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The Generic Holiday Adventure Express!

Premise: It snows as your party boards The Generic Holiday Adventure Express, a train to a northern city, when it suddenly stops! They must make their way to the engine room if they want to make it home in time for the holidays.

The Setup: The steam trumpet blows as a mustached conductor yells “All aboard!” If the party knows each other, they arrive as a group. If this is a one-off, everyone rolls initiative to see who arrives first. The last person just barely makes it as the train pulls out of the station. They survey the rundown boxcar filled with tacky seats and a sleeping fellow who appears homeless. About an hour passes after the conductor collects their tickets. As they’re traveling through a frozen wasteland, suddenly the train jolts to a halt and sends everyone flying. The conductor buzzes over the radio, “Folks, don’t worry, just a bit of engine trouble. I’m heading into the engine room right now and—OH MY GOD—”. The radio stops. The party now must move through the train compartments and uncover the mystery of why the train has stopped.

Compartment #01 – Second Class / Storage: The room they begin in is surrounded with tacky furniture and many crates of supplies at the back. If they try to progress to the next compartment, a guard stops them and tells them there’s a high-class ugly sweater party happening in the next car and they don’t fit the bill. As a solution, they might turn the tacky seats into ugly sweaters or find something useful in the crates.

Compartment #02 – First Class: The room is packed with elegant people in ugly sweaters. They’re so preoccupied with the party that they haven’t noticed the train has stopped. The door to the next compartment has a giant keyhole. The key hangs at the side of a tipsy train attendant. To get the key, they might steal it, or buy him his favorite drink, or if he catches them he may assume they’re challenging him to a drinking contest.

Compartment #03 – Coat Room: A smaller room than the others, this is mostly used as a coat room and place where attendants can sleep. On the far door are four symbols with dials next to them. The first is a tree (those with a high nature ability can tell it’s a pear tree) with the number one fixed in place. The next three symbols are: a bird, a ring, and a person. The puzzle can be figured out by adding up all the birds, rings, and people in Twelve Days of Christmas (23 birds, 5 rings, 42 people).

Compartment #04 – The Pre-Final Room: Most noticeable is the conductor they met earlier, unconscious outside the door. He has the key in his hands and as they wake him he tells them that Santa has gone mad and is trying to ruin Generic Holiday! This is the time to rest up and heal before the final battle. Optional: they notice that all the windows are closed, and there’s a puddle of water with a top hat floating in it. If they open the windows, Frosty the Snowperson appears and there’s a few moments of screaming as it pulls its snowy form together…imagine if you woke up in a pile of your own flesh?! It then offers to help them.

Compartment #05 – The Engine Room: It’s dark as they enter. Suddenly they hear the voice of “Santa” who teases them and says if they can figure out which of his clones is the real one, he’ll start the train. Here I use visual aids of printed out movie Santas and describe the first two in great detail, like it’ll be a real puzzle…then reveal the last one is the Grinch dressed up as Santa. It’s obvious that the Grinch is the “real” one and when they call him out, he says he lied and they’ll start the train over his dead body! Roll initiative! Oh, and did I mention the engine is powered by a Dragon currently under the Grinch’s control? As long as the Grinch wears Santa’s Hat, he controls the Dragon so the party can win by killing or knocking the Grinch unconscious.

Conclusion: They free the Dragon and defeat the Grinch. At the last moment, the homeless-looking man from the first compartment bursts in and it’s actually Santa! He starts up the engine and they’ll make it to their location in time for Generic Holiday! If they leave the Grinch alive, his heart grows three sizes that day…which unfortunately causes severe medical complications and he dies. Finally, the conductor comes in and punches a word into their tickets based on their actions. I frequently use the words “butthole” and “murderhobo”, but every game is different! Happy Holidays!

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