Pathfinder Adventure Path #68: The Shackled Hut (Reign of Winter 2 of 6) (PFRPG)

4.30/5 (based on 11 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #68: The Shackled Hut (Reign of Winter 2 of 6) (PFRPG)
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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.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-493-1

The Shackled Hut is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (639 KB zip/PDF).

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Archives of Nethys

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZO9068


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4.30/5 (based on 11 ratings)

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A nearly perfect fairy-tale romp bogged down by late-game ambiguity.

4/5

Note: This review contains some story-based spoilers.

After the superb opening of the Reign of Winter Adventure Path in The Snows of Summer I was really excited to see where things went when Jim Groves (author of the stupendous Murder's Mark module) took the reigns of the eponymous shackled hut in hand. What we received is a love-letter to Grimm's fairy tales and a wonderfully crafted adventure that sends our heroes into the tyrannical heart of witch-ruled Irrisen, only to have some of the antagonist motivations and appearances seem to fall apart right at the climax.

The Shackled Hut starts off strongly with the players forced to trudge across the harsh and unforgiving Irriseni tundra, stranded in a foreign and inhospitable land after the epic conclusion of Snows of Summer. The encounters designed for this portion of the adventure are lovingly crafted vignettes into Grimm-themed fairy tale elements. From a love-lorn fae creature forced to confront his family to an encounter with the white witch's royal scouts, the first leg of the adventure thrusts players into difficult situation and presents them with even more difficult moral choices.

When the adventure brings the players to the capitol of Irrisen, the story picks up with a hide-and-seek cloak-and-dagger style scenario where the characters are forced to elude fascist Irriseni guards, break bread with a revolutionary group and rattle the city's defenses by slaying a dragon in a clock tower. The set pieces and encounters are all top-notch in this portion of the adventure and the characterizations of the NPCs (one winter-wolf longing to be human comes to mind) is fantastic. All this considered is, perhaps, why the conclusion of the Shackled Hut being such a mess is so disappointing. Were the entire book of the same quality, it might not have been such a shock, but with the caliber of everything else Jim Groves brought to the table, what came next was a surprise.

The penultimate chapter of the Shackled Hut takes place in the market plaza of Irrisen and feels like it was written by an entire different writer all together. Going from a sandbox style approach in the howlings district of Irrisen the players are forced through a direct Point A to Point B hedge maze, but with all of the fun of having special powers designed to circumvent a hedge maze taken away. The GM is told from the beginning that spells designed to bypass natural hazards do not work, flying is impossible, even sheer brute force is shut down by automatically regenerating walls with infinite hit points. The transition from the previous part to this is jarring, and GMs might find a bad taste in their mouths when they tell their players to progress down this corridor going from encounter to encounter with no potential for alternate routes or avenues of approach, or even creative thinking available.

Finally, and perhaps most alarmingly, the confrontation with the antagonist Nazhena -- foreshadowed as a competent and evil witch from early on in the previous book -- winds up coming across as a jumbled mess of ineptitude and muddied motivations. The players will find Nazhena trapped in an enclosure in the "hedge maze" with a sole bodyguard and a powerful, angry animated artifact ready to kick her to death should the PCs think of bull-rushing her into its reach. With the way it is presented, Nazhena has no motivations for being trapped here, other than "she was, and now she has to defend the hut."

I have heard from developers that some of the motivations of Nazhena and an entire sub-plot were dropped from this portion of the adventure, and it shows. Having had the opportunity to see what was cut out and changed, I'm left to wonder why the decision was made, or if muddying the reason behind Nazhena's presence was intentional. It strikes me as an anti-climactic let-down after having this antagonist built up after so long.

By and large, the Shackled Hut hardly ever misses a beat when it comes to painting a grim, totalitarian picture of a wintry landscape. Irrisen is everything that Narnia in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was, but viewed through the lens of Jadis having taken some pointers from Joseph Stalin! I highly recommend this chapter of Reign of Winter, but caution GMs to carefully read the conclusion and make changes as they see fit so as to not have the story end with a cluck rather than a bang.

I give the Shackled Hut four out of five stars!


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Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Quick art thoughts:

Page 83 - The picture of the Mirror Men and Merisiel may be one of the most beautiful piece of art I've seen in a Pathfinder book.

Page 31 - Feiya looks amazing in this piece.

Page 85 - Courage Heart, Milani's herald has a vague Greek/Roman look to her with is really refreshing in Pathfinder.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Mirror Men, bwahahaha. My subscriber copy shipped, so people should be getting it now.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mike Silva wrote:

Page 31 - Feiya looks amazing in this piece.

Roberto Pitturru did capture my good side rather well.


They ain't called Mirror Men are they?

otherwise tell me more about these mirror monsters!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

F5, F5, F5, F5...

Grand Lodge

Kevin Mack wrote:
So anyone have there copy yet?

Yep.. this morning :)

Grand Lodge

Sincubus wrote:

They ain't called Mirror Men are they?

otherwise tell me more about these mirror monsters!

Yea they are. (Technically Mirror Man)

Mirror Man spoiler:
They are a CR5 faceless, blind sensing creature and the perfect creature for making an entire area go on high alert hehe

It shipped! Can't wait to read through it tonight.


Gorbacz wrote:
F5, F5, F5, F5...

Aye, same here.


Nice glass of whiskey, a fine PDF...tonight's going to be a good night.

And interesting! A creature from the Midgard Bestiary. Is that the first non-ToHC PF 3rd party book used in Pathfinder?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Just got my PDF too, but my girlfriend's over so I can't really look at it. : (

Until she goes to bed.

Still, she's out smoking for a moment, so I'm flipping through bits. Really like the look of Part Three. Can't wait to really read it.

(Oooh, and a writeup on Milani, who's one of my favorite Golarion deities.)


I have never gotten into the pdf's...I must have a couple of oodles of those things that I have never opened or used...

I also do not have a cell phone...just an answering machine and e-mail...

Boy am I an old fashioned cave man..."OOK OOK DM SMASH HERO...GRRR!"


Man, I'm still waiting for my copy to ship out. I'm guessing that it's because I'm having the whole of Carrion Crown shipped at the same time and they're having to dig it out first. With any luck, it will ship out today and I can at least skim the PDF a bit.


When something ships out tend to vary quite a bit - but they're usually done by the end of the week they begin sending stuff out (at least I've never had to wait longer than that) - the only thing I can recall someone from Paizo saying will cause a delay is if you add something to your order after the "we're going to start shipping things in so-and-so many days" e-mail has been sent out.

The Exchange

And us no subscribers (lack of choice is my excuse...) wait 8 more days before the PDF arrives... *sigh*


Cheapy wrote:

Nice glass of whiskey, a fine PDF...tonight's going to be a good night.

And interesting! A creature from the Midgard Bestiary. Is that the first non-ToHC PF 3rd party book used in Pathfinder?

Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary and Book of Fiends get called out a lot, I believe.


What are the monsters in this bestiary?


Kajehase wrote:
When something ships out tend to vary quite a bit - but they're usually done by the end of the week they begin sending stuff out (at least I've never had to wait longer than that) - the only thing I can recall someone from Paizo saying will cause a delay is if you add something to your order after the "we're going to start shipping things in so-and-so many days" e-mail has been sent out.

Oh, I'm not really complaining or anything. I'm just getting anxious. In large part because I want Carrion Crown on my doorstep, but also because I want to read over this new part of Reign of Winter. At the same time, I should be getting the Inner Sea World Guide and Ultimate Combat delivered today. So hopefully browsing over them will keep me occupied.


Sincubus wrote:
What are the monsters in this bestiary?

mirror men (which are AWESOME), pied pipers, a herald of milani, and winter redcaps, IIRC.


Can't wait for the MIrror man and Pied Pipers!!!!!

Winter Redcap? Do they have white caps with snow on it instead of blood? Lol :p

Not too much on Heralds.


This is officially the first product I've received in my subscription to the Adventure Paths, and I could not be any happier to have started with this book. I just got the shipping notification and am so eager to download my PDF!

Anyone who doesn't have an Adventure Path subscription but buys them really needs to consider getting one. Not only are you saving a bunch of money but you get it early too.

I put this off for way too long!


Well I would take a Subscription on PDF anytime, but I don't trust the mail around here enough to take a subscription on the Printed Books as well...

Too many ordered stuff hasn't been brought here.

I think a subscription for only PDF would be lovely!


Slight correction. There's the winter fey template with the winter redcap example.


Thanks Cheapy! What would the monster fans off this community be without you ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If I had to guess, "Slightly delayed in their gratification of knowing which monsters are in here." :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This book is gorgeous. Someone please high-five the entire art/layout department.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Slight correction.. Those are "dawn pipers", and they are fey. :)


Can't wait to read more about those! Both Mirror Monsters and Pied Pipers (which will probably be something like the Dawn Piper) were somewhere on my wishlists!


Ah, yes. I was going from un-caffienated memory. Amusingly, half of the monsters in the bestiary are holding something up above their heads in their left hand.


I wonder if Mauxpaudi from Chillblight is a winter redcap.


What sort of information does the book give us in its article covering winter wolves? For that matter, which if any other Pathfinder books have gone into detail covering winter wolves, worgs, and other lupine monsters?


Thank for your answer, Jim

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

My subscription hasn't shipped yet, so I can't answer this for myself.... How big is the Hut, and the entrance thereto? If a player wanted to play a druid with a mammoth companion, hoping eventually to be a mammoth rider, is there any hope for that to work out on this AP?

Webstore Gninja Minion

I would say the Hut is very...mutable in its interior, and I'm sure the exterior entrances are fluid as well...

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

OK, thanks. I'm going to tell the player to go ahead, and if he gets into trouble a book from now, I'll blame you :)

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

(Of course, I can already see parts of the first adventure where he'll get into trouble, but it's all part of the fun.)


Mine hasn't been shipped... I wonder if ordering older products to be shipped with your subscription delays the shipping? >.> Or maybe I'm just unlucky. Damn living in Australia. *grumblegrumble*

Ah well. I still can't want to get my hands on it!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Between its Swallow Whole Ability and one of the rooms being 50+ feet wide and 55 feet long, then yes it can possibly transport a mammoth (Does The Mammoth Rider get the Huge version or the Elephant/Mastodon Companions which is Medium-sized?

Sovereign Court Developer

While there shouldn't be any problem holding a mammoth inside the hut, it's exterior door is pretty much a standard 5-foot-wide door. For Large creatures, they can simply squeeze to fit through the door, but Huge or larger creatures (such as a mammoth) would need to make an Escape Artist check to fit through the door (Core Rulebook 193-194).

Of course, if you're running the campaign and you know you have a mammoth rider, you could simply say the hut's front door is 10 feet wide, and a mammoth would then only need to squeeze to get inside.

Spoiler:
Alternatively, you could say that the mantle of the Black Rider works like a "key" for PCs with Large or larger companions, allowing those creatures to squeeze through the door even though they are technically too big to do so.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rob McCreary wrote:

While there shouldn't be any problem holding a mammoth inside the hut, it's exterior door is pretty much a standard 5-foot-wide door. For Large creatures, they can simply squeeze to fit through the door, but Huge or larger creatures (such as a mammoth) would need to make an Escape Artist check to fit through the door (Core Rulebook 193-194).

Of course, if you're running the campaign and you know you have a mammoth rider, you could simply say the hut's front door is 10 feet wide, and a mammoth would then only need to squeeze to get inside.

** spoiler omitted **

Or...

Spoiler:
You can have the mark of the black rider treat your mammoth like the rider's horse and allow your character to summon and dismiss his mammoth at will. plus add this by describing to the mammoth rider then when the rider's mark is placed on him his mammoth's fur gains a noticeably darker shade.

Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Any passing resemblance between the dawn piper and Cantus the Fraggle Minstrel is purely coincidence or not? :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Yep!

I just googled this Cantus. I can't say I'm seeing it. But I hope you enjoy the adventure!


Congrats Jim!

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Or you could put Oil of Slipperiness on the doorframe.

Silver Crusade

If it hasn't already, the "big animal going in the hut" notes need a mention in the GM Reference thread. :)


Does Elvanna's stats appear in this volume ?


Nope, only her class levels in the city "stat" block as a notable NPC ^^;.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Or you could put Oil of Slipperiness on the doorframe.

Or butter. I hear butter works well.

But what would you do if it did get stuck in the door?


Well, it's already covered in butter, so the only option is to make an offering to the god of fried food.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

AP SPOILERS:
After reading it, I really like this adventure. It has some very traditional stuff in here that have a very Grimm feel to it, while still taking risks. The biggest risk I see is Granny Nan cooking children and feeding them to the trolls. Still, this entire adventure path is oozing with fairy tales. Dragons, kidnapped maiden, evil witches, trolls, and children. A fresh take on fairy tales!

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