Enter Howlmark


One thing the pandemic has allowed me to do is reconnect with RPG’s. My fascinating with tabletop Role playing games has always been there but, as a tween and teen I never had anyone to play with 1. And over the years I just never had time to make the treks that would afford me the chance to play. But when the shut down happened and I knew I was going to need some kind of escape which would offer some social iteraction, I got some folks to play a campaign together. It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve been playing over the internet most weeks since March.

When fall hit I began to wonder about running a campaign myself. I pondered what the hook for the story would be, what the world was like, and who might live there. When the DM guide and Monster Manual went on sale on D&D Beyond I decided to pick them up 2, as well as two other tools to make running the game possible. The first is Foundy VTT, a virtual tabletop with some nice features. The second, which I hope to get for Christmas, is Dungeondraft. Once I get those tools, I’ll be able to start shaping a campaign for folks. The plan is even to tie it into some themes of Christian spirituality, without being obnoxious. Even though Foundry is technically a Christmas present, I’ve already started playing with it, just to familiarize myself with the software and put it through its paces. It’s been a nice little distraction during some difficult times.

As my campaign formed I also began to wonder if I would be able to create a short, one or two session, adventure for my neighbors during the holiday season. This could be set in the world I’m creating for the “real” campaign, but instead of basing it on some high fantasy tropes I’d model it after a Hallmark film. It could be fun, a bit stupid, and good practice for a bigger adventure. When I pondered the possibility of this in my current group’s discord someone sent back, “Howlmark!”

Howlmark, Holiday Adventure

And thus a light-hearted adventure template was born.

I have the general plot in mind. The players are returning to one party member’s tiny home town for the Life Day feast 3, after spending the last year away adventuring east of the mountains. The member’s mother immediately enlists them to help do some deliveries for her bakery, during which… something happens.

Of course the bakery is about to go out of business and the player character didn’t know. There will be an evil corporate overlord who longs for simpler days, feel good moments, and… wolves and goblins and perhaps a kobold or two.

I’ll run the adventure “on rails 4” so we’ll be able to get though things relatively quick 5. And, as watching stupid Christmas movies is one of our favorite December passtimes, I’m going to make my wife play as well.

And the best thing is, just like with Hallmark films, I’ll be able to reuse actors and sets. Year after year we can pump out Howlmark adventures, we just tweak the plot a bit and change its location on the map 6. Fun for the whole family, years in the making.

  1. The notable exception was some TMNT sessions where I played a possum with Nick Fury’s personality. That was fun. 
  2. Though these are Christmas presents so I’m not reading them 
  3. Did you know Disney+ had a new Star Wars Holiday Special? It’s better than the sequel trilogy. 
  4. Think about the inspiration, is there really any freedom in a Hallmark movie? 
  5. I hope. 
  6. OK, I know this was a bakery last year, but this year it’s a Historic Tavern in the southern part of the continent. And you need to pay off the owner’s debt to keep it from being torn down by Orcs and replaced with a strip mall.