18th Century, Austria, Bavaria, Christian Folklore, Christmas, Christmas Tradition, Devil, Devils, Eighteenth Century, Folklore, Ghastly Affair, gothic game, Gothic Gaming, Gothick, Medieval Folklore, Napoleonic, role-playing game, Romantic Horror, rpg, Scary stories for Christmas, Styria, weird tradition, Yule
The following take on Krampus and Saint Nicholas also incorporates a certain notorious Styrian from one of the classics of Gothic literature. Remember, this is all just for fun, and definitely not meant as a commentary on anybody’s beliefs.
The Devil who punishes wicked children at Christmastime.
Creature Class: Spirit (Devil)
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: The sound of cowbells and crying children, followed by the sudden appearance of an extremely hairy, grotesque man with a long, protruding tongue and large, goat-like horns. He carries a birch switch, has a basket on his back, and and is bound in chains from which several heavy bells are suspended.
Charisma: 7 Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 15
Strength: 18 Dexterity: 15 Constitution: 18
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5 (30 hp)
Attacks: 1 (claws, or grab)
Special Abilities: Diabolical Characteristics
Weaknesses: Diabolical Weaknesses, Distracted by Alcohol and Pretty Women
Assets: Skilled Torturer, Expert Grappler
Afflictions: Encumbered (by chains, heavy bells, and having two different feet)
Preternatural Powers: Cause Fear, Detect Evil, Detect Lies, Dimension Door, Knock, Invisibility, Major Creation (usually used to make birch switches and coal), Walk Through Shadows, Walk Through Walls
Natural Habitat: Wherever children are found at Christmastime (Bavaria, Austria, and adjacent areas). The dark and sulfurous caves of Hell.
In centuries past, Saint Nicholas put magical chains upon a Devil, and bound him to be the punisher of wicked children. Every night of December the 5th since then, the Devil Krampus has been summoned by Saint Nicholas to accompany him as he visits the children of Austria (and the surrounding lands). Good children receive gifts from Saint Nicholas. Wicked children receive the attentions of Krampus instead.
Krampus’ body is covered with shaggy hair, and he sports a large pair of goat horns. An extremely long tongue hangs from his fanged mouth, and his eyes burn like coals. One of his feet is human-like; the other is a cloven hoof. He always carries a switch of birch branches. The steel chains that bind him are attached to his wrists by manacles, and wrap around his body. Hanging from them are the large cowbells that announce his approach. On his back is strapped a basket, from out of which the small hand of a child will occasionally appear, accompanied by pitiful pleading.
Krampus’ punishments vary in severity, depending on his whims, and the extent of the child’s misdeeds. The most mild punishment consists of Krampus taunting the child with a present of coal, while he (or she) must watch other children enjoying the nice gifts given to them by Saint Nicholas. If Krampus is feeling especially mean, the coal will be glowing hot. Next in severity is a thorough birching, administered with the switch that Krampus carries for that purpose. Sometimes Krampus will then present the birch switch to the child or their parents, as a reminder. The very worst children are seized and stuffed into Krampus’ magical basket. Such unfortunates will be carried back to Hell, never to be seen again.
Although Krampus delights in the suffering of the wicked, he is himself thoroughly reprobate. His lust for schnapps and pretty girls is legendary. The moment Saint Nicholas is distracted, Krampus will take the opportunity to break valuable objects and cause general mischief.
Krampus is skilled at grabbing children and throwing them into his basket before they can wriggle free of his clutch. If challenged to a direct fight by an adult, however, Krampus will throw aside his birch switch and attack with his clawed hands. Saint Nicholas will not interfere in any fight involving Krampus, provided the Devil’s opponents are not themselves evil. If Krampus’ physical form is killed, he will disappear along with his chains. His basket will remain, however, dropping and spilling out all the children abducted that night. The fleeing children will then be given a stern warning by Saint Nicholas that they won’t escape punishment next time!
Some whisper that it was because of the wickedness he found in a certain family of Styrian aristocrats that Saint Nicholas first decided to take strict measures to instill virtue in Alpine children. In 1687 Saint Nicholas and Krampus paid another visit to that same aristocratic family, where they encountered a young daughter of the clan named Mircalla. That girl never forgot her humiliation by Krampus, even after her death. Thus, the Vampyre Carmilla Karnstein became Krampus’ eternal adversary, and she will stop at nothing to end his yearly visits to Styria.
Krampus’ Special Abilities
Basket of Imprisonment: The inside of Krampus’ basket is an infinitely large, pitch-black space with a cold stone floor. Krampus can always reach into the basket and pull out any child desired, however. The sound of crying children continually emanates from the Basket, and every so often a small hand or foot will peak out from under the lid.
Diabolical Characteristics: Krampus is immune to all weapons, except those which are made of silver, blessed, or otherwise enchanted. He cannot be harmed by fire, poison, disease, or any Special Ability or Preternatural Effect which target minds or emotions. Krampus can see perfectly regardless of illumination, is immune to blindness or any other debility caused by extremely bright light, retains the ability to distinguish colors in conditions of total darkness, and does not need time to adjust his eyes to changing light. He can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.
Chains of Binding and Warning: The magical chains that Krampus wears allow Saint Nicholas to summon him at will, forces the Devil to obey direct commands from the Saint, and inflict 1d6 point of damage on their wearer if he touches anyone with a Perversity of 6 or lower. Furthermore, the bells attached to the chains are audible even when Krampus is Invisible.
Diabolical Weaknesses: Krampus is burned by holy water as if it was acid, cannot enter holy ground or touch blessed objects, and is subject to the power of Faith. He is Vulnerable to Silver, and will not voluntarily touch it. As a Spirit, he is susceptible to all Preternatural Effects that target spiritual entities. Additionally, the initial appearance of Krampus will cause the entire Nearby Area to momentarily smell like burning sulfur.
Distracted by Alcohol and Pretty Women: If confronted by an offer of strong drink, or a particularly attractive young woman (especially one with an ample bosom), Krampus must make a Charisma Save. If he fails he will immediately break off whatever he is doing to drink the alcohol, or pursue the young woman.
The generous but testy Patron Saint of children, merchants, and mariners.
Signs & Portents: If encountered at Christmastime, a light snow falls, and children become giddy. If at sea, the winds become favorable, and fish are drawn to the nets and hooks of anglers.
Initial Impression: A mature, white-bearded man with a dark complexion, dressed in the white, red and gold vestments of a bishop. A halo of light surrounds his head. He bears a golden crozier in one hand, and with the other holds a sack filled with oranges, gold coins, and small toys. The odor of fine incense emanates from his body.
Charisma: 20 Intelligence: 20 Wisdom: 20
Strength: 20 Dexterity: 20 Constitution: 20
Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 20 (120 Hit Points)
Attacks: 1 (punch in the face)
Special Abilities: Angelic (Saintly) Characteristics | True Resurrection
Weaknesses: Limited Power Over Spirits (Angels only) | Intolerant of Disbelief
Assets: Master of All Crafts | Master Mariner | Brilliant Businessman | Skilled Boxer
Afflictions: Short Temper
Preternatural Powers: All Transmutations, all 0 – 3rd Level Blessings, Divinations, Evocations, Fascinations, and Glamors, but no Maledictions.
Favored Preternatural Powers: Augury, Control Winds, Consecrate Object, Create Food and Water, Cure Serious Wounds, Detect Evil, Enchant Weird Object, Fertility, Fly, Invisibility, Knock, Major Creation (permanent, and can make precious objects), Rain of Fish, Read Minds, Teleport
Usual Surroundings: Wherever children live at Christmastime. Wherever his holy relics are found. Ships at sea. The shops of pious merchants. Poor houses with unmarried daughters.
Saint Nicholas is among the Saints who take a very active interest in events on Earth. On the night of December 5th every year (the eve of his Feast day) he visits homes, distributing small gifts to good children. Centuries ago, however, he became disgusted at the wickedness he found among some children in the German-speaking Alpine regions. He decided to bind a Devil named Krampus into his service, and he charged the diabolical being with the task of punishing misbehaving youngsters. Since that time the two have traveled together to reward the virtuous, and torment the wicked.
Although he is renowned for his generosity, Saint Nicholas’ short temper is just as legendary. When he lived on Earth he was a delegate to the Council of Nicea, where he famously punched the unorthodox theologian Arias in the face. The Saint will become incensed by any heretical or rationalist argument, which can cause his physical incarnation to actually explode with anger!
Although best known as the patron Saint of children, mariners and merchants also pray for Saint Nicholas’ intercession. The Saint can calm storms, and his presence causes the nets of fishermen to become filled. His powers allow him to make almost anything he wants from thin air, including Weird Objects. Unlike human magicians, he can even make objects of precious metal or gemstone through his Preternatural power of Major Creation. He can restock a poor merchant’s entire inventory, and create dowries to keep poor unmarried girls from resorting to prostitution. His mightiest power, however, is his ability to resurrect the dead, without the baleful consequences that often result when profane sorcerers attempt the same miracle.
It is whispered among certain Demon Hunters that it was the twisted spawn of the infamous Karnstein family that first made Saint Nicholas so angry that he decided to employ Krampus. To this day the sole remaining Karnstein, the Vampyre Carmilla, schemes to destroy Saint Nicholas (and his diabolical servant). Of course, Saint Nicholas is immortal (and can repel Carmilla with his Faith), but still she seeks some way to eliminate him from the Earth forever.
Saint Nicholas has a great rivalry with the Yuletide Fairies and Elves of the Winter Court, such as Father Christmas, Père Noël, and La Befana. While Saint Nicholas stands for morality and religious observance, Father Christmas and his ilk promote feasting and general good cheer, without concern for the religious significance. Perhaps some kind of accord is possible, if Saint Nicholas could learn to be more jolly, and the winter elves agreed to help make toys. Otherwise, the dispute regarding the proper celebration of the Holiday may well result in Saint Nicholas punching one (or more) of the other powers in the face.
Saint Nicholas’ Special Abilities
Angelic (Saintly) Characteristics: Saint Nicholas is immune to all mundane weapons, all poisons, all diseases, any effect of an electrical nature, and all Fascination effects. He can see perfectly regardless of illumination, is immune to blindness or any other debility caused by extremely bright light, retains the ability to distinguish colors in conditions of total darkness, and does not need time to adjust his eyes to changing light. Saint Nicholas can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.
True Resurrection: Saint Nicholas can resurrect any dead person to full life, no matter how long they have been deceased, or the condition of their body. The resurrected person suffers no ill effects or increase in Perversity.
Saint Nicholas’ Weaknesses
Intolerant of Disbelief: If for some reason one wished to send Saint Nicholas back to Heaven, the surest way is to beat him in a theological debate over the supremacy of reason over faith. Naturally, since he is a Saint and prodigiously Intelligent to boot, it’s extremely difficult to do so. A debater must first succeed at an Intelligence check, to make a point solid enough that Saint Nicholas takes it seriously. Then, the debater must succeed in 3 successive Intelligence Contests against the Saint, without losing a single one. A debater that fails will be quickly, and repeatedly, punched in the face by Saint Nicholas. If the Saint is defeated, however, his face will turn red and emit steam, just before his physical body explodes. Naturally, once Saint Nicholas is able to return to Earth he will deal with the blasphemous disbeliever!
Limited Power Over Spirits: Saint Nicholas can only target Angels when he employs the following Preternatural Powers: Banish Spirit, Bind Spirit, Summon Spirit. He can, however, repel creatures of supernatural Evil through Faith. When he bound Krampus to his service, he first punched the Devil in the face, and then placed the Chains of Binding and Warning on him.