Shadows of the Dusk Queen (PFRPG)

***** (based on 9 ratings)
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Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Before you is a dark forest with trees rising as much as a hundred feet into the air. Foreboding and sorrow seem to emanate from within. Occasionally, shadowy creatures are glimpsed moving among the trees. Slow, plaintive howls echo among the dark branches as a cool wind begins to blow, as if whispering barely discernable words...

"She has returned. She has returned. She has returned."

"Shadows of the Dusk Queen" is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible adventure for 8th-level characters that takes players deep into a forest out of a dark fairy tale, where a long-imprisoned fey queen has returned – and evil creatures are stirring.

Featuring full-color art by Brian Syme, "Shadows of the Dusk Queen" is great for groups who love dark fantasy adventure, or for GMs looking to shake things up by bringing a little fear to the table.

The whispers are getting louder. Do you dare take the forest path, and learn the secrets of the Dusk Queen?

Includes 12-page art and map appendix to speed play; heavily illustrated.

A Pathfinder Adventure for levels 7 and 8.

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***** (based on 9 ratings)

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*****

This review of the Shadow of the Dusk Queen is from the perspective of the player, so I am only privy to hidden details that the GM let the players know afterwards. I do know that the GM ran everything out of the book with no modifications though. With that out of the way, here is my review from the player’s side. There will be some spoilers here, though they shouldn’t be a big deal if you are a GM. Players might want to skip the second to last paragraph.

Shadows of the Dusk Queen has gorgeous art that is all in color. Every piece in the book is of the same high quality previewed on its Paizo store page. It sounds silly to say this, but even the page borders are gorgeous. Every bit of love and care that could have gone into this books presentation was put in. Additionally, all of the art is compiled at the back of the book to be easily printed out. The provided maps were similarly gorgeous, and have pages at the back of the book that can be printed out for tabletop use.

Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a very engaging adventure that can be completed in one session. One of the biggest things that stuck out to me was the encounters. There were multiple encounters that you could talk your way out of, and a good mix between easy encounters and challenging ones. The challenging ones in particular awed me, since they relied on battlefield awareness just as much as character power. The creatures you fight have abilities and tactics that complement the terrains you face them in, so that even if they are “weak” for the player’s level, they still provide a challenge that may require thinking outside the box. The final battle of this adventure was everything that the dialogue in the adventure hyped up to be. There were multiple times that we, the party, though a TPK was imminent, but we managed to pull through with one near death, and a dead animal companion. We were told afterwards that we fought the final encounter at its highest difficulty setting, which really made us feel proud. I am impressed that there were difficulty settings for this final battle as it makes the adventure more accessible to players of all styles right out of the box.

My only problem with the adventure was its beginning. There were no friendly NPCs to pull the player characters into the adventure. There is a sidebar explaining that introducing the adventure would be left the GM so that it could fit in with whatever campaign they are running so this is forgivable, but against my liking.

Up next is the player rewards, of which there are many. There are many consumables to be found and earned that help with challenges in the adventure, though they are not necessary to complete the challenges. Most parties should benefit from the gear found as well, though the greatest reward is the Dusk Queen’s spell book, which is an intelligent spell book with an entire page and a half dedicated to it. The book is a little quirky, like any intelligent magic item should be, but quite manageable. It can be used to easily provide future quest hooks, and is bound to make any spell book using class happy. The item is so cool that I plan to bring this adventure into future campaigns to give them a challenge, while also giving out some of the coolest loot.

Overall, Shadows of the Dusk Queen earns a 4.5 out of 5 from me. The good points of this adventure outweigh my dislike for its introduction. This was a very fun experience for my friends and I, and I plan on running it on my own at some point.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This module clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

This module was moved up on my review-queue at the request of my players. The following being an adventure-review, from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Even the shadow fey can love, in their own, alien way - and so, a scáthesidhe, exiled from the winter court and hence known as the dusk queen, retreated to the dark woods and ruled as one would expect from a lady with her moniker. Against all possibility, a man from a far off land of eternal sun and scorching heat found his path into the dusk queen's dominion, where the two promptly fell in love - and here, the story might have ended, were it not for the construction of a dark mirror, which fueled the latent paranoia of the queen. The traveler, then known as sun king, tried to overlook his lover's continuing descent into amorality and evil, but when he noticed her plans to invade his home, he acted - weaving mighty magics, he imprisoned the queen and sundered her mirror; tales of tragic love being what they are, his solution did not prove to be permanent - and thus, the PCs happen upon a foreboding, dark forest, where the wind itself carries the words "She has returned" to their ears.

Entering the forest, a lavishly-illustrated treant weeping acid tears tasks the PCs in cryptic hints to track down the shards of the dusk queen's mirror - and escape is no option. From hampered teleportation to swarms of shadow stirges, the forest does its best to foil the PCs and yes, there is a table of wandering monsters, of which I encourage you to make ample use. The shadow forest's overview map (which is no less beautiful than the artwork) does provide several obvious paths that can be tackled in different sequences.

The locations themselves can be considered a veritable who's who of dark forest locations - from a pool of shadow nymphs to a bog most foul hiding an ancient monument and a spirit naga to a strike-force of bugbears under the command of a half umbral-dragon leader to a massive hangman's tree, the task of collecting the shards is a quick and interesting succession of iconic locales - and yes, of course, the PCs also get a chance to duke it out with a shadow drake.

Once they have finally assembled all the shards, it's time to face the dusk queen's tower, wherein she tries to cajole them into using the shards to repair her mirror and restore her to full power - hopefully barring that, she will attempt to use force - by means of her own theurge-magics as well as a graveknight antipaladin and his companion. Besting the two deadly adversaries (significantly easier if a strong-willed PC uses the powerful shards to blast them!) will see the end of the adventure and the tower's collapse - for now, for a sequel is in the making. Oh, and yes, there is a powerful, intelligent spellbook to be found here.

Now this pdf has GLORIOUS artworks and cartography all around - and you can actually use both: The module provides an art & map section that reproduces the Paizo-level gorgeous artwork (one provided for most major antagonists!) as one-page hand-outs to show to your players. Furthermore, the glorious full-color cartography of the dark wood is provided in a player-friendly version and to trump that, we also get the dusk queen's ruined throne room as a player-friendly, overview with a grid AND in battle-map-style size to print out - now THIS is going one step beyond! Two thumbs up!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, 2-column full-color standard and the artworks by Bryan Syme are staggering -see the cover? The copious amount of interior artwork is JUST AS GOOD. Yes. This is one of the most beautiful modules I've read in ages, with cartography also ranking in the top-tier echelon, especially due to the copious support regarding battle-map, player-friendly versions etc. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

My players still talk fondly of Marc Radle's first module published by Raging Swan Press, The Sunken Pyramid, so when I brought this module to the table, they were keen on playing it. The dark wood has a superb atmosphere that thankfully stands on its own and does not provide overlap with AAW Games' superb Snow White duology (Part I and Part II), instead creating its very own atmosphere and mood - which is a good thing. This module is all about atmosphere that is captured in great detail and enhanced by what could be considered to be some of the most stunning pieces of artwork I have ever seen in a 3pp module. Especially at the low price point, this is stunning.

Now I playtested this one twice, for a reason - my players were insanely lucky and had 14 natural 20s in the run of this module - and since it is pretty much a brief one that focuses on atmosphere, this meant they pretty much curb-stomped the opposition. When I ran it for a second time for a significantly less experienced and optimized group, there was one unlucky PC death, though that is to be attributed to abysmal luck. This module is not a meat-grinder and neither is it particularly challenging - the final fight in particular was very easy on my PCs in the first run.

Difficulty-wise, this is not a particularly challenging module, but it is a very much worthwhile adventure that feels completely like a Kobold Press adventure, breathing a sense of ancient fairy tales gone wrong. In direct comparison, the fights themselves do feel like they could have benefited from more environmental peculiarities and hazards - but that may just be me being spoiled. Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a premium quality module with a unique mood that very much manages to depict a compelling, short trip into a dark forest that actually deserves the moniker. My aforementioned nitpicks can mostly be attributed to me being a spoiled bastard and are offset by the quality of both production-values and mood. I do advise GMs running this for an experienced group to increase the difficulty-levels, though. In the end, I am happy with this module - its story resonates, its production values are superb, its builds are non-standard and interesting - and while it may be brief and none too hard, it was a great experience to run. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Now can we have more modules of that caliber? After all, that's what made me a fan of Kobold Press back in the day when it still was Open Design...

Endzeitgeist out.


4.5/5 short term, 2.5/5 long term

***( )( )

Disclaimer 1: I believe RPG supplements can only be properly evaluated in hindsight. Hence, I normally only review supplements which are at least one year old. As of this writing, this adventure is more recent, so my rating is tentative.
Disclaimer 2: I received a free copy of this adventure in exchange for a review. I was not involved in its development, nor did I receive any other compensation.
This PDF comes in at 36 pages, including 31 pages of content. Being an adventure review, this review will contain spoilers.
The adventure background is fairly generic: long ago, the eponymous queen got a magic mirror which turned her evil. Her husband defeated her, sealed her away, and broke the mirror. She just recently broke her seal, but is weakened. The fragments of the mirror are powerful magic items in their own right, and if all are brought to the proper location the Dusk Queen will return to full power.

Next we are introduced to the Shadow Forest, the area in which the entire adventure takes place. There are eight locations identified and detailed in the Forest, and the PCs can essentially move between them as desired. Some of the locations, such the Shadow Nymph’s Pool, contain NPCs sympathetic to the PCs who provide useful information and a piece of the Mirror.
A random encounter table for the space between the detailed locations of the Forest is also provided.
Eventually, the PCs collect all the pieces of the Mirror, and head to the Dusk Queen’s Tower. The Dusk Queen informs the PCs that they have been misled about her true nature, that she is actually good, and that she is eternally grateful to the PCs for collecting her shards. She instructs the PCs to place the shards on her throne in exchange for a reward. At this point, we get the most inexplicable part of this book:
“The Dusk Queen focuses all of her charisma and powers
of persuasion to cajole the shards from the PCs. If
unsuccessful….”
If the PCs (correctly) believe the Dusk Queen to be the villain of this adventure, she will likely be unable to convince them to give her the shards. In that case, the Dusk Queen summons her dread knight guardian and attacks.
But what if the PCs are persuaded of her honesty? Some of the Dusk Queen’s enemies in the adventure so far have been less than friendly to the PCs, so that is a distinct possibility. What happens if they give her the mirror shards? There is no indication of what happens in the book.
Once the Dusk Queen is killed, the tower collapses, and the PCs have to enact a daring escape.

The supplement closes with 13 pages of full-color maps and illustrations of characters and locations in the adventure.

Short Term Use: While the plot of this adventure is simple, it is presented clearly enough to run with minimal preparation. The setting is also sufficiently generic to work into the flow of your existing campaign. The NPCs are given full, detailed stat-blocks with top-notch editing, making them easy to use right away. The maps also make setting up encounters quick. Aside from the one glaring omission noted earlier, Marc Radle has written a fun, solid adventure at a level range with a dearth of published adventures, making for a Short Term Rating of 4.5/5.
Long Term Rating: Almost everything in the Forest revolves around the Dusk Queen and the Mirror fragments. Unfortunately, that fact means you are unlikely to get much use out of the locations after the adventure is completed. Some of the NPCs are interesting in their own right, but as they are almost all tied to the forest, you likely won’t use any of them again. The unoriginality of the plot means it is unlikely to inspire stories of your own. The only part I can imagine using after the adventure is done are the encounter maps. Hence, this supplement clocks in at a Long Term Rating of 2.5/5, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


An Amazing (if not super difficult) Adventure

*****

Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a great adventure with some very talented storytelling, great art, and generally great play.

The basic premise is that once upon a time a fey queen of shadow falls in love with a scion of light, and there briefly seems to be a time where her love can overcome her dark nature. Unfortunately, she comes into possession of a magical mirror that feeds her paranoia and darker nature, and ultimately the scion of light shatters her mirror and binds her away from the mortal realms for a few eons, until she eventually frees herself (which is where the actual adventure starts).

The twisted nature of the shadowy forest where most of the adventure takes place makes it difficult for the party to use magic to shortcut through most encounters without breaking logical consistency, which is nice, though the adventure can be relatively brief depending on the party's choices.

I absolutely loved how the art and writing worked so perfectly in sync, creating an awesome " Brothers Grimm" kind of dark fairy tail feel that was just awesome. As the party quests to restore the dusk queen's shattered mirror and lay her dark powers to rest once and for all, they'll face swarms of shadowy stirges, meet an acid-weeping treant, be tested by a pool of shadow nymphs, and more!

This is a must-have adventure for any fans of fey or dark fairy tails, and can be a great addition to any campaign. If you're a GM looking for that next amazing adventure hook, or even just needing to fill in a few hours for a party of 7th - 9th level characters, I strongly, strongly, suggest you pick it up and give it a spin.


Good Adventure

*****

This isn't railroady as the party could potentially go straight for the BBEG first. There are suggestions to the party that they should do certain things first (trying to avoid spoilers).

The art in the book is great. In the PDF, people get some extra pages with images of some of the individuals encountered and an item that might show up. That's great for a GM that wants an aid to help the party visualize what they're encountering without showing the image with text.

There are some encounters that could potentially be resolved through diplomacy or combat, which is nice for more combative or more peaceful adventuring groups.


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Community Manager

Now available!

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks Liz!!!

I’m excited to see this finally released into the world! Although not my first published adventure, Shadows of the Dusk Queen IS my first adventure published by Kobold Press, which makes it extra special to me!

This includes a 12-page art and map appendix. I always loved those great AD&D modules that included pages of art so you could actually show the players what they see for each encounter, so this is my homage of that.

Can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks!


Is it a good idea to include pageshots that include the BBEGal's tactics and some of her abilities?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

$4.99 for the PDF - that seems quite good!!!

Liberty's Edge

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Is it a good idea to include pageshots that include the BBEGal's tactics and some of her abilities?

Hmmm ... that's a good point! I'll shoot Liz an e-mail ...


Well, the art is fantastic, so I see why the previews are there....but still

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Yeah, I sent Liz the previews because I was looking at the art. Doh.

I have asked Liz to remove the previews or blur the text.

Liberty's Edge

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Well, the art is fantastic, so I see why the previews are there....but still

The art IS pretty fantastic, though. It's one of the reasons I wanted to do the section of full page art to show the players!

Community Manager

Removed the preview!

Liberty's Edge

Thanks Liz. Can you please remove the others as well? They each still give away too much!

We can talk offline about maybe popping less spoilery previews up

Community Manager

Less spoilery previews added! :D

Liberty's Edge

Thanks Liz! Awesome to be able to feature the art again!


How well would this integrate into the Kingmaker adventure path?


Is this located in the Midgard Campaign Setting?

Liberty's Edge

Hey there hyulf & Jeven!

This is a fairly self contained adventure (the action is within the forest) so it easily fits into any campaign world! It's not specifically set in Midgard, but it would certainly work in a Midgard game with no issues. Similarly, this adventure would be perfect for a Kingmaker campaign - since a great deal of Kingmaker is about exploring and concurring the land, it would be very easy to have the players discover, and then need to investigate, the forest.

What's more, there are some cool elements that can easily become part of a longer running campaign. There are even the seeds to a follow up adventure sprinkled about :)

Liberty's Edge

I received a PM earlier asking what that was stuck in the stump of that one limb in the hanging tree preview image. I gave the person sending the PM kudos for his keen eye, but told him I probably shouldn't say.

It is kind of important though ... :)

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for the great review! :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Picked this up for inclusion in my Kingmaker campaign. Thanks for the Fey Fun.

Liberty's Edge

Awesome Rathendar! I'd love to hear how it goes when you run it!

Liberty's Edge

And .... thanks for the new review!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Mark: (KM spoilery)

Spoiler:
in general, i have snagged several Nymph products and plan to have their domains be former fiefs of the big N. After her ..seperation at the hands of the Eldest, her underlings all make power plays. Each grabs outside the normal fey umbrella for it. Shadow Realm (dusk queen), The Fellnight (same adventure), Daemons (over by varnhold, revamping pallid plague PFS scenario), and Winter (carnival of tears)

Liberty's Edge

Sounds interesting!


My first thought upon reading this module is that it seems way too easy for level 8 characters. All of the enemies' challenge ratings seem way too low and I don't anticipate the party will have much trouble.

Liberty's Edge

Slightly off topic but, not really :)

Cool Kobold Press focused episode of the Tome Show:

Listen Now

Liberty's Edge

Be sure to pop over to the Kobold Press web site to learn a bit about my co-writer :)

Shadows of the Dusk Queen Designer’s Diary

Liberty's Edge

So far, only one person has figured out the Easter egg :))

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for the review Aeyman!

Andrew Boucher 88 - nice teaser 'review'; looking forward to the full version!


My review is coming slowly, sorry. I just have a lot of real life work on my plate. But it is coming....

Liberty's Edge

137ben wrote:
My review is coming slowly, sorry. I just have a lot of real life work on my plate. But it is coming....

No worries! Real life always seems to get in the way of gaming :)

Liberty's Edge

Hey, cool! Just saw that Shadows of the Dusk Queen is #12 on DriveThruRPG's list of "Hottest Pathfinder Titles" and 'copper' level 'Best Seller" status!

That's awesome! :)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Just wondering when Ghosts of Shadoes Past will be available?

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Chris Ballard wrote:
Just wondering when Ghosts of Shadoes Past will be available?

Excellent question! It is not on the schedule yet, so that means "2016."

Liberty's Edge

Yep, as Wolfgang said, Ghosts of Shadows Past is still just an idea in my head at this point (by OH what an idea! It involves a kidnapping, a chase, powerful magic involving a skull, and a bizarre pocket dimension ... perhaps I've said to much :)

But in order for the Great Kobold Overlord to green light a sequal, we need to make sure Shadows of the Dusk Queen does as well as possible :)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Thanks for the responses. I had seen the reference during a skim through this product, so I just got wondered about that one.

Liberty's Edge

No problem Chris!

Like I said, I'd LOVE to do Ghosts of Shadows Past, but let's concentrate on making sure folks hear about Shadows of the Dusk Queen first :)

Liberty's Edge

Annnnnnd thanks for the short but sweet review as well Chris!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Looks like this must be selling well, print version is now unavailable.

Liberty's Edge

Nice! :)


My review is (finally) up. Short version: it is a fun adventure that I really enjoyed running. I doubt I'll still be coming back to it five years from now. It's a great short-term supplement, and, as with many adventures, it's not as good in the long run.
As usual, the rating I entered into the system is the long term rating rounded off; I do not believe it is possible to give a single rating which accurately reflects an RPG product's "overall" rating, in both the short- and long-term.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS. Cheers!

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for the new reviews everyone!

@ 137ben - interesting points about getting long term use from an adventure. I don't think I've really ever heard anyone rate an adventure based on, essentially its 'replay' value before :) Certainly a valid point of view though!

One thing I would point out though - you probably noticed a GM note toward the end of the adventure hinting at a sequel, Ghosts of Shadows Past? I'm obviously not going to spill the beans here, but that sequel (which I mentioned earlier involves a kidnapping, a chase, powerful magic involving a skull, and a bizarre pocket dimension) starts off, and spends a decent amount in and ... um ... 'around' the forest. So, there just might be a bit more long term value after all :)

@ Endzeitgeist - thanks so much for the great review! You can't do better than 5 stars + the Endzeitgeist seal of approval!!!! :)


Marc Radle wrote:


One thing I would point out though - you probably noticed a GM note toward the end of the adventure hinting at a sequel, Ghosts of Shadows Past? I'm obviously not going to spill the beans here, but that sequel (which I mentioned earlier involves a kidnapping, a chase, powerful magic involving a skull, and a bizarre pocket dimension) starts off, and spends a decent amount in and ... um ... 'around' the forest. So, there just might be a bit more long term value after all :)

And that is one of the primary reasons I think RPG supplements can only be evaluated properly in hindsight, and why, aside from this one, all my reviews have been for supplements that were at least a year old, most older.

As I said in the review itself, all ratings I give for new products are tentative, until I can see how they stand the test of time. I might revise my rating after I see the sequel.

Grand Lodge

Chris Ballard wrote:
Looks like this must be selling well, print version is now unavailable.

Not nice at all Mr Radle, now I can;t get it! :(

Liberty's Edge

@ 137ben - totally understood, no worries! Just wanted to point that out :)

@ mach1.9pants - I would never stand in the way of ANYONE wanting to pick up this adventure!!! :)

I've alerted the Kobold Shipping and Fulfillment Department and I suspect more will arrive faster than you can whisper 'she has returned'!

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

We hope to have it back in stock at Paizo soon (it sold out at Gen Con, too!).

Right now, copies are available at Kobold Press and at Amazon.

Liberty's Edge

Sold out is certainly not a bad problem to have :)

Sounds like replacements are on the way, though!

Liberty's Edge

Gah! Still no new print copies available? This must be remedied post haste!!!

Liberty's Edge

OK, it sounds like the new print copies have been delivered to the illustrious Paizo Warehouse Complex! We should see print copies available here on Paizo.com very soon! :)

Liberty's Edge

I've received a bunch of PM's asking when Shadows of the Dusk Queen would be available once again here on Paizo.com ...

Looks like print copies are back in stock and ready for your purchasing pleasure! :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Finally got my chance to play it! Review incoming on Wednesday. Thank you Kobold Press, this Dusk Queen really brightened up my weekend.

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