A wilderness adventure for 7th-level Pathfinder Roleplaying Game characters.
Stay Out of the Woods
Deep in the forest, something is stirring. An evil fey sorcerer, cast out of the First World millennia ago by her own kin, has found a way to break through the ancient walls of her prison, and carries with her a vengeance too deep to be sated. For the quiet Andoren town of Bellis, busy celebrating a long-awaited marriage, it's a time for joy and laughter. Yet the forest that's always sheltered it is growing dark, and things are moving in the heart of the woods...
Realm of the Fellnight Queen is a wilderness adventure for 7th-level chararacters, written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world's oldest RPG. Inside you'll find a possessed druid, a drunken treant, an insane beekeeper, shape-changing forest warriors, and the dark mistress of the Fellnight Realm herself.
This module is the result of Paizo Publishing's RPG Superstar contest, which allows unpublished authors to compete before a panel of celebrity game designers and legions of their peers for the chance to write a Pathfinder Module.
Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, adventures using the Open Game License to work with both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set. This Pathfinder Module includes four pre-made characters so players can jump right into the action, and full-color maps to enhance play.
I prepared this module lended by my FLGS, and I was disappointed. AS pointed out elsewhere it suffered badly from editing and cutting, with lots of iterative monsters.
Played for PFS, it's of course way too long, but removing the pointless spriggan armies mostly solves this issue.
My main gripe is good-old railroading, lack of failable plot points, and fuzzy encounter setup.
* The setup wedding is pointless. Whatever you do, it has no bearing on the following. You can't even get worthy information, or even gear, for what follows. Might as well skip to the ceremony. It's striking that the fate of the wedding couple is totally unimportant. If they die, nobody cares.
* The romp in the forest is bugged. How are you supposed to actually meet Vinroot? And why would you need to? And what if you fail to make the encounters?
* How are the spriggan patrol in the Realm to act? What group is NOT going to go directly through to the tower?
* The drunken treant encounter is very obscure as to how it's supposed to work (if you use Diplomacy, you're going to get whacked repeatedly by animated tree attacks while doing so. Is it really the idea?)
* What if you do NOT manage to convince the conclave of fey? Adventure ends there?
* What if you fail to make the final arcana check. Adventure fails?
* And of course, prepare for a party wipe in the final fight.
All in all, GREAT maps, but they're very poorly used. For the above reasons, the wedding map is useless, the forest map is useless (if the players actually navigate it, they're going to spend hours doing nothing), the Realm map is useless (they're going to go straight for the kill) and the Fortress map, though alright, is just way way too big for PFS.
Also, for PFS: several magic items found are useless within the module.
So. It's got fine elements, but need tons of work, re-inserting the original monsters (from the podcast), fixing the encounter schema, designing an alternate final dungeon, giving meaning to the wedding part... But it still has good moments.
The three star rating I'm presenting here is a combination score - four stars for story, and two stars for the adventure's content.
I ran this last night for a group of experienced Pathfinders playing under the Pathfinder Society organized play rules. By the middle of the module our Paladin was ready to start killing "good" fey, and by the end several players commented that they considered the module "one big advertisement for owning a fey bane weapon" (and not in a good way).
From a story perspective the concept was well thought out and interesting. The players really did begin to hate fey at the end though.
From a mechanical content we noticed a couple of issues. First the whole module feels disjointed. The three acts do not flow that well, and the group was pretty fatigued by the time they hit the dungeon crawl at the end. Encounters included only four worthwhile encounters that provided a moderate challenge to the group followed by page after page of creatures that couldn't even hit the AC of a level 8 character and creatures without enough hit points to survive a single hit at this level; just speed bump after speed bump. The "main" bad guy type was an example of this - players were hit for a total of roughly 20 points over the adventure. Conversely, when the fights were tough, they were TOUGH. I think a lot was hit by the page count on this one.
I'm getting really tired of seeing this. The four combats that actually were worth playing out were: The drunk treant that nearly murdered the entire party, the fight and escape from Dead Man's Drop, the fight at the fayenguard (which happened because the two fights ran into each other), and the fight with the fellnight queen herself. The fight with the fellnight queen should have ended in a TPK - her powers and the terrain mechanics are absolutely brutal.
Just as an FYI - for Pathfinder Society this is a longer one. It's linear nature means you're looking at about 14 - 16 hours of play. This is after removing a couple of the speedbumps...I mean encounters AND saying "you have the strange sensation the other direction would be faster" while they were exploring the queen's keep.
I bought the product about a year ago but did not get the first opportunity to run it for Pathfinder Society about a month ago. We had to shorten the adventure to fit within two sessions, the players still had a blast. There were plenty of role-playing opportunities and encounters to satisfy a diverse group. (Note to those who do run this for Pathfinder Society games -- I estimate that 3-4 sessions would really give the adventure justice). Regardless of the number of sessions ran, the adventure flowed pretty well for the group.
Two of my players asked if this could be ran again for an online campaign that I am running. As a GM, I would welcome the opportunity to run the adventure again in its full glory.
As for the encounters, they seemed to fit will for the recommended level and was very challenging to the group. The last encounter with Queen Rhoswen did prove difficult for an unprepared group but seemed to be their favorite part.
Overall, I was pleased with the adventure's structure and would highly recommend it.
Great work Neil, I really liked the story element. I would give it 5 stars, except I found some of the combat encounters were too easy. Rhoswen stats really predicted a TPK. Through game play I realized this should be exactly what a APL +3 encounter should be. So on the too easy part I felt some of the encounters should of been mixed up a little bit, I found it hard to hit the fighter in my party. That being said really good job. I hope to see a followup mod called the Return of Rhoswen.
I strongly recommend this Mod, as well as anything with this authors name on it.
Episode #011 of Chronicles: Pathfinder Podcast reviews RotFQ
Please note that Realm of the Fellnight Queen is the feature module reviewed in Episode #011 of Chronicles:Pathfinder Podcast. The podcast recommends some changes to the module, as well as one very significant restoration to the original module submission which, in the opinion of the podcast hosts, is absolutely vital to successfully running Realm of the Fellnight Queen.
In addition to the review, a Web-extra .pdf featuring the two Paizo Blog posts from March of 2010 and a never released random encounter table for the Fellnight Realm will be released a few days after the podcast on D20 Radio . The .pdf also features three new encounters and monsters in the basement of Queen Rhoswen's palace, complete with three new monsters.