As seasons change in our world so too do those of the Forgotten Realms, but with the best D&D 5E Christmas one-shots packed into your berry-red bag of holding you can jingle your pary's bells and make light of the short, dark days that marr the festive season.
These holiday D&D adventures are tales of lurking evils who plan to consume all that is merry and/or bright. It's up to your party to save the big day - though the final adventure will land your players on the naughty list, for sure.
Best D&D Christmas one-shots
- How the Lich Stole Christmas
- Christmas in Barovia
- Claus for Concern: A Holiday One-Shot for Christmas
- The Darkest Night: A Christmas Adventure
- Once Upon a Winter's Eve
- Winter’s Splendor
- The Night Before Wintermas
Some of the Christmas D&D one-shots below come as standalone adventures, while others will easily slot into your current campaign as a not-so-cosy Christmas session. Since it's that time of year, though, many include unique gifts for your players that are sure to come in handy though the rest of their campaign.
We've made sure to include Christmas one-shots that cater to different character levels, too, in case your players are just starting out, or you've been tasked with dropping a higher level party into some Krampus-based tomfoolery. Plenty of those below are scalable, as well, so you should be able to adapt each one depending on your player's level.
There's a lot of kidnapping going on over the holidays in the Forgotten Realms, apparently, so this list of D&D Christmas one-shots does come with a bit of a trigger warning. Just make sure you know what your players are comfortable hearing about before springing any child abduction talk on them.
1. How the Lich Stole Christmas
Deliver poetic justice, or become… just ice in the process
4-6 players | Scaleable | 3-4 hours
A rhyming storybook of an adventure, How the Lich Stole Christmas is a campy D&D one-shot with plenty of original puzzles and melodic mischief. The PDF includes different encounters, tactics and mechanics for each tier of play, as well as unique snowman creatures with four different stat blocks, to make scaling for each level a little easier. It's a little dark in places, and in order to save Christmas players must descend into "the cave" to retrieve a host of children kidnapped by the Lich.
Through the session, players are encouraged to join in the festivities by spouting their own rhymes as they go, so any bards in the party will be having the time of their lives. Of course, there are presents, too. How the Lich Stole Christmas includes a new magic item that comes in as a prize at the end. But let's face it, the main attraction is going to be Kobolds wearing Christmas hats.
Buy How the Lich Stole Christmas for $3.95 on DMs Guild.
2. Christmas in Barovia
A "vampire-laden, gothic horror Christmas one-shot" for Curse of Strahd campaigns
6 players | Level 9 | 3-6 hours
Based on a map by C.P. Wilson of Christmasland, this gothic Christmas one-shot for 5E will add a sprinkling of horror to your players' jolly halls, as this year it is they who may be getting decked. It's a trap-filled cacophony of twisted visions and forced merriment, with some dark undertones of child abduction and the looming fear of eternal incarceration. Be sure to check your players’ boundaries before diving into this one.
Players traverse the abundant strangeness that is Christmasland and free Wotan, the All-Father - you'd know him as Santa. The session is encrusted with formidable foes, including an Abominable Yeti in the Ice Maze, a soul-destroying vampire spawn and several Duergar dressed as Christmas elves. It can be as long as you want, and there's even an overview as to how much time to dedicate to each section of the narrative.
An interesting addition is the Soul Money mechanic as Christmasland currency, which each player has stored in an ornament. It's "a piece of the player’s soul reflected as a decrease to their hit points". And should their ornament become depleted, they'll be forever trapped in the horror that is Christmasland.
Find Christmas in Barovia for free on 3 Wise DMs.
3. Claus for Concern: A Holiday One-Shot for Christmas
Take back Santa's workshop from the forces of evil and save Christmas
4-6 players | Levels 1-5 | 3-4 hours
A Mithral Best-Seller on DMs Guild, this Christmas-themed D&D one-shot begins when a "bamboozled Santa" smells trouble in the toy factory. The party is recruited by a band of Santa's elves in order to infiltrate and liberate the workshop, currently occupied by frosty foes, so it can continue to churn out toys for the children of The Forgotten Realms in time for the festivities.
The session is scaleable for parties of different levels, so no need to restrict it to lower levels if you have a more advanced party willing to help Santa out. The description encourages DMs to slip this one-shot into any arctic campaign, though it works great if your party is already involved in an Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign.
Pay what you want (recommended price $2.99) for Claus for Concern on DMs Guild.
4. The Darkest Night: A Christmas Adventure
Save Iceville by breaking the evil enchantment on Kringle, the benevolent gnome
4 players | Level 1 | 2-3 hours
The gnome known as Kringle has been enchanted by an ancient unspeakable evil thanks to the fiend known as Krampus, whose innate magic spreads out around him as a lightless vortex. Defeat him, and save Kringlefest.
A rhyme-riddled intro leads low-level players into a few exciting encounters, and one demon-fuelled finale, to form a short-but-scintillating adventure. Players are called to action by an avatar of a god of light in the form of an old hermit, or a dying gnome, who presents them with a map to Kringle’s workshop of clockwork wonders. The place, now in tatters, is overrun with animated toy soldiers, and surrounded by snow people with deadly claws and ranged snowball attacks.
Once Kringle's mind is free of its dark enchantment, and hope restored to Iceville, the party is showered with gifts as a thank you for saving Christmas - sorry, Kringlefest.
Pay what you want for The Darkest Night (recommended price $1.95) on DriveThruRPG.
5. Once Upon a Winter's Eve
Traverse the ice sheets and mountains to thwart fae of the foulest kind
4-5 players | Levels 5-6 | 4-6 hours
The festivities of Winter's Crest in Pinedale are interrupted by fae shenanigans as a blizzard descends upon the tiny, cosy town. Once Upon a Winter's Eve is another Christmas-themed D&D one-shot that'll work well as an aside to your Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign or as a standalone game.
The PDF comes with a full 18 pages of colour maps, fey creatures and a unique monster known as The Winter Queen. The session is decked out with adrenaline-fuelled encounters, including a battle atop the back of a huge dragon in mid-flight and a precarious-sounding "ballroom fight" on the edge of a mountain.
There are a few Christmassy items to uncover with this one, such as something called the Nutcracker (which we’re afraid to look up the stats for) and the Harmonite Blade, which "increases in power if characters join together in song" - yet another adventure that sounds very much like every bard's dream.
Buy Once Upon a Winter's Eve for $3.95 on DMs Guild.
6. Winter’s Splendor
Merriment gives way to misery in this fiendish midwinter's eve mystery
4-5 players | Levels 1-4 | 2 hours
An official Wizards of the Coast adventure for 5E, this D&D Christmas one-shot is set in the City of Splendors and will see your players ridding the Winter Gala venue - a glorious villa in Sea Ward - of some fiendish party crashers. Visit the holiday market and delve into a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery for the ages - one that will have the party scratching their heads as to who's to blame for sapping all the jollity.
They're left to set things right when the revelry is interrupted by the death of an opera singer, after the young Elzerina inadvertently summons a troupe of devils through her toys. Not creepy at all.
It's a mysterious and tantalising tale of dark secrets and meddlesome demons, including the great archdevil Asmodeus himself. Wizards notes this one is Legacy content, so be aware it may not be up to today's standards in terms of sensitivity; you can always rework those bits and let the mystery unfold in a more palatable way.
Buy Winter's Splendor for $4.99 on DMs Guild.
7. The Night Before Wintermas
Ho Ho Hold my beer, it's time to take Christmas for yourselves
5 players | Level 5 | 3-5 hours
The pie-munching king of Christmas has been having far too much fun over there on his capitalist high-reindeer. This 5E one-shot will see your players wreaking havoc on Santa's workshop to sate their disdain for all things jolly - it's more for the players who lean toward the Neutral Evil segment of the alignment chart. It works best as a standalone session since, as the intro notes, "players may receive opportunities which would entirely derail a longer planned campaign".
Taking place in the Town of Frosthold, this D&D Christmas one-shot gives players the opportunity to be a little naughty by taking the entitled old Nick and his elves down a few pegs, or getting rid of them if need be. The party is hired by the HappyJoy Toy and Tobacco company - which doesn't sound like a front at all - to infiltrate Santa's factory and seize the means of production. That or destroy it and everything in their path, including the big red oaf himself. Who's laughing now, Kringle?
Download The Night Before Wintermas for free on Reddit.