Maiden, Mother, Crone (GM Reference)


Reign of Winter

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Haskul did you give your characters some way to manifest/control the mantle? Otherwise the mantle as proof is rather inconsistent with the rest of the adventure.

Zorka, Raven Oracles, Ratibor, etc no one seems to actually be able to really tell they've been chosen. And Zorka's article specifically says she can't detect it at all.

The only exception thus far has been the hut itself which is fine, since no one in the adventure actually understands how the hut operates.


Tangent101 wrote:
They have a +20 for what they are. However, they have penalties for distance and for being distracted.

I suppose that's the thought. The DC for hearing someone talk is 0. The DC for hearing a Frost Giant shout has to be lower than that. The DC for hearing a battle (which is certainly happening at this point) is DC -10. It seems to me the distance (and clearly quite severe) distraction penalties were already added to the number to get the DC 20 number. Or they should have been, otherwise, what's the point of writing it?

That's just a ridiculously minor quibble, though. I'm really enjoying the adventure.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It may not have been thought all the way through. However, you have a giant shouting through his own body, which blocks much of the passage. Then you have a distance to the distracted reinforcements. And of course the distraction level. Given the giant is slowly moving back into the main passage, the module-writers probably skimped on that detail and assumed the GM would work it out.


Rob McCreary wrote:

It is essentially hostile, though its initial attitude is not specifically mentioned, as Diplomacy is not really useful in this situation. This is why the PCs have to trick it into revealing its desires using Bluff, likely while fighting it.

That being said, how the encounter plays out can be adjusted by individual GMs. If you want the Witchdaughter's Nightmare to not attack on sight and give the PCs a chance to interact with it first, that's fine, but as the PCs press it with more question, it would certainly become more hostile and eventually attack.

As to what happens if the PCs kill it before they learn its desire, no it does not reanimate. It is a creature, and if slain, it dies. But the raven Tryva has told the PCs they need to find out its desires; part of the challenge of the encounter is learning that information before killing it. If the PCs fail to do so, it's pretty much their own fault.

This encounter confuses the heck out of me, not much to go on in the description, the PC's are trying to trick the nightmare into saying that it wants to destroy Baba Yaga and escape? How the bloody heck are they going to do that? Bluff: "So y'know what would tick the Baba Yaga off? Telling us all your innermost desires.". Some example questions and/or answers like the standard black rider interaction would really be appreciated here, as well as more concrete idea of how long you have until she flies off the handle.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

When I first asked, it was basically "she immediately attacks, you have to withstand her attacks while interrogating her until you know." Sadly, this is the one raven that I'd feel bad about killing... and it's the one raven most likely to die because the encounter sucks.


Glutton wrote:
This encounter confuses the heck out of me, not much to go on in the description, the PC's are trying to trick the nightmare into saying that it wants to destroy Baba Yaga and escape? How the bloody heck are they going to do that? Bluff: "So y'know what would tick the Baba Yaga off? Telling us all your innermost desires.". Some example questions and/or answers like the standard black rider interaction would really be appreciated here, as well as more concrete idea of how long you have until she flies off the handle.

Get the villain to monologue.

"So, before you kill me there's just one thing I don't understand..."

It seems like so many villains have egos large enough to render them incapable of resisting gloating. I'd probably run the animate nightmare of a past-queen as having an ego large enough to fill the room so that getting her to talk wouldn't be too much of a problem, rather, it'd be an issue of surviving long enough to push the conversation towards information that's actually relevant.


My players seem to get a giggle out of villian egos...like lengthy monologues, detailed personal diaries, and the like...

My next villian is following the rules on being an evil overlord, on the internet somewhere!.

Quick, to the point, practical, and very very charismatic! Yup! should confuse them for a bit..


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Page 34, Room C10 wrote:
Kyrisjana’s skin has darkened to reflect the wickedness in her soul, ...

I'm not usually someone to loudly claim political correctness, but am I the only one who this sentence strikes as ... well, at least borderline racist? Implying that the darker the skin the more wicked you are, that really seems a very antique point of view.

This isn't usually something that affects my sensibilities, but here I really came to a halt while reading this and had to reread the sentence thinking "what the hell". I'm quite certain neither Tim Hitchcock nor anyone at Paizo really wants to push that kind of ethical view, but I really have to wonder how that slipped through.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Considering their thematic paladin is a black woman, no. That's not what they're implying.

What they're saying is that the "darkness" of the person's "soul" is so pronounced that you can literally see it. Sort of like how someone's "holiness" can "shine" through them.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Couldn't it be similar to how elves with debased souls can spontaneously change skin color and become corrupted drow? Clearly, Kyrisjana isn't an elf. But a debased fey nymph isn't that far off, thematically-speaking.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Reading this thread, it seems my initial feeling upon reading it, that this module is somehow off, seems to have be correct one. Well, my personal gripe was that we were leaving the very interesting situation in Irrisen, to prance around in three dungeons, but there you go.


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magnuskn wrote:
Reading this thread, it seems my initial feeling upon reading it, that this module is somehow off, seems to have be correct one. Well, my personal gripe was that we were leaving the very interesting situation in Irrisen, to prance around in three dungeons, but there you go.

I agree Magnuskn, this module does not resonate with me at all. I understand the desire to show off the huts travel abilities, but even then this set of dungeons didn't really inspire me at all. Think I got spoiled with Shattered Star.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yeah, what magnuskin and Black Dougal say. Following the bread crumbs of Baba Yaga, yes, but the whole thing seem somewhat random. Even the encounters in the dungeons feel thrown together.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I think there are two problems here. First, it feels too short, especially in comparison to the previous module. Second, we are introduced to a second antagonist who honestly doesn't feel related to the first. If the antagonist had in fact been a war party from the Queen meant to seize this stronghold dedicated to Baba Yaga, then there would have been a greater sense of continuity. It would have been an ongoing part of the story.

Instead, we go skipping off to Siberia to fight centaurs and frost giants who are only there out of a sense of opportunism. There is no great war going on here. There is no threat. The only thing driving the party is the goad of the geas and the "need" to get the key to go to the next locale.

Further, you get a strong feeling this is going to once more be the case for the NEXT module. We go to another planet... and it'll once more have naught to do with the Queen. Instead, we're searching for the Doctor - er, I mean Baba Yaga using her chicken-legged Tardis. That's all.

We have a Queen who is threatening to turn the world into an icecube. And yet the queen has been abandoned.

Spoiler:
There are no attacks through her backdoor (which was specified in the second module to the GM)
and the cold weather here has naught to do with her plot. So what gives?

A couple years ago I ended up scrapping an entire segment of a novel I'd written. Why? Two antagonists that were unrelated. It made no sense for the two to be disassociated (especially as one was an Unseelie Prince who had manipulated much leading up to the story). The solution: make the second antagonist a servant of the Prince.

The same could have been done here: The centaur and frost giants could have been working for the Queen and seeking to seize control of this bastion of Baba Yaga. The end result would be a more cohesive story and would not only unite these disparate elements... but allow the PCs to have thwarted the Queen once more.

(Having thought of this, I may very well rewrite the villains to be doing just that. The only real question remaining is what else is in the Ebon Pit which would explain why the Centaur went there? What weapon of Baba Yaga is hidden there which she so craves?)

The Exchange

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While I, like many here, didn't really like the three linked dungeons (as Black Dougal aptly put it, "shattered star" spoiled us as far as dungeoun quelity is concerned, I think), but really the rest of what people are saying here is not really a problem with the AP but with their expectations from it.

From the very beginning this was NOT going to be an Irrisen AP, or even a "fight queen Elvanna" AP. This was going to be the Baba Yaga AP, meaning that the lore of Baba Yaga was going to become increasingly important, but which also means that the PCs are going to backtrail her. The AP is about learning more and more about Baba Yaga, and this is accomplished through a Doctor Who like plot structure - PCs travel to a location where Baba Yaga was before, and get involved in an encupsulated adventure that dosen't have anything to do with the other adventures.

I can get that people would rather see an Irrisen AP, but the folk at Paizo were being VERY clear about what Reign of Winter is from the very beginning. For future APs, a good way to avoid being disappointed could be to actualy believe the lead designer of an AP when he's telling you upfront what to expact, and adjust expectations accordingly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, the disconnect I felt upon reading the module is one of my main gripes with APs ( their often very, very poor connection to each other, which is just lazy storytelling, IMO ), so I was bound to be disappointed.
When I run a campaign, I want to have the sense that I am telling and living a cohesive story, not six barely connected anthologies. Having the entire module consist of running around in three consecutive dungeons is just the icing on the cake of "meh".

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I found the dungeon not that bad then again my group did manage to skip most of it (A combination of route chosen and luck when being given a key meant they avoided the mother dungeon entirly and most the crone) Ended up beefing things up a bit by having all the hags attack the party and the warden at once, Allowed said warden to leave with them and finally filled in the missing xp hole by creating a group sent by Irrisen to hunt them down (Turned into a nice running battle back to the hut.)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:

Well, the disconnect I felt upon reading the module is one of my main gripes with APs ( their often very, very poor connection to each other, which is just lazy storytelling, IMO ), so I was bound to be disappointed.

When I run a campaign, I want to have the sense that I am telling and living a cohesive story, not six barely connected anthologies. Having the entire module consist of running around in three consecutive dungeons is just the icing on the cake of "meh".

APs are written in parallel by different authors in order to make it possible for them to come out monthly. Under such model, keeping cohesion on a level of a string of adventures written by one person is next to impossible.

Also, *not* having strong connection between adventures makes it easier for folks who adapt individual AP episodes into their own campaigns or who alter the whole meta-plot altogether. Expanding the AP (e.g. by making the links between adventures stronger) is always easier than contracting the AP by cutting out something hardwired (say, Ameiko in JR).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, of course this is the Baba Yaga AP rather than the Irrisen AP. However, the thing to recall is this: the Irrisen meta-story is intrinsically bond to the Baba Yaga meta-story.

Spoiler:
Baba Yaga, after all, is nomming the life-energy of her daughters to retain her own vitality... and Elvanna wants to supplant her mother and drag the entire world into a massive ice age so to rule the entire planet
. Seeing we're still in the same world, Elvanna's plots should still be relevant. She would be hoping to seize all elements of her mother's power throughout Golarion.

The fact that the Dungeons Three only serve to embody the Maiden/Mother/Crone goddess myth (nor do my memories of Baba Yaga recall her depicted as Maiden or Mother, though admittedly I've only a passing knowledge of Baba Yaga and Russian/Prussian mythology) and that even the unseasonable cold weather has nothing to do with Elvanna's plot? It's a disconnect. We've gone from "Save the World" to "Oh look, a cave! Let's go see what's inside!" (amusing perhaps seeing I'm calling this my "Skyrim" campaign).

The question I'm left with is "what's next?" We know Book 4 is shifting to another world. The blurb on Triaxus suggests that we're not even going to deal with Kostchtchie worshipers... but just some random war! This even goes on to explain the Geas. After all, why does the party need to search for Baba Yaga? Once they're away from the world... the urgency of the situation fades. Thus the Geas keeps them on course.

This is why that sense of cohesion is needed. A central antagonist provides this cohesion. In Return of the Runelords, it was a Runelord. With Jade, it was the Oni. Elvanna should serve this purpose in RoW. But I'm getting a strong vibe this will not be the case.

(Mind you, I write reviews for a hobby, so the critic in me is rampant at the moment. I do know that RoW reignited my passion for my tabletop group... and it won't take too much rewriting to regain some of that cohesion. At least, so that my players don't notice the discrepancies.)

Paizo Employee Developer

Zaister wrote:
Page 34, Room C10 wrote:
Kyrisjana’s skin has darkened to reflect the wickedness in her soul, ...

I'm not usually someone to loudly claim political correctness, but am I the only one who this sentence strikes as ... well, at least borderline racist? Implying that the darker the skin the more wicked you are, that really seems a very antique point of view.

This isn't usually something that affects my sensibilities, but here I really came to a halt while reading this and had to reread the sentence thinking "what the hell". I'm quite certain neither Tim Hitchcock nor anyone at Paizo really wants to push that kind of ethical view, but I really have to wonder how that slipped through.

As others have said, it's more the darkness of the Kyrisjana's soul that caused her skin to darken. That's part of the description of debased fey from the Tome of Horrors, where that template was taken from, and it's similar to how elves in Golarion become drow, as Neil said.

That does not mean that dark skin = evil. But for certain creatures, their outward appearance is a reflection of the darkness within them.

Paizo Employee Developer

We've said in the past that this is not the "Irrisen AP," it's the "Baba Yaga AP." As such, as the AP progresses, the PCs are going to get farther and farther from Irrisen. The Dancing Hut is taking them to exotic places in search of Baba Yaga, because Baba Yaga is the only person that can stop Queen Elvanna.

Elvanna does remain in the background for the first two-thirds of the AP, primarily because the PCs have no hope of facing a 20th-level foe at early levels. Does this mean that she's not a central antagonist? No, but she's one the PCs don't have any interaction with before they're ready. Just because the PCs leave home doesn't mean the situation on Golarion goes away. And in the final adventure, we describe in broad terms exactly what happens if the PCs fail to defeat Elvanna.


Rob McCreary wrote:

We've said in the past that this is not the "Irrisen AP," it's the "Baba Yaga AP." As such, as the AP progresses, the PCs are going to get farther and farther from Irrisen. The Dancing Hut is taking them to exotic places in search of Baba Yaga, because Baba Yaga is the only person that can stop Queen Elvanna.

Elvanna does remain in the background for the first two-thirds of the AP, primarily because the PCs have no hope of facing a 20th-level foe at early levels. Does this mean that she's not a central antagonist? No, but she's one the PCs don't have any interaction with before they're ready. Just because the PCs leave home doesn't mean the situation on Golarion goes away. And in the final adventure, we describe in broad terms exactly what happens if the PCs fail to defeat Elvanna.

Elvanna was in the background for the 1st third, but she was very much a presence. The PCs dealt with her minions and her plans.

They don't have to fight her personally to continue to thwart her progress.

In this module, they've moved away from that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The thing is, my mentioning the Runelords is an apt comparison. The Runelord in question is a level 20 wizard. There is no way the group could face him early. And even if he wasn't... "involved" in certain things and thus unable to go after the PCs earlier, he wouldn't. That's below him.

Likewise, the PCs are below Elvanna. Hell, the Three Riders were below her; she sent minions out to take them out (despite the fact they were the most obvious threat to her plans). That doesn't mean she wouldn't use other minions to do her bidding.

This is the core antagonist aspect I mentioned earlier. The core antagonist need not be the foe they fight constantly. Instead, this antagonist is the one manipulating events. Thus my suggestion that the PCs are fighting Elvanna's minions. It even explains why at the end she may take a direct interest in the PCs - she has seen her minions (and half-brother) thwarted by these insects. So finally she has to take action.

Or to put it another way, Runelords is one of the best APs you guys have put out, from what I've heard (and I must admit my Skype group is loving Runelords tremendously). In Runelords, there is one primary antagonist through 5/6ths of the APs (and indirectly he was responsible for events that lead to Thistletop when he was woken up). But the PCs don't face him 'til the end.

Reign of Winter started out tremendously strong. It sparked my interest and encouraged me to pull my party from an existing campaign (which admittedly was somewhat lackluster) and into a new setting... and has in turn ignited the interests of my tabletop group. The first third of the AP kept that focus with Elvanna as the Big Bad the group was dealing with... even if they fought her minions.

RoW:MMC lacks that cohesion. None of the foes have anything to do with Elvanna, the situation here has nothing to do with her (despite the global nature of Elvanna's plot!), and the sense of urgency has diminished. There are some truly fantastic elements to MMC; but as a whole, part 3 of the AP is somewhat lacking.


While I'd agree that having Elvanna's forces in Artosa and elsewhere would be neat I think part of the issue is dependent on how you've built up your player's expectations.

My players have been constantly reminded of how little they know about the situation and as such they have a greater interest in figuring things out than they do with battling White Witches.

Also thinking ahead here, I don't know how the end will play out but if we are looking at a lesser of 2 evils choice situation then having Elvanna's constant looming evil presence may skew the descision pretty heavily.


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If you think your players would have a problem with this, couldn't you just do something simple like give Vsevolod a mirror or something that allows Elvanna to have had contact with him, or something. Maybe I haven't put a lot of thought into it but that's just something off the top of my head.

In my campaign, I'm putting mirror everywhere and making mention of them every time the players see one. There's one in The Silver Stoat, there'll be another in the High Sentinel's Lodge cellar ("My captors haven't been all bad. They make a nice soup and they even gave me this mirror so that I can keep my appearances up every day.") I love the mirror motif idea, really, and I suspect that my players will be reflexively smashing every single one they see after the second half of book 2.

I bet if I just put a mirror in Vsevolod's gear, I wouldn't even have to explain it. It could be an ordinary mirror. Elvanna may not have ever known about it. Maybe he just uses it to check the health of his gums every morning. I could put a mirror there and without saying a thing my players will just assume, "Ah! That nutzo queen had something to do with this!"

Or maybe I don't have to do that. Red herrings can backfire on you if not thought out well. I'll have to give it some thought.


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Thinking about it, my nod to Elvanna's forces would be to put traces of a large, ruined camp near Artrosa - where an Irrisenni force had been stationed to monitor Artrosa, figure out how to breach it, and claim its secrets for Elvanna, and then died horribly because a centaur showed up leading an army of frost giants and andrazkus and killed them. Or perhaps just frost giants, and the andrazkus were gifted to Vsevolad after he brutally sacrificed the winter witches that had been leading the expedition.

The corpsicles of the sacrifices could still be on display. It's not like they'll thaw any time soon.

As for what the hell Vsevolad is actually doing in Artrosa - the statues serve as some sort of ward against Koschtchie. Perhaps if Vsevolad can slay (ideally, ritually sacrifice) Artrosa's warden and seize the ring, the magicks of the place can be subverted in some matter. Perhaps even converting the Eon Pit, the "womb" of the Crone statue, into a permanent portal to Koschtchie's realm in the Abyss. Not a Worldwound scale disaster, but still pretty bad.

Hmmm.

Digital Products Assistant

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Removed some off-topic posts. If you would like to discuss Paizo's production process, please do so in the appropriate thread.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just have a quick question.

On page 72 the Artrosa, (maiden mother Crone monoliths) are described as being "the 3 mile tall stone statues carved into the percipitous face of its tallest mesas"

And on page 20 under the assent section "the total distance between the base of a figure and its summit is approximately 1/2 a mile or 2,600 feet."

So how tall are these things? 1 mile or 2,600 feet?

Thanks


The Iobaria gazetteer in Kingmaker describes their bodies as being "at least a half-mile long." I plan on sticking with the 2,600 feet measurement as it allows a PC to fly to the top of a statue in 4.4 minutes—that gives 6 rounds to spare assuming a potion of fly or something like that.

Paizo Employee Developer

ElyasRavenwood wrote:

I just have a quick question.

On page 72 the Artrosa, (maiden mother Crone monoliths) are described as being "the 3 mile tall stone statues carved into the percipitous face of its tallest mesas"

And on page 20 under the assent section "the total distance between the base of a figure and its summit is approximately 1/2 a mile or 2,600 feet."

So how tall are these things? 1 mile or 2,600 feet?

Thanks

The statues are about half a mile tall, so the distances in the ascent section are correct. The 3-mile-tall reference in the gazetteer is a typo.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ansel, Rob,
Thank you both for taking the time to answer. When I first read that section of text, I thought i had read that the statues were 3 miles tall a piece!

2,600 feet is quite large, and I feel it kind of fits into the theme of Golarion along with some of the other "Thassalonian" scaled architecture.

Thanks again,
Myles Crocker

Grand Lodge

I'm either missing something, or just having trouble with the visualization of the teleport connection of the dungeons.

Is the intent that the arches are an opaque sheet of magic? Or a plain dead end corridor? Or is it possible to see through to the destination, so it appears that you are just walking down a corridor with no indication that you have teleported?

The third almost seems to be the implication, but I couldn't find where it describes any visual effect.


Scribbling Rambler wrote:

I'm either missing something, or just having trouble with the visualization of the teleport connection of the dungeons.

Is the intent that the arches are an opaque sheet of magic? Or a plain dead end corridor? Or is it possible to see through to the destination, so it appears that you are just walking down a corridor with no indication that you have teleported?

The third almost seems to be the implication, but I couldn't find where it describes any visual effect.

I think that's because there isn't any visual effect.

The best description is in the Artrosa Features section.
It mentions a "seamless transition", says "the effect is instantaneous and isn't readily noticeable".
It also says "A teleportation arch can be detected by a successful DC 31 Perception check by a character inspecting one of the archways" and that if disabled "the passage transforms into a dead end."

I took all of that combined to mean that your third option is the intent. They're not so much teleport connections as permanent portals, passing air and light along with people.

Paizo Employee Developer

The third interpretation is correct, as thejeff says. There is no visible effect - characters are just walking down a corridor and suddenly the decor changes, which is the only hint that they have been transported somewhere else.

Grand Lodge

Thanks, thejeff & Rob.
What I thought, but my brain was all muddly and I wanted to find out if it knew what it was talking about.


There are two centaurs with subtypes in the book, where are these subtypes detailed?

Paizo Employee Developer

Devastation Bob wrote:
There are two centaurs with subtypes in the book, where are these subtypes detailed?

Those aren't subtypes. The Tsolniva and Rashalka that's in parenthesis after centaur designates their ethnicities. There is more information about centaur ethnicities in the area in the Dvezda Marches article. There's a sidebar on page 68 that talks about the Rashalka, Azorva, and Tsolniva. There's no mechanical differences between the different ethnicities.

Dark Archive

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Am I the only one who thinks Artrosa is REALLY hard? Assuming the PC's are still level 8 for at least the first third of the mega dungeon, it's an endless series of challenging and hard encounters. My poor players are going to be needing places to sleep a lot.

Dark Archive

YuenglingDragon wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks Artrosa is REALLY hard? Assuming the PC's are still level 8 for at least the first third of the mega dungeon, it's an endless series of challenging and hard encounters. My poor players are going to be needing places to sleep a lot.

absolutely i've already killed 2 PC's and they have just had there 4th encounter and my party has laughed at everything i've sent them thus far.

i find it kinda refreshing gives them something to worry about

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

average_zombie wrote:

absolutely i've already killed 2 PC's and they have just had there 4th encounter and my party has laughed at everything i've sent them thus far.

i find it kinda refreshing gives them something to worry about

Average Z,

Specifically, did they find the The Shackled Hut too easy? A short simple answer is fine, I don't want to derail this this thread (and moving any comments to the appropriate thread would be welcome). I won't take it personally or try to defend it, I just want to make sure I note that for future projects. Thanks!

Dark Archive

Jim Groves wrote:


Specifically, did they find the The Shackled Hut too easy? A short simple answer is fine, I don't want to derail this this thread (and moving any comments to the appropriate thread would be welcome). I won't take it personally or try to defend it, I just want to make sure I note that for future projects. Thanks!

My players haven't done it yet but I can pretty accurately guess how it will go. The clock tower ( and maybe the maze) will be a challenge because it's a bunch of fights in one day which will require careful resource management. The rest of it won't be too hard.

Personally, that's about where I like it to be. The fights are good and all but we're more interested in a good story. Fights can help that and a lot of stuff in Shackled Hut does, especially where it reinforces dark fairy tale themes like eating kids. But Artrosa's fights are uniformly challenging or worse for an APL 8 party. Add to that save or suck like stunning, sleeping, petrification, etc and it's going to be really hard to get them through the place without killing them and without busting the bejeezus out of verisimilitude and making it obvious that I'm letting them win.

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