Family D&D

JH and I have been playing D&D with friends for awhile, and H decided she wanted to try it too. So I decided to pick a premade scenario, and Jen sat down with us and we played through a Christmas adventure!

H has been watching JH and I play Dungeons and Dragons for awhile now, and she asked to borrow one of my old character sheets.  I noticed she was marking it up and making it her own, so I asked her if she'd rather make a completely new character. We used the D&D Beyond creator and now she's got a character called Enna Hazelfrond, an elf bard.

We just finished celebrating Christmas, so I searched for some holiday-themed adventures and found one called Claus for Concern: A Holiday One-Shot for Christmas which, just by the name alone, seemed to have everything I wanted.  Jen and JH volunteered to play, so I started tweaking the adventure (I even bought a DM screen).

I've never run a D&D game before and I felt a bit lost at the start.  Matthew Colville has a helpful series of videos for completely new dungeon masters and I watched a few hours of his tutorials and guides. Customizing the game was definitely the most fun part for me.  Here's some things I changed from the original adventure:

  • Adapted the story introduction by making the players a group of college students at Frostborough Community College who discovered a "Help me" note scrawled on the back of an old "letter to Santa".  This also contained a solution to a later puzzle.
  • The original story has a magical Christmas gift and the players roll for what it contains.  I made a gift box of cardstock, and I put a jumbo-sized D20 inside it for determining the gift.
  • Added a wall safe to Santa's office, with the combination being part of the initial "letter to Santa".  The safe contained a whistle that, when blown, can shatter glass.
  • Changed the square of force fields to a triangle, and took some glass ornaments off our tree to use as the top of force-field pillars during the boss fight, and set them atop cardstock "marble" pillars.

 Our cast of characters was:

  • JH as Dingbat Stanleigh, a 3rd year human sorcerer at Frostborough Community College (and conveniently, Level 2)
  • H as Enna Hazelfrond, an elf bard, and a freshman at FCC
  • Jen as Nalva Tankin, a noisy dwarf cleric and a sophomore.

The game probably lasted 3.5 hours, or to put it another way, about two refills of a bowl of cheese balls and entire can of Pringles.  It's difficult to keep a six year old's attention for that long, and it was kind of exhausting for me too.  Basically a non-stop marathon of storytelling (i.e., lying for hours) stretches the imagination.

The boss encounter was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately no one figured out the combination to the safe, but JH managed to destroy one of the forcefield ornament balls.  Jen's dwarf figured out that the marble pillars were hollow and the team successfully pushed one over and flattened the Christmas witch that was trying to steal Santa's job.

Everyone had fun, but man, it's a lot of effort to run an adventure.  I'd like to do it again, but I think I'd keep the encounters shorter and each session to about 2 hours.  3.5 was pretty long.

This article was updated on January 7, 2024