Pathfinder Adventure Path #68: The Shackled Hut (Reign of Winter 2 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 2: "The Shackled Hut"
by Jim Groves
The winter portal has closed, but the heroes now find themselves trapped in the frozen land of Irrisen with an urgent quest—to find Baba Yaga! In order to track down the missing Queen of Witches, the heroes must brave the monster-infested capital city of Whitethrone, where Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut has been captured and put on display. Will possession of the miraculous artifact lead them to the Witch Queen, or will they die a cold death at the hands of Irrisen’s White Witches?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Reign of Winter Adventure Path and includes:
“The Shackled Hut,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 4th-level characters, by Jim Groves.
An exploration of the ecology and the origins of the cunning and dangerous winter wolf, by Russ Taylor.
A look into the cult of rebels and revolutionaries who revere Milani the Everbloom, by Sean K Reynolds.
A dangerous introduction to Whitethrone’s aristocracy in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Kevin Andrew Murphy.
Four new monsters, by Jim Groves, Dale C. McCoy, Jr., and Sean K Reynolds.
Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.
So, I wanted to write this review because I've read some well worded and, well frankly nitpicky reviews about this adventure path. It really started to strike out at me that many people are reviewing this adventure without using the kind of language that would lead me to believe they actually played it.
I have GM'd the first 2 parts of RoW and this adventure was amazing. It was probably up there with some of the best games I've played. I had a lot of resources for this game, including the white dragon evolution set, all the paths of prestige materials, irrisen land of winter, all the maps, land of the linnorm kings, people of the north, the cards, all of it. And it paid off in spades.
I actually found this quite a flexible game to GM. I'm a ruthless GM, and I have 20 years of experience being ruthless. And my players are pretty damn good at getting by that as well, as the best players are.
Instead of being a letdown, I found that by the time the clocktower part of the game had been reached, just for narrative flow it was time to start playing fast and loose with the source material. It's more important that the story you are telling with the PCs is heroic, fluid and balanced. I just let it naturally evolve, and if the PCs want to cut to the chase and get the hut after Logrivich, no problem. It's about making a great experience, not necessarily being "railroaded by the book" as some have complained. If something is anticlimactic, don't do it ! You have to be completely familiar with the source in order to be comfortable doing this. No reading with the players as you play! You, the DM, should be using this story to great effect, and if it needs a little nip and tuck here and there, then so be it.
For example, Greta almost immediately became part of the group. My group is small, and I allow the players to play up to 2 characters at a time, which is great because, not only does it solve balance problems with the power of the party, but as a bonus if somebody dies, the player is not sulking in the corner of the room all the rest of the game. They have at least a second chance. And it also gives the players a chance to play some of these great NPCs in this adventure. So, Greta was snatched up and became a memorable PC right away. Even I let them play Nadya Petska at points during the game.
The story we created thanks to this amazing source material was really memorable. I've read all the books in the series and I think 3 and 4 I might need to take a heavier hand to... but I don't know until I play with the party. I'm sure as hell going to let them roll fluidly through it, and if stuff isn't working or if the party is tired of combat, I make tactical decisions. It really makes for a better game.
Anyway I wanted to put this out there since I was reading so many very technical reviews that didn't seem to reflect how the adventure actually plays. They might be technically right if you're at game con arguing with Monte Cook on the merits of game design, but it's not about that for me, it's more about the fun everyone has, and how the "movie in the mind" is playing out.
It starts with a journey and some cool outdoors encounter that really set the mood of dark fairy tale, with some moral choices the PCs may choose, and not fearing to punish them should the PCs be not fast enough or skillful enough. Crap happens... deal with it!
Then you reach Whitethrone, and the city gives the dark feel, of a subjugated land in which the players have to tread carefully not to upset the powers-that-be... and there are several powers out there which could easily overwhelm the party should they not be careful.
What I didn’t like so much here, is how the missions (once in the city) are handed down to the PCs (go there do that, no you can go there and do this), and how it just so happens that there is a sub-culture in the city that allows PCs to keep walking around with their weapons and armor and such, even under martial law.
On the whole this is a good adventure with a cool theme, and very nice encounters.