen herself to be raised ‘properly’ as eternally-young prisoners in the queen’s beautiful but austere palaces, never seen again by their friends or families. The populace, and in particular the children, lived in fear, which the queen seemed to consider appropriate. But then the kingdom was attacked by the skeletal king and his horde of the undead, unaffected by so much of the fairy queen’s life-based magic, with no minds to bamboozle and no souls to enchant, ever replenished by the casualties of war, growing unquenchably with each village razed. The queen sought a solution by turning her powers to ever darker magic, harnessing the one resource she always had in abundance: the fear of her people and their children. She devised a ritual drawing on the great life-giving powers of nature, the raw elemental brutality of winter’s cold, and the nightmares of children, marshalling them together into the form of a huge living weapon: a primal monster of nightmares and cold, capable of laying waste to armies, and so tightly bound to the energies of life that it would always return, inescapable, even from death, relentlessly pursuing the designated target of its nightmarish punishments. Unforunately for the queen, her witch-ogress enforcer had grown weary of being used, of always having to keep her victims alive for the queen’s purposes, and saw in this ruthless, uncaring king of the dead a possible route to greater personal power and freedom to do as she wished. She struck a deal with the king, sold out her court, and led the king straight to the terrible living weapon before it could be unleashed against him. With her knowledge of the ritual magic that created the beast, the king was able to tame it the way he knew best: he made it like him. Bound its soul. Made it undead, and under his command. And with her own most dreadful power thus turned against her, the queen had no choice but to flee, leaving the undead nightmare beast to dwell forever bound in the crypt of the undead king, until he had need of it again.

That’s right – you thought it was Boss Fight Room, but it was me: Story Exposition Room, the whole time!

Cryptmas Time Door 17: The Offering Chamber

Kirsty, if you’re reading this, don’t.

This one’s a short one, mostly just here to set the scene for the next couple.

The grand doors at the end of the Royal Hall open onto a fairly small offering chamber, about 10ft by 15ft. Flickering green torches on either side of the door cast an eerie glow over the room. On the far side of the room, there is no door nor, indeed, apparently any wall – however, attempting to walk forward will reveal the presence of a permanently invisible wall blocking further progress.

Beyond the invisible wall, the floor and sides of the room seem to crumble to nothing, giving way to a huge underground chamber which is very dimly lit from below by the very distant glow of a pool of lava far, far beneath. A huge pillar of stone rises out of the depths of this chasm, ending in a wide circular dais in the centre of the huge chamber. In the centre of this dais is visible the remains of a large creature, something like a black-furred vaguely-humanoid goat-man, pierced by multiple huge clusters of ice crystals, seemingly dead. A long black tongue lolls from its mouth over the floor of the dais. Enormous iron manacles bind its wrists, ankles, neck and horns, and huge iron chains lead from these bindings through holes in the surface of the dais, emerging from holes in the sides of the rock pillar.

In between the central dais and the offering chamber, a large metal platform hangs in the air, seemingly suspended on chains from above, its underside a vast cluster of gears and moving parts. The other ends of the chains binding the dead creature to the dais lead to giant winching mechanisms at the sides of this platform, from which it looks like the chains could be tightened or slackened. A pair of armoured, broad-shouldered Yeti stand guard on the platform. They look to be undead, coated in a layer of frost, with an icy glow in their eyes. A DC 30 Perception check will make out that they were both recently stabbed in the throat by icicles, which have since fused to the frozen bloody wounds due to the natural cold radiation of Yeti. It looks like a frantic battle took place on that platform, with the winches and chains all having been struck by flying shards of ice in the process.

There’s a good thirty feet of empty space between the offering chamber and the guardpost platform, and another thirty feet of empty space to the central dais of the chamber. A drawbridge on the guardpost platform clearly can be lowered to bridge the gap to the central dais, although the telltale light of an icy blue sigil shows where this has been sealed. There is no obvious way to bridge the gap between the offering chamber and the guardpost.

On either side of the offering chamber is a solid-bone statue of Necrodemus Gravehand with a skeletal arm outstretched, palm open, each with a little erythrite spike inset into that palm and similar crystals glittering in the eye sockets. The statue on the right is labelled, in Necril, on the plinth, ‘Blood’. The statue on the left is similarly labelled, ‘Spirit’.

A succesful Perception check against the creature’s Stealth will reveal that one of the shadows flitting across the walls of the offering chamber in the flickering green torchlight is, in fact a Shadow. The Shadow is not hostile, and is a servant of Gravehand bound to this place as the custodian of this offering chamber. It will answer any questions to the best of its ability in Necril if addressed, including explaining the purpose of the chamber and the statues.

If either of our heroes so wish, they can make an offering at either of these statues in return for a boon. This is done by grasping hands with the outstretched skeletal hand of the statue, allowing the spike to pierce their palm. The Blood statue will then siphon some of their blood, causing 6 points of Constitution damage. The Spirit statue will instead siphon some of the energy of their soul, causing 6 points of Charisma damage. In return, the statue will grant them a +6 bonus to any other ability score that will last until all of the ability damage caused by the statue is healed, or will grant a +4 bonus on attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks that will last until all of the ability damage caused by the statue is healed, or will remove any curse currently afflicting them as Remove Curse, or will heal hit-point damage as Cure Serious Wounds.

On the floor of the offering chamber is a panel that was once hidden but is now marked by the icy-blue Sylvan sigil sealing it shut. This sigil has the Sylvan rune for 18. A living creature touching the panel will melt the sigil and allow it to be opened, but the panel remains locked by more mundane methods. Opening this panel, the Shadow will happily explain if prompted, is another boon that the statues will provide in return for an offering. However, unbeknownst to the Shadow, it can also be forced with a DC 35 Disable Device check. Activating the panel causes a small stone pillar to rise from that block of the floor, with an activation rune on the front of it. Touching the rune causes the invisible wall to retract upwards into the ceiling, and a series of smooth Obsidian blocks rise from the depths of the chasm to form a narrow bridge of stepping stones across to the Guardpost.