The Night Before Questmas is a GMless, push-your-luck storytelling game where you play as drunk, old Skalds recounting tales of your favourite heroes.
Special thanks to Finn Weldin for her expert services as a sensitivity reader.
It’s the night before Questmas, and all through the tavern
The Skalds have all gathered and filled up their flagons.
With mead in their bellies and tales in their heads
They squabble over deeds done by heroes long dead…
QUESTMAS is the most exciting time of the year, when great heroes begin quests that will echo through the ages. On THE NIGHT BEFORE QUESTMAS, folk gather in taverns and bars to hear the Skalds tell the greatest stories ever told.
Some stories, however, are old and the Skalds’ aren’t getting any younger either. Their memories aren’t what they used to be. Fights often break out as storytellers struggle to remember which stories belong to their hero and which to another’s…
How To Play
THE NIGHT BEFORE QUESTMAS is a GMless push-your-luck storytelling game, where players take on the role of Skalds regaling each other with tales of great HEROES.
Skalds build HEROES and their adventuring parties, bid to claim a story as their own, work together to expand on story prompts, and test their HEROES in dangerous and exciting quests.
To play, you will need:
- 10d6 that all Skalds have access to
- A way to write things down
Work your way through the sections to create your HERO, seed a STORY, then tell the tale of their heroic quest. Continue this until you are weary of talking, or have each told at least 2 STORIES.
Creating a Hero
To become a STORYTELLER, you need a HERO to claim quests for. Choose your HERO’s pronouns and give them a heroic name like REYON THE BLOODY-HANDED.
Next, roll, pick, or make up answers to fill out details about your HERO. When you’re done, introduce them to the group by completing this sentence:
[NAME] is [CLASS]. [PRONOUN] is/are ,  & .
|11-13||AN ARCANE SCRIVENER|
|14-16||A DIVINE SOLDIER|
|21-23||A WARRIOR POET|
|24-26||A MARTIAL CHAMPION|
|31-33||A HAND-TO-HAND SPIRITUALIST|
|34-36||A NATURAL MYSTIC|
|41-43||A HARDBOILED SHARPSHOOTER|
|44-46||A LONGKNIVED VAGABOND|
|51-53||A VULGAR JUGGERNAUT|
|54-56||A TINKERING THAUMATURGE|
|61-63||A BONDED OCCULTIST|
|64-66||AN ENIGMATIC HINTERLANDER|
Your HERO is accompanied by a FOLLOWERS, who fight alongside them for a chance at GLORY and riches.
Once you’ve created your HERO, describe up to two FOLLOWERS, who accompany them on their QUESTS. Decide on their pronouns, then give them modest names and brief descriptions.
Claiming a Story
Create a HERO, using the CREATING A HERO section, then take it in turns to offer story titles using the CREATING A STORY section. When you offer a STORY, you get an automatic first bid of 3d6 – place these in the centre. At that point, anyone who wants to claim the STORY can bid for it, by adding d6 to the centre.
Go round the table, starting with the Skald to the left of the story’s creator. If you want to try and claim a story, you must bid at least 1d6 higher than the current bid. Bids cannot go higher than 10d6. The higher the bid, the more dangerous the STORY becomes.
If you win the bid, by either bidding up to 10d6 or no one raising against your bid, you become the STORYTELLER and may claim the STORY for your HERO.
Once the STORYTELLER has been decided, begin the TELLING A TALE section.
Creating a Story
When you’ve made created your HERO and their FOLLOWERS, take it in turns to claim the STORIES you create.
When you create a STORY, fill in the gaps by rolling on each side of the table and read out the phrase below:
It’s Questmas Eve and I have a fine tale!
Who remembers the story of the [ADJECTIVE] [NOUN]?
Once you’ve created a STORY, go to CLAIMING A STORY to try a claim it for your HERO.
Telling a Tale
Once you’ve established yourself as STORYTELLER, it’s time to tell the tale. Begin by saying what your HERO set out to achieve and how their quest began.
Your HERO will be tested as part of the STORY. The more dice in your bid, the more CHALLENGES they will face and the more dangerous their quest will be.
Skalds who are not the STORYTELLER take it in turn to generate CHALLENGES for the HERO equal to the number of dice bid (a 4d6 bid means a story has 4 CHALLENGES, a 5d6 bid has 5 CHALLENGES etc.)
When it’s your turn to create a CHALLENGE, roll on the table and work the challenge into the story established so far.
The STORYTELLER then rolls all the dice for their BID and calculates the total, to see how well their HERO handled the CHALLENGE. Apply the result in the table below and describe what your HERO does and what happens next.
|1-11||PERFECTLY – None could have done it better||Recover 1 FALLOUT|
|12-20||EXPERTLY – With wit & cunning, they triumphed||NONE|
|21-30||ADEQUATELY – This didn’t need a hero’s touch||Suffer 1 FALLOUT|
|31-39||POORLY – Not this hero’s finest hour||Suffer 2 FALLOUT|
|40-50||REALLY QUITE BADLY – An embarrassing slip||Suffer 3 FALLOUT|
|51-60||EXTREMELY BADLY – A stain on their honour||Suffer 4 FALLOUT|
Once all the CHALLENGES are complete, the story is over and the HERO achieves their goal and receives GLORY.
HEROES and their FOLLOWERS begin each STORY with 0 FALLOUT. When things do not go so well for HEROES and their FOLLOWERS, they suffer FALLOUT.
FALLOUT represents all manner of things that can harm an adventuring party, like their threshold for damage, endurance over a long journey, reputation, supplies etcWhen FALLOUT is taken as the result of a ROLL, it can be shared between members of an adventuring party.
HEROES can suffer a maximum of 10 FALLOUT.
The first time a HERO reaches their maximum FALLOUT, they receive a SCAR and reduce their maximum FALLOUT threshold by 2. The second time they reach their maximum, something occurs to end their career; whether it’s death, a gruesome injury, total embarrassment, etc.
FOLLOWERS can suffer a maximum of 3 FALLOUT.
When a FOLLOWER reaches their maximum FALLOUT, something occurs to end their career; whether it’s death, a gruesome injury, total embarrassment, etc.
Glory, Loot & New Followers
When HEROES complete a quest, they gain GLORY equal to the number of CHALLENGES faced. GLORY can be kept, or spent on LOOT or new FOLLOWERS.
LOOT can be used on quests. Better LOOT costs more GLORY. When you claim LOOT, pay the cost in the table below and describe your LOOT to the group.
|3||A mundane, but useful item||Re-roll one dice|
|6||A master crafted item||Re-roll two dice|
|7||An item with a spark of magic||Reduce any one dice to a result of 1|
|8||A divine or wondrous item||Reduce any two dice to results of 1|
When your HERO uses their LOOT, state how they use it and how it helps them, if it does.
New FOLLOWERS can be hired for 4 GLORY each. When you hire a new FOLLOWER, give them pronouns, a name, and a brief description as in CREATING A HERO.
When the night is over and all of the Skalds have told of their HERO’s death, or have tired of talking, the HERO with the most accrued GLORY is honoured at the Questmas Feast.