Pathfinder Adventure Path #72: The Witch Queen’s Revenge (Reign of Winter 6 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 6: "The Witch Queen’s Revenge"
by Greg A. Vaughan
Baba Yaga has been rescued from the clutches of her son Rasputin, but the Queen of Witches remains trapped inside a magical matryoshka doll. Delving into hidden chambers deep within the Dancing Hut, the heroes must open the nesting dolls imprisoning Baba Yaga, but they must also contend with the hut’s most dedicated guardians, including the former queens of Irrisen. When the time comes to finally face Queen Elvanna inside the Dancing Hut’s innermost sanctum, will the heroes defeat her and free Baba Yaga, or plunge Golarion into a new ice age?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path concludes the Reign of Winter Adventure Path and includes:
“The Witch Queen’s Revenge,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 15th-level characters, by Greg A. Vaughan.
Ways for you to extend your campaign beyond the covers of this Adventure Path and carry on your adventures against the witches of Irrisen, by Adam Daigle and Rob McCreary.
An exploration of the mysteries of Baba Yaga and her touch on the world of Golarion and beyond, by Adam Daigle.
An escape from Whitethrone in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Kevin Andrew Murphy.
Four new monsters, by Shaun Hocking, Michael Kenway, Rob McCreary, and Matt Renton.
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.
The Witch Queen’s Revenge by Greg A. Vaughan brings to a close Reign of Winter, which has been a very ambitious adventure path. It has involved a few aspects that some people may not fully like mixed with their fantasy (a little bit of science fiction and some modern-ish technology), but it has done so in often brilliant ways. This final adventure has the unenviable task that all final adventure path volumes have: that of bringing all the loose ends together and tying them off in a satisfying manner, while simultaneously providing a fun and exciting adventure in its own right. For the most part, The Witch Queen’s Revenge manages this wonderfully. It’s an excellent adventure, albeit a touch railroaded, and its final resolution could potentially frustrate some players. There are a couple other issues as well, and as such, it’s not the best of the entire adventure path (that honour definitely goes to Rasputin Must Die!), but it’s far from a weak adventure and it finishes off what has been a truly excellent adventure path overall.
Adventure is a grind, with plenty of saving graces
As the last adventure in what will be written in gaming history as one of the wildest, weirdest published campaigns ever, "The Witch Queen's Revenge" faces the challenging prospect of being worthy as a finisher.
Well... it nearly is. The outline of the adventure - that is, the basic structure of the story - is really good. The PCs delve deep into the numerous pocket dimensions accessible through the dancing hut of Baba Yaga, collecting the keys to free the Witch Queen from her imprisonment. The nature of the keys is very unique, and should provide a nice backbone to the story of the adventure.
However, unfortunately, the adventure quickly gets lost in a grind of fight after fight after fight after fight. There's really only a single NPC that's not meant to be fought in the adventure, and one part also allows the PCs to ally themselves with a tribe of locals, but that's about it. Every single other creature encountered simply attacks the PCs without provocation or sometimes even without much of a reason. What's worse is that the fights are sometimes very grindy themselves - like fighting 10 (!) CR 9 creatures at once - imagine how long that would take (that fight would have been better designed if the creatures were presented as a troop). Many other fights are very easy - like fighting a single CR 13 creature, for example. These fights are really nothing more than speed bumps in the way of a level 15 part of adventurers - are they just there to give the characters more XP? it's better to just hand it out as story awards.
So sadly, the adventure mostly amounts to 6 separate, unrelated fetch quests that involve a TON of fighting and nearly nothing else. The themes of the locations are OK, but nothing mind blowing. While some of the fights are either grindy or speed bumps, some other fights look challenging and unique. All in all the adventure would have been pretty bad because of it's underlining design, except that paizo products are never actually BAD. so the adventure itself gets 3 stars, due to many neat little touches but an overall not very fun adventure.
What pushes me to make a 4 star review are the articles - more specifically, the "continuing the campaign" article, which goes above and beyond previous articles of it's kind to really create an awesome mythic campaign for GMs to develop, one that fits the themes of 'Reign of Winter" very well. It sparks the imagination, and gives an insight to one of Golarion's numerous secrets (how the winter in Irrisen is maintained). This article is superb. As a bonus, Baba Yaga's stat block is nice, and gives us a peek at mythic rules.
Rasputin Must Die! is a hard act to follow, but the Witch Queen's Revenge does an admirable job.
The adventure at it's core touches on some interesting concepts, letting the PCs really get to know Baba Yaga, although how that'll play out in your game will depend as much on the DM and players as the adventure. Still, there are some cool concepts here.
If anything, I feel that the Big Bad is missing her moment in the sun. However, with this in hand before starting the path you could definitely include some awesome foreshadowing.
Where the adventure really shines, though, and moves up to five stars, is in the "Continuing the Campaign" section. If you're comfortable working from an outline, it'd be easy to take this into Mythic ranks and clear to 20th level.
Short Version: A solid end to the campaign with an amazing postscript.