In Earthen folklore, “Krampus” is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, the traditional European winter gift-bringer. The kindly old Saint leaves the task of punishing bad children to his hell-bound counterpart, who swats them with switches and rusty chains before dragging them, in baskets, to a fiery place below. Krampus is celebrated in Austria, Northern Italy and other parts of Europe. (source: www.krampus.com)
To create a memorable final encounter with the winter demon, I first chose the Greater Barghest (CR 5) from the Monster Manual as a base creature. A barghest is an evil outsider that originates from Hell and similar planes. It normally resembles a goblin-wolf hybrid, enjoys slaughter and magical trickery, and can grow bigger and stronger by feasting on the corpses of its victims. I felt this would be a perfect start, both thematically and mechanically.
To this base creature, I added the following Krampus-specific perks:
- Dual-wielded chains. As Greater Bhargests sometimes use two-handed weapons, and as many images of Krampus show him in chains, this seemed incredibly appropriate.
- Altered “Feed” ability. Instead of gaining permanent hit die from regular corpses, Krampus instead gains temporary hit die from consuming live children.
- Adjusted damage reduction. As a devil that has spent the last century in the Frostfell, it makes sense for Krampus to be both immune to fire and have a thick skin versus cold. I replaced the normal damage reduction 10/magic with these.
- Size reduction. A Greater Barghest is ten feet on a side. Although still on the imposing side, I envisioned Krampus still fitting in a five-by-five square. I adjusted his numbers accordingly.
The final stats for the adjusted Greater Barghest (i.e. Krampus) are below.
Krampus (CR 5)
Krampus is almost seven feet tall (not including his horns) and weighs 250 pounds. He speaks Common and Infernal.
Krampus does not engage in open combat if he can help it, usually summoning ice mephits to distract guards as he kidnaps children. If cornered in his lair, he will begin with trickery and guile before launching into his more open attacks.
- If forewarned (such as by his scouting hellmares), Krampus will cast misdirection and take the form of Father Nicholas, in order to catch adventurers off-guard.
- If the situation permits, Krampus will cast first crushing despair and charm monster to demoralize and fracture the enemy.
- Next, Krampus will cast Blink for an extra edge in combat, then maneuver to keep as many foes in his ten-foot radius threatened area. If the situation warrants, he will chance using his Blink to walk through five-foot pillars, should it give him a tactical advantage.
- If seriously injured, Krampus will use his mass invisibility to retreat to a safe place, where he will Feed on one or more of the children in his basket.
- Krampus will only use his Dimension Door ability to escape if not already in his lair. He does not ultimately fear death, as he knows it will simply send him back to Hell.
Krampus’s natural weapons, as well as any weapons it wields, are treated as evil-aligned and lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Its natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
If Krampus has one true weakness, it is his love of gambling and chance games. Father Nicholas sensed this when Krampus first attacked, and used it to bind Krampus into a hundred years of slavery. Regardless of how well a fight may be proceeding, Krampus will always favor gambling over physical combat. (Stated bets are typically the eternal fate of souls against a period of service from the devil.)
The save DC against Krampus’s spell-like abilities is 14 + spell level. Caster level equals Krampus’s HD (9). The save DCs are Charisma-based.
Krampus keeps a basket on his back, caging 1d3+1 human children. As a full-round action, Krampus can reach back into this basket, retrieve one of the children, and consume it. Doing so grants him 11 temporary hit points for one hour.
Feeding destroys the victim’s body and prevents any form of raising or resurrection that requires part of the corpse. There is a 50% chance that a wish, miracle, or true resurrection spell can restore a devoured victim to life. Check once for each destroyed creature. If the check fails, the creature cannot be brought back to life by mortal magic.
Krampus can disguise himself as Father Nicholas when attempting to dupe adventurers in his lair. He has a +16 bonus to Bluff while in this state, but only +6 to Disguise if he or his possessions are physically interacted with.