Winter Witches in RoW: Let It Go?


Reign of Winter

Radiant Oath

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Reign of Winter has at least one trait relating to a PC being or becoming a Winter Witch (Failed Winter Witch Apprentice), so that indicates that despite the Winter Witches being villains in Reign of Winter and much of its narrative hinging on Baba Yaga and their relationship with them, that doesn't preclude player Winter Witches, as opposed to other APs (such as with drow not working well as PCs in Second Darkness).

Though Reign of Winter came first, the Disney film, Frozen, was released in theaters that same year, and it has taken the world (and the internet) by storm. Regardless of my opinion of the film or anyone else's, a very Winter-Witch-like character is now a prominent figure in the public imagination.

So...would playing a Winter Witch in Reign of Winter now be a roleplaying faux-pas like playing a Drizzt Do'Urden clone? Playing a Winter Witch feels pretty cool (no pun intended), and the traits imply that having one in Reign of Winter is okay, but I'm concerned if I created such a character now, I'd be accused of playing an Elsa rip-off.

What are your thoughts?


I don't think it would be considered a drizzt clone situation, but that would depend on the individuals.

Winter Witch concepts work really well in book 2 in particular for roleplay and plot reasons.

It is a fine story and roleplay hook. However mechanically a concept that depends on cold damage spells will have significant problems when many foes have the cold subtype and are full out immune to cold damage.

If you go the winter witch route do not depend on cold damage exclusively as many things big and small will be immune to it.


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Not at all. You could play a male Winter Witch. For that matter, you could play a gnome Winter Witch with rainbow hair and a love for bright colors. Just because you use ice magic doesn't mean you're pulling an Elsa.

And if you think this is bad, I'm running Runelords (and RoW separately). One player chose to play a Jadwiga Imperious Sorceress with a tendency toward ice magic. Short, blonde, quite beautiful. The player is rather frustrated that her character will be associated with Elsa from now on, despite predating her by over a year. (The RoW game doesn't have any ice sorceresses - the closest is an NPC Arcanist who has very little offensive magic. The others include a male cleric, Nadya (run by a player), a female Varisian thief, a female catfolk Brawler, and a goblin Eldritch Warrior riding inside human-sized clockwork armor. So needless to say we've not had anyone coming close to an Elsa in the actual RoW campaign.)


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Do you wanna build a PC?
C'mon, let's get the dice
We never roleplay anymore
Get out the Core
I'll play a Witch of ice!


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Reign of Winter has at least one trait relating to a PC being or becoming a Winter Witch (Failed Winter Witch Apprentice), so that indicates that despite the Winter Witches being villains in Reign of Winter and much of its narrative hinging on Baba Yaga and their relationship with them, that doesn't preclude player Winter Witches, as opposed to other APs (such as with drow not working well as PCs in Second Darkness).

Though Reign of Winter came first, the Disney film, Frozen, was released in theaters that same year, and it has taken the world (and the internet) by storm. Regardless of my opinion of the film or anyone else's, a very Winter-Witch-like character is now a prominent figure in the public imagination.

So...would playing a Winter Witch in Reign of Winter now be a roleplaying faux-pas like playing a Drizzt Do'Urden clone? Playing a Winter Witch feels pretty cool (no pun intended), and the traits imply that having one in Reign of Winter is okay, but I'm concerned if I created such a character now, I'd be accused of playing an Elsa rip-off.

What are your thoughts?

I think this is the first thread where I've actually seen someone being worried about being called an Elsa rip-off. If not the first thread, than the first I've seen in a long time.

Elsa's way closer to an X-Man with ice powers than to a Pathfinder witch.

If I was actually trying to make Elsa I'd go for a boreal bloodline sorcerer, not a witch.

Silver Crusade

Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Do you wanna build a PC?

C'mon, let's get the dice
We never roleplay anymore
Get out the Core
I'll play a Witch of ice!

+1, you sir win the world.


Also, one can take the winter witch archetype (necessary for the winter witch prestige class), without having a connection to the Winter Witches of Irrisen. The first two are simply Witch class options for specialising in cold magic, while the last are the rulers of Irrisen.

Granted, even in-world a non-Irriseni winter witch could be _thought_ to have connections with Irrisen. Those who know better would know that a non-Jadwiga winter witch (particularly if male) is not one of the Winter Witches. Of course, one of the former could be working for/allied with the latter (see Radosek Pavril) ...

Silver Crusade Contributor

I'm actually playing an Ulfen winter witch - one whose ancestors were among the founders/discoverers of Valenhall, and who has the Ancestors patron as a result. I love the Linnorm Kings, and I liked the idea of someone who still had a chip on their shoulder about the Winter War. (I also had some spoilers, so my concept - with DM cooperation - was partially set up to romance a certain someone from book 2. I fell in love as soon as I saw the art, and the story was great too.) Between my witch, the spear-and-shield Viking, and a suspiciously Jadwigaesque rifleman, our party has been a blast.

I've seen a lot of your posts, Z, and I'd say you worry too much. (No offense.) Trust me, as somebody who always wants to be the best fit for the story, the paths are more than flexible enough. You seem to have a decent handle on the fluff, and that probably makes you more qualified than most. Just remember, there's such a thing as being too perfect for a part. Some of my campaigns wouldn't have been half as memorable if everyone were dead-on thematic. I suggest thinking a little more outside the box - just a little, at least. :)

That was longer than I planned! :D

Silver Crusade Contributor

As a follow-up, though, I would totally rip off Frozen. I never get to play a Disney princess... :(


Elsa's no princess. She's a queen. ;)


The association will be inevitable. So just... let it go. Let it go. Don't care what they're gonna say.

Liberty's Edge

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Elsa is totally a boreal sorceress.

I had a discussion with some friends of mine (I'm also running RoW, and RotRL, ironically as well) about Elsa's class. I believe Elsa is a perfect Boreal/Ice Sorcerer, but a GOOD example of a Winter Witch is, in Once Upon a Time lore, her auntie Ingrid. Pretty good example of the similarities and differences right there, if you ask me.


Kalindlara wrote:
I'm actually playing an Ulfen winter witch

I have to ask, how's that going for you? I made a Jadwiga winter witch, of Elvanna's line (male, no real interest in the throne or anything), and I'm giving my GM fits* because the set-up doesn't really seem to take into account that a PC might be Irriseni, much less a Jadwiga.. We're still in the first book, but I've already bypassed a couple of encounters by 'showing my badge', as it were, and we expect more breeze-throughs in the second book, considering where it's located.

*Good-natured fits. He finds it amusing as much as I do.. though there's a part in the third book he's concerned about, as it presumes the PCs will take a certain side, and with the Irriseni/Jadwiga mindframe, it's quite possible we'll take the other...

OH. And as a thread-relevant answer? Yes.. I found myself making a Frozen reference, which led to us looking at the WW archetype and saying that yeah, it really does feel like Frozen a bit.

Shadow Lodge

Draven, if he's of Elvanna's line, why is he working with the rest of the party? (I'm curious because the winter witch in the game I ran caused inter-party conflict without that relation to Elvanna.)


One member is an Ulfen who's bound to him as a manservant. As far as being Elvanna's line, well. Not everyone who -is- an Elvanna share the Queen's views. He's been travelling to keep an eye on magical developments throughout the Inner Sea.. thus being in Taldor when this all began.

Shadow Lodge

Very cool!


In my group there is one character from Irrisen, but he sides with the heralds. In that case there is no problem.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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Having played a winter witch in PFS and currently playing a snowcaster half elf/jadwiga with the intent of playing every scenario in Irrisen/other northern lands here are my two c-bills.

Why is there a winter witch/Jadwiga in book 1?:
Could be a number of reasons.
  • Looking for power to prepare for the regime change (the Elvanna Jadwiga have been 'on top' for 100 years, but will now have to deal with a new house).
  • Looking for power to accelerate Regime change. "Oh Anastasia's the new queen, but has no heirs yet?" *shank* Like the above, it doesn't even need to be the PC's
  • Slumming in the 'barbarian lands'. This was Ksenia's motivation for joining the Society. She was like the High School kid backpacking through Europe/Amish kid on Rumshpringa. Out seeing the world before returning home. Which can lead to all sorts of fun RP opportunities. Locally famous line from our local PFS.
    Outranged PC: "Do you know what the name Jeggare means?"
    Ksenia: "Is it Chelaxian for 'peasant?'"
  • Kicked out for being too 'nice' The motivation for my half elf bard. Booted from Whitethrone by a caring cousin (see Ksenia, above) for being 'too nice' and sent south before meeting a horrid end.
  • if anyone wants, I can post my thoughts on book 2 and beyond.


    ^This. As noted, my witch is travelling in part to explore, but in part to 'scout out' the magic levels of these 'lesser cultures', to keep an eye on potential threats or useful things that can be turned towards Irrisen's uses. When things go bad, even as a Jadwiga, he'll gladly work to free Baba Yaga, as he understands it's through her will that the Jadwiga even have power. He also knows at least the basics of Tashanna's failed coup in the past, so there's that.


    I have a winter witch called Elsa in my group (I know I know, he insisted)! She is from the Yelizaveta family (the previous queen's house) and is hell bent on getting revenge on the Elvannas for flaying her family alive and freezing them in the ice palace walls.

    She is also half snowcastwr elf and escaped her family's fate when she went to the crown of the world to seek out her full elf brother.

    Trouble is Nazhena knows about her thanks to Radosek aceing a knowkedge nobility roll and contacting her befire his untimely death. They haven't reached Icethrone yet, but Elsa better be using disguise self when she does because Nazhena has no intention of 'letting it go'!


    I'm coming from a different direction, with a Jadwiga Imperious Sorceress who went to Sandpoint to avoid her cousins' assassination plots (because she's very charismatic, used diplomacy rather than fear to get people to work harder, and is actually a nice person). I'm contemplating (after the death of my old RoW game) of having the group, after they kill Karzoug, finding themselves in Baba Yaga's hut in Book 5... and learning about Baba Yaga's imprisonment.

    I'll have to scale things up, naturally, but it will be amusing and interesting. :) (This won't be for at least a year though as they're currently in the Runeforge.)


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    Obviously you can play a winter witch, but you have to be careful. Conceal, don't feel. Don't let them know...


    I'm running RoW. One of my players has a winter witch named Marya. The party's human fighter, Vladimir, is also from Irrisen. They are both from Waldsby, and Marya took care of Vladimir after he was orphaned (he was just a kid back then) and they found another boy named Alexi. Nazrena got pissed off at Marya and had her sacrifice Alexi to show her loyalty, so Marya took Vladimir and used a one-off ritual she had studied to teleport from the witch statue in Waldsby to the one in Heldren. Marya has not told Vladimir the truth about what happened to Alexi, as far as he knows Alexi was killed by Nazrena.

    My greatest problem with a winter witch is justifying how they can be included from the beginning of the adventure despite Taldor being on the other side of the continent.


    Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
    Axial wrote:

    I'm running RoW. One of my players has a winter witch named Marya. The party's human fighter, Vladimir, is also from Irrisen. They are both from Waldsby, and Marya took care of Vladimir after he was orphaned (he was just a kid back then) and they found another boy named Alexi. Nazrena got pissed off at Marya and had her sacrifice Alexi to show her loyalty, so Marya took Vladimir and used a one-off ritual she had studied to teleport from the witch statue in Waldsby to the one in Heldren. Marya has not told Vladimir the truth about what happened to Alexi, as far as he knows Alexi was killed by Nazrena.

    My greatest problem with a winter witch is justifying how they can be included from the beginning of the adventure despite Taldor being on the other side of the continent.

    Without being too spoilery... every organization has zealots, true believers, and dissatisfied agents. It may very well be the winter witch player character is someone who's not that happy with Elvanna's rule over Irrisen. And acts to twart her.

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