Christmas time! ‘Twas the night before… (Part 1)

‘Tis the season to play ‘Twas, the Jonathan Green ACE gamebook. Every Christmas since I picked it up in 2019 (so, three solstice/Christmas seasons) I love to make some cocoa and play it with a friend where one of us reads, the other plays. And here, children, is tonight’s story…

Once upon a time… Debbie was in bed, half asleep and dreaming of candy canes and Christmas lights and of mice not stirring. Then she awoke with a start as the grandfather clock chimed thirteen times, followed momentarily by a CRASH and then a THUD downstairs. Being burgled on Christmas? No way! She headed downstairs, following the sound into the kitchen. As she bravely threw open the kitchen door, the back door slammed shut – someone was here!

The kitchen is trashed, and there are sooty footprints… and hoof marks? But there’s no time to dally – she bravely went for the back door, in  pursuit of whoever it was. She got out the door just in time to hear someone climbing up onto the roof. She climbed right up after them and on the roof, she saw… Santa Claus’ sleigh. Whoa. In this world, it’s not clear whether Father Christmas is fictional or else an established fact, so we’re not sure how shocked we should be. But what was definitely shocking, is that Santa was not the one sitting in the sleigh; it was something huge and black, and with long horns and claws. Undaunted, Debbie leaped into the sleigh just as it took off into the sky.

It wasn’t long before the monstrous thing noticed her, though, and came for her. But it never got its claws on her – the reindeer weren’t paying attention, and the whole sleigh crashed into a tree. She was badly injured in the crash (lost 7 points, out of her 20) and the sleigh and its monstrous driver took off back into the sky.

She wandered for some time in the woods, very cold and taking more damage because she was wearing only pajamas and slippers. Eventually she found her way to a small shack, where lived a kindly blacksmith. He gave her food and let her warm herself by the fire… then he handed her an axe, and told her that she needs to go kill Krampus the Christmas Devil to save Santa Claus and Christmas, and he’d love to help but his leg is all busted up, so have fun storming the castle! Could I get a pair of boots and some real clothing? No time, gotta save Christmas – kthxbai!

So, wandering the woods a second time, Debbie found herself strangely not suffering from hypothermia despite only wearing pajamas and slippers – I guess we’re past that part of the story, so cold isn’t a mechanic anymore? Okay, wutevz, She came across another house, this one made of gingerbread. Now, Debbie knows a thing or two about witches and their pastry homes, but she also knows not to believe everything you read about witches. She headed on inside, and made herself at home with a cup of mulled wine and reading the homeowner’s personal correspondence. Well, I said she was brave, not always considerate.

And there she rested for a while…