Age range: all ages (counting to 6 required)
Trouble in Santa’s Workshop is definitely geared at being a kid or family game and only uses a d6 for rolling, so minimal counting skill is required. I played with my 3yo, and it was one of the smoothest games I’ve run with him.
Character set up was easy to understand for everyone, including the 3yo. Sometimes we have a hard time getting him to use the character sheets if there is a lot to track, or we have to switch to using pictures, but this one was pretty straightforward… and he LOVED coloring the wish stars at the bottom.
Generating the plot elements was also really straightforward, so I could definitely see kids (who can read) running this game for each other as a first time GM experience.
Trouble in Santa’s Workship is set… in Santa’s Workshop! You are one of Santa’s helpers and your job is to help fix an issue (there are 6 pre-generated ones to roll for or you can make your own) before Christmas! They range from issues in the workshop to helping Santa out directly and were fun catalysts to start a story. You build off of the prompt to develop the story further, especially as you get lower rolls and run into trouble – which is a great thing here because it keeps the story fun!
For example, we did one where the workshop’s reactor malfunctioned! I had it spewing molten candy cane fuel everywhere – when the party rolled for a new consequence to happen, it also started spewing out glitter!! We had a lot of fun coming up with new mishaps and getting interesting problems to solve.
Your character is one of Santa’s helpers (not relegated just to being elf by the way). You roll for a job, which gives you your stats, and you also get to roll for a magic power that you can use!
My kid actually rolled to be a zoo keeper with a magic power to turn into an animal, which… he chose a giraffe! It gave some silly chaos and let him get creative with how to use his superpower to solve the problems in interesting ways.
Your character has four attributes (muscle, agility, wits, charm) whose scores are determined by the job you roll. When you decide to make an action, you roll the number of d6’s equal to your score for the appropriate skill and take the highest one to compare versus the pass/fail criteria for the game.
If you roll low, you will need to try again, but you also need to add a new complication (like the factory reactor now spewing glitter in addition to candy can fuel)! If you roll high, you succeed AND get… wishes!
Rolling high enough on your skill checks earns you wishes! These can be used to spark some Christmas magic to do something special, reroll your dice, or add a dice to your friend’s rolls!
These were a lot of fun to mess around with and got us out of some tight spots when we almost dropped a flashlight while trying to fly Santa’s sleigh during our second adventure!
What did my kid think?
My kid LOVED playing this! It was really easy for him to understand, and the Christmas theme was a huge hit. He loved coloring in the wish stars on the sheet and his character during the game. The theme was fun, it was accessible for him to play and participate in everything, and it gave him a lot of creative freedom. He kept making his own stories even after we finished playing, so I know he had fun.
Trouble in Santa’s Workshop is a fun rules-lite game that is great for playing with kids and making a story together. My family enjoyed playing it and seeing our son get excited to collect wishes and use his superpowers in the pursuit of Christmas cheer, and I hope your family has fun too!
Where to find a copy:
A copy of Trouble in Santa’s Workshop can be found on itch.io!
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, tried the game because of this post, or have played this game before!